• 2017 True West Award: Brandon Case

    by John Moore | Dec 09, 2017
    True West Award 2017 Brandon Case

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 9: Brandon Case

    Aurora Fox
    Technical Director
    Scenic Designer

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Brandon Case’s current program bio is far more revealing than most. In it, the Aurora Fox’s Technical Director and resident Scenic Designer describes himself as “skinny as a pencil, smart as a whip and possibly the scariest man currently living.”

    And who’s going to argue with that?

    Wait, what’s that, you say? He’s quoting the Wes Anderson movie Fantastic Mr. Fox? Well that works, too. Because if you ask anyone how the Aurora Fox just pulled through the most challenging year in its 33-year history, they will pretty much say it was The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

    Brandon Case Softball True West Awards After longtime Executive Director Charles Packard resigned in May, Case and Production Manager Jen Orf stepped up and led the remaining staff through a transition that is now in its seventh month.

    “Brandon stepped up when they were down with more time, more hours and more leadership,” said director, actor and former Fox employee Robert Michael Sanders. “It would have been really easy for him to roll over and wait to see what the coming changes would bring. But instead he took over. And he refused to let anything take away from the quality of the work that they were doing.”

    Patron Services manager Beau Bisson puts it this way: “If theatre were a dodge-ball game — as it often feels like — Brandon would always be my first pick as a teammate. When he’s around, you get this sense that everything will work out. Because when things hit the fan, you want Brandon Case to be there.”

    A short list of Case’s job duties this year includes overseeing the building facilities and all its sound and light equipment. Because the Fox is owned by the city of Aurora, Case also supervised departmental budgets, schedules and hiring, all while navigating the additional layer of municipal oversight.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Case is the rare Technical Director who also doubles as resident Scenic Designer. And in 2017, he brought five wildly different worlds to vivid life on the Fox’s main stage: Myth, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Stephen Sondheim’s Company, the current Hi-Hat Hattie and Tales of a 4th-Grade Nothing for the Little Foxes children’s troupe.

    And he gets around. This very month, Case has three theatrical designs in theatres across the metro area: The Fox’s Hi-Hat Hattie (through Dec. 23), The Edge Theatre’s Resolutions (through Dec. 31) and he made significant contributions to Lone Tree Arts Center’s Home for the Holidays (through Dec. 17).

    Case is a Littleton native who was home-schooled and just kind of appeared at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center in 2006 offering to help out as a set-builder and sound operator. He was hired full-time by the Aurora Fox in 2011 and has since become known for creating all types of scenery and props using many forms of carpentry, metalwork, mechanics and automation.

    In that aforementioned Aurora Fox program bio, Case also claims to be “married to the prettiest girl in town” — and that’s not a line cribbed from a Wes Anderson movie. That would be Rae Leigh Case, an actor and costume designer currently appearing in the Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (through Dec. 23).

    A Brandon Case Myth True West Awards 400And what she wants you to know is that Case hand-crafts and hand-paints virtually his entire scenic designs, down to the crown molding now framing the Hi-Hat Hattie opera-hall set. The “skull mound” in She Kills Monsters? The cool steam-punk look for Jekyll and Hyde? The wilderness campfire in Myth? “He doesn’t go on eBay or to thrift stores to find that stuff,” she said. “Brandon makes all of that himself, no matter how many hours it takes.”

    (Pictured at right: 'Myth' at the Aurora Fox. Photo by Christine Fisk.)

    This past April, Case took on one of the great scenic challenges of his career: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which is a journey across the Australian outback on an oversized tour bus that, in real life, would never even remotely fit on the Aurora Fox stage. Case went out and found the bus, chopped it down to a manageable size and then added all of the requisite lights, paint and glitter. And he did virtually all of that work by himself (with some help from his brother). Just take a look at the time-lapse video below:

    Time-lapse video of 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' Scenic Designer (and Aurora Fox Technical Director) Brandon Case pulling an all-nighter to assemble the bus. All by himself.

    “Theaters the size of the Aurora Fox often have an entire scenic department," Rae Leigh Case said. “But at the Fox, it’s usually it’s just Brandon and one other dude he hires." 

    Brandon Case Hi Hat Hattie True West AwardsBisson says Case is equal parts artist and craftsman. “It seems cliché to say that he continually surprises me with his work, but truly, he continually surprises me with his work,” he said. “He’s like the John Napier of The Aurora Fox. Or MacGyver. Or both.”

    And aside from being a meticulous artist, Bisson said, Case happens to be not the scariest man currently living. Instead, “he’s funny, a great listener and deeply passionate about The Aurora Fox.” Qualities that came in most handy in 2017. “This year, I would add backstage counselor and peacekeeper," Bisson said.

    He was, for lack of any better way to put it: The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

    “I try to make it as known as possible,” his wife says, “that Brandon’s abilities go so beyond far beyond what people know of so far. I think he is going to change the face of set design in this theatre community."

    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.

    Brandon Case: 2017 Scenic Designs

    • Myth, Aurora Fox
    • Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Aurora Fox
    • Company, Aurora Fox
    • Hi-Hat Hattie, Aurora Fox
    • Tales of a 4th-Grade Nothing, Aurora Fox children’s theatre
    • Resolutions, Edge Theatre
    • Home for the Holidays (contributed), Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Also: Technical Director of the Aurora Fox’s Chinglish

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards (to date)

  • 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:

  • October: Here's what's coming this month in Colorado theatre

    by John Moore | Oct 05, 2017
    A October 610


    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.


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Five intriguing titles for October:

    NUMBER 1DCPA October. Something RottenEdgar Allan Poe Is Dead and So Is My Cat. The newest creation from the all-original Buntport Theater Company ensemble will open the company's 17th season of toying with theatrical conventions in absurd, playful and often hilarious ways. Despite the title, this new comedy is unlikely to be spooky. A guy lives in his sister's basement, recording podcast episodes dedicated to his hero, the Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe. Much to his sister's dismay, he takes very little interest in anything else. But change is on the way, coming in the unlikely form of a thrift-store suit. Oct. 27-Nov. 18 at 717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    NUMBER 213, The Musical. What do most kids do when they want to raise money for charity? Set up a lemonade stand, or organize a car wash? This group of 13 Denver-based teenagers who have grown up on professional stages throughout the metro area are putting on this musical that Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years) wrote specifically for and about teenagers in transition. The cast is fully self-producing the production with help from some of the local theatre community’s biggest names, including Robert Michael Sanders, Piper Arpan and Paul Dwyer.  All proceeds go to The Denver Actors Fund. Two performances only: 2 and 7 p.m. this Sunday (Oct. 8) at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., ticketor.com/13themusicalforthedenveractorsfund

    NUMBER 3La Carpa Aztlán presents: I Don't Speak English Only. Su Teatro brings back its homegrown classic dystopian comedy that rises from the past to imagine a future world where all diversity is prohibited and any expression of 'the other' has been forced underground. The play with music, written by Artistic Director Anthony J. Garcia, is based on the Mexican "tent-show tradition," which emerged during the 1920s in small towns across the Southwestern United States and Mexico. Carpas were looked at as lower-class entertainment, but some of Mexico's greatest performers came out of the carpa tradition, including the man Charlie Chaplin called the world's greatest comedian: Mario Moreno, better known as Cantinflas. Oct. 12-28 at 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org.

    NUMBER 4A Kenny MotenAurora Fox Cabaret series. The local theatre scene has long been lacking a late-night, New York-style cabaret component, but not for lack of trying. The Aurora Fox is giving it its best shot by committing to an entire year of cabaret in its smaller studio theatre, with featured local luminaries who will get up close and personal enough to tickle your ivories. Each featured performer will present an evening of songs curated by the artists themselves. Kicking off the new series is Denver and Fort Collins favorite Kenny Moten (Oct. 27-28) with his show 12 O’Clock Tales: An Evening of Songs and Stories. It's comprised of jazz and musical theatre classics, with a sprinkling of poems and personal stories. The Denver Dolls will follow with their USO/Andrews Sisters tribute, performed in the style of The Manhattan Transfer. The Dolls are led by frequent DCPA performer Heather Lacy, currently starring as Joanne in the Aurora Fox's production of Company.  9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org

    NUMBER 5Arvada Center The Foreigner. Matthew GaleThe Foreigner. Denver audiences might not know that Colorado Springs actor Sammie Joe Kinnett is one of the funniest comic performers in the state. They will after they see him in Larry Shue's reliable comedy The Foreigner, which launches the Arvada Center's second season of repertory plays performed by a resident company of actors. It's the story of a painfully shy Brit who pretends not to speak English awhile visiting a rural Georgia hunting lodge and soon knows way more about his fellow travelers than is good for his health. The cast includes  Edith Weiss, Greg Ungar, Lance Rasmussen, Jessica Robblee (DCPA's Frankenstein), Josh Robinson (DCPA's All the Way) and Zachary Andrews. The director is Geoffrey Kent (DCPA's An Act of God). Oct. 13-Nov. 18 at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org


    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Oct. 5-Oct. 29: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Oct. 6-28: The Bug Theatre and Paper Cat Films’ Night of the Living Dead…Live! On Stage!
    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info

    Oct. 6-22: StageDoor Theatre's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Oct. 6-Nov. 5: The Edge Theater Company's A Delicate Balance
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Oct. 6-Nov. 10: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's The Vagrant 2011 REVIEW
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.com

    Oct. 6-Nov. 26: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Legally Blonde, The Musical
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    Oct. 7-29: Theatre Esprit Asia's Hearts of Palm
    At ACAD Gallery, 1400 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-492-9479, or theatre-esprit-asia.org

