• 2017 True West Awards: Steven J. Burge and Jeremy Rill

    by John Moore | Dec 30, 2017
    2017 True West Awards The Breakouts  Jeremy Rill Steven J. Burge

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 30: The Breakouts

    Steven J. Burge and Jeremy Rill


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Steven J. Burge and Jeremy Rill are very different performers. Think Sean Hayes and Frank Sinatra. Burge will shock you into gut-busting laughter, while Rill will make you swoon. If Burge is the flamboyant life of the party, then Rill is more, say … sunset on the beach.

    “If there is a spectrum,” said director and actor Robert Michael Sanders, "those two are on the opposite ends of it.”

    The comedian and the crooner.

    Steven J Burge and Jeremy Rill But these two emerging actors have far more in common than you might think. Both had big-time breakout years on Denver stages in 2017 — and both were separately described as “the nicest guy in Denver theatre” in interviews for this very story.

    Something's gotta give.

    Steven Cole Hughes, Burge’s castmate in the Denver Center’s extended hit comedy An Act of God, goes so far as to declare with dead-on eye contact that “Steven Burge is the nicest guy working in the American theatre today. Period.”

    Even Hughes’ 2-year-old daughter, Birdie, backed her father up.

    “Hey Birdie, who is this?” Hughes said, pointing to a poster for An Act of God. The child’s face immediately lit up. She pointed to a photo of Burge playing no less than God Himself, and she declared enthusiastically: “Steven!”

    “She’s 2,” Hughes reiterated. “Even the 2-year-olds love Steve Burge.”

    That’s high praise (or short praise, come to think of it) for Burge, who has been working his way up to this moment with one joyful performance after another since moving from Iowa in 2003, most often in extroverted comic roles. Highlights have included playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors and conquering the epic challenge of playing 40 roles in the one-man comedy Fully Committed. In 2012, Westword’s Juliet Wittman flatly declared, “Steve Burge is one of the funniest actors anywhere.”

    Says his friend and fellow actor Shannan Steele: “I love watching him delight in making others happy.”

    But Burge’s body of work has revealed far greater range and uncommon emotional honesty in stagings such as Dog Sees God at The Avenue Theater (I called him "triumphant" in The Denver Post) and Curious Theatre’s Speech and Debate. No matter how big the character Burge is called upon to play, “you always know there's a real and very interesting person underneath," Wittman wrote.

    (Story continues after the photo.)

    Steven J. Burge United in Love Photo by John Moore
    Steven J. Burge co-hosted the 'United in Love' benefit concert with Eden Lane that raised $40,000 for The Denver Actors Fund.  Photo by John Moore.


    But Burge’s steady career trajectory took a turn for the skyward late last year when he was hired by Director Geoffrey Kent to be the understudy for An Act of God, a pointed social comedy in which God comes down to Earth in human form to set the record straight about the misguided ways in which we sometimes act in God’s name. When Broadway and TV star Wesley Taylor’s contract expired, the Denver Center did not seek out a similarly big-named national replacement. It already had Burge, who smoothly ascended to Almighty status for what turned into an extended run at the Galleria Theatre. The role called on all of Burge’s comic skills, as well as his uncommon gift to make people listen and laugh, even when they might not like what he is telling them. Burge had An Act of God audiences eating out of his holy goblet.

    To say that Burge made an impression in his Denver Center debut would be an understatement.

    “Steven has spot-on comic timing, a fantastic voice and the best rehearsal attitude and esprit de corps I know of,” said Kent. “He improves the quality of everything he touches.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A few months later, Director Ray Roderick punched Burge's ticket for an immediate return trip to the Galleria Theatre in the musical comedy First Date. Gigs at the Galleria are considered jackpot jobs among local actors because they generally come with a minimum six-month contract.

    Burge plays many characters in First Date, most notably the quintessential gay best friend of a young woman who’s just starting to brave the dating pool. The reason Burge succeeds at taking such a stock character and making him meaningfully connect with an audience, says Steele, is his willingness to bring his authentic self to all his roles.

    “The thing you need to know about Steven is that just beneath his hilarious and charming exterior is a beautifully tender, vulnerable, compassionate and generous person,” she said.

    “Steven is the opposite of an old soul. He is brand new to his world ... and his childlike wonder and joy are palpable.”

    800 Red Hot and Cole Cherry Creek Theatre Jeremy Rill Phot by Olga LopezHe’s now being rewarded for paying his many dues, and everyone agrees — it could not be happening to a nicer guy. For years, Burge has been known for saying yes to anyone who asks for his time and talents. This year, he co-hosted a benefit concert at the Lone Tree Arts Center that netted $40,000 for the Denver Actors Fund, and Miscast 2017 at the Town Hall Arts Center, which raised $7,000 more. He also has kept the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards buzzing along since 2012 with his unpredictable comic energy as co-host with GerRee Hinshaw.

