• In the Spotlife: Jake Mendes of 'This is Modern Art'

    by John Moore | Mar 30, 2018

    Jake Mendes. THIS IS MODERN ARTLakewood native Jake Mendes makes his Denver Center debut in This is Modern Art.'

    Jake Mendes glides from Hedwig glam to graffiti bomber in Off-Center's provocative new play This is Modern Art

    2016 True West Award winner Jake Mendes, who plays Dose in Off-Center's This is Modern Art, is making his Denver Center debut. The University of Northern Colorado grad just blew the roof off the Aurora Fox starring in Hedwig and The Angry Inch. At the Arvada Center, he recently played Rueben in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Paul in A Chorus Line and he originated the role of Simon in the world premiere musical I'll Be Home For Christmas. Off Broadway, he performed in Bunnicula and Pinkalicious: The Musical. Other New York credits include Xanadu, A Man of No Importance, The Little Dog Laughed, The Normal Heart and The Drowsy Chaperone.

    • Hometown: Lakewood
    • Home now: Denver
    • What's your handle? @_jake_mendes_ on Instagram
    • What have you done for us lately? I played Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Aurora Fox
    • Twitter-sized bio: Portuguese. Virgo. Lactose Intolerant.
    • JAKE MENDES HEDWIG AURORA FOXWhat would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would be directing and choreographing. I thrive on the creation of art and collaboration with artistic minds. I feel like I can best contribute to the world around me through theatre and performing arts.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: While it was very fun … I did a spot in a web series where I had to be a hipster bro, introducing my girlfriend to my sex-obsessed, over-sharing parents for the first time.
    • Bucket-list role? I was lucky enough to cross this off of my list earlier this year when I played Hedwig with the incomparable Norrell Moore. So now I’m waiting for someone to cast me as Effie White in Dreamgirls.
    • One seminal experience where you saw greatness play out in front of you: When I saw Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart on Broadway, I had a moment where I truly understood how theatre could immediately affect people in a guttural and primitive way. At the end of the play, people were crying and hugging each other, silent. I realized then that it is truly our responsibility and privilege as performers to send our stories to people’s hearts and souls. We won’t be able to determine how they’ll  be received, but we could be the ones to provide an opportunity for an audience member to be transformed in some way.
    • Betty WhoWhat are you listening to on Spotify right now? I’m always listening to Betty Who, but I’m also really into the playlist compiled from the Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It” right now.
    • What is This is Modern Art all about? It's based on the true story of a Chicago graffiti crew that is are willing to risk everything for their art. But when they pulled off the biggest graffiti bomb the city had ever seen, the consequences got real, and it sparked a public debate that asked where art does — and does not — belong?
    • Why does This is Modern Art Matter? This play highlights the fact that art should never be boxed into something specific. Artistic expression means different things to different people. You may like to experience different forms of art, but one will never be better than the other.
    • Jake Mendes THIS IS MODERN ARTWhat do you hope audiences get out of seeing This is Modern Art? At the very least, I hope their eyes will be more open to the beautiful and illustrious street art culture that is exploding in Denver.
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? We need to encourage people to listen, and to be open and honest. Whether you’re listening to a performance, listening to your castmates on stage with you, listening to what your director is saying … listening to your own heart and soul. Listening, honesty and openness all help to foster a sense of trust, which cultivates one’s ability to take risks and create dynamic, life-changing experiences.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Dear Dad, I got my nose pierced… I’ve been keeping it hidden for a few months… sorry.
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I’m a certified Pre-Natal and Post Partum Personal Trainer.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This is Modern ArtThis is Modern Art
    : Ticket information

    • Presented by Off-Center
    • Performances through April 15
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Written by Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin
    • Directed by Idris Goodwin
    • Featuring Robert Lee Hardy, John Jurcheck, Brynn Tucker, Jake Mendes, Chloe McLeod and Marco Robinson
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of This is Modern Art:
    This is Modern Art will make you look
    Idris Goodwin is going places: From Curious' Detroit '67 to Denver Center
    Graffiti: Modern art or 'urban terrorism'?
    Vast and visceral: Off-Center season will include This is Modern Art

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    • 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: Daniel Langhoff celebration of life highlights

    by John Moore | Jan 21, 2018
    Video highlights:

    The video above offers highlights from the celebration of life for Denver actor Daniel Langhoff held Dec. 4, 2017, at the Arvada Center. (Photos below.)

    The host was Robert Michael Sanders.

    Daniel Langhoff, who performed at the Denver Center and around the state, died of cancer at age 42 just 10 days after the birth of his second daughter.

    Performances and testimonials from Kathy Albertson, Jacquie Jo Billings, Lindsey Falduto, InterMezZo, Traci J. Kern, Norrell Moore, Brian Murray, Matt LaFontaine, Neil McPherson, Brian Merz-Hutchinson, David Nehls, Mark Sharp, Brian Smith, Carter Edward Smith, Megan Van De Hey and Markus Warren.

    The event planners were Eugene Ebner and Paul Page. The Band Organizer was Rick Thompson.

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Special thanks: Rebecca Joseph.

    Read more on the life of Daniel Langhoff

    Photo gallery:

    Daniel Langhoff

    To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr photo gallery Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • January openings: Make way for 'Lady Day,' 'Fun Home' and 'Hedwig'

    by John Moore | Jan 05, 2018
    Lady Day Mary Louise Lee Adams Viscom

    Mary Louise Lee in 'Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill,' opening Jan. 12 at the Vintage Theatre in Aurora before a spring transfer t the DCPA's Galleria Theatre. Photo by Adams Viscom

    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of upcoming theatre openings, spotlighting work being presented on stages statewide. Companies are encouraged to submit listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.

    Showcase month in Colorado theatre spotlights Mary Louise Lee, world premieres and Boulder artists

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    January will usher in the new theatrical year with a showcase vehicle for the First Lady of Denver, the state's first two homegrown productions of the groundbreaking 2015 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Fun Home, and what promises to be an electrifying staging of the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Aurora Fox. January is also when the DCPA Theatre Company begins its rollout of three consecutive world-premiere plays — Zoey's Perfect Wedding, American Mariachi and The Great Leap. With such an eclectic mix of material, this month we will kick off the winter theatre season with a brief look at 10 intriguing titles to watch, followed by complete list of all your Colorado theatregoing options for January:

    Ten intriguing titles for January:

    NUMBER 1Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. January 12 promises to be an emotional night when Mary Louise Lee revisits her signature role as Billie Holiday in Vintage Theatre's Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. She will be performing in Vintage's Jeffrey Nickelson Auditorium, named after the late founder of the Shadow Theatre Company who directed Lee back in 2002. Lee's haunting portrayal of the jazz legend woman with a singular singing voice — and a lethal heroin habit — was the biggest hit in Shadow’s history. This new production, directed by Betty Hart, will play weekends at Vintage through Feb. 18 (except Feb. 3), then move to the DCPA's Galleria Theatre on Monday nights from March 5 through April 23. Lee's performing career began in the Galleria Theatre (then called StageWest) when she appeared in Beehive at only 18 years old and still a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School. In 2011, Lee also became the First Lady of Denver when her husband, Michael B. Hancock, was elected Mayor. 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com READ MORE

    NUMBER 2A JANUARY JAKE MendesHedwig and the Angry Inch. It's impossible to overstate the impact John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's underground rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch has had on generations of misfits over the past 24 years. The show is essentially a rock concert featuring a genderqueer singer who was born a boy in communist East Germany and underwent a botched sex-change operation to marry an American soldier who then abandoned her. It's an incredibly powerful, literate and raunchy beacon of hope for anyone who has felt ever felt divided. And Jake Mendes and Norrell Moore promise to infuse the new Aurora Fox production, the first by a Denver theatre company in eight years, with fresh vitality. Jan. 19-Feb. 10 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    NUMBER 3A Banned Together 800 1Fun Home. In 2015, Fun Home became the first Broadway musical to feature a lesbian protagonist. Now the the rights to perform it at theatres across the country, it speaks well of the Colorado theatre community that different companies in Fort Collins, Golden and Colorado Springs have jumped at the chance to stage it. Based on Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, Fun Home recounts one women's unique childhood as she grows to understanding her own sexuality and looming, unanswerable questions about her father’s hidden desires.The first to open will be Midtown Arts Center (Jan. 18-March 17) at 3750 S. Mason St. in Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com. The Miners Alley Playhouse production runs  Jan. 26-March 4 at 1224 Washington St. in Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com. And the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College follows from March 29 through April 22 at 30 W. Dale St., 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org. (Pictured: Sophie Dotson of the Golden cast performs "Ring of Keys" at an anti-censorship event this past fall. Photo by John Moore.)

    NUMBER 4Detroit 67. Curious Theatre continues its most provocative season in years with playwright Dominque Morisseau's incendiary look back at the sizzling summer of 1967, a moment in history rife with police brutality, immense racial divide, and a violent uprising, all through the eyes of one family. Featuring Jada Suzanne Dixon and Cajardo Lindsey under the direction of hip hop artist, writer and educator Idris Goodwin, whose own play This is Modern Art opens March 22 at the DCPA's Jones Theatre. Jan. 13 through Feb. 24 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org.  