    Oct. 7-22: PopUp Theatre's On Golden Pond
    At The Masonic Temple, Blue Room, 225 W. Oak St., Fort Collins, eventbrite.com

    Oct. 7-Nov. 11: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's Medea
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.com



    Oct. 12-31: Off-Center’s The Wild Party
    At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St. Aurora, 303-893-4100 or wildpartydenver.com READ MORE

    Oct. 12-28: La Carpa Aztlan presents: I Don’t Speak English Only
    At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org

    Oct. 12-22: The Upstart Crow's Richard III
    Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave., Boulder, 303-442-1415 or theupstartcrow.org

    Oct. 12-29: Springs Ensemble Theatre’s Afterlife: A Ghost Story
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Oct. 12-21: Fountain Community Theatre's A Night of Dark Intent
    Dean Fleischauer Activities Center, 326 Alabama Ave., Fountain, CO, fountaintheater.org

    Oct. 13-Nov. 18: Arvada Center's The Foreigner (black-box theatre)
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Oct. 13-21: Platte Valley Players' To Kill a Mockingbird
    At The Armory at the Brighton Cultural Center, 300 Strong St., Brighton, 303-227-3053 or plattevalleyplayers.org

    Oct. 13-22: Town Hall Arts Center's The Lannie Garrett Revues
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.com

    Oct. 13-28: Longmont Theatre Company's The Rocky Horror Show
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    A October Night of the Living DeadOct. 13-Dec. 29: Arvada Center's A Year With Frog and Toad (children’s) 
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Oct. 13-Nov. 12: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Bunnicula  (children's)
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Oct. 13-31: Theatrix USA's Taking Tea with the Ripper
    Bovine Metropolis Theater, 1527 Champa St., bovinemetropolis.com

    Oct. 14-Nov. 11: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre and Theatre Or present Buyer & Cellar
    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Opening Oct. 14: Buntport Theater's Siren Song (ongoing children's series, second Saturdays through May 2018)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Oct. 17-29: National touring production of Something Rotten!
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    A 800 BIRDS BOULDER ENSEMBLEOct. 19-Nov. 12: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Birds of North America
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    Oct. 19-Nov. 5: TheatreWorks' Wild Honey
    At the Bon Vivant Theatre, 3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Oct. 19-21: Millibo Art Theatre's The Long Way
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org

    Oct. 20-Nov. 19: DCPA Theatre Company's Smart People
    Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Oct. 20-Dec. 31: Avenue Theater's Comedy Sportz
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Oct. 20-29: Counterweight Theatre's Macbeth (cast of four)
    Oct. 20-22 at Switchback Coffee Roasters, 330 N. Institute St., Colorado Springs
    Oct. 27-29: at The Modbo, 17C E. Bijou St., Colorado Springs https://www.counterweighttheatre.com

    Oct. 20-Nov. 4: Iron Springs Chateau's Rocky Horror Picture Show
    444 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com

    Oct. 20-Nov. 1: Evergreen Players' The Explorers Club
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    Oct. 20-Nov. 4: Coal Creek Theatre's Shining City
    At the Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    Oct. 26-Nov. 4: Phamaly Theatre Company's Vox Phamilia
    At Community College of Aurora, Fine Arts Building, 16000 E. CentreTech Parkway, Aurora, 303-340-7529 or brownpapertickets.com




    Oct. 27-Nov. 19: Local Theater Company's The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias
    At The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    Oct. 27-Nov. 18: Buntport Theater's Edgar Allan Poe Is Dead and So Is My Cat
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Oct. 27-28: Aurora Fox presents Kenny Moten’s 12 O’Clock Tales: An Evening of Songs and Stories (studio theatre)
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org

    Oct. 27-28: The Catamounts' FEED: Los Muertos
    At the Firehouse Art Center, 667 4th Ave., Longmont, 720-468-0487 or thecatamounts.org

    Oct. 27-Nov. 18: Theater Company of Lafayette’s Return to the Twilight Zone, a Parody
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org

    Oct. 27-Dec. 17: Anansi: The Itsy BiTSY Spider Stories
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    Oct. 28-Nov. 25: Openstage's Monty Python's Spamalot
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

     

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Oct. 22: DCPA Cabaret's Girls Only - The Secret Comedy of Women
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE



    Through Oct. 22: Aurora Fox's Company
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org



    Through Oct. 28: Thin Air Theatre Company's The Toxic Avenger Musical
    Butte Theatre, 139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-3247 or thinairtheatre.com

    Through Oct. 28: Miners Alley Playhouse's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (children’s)
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Through Oct. 29: DCPA Theatre Company's Macbeth
    Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 5: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's The Music Man
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com




    Through Nov. 11: BDT Stage's Rock of Ages
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Sept. 1-Nov. 11: Midtown Arts Center's Once
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through Nov 18: DCPA Educaton and Theatre Company's The Snowy Day (children's)
    Conservatory Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    BAS BLEU THEATRE COMPANY
    • Oct. 14: The Unpresidented Parodies with Sandy and Richard Riccardi
      401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    • BDT STAGE

    • Oct. 17: An Evening with the 17th Avenue All-Stars
      5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    • BUNTPORT THEATRE

      • Saturday, Oct. 14: Season opener  of Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey (Monthly theatre for young audiences at 1 and 3 p.m.)
      • Tuesday, Oct. 17: The Great Debate (monthly)
      • Wednesday, Oct. 18: The Narrators (a monthly live storytelling show and podcast)
      • Friday, Oct. 27: Untitled (in the freight elevator at the Denver Art Museum, monthly)
      717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

      DENVER ACTORS FUND
      • Sunday, Oct, 8: 13 The Musical, self-produced by a group of 13 young, Denver-based performers, at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture. ticketor.com/13themusicalforthedenveractorsfund
      • Sunday, Oct. 15: Screening of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with live pre-screening entertainment for the cast of OpenStage of Fort Collins; upcoming stage production of the stage musical Spamalot. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7. At Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake. drafthouse.com

      LAKEWOOD CULTURAL CENTER
      • Sunday, Oct. 22: Childsplay presents Go, Dog. Go!
      • 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or Lakewood.org

         

      THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY

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

      STORIES ON STAGE
      • Saturday, Oct 7: The Year of Magical Thinking (7:30 p.m. at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org)
      • Sunday, Oct. 15: The Year of Magical Thinking (1:30 p.m. and 6:30 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. This month, actor Anne Penner reads Joan Didion's acclaimed memoir about the death of her husband.

      TRI-LAKES CENTER FOR THE ARTS
      • Saturday, Oct. 28: An Evening with C.S. Lewis
        Shows at 3 and 7 p.m.; 5:15 p.m. High Tea and meet-and-greet between shows

      304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake, 719-481-0475 or trilakesarts.org

  • '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.

  • 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

  • In the Spotlife: Tim Howard of 'The Producers'

    by John Moore | Jun 19, 2017

     


    MEET TIM HOWARD     
    Leo Bloom in Breckenridge Backstage Theater's 'The Producers,' running through Aug. 6. In 2014, Howard won a DCPA True West Award for his work in Town Hall Arts Center's 'How to Succeed in Business...'

  • Tim HowardHometown: Denver
  • Home now: Arvada
  • High school: Littleton High School
  • College: Five Towns College (Long Island, N.Y.)
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Clyde Barrow in Town Hall Arts Center's Bonnie & Clyde.
  • What's next? I will be playing Drew in Rock of Ages at BDT Stage
  • What's your handle? @timothybrooks88 on Instagram
  • Twitter-sized bio: Currently enjoying the last year of my 20s. Hate adulting. Enjoy the outdoors and going on adventures. Usually, adventures start or end with my friends saying: "Tim, don't!" Or: "I do not want to take you to the hospital." But I'm still here (because of my friends). Love to go camping, hiking and backpacking. When I was 9, I got involved with The Academy of Theater Arts (ATA) and played there until I was 18 and have been involved with theater ever since. Someday I would love to have the means to travel. But on an actors salary ... hah!
  • The role that changed your life: I played Leo Bloom once before, five years ago at the Town Hall Arts Center. Before that, I was often cast in the ensemble or as a secondary character. I grew up with Paul Dwyer teaching me comedy and being cast as the comic relief and a lot of very fun character roles at ATA. Matt Dailey was always the leading man opposite Melissa Benoist. Paul, who co-directed the shows with Alann Worley, always said, "Matt got the girl, but Tim got the audience." Once I was given the opportunity to play Leo, I was suddenly seen as a leading man. It changed how I looked at roles. It wasn't always comedy, and I found myself getting more passionate about the "acting" part of musical theater.
  • Robin WilliamsIdeal scene partner: I have always wanted to act on stage with Robin Williams. He was such an inspiration to me growing up. He had such a knack for it. I wanted to be him. One thing that made me admire him even more was that he was an incredible actor as well. He understood emotion. Everything he did was so natural and real. Every role I take on, I try to be the kind of actor he would be proud to work next to.
  • What is The Producers all about? Max Bialystock, a has-been Broadway producer, can't seem to produce a hit. He meets a timid accountant named Leo Bloom who discovers (in theory) that a producer could make more money with a flop than a hit. Together they hatch a scheme to produce "the worst musical ever written": Springtime for Hitler. Everything does not go as planned, and they find themselves in a lot of awkward and funny situations.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: Leo Bloom is the shy, timid, mousy accountant who plays by the rules but has a secret desire to be a Broadway producer. He slowly comes out of his shell and finds there is more to him than even he knew there was.  When I played this role before five years ago, I found Leo to be pretty much like who I was then. I had just come back from college, and Denver theater wasn't the same as I remembered it. I was getting to know new people, and I wasn't ready to let them in. In that production, it was very easy to understand Leo. Fast-forward five years: I just finished Bonnie and Clyde. I was playing a character who was confident, spoke his mind, knew who he was and how to follow his dreams. Clyde, unlike Leo, wouldn’t let anything get in the way. I now identify with Clyde more than Leo, so I have found it difficult to transition from one back to the other. However, this challenge is allowing me to find a new take on Leo, and I have more of an understanding about his journey toward self-confidence.
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing your show? I hope they laugh. Laughter is, as they say, the best medicine. This is a musical adaptation of the 1967 Mel Brooks hit, The Producers. Brooks even wrote the music, so how can you not laugh? I hope every audience leaves feeling happy. It's a great show to see if you are having a rough day and need a break from the outside world. On a more serious note, I hope they leave knowing that even when everything in your life goes wrong, you can always find a way through and have a happy ending.
  • What's one thing people might not know about you? I don't volunteer or do good deeds like everyone thinks I do. I watch a lot of Netflix and drink beer instead. But, when I was 7, I was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome. People don’t usually believe me when I tell them. It was a very tough time for me. I was bullied and made fun of a lot. A few years later I got into theater, and that changed my life. Throughout my school years, I was still picked on, but because of my comedy training, I knew how to handle it. I like to think theater is the reason my tics went away. Tourette's is still a part of me, but no one can tell.
  • What do you want to get off your chest? I am passionate about brewing beer. We live in a state where craft beers are a growing art form. Right now I have a Kiwi Wit beer in fermentation and I'm looking forward to sharing it with my Producers cast in Breckenridge.