    "To me, Burge encapsulates the heart and soul of the Denver theatre community,” Kent said. “He volunteers for almost every arts organization I can list. If Denver were to elect a ‘Theatre Ambassador,’ he would have my vote.”

    Also receiving votes for Nicest Guy in Denver Theatre would be Jeremy Rill, an Arkansas native who already was a big deal in the lofty Chicago theatre scene when he moved to Colorado for love. And it didn’t take long for people to notice.

    “It's that voice,” said his frequent director, Kelly Van Oosbree. “The richness and his absolute control of it is remarkable. The first time I heard Jeremy open his mouth, I said, ‘This guy is going to be big.’ You just can’t deny that voice.”

    Coming Sunday: 2017 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year

    The Performance Now Theatre Company in Lakewood was the first Colorado company to catch wise, casting Rill in the regional premiere of Jane Eyre (Edward Rochester), Guys and Dolls (Sky Masterson) and Ragtime (Younger Brother). By then it was becoming pretty obvious to anyone within earshot that Rill was going to be a man in demand this year.

    Jeremy Rill Miscast Photo by John MooreA lot more people know “that voice” after it opened up and sang for the first time on four different metro stages this year. Rill started out playing no less than Cole Porter himself in the Cherry Creek Theatre Company’s Red, Hot and Cole at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, landing quite cozily among a star-filled cast that included Steele alongside local big-shots Seth Dhonau and Lauren Shealy (both now co-starring with Burge in First Date), Damon Guerasio, Stephen Day, Matt LaFontaine, Sharon Kay White and several others.

    Rill then earned karma points for life when he was asked to join the ensemble of the Arvada Center’s Jesus Christ Superstar after the actor playing Judas had to leave the show for medical reasons. That set off casting dominoes that ended with Rill stepping onto one of the biggest theatre stages in the state a mere four hours before the first performance in front of an audience.

    There’s a reason Arvada Center director Rod Lansberry turned to Rill, whom he had never before cast, when the chips were down, Van Oosbree said. It’s that Sinatra cool.

    “If someone ever asked me to do something like that, I would have said, ‘No, thanks,’ ” Van Oosbree said. “But Rod knew Jeremy could handle the pressure. And he did.”

    That may be one reason karma has smiled back on Rill, who will return to Performance Now to play Cinderella’s prince in Into the Woods opening Jan. 5 at the Lakewood Cultural Center. He then joins the cast of the Arvada Center’s Sunday in the Park with George — and on the first day of rehearsal this time. Rill will play Louis, fiancé of the model who attracts the eye of an artist based on Georges Seurat.

    Superstar led to the 2017 performance that will put Rill on every director’s radar – and wish list — for years to come. Van Oosbree tapped Rill to head another dauntingly loaded ensemble in Stephen Sondheim’s Company for the Aurora Fox that included Shealy, Heather Lacy, Lindsey Falduto, Carolyn Lohr, Rebekah Ortiz, Heather Doris and many others.

    (Story continues below the video.)


    Video bonus: Jeremy Rill performs 'Everybody's Girl' at Miscast 2017:




    You knew going in that Rill would bring any production of Company to a thunderous finish with his take on the forceful ballad “Being Alive.” But what separates a good Company from a great one is an actor who understands that Bobby’s journey is a serious rumination on the relative pros and cons of choosing a married or solitary life. Rill allowed himself to get fully lost in his journey — which at times meant going inside and checking out from the Aurora Fox audience altogether.

    Turns out, as Van Oosbree plainly puts it: Jeremy Rill is not just another pretty voice.

    “He’s also a really good actor,” she said. “He found the vulnerable in Bobby and the underlying pain that I think sometimes goes missing in other performances. The easy thing would be to make Bobby a fun, jovial bachelor, but that’s just not who this man is. Jeremy was clever and he was sexy and he was charming and he was cynical and he was sad. He was all the things. He just killed it.”

    Wrote Ramsey Scott for the Aurora Sentinel: “Jeremy Rill nails the mix of aloofness and emotional despair that plagues his character throughout the show and matches it with a voice that deserves to be the center of attention.”  Added Wittman for Westword: "Jeremy Rill has a richly melodious and supple voice that’s sheer pleasure to listen to."

    Norell Moore by Jeremy RillAnd Rill’s artistry, by the way, is not limited to the stage. He’s also a disarmingly effective portrait photographer who is known for bringing out an astonishing clarity of character in a single frame. Look no further than his revealing portrait of fellow actor Norrell Moore (right) soon after she started chemotherapy for breast cancer.

    “I mean this as no disrespect to any other photographer,” said Sanders. “But if you put 100 random actor headshots in a pile in front of me, I could easily pick out the ones taken by Jeremy because he has such a distinctive style behind the camera. He just has a way of making actors look their best. Maybe it’s because he’s one of them. But somehow he manages to put a sparkle in the eye of every single person he photographs.”