    NUMBER 5Trump Lear. David Carl, known for mixing Shakespeare with timely political satire, returns not to bury the president but to skewer him in this one-man comedy in which he plays an actor who evokes the wrath of thechief executive as he creates a solo version of King Lear – Shakespeare’s tragic play of a ruler whose vanity tears his country apart. At Millibo Art Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org

    NUMBER 6Disney's The Little Mermaid. The DCPA hosted the Broadway company on its way to the Great White Way in 2006, and now this Inspire Creative effort will be the first homegrown, Denver-area staging of the underwater musical. Based on Hans Christian Andersen's beloved love stories, The Little Mermaid features music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, including familiar songs like "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl" and "Part of Your World." Jan. 19-Feb 11 at the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    NUMBER 7Guards at the Taj. This dark comedy, set in India in 1648, introduces audiences to two lifelong friends standing watch on the night before the first unveiling of the Taj Mahal. As the action unfolds, these two must take part in an act of unfathomable cruelty, one that will shatter their lives and their relationship. Written by Rajiv Joseph and staged by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Jan. 25-Feb. 18 at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    NUMBER 8Fermata. Denver's Theatre Esprit Asia partners with Theater Company of Lafayette to present three generations of Chinese westernized women, two of whom two are world-class musicians and one who became a neurosurgeon. In playwright Maria Cheng’s sixth full-length play, she explores the burden of virtuosity, the politics of art making and the purpose of music. Jan. 12-28 at the Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson St., 720-209-2154 or www.tclstage.org

    NUMBER 9Abner GeneceSense and Sensibility. The Arvada Center's uber-hip repertory company returns with an all-new new adaptation of the Jane Austen classic (by Kate Hamill) that follows the Dashwood sisters as they pursue their quest for love and happiness. This cast is loaded with big names like Kate Gleason, Geoffrey Kent, Emma Messenger and Jessica Austgen (for starters), but the whole community should be cheering the return to the stage of Abner Genece as Sir John Middleton) six months after a devastating car accident nearly killed him and his son. Jan. 26-May 6 at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 10Theatre Made in Boulder. This new festival running Jan. 18 through Feb. 10 will include a robust selection of staged readings, low-tech productions and free public workshops from a diverse group of local artists. (Full schedule below.) The featured, fully staged presentation will be How To Screw Up Your Life!, written specifically for the festival by reliable Boulder playwright Ami Dayan. Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    First Date Photo by Emily Lozow


    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Jan. 5-21: Performance Now's Into the Woods
    Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or performance now’s home page

    Jan. 5-March 25: Midtown Arts Center's Always ... Patsy Cline
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Jan. 6-Feb. 3: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre's Rumors
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Jan. 12-Feb. 18: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com READ MORE

    Jan. 12-Feb. 4, 2018: Town Hall Arts Center's Peter and the Starcatcher
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Jan. 12-28: Theater Company of Lafayette's Fermata (with Theatre Esprit Asia)
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org

    Jan. 12-27: 5th Wall Productions' Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
    At The Bakery Arts Warehouse, 2132 Market St., 5th-wall-productions.com

    Jan. 13-Feb. 24: Curious Theatre's Detroit 67
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org  

    Jan. 18-March 17: Midtown Arts Center's Fun Home
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, (970) 225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Jan. 18-20: David Carl's Trump Lear
    Millibo Arts Center, 1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org

    Jan. 18-Feb. 10: How To Screw Up Your Life!
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    Jan. 19-Feb. 4: Theatrix USA's Kiss
    At Dobrin Studios, 931 Santa Fe Drive, theatrixdenver.com

    Jan. 29-Feb. 11: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Building the Wall
    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, Silverthorne,  970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Jan. 19-Feb. 10: Aurora Fox's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Jan. 19-Feb 11: Inspire Creative's The Little Mermaid
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    Jan. 19-Feb. 3: Funky Little Theatre Company's The Bigot
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    Jan. 20-Feb. 17, 2018: OpenStage Theatre Company's The Crucible
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Jan. 25-Feb. 18: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Guards at the Taj
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    Jan. 26-Feb. 25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Zoey’s Perfect Wedding
    Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Jan. 26-March 4: Miners Alley Playhouse's Fun Home
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Jan. 26-May 6: Arvada Center's Sense and Sensibility
    Studio Theatre, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Jan. 26-Feb. 17: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits
    At  121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Jan. 26-Feb. 17: Equinox Theatre Company's Evil Dead: The Musical
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Jan 26-Feb 11: StageDoor Theatre's The 39 Steps
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Feb. 2-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s American Mariachi
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Evil Dead
    From left: Emily Ebertz, Derek Helsing and Chelsea O'Grady from Equinox Theatre's 'Evil Dead The Musical.'


    Through Jan. 6: Oddville and Stand Up Smart (Dave Shirley and Bob Dubac)
    At  121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Through Jan. 7: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Annie
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Through Jan. 14: National tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King & I
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through Jan. 14: Vintage Theatre Productions' Red
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Jan. 30: BDT Stage's Motones vs. Jerseys
    (Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays only)
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through Feb. 14: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Feb. 24: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through April 22: DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE




    • Jan. 11-21: P3M5: Privacy in the Digital Age, a transatlantic theatre project presented in a series of 5-minute films and live plays. 

    Boedecker Cinema at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or dairyartscenter.org


    • Jan. 6: Fourth annual 50 First Jokes festival (50 of Denver's best comedians tell their first joke of the new year), benefiting The Gathering Place
    • Jan. 18 The Emerging Filmmakers Project, showcasing Denver's indie film scene on the third Thursday of every month.
    • Jan. 29: Freak Train: Open-mic variety show hosted by GerRee Hinshaw on the final Monday of every month
    • Jan. 30: Open Screen Night: Make a video of at least 2 minutes in length about this month's theme (16-bit) and include the phrase "All your base are belong to us." Info:  openscreennight.com

    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info


    • Saturday, Jan. 13: Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey (Monthly theatre for young audiences at 1 and 3 p.m.)
    • Saturday, Jan. 13: The Penny Savers, for Stories on Stage, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive (303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org)
    • Monday, Jan. 22: Screening of the film 500 Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel with live pre-screening entertainment from DCPA Cabaret's First Date. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7

    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com


    • Jan. 20 and Feb. 9: EPiC Returns (improv comedy featuring Evergreen High School's state-champion improv team
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org


    • Jan. 6: RiP (improv comedy)
    • Jan 12-13: Vintage Glamour Burlesque
    • Jan 26-27: Cabaret Voltaire (variety performance art) 
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org

    • Jan. 18-Feb. 10: Staged readings, low-tech productions and free public workshops from local artists. Featured production: How To Screw Up Your Life!, by Ami Dayan
    • Jan. 21: Afropuff Lederhosen: A Critically Comical Investigation of Race, by Vanessa Roberts
    • Jan. 24: Strange Grace, by Jane Shepard
    • Jan. 28: Mud Season, by Felice Locker
    • Jan. 31: An Evening of Shorts: Terrember (Four Choose Two), by Mike Eisenberg; Kosmic Joke: Killing Time, by Buck Lee; and Bloodlines, by Ashley Rice
    • Feb. 4: Trans/Actions, by K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan
    • Feb. 4: What Happens in the Dark, by Kristofer Buxton
    • Feb. 11: Rooted, by Joy Barber
    • Feb. 11: Laura and Ibsen, by Susan Flakes
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    • Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org 

    • Saturday, Jan. 13: The Penny Savers, with members of Buntport Theater, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive


    303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater.

  • 2017 True West Award: The Difference-Makers

    by John Moore | Dec 25, 2017

    25 2017 True West Award Combined


    Day 25: The Difference-Makers 

    Leading organizers of 2017 fundraisers on behalf of Denver Actors Fund:
    Ebner-Page Productions’ United in Love concert, $40,083
    The Mothers of 13 the Musical, $13,188
    Dr. Brian Kelly DDS, $10,300 in in-kind services
    Robert Michael Sanders’ Miscast 2017, $7,040
    BDT Stage’s Thoroughly Modern Millie and Annie, $6,147
    Dixie Longate standup comedy benefit, $4,804

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In 2017, The Denver Actors Fund has made $128,000 available to Colorado theatre artists in situational medical need, compared to $42,000 in all of 2016. And there is just one reason the rapidly growing grassroots nonprofit had that much money to give back in only its fourth year of existence: A boggling array of self-starting individuals, theatre companies and schools from all over the metro area organized their own fundraising efforts that generated $112,000 in unplannable revenue for the Denver Actors Fund.

    They are The Difference-Makers.

    2017 True West Award Eugene EbnerThe biggest chunk by far came from one remarkable sold-out concert at the Lone Tree Arts Center featuring Colorado-connected Broadway stars Annaleigh Ashford, Beth Malone and Mara Davi alongside Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee and more than 20 local performers. The event, called United in Love, was conceived and carried off by Ebner-Page Productions, aka Eugene Ebner and Paul Page. Their concert raised more than $40,000 for the non-profit in part because nearly everyone volunteered their time and talents — and because they went out and secured sponsorships totaling $20,000 from Delta Dental, Kaiser Permanente, Skyline Properties and Alliance Insurance.