  • Tim Howard. Scott Rathbun.Scott Rathbun, left, with Tim Howard in Backstage Breckenridge's 'The Producers.' 



    The Producers: Ticket information

    • Written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
    • Directed by Robert Michael Sanders
    • Through Aug. 6
    • 121 S. Ridge St., Brekenridge MAP IT
    • Tickets $23-$39
    • For tickets, call 970-453-0199 or go to backstagetheatre.org


    Remaining performance schedule:
    • Sunday, June 18, 6:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, June 24, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, June 25, 6:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, June 28, 7:30 p.m.
    • Thursday, June 29, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, June 30, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, July 1, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 2, 6:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, July 5, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 9, 6:30 p.m.
    • Friday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, July 15, 7:30 p.m.
    • Thursday July 20, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, July 22, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 23, 6:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, July 26, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, July 28, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, August 2, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, August 4, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, August 5, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, August 6, 6:30 p.m.

    Cast list:

    Tim Howard
    Scott Rathbun
    Colby Dunn
    Brian Jackson
    Christopher Willard
    Josh Rigo
    Barret Harper
    Stephanie Hesse
    Jessica Hindsley
    Kaitlyn Althoff
    Rose Metcalf
    Mary McGroary
    Cole Mitchell
    Alissa Robinson
    Eli Stewart
    Connor Sullivan

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Jack Barton of BDT Stage's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    Meet the ensemble of Buntport Theater's The Crud
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Ethelyn Friend of ________________, An Opera
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Emily K. Harrison of She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Haley Hunsaker of Funky Little Theatre Company's Extremities
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Heather Lacy of the Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Tamara Meneghini of The Last Testament of Mary
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
    Meet Adriane Wilson of Miners Alley Playhouse's Cabaret

  • Charles Packard leaving Aurora Fox after 19 years

    by John Moore | May 23, 2017
    Charles Packard Charles Packard was nominated for a Denver Post Ovation Award for designing this set for the ice-climbing drama 'K2' in the Aurora Fox studio theatre in 2012. 
     

    Longtime Executive Producer cited budget cutbacks, exhaustion and personal hurdles as ongoing difficulties

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Charles Packard, Executive Producer for the Aurora Fox Arts Center since 2009, has resigned, both he and city officials confirmed today in joint statements. 

    Packard is resigning "to pursue other opportunities," said Abraham Morales, Senior Public Information Officer for the city of Aurora. In his own statement, Packard cited fatigue. "I have grown tired, then exhausted, and it has come time to close," he said.

    Associates close to Packard, who was placed on administrative leave May 8, say his sometimes competing role as both an artist and arts administrator for Charles Packard Quotea city-owned performing-arts facility had become increasingly more difficult to navigate. Reached at home 10 days ago, Packard said he was looking forward to visiting family in Michigan, and that "I am really thrilled for what's coming next in my life."

    In today's statement, he elaborated: "I will be spending the next few months 'in the sandwich,' " he said. "My parents are aging, and my kids are growing fast. I will be with them while my artistic and public-servant batteries recharge.

    "In the 19 years I've been at the Fox we have had a few failures, many successes and tremendous growth. The audience has changed and the neighborhood has changed. I have grown as an artist." (Read the full statement here.)
     
    On the blog Packard regularly kept on the Aurora Fox web site, Packard wrote openly about the theatre's many artistic achievements, but also "unprecedented challenges including staff changes, budget crises, weather and other assaults, as well as intense personal hurdles."

    The change comes at a tenuous time for the Fox, which has not yet announced its 33rd season beginning in September. Cultural Services Manager Gary Margolis, Packard's boss, will handle administrative duties while a national job search is conducted to find Packard's replacement. Margolis joined the city a year ago. When he moved to Aurora from San Diego, Packard described him as "Aurora’s No. 1 arts advocate."

    Packard's resignation also comes as the Fox has been enjoying a steady stream of artistic and box-office successes. Last July, the Fox received six Henry Award nominations, including Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company.

    Local actor, director and former Aurora Fox employee Robert Michael Sanders said Packard has been one of the most impactful people in the local theatre community over the past two decades.

    "In his years at the Fox, Charlie set himself and the theatre apart with a simple premise: 'Why not?' " said Sanders. "He set the bar high and brought people up around him."

    Packard, a former president of the Colorado Theatre Guild, joined the Aurora Fox in 1999 as Production Manager and Associate Producer. He is also a multiple award-winning Scenic Designer known for elaborate sets including The Wedding Singer, Xanadu, Something Wicked this This Way Comes, Arabian Nights, K2 and Big Fish. He won the 2014 Henry Award for his design of the water-themed Metamorphoses in the Aurora Fox studio theatre.

    Packard has long been known for openly sharing his talents with theatre companies throughout the metro area including Curious Theatre, Magic Moments and more. His scenic work is currently on display in Curious' The Luckiest People. His boxing-ring design for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a co-production between Curious and Colorado Springs TheatreWorks, was nominated for 2013 True West and Henry awards. He is also an accomplished lighting designer, winning the 2006 Denver Post Ovation Award with Jennifer Orf for Phamaly Theatre Company's The Wiz.

    Read the Aurora Sentinel's 2012 profile on Charles Packard

    Sanders said Packard has been one of the theatre community's strongest advocates for actors' rights. "He has always fought behind the scenes for actors to be paid a decent wage and have health insurance," Sanders said.

    The Aurora Fox was built for $10,000 as an art-deco neighborhood movie theater in 1946. It was renovated in the 1980s as a community arts center with two performing spaces and has become an anchor of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, which stretches along East Colfax Avenue from Clinton Street to Geneva Street. That includes the nearby Vintage Theatre, which also sports two performing spaces less than a half-mile away. For years, city leaders have hoped to turn this iconic stretch of East Colfax Avenue into a cultural destination that might grow surrounding businesses, but the results have been mixed.

    "Charles Packard has been the anchor of the Aurora Cultural Arts District for the better part of a decade," said Vintage Theatre Executive Director Craig Bond. "At the helm of the Aurora Fox he has directed, produced, supported and encouraged various groups of artists to achieve amazing theatrical successes within Aurora. His leadership will be missed within Aurora, but I am sure his amazing staff will continue to support great work within the 80010 zip code."

    Charles Packard The Wedding SingerIn his role at the Fox, Packard has overseen both the 245-seat mainstage theatre and the transformable studio theatre that seats about 90. The Aurora Fox typically produces five shows per year while making its theatres available for many other local theatres to rent. In recent years, Packard has blown open the Fox’s doors to underserved voices and audiences with productions including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics, The Color Purple, Black Elk Speaks, Porgy & Bess and the current Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

    Packard has also steered the Fox through several small controversies over the years. The Fox’s partnership with Ignite Theatre, which staged 31 productions at the Fox, hit a hiccup in 2015 when Aurora city officials said the Fox could no longer present simultaneous shows in its two spaces until the backstage dressing-room space was expanded. That forced Ignite to move or cancel three upcoming productions. And in January, Ignite ceased production

    Charles Packard  Consider the OysterThe Fox garnered much unwanted attention late last month when Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the finale of the current mainstage season, was beset with production problems, culminating with the last-minute decision to cancel the opening weekend of performances out of concern for the safety of the actors. 

    (Pictured above: Charles Packard's curtain speeches have been a staple at the Aurora Fox since 2009. Here: 'Consider the Oyster' in 2013. Photo by John Moore.)

    While numbers for the current season are not complete (Priscilla closes out the season on May 28), 2015-16 was a banner year for Packard and the Aurora Fox. In his blog, Packard reported records for fundraising, ticket revenue and season subscriptions (up an astounding 26 percent over the previous season). “My goal for the year was to be up 10 percent, which in itself was a pretty bold promise to make my board of directors,” Packard told the Aurora Sentinel. “But the increase probably just means that (Aurora Cultural Arts District Managing Director Tracy Weil’s) efforts of image control for the neighborhood have been successful.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Part of Packard’s job was “refining the theater’s financial model,” which proved to be an evolving and ongoing challenge with the city.