    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 

    Steven J. Burge: 2017
    • The Almighty in DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    • Co-Host, United in Love benefit concert
    • Co-Host, Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards
    • Co-Host, Miscast 2017
    • Multiple roles in DCPA Cabaret’s First Date

    Jeremy Rill: 2017
    • Man 1 (Cole Porter) in Cherry Creek Theatre’s Red, Hot and Cole
    • Ensemble in Arvada Center’s Jesus Christ Superstar
    • Aurora Fox’s Company
    • Emile de Becque in Platte Valley Players' South Pacific (concert version)
    • Performed in Miscast 2017 for the Denver Actors Fund

    Steven J Burge GerRee Hinshaw 2017 Henry Awards BLF Photography
    Steven J. Burge and GerRee Hinshaw co-hosting the 2017 Henry Awards. BLF Photography.


    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 (to date)

     

  • 2017 True West Award: Vance McKenzie

    by John Moore | Dec 28, 2017

    2017 True West Awards Vance McKenzie

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 28: Vance McKenzie

    Lighting Designer

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    To shed a little light on Lighting Designer Vance McKenzie, we offer this bit of illumination: He’s a cool kid with a cool kid. Clearly. He and wife Crystal named their son Grayson — the non-nom de plume of Batman’s original sidekick Robin before he became known in the DC universe as Nightwing.

    Seriously, how cool would it be to have a nickname like Nightwing? As your birthright?

    McKenzie is a busy lighting designer from Carbondale whose friends use other words to describe him as well: Collaborative. Patient. Unafraid. Outside the theatre, they say he's an avid skier who loves board games, role-playing Starship Troopers and playing Xbox. "So yeah, he's a total uber-geek,” says Miners Alley Playhouse Managing Director Jonathan Scott-McKean. (And it takes one to know one.)  

    Vance McKenzie QuoteSuch a fine line between tech-nerd and guardian protector of the universe.

    McKenzie is definitely a superhero to Seth Caikowski, who directed The Wedding Singer last summer with McKenzie as his “let-there-be-light” guy. McKenzie is the resident lighting director for Performance Now Theatre Company at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

    “I would trust him with any type of show,” Caikowski said. “From Shakespeare to Sondheim, Vance will always deliver.” 

    He’s delivered for a wide variety of Colorado theatre companies including the Arvada Center, Colorado Springs TheatreWorks, Performance Now, Phamaly Theatre Company, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre, Miners Alley Playhouse, Platte Valley Players, the University of Denver, Ballet Nouveau Colorado and Lake Dillon Theatre. Those companies perform in venues ranging from a state-of-the-art, 975-seat concert hall to a tiny, 60-seat studio. And it takes a special someone, Scott-McKean says — one might even say cool — to design for both kinds of spaces effectively.

    “Miners Alley Playhouse is a harder place for a lighting designer to work than, say, the Arvada Center because we have fewer instruments and circuits to work with,” Scott-McKean said. “Vance came in here wanting to do highly professional work in a venue that, frankly, was not designed for truly high-quality lighting. But instead of settling, he worked with us to move up in the world and get better gear. He’s upped the game here.”

    Vance McKenzie Adriane Wilson Cabaret Miners Alley Playhouse 400Here’s a brief look at McKenzie’s busy and very varied 2017:

    • Miners Alley Playhouse’s Hir
    • Miners Alley Playhouse’s Cabaret (photo at right of Adriane Wilson, currently appearing in DCPA's 'First Date' as Adriane Leigh Robinson, by Sarah Roshan.)
    • Performance Now’s Man of La Mancha
    Performance Now’s Hello Dolly
    • Performance Now’s The Wedding Singer
    • Performance Now’s The Mervelous Wonderettes
    • Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s Sister Act
    • Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s Ghost
    • Arvada Center’s The Foreigner
    • Platte Valley Players' A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

    Lake Dillon Theatre Company Artistic Director Christopher Alleman said McKenzie’s adaptability made him the perfect choice to simultaneously design two very different film adaptations in its swank new $9 million Silverthorne Arts Center: Sister Act in the 165-seat mainstage theatre and Ghost in the 60-seat studio next door.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Those are two very different spaces,” Alleman said. “Sister Act had more bells and whistles, while Ghost was simple storytelling. Although Vance was successful with both shows, I believe his design in the smaller and more challenging theatre was beautiful.”

    Vance McKenzie Sister ActDespite the obstacles McKenzie faced in designing Cabaret for the 120-seat Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden, Director Len Matheo said McKenzie went the extra mile to make sure the lighting "truly evoked the seedy atmosphere of Berlin’s pre-World War II Kit Kat Club." McKenzie’s lighting ideas even informed the show’s scenic design.