    It was a night that changed the trajectory of the Denver Actors Fund forever. But it was just the start of a remarkable year during which school-age kids, for example, accounted for more than $25,000 in donations to the Denver Actors Fund all by themselves.

    The most astonishing of those efforts was a fully staged production of Jason Robert Brown’s 13 the Musical, which in 2008 became the first Broadway musical to feature a cast made up entirely of teenagers.

    2017 True West Award 13 the MusicalThe parents of 13 young metro-area actors banded together to self-produce the first-ever Colorado staging of 13 the Musical, which is the story of a New York-savvy teen whose parents’ divorce lands him in Indiana. The parents absorbed nearly all production costs as their own personal donations so that all proceeds from ticket sales and other revenue sources would go fully to the Denver Actors Fund. As a result, 13 the Musical generated more than $13,000 for The Denver Actors Fund in just two performances at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture. And it was a good production, because the young actors were supported by a dream creative team that included Robert Michael Sanders, Paul Dwyer, Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Shannan Steele and more (full list below).

    Sanders also again directed and produced Miscast, an annual evening of silly songs and games at the Town Hall Arts Center that raised another $7,000, bringing Sanders’ four-year Miscast efforts past the $20,000 mark.

    The Denver Actors Fund was also the designated beneficiary when tart-talking Dixie Longate returned to the Galleria Theatre for the Denver Center’s fourth staging of Dixie’s Tupperware Party. While in Denver, Dixie creator Kris Andersson wanted to try out Dixie’s new standup comedy routine, and the evening turned into a $4,804 windfall for the DAF.

    True West Award Robert Michael Sanders0Also this year, the Denver Actors Fund entered into a unique partnership with Thornton dentist (and former Broadway dancer) Brian Kelly, who accepted emergency dental cases referred through the Denver Actors Fund. Kelly helped four DAF patients in need of everything from root canals to full teeth replacement to complex bridge work. In all, Kelly donated more than $10,000 worth of his services to uninsured area artists.

    Area companies regularly designate certain performances for the benefit of the Denver Actors Fund, and this year, two remarkable evenings at BDT Stage organized by Producing Artistic Director Michael J. Duran raised a combined $6,147 for the DAF.

    All done on their own.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “I think the truest mark of a community is how much people will do to help each other without even being asked,” said Denver Actors Fund President Will Barnette. “These dollar figures brilliantly show the depth of love and caring and camaraderie we have in this Colorado theatre community.”

    Here’s a small sampling of additional efforts large and small that benefited more than 40 individual artists facing situational medical needs in 2017 alone:

    • 2017 True West Award BDT StageThe young people in the cast of Town Hall Arts Center kid-centric’s stage adaptation of A Christmas Story created a group they called The Lollipop Kids, and they sold $3,405 worth of suckers in the theatre lobby.
    • For the second straight year, the Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden designated one performance of A Christmas Carol for the DAF, including all ticket revenue and bar sales. The evening sold out, and the Christmas miners raised $3,664 — or about $40 per person.
    • Denver School of the Arts was the very first school to take collections for the Denver Actors Fund in 2014, and the $2,117 the theatre students raised this year at performances of The Producers brought the troupe’s three-year total to a record $6,230. Other school-age groups that raised money for the DAF in 2017 included Front Range Theatre Company in Highlands Ranch ($2,041), Cherry Creek High School ($1,614) Summit Middle School in Boulder ($938.35), Parker Performing Arts School ($475) and CenterStage Theatre Company in Louisville ($406).
    • The journalism students at Metropolitan State University hosted an original Christmas special just last week that raised $2,000. The evening, donated by the city of Northglenn, was co-hosted by student Avery Anderson of The Nightly Met and popular area actor Annie Dwyer (currently Miss Hannigan in BDT Stage’s Annie). The program included appearances by Anna Maria High (Aurora Fox’s Hi-Hat Hattie), Abigail Kochevar (Miners Alley Playhouse’s upcoming Fun Home), casts from Town Hall’s Seussical and BDT Stage’s Annie, bands and combos such as Mister Tim and The Denver Dolls, Ryan Chrys and the Rough Cuts and many more.
    • 2017 True West Award Dixie Longate The Denver Actors Fund hosts a monthly film series at the Alamo Drafthouse in partnership with a rotating local theatre company, next featuring 500 Days of Summer on Jan. 22 with live entertainment from cast members from DCPA Cabaret’s First Date. Half of all ticket proceeds go to the DAF, and the series generated $5,400 in 2017.
    • The Jerseys, made up of area musical-theatre veterans Brian Smith, Paul Dwyer, Klint Rudolph and Randy St. Pierre, designated one February performance at the Clocktower Cabaret to the DAF and raised $2,208.
    • The caustic puppet musical comedy Avenue Q includes a cynical panhandling number called The Money Song, and this year TWO companies used the opportunity to raise real-time money for the DAF during the actual show. The StageDoor Theatre in Conifer raised $1,589 that way, and the Town Hall Arts Center brought in $1,361.
    • The Edge Theatre hosted a staged reading of DAF founder John Moore’s play Waiting for Obama, which had been recently staged in New York, and the evening raised $1,173 for the DAF.

    More information on The Denver Actors Fund

    • Some of the most creative fundraisers were purely personal initiatives. Patty Kingsbaker, who founded Radical Artists talent agency, urged guests at her retirement party to give to the DAF, raising $743. Teenager Willow Samu turned her senior recital into a fundraiser for the DAF and collected $350 at the Clocktower cabaret. Actor Billie McBride, a Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement Award-winner, used Facebook to auction off an album she owned that was signed by the original Broadway cast of A Chorus Line, raising $250. Local journalist and In Focus host Eden Lane, who this year made her Denver directorial debut with the Priscilla Queen of the Desert, raised $206 selling custom-made Priscilla coffee cups in the Aurora Fox lobby. Actor Sue Leiser sold hats she made inspired by the Women’s March on Denver, resulting in a $140 donation.
    • The DAF encourages every company in the state to designate one performance per run for a spare-change collection. It’s called Tap Shoe Initiative, which brings in modest amounts that have added up to more than $17,000 over the past four years. This year’s leading Tap Shoe participant was one of the state’s smallest companies: Firehouse Theatre Company raised $937 for the DAF over four collection nights.

    2017 True West Award Brian KellySeparately, the local theatre community was spurred to action last month by the wrenching death of 42-year-old actor Daniel Langhoff from cancer just 10 days after the birth of his second daughter. Over the next six weeks, donations and special events generated $53,000 in targeted donations through the DAF that will help Langhoff’s wife plan for the long-term needs of their children. Among the special efforts:

    • Vintage Theatre’s designated performance of Honeymoon in Vegas raised $2,094.
    • Choreographer and fitness trainer Adrianne Hampton hosted a special class featuring Broadway songs and raised $250.
    • The boards of the Town Hall Arts Center, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre and Performance Now each donated $1,000 to the Langhoffs. Performance Now also pledged to donate 2 percent of all profits for the next year to the DAF (about $365 per show), and challenged all other Colorado theatre companies to do the same.
    • Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company closed out 2017, appropriately enough, by raising exactly $2,017 on opening night of its Every Christmas Story Ever Told.

    “The number of people who planned, participated or attended all of these efforts on behalf of the Denver Actors Fund numbers into the thousands,” the DAF’s Will Barnette said. “Every one of those people is a difference-maker. Their efforts not only sustain us, they galvanize us as we enter 2018. We simply could not do what we do without the continuing efforts of the Colorado theatre community to keep us funded.”

    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. He is also the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.

    Video bonus: Highlights from the United in Love concert:

    Video by The Met Report's Avery Anderson.

    Denver Actors Fund Beneficiaries 2017
    With Name, 2017 Financial Aid and Medical Need

    1. A Daniel Langhoff 800 1Daniel Langhoff, actor, $52,918 ($66,938 overall), Cancer treatments
    2. Archie Valleda, actor, $8,457, Dental
    3. Abner Genece, actor, $6,471, Car accident
    4. Norrell Moore, actor, $4,685, Cancer treatments
    5. Sasha Fisher, actor, $4,522, Car accident
    6. Katherine Paynter, actor, $4,290, Knee surgery
    7. Mark Shonsey, actor, $4,095, Premature birth
    8. Nancy Warner, crew, $3,832, Two emergency surgeries
    9. Don Gabenski, actor, $3,529, Purchase wheelchair
    10. Paul Hartman, pit musician, $2,950, Car accident
    11. Traci J. Kern, actor, $2,693  ($3,243 overall), Cancer tests, Sliced hand
    12. Family of Christopher Tye, actor, $2,500, Funeral expenses
    13. Jaime Lujan, actor, $2,725 ($3,825 overall), Rotator-cuff surgery
    14. 800-DON-GABENSKI-FULL-600x452Patrick Sawyer, director, $2,150 ($5,167 overall), Heart surgery
    15. Anonymous, $2,019 ($2,519 overall), Dental
    16. Becky Toma, props designer,  $1,701 ($1,995 overall), Surgery   
    17. David Ballew, actor, $1,680, Dental
    18. Emily K. Harrison, producer/actor, $1,520, Emergency room
    19. Carol Kelly, hair designer, $1,499, Medical leave
    20. Anonymous, $1,190, Dental
    21. Keegan Flaugh, actor, $1,180, Dental emergency
    22. Meghan Ralph, stage manager/actor, $1,120 ($2,788 overall), Dental emergency
    23. Anonymous, $1,000, Emergency room
    24. Catherine Aasen Floyd, actor, $720, Cancer treatment
    25. Daniel Perkins, actor, $675, Seizures, back surgery            
    26. Joey Wishnia, actor, $600 ($1,597 overall), Eye injections
    27. Twanna Latrice Hill, actor, $540 ($922 overall), Medical
    28. Nick Thorne, actor, $500, Memorial gift
    29. Sheila Traister, actor, $500 ($2,800 ovverall), Bodily injury
    30. Maggie Sczekan, actor, $365, Dental
    31. Lara Maerz, stage manager $246, Diabetes treatments
    32. Faith Goins, actor, $175  ($4,375 overall), Infant’s death
    33. Note: List above does not include beneficiaries of rides, meals and other Action Team assistance
    Video bonus: 'The Cancer Warriors' at Miscast 2017

    Actors Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles, performed an original variation of the song "Tonight," from 'West Side Story,' at Miscast 2017. Video by John Moore.