    Back on his blog, Packard wrote: “I am very proud of our results this year. We achieved high and quantifiable artistic successes (despite budget cutbacks.) We pushed ourselves as individual artists and stretched the very definition of what it means to be a collaborative arts center. And, we had unprecedented challenges. We’ve had staff changes, budget crises, weather and other assaults as well as intense personal hurdles."

    Beginnings in Michigan summer stock

    Charles Packard MiscastPackard, a Michigan native, said in a 2012 Aurora Sentinel profile that his first gig was working in “the creative chaos of summer-stock festivals after dropping out of Western Michigan University. Packard worked as a stage manager for a musical workshop in New Bedford, Mass., helping to create new works as creative egos clashed and backers pulled out.

    Packard arrived in Colorado in 1997 and quickly found work as a freelance stage manager and designer. His duties at the Fox evolved to season selection, design, administration and a long list of other small jobs necessary for running a theater. He stepped into the executive producer role in early 2009, just after the full effects of the economic collapse of 2008 started to hit the local theater community.

    (Photo at right: Charles Packard showed off his playful side by performing a number from 'La Cage Aux Folles' for Miscast, a 2007 benefit performance. Photo by John Moore.)

    “About every day, I was on the phone with my grandfather and my great aunt, begging for them to tell me stories about the Great Depression,” Packard said, laughing. “I wanted to know — how bad can this get?”

    Aurora Chamber of Commerce Vice President George Peck said of Packard’s hiring in 2009: “Charlie reaches out and creates networks. He understands that arts are not narrowly focused. We were very impressed with Charlie’s facility to wear both of those hats. He still has that very creative side that is necessary to be successful running a theater. But he understands the business aspects as well.”

    Packard's reach into the community often exceeded theater. In 2007, Packard helped with the defense in a gruesome federal death-penalty case. Rudy Sablan, an inmate in the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, was charged with murder for helping his cousin eviscerate a third man in the 7-by-14-foot cell the three shared. Packard was hired to meticulously re-create the jail cell in the U.S. District courtroom.

    “I don’t really care whether the person being defended is a good guy or a bad guy,” Packard said at the time. “I am proud to be part of giving him a rigorous defense.”

    For the Fox season that is ending May 28, Packard adopted the theme “Life on the Margins of Polite Society.” The intent of the season, he wrote on his Fox blog, “was to examine ourselves and the groups we form for safety and comfort. We have reflected on those tight-knit groups of like-minded people we hold dear. Our polite society. We have been introduced to others. To those left on our margins, the different, the foreign, the newcomer. We have seen that those individuals are at the center of their own hard spheres.”

    He signed off, as he often did, “ I will see you at the theater.”

    In today's closing statement, Packard wrote: "No arts organization should become dependent on the presence of any single mind. That is true of The Fox ... Dozens of artists are still here working hard on the 33rd season. Soon a new producer will emerge, and he or she will build on our accomplishments."

    Said Sanders: "Whether it was choosing shows, directing, designing or running the business of theatre, Charlie always asked the same question: 'Does it have heart?'

    "He does."

    An excerpt from Charles Packard’s blog:

    “As arts advocates and administrators we remove obstacles. We deflect worry and distraction from our artists whenever possible. We don’t want them to know how hard it can be. When you have gifted painters living in your community the last thing you want them to worry about is how to buy paint or where to hang their finished work. You want them to create art for all of our benefit. That is my job and the job of other administrators and advocates for The Fox.”

    Note: This report will continue to be updated throughout the day.

    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.
  • 2016 True West Award: The Killer Kids of 'Miscast'

    by John Moore | Dec 09, 2016

    NEW 800 Miscast full-size True West



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 9:
    The Killer Kids of Miscast 2016

                       Presented by Denver actor Clint Heyn

     
    It was just … so wrong. Even for Miscast, where every performance is supposed to be, by definition, just … so wrong.

    Imagine precious children not just singing the signature song from the Broadway musical Chicago – the one where the sexy gangster girls brag about how they ended up in jail for killing men who, as the song goes, “had it coming.”

    No, imagine precious, foul-mouthed children playing beloved storybook characters singing about how they ended up in jail for killing archrivals who also had it coming. Sorry, Mrs. Hannigan, but you made Little Orphan Annie scrub your floor once too often. Mrs. Trunchbull? You ought not to have called Matilda a maggot. And Javert? Perhaps you should have paid attention when sweet Gavroche gave full and fair warning that little people have got some bite.

    Then there’s Peter Pan, Dorothy and Little Red Riding Hood. Oh, Red. Let’s just have her tell her story in her own words:

    “So I’m standing in the kitchen carving some lunch meat for Granny’s dinner, and in walks the wolf in a jealous rage. ‘You’ve been (bleeping) Jack!’ He was crazy, and he kept on saying, ‘You’ve been (bleeping) Jack!’ … And then he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife 10 times.”

    The occasion for all this naughty merriment was Miscast, an annual fundraising musical revue for the Denver Actors Fund at the Town Hall Arts Center featuring performers in roles they would never … ever be cast to perform in real life. Another song that night, for example, featured veteran actor John Ashton singing "Memories," from Cats.

    Miscast. True West AwardsBut the mini-murderer’s row of Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub totally stole the show with their version of "Cell Block Tango."

    The Killer Kids of Miscast, as they have come to be known, not only conceived and wrote the song themselves – with help and full approval of their parents – they rehearsed it for six weeks solid. They enlisted not only eminent local musical director Donna Debreceni for her help, but also Broadway veteran Candy Brown for her assistance with choreography. Brown, you should know, performed “Cell Block Tango” in the original Broadway cast. Really. She played June, whose jealous, raging, milkman husband ran into her knife ...10 times.    

    These kids were not messing around.

    “When they first came to me with their idea, I said, ‘That is just so wrong and over the top - and brilliant,” said Miscast director Robert Michael Sanders. The result went viral. A 7-minute video of song has been viewed nearly 100,000 times on Facebook alone (see it below).

    “The lightning in the bottle was these kids were playing characters we all know and love and think of as wholesome, and they brought out the dark side by actually doing what we have always wanted them to do,” Sanders said. “It was wrong to have kids singing that song in the first place. It was wrong that they had all committed murder. It was wrong that they used profanity. But they played it as true professionals in the theatre, and it was magical.”

    Watch the performance for yourself:

     

    The gang of six are among the busiest younger actors in the theatre community. Many of them are currently appearing in the Town Hall Arts Center’s A Christmas Story. Hinkle performed with the national touring company of that same show last winter at the Buell Theatre. Next, he will star in Vintage Theatre’s Billy Elliot.

    What makes them all so exceptional, says actor Clint Heyn, who nominated the Killer Kids for their True West Award, is not only their talent, but their ongoing commitment to service. Katz, Klein and Hinkle each have given to the Denver Actors Fund through individual donations or by organizing collections through their shows or schools.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    True West Awards Kaden Hinkle MiscastThe Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and neighborly assistance to artists in situational medical need, estimates that young people under 18 have contributed more than $16,000 to the organization since it was started in 2013, including ongoing efforts by schools such as Denver School of the Arts and Cherry Creek High School, and theatre companies like CenterStage in Louisville.

    "The performance at Miscast was amazing, but the overall spirit of philanthropy from all the youth of our community to the Denver Actors Fund is what should be celebrated,” Heyn said.

    So it got a tad bloody  … and blue. Let's call it a murder … but not a crime.

    Miscast True West Awards Killer Kids

    After performing in Miscast 2016 (shown with their mothers), teen performers Darrow Klein and Hannah Katz their own, combined donation of $800 to The Denver Actors Fund. Klein raised $700 as part of her bat mitzvah service project. Katz was making her third donation to the DAF so far.

     

    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
  • 2016 True West Award: Robert Michael Sanders

    by John Moore | Dec 02, 2016
    True West Awards. Robert Michael Sanders


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 2:
    Robert Michael Sanders

    Robert Michael Sanders has been one one of the busiest members of the Colorado theatre community for years, and not even a botched shoulder surgery that left his hands partially paralyzed in 2014 has even slightly slowed him down. In 2016, his haberdashery included acting, direction, properties and public relations. He is also an accomplished singer who just completed his second solo album under the name Robert Michael for release on iTunes later this month. (His 2007 cover of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" has more than a million plays on Spotify, and he released three previous albums with his band Silence.)

    True West Awards. Robert Michael SandersSanders is nothing if not versatile - and adaptable. Here's a quick rundown of his theatre year:

    • Directed Tell Me on a Sunday for The Avenue Theater; The Last Romance for Cherry Creek Theatre; Guys on Ice for Town Hall Arts Center; and the children's shows Jumping Jiving Juliette and Seussical Jr. for Town Hall
    • Performed in the Edge Theatre's Getting Out and Murder Ballad 
    • Assisted the properties master on The Avenue Theater's Wait Until Dark
    • Directed publicity efforts for Aurora Fox's Little Women, Black Elk Speaks and Catch Me If You Can, as well as The Avenue's Bakersfield Mist

    Onstage, good-guy Sanders is often called upon to play the bad guy - his "resume of racists" is longer than other actors' entire CV's. He has had particularly hiss-worthy turns over the years in the Arvada Center's Ragtime, Memphis and A Man of No Importance, and he owned that persona again this year in the Edge Theatre's Getting Out, playing a former prison guard who takes a shine to a woman just out of prison - with lecherous strings attached. "Sanders'  dual personality turns on Arlene in the worst possible way," wrote reviewer Bill Wheeler. "Sanders delivers his schizophrenic character beautifully, going from the nicest guy on stage to the nastiest in the blink of an eye."