    “We decided early on we wanted to use spotlights,” Matheo said — which, to anyone’s memory, had never been used for any MAP show since its 2003 opening. “Working together, we created actual towers to house those spotlights — and those same towers eventually became the guard towers in the concentration-camp scene.”

    (Photo at right of Lake Dillon Theatre Company's 'Sister Act' by Christopher Alleman.)

    McKenzie, a graduate of Roaring Fork High School, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, teaches lighting for the Community College of Denver. His wife, Crystal, is the Assistant Costume ShopVance McKenzie The Wedding Singer Manager at the Arvada Center and is currently focused on the upcoming Sense and Sensibility, opening Jan. 26. Crystal designed the costumes for Neil Simon's Broadway Bound at MAP last summer and will be designing two more shows there in 2018.

    Here’s more of what those who worked with McKenzie in 2017 had to say about today's True West Award winner:

    • Alleman: “We love working with Vance. We like to surround ourselves with talented and knowledgeable people but, most important, we surround ourselves with generous, kind and collaborative people. Vance is all of those. His spirit in the room is palpable. His goal is to make the show stronger — whether it is his lighting vision or not.  He listens to directors and incorporates their thoughts — without losing his own vision.”
    • Vance McKenzie The ForeignerCaikowski: “Vance understands exactly how to work in challenging spaces. And he has the patience to roll with changes in a very small amount of time. Vance has to navigate around the chaos of load-in and produce an entire show in about two days. All while taking notes and being patient in a sea of frustrations. He is truly incredible."

    (Photo of the DeLorean from The Wedding Singer courtesy Seth Caikowski. Set photo from the Arvada Center's 'The Foreigner' by M. Gale Photography.)

    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

    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 (to date)

  • 2017 True West Award: The Difference-Makers

    by John Moore | Dec 25, 2017

    25 2017 True West Award Combined

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    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
    A DAF 1313 THE MUSICAL:
    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)

    Creative:
    • 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
    Band:
    • Jason Tyler Vaughn: Guitar
    • Heather Holt Hall: Keyboards
    • S. Parker Goubert: Bass
    • Evan Jones: Drums
  • 2017 True West Award: Randy Chalmers

    by John Moore | Dec 17, 2017
    2017 True West Awards Randy Chalmers

    Main photo above: Randy Chalmers performed at 'Miscast 2017,' a benefit for The  Denver Actors Fund, in a number with 'In the Heights' castmate Jose David Reynoza that was spun as a comic competition between two male actors for the lead in 'Funny Girl.'


    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 17: Randy Chalmers

    Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    Town Hall Arts Center
    Inspire Creative and Parker Arts

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Randy Chalmers is a young guy to already have a signature role, but the rising actor joined some heady company this year when he played the same character in Hairspray for the third different company and third different director.

    Only a handful of local actors have ever done it in Colorado, and the names are big: Joanie Brosseau (Evita), Billie McBride (Driving Miss Daisy), Margie Lamb as the mad mother in Next to Normal, Sharon Kay White as Adelaide in Guys & Dolls, Carla Kaiser Kotrc as Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Scott Rathbun as William Barfee in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Carolyn Lohr (Kate Monster) and Leslie Randle (Bad Idea Bear) in Avenue Q, and the great comedian Bill Berry as Mr. Sowerberry (Oliver) among them.

    That overachieving Megan Van De Hey has played Patsy Cline four times in Always … Patsy Cline for four different directors. That's not everyone but ... it's a short list. (Side note: The legendary Melissa Swift-Sawyer has played Patsy five times for four directors in four states.)

    And this year, along came young Randy Chalmers.

    400 Randy Chalmers HAIRSPRAY Photo Becky TomaThe Colorado Springs native, whose very first postgraduate performance was a breakout turn as Seaweed J. Stubbs in Hairspray for Performance Now in 2014, joined that rarefied group this year by again playing Seaweed in back-to-back stagings of the sweetly subversive John Waters musical for the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton and then Inspire Creative in Parker.

    How back-to-back? He was in performances for one when rehearsals began for the other.

    Chalmers’ roster of Hairspray directors goes like this, in order: Kelly Van Oosbree, Nick Sugar and Liane M. Adamo.

    (Photo above right: Randy Chalmers in Town Hall Arts Center's 'Hairspray.' Photo by Becky Toma.)

    One might imagine that playing the same role for a third time could start to become old hat for an actor. Van De Hey says “the difficulty comes in being open to new direction and not just re-creating the exact same performance.” Re-creation, she says, is easy. “Finding new is difficult.”

    But Tanner Kelly, the Music Director for Inspire Creative’s Hairspray collaboration with Parker Arts in July, said Chalmers approached the challenge as a professional in every sense of the word. “Though Randy was still playing Seaweed in another production, he was willing and ready to try our fresh take and adapt to what we wanted for our production,” Kelly said. “Not only did I love what he brought to Seaweed and to our version of Hairspray, I also loved what Randy brought to the table as a human being.”