    About The True West Awards: '30 Days, 30 Bouquets'

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

    a-denver-actors-fund-800UNITED IN LOVE
    • Hosts: Steven J. Burge and Eden Lane
    • Musical Director: Mitch Samu
    • Performers: Annaleigh Ashford, Beth Malone, Mara Davi, Jodie Langel, Denise Gentilini, Jimmy Bruenger, Eugene Ebner, Becca Fletcher, Clarissa Fugazzotto, Robert Johnson, Daniel Langhoff, Susannah McLeod, Chloe McLeod, Sarah Rex, Jeremy Rill, Kristen Samu, Willow Samu and Thaddeus Valdez.  Also the casts of both The Jerseys (Klint Rudolph, Brian Smith, Paul Dwyer and Randy St. Pierre), and 13 the Musical (see below).
    • The band: Tag Worley, Steve Klein, Andy Sexton, Scott Handler and Jeremy Wendelin
    MISCAST 2017
    • Hosts: Steven J. Burge, Eric Mather and Shannan Steele
    • Performers: Robert Michael Sanders, Megan Van De Hey, Jackson Garske, Destiny Walsh, Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Rylee Vogel, Jeremy Rill, Reace Daniel, Jose David Reynoza, Randy Chalmers, Hope Grandon, Kenny Moten, Margie Lamb, Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff, Norrell Moore, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel

    Production team:

    • Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    • Assistant to the director: Jessica Swanson
    • Musical Direction and Live Keys: Donna Debreceni
    • Stage Manager: Maegan Burnell
    • Assistant Stage Manager: Haley Ivy Di Virgilio
    • Technical Director: Mike Haas
    • Lights: Alexis Bond
    • Sound: Curt Behm and Tom Quinn
    • Costumes: Nicole Harrison
    Cast (moms in parentheses):
    • Joshua Cellar (Emily Cellar)
    • Conrad Eck (Kristin Eck)
    • Macy Friday (Megan Friday)
    • Evan Gibley (Michelle Gibley)
    • Lorenzo Giovanetti (Carmela Giovanetti)
    • Kaden Hinkle (Shannon Gaydos-Hinkle)
    • Hannah Katz (Erin Katz)
    • Darrow Klein (Jennifer Klein)
    • Michelle Lee (Huwon Lee)
    • Gabe Legg (Angela Legg)
    • Carter Novinger (Jennifer Novinger)
    • Rylee Vogel (Kristi Vogel)
    • Hannah Meg Weinraub (Michelle Weinraub)

    • Robert Michael Sanders: Producer and director
    • Paul Dwyer: Assistant director
    • Anna Smith: Assistant director
    • Jayln Courtenay Webb: Music director
    • Lauren Hergenreter: Stage manager
    • Sydney Eck: Assistant stage manager
    • Tom Quinn: Sound
    • Jennifer Orf: Lighting
    • Choreographer: Stephanie Hess, Shannan Steele, Matthew D. Peters, Jessica Hindsley, Abigail Kochevar
    • Jason Tyler Vaughn: Guitar
    • Heather Holt Hall: Keyboards
    • S. Parker Goubert: Bass
    • Evan Jones: Drums
  • What a wonderful world it was with Daniel Langhoff

    by John Moore | Nov 12, 2017

    Video above: Daniel Langhoff sings 'What a Wonderful World' at an April benefit concert for the Denver Actors Fund. Video provided by Eden Lane and Sleeping Dog Media.

    The busy actor, husband and father fought cancer like the errant knight he played in Man of La Mancha. He was 42.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When award-winning Denver actor Daniel Langhoff was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2015, the first-time father dreamed what most every doctor told him was an impossible dream: To beat an unbeatable foe. And yet, over the next rocky and remarkable two and a half years, he reached star after unreachable star.

    Daniel LanghoffThe cancer was discovered just a few months after Langhoff and wife Rebecca Joseph welcomed daughter Clara into the world. Langhoff then fought the disease with the same earnest fortitude and blind optimism as Cervantes, the playwright who defends his life through storytelling in the classic Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. That's a bucket-list role Langhoff somehow found the mettle to play last year during a brief cease-fire with his disease, which would make a raging comeback only a few months later.

    In April, doctors discovered a second, more virulent form of cancer in Langhoff’s abdomen, and it was everywhere. The Langhoffs were told it would be a matter of months. Not that the diagnosis changed Langhoff’s attitude one bit. He fought on with grit, optimism and no small share of Quixotic delusion.

    “Dying never entered his mindset,” said Langhoff’s best friend, Brian Murray. “He always thought he would beat it.” It was only recently in the hospital, when Langhoff was no longer able to eat and fluid was filling his lungs that the impossible dreamer offered Murray this one slight concession to his adversary: “The prognosis is not good,” he told Murray.

    DanielLanghoffFacebook“Daniel fought the cancer by trivializing it — like it was just this little thing to be taken care of,” Murray said.

    Rebecca Joseph, known as R.J. to friends, gave birth to a second daughter, Naomi, on Nov. 2. It happened that day because Joseph made it happen that day. She had doctors induce labor to make certain Langhoff would be alive to see Naomi born. A few days later, Langhoff was admitted to Denver Hospice, where he again defied experts' expectations by fighting on for days until there was no fight left in him.  

    Langhoff died at precisely midnight today, peacefully and as his wife held his hand. He was 42.

    When he left, he was different from the man who married R.J. in 2015. During the ensuing years, as cancer gradually robbed his life, life in turn gave him everything to live for: A wife, two daughters, and the seminal roles of his acting career.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Daniel Langhoff Find an extensive gallery of Daniel Langhoff photos at the bottom of this report.

    A punctilious punster

    Langhoff was born in Denver on Nov. 8, 1975, and has been a performer since the third grade. He graduated from Cherry Creek High School and the University of Northern Colorado, and has been working steadily at theatres all over Colorado since 1999.

    He was known as a consummate actor with a quirky sense of humor; a way with a guitar, a song and a terrible pun; a geeky affinity for sci-fi films ...  and a massive collection of inappropriate T-Shirts.

    One of his favorites said: “When I die, I am going to haunt the (bleep) out of you.”

    "That was Daniel," his wife said.

    "Daniel was into weird science fiction, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, anything counter-culture and all manner of useless knowledge," said his frequent co-star and sometimes director, Robert Michael Sanders. "We had a shared love for underrated big-hair metal bands and Alien movies." 

    In the dressing room, Langhoff was a serial punster who was known for running exasperated castmates out of the room with his wit. But on stage, Sanders describes Langhoff as an intelligent, steady actor who could only be distracted from his task by perhaps, say … a random reference to Ridley Scott (maker of Alien).

    He was also one of the most dependable and pragmatic friends you could ever have, said Murray, who has been friends with Langhoff since appearing in Company together at the Town Hall Arts Center in 2008. 

    “I always called him my Vulcan,” said Murray, currently starring in Town Hall’s Seussical. “He was Spock, and I was Kirk. I was the emotional one, and he was the logical one."

    Ironically, Langhoff was the human being Murray turned to when he needed one most.

    "When I was going through a divorce in 2009, the only thing that helped me get by was playing video games with Daniel until 3 in the morning and telling him the same stories all over again," Murray said. "He would say to me, 'Brian, this thing happened. It was outside of your control. Now what you have to do is move through it and move on from that." 

    Perhaps the greatest testament to any man's character, Murray said: "Daniel was kind to everyone — even to the people who annoyed him." (Although, to be fair, Langhoff also loved to quote Tom Waits' life philosophy: "Champagne for my real friends ... and real pain for my sham friends.")

    Traci J. Kern was a real friend. For 22 years, Langhoff has been her constant. "Soon after our meeting, Daniel proclaimed himself the little brother I never wanted," she said. "Anytime I needed him, he was there. No questions asked, because it didn’t matter. Dan lived his life full of passion. Whether it was talking about music, theatre, movies, Stephen King novels, sports, his family, his babies or his wife — he spoke with such enthusiasm, you couldn’t help but be drawn in."