    But what made 2016 a singular year for Sanders was the range he showed in The Edge's Murder Ballad, one of those unctuous contemporary rock musicals that dares you not to like it. But Sanders managed to emerge from a veritable menagerie of pool-hall damage by showing a full and effective range of emotion from gentle to, well, murderous, thanks to a score uniquely suited to his rock background.

    But for all the good Sanders does on and around the stage, perhaps his most impressive trait is his ongoing commitment to the fellow artists in the Colorado theatre community. Sanders organizes and directs Miscast as an annual fundraiser for the Denver Actors Fund - a silly night of games and songs where actors get to play roles they would never get cast to perform in otherwise. It is a logistical nightmare and a dream-come-true for the fund that makes money and personal services available to artists in situational medical need. Sanders' three Miscast-directed events have now raised more than $13,000 for the Denver Actors Fund - a record $7,067 in 2016 alone.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Sanders was chosen to be the recipient of today's True West Award by former Phamaly Theatre Company Artistic Director Bryce Alexander, who relied on Sanders as both an actor and general liaison during his tenure running the acclaimed local theatre company that creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    "I am constantly amazed at Robert's overall commitment to every single level of Colorado theatre," said Alexander. "Robert is always there to support you. This amazing artist and person (and his wife) should be celebrated."

    That amazing wife would be Megan Van De Hey. Yes, Sanders capped his exceptional year with a personal coup by marrying one of the most consistently honored actors in the Colorado theatre community. Not bad for a nice guy.

     

    Robert Michael Sanders/At a glance:

    • High School: Broomfield
    • Denver Center tie: He was in the cast of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at the Garner Galleria Theatre
    • Album: “Feel It Coming,” under the name of Robert Michael
    • Next project: Directing Almost Maine for the Avenue Theater, Jan. 13-Feb. 12


    Robert Michael Sanders. Miscast. Photo by John Moore. Robert Michael Sanders addresses the crowd at 'Miscast 2016,' which he directed on behalf of the Denver Actors Fund. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    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
  • In the Spotlife: Seth Maisel of 'Guys On Ice'

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2016
    Guys on Ice
    Director Robert Michael Sanders first presented 'Guys on Ice' earlier this year at the Aurora Fox with Josh Nelson, left, and Charlie Schmidt. Playing Seth Maisel's role was Steven J. Burge. The production, with a new cast including Maisel, plays at the Town Hall Arts Center through Oct. 23.

    (The DCPA NewsCenter regularly profiles actors performing in theatre productions throughout the state of Colorado.)

    MEET SETH MAISEL

    Ernie the Mooch in 'Guys on Ice' at the Town Hall Arts Center

    • Seth Maisel Toxic AvengerHometown: Ouray
    • Home now: Centennial
    • High School: Pueblo Centennial
    • College: B.A. degrees in English Lit and Theater from Pomona (Calif.) College;  MFA in Theater from Florida Atlantic University
    • What have you done for us lately? I played Toxie, The Toxic Avenger in The Toxic Avenger, The Musical for Equinox Theatre Company (See photo at right.)
    • What's coming up next? I will be playing Sipos in She Loves Me for Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • What is Guys on Ice all about? I call it a hilarious musical version of Waiting for Godot, except it’s about ice fishing in Wisconsin - and you can understand what’s going on. The official description goes more like this: "Marvin and Lloyd are ice-fishing buddies and home-grown philosophers who talk (anSeth Maisel quoted sing) about life, love and Leinies. Songs include 'Ode to a Snowmobile Suit' and 'Fish is the Miracle Food.' Fun for the whole family."
    • Tell us about your character: Ernie the Mooch is the jerk who drinks all their beer, ruins their fishing, and crushes their hopes. ... So he’s a lot of fun!
    • What do you love most about the Denver theatre community? I love the Denver theater community, especially as it is represented here at Town Hall. There is an openness and family-feeling here that the Town Hall family is careful to foster.  It is easy to do my best work when I have great support and get to work with such wonderful people. 
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? Before settling firmly into my office chair, I used to work as a white water raft guide.
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? I’ve been using the same headshot for more than 10 years - and I’m still getting away with it! It’s become kind of a joke. (See photo above to the right.)

    Town Hall Arts Center's Guys on Ice: Ticket information
    • Lyrics by Fred Alley, music by James Kaplan, conceived and researched by Fred Alley and Frederick Heide.
    • Directed by Robert Michael Sanders
    • Through Oct. 23
    • At 2450 W. Main St., Littleton
    • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
    • Tickets $25
    • Info:  303-794-2787 ext. 5, or townhallartscenter.org

    Cast List:
    Seth Maisel as Ernie the Moocher
    Mark Middlebrooks as Lloyd
    Brian Murray as Marvin


    A video sneak peek at 'Guys on Ice.' (Not the same cast or production as the one currently being staged at the Town Hall Arts Center.)

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    Meet Jeff Jesmer of The Crucible
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Photos: 'Miscast' raises $7,000 for Denver Actors Fund

    by John Moore | Oct 04, 2016
    Miscast 2016

    Photos from 'Miscast 2016,' which raised more than $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund.  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.


    Miscast, a popular annual community-wide benefit held Sept. 26 at the Town Hall Arts Center, raised $7,067 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 $50,000 in direct aid to help local artists.

    More than 30 local actors performed in roles they would never – ever – normally be cast to perform. The event was hosted by Eric Mather and Damon Guerrasio, and directed by Robert Michael Sanders. Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the Denver Center, contributed more than $1,200 in prizes for the event.

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. For more information on the Denver Actors Fund and its services, go to DenverActorsFund.Org.

    Video excerpt:


    The criminal kids in the video above deserve to be in jail, because they stole the show at 'Miscast 2016.' Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub performed a storybook version of 'Cell-Block Tango' from 'Chicago,' accompanied by Donna Debreceni and Larry Ziehl. In the week since the performance, this video has been viewed nearly 30,000 times and shared more than 370 times on Facebook.


    MISCAST 2016:

    Hosts:
    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather

    Program:

    • Heather Lacy, Leslie O'Carroll and Shannan Steele, inspired by "Fugue for Tin Horns," from Guys and Dolls
    • Shane Delevan, Lindsey Falduto and Rob Riney, parody inspired by Rent
    • Donovan Arterburn III, Brock Benson, John Greene, Clint Heyn, T.J. Hogle, and Wade Livingston, inspired by "At the Ballet," from A Chorus Line
    • Steven J. Burge, Carter Novinger and Preston Novinger: "I Know It's Today" from Shrek
    • Kevin Ahl, Jacob Elledge, Stewart Caswell, Jill Leslie, Amber Marsh, Gregg Vigil and Lucy Roucis (Phamaly Theatre Company), what a  Wild West duel would be like between two disabled people.
    • Colby Dunn: Inspired by an audition for Dream Girls
    • Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub, inspired by "Cell-Block Tango," from Chicago
    • Barret Harper, Anna High, Tim Howard and Suzanne Nepi, inspired by "I Will Never Leave You," from Side Show
    • Rebecca Joseph, Chelley Canales, Daniel Langhoff and Arlene Rapal, inspired by "My Shot," from Hamilton
    • John Ashton, inspired by "Memories," from Cats
    • Emma C. Martin, Napoleon M. Douglas and company: "You Can't Stop the Beat," from Hairspray

    The hosts also engaged audiences in participatory games such as a "Family Feud" parody ("Name a Bad Boy of the Colorado Theatre Community") and "Carpool Karaoke."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Lineup announced: Guerrasio, Mather to host 'Miscast 2016'

    by John Moore | Aug 26, 2016
    Eden Lane performs from 'Kinky Boots' at 'Miscast 2015.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Eden Lane performs from 'Kinky Boots' at 'Miscast 2015.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The lineup for "Miscast 2016," a popular annual community-wide benefit for the Denver Actors Fund to be held Sept. 26 at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, has just been announced - and it's enough to make any director envious.

    Miscast 2016 "Miscast 2016" is an opportunity for members of the local theatre community to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever! … get cast to perform on any legitimate stage. Tickets are $20 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available at 303-794-2787 or online at townhallartscenter.org.

    This year, funnyman Eric Mather (The Drunken Bachelor Talk Show) will join third-year co-host Damon Guerrasio (Curious Theatre's Water by the Spoonful) in leading the silliness. 

    Among the more than 30 scheduled performers are Shannan Steele, Leslie O’Carroll, Heather Lacy, Steven J. Burge, Tim Howard, John Ashton, and members of Phamaly Theatre Company, which provides performance opportunities for actors with disabilities. (Pictured above clockwise: Damon Guerrassio, Shannan Steele, Eric Mather, Barret Harper, Tim Howard and Heather Lacy.)

    This year's event will include many fun twists, such as a series of games a la Jimmy Fallon and other late-night TV hosts. Many area merchants and theatres have contributed prizes. To read about last year's event, or to see photos, click here.

    Miscast is the major annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical services to members of the local theatre community who find themselves in situational medical need. In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has raised $120,000 to help local artists.

    Each Miscast applicant submitted a proposed song and a 'Miscast concept' for judges to consider. All applications were considered by a special selection committee based on variety, cleverness and uniqueness, among other factors.

    Miscast 2015Now in its third year as a Denver Actors Fund benefit event, Director Robert Michael Sanders again received far more submissions than he had performance slots.

    "This year's turnout was completely overwhelming," said Sanders. As thanks, everyone who applied will be invited to attend Miscast 2016 as a guest of the Denver Actors Fund and Town Hall Arts Center. (Pictured right: Leslie O'Carroll and Megan Van De Hey performing from 'The Book of Mormon' last year.)