    Seaweed is the charismatic son of R&B icon Motormouth Maybelle in the story, set in segregated 1962 Baltimore. He’s a charming, silky-smooth dancer but is only allowed to appear on a popular local TV dance show on the designated monthly Negro Day. And in falling in love with an impressionable white teenager, Seaweed turns a woke Penny Pingleton into a gleefully proud Checkerboard Chick. In Chalmers’ case, make that Checkerboard Chicks: Scene partners Chelsea Ringer, Cara Lippitt and Christy Oberndorf.

    (Story continues below the photo)


    Randy Chalmers True West Awards Seaweed
    Above: Randy Chalmers in three productions of 'Hairspray': Photos by Becky Toma (left), Pam Spika (middle) and RDG Photography (right).

    2017 was remarkable Chalmers for more than just Hairspray. The role that perhaps even more clearly signaled the emergence of a mature leading man was his follow-up performance in Town Hall’s In the Heights. Randy Chalmers Rose Van Dyne IN THE HEIGHTS Town Hall Photo By Becky Toma

    That's Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Fiddler on the Roof-inspired love letter to the gentrifying Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. Chalmers played Benny, a taxi-cab dispatcher who falls in love with the Puerto Rican boss’ daughter, Nina.

    “Chalmers smooth, riffy voice is exactly what the role requires,” wrote Broadway World reviewer Chris Arneson. Or, as esteemed Music Director Donna Debreceni puts it: “He’s got a voice like buttah.”

    Says Sugar, who has now directed Chalmers in five productions: “It's great to see Randy embrace his strengths and talents and shine as a performer. He continues to get stronger as a musical-theater actor with each show, and it's exciting to watch that growth come alive on stage.”

    (Pictured at right: Randy Chalmers with Rose Van Dyne in Town Hall Arts Center's 'In the Heights.' Photo By Becky Toma.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Chalmers graduated from General William Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs and attended the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. His early credits in Denver include major opportunities made possible by the late, audacious Ignite Theatre, including Rent and Dreamgirls.  

    Audiences presently can see Chalmers in a completely different light this holiday season as a Wickersham Brother in Town Hall’s kid-friendly (and nearly completely sold-out) Seussical. He’ll follow that by playing Sebastian for Inspire Creative in the first homegrown production of The Little Mermaid since Disney first introduced the developing musical to the world here on its way to Broadway in 2007. The Inspire Creative production will play at the PACE Center from Jan. 19-Feb. 11.

    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.

    Randy Chalmers 2017: 

    • Destiny Walsh and Randy Chalmers at Miscast 2017. Photo by John Moore.Ensemble in Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Toxic Avenger The Musical
    • Seaweed J. Stubbs in Hairspray, Town Hall Arts Center
    • Seaweed J. Stubbs in Hairspray, Inspire Creative and Parker Arts
    • Benny in In the Heights, Town Hall Arts Center
    • Wickersham Brother in Seussical, Town Hall Arts Center

    They said it:

    • Donna Debreceni, In the Heights Music Director: "Whether he is a Wick in Seussical; or a pig in Shrek; or Flick in Violet; or Seaweed in Hairspray; or most recently, an amazing Benny in In the Heights, Randy’s instincts and innate musicality are something I can always depend on and — most important — enjoy.”
    • Alisa Metcalf, Performance Now Artistic Director: “He’s very reliable, a hard worker and just a really sweet person … and super-talented to boot.”

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards


    Video bonus: Inspire Creative's Hairspray cast appears at Alamo Drafthouse:

  • 2017 True West Award: Cory Sapienza

    by John Moore | Dec 03, 2017
    True West 2017 Cory Sapienza Miners Alley Hir

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 3: Cory Sapienza

    Hir
    Miners Alley Playhouse

    This time last year, we here at the True West Awards were acknowledging Buntport Theater for adapting transitioning novelist Miriam Suzanne’s Riding SideSaddle for the stage. Because for all its presumed inclusiveness, the theatre at large has made very little room in the storytelling canon for those whose chromosomes straddle that crumbling boundary between strictly male and female. There have been virtually no stories about people whose gender identities either vary over time, or have come to include a combination of identities.

    And so, despite the 2016 award, Buntport ensemble member Erin Rollman was quick to point out that telling one trans person’s story was just a step, no more. “And the next step includes getting more trans actors on-stage and fully participating in the storytelling,” she said.

    So it was a big deal when Miners Alley Playhouse took one decisive step in that direction in February by casting high-school sophomore Cory Sapienza to play Maxine, a character who is transitioning into Max, in Taylor Mac’s absurd and disturbed comedy Hir. It’s the grossly exaggerated story of a dysfunctional family scarred by war, patriarchy, sexual abuse, racism, PTSD, sadism, and drug abuse. ... And then there's Max, whose unprecedented storyline is just one piece of the larger family dynamic at play.