    A life on every stage

    Daniel Langhoff was, simply put, “the most consistent actor ever,” said Sanders. He was also just about the most consistently working Denver actor ever. The list of area theatre companies Langhoff has performed with reads essentially like the list of all area theatre companies. You would be hard-pressed to find a person or company whose path has not, at some point, crossed with Langhoff's on a Colorado stage.

    Dan Langhoff DCPA Love Perfect Change Shanna Steele Robert Michael Sanders Lauren Shealy“Once Daniel got it right, he went out and nailed it at that level every night," Sanders said. "You never had to worry what he was going to do, whether it was for one person or 100. Even for dumb stuff like Guys on Ice – he would find moments that mattered.”

    Langhoff made his Denver Center debut in 2010 in the musical comedy Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre, followed by a stint in a revival of the longest-running musical in Denver history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. He also performed in the DCPA Theatre Company’s seasonal stagings of A Christmas Carol in 2014 and 2015. The latter staging was right when Langhoff was starting his cancer fight. He had surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes – then immediately joined the cast, fitting rounds of chemo into 10-show weeks at the Stage Theatre.

    Langhoff’s substance and versatility put him in an elevated class among local performers: He was a nuanced dramatic actor with a rich singing voice — and an uncommon knack for comedy and children’s theatre. He could glide from playing the conflicted pastor fomenting the Salem witch trials in Firehouse’s The Crucible, to Coolroy in the Arvada Center’s children’s production of Schoolhouse Rock Live, to the long-suffering husband of a bipolar housewife in Town Hall’s Next to Normal.

    Langhoff’s breakout year was 2016, which began in triumph and ended in terror. It started with Performance Now's Ragtime. As Langhoff was continuing his initial chemotherapy, when he called Director Kelly Van Oosbree to express his interest in playing Tateh.

    “I remember thinking, ‘How in the hell is this going to happen?’ ” Van Oosbree said. “I couldn’t wrap my brain around it because if were in the same situation, I wonder how I would even cope. But Daniel did not let cancer stop him from doing anything.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Langhoff had strong sentimental and professional reasons for wanting to play Tateh. He had played the homegrown terrorist known as “Younger Brother” in a remarkable production of Ragtime for the Arvada Center in 2011, and he wanted to complete the circle by playing Tateh — also a dreamer, also a new father — for Performance Now. “Tateh was a role that spoke to him,” said Van Oosbree said.

    Dan Langhoff Sunglasses project. Photo by John MooreIn the summer of 2016, doctors declared Langhoff cancer-free. He celebrated by performing for the Arvada Center (40th anniversary concert), Firehouse (The Crucible) and Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Every Christmas Story Ever Told). He began 2017 by reuniting with Van Oosbree to play the chivalrous and insistent dreamer in Man of La Mancha. These were perfect bookend roles, said Van Osbree: Both Tateh and Cervantes are kind, inventive men who see the world not as it is, but how it should — or could — be. “They are both Daniel,” she said.

    But just as Man of La Mancha was to begin rehearsals, Langhoff noticed another abnormality in his abdomen, and doctors soon discovered a new, more prevalent and more vicious strain of cancer in his abdominal walls. Langhoff began a second round of chemo just as he had been cast to perform in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Arvada Center, followed by Ring of Fire at Vintage Theatre. This time, he would not be well enough to play either role. And he again downplayed the challenge. “I am just more physically compromised than I was before,” he conceded at the time.

    The great work of helping others

    Langhoff was known for helping out any company or cause that needed a hand — or a voice. Back in 2010, he joined the volunteer cast of Magic Moments' The Child. That's an annual musical revue where up to 200 disabled and able-bodied performers perform together, many for the first time. Langhoff played a war veteran opposite a devil character played by Drew Frady, his castmate back in the Arvada Center's 2008 staging of Les Miserables. Langhoff had been recruited as a late replacement for another actor. On his first day, the stage manager ended her introduction of Langhoff by saying, to his horror, “He loves hugs.” And, he later said with a laugh, “I didn’t really have the heart to correct her.”

    Over the next few months, Langhoff said, he learned to love hugs.

    “This is the kind of place where you can still be 5 minutes late for rehearsal, even if you show up on time, because there is a 5-minute gantlet of hugs to navigate,” he said.

    Daniel Langhoff, Laura Mathew Siebert and Nate Siebert. Photo by John Moore. Throughout his cancer ordeal, Langhoff was both a beneficiary of, and great champion of, The Denver Actors Fund, which in three years has made $133,000 available to Colorado theatre artists in situational need. Between direct aid and targeted donations, the theatre community has so far made more than $14,000 available to help the Langhoff family with medical bills, along with practical volunteer assistance. And Langhoff has given back at every opportunity, performing at five DAF fundraising events over the past three years.

    In April, a weakening Langhoff made a galvanizing appearance at United in Love, a benefit concert staged by Ebner-Page Productions that raised $40,000 for the Denver Actors Fund at the Lone Tree Arts Center. (See video at the top of this page.) 

    Dan Langhoff. Annaleigh Ashford. RDG PhotographyLanghoff sang a heart-rending version of What a Wonderful World to acknowledge the support and love he has received from the theatre community throughout his medical ordeal. “All of these performers, this stunning audience, all of these donors make me feel like my fight ahead is just a matter of logistics,” he said.

    (Photos at right, top: Photographer Laura Mathew Siebert, with son Nate Siebert, raised money for Langhoff's cancer fight in 2016 by taking portraits and donating the proceeds. Photo by John Moore. At right: Broadway's Annaleigh Ashford with Langhoff at Klint Rudolph at the April 'United in Love' concert for the Denver Actors Fund. RDG Photography.)

    His final performance was on Sept. 25 at Miscast, a popular annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, and it was one for the ages. Langhoff, Jona Alonzo and Norrell Moore, all actors in the midst of their own cancer journeys, performed a variation of the song Tonight, from West Side Story, that was written by Langhoff and his (pregnant) wife, who also choreographed. It was essentially a rousing declaration of war against cancer, and it brought the Town Hall Arts Center audience to their feet. The trio were immediately dubbed "The Cancer Warriors."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Daniel Langhoff, Jona Alonzo and Norrell Moore perform Sept. 25 at 'Miscast,' a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund, at the Town Hall Arts Center.

    The impact of family

    Everyone close to Langhoff says the courage and unyielding optimism he has shown since his diagnosis can be explained in three simple words: Rebecca, Clara and Naomi. "Those three were everything to him," Murray said. "They were his life."

    He met his R.J.  in a theatre, but Langhoff wasn't on the stage; he was a member of the audience. Joseph caught Langhoff's eye after a performance of Vintage Theatre’s Avenue Q. Langhoff noticed the assistant stage manager — usually one of the most invisible jobs in all of theatre. She eventually agreed to a late-night date at the Rock Bottom Brewery that almost didn’t happen because she was running late. Langhoff was appearing in, ironically, the dating comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Denver Center's Galleria Theatre. She was attending Red at the Curious Theatre, which ran longer than she was expecting. Luckily, he waited. Sanders later married the couple in a ceremony at the Town Hall Arts Center.

    Langhoff recently helped Sanders in a profound creative way when the singer-songwriter went into production on his second solo album (under the name Robert Michael). In 2013, Sanders was the victim of a botched shoulder surgery that partially paralyzed his arms and left him unable to play the guitar. Sanders now writes new music through the help of friends who act as his fingers. Langhoff co-wrote the lyrics and music to a track called Forever that Sanders says is informed in part by their own personal experiences:

    You found your forever. You put your hand in his.
    He pulled you close to him, gave you that forever kiss.
    You found your forever, now you'll wake up every day.

    With him smiling back at you, and you have no words to say.

    And that's OK.
    You found your forever. 

    (To listen to 'Forever' on Spotify, click here. Backing vocals by Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore.)

    As the theatre community struggles to process the news that Langhoff is gone, his friend Murray was asked what Langhoff himself might say to bring comfort to those he leaves behind. His response:

    "I think the Vulcan in Daniel would say to us exactly what he said to me: 'This thing happened. It was outside of everyone's control. I did everything I could to make it not happen, but it still happened. Now what you have to do is move through that and try to move on from that.' "

    In addition to his wife and daughters, Langhoff is survived by his parents, Jeannie and Charlie Langhoff, and his sister, Amy Langhoff Busch.

    After an intimate family service later this week, a larger celebration of Daniel Langhoff's life will be announced in the coming weeks.

    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.

    Here's how to help Daniel Langhoff's family:
    The Denver Actors Fund is accepting targeted donations that will go 100 percent to Rebecca Joseph to help with medical, funeral and expenses. Any eventual excess funds will go toward the future educational needs of daughters Clara and Naomi. Here's how it works: Click here. When prompted, "Where do you want your donation directed?" choose from the pulldown: "For the family of Daniel Langhoff." The Denver Actors Fund will absorb all transactional fees.) If you prefer to mail a check, the address is P.O. Box 11182, Denver , CO 80211. Separately, if you are motivated to start your own campaign to proactively raise additional funds for the Langhoffs, you can create your own personalized fundraising page on the Langhoffs' behalf. To do that, just click on this (different) link. Choose "Start a fundraiser." Follow the instructions from there.