    "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."

    While the list of scheduled performers has been announced, their actual Miscast musical numbers will remain a secret until the night of the show on Sept. 26. Last year featured an aging (and male) Annie, a pair of female The Book of Mormon Elders, a hot-potato national anthem, and a high-heeled local TV personality who brought the house down with her Kinky Boots. For starters.

    "It may be all wrong ... but it feels so right," said Sanders.

    Miscast 2015Photos from 'Miscast 2015.' To see more, click on the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    MISCAST 2016:

    Hosts:
    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather

    Performers (in alphabetical order; subject to change):
    John Ashton
    Donovan Arterburn III
    Brock Benson
    Steven J. Burge
    Chelley Canales
    Colby Dunn
    Sydney Fairbairn
    Evan Gibley
    John Greene
    Barret Harper
    Clint Heyn
    Anna High
    Kaden Hinkle
    Tim Howard
    Rebecca Joseph
    Hannah Katz
    Darrow Klein
    Heather Lacy
    Wade Livingston
    Emma C. Martin
    Suzanne Nepi
    Carter Novinger
    Preston Novinger
    Leslie O'Carroll
    Arlene Rapal
    Shannan Steele
    Regina Steffen
    Hannah Meg Weintrau

    Crew
    Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    Stage Manager: Jonathan Allsup
    Assistant Stage Manager: Meagan Burnell
    Event Coordinator: Ronni Gallup
    Assistant to the Director: Jessica Swanson
    Technical Director: Mike Haas
    Lighting: Alexis Bond
    Sound: Meagan Holdeman

    Band
    Keyboards and Musical Direction: Donna Debreceni
    Drums: Larry Ziehl

    Special Thanks
    Leslie Rutherford, Denise Kato and Cheryl McNab, Town Hall Arts Center

    MISCAST 2016:
    7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 26
    Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St.
    A benefit for the Denver Actors Fund
    Tickets are $20 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available at 303-794-2781 or BUY ONLINE

    To read more about last year's Miscast, and see photos and video, click here.
    Watch the video highlights below.

  • 'BookFace' a rare original musical for Colorado audiences

    by John Moore | Oct 14, 2015

    BookFace Quote.
    Writing partners Bruce Perry, left, and Melissa Faith Hart. Photo by John Moore.


    It takes more than an artist to make commercially viable art. In today’s economic reality, it takes an artist who also happens to moonlight as Vice President of Strategic Business Development at the Xerox Corporation.

    That’s the day job that makes it possible for Melissa Faith Hart to enjoy a double-life as a rare writer and producer of her own original musicals in the Denver area.

    It is not uncommon for startup theatre companies to stage small plays with Kickstarter and crossed fingers. But with Hart, it’s go large or go home. She approaches her projects with the same business sense as a Broadway producer. She believes in the development process, which can take years, and she believes in compensating her creative teams with professional wages. All of which costs the kind of money that even some established theatre companies couldn’t ever hope to raise.

    Hart, founder of Slingshot Artist Productions, has developed an epic musical version of The Scarlet Letter over the past few years at a cost of a cool $100,000 … to date. That’s a figure that would make many local producers’ jaws drop. But Hart doesn’t flinch. She still believes she can raise the $15 million it would take to send The Scarlet Letter to Broadway someday.

    But for now, her focus is on BookFace ... The Musical, a lighthearted new comedy that follows three generations of one family as they connect, disconnect and reconnect through modern technology. Hart wrote BookFace with artistic partner Bruce Perry, and she is producing it with business partner Rabs Hughey.

    Slingshot will introduce BookFace for three days only this weekend (Oct. 16-18) on the Aurora Fox mainstage. And Director Robert Michael Sanders is not messing around with a cast that includes Megan Van De Hey, Rachel Turner, David Payne, Jan Geise, Kevin Schwarz, Andrew Keeler and Chanel Karimkhani. The Music Director is Michael Lavine, and multiple award-winner Donna Debreceni is providing the musical arrangements.

    Slingshot has invested about $50,000 in this three-day developmental run. Hart has the means to do it because she is a vice president for a Fortune 200 company. But she does it, she says, “because we believe in helping others achieve their dreams.”

    Slingshot has also provided funding for local musicians to create music videos, and the company has invested in another new musical by a Colorado composer. “I would like to be able to continue investing and producing theater in Colorado,” said Hart.


    Here are more excerpts from Hart’s conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:

    John Moore: We are a fairly fertile local theatre community when it comes to developing and staging new plays. But self-producing new musicals is extremely rare here. Why is that?  

    Melissa Faith Hart: It takes more time, and it is more expensive. I self-produce my own musicals from the beginning and through my own investment to allow the new piece to mature over time, and through multiple iterations. Scarlet Letter went through seven rewrites before I felt at peace that it was ready for professional investment. There comes a day when each new piece will need to move on to regional and national stages. But adopting a grassroots approach gives the new work a safe space and allows it to grow and build momentum.

    John Moore: You obviously have a sweet professional job. Why do you choose to spend your own money on theatre?

    Melissa Faith Hart: Most of my professional colleagues have large, beautiful homes and take lavish vacations. My personal choice is to take my money and invest it in musicals. Seeing Les Misérables when I was 14 changed my life for the better. I will always be grateful for what that show did for me. Theatre has the power to heal, and to allow laughter when one’s soul is in desperate need for it. Because I love theatre, I will forever invest in both the financial and the creative aspects of that world. Whenever I hear that I have in some small way helped make a difference in someone’s heart because of something I wrote, or because of a financial opportunity that my company has provided, that makes my entire day.

    John Moore: Local theatre companies like the DCPA, Edge, Creede, Athena and others host successful annual new-play festivals. What would it take to get that kind of infrastructure going for developing new musicals?

    Melissa Faith Hart: There is nothing out there to teach a composer how to get to Broadway, and there is nothing out there to mentor aspiring writers through the process. I hope we can help close that gap.

    John Moore: You are only one woman. Is there a way the community can band together to make the development of new American musicals more financially viable?

    Melissa Faith Hart: Audiences are used to paying only about $25-$30 a ticket at local theaters outside of the Denver Center, Arvada Center and dinner theaters. That’s why small theaters can usually only afford to pay actors very low wages. Musicals cost more to make, and so tickets cost more. I have never heard anyone complain about my $30-$50 ticket prices, but I think education and awareness are all a work in progress. Perhaps if we created an actual new-musical development program and audiences began to allow for higher ticket prices to pay for them, we might see the culture adapt to paying more for musicals. 

    John Moore: So what kind of musical is BookFace?  

    Melissa Faith Hart: BookFace ... The Musical was born from the phrase, “I've been hacked by Al Qaeda!" Seriously, over a happy hour, Bruce Perry informed me that someone had taken over his social media account and was using it to send out Islamic and Pakistani flags. After a few glasses of wine, we both agreed that the subject of social media would make for a funny musical. The songs began pouring out. The story has developed now through four iterations and multiple rewrites, and now we consider it a sitcom musical that everyone will relate to. We added a generational element with the grandparents. The characters will remind you of people you know. There are lots of laughs – but of course reality does set in, and challenges will need to be overcome.

    John Moore: What does BookFace say about the way social media has changed the way we communicate these days?

    Melissa Faith Hart: Well, Mia falls in love over BookFace without ever having met the man. The grandfather joins a “Jews for Jesus” group. Everyone is on their devices at the dinner table. But at the end of the day, we are saying that BookFace can be another way to bring us together to communicate.  

    Cast of BookFace ... The MusicalJohn Moore: What do you want to say about your cast?

    Melissa Faith Hart: Quite frankly, the entire cast is amazing. Megan Van De Hay had me tearing up at the first rehearsal the first time she sang “Familiar Strangers.”  Her talent just blows me away. Jan Giese is absolutely hilarious and will be an audience delight. Chanel Karimkhani and Rachel Turner are brilliant together. Andrew Keeler is a rising star. His tenor voice can really soar. David Payne is wonderful as the older Jewish grandfather, and Kevin Schwarz is constantly bringing new nuances to the role of Jerry.

    John Moore: So why is it important to you that they be paid a professional wage?

    Melissa Faith Hart: My business partner and I believe that when you are working for Slingshot, salaries need to be at a level that can provide an artist with the basic ability to pay the bills so that they can focus on the work. That’s our standard.

    BookFace ... the Musical
    : Ticket information

    Presented by Slingshot Theatre Productions at the Aurora Fox
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora
    Performances 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18
    Tickets $30-$50
    Call 303-739-1970 or go to aurorafoxartscenter.org

  • Miscast 2015 helps Denver Actors Fund reach $50K milestone

    by John Moore | Sep 22, 2015

    Video highlights from Miscast 2015. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Miscast 2015, a community-wide benefit for the Denver Actors Fund,
    raised $4,102 for the non-profit organization that serves members of the local theatre community in need.

    This year's show, held Sept. 14 at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, featured 45 local performers, including an aging (male) Annie, a pair of female The Book of Mormon Elders, a hot-potato national anthem, and a high-heeled local TV personality who brought the house down.

    Miscast is an opportunity for members of the local theatre community to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever! … get cast to perform on any legitimate stage. The popular revue has been staged intermittently by various local theatre companies. But after a few years of dormancy, the Denver Actors Fund revived the tradition as its annual fundraiser last year.

    The Denver Actors Fund provides both financial and situational help to members of the local theatre community both on and off stage. Funds raised at Miscast 2015 brought the 2-year-old organization over the $50,000 mark in overall revenues raised.