    Oldest son Isaac is a troubled Marine whose job in Afghanistan was collecting body parts to send back home. He returns to a Durang-worthy family that has turned into a twisted clown show – literally. Sapienza, who identifies as a transguy, plays Isaac’s trans-masculine younger brother who, thanks to pills he buys off the internet, is starting to sprout some impressive facial hair.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Safe to say: This is not the kind of play Miners Alley Playhouse audiences are used to seeing. Meaning: It ain’t Neil Simon. And maybe that’s the point.

    Cory Sapienza Spotlife. Photo by Sarah RoshanDirector Josh Hartwell wasn’t all that interested in staging this play if he could not find a gender-appropriate actor with the depth the pull off the tricky role of Max. To Hartwell, it wasn’t just a matter of creating an opportunity for an invisible class of local actors. It was about creating a play with artistic credibility. And he had guidance from the playwright, who strongly urges anyone staging Hir to find a transgender actor to play Max.

    Enter Sapienza, who identifies himself in his Facebook profile as: "Actor. Artist. Transgender. Hufflepuff!” He was coming off an ensemble appearance in Performance Now’s Bye Bye Birdie. But Hartwell saw much stranger things in his immediate future.

    (Pictured above and right: Cory Sapienza and Royce Roeswood in the Miners Alley Playhouse's 'Hir.' Photo by Sarah Roshan.)

    “It’s a challenging script because it’s so dark and frankly hard to live in,” Hartwell said. “But Cory was prepared every day. He showed up every day with a great attitude, was willing to take direction and go to the places I asked him to go to. And it helped that he really understood the role.”

    Westword’s Juliet Wittman said Sapienza, who benefited greatly from a stellar supporting cast of Royce Roeswood, Martha Harmon Pardee and Marc Stith, made for “a convincing and sometimes touching Max.”

    In the Spotlife: Our full interview with Cory Sapienza

    Sapienza said Max has had a very different trans experience from his own, because he comes from what he calls a loving, stable and supportive home. What he loved most about this play, he said, “is that it focuses on issues that are so common, and yet so often overlooked. I loved playing a character who helped bring visibility to the transgender community.”

    It was a small step forward — but a daring one.

    "That playwrights are starting to write parts for trans actors is progress," Hartwell said. That smaller theatres like Miners Alley Playhouse are choosing a play like Hir out of the thousands of scripts they could stage is progress. That audiences in Golden were open to seeing it is probably the greatest progress of all.

    “But it’s not enough yet.” 

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

  • Local theatres respond to actor's death with challenges, collections, dedications

    by John Moore | Nov 16, 2017
    Daniel Langhoff Ragtime. Performance Now
    Daniel Langhoff recently starred as Tateh in Performance Now's 'Ragtime,' above. The company has unanimously voted to donate 2 percent of all net profits from every show in the 2017-18 season to the Denver Actors Fund in Langhoff's name.


    Performance Now issues an extraordinary challenge as others announce creative ways to support Langhoff family

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    This week's death of beloved local actor Daniel Langhoff has galvanized the Colorado theatre community and beyond, with targeted donations to Langhoff's wife and two infant daughters through the Denver Actors Fund already reaching $23,578 in four days. READ MORE HERE

    Daniel Langhoff NaomiPerhaps most immediate and most remarkable: Performance Now Theatre Company has not only made a substantial donation of $1,000 to the Langhoff family, the company's Board of Directors on Monday unanimously agreed to donate 2 percent of all net profits from every show in the 2017-18 season to the Denver Actors Fund to be used at its discretion.

    "We challenge all Denver-area theatre companies to do the same," Performance Now Executive Producer Ken Goodwin and Artistic Director Alisa Metcalf said in a joint statement. "Imagine how much more the DAF could help others if the companies themselves got involved and the DAF would not have to rely as heavily on individual donations."

    (Pictured above and right: Daniel Langhoff with second daughter Naomi, who was born Nov. 2, just 10 days before he died from cancer.)

    Performance Now even made the initiative retroactive, sending a separate contribution of $386 for its recent production of The Marvelous Wonderettes. Coming up next: Into the Woods opening Jan. 5 at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

    Langhoff has been a major player with Performance Now, having recently starred in both Ragtime and Man of La Mancha at the Lakewood Cultural Center. The challenge is all the more remarkable given that when Performance Now lost longtime Artistic Director Nancy Goodwin (Ken's wife) to breast cancer in 2007, it established a scholarship fund in her name to aid and reward young college students who are working toward a degree in the performing arts.

    "All performing-arts nonprofits face extraordinary funding challenges as a matter of course," said Denver Actors Fund President Will Barnette. "When nonprofits with already stretched resources still find a way to support other nonprofits, that is kind of remarkable, when you think of it." 