    Photo gallery: A look back at the life of Daniel Langhoff

    Daniel LanghoffTo see more photos, click on the photo above to be taken to our full Flickr album.

    Daniel Langhoff/Selected shows and companies

    • High School: Cherry Creek
    • College: Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • Denver Center for the Performing Arts: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre; A Christmas Carol for the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Arvada Center: A Man of No Importance (Breton Beret), Ragtime (Younger Brother), A Man for All Seasons, A Wonderful Life, The Crucible, Man of La Mancha, Miracle On 34th Street Les Miserables. Children's shows: Charlotte's Web, Lyle the Crocodile, Schoolhouse Rock
    • Town Hall Arts Center: Next To Normal (Dan), Annie (Daddy Warbucks), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Company, Batboy! The Musical
    • Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company: Every Christmas Story Ever Told
    • Firehouse Theatre Compay: The Crucible (Rev. Hale)
    • Miners Alley Playhouse: Pump Boys and Dinettes
    • Performance Now: Man of La Mancha (Cervantes), Ragtime (Tateh)
    • Aurora Fox: Spamalot (King Arthur)
    • Vintage Theatre: Hamlet, Prince of Pork, 18 Holes (Lyle)
    • Next Stage: Assassins (The Balladeer)
    • Magic Moments: The Child
    • Hunger Artists
    • Film: Bouquet of Consequence, Why There Are Rainbows

    Video: Daniel Langhoff presents Community Impact Award to Denver Actors Fund:

  • 'Cancer Warriors' bring powerful inspiration to 'Miscast 2017'

    by John Moore | Oct 01, 2017
    Miscast 2017
    Photos from 'Miscast 2017,' which raised nearly $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund on Sept. 25 at the Town Hall Arts Center. To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are directly downloadable and may be freely used on social media. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Three actors battling cancer help Denver Actors Fund raise almost $7,000 with help from dozens of local theatre artists

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Last year, Miscast 2016 gave birth to the Killer Kids. This year unleashed the Cancer Warriors.

    Miscast, a popular annual community-wide benefit held Sept. 25 at the Town Hall Arts Center, raised $6,842 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief when members of the Colorado theatre community find themselves in situational medical need.

    In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $128,000 in direct aid to help local artists.

    More than 30 local actors performed in roles they would never normally be cast to perform. The event was hosted by Steven J. Burge and Eric Mather, and directed by Robert Michael Sanders, who has produced and presented Miscast in its entirety for four years as his personal contribution to the Denver Actors Fund. Since 2014, Sanders' efforts have now raised $20,011 for the grassroots nonprofit. 

    The most inspiring moment of this and perhaps any other Miscast took place when actors Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles, performed an original variation of the song "Tonight," from West Side Story. The number was put together by Langhoff and his (pregnant) wife, Rebecca Joseph.

    Miscast 2017. Photo by John Moore.

    The evening included the return of "The Killer Kids of Miscast," who were given that name after a remarkable performance at last year in which they performed a twisted variation of "The Cell-Block Tango" from Chicago, accompanied by Donna Debreceni. Most of the kids played a traditional storybook characters such as Little Orphan Annie and Peter Pan. In the year since the performance, a video of that performance has been viewed nearly 500,000 times on YouTube and Facebook. 

    A Miscast. Killer Kids. Photo by John MooreThis time, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel performed a more Denver-centric parody of "Hey Officer Krupke" from West Side Story, in which the same storybook characters sing of getting older and lament not yet being seriously considered for adult roles. (Photo at right by John Moore. Video to come.)

    Those same six kids - and seven others - are also preparing to present a fully stage, self-produced staging of Jason Robert Brown's 13 the Musical, entirely as a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund. Brown also wrote The Last Five Years. Performances are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 8, at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. Information.

    The hosts also engaged audiences in participatory games including Match Game and The Dating Game (with Guest Host Avery Anderson, a college journalist from The Met Report). As guests entered the Town Hall lobby, they were asked if they wanted to be entered into a drawing to play in several on-stage games. Those who did paid $5 - sparing audience members with no desire to leave their seats.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Abner Genece, an actor from the Arvada Center, delivered remarks on behalf of The Denver Actors Fund. In June, Genece was in a life-threatening car accident that resulted in many surgeries and left his 12-year-old son with a broken neck. The Denver Actors Fund has provided more than $6,000 to the Genece family, and volunteers have helped him with groceries and household chores as he recovers.

    Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the nearby Melting Pot restaurant and iN-TEA shop in Littleton, contributed more than $1,000 in prizes for the event. Participating theatre companies included included the Denver Center,  Arvada Center, Aurora Fox, Benchmark Theatre, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre, Cherry Creek Theatre Company, Creede Repertory Theatre, Miners Alley Playhouse, Midtown Arts Center and Performance Now.

    For more information on the Denver Actors Fund and its services, or to donate, go to DenverActorsFund.Org.

    MISCAST 2017:

    Steven J. Burge
    Eric Mather
    Shannan Steele


    • Steven J. Burge, Eric Mather, Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van De Hey, “The Circle of Life,” from The Lion King
    • Jackson Garske, "Waiving Through a Window," from Dear Evan Hansen, as a Starbucks barista
    • Destiny Walsh, “Whatever Happened to My Part,” from Spamalot
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb and Rylee Vogel, "I Know Him So Well,” from Chess, as a (surprise) love song to Denver Actors Fund founder John Moore
    • Jeremy Rill, “Everybody’s Girl,” from Steel Pier
    • Reace Daniel, “Out Tonight,” from Rent
    • Jose David Reynoza and Randy Chalmers competing for the lead role in Funny Girl
    • Hope Grandon, Kenny Moten and Margie Lamb as the three Fionas singing “I Know It’s Today,” from Shrek the Musical
    • Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, singing a variation of “Tonight" from West Side Story as a battle cry against cancer, altered lyrics written by Daniel Langhoff and Rebecca Joseph. Directed and choreographed by Rebecca Joseph.
    • Killer Kids of Miscast: Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel singing a variation of “Hey Officer Krupke,” from West Side Story, about coming of age in the local theatre community. Choreography by Piper Arpan
    • Group finale, “I Will Survive”

    Video: The Cancer Warriors at Miscast 2017:

    Performing here are Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles. Video by John Moore.

  • Performer lineup for 'Miscast 2017' is announced

    by John Moore | Sep 06, 2017
    Miscast 2016

    Photos from 'Miscast 2016,' which raised more than $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund.  To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and press the forward arrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Many of those appearing are giving back to the local nonprofit that was there for them in their time of need

    Miscast 2017, the fourth annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, returns Sept. 25 to the Town Hall Arts Center with funnymen Eric Mather and Steven J. Burge as this year's hosts, it was announced today.

    Mather is the host of the Clocktower Cabaret's weekly BLUSH: A Burlesque Fantasy, while Burge just played God in the DCPA's extended hit comedy An Act of God and soon will return to the Galleria Theatre in the new relationship musical First Date.

    Miscast 2017 hosts Eric Mather and Steven J. BurgeMiscast is an opportunity for some of the local theatre community’s top performers to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever … get cast to perform on a legitimate stage. The program includes audience-participation games and general silliness.

    Last year's Miscast
    raised $7,067 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief for members of the Colorado theatre community facing situational medical need. In just four years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $120,000 in direct aid to help local artists, along with neighborly assistance from a group of 60 volunteers.

    One of the more than 70 artists who have been helped by The Denver Actors Fund is Mather, who received financial and other volunteer support when his son was born last year at just 1 pound, 9 ounces.

    "We are thankful to the Denver Actors Fund and the local theatre community for helping us in our time of financial need," Mather said. "It really does take a village.”

    Actors from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs submitted proposed songs along with their  "Miscast concepts" for judges to consider, and once again, Miscast Director Robert Michael Sanders said he received far more submissions than he had performance slots.

    "This year's turnout was completely overwhelming," said Sanders. All applications were considered by a special selection committee based on variety and cleverness, among other factors. A premium, Sanders said, is placed on submissions that extend beyond simple race- or gender-swapping.

    "We made the choices we think best suit this year's show," said Sanders, who called the resulting list "the best cross-section of talent from many different theaters, types and styles of performances."

    2017 Miscast

    Sanders has announced the following lineup of actors who will either perform or appear at this year's Miscast. But he's keeping their planned songs secret until their performances. The list includes Hope Grandon, PR and Events Manager for the DCPA Theatre Company (and former Chicago performer). Several of those listed have received prior assistance from The Denver Actors Fund, most recently Norrell Moore of the Arvada Center's upcoming A Chorus Line. Moore was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 and has received $3,900 from The Denver Actors Fund to help her through it. The full list (in alphabetical order) is subject to change:

    • Jona Alonzo
    • Avery Anderson
    • Miscast 2016. Photo by John Moore. Randy Chalmers
    • Reace Daniel
    • Jackson Garske
    • Abner Genece
    • Hope Grandon
    • Nick Johnson
    • Margie Lamb
    • Daniel Langhoff
    • Norrell Moore
    • Kenny Moten
    • Jose David Reynoza
    • Jeremy Rill
    • Andrew Uhlenhopp
    • Destiny Walsh
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb

    And featuring the return of the Killer Kids of Miscast:

    • Kaden Hinkle
    • Hannah Katz
    • Darrow Klein
    • Evan Gibley
    • Rylee Vogel
    • Hannah Meg Weinraub

    Creative team:

    • Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    • Musical Director: Donna Debreceni
    • Stage Manager: Maegan Burnell
    • Assistant to the Director: Jessica Swanson

    (Pictured above right: Anna High, Suzanne Connors Nepi, Tim Howard and Barret Harper in 'Miscast 2016.')