    Under the guidance of director Robert Michael Sanders, Miscast took on more of a variety-show flavor in 2015. The bill included actors performing in miscast roles, as is the norm, but hosts Mark Pergola and Damon Guerrasio opened up the program to include fun audience-participation games that were chosen to capture the zeitgeist of the late-night TV wars, such as an homage to Jimmy Fallon's popular "Lip Sync Battles" on The Tonight Show.

    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. Several theatre companies and local merchants donated prizes.

    After two playful audience members took on the challenge of a cold lyp-sync assignment (including actor Margie Lamb, who starred in Town Hall's Next to Normal, syncing Sir Mix-A-Lot's "I Like Big Butts"), audiences were told the third contestant would be Eden Lane, host of the weekly arts TV showIn Focus with Eden Lane, airing on Fridays on Rocky Mountain PBS Channel 12. It was soon evident Lane, who has performed on Broadway, was a ringer.

    Lane emerged in the signature red boots from the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots and lip-synced Lola's big song, "Sex Is in the Heel," joined by members of the cast of Ignite Theatre's recent La Cage Aux Folles: Peter Dearth, Carlos Jimenez, Jeffrey E. Parizotto, Keith Rabin Jr. and Eric Pung.

    For the second straight year, Miscast featured a comical appearance by M.U.T.T.: The satirical Multicutural Urban Theatre Troupe, which performed several short scenes from plays they are clearly miscast for, including this year scenes from Shakespeare's Othello and Romeo and Juliet. The actors included Arlene Rapal, Laura Slack and Sam Wood.

    "Miscast 2015" was attended by more than 200, including DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. Several of  the volunteer performers have appeared in DCPA productions, including Leslie O'Carroll (A Christmas Carol) and Sarah Rex (Forbidden Broadway).




    Photos from "Miscast 2015" held Sept. 14 at the Town Hall Arts Center. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. All photos are available for free downloading by clicking "View original Flickr image."


    'MISCAST' MUSICAL NUMBERS:
    • Taylor Nicole Young Cory Wendling, "Me, Beauty and the Beast
    • Reace Daniel and Matt LaFontaine, two numbers from Chicago
    • Steven Burge and Sarah Rex, "The National Anthem,' with appearance by Tim Howard
    • Phamaly Theatre Company, "When You're a Gimp," a West Side Story variation featuring: Brian Be, Don Gabenski, Adam Johnson, Harper Liles, Amber Marsh, Don Mauck, Lucy Roucis, Robert Michael Sanders, Rachel VanScoy, Daniel Wheeler, Leslie Wilburn, Linda Wirth and Lisa Young
    • Carter Edward Smith, "So Much Better," from Legally Blonde.
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb, "Dead or Alive," from Rock of Ages, joined by members of Midtown Arts Center's cast from the same show:  Courtney Blackmun, Barret Harper, Jon Tyler Heath, Morgan Howard, Michael Lasris, Anne Terze Schwarz and Jason Tyler Vaughn
    • Maximillian Peterson, "Climb Every Mountain," from The Sound of Music
    • Megan Van De Hey and Leslie O’Carroll, "You and Me" from The Book of Mormon
    • John Ashton, "Tomorrow," from Annie
    • Mark Pergola and Damon Guerrasio, "This Little Light of Mine"
    PRODUCTION TEAM:
    • Robert Michael Sanders, director
    • Donna Debreceni, musical director
    • Jessica Swanson, assistant director
    • Ronni Gallup, Event coordinator
    • Jonathan D. Allsup, stage manager
    • Alexis Bond, lights
    • Cara Wallingford, sound
    • Clint Heyn, technician

    SPECIAL THANKS:

    • Anonymous donor who bought tickets for cast and crew
    • Brenda Billings
    • Tom Borrillo
    • Bree Davies, Westword
    • Kim Drennan
    • Becca Fletcher
    • Deb Flomberg
    • Nikki Harrison
    • Kevin Hart
    • Margie Lamb
    • Cheryl McNab
    • Debbie Minter
    • North End Sound Inc
    • Susan Ramsdorf
    • Leslie Rutherford
    • Lola Salazar
    • Gloria Shanstrom
    • Kent Thompson and Kathleen McCall-Thompson
    • Town Hall Arts Center
    DONOR THEATRES AND MERCHANTS:


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the Denver Actors Fund:
    Miscast 2015 is coming to the Town Hall Arts Center
    Miscast 2014 photos, video highlights
    How Denver Actors Fund is helping the local theatre community
    DSA students make remarkable, record donation to Denver Actors Fund
    2014 True West Award: Kristen Samu and Denver Actors Fund volunteers
    'Once, The Musical' cast members perform at Denver Actors Fundraiser


    EDITOR'S NOTE: The Denver Actors Fund was started in 2013 by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore, who runs the DCPA's NewsCenter, and local actor and attorney  Christopher Boeckx. The current President is Brenda Billings of Miners Alley Playhouse.

  • Miscast 2015 announces stellar lineup for Sept. 14 at Town Hall

    by John Moore | Aug 20, 2015
    Denver Actors Fund Miscast 2015

    The lineup for "Miscast 2015," a community-wide benefit for the Denver Actors Fund to be held Sept. 14 at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, has just been announced - and the cast list is enough to make any local director envious.

    "Miscast 2015" is an opportunity for members of the local theatre community to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever! … get cast to perform on any legitimate stage. Tickets are $10 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available at 303-794-2787 or online at townhallartscenter.org.

    Scheduled performers include Megan Van De Hey, Leslie O’Carroll, Matt LaFontaine, Steven Burge, John Ashton, Jayln Courtenay Webb (the newly announced Managing Director of Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins) and members of the acclaimed handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company.

    The hosts are again Damon Guerrassio and Mark Pergola (better known in the local theatre community as Elvira Barcelona.)

    This year's event will include several special performance twists, such as a series of games a la Jimmy Fallon's lip-sync contest on "The Tonight Show." Eden Lane, host of Colorado Public Television's "In Focus with Eden Lane," is one of the local luminaries who has agreed to play along for one of the games.


    To see our complete gallery of photos from the evening, which raised just more than $2,000 for The Denver Actors Fund, click here.

    The Denver Actors Fund provides financial and practical services to members of the local theatre community who find themselves in medical need. In just two years, the grassroots nonprofit has raised more than $47,000 to help local artists.

    Each applicant submitted a proposed song and a 'Miscast concept' for judges to consider. Now just in its second year as a Denver Actors Fund benefit event, 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 "Miscast" selection committee based on variety and cleverness, among other factors.

    "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."

    While the list of scheduled performers has been announced, their actual Miscast musical numbers will remain a secret until the night of the show on Sept. 15. Last year featured a Girl Scout singing "My Unfortunate Erection" (from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and members of Phamaly doing a Full Monty strip-tease. For starters.

    "It may be all wrong ... but it feels so right," said Sanders.

    Performers:
    Taylor Nicole Young and Cory Wendling
    Carter Edward Smith
    Matt LaFontaine and Reace Daniel
    Jalyn Courtenay Webb
    Max Peterson
    Phamaly Theatre Company
    Steven Burge
    Megan Van De Hey and Leslie O’Carroll
    John Ashton
    Kaiser Educational Group "The Mutts"
    Special appearance by TV personality Eden Lane
    (More surprises to come)

    Crew
    ​Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    Event Coordinator: Ronni Gallup
    Musical Direction: Donna Debreceni
    Lights: Alexis Bond
    Stage Manager: Jonathan Allsup
    Special Thanks: Leslie Rutherford, Denise Kato and Cheryl McNab, Town Hall Arts Center

    MISCAST 2015:
    7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 14
    Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St.
    A benefit for the Denver Actors Fund
    Tickets for “Miscast” are $10 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available now at townhallartscenter.org or call 303-794-2787

    To read more about last year's "Miscast," and see photos and video, click here

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA.

  • 'Miscast 2015' is coming to the Town Hall Arts Center

    by John Moore | Jul 10, 2015


    Last year an annual, silly tradition called Miscast returned as a benefit for the new Denver Actors Fund, and Littleton Town Hall Arts has announced it will host "Miscast 2015."

    “Miscast" 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. This popular tradition returns for one night only on Monday, Sept. 14, again as a benefit for the Denver Actors Fund. The director will again be Robert Michael Sanders, with an assist from Ronni Gallup.

    Performers are now invited to apply for the 12 available slots. An invited panel of local luminaries will choose the dozen most creative, intriguing or outrageous performance proposals. The deadline to apply is Aug. 14. The final line-up will be announced shortly thereafter. 

    Think gender-bending, race-bending and age-bending. Last year featured a Girl Scout singing "My Unfortunate Erection," and members of the handicapped theatre company PHAMALY doing a "Full Monty" strip-tease. For starters.

    It may be all wrong ... but it feels so right.

    Your returning co-hosts are Mark Pergola and Damon Guerrasio. The director is Robert Michael Sanders.

    PERFORMERS: To apply to perform at MISCAST please click here and fill out this simple online form

    Your performance should be no longer than 5 minutes of utter or horrifying brilliance.

    Please note before applying: “Miscast” is a fundraiser, so performers will be asked to purchase their admission tickets. You will also be buying our undying love and affection.