    Donate to the Denver Actors Fund's Langhoff collection

    Daniel


    Barnette added that The Denver Actors Fund does have a modest, ongoing giving campaign in collaboration with area companies called the Tap Shoe Initiative, in which participating companies choose one night per run of a show to collect spare change for the DAF. To date, the initiative has raised about $20,000. Companies interested in participating are encouraged to email Debbie Weinstein Minter at sk8bug77@yahoo.com.

    Elsewhere, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced that it is dedicating the opening performance and the entire run of First Date, opening Friday, as well as the entire run of A Christmas Carol, to Langhoff.

    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.

    “Daniel was a brilliant actor and comedian who loved to laugh almost as much as he loved to hear others laugh," said First Date director Ray Roderick.

    Through curtain speeches, information in the show programs and DCPA NewsCenter, the DCPA will be directing audiences to make targeted donations to the Langhoff family.

    Immediate efforts to add to the Langhoff fund:

    Many other individuals and theatre companies have responded with creative entrepreneurial efforts to add to the total over the coming days and months. Here is a roundup:

    • A November Denver Dolls 400The Aurora Fox's new monthly cabaret series this weekend (Nov. 17-18) features The Denver Dolls presenting their USO/Andrews Sisters tribute, performed in the style of The Manhattan Transfer. The Dolls, presented by YearRound Sound, are led by frequent DCPA performer and Langhoff castmate Heather Lacy, who will lead a collection as audiences leave the studio theatre at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora. 303-739-1970 or BUY TICKETS
    • BDT Stage opens its new production of Annie this weekend and will make an audience appeal for donations to the Langhoff fund at performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 17-19). 5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com
    • Local actor, choreographer and certified fitness instructor Adrianne Hampton is holding a benefit "Broadway Boot Camp" at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19, with all proceeds and donations going to Langhoff's family. What is a Broadway Boot Camp? Well, it's a workout, with showtunes. "It’s a place where theaA Daniel Langhoff Vintage. Honemoon in Vegas RDG Photographytre people can come to hone their skills and support each other," Hampton said. "Just come, bring your dancing shoes and have fun dancing. If you don't want to be part of the class, you can come and watch or just come and make a donation." $15. Littleton Ballet Academy 1169 W. Littleton Blvd.
    • Vintage Theatre has announced that all proceeds from the industry-night performance of its new musical Honeymoon in Vegas on Monday, Nov. 27, will go to Langhoff's family, including, remarkably, box office. The DAF's Sue Leiser will lead a collection brigade. All tickets are $15 for this performance only. At 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or BUY TICKETS
    • Daniel Langhoff Community BETCThe Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company will also donate 100 percent of the proceeds from its official opening performance of Every Christmas Story Every Told on Dec. 13 to the DAF's Langhoff Fund. Langhoff was a cast member of this very same show at this time last year. "Daniel Langhoff will be deeply missed by all the artists who had the opportunity to work with him...and there were so many," said BETC Managing Director Rebecca Remaly Weitz. "He touched so many of us with his wit, optimism, persistence, kindness and humor. Our hearts go out to his family." Additional donations will be accepted at the door on Dec. 13. At the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or BUY TICKETS

    Details on a life celebration for Daniel Langhoff are expected to be announced soon.

    Pictures above, from top: The Denver Dolls; James Thompson and the cast of A Daniel Vintage Theatre's Honeymoon in Vegas (RDG Photograph and Daniel Langhoff in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Every Christmas Story Every Told (Michael Ensminger). 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 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:

    Hosts:
    Steven J. Burge
    Eric Mather
    Shannan Steele

    Program:

    • 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.

  • 2016 True West Award: Daniel Langhoff

    by John Moore | Dec 15, 2016
    Daniel Langhoff

     



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff

    When a man is diagnosed with cancer, he tends to take stock. Make a bucket list. Daniel Langhoff made a bucket list of dream roles - both of them dreamers: Tateh, the immigrant single father in the epic musical Ragtime, and the chivalrous knight Don Quixote in the epic musical Man of La Mancha.

    Both characters are kind, inventive men who see the world not as it is, but how it should (or could) be. “They are both Daniel,” said director Kelly Van Oosbree, the director of both productions for Performance Now Theatre Company in Lakewood.

    Daniel Langhoff picked the year he got his life back to have the year of his life as an actor.

    A Daniel Langhoff QuoteA year ago, when Langhoff was just beginning a six-month round of chemotherapy, he got word that Performance Now would soon be staging Ragtime. He called Van Oosbree to express his interest in playing Tateh, the poor inventor who rises to become one of the most prominent silent-film directors of the era.

    “I remember thinking, ‘How in the hell is this going to happen?’ ” Van Oosbree said. This was December, just a few months after Langhoff married, became a father and was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. Van Oosbree knew he had just begun chemotherapy.