    This year's event will include several special performance twists, such as a series of games a la Jimmy Fallon and other late night TV hosts. Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the Denver Center, are contributing more than $1,000 in prizes for the event.

    Miscast 2017: Ticket information

    • Monday, Sept. 25
    • Doors open at 6 p.m.; show starts at 7 p.m.
    • At the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, CO, 80120
    • $20 (plus fees if ordered online)
    • Call 303-794-2787 or order online at townhallartscenter.org
    • Cash bar available

    Learn more about DAF at www.denveractorsfund.org. Follow DAF at Denver Actors Fund on Facebook or on Twitter at @DenverActorsFun.

    Video: The Killer Kids of Miscast 2016

    Watch the video that has been viewed nearly half a million times on social media since last September's 'Miscast 2016.' The so-called 'Killer Kids of Miscast' will be back this year with a new number. The 2016 lineup was Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 'My Brilliant Divorce' and 'A Chorus Line'

    by John Moore | Sep 01, 2017
    For 10 days, the DCPA NewsCenter is offering not just 10 intriguing titles to watch on theatre stages throughout Colorado. This year we are expanding our preview by featuring 10 musicals AND 10 plays. Today is Day 4.

    PLAY OF THE DAY: Avenue Theater’s My Brilliant Divorce

    Featured actor in the video above: Jane Shirley

    • Sept. 8-Oct. 15
    • 417 E. 17th Ave.
    Jane Shirley303-321-5925 or go to avenuetheater.com
    • Playwright: Geraldine Aron

    The story: Angela Kennedy-Lipsky used to be one half of "Angela and Max," the world’s happiest couple. Until Max left her after 25 years for a younger woman. Now, trying to figure out a new life in London, Angela sets off on a hilarious and sometimes poignant journey back to happiness. This consummately observed one-woman modern comedy stars Jane Shirley, best known for her work with the late Rattlebrain Theatre and appearing in Santa's Big Red Sack, The Avenue's long-running caustic Christmas comedy.

    But what is it about? My Brilliant Divorce is about a woman reclaiming her life. It’s about honesty, courage, self-reflection, happiness, humor - and the healing power of chocolate. The play, like most divorces, Shirley says, is happy, sad, dramatic and funny. (Provided by The Avenue Theater.)

    Cast list:
    • Jane Shirley as Angela Kennedy-Lipsky
    • Director: Richard H. Pegg

    MUSICAL OF THE DAY: Arvada Center’s A Chorus Line

    Featured actor in the video above: Matthew Dailey.

    • Sept. 12-Oct. 1
    • 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
    Matthew DaileyCall 720-898-7200 or go to arvadacenter.com
    Conceived and originally directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett
    • Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante
    • Music by Marvin Hamlisch
    • Lyrics by Edward Kleban
    • Co-Choreographed by Bob Avian

    • The story:
    Everything is on the line for 17 dancers as they audition for a highly competitive place in the chorus of a Broadway musical.  Through this exhausting process, their stories and vulnerabilities are laid on the line as they ultimately come together and become one singular sensation. 

    • But what is it about? A Chorus Line captures the one universal experience all performers dread: The audition. From its inception, when a group of real-life Broadway dancers gathered in a dingy New York loft and shared their true experiences, to now, 40 years later, the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Chorus Line remains an Iconic experience and remains one of the most significant musicals of all-time. Colorado native Matthew Dailey says the iconic musical speaks to many people "because it shows the sacrifice all of these performers go through." (Provided by the Arvada Center.)

    Watch video of Matthew Dailey's Jersey Boys homecoming

    Directed by Rod A. Lansberry
    Musical Direction by David John Madore
    Choreography by Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck

    Cast list:
    Stephen Cerf: Zach, The Director
    Jean-Luc Cavnar-Lewandowski: Larry

    The Auditioners:
    Dayna Tietzen: Cassie
    Katie Mitchell: Sheila
    Lexie Plath: Val
    Natalie Kaye Clater: Diana
    Kristen Paulicelli: Judy
    Seles Van Huss: Kristine
    Jordana Grolnick: Maggie
    Jennifer Arfsten: Bebe
    Rae Leigh Case: Connie
    Tucker Worley: Mike
    Michael Canada: Richie
    Matthew Dailey: Don
    Jake Mendes: Paul
    Tyler Jensen: Mark
    Ron Tal: Greg
    Parker Redford: Bobby
    Zachary Scott: Al

    The Ensemble:
    Norrell Moore: Vicki
    Emily Hin: Tricia
    Shannan Steele: Lois
    Danny Kingston: Frank
    Adam Estes: Butch
    David Miller: Roy
    Joe Callahan: Tom           

    Matthew Dailey

    The cast of the Arvada Center's 'A Chorus Line' on the first day of rehearsal. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Our complete 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview:
    Day 1: Curious Theatre's Appropriate and BDT Stage's Rock of Ages
    Day 2: The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now and Rocky Mountain Rep’s Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's General Store and Town Hall Arts Center's In the Heights
    Day 4: Avenue Theater’s My Brilliant Divorce and the Arvada Center’s A Chorus Line
    Day 5: Bas Bleu’s Elephant’s Graveyard and Evergreen Chorale’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Day 6: Firehouse Theatre’s The Mystery of Love and Sex and the Aurora Fox’s ‘Company’
    Day 7: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s The Revolutionists and Off-Center’s The Wild Party
    Day 8: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Pretty Fire and the Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie
    Day 9: Edge Theatre Company’s A Delicate Balance and Midtown Arts Center’s Once.
    Day 10:  Local Theater Company’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias and Thin Air Theatre Company’s The Toxic Avenger Musical

    This 2017 Colorado fall preview is compiled by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore as a service to the Colorado theatre community. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011 and is the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.
  • Ignite Theatre to cease operations after 'The Wiz'

    by John Moore | Jan 07, 2017

    Keith Rabin Jr., Rob Riney and Lindsey Falduto in Ignite Theatre's 'tick…tick…BOOM!'  Photo by Olga Imaging.

    Denver’s Ignite Theatre somehow caught a spark during the worst economic nadir since the Great Depression – and still caught fire. But after seven years of brazen and unapologetically provocative fare, the torch is soon going out on the most unlikely success story in Denver theatre over the past decade.

    Co-founder Will Adams made the announcement at tonight’s opening performance of The Wiz that Ignite is ceasing operations after the show closes at the Aurora Fox on Jan. 29.

    “We’re not mourning; we’re celebrating 31 incredible productions,” Adams said.

    Ignite Keith Rabin QuoteIgnite was facing several significant challenges moving forward, including an overextended board, the impending departure of co-founder Keith Rabin Jr., and the increasing challenge of finding viable performance spaces in the metro area. But Adams said Friday there was no single tipping point. “It’s just time,” he said.

    Ignite was launched in 2009 as Gravity Defied Theatre Company by Rabin, Adams and Reace Daniel, with initial support from the Rocky Mountain Arts Association, home of the Denver Gay Men's Chorus and others. But the driving artistic force was always Rabin, who is co-directing the farewell production of The Wiz.

    “I am so lucky,” Rabin said. “I don’t really know how many people get to say, ‘I wanted to start something new and different and make an impact in my community.’ Well, I get to say that.”

    Ignite was started as a musicals-only company that would introduce regional premieres and revisit groundbreaking musicals of the past. And from its opening staging of bare: the musical, the story of two gay high-school students and their struggles at a Catholic boarding school, Ignite didn’t just push the envelope. It pushed the envelope over the edge and into the fire.

    “No, we were never afraid to be overtly sexual,” Adams said with a laugh. “And the further we pushed the sexuality, the more successful we were for our audience.”

    Rabin told Westword early on that Ignite intended to do shows that no other companies would want to touch because they might have too many f-bombs, or too much sex or drugs. “Those are the types of shows we like to do," Rabin said, “more risqué shows, definitely stuff that nobody has been beating the hell out of. “

    Gravity Defied distinguished itself from all other companies from the start by writing into its mission statement a commitment to donating a portion of its ticket revenues to a designated local charity. While the service commitment was ultimately unsustainable for a bare-bones non-profit, the company did raise $2,000 for Phamaly Theatre Company, which creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities, and $1,500 for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, among others, before giving up the ghost. In 2011, the Rocky Mountain Arts Association ended its partnership with Rabin, which is what had made Gravity Defied eligible for public funding. So after five productions, Rabin and Adams created their own nonprofit called Lucent Performing Arts and changed the name of the theatre company to Ignite. Their new mantra: "Ignite the night." 

    Even with a new name, the theatre continued to live up to its original moniker by defying the odds, if not gravity. “This was always a very unlikely proposition,” Adams said. But Ignite slowly made its name and reputation presenting highly sought regional or Denver premieres like Next to Normal, Spring Awakening, Heathers and American Idiot alongside provocative classics like Pippin, A Chorus Line, Cabaret and Rent - with the occasional You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Into the Woods thrown into the mix to keep audiences off-balance. But Ignite’s bread and spicy butter was a regular stream of smaller cutting-edge titles for the Smash generation like bare, The Wild Party and [title of show]. Ignite's only non-musical title ever was 2011’s The Busy World is Hushed

    (Pictured above and right: Seph Hamilton as Edgar Allan Poe in 'Nevermore.' Photo by Olga Lopez.)

    Adams cites two seminal productions as Pippin (which was somehow accompanied by a 21-piece orchestra) and Green Day’s in-your-face American Idiot.

    “American Idiot was just bad,” Adams said, “And I mean that in the best possible way. It was a risky production, and I think it really sums up what Ignite Theatre can do.” (Story continues below.)

    Photo retrospective: A look back at Ignite Theatre Productions

    Ignite Theatre: A retrospective

    "bare: the musical" was Ignite Theatre's inaugural staging in 2009. To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Although Ignite was never a bricks-and-mortar company, it staged 30 of its 31 productions as a tenant of the Aurora Fox. Adams would like to believe Ignite made the Fox  a more energized and vital force in the growing Aurora Cultural Arts District, which includes the two stages at the Aurora Fox and two more at the nearby Vintage Theatre. And Aurora Fox Executive Producer Charles Packard could not agree more.

    "Ignite attracted people to the neighborhood I was not as focused on with their programming, so that is fantastic,” Packard said. "It’s been great to watch them grow and fill a niche we weren’t filling. That allowed me focus on other under-represented audience groups with mainstage shows like Black Elk Speaks and Porgy and Bess. The same is true with Vintage. When you have a variety of  different companies performing within a few blocks of each other, you are naturally going to attract a wider span of potential audiences." 

    But the partnership hit a hiccup last summer when Aurora city officials informed the Fox it could no longer present simultaneous shows on its mainstage and in its busy studio theatre next door if both were going to require dressing-room space for the actors. That's too many people in too small of spaces. That forced Ignite to move or cancel three upcoming productions. Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe became the first Ignite show ever hosted outside the Fox when it was staged instead at the Crossroads Theatre in Five Points.

    The job to expand the Aurora Fox dressing rooms went to bid just this week, Packard said, and he expects the work to be completed by the end of May. He said he is sad to see Ignite go, “but they have come to the end of a great run.”

    Adams emphasized that Ignite was not in financial straights, but acknowledged the board and artistic leadership could no longer dedicate the time and necessary resources to continue operating a semi-professional theatre company at its current pace. He said Lucent Performing Arts will remain in operation, “and that leaves us open to the possibility of future programming that would carry on in Ignite’s footsteps, such as educational workshops, guerilla theatre or remounts of past productions."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Adams said he can move on with his head held high knowing Ignite Theatre has made a difference in the Denver-area theatre community.

    “Ignite Theatre has positively impacted the lives of many thousands of audience members, as well as hundreds of the actors, directors, designers and musicians who have passed through our doors, many when they were just starting out and have moved on to much bigger things." Adams cited Denver Post Ovation Award winner Rebekah Ortiz, Norrell Moore, Anna High and Lindsey Falduto, among others.

    “This company began as Keith Rabin’s dream,” Adams said. “And I feel very proud that I helped make his dream happen. We made some amazing theatre as a result of that dream."

    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.

    A Ignite Theatre. Lysystrata Jones. Cast of Lysistrata Jones in 2013. Suzanne Simone Poshtography. 

    The Wiz: Ticket information

    • Through Jan. 29
    • Presented by Ignite Theatre at the Aurora Fox
    • 9900 E. Colfax Ave.
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and Monday, Jan. 16.; 2:30 p.m. Sundays
    • Tickets are $20-28
    • 866-811- 4111 or ignitetheatre.com

    Ignite Theatre: Production history
    bare: the musical*

    You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
    Totally Electric*
    The Wild Party*
    [title of show]*

    The Last 5 Years
    A Chorus Line

    The Busy World is Hushed*
    The Great American Trailer Park Musical
    Spring Awakening*
    Sweeney Todd
    Next to Normal

    Lysistrata Jones*
    Avenue Q

    See What I Wanna See*
    Into the Woods

    tick … tick … BOOM!
    La Cage Aux Folles

    Green Day’s American Idiot*
    Heathers The Musical*
    The Wild Party (Aurora Fox and Brighton Armory)
    Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe*

    The Wiz

    *Regional premieres


  • Video: 2015 Henry Awards performance highlights

    by John Moore | Jul 23, 2015

    Here are our performance highlights from Monday's Henry Awards, including Outstanding Actress winner Beth Malone, who came home from her night off in Broadway's Fun Home the Musical to sing from the DCPA's The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which later was named Outstanding Musical. She sang from the songs "I Ain't Down Yet" and "Wait for Me."

    Beth Malone performs from 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' at the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photos by Brian Landis Folkins for the DCPA's NewsCenter.  Also featured are Colin Hanlon of The DCPA's The 12, The Henrys' Outstanding New Play or Musical. He sang the song "Three Times (I Denied)."

    The Town Hall Arts Center​ showcased both its Outstanding Musical nominee Anything Goes ("Blow, Gabriel Blow, featuring Norrell Moore and trumpeter Michael Skillern) as well as Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominee Tim Howard, who performed "I Believe in You" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

    (Photo: Beth Malone performs from 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' at the Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photos by Brian Landis Folkins for the DCPA's NewsCenter.) 

    Also featured were high-school students Curtis Salinger and Ana Koshevoy of Durango High School, who performed a medley from their production of Les Misérables, which in May won the Bobby G Awards' highest honor as Outstanding Musical by a Colorado high school in 2014-15.

    The director of the awards ceremony was Jim Hunt. The musical director was Donna Kolpan Debreceni. Her orchestra included Bob Rebholz, Scott Alan Smith, Larry Ziehl and Michael Skillern.

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    Colorado Theatre Guild honors DCPA with 11 Henry Awards
    The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
    Videos: Our memorial tributes to departed artists in 2014-15
    Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions
    Beth Malone, Colin Hanlon will perform at Henry Awards
    Guest essay by Margie Lamb: Something about the Henry Award doesn't add up

    Colin Hanlon performs from 'The 12' at the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.
    Colin Hanlon performs from 'The 12' at the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. 

  • 2014 True West Award: Norrell Moore

    by John Moore | Dec 01, 2014


    True_West_Award_300Even when she walked on stage as buttoned-up law student Vivienne Kensington in the Arvada Center’s “Legally Blonde” in 2012, Norrell Moore exuded a  star power that was so obvious, it threatened to pop the buttons right off Viv's three-piece suit. We saw it grow when she then played First Lady Rachel Jackson as a comically daft goth cutter in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson for Ben Dicke Productions. And we saw it fully bloom when she made us genuinely care about that dumb, discarded shirt as that heart-wrenching hippie conformist Sheila in Town Hall Arts Center’s Hair. 2014 was a defining year for Moore, who flourished in Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s Sisters of Swing, followed by a run as Fiona in Shrek. Now she’s blowing Gabriel’s horn -- and the roof right off of Town Hall -- as a smoky-eyed and red-lipped Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (playing through Dec. 28). Moore plays the iconic fallen minx as an utterly original, utterly vulnerable maneater. Reno allows Moore to play comedy, seduction and love-sickness all at once, while singing some of the best songs in the Cole Porter canon: "I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re The Top,” “Anything Goes,” “Friendship” and the number that really makes Town Hall’s production set sail – “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”

    1: Norrell Moore
    2. Kate Gleason
    3. Amanda Berg Wilson and Jeremy Make
    4. Ben Cowhick
    5. Robert Michael Sanders
    6. David Nehls
    7. Adrian Egolf
    8. Emma Messenger
    9. Buntport's Naughty Bits
    10. Tim Howard
    11. Gleason Bauer
    12. Daniel Traylor
    13. Aisha Jackson and Jim Hogan
    14. Cast of 'The Whipping Man'
    15. Rick Yaconis
    16. Michael R. Duran
    17. Laura Norman
    18. Jacquie Jo Billings
    19. Megan Van De Hey
    20. Jeremy Palmer
    21. Henry Lowenstein   
    22. Sam Gregory
    23. Wendy Ishii
    24. J. Michael Finley
    25. Kristen Samu and Denver Actors Fund volunteers
    26. Matthew D. Peters
    27. Shannan Steele
    28. Ludlow, 1914
    29. Spring Awakening and Annapurna
    30 Theatre Person of the Year Steve Wilson

    The True West Awards, which began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001, are the longest-running continuously administered awards program in Colorado theater. This year, the awards have been reconceived to simply recognize 30 award-worthy achievements in local theatre, without categories or nominations. A different honoree will be singled out each day for 30 days.

    The True West Awards are administered by arts journalist John Moore, who was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since founded The Denver Actors Fund and taken a groundbreaking position as the DCPA's Senior Arts Journalist. His coverage of the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org.

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.