    “I couldn’t wrap my brain around it because if were in the same situation, I wonder how I would even cope,” she said. “But Daniel did not let cancer stop him from doing anything.”

    Quite the contrary. Langhoff had surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes in October – then immediately joined the cast of the DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, fitting rounds of chemo into 10-show weeks at the Denver Center. Then, on to Ragtime.

    Langhoff, 41, 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 now wanted to complete the circle by playing Tateh for Performance Now. Like Tateh, Langhoff was now a first-time father, having welcomed daughter Clara into the world with wife Rebecca Joseph earlier in the year.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “As a father and a dreamer, Tateh was a role that speaks to him,” Van Oosbree said. As surely will the  imprisoned author Miguel de Cervantes, the chivalrous and blindly hopeful dreamer who sees beauty in brokenness and uses the power of storytelling to save his own life. Langhoff, in his own way, has used storytelling, insistent optimism, the love of family – and amazing advancements in medicine – to save his own.

    Arvada center 40. Daniel Langhoff. Provided by the Arvada Center, Matthew Gale Photography 2016.In July, he was declared cancer-free. He celebrated by performing as a featured vocalist in the Arvada Center's 40th anniversary concert outdoors alongside fellow big-time local musical-theater stars Megan Van De Hey, Lauren Shealy and Stephen Day, accompanied by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. (Picture above by Matthew Gale Photography). He then played the Rev. John Hale in Arthur Miller’s classic The Crucible for Firehouse Theater Company. The minister is the dupe who comes to Salem intent on seeing witchcraft at play. Currently he's appearing in the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's regional premiere of the madcap Every Christmas Story Ever Told though Dec. 24. After Man of La Mancha (Jan. 6-22), he will join the ensemble of Jesus Christ Superstar for the Arvada Center (March 24-April 16), then perform the music of Johnny Cash in Ring of Fire for Vintage Theatre (June 23-Aug. 6).

    Daniel Langhoff and Anna Eastland in Ragtime. Photo by Rachel D. Graham PhotographyVan Oosbree said it was a coup for her to get Langhoff to even audition for Ragtime. Not because Performance Now doesn’t do great work, but because it’s not a place where an actor makes a living. “And Daniel was making a living as an actor,” Van Oosbree said. “You come to Performance Now because you love it, and Daniel loved it. It really, really meant something for him to play Tateh – and it meant something to all of us that he wanted to do it here.

    “Daniel doesn’t care about the money. He cares about doing thought-provoking, meaningful theater.”

    But there’s no question, Van Oosbree said, that Langhoff’s battle with cancer enhanced his portrayal of Tateh. It made his performance somehow deeper and richer; sweeter and more soulful, she said.

    “I think anyone who goes through something like that realizes how important and brief our time is,” she said. “And that makes you more grateful for the time that you have.”

    Langhoff is not winning a True West Award for overcoming cancer. He’s winning a True West Award for overcoming cancer as a new husband and father, all while conquering one big role after another, and maintaining an uncommon kindness and humility throughout.

    (Photo above and right: Daniel Langhoff and Anna Eastland in 'Ragtime.' Photo by Rachel D. Graham Photography.)

    Daniel Langhoff/At a glance

    • High School: Cherry Creek
    • College: Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • DCPA connection: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre; A Christmas Carol for the DCPA Theatre Company
    Daniel Langhoff and Lisa Kraai in The Crucible. Photo by Christine Fisk.
    Daniel Langhoff and Lisa Kraai in Firehouse's 'The Crucible.' Photo by Christine Fisk.


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS

    The True West Awards, now in their 16th 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 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride

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

  • Video Playlist: Our 2016 Henry Awards coverage

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016


    The fifth in our series of videos from the 2016 Henry Awards brings you the names of every winner being called out, and highlights from their acceptance speeches.

    The Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards were held on July 18, 2016, at the PACE Center in Parker. More videos will be added to this special YouTube playlist.

    Videos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Watch our montage of performance highlights

    Watch Deborah Persoff accept the Lifetime Achievement Award

    Watch Melody Duggan accept the Theatre Educator Award

    Watch our 2016 Memoriam video


    Recent NewsCenter coverage of the Henry Awards:

    2016 Henry Awards a triumph for Theatre Aspen, Rabbit Hole
    Preview: Henry Awards welcome Theatre Aspen to the party
    DCPA leads hugely expanded pool of 2016 Henry Award nominees
    Paige Price: From Broadway to Sex With Strangers
    DCPA leads way with 11 2015 Henry Awards

    Our complete photo gallery from the Henry Awards:

    2016 Henry Awards

    Photos by Brian Landis Folkins and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the forward arrow above.

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zaXig4EKD8I?list=PLexX4Wflzocm3436-lTxQoy5ppYZSH9Px" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>Kevin Copenhaver accepts his Henry Award for Outstanding Ciostume Design for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Sweeney Todd.' Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.
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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.