    MISCAST 2015:
    7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 14
    Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St.
    A benefit for the Denver Actors Fund
    Tickets for “Miscast” are $10 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available now at townhallartscenter.org or call 303-794-2787

    To read more about last year's "Miscast," and see photos and video, click here


    Melinda Smart lives out many female actors' dream: She's playing the sadistic dentist from 'Little Shop of Horrors.' Photo by John Moore. Melinda Smart lives out many female actors' dream: She's playing the sadistic dentist from 'Little Shop of Horrors.' Photo by John Moore.
  • A farewell to Japan: Forever changed, and committed to change

    by John Moore | Apr 01, 2015
    Note: This is our final report from Japan, where members of Denver's handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company participated in a 10-day goodwill trip that culminated with a performance of "The Fantasticks":

    The final afterparty!


    Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali wrote – and delivered - many rhymes in his boxing career.

    Mark Dissette, a founding actor with the Phamaly Theatre Company, kept thinking back to one particular poem Ali penned as Denver’s handicapped troupe wrapped up its life-changing, 10-day goodwill tour to Osaka, Japan.

    Ali delivered his poem during one of his Harvard University graduation speeches. It is believed to be the shortest poem in the English language, and it goes like this:

    Me. We. 

    It is a poem, Dissette said, “that speaks to how all of us are alike.”

    It also speaks to how members of the Phamaly contingent felt earlier today as they boarded a plane to Denver via San Francisco.

    “We have made such good friends here, and I am so sad to leave them now,” said actor Jenna Bainbridge. “I cannot wait to collaborate with the incredible (Japan) team again soon. We are leaving Japan far too soon. Hopefully we've lit the spark in someone that will burn into something as beautiful and vibrant as Phamaly here in Japan.”

    Phamaly has started a new chapter under recently named artistic Director Bryce Alexander, who oversaw this first-ever international venture for Phamaly.  And after what actor Jeremy Palmer called “our sake-fueled final night,” he was taken by the “seemingly limitless possibilities that lay before Phamaly in the years to come.” 

    "I am so grateful to have been a part of this first chapter in our exciting history,” he said.

    Palmer’s wife, actor Lyndsay Palmer, comes home with a new perspective on her home country.

    “I was treated kindly, respected and felt so loved and cared for from people who could barely speak a word of English and have completely different lifestyles,” she said. “The culture, the people, the country are beautiful, unique and peaceful. They are a big community who respect and take care of their country and their people. The crime rate is next to none, and the country is well preserved and taken care of.”

    By comparison, she added, the United States is spoiled and greedy.

    “My goal is to live like the Japanese,” she said. “Care more for my environment and be even more respectful. That way I will have a little of Japan everywhere I go, and maybe just bring more happiness to the people I pass and meet.”

    Harpist Barb Lepke Sims found “participating in something bigger than oneself” to be both humbling and inspiring. The trip put her life into a new perspective.

    “No matter what country we are from or what circumstance we may find ourselves in, being part of a loving and accepting community can help each of us reach our full potential,” she said. “Remember to be kind and helpful to one another can make a lasting impact on another person, which may in turn positively affect the larger community.

    “I think we all, Americans and Japanese alike, have touched each other's hearts and souls in a way that will stay with us and help us be better people by reaching out to others, whether it be in our local community or internationally.”

    For Dissette, a founding member of Phamaly dating back to 1989, “I guess dreams really do come true,” he said. “Not in ways I could even have imagined, but to their own tune and in their own time. Goodbye Japan ... for now.”

     CLICK HERE TO WATCH OUR JAPAN YOUTUBE PLAYLIST

    Above: Our Phamaly photo gallery in Japan.

    SOME FINAL POST-SCRIPTS FROM JAPAN:


    Members of Denver's handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company enjoyed their final two days in Japan as tourists, including tours of local temples and a stop at Universal Studios. There, a woman had her son join the Phamaly group for a greeting and photo. The little boy in the video above ran up to Jenn Bainbridge's wheelchair and kept trying to make the wheels spin. "There seems to be no fear of disability here," Bainbridge said.



    In parts of Japan, deer apparently run rampant. And they can be very aggressive when it comes to begging for food. In the video above, Daniel Traylor is accosted. But actor Jenna Bainbridge had a deer bite her chest. Another reached into her bag and stole her itinerary. Actor Robert Michael Sanders got yelled at for touching the deer in an attempt to get Bainbridge's paper back.  

    Jeremy Palmer, on the trip to Universal Studios: For weeks, a few of us planned to go, if we could figure out how to get there. Some of the college students who helped us "dub" The Fantasticks into Japanaese for the local audience were not only willing to guide us around th park, they went out of their way to pick us up and take the hour-long train ride with us. There is no way we could have made it there with a wheelchair without their help - and we wouldn't have made heads or tails of anything inside Universal Studios anyway because it has very little English anywhere (except "Harry Potter World"). So Jenna, Daniel, Lyndsay and I spent the day getting to know Shinsuke, Rina, and Ayaka, despite their small amount of English contrasting with our nonexistent Japanese. But still we talked about life, school, acting, movies and Phamaly -- all by applying a little patience and judicious word choice. Then of course, they insisted on riding the train back with us, again out of their way, to make sure we got home safely. We are so lucky to have met them and so glad they created Facebook accounts to keep in touch. Here's hoping we meet again some sunny day.

    Robert Michael Sanders, on the visit to local temples: We spent the day touring temples around Osaka and Nara.There was beautiful art and history to be found everywhere, and we again had gracious hosts and interpreters. It was a perfect day to pay respects to the culture that has treated us so well. 


    OUR PREVIOUS JAPANTASTICK PHAMALY JOURNAL ENTRIES:

    No. 1: Phamaly's 'massive moment' in Osaka begins
    No. 2: It's raining yen​
    No. 3: Boundaries created by war can be broken
    No. 4: Overcoming barriers and finding commonality 
    ​No. 5: Making music with total strangers
    No. 6:  Tears of joy as personal stories are turned into theatre
    No. 7: Historic performance before Phamaly's largest audience ever

    OUR RECENT NEWSCENTER COVERAGE OF PHAMALY:

    Phamaly to take The Fantasticks to Japan
    Phamaly picks Bryce Alexander as new artistic director

    Video: Phamaly says thanks to artistic director Steve Wilson
    DCPA Access-Ability Video featuring Phamaly actors

  • Japantastick No. 6: Tears of joy as personal stories are turned into theatre

    by John Moore | Mar 28, 2015
    Note: This is Day 6 of our daily report from Japan, where members of Denver's handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company are participating in a 10-day goodwill trip that will culminate with a performance of "The Fantasticks":



    The cast of Phamaly Theatre Company's "The Fantasticks" does a runthrough of the show with theatre students from a local university "live dubbing" the show so that when the performance takes place, the Japanese audience will understand the words.


    Phamaly Theatre Company’s first week in Japan culminated with unique performances by local Japanese actors they guided through a series of creative workshops.

    At the start of the week, members of Denver’s acclaimed handicapped theatre company coaxed the local Japanese, most with disabilities themselves, into sharing their true, personal stories. Together, they turned those stories into performance pieces.

    Phamaly actor Robert Michael Sanders called it an unforgettable day of memorable stories set to music and dance.

    Stewart Caswell in Osaka. “I saw people who were really shy come out of their shell and perform in front of an audience for the first time,” added Stewart Caswell, who will play Mortimer in Phamaly’s upcoming performance of The Fantasticks in Osaka.

    “I saw a Hitomi, a woman who has been confined to a wheelchair all her life, burst into tears because she was able to sing a song on stage."

    Caswell should know how meaningful the moment was to that Japanese woman. Caswell has cerebral palsy from a brain injury at birth. He uses what he calls "a tricked-out mobility scooter" himself, but that hasn’t stopped him from acting since age 9.

    “A lot of people ask me why I am an actor,” he said. “I love being able to leap into the skin of another person. But more than that, I love that at the beginning of a project, what begins as a room full of people who don’t know each other transforms into a giant family you call really good friends."

    That’s what’s been happening all week in Osaka.

    "It was a very personal day for everyone," said Daniel Traylor, who plays Matt. “There was a sense of accomplishment throughout the room. Things came together flawlessly. Theatre magic is a beautiful thing. “

    Added Jenna Bainbridge, who plays Luisa: “The performances were so moving that I cannot even put it in words.”

    Added Sanders, who plays Bellomy in The Fantasticks: “There were tears and hugs and the overwhelming sound of barriers breaking down. There were lessons learned and memories made across continents, time, abilities and languages. Yet somehow we all landed together and found our light.”

    Curtain call for the workshop performances in Japan.

    Curtain call for the workshop performances in Japan.


    Preparing for the Fantasticks performance

    After the workshop performances, Phamaly actors conducted a table read of The Fantasticks incorporating theatre students from a local Japanese college who have been assigned to play their “counterpart roles” in the upcoming performance.

    The Japanese thespians will shadow their American partners and repeat all of their words in Japanese. The process is called “live dubbing.”

    “They were a joy to work with,” Bainbridge said. “After rehearsal they joined us for dinner and a rousing round of Uno before bed. At dinner, they graciously helped us order and taught us some proper etiquette. They could not have been more gracious.”

    The day’s lesson, said Phamaly actor Mark Dissette: Lead with your heart.

    “You can travel halfway around the world and discover that no matter how far you go, you can't outrun your fears,” said Dissette, who plays Hucklebee. “You must turn and face them. Lessons forgotten rap against your heart sometimes gently at other times with a rending fury.”

    CHECK BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR OUR NEXT JAPANTASTICK UPDATE 

    OUR PHAMALY PHOTO GALLERY (TO DATE):



    OUR PREVIOUS JAPANTASTICK PHAMALY JOURNAL ENTRIES:

    No. 1: Phamaly's 'massive moment' in Osaka begins
    No. 2: It's raining yen​
    No. 3: Boundaries created by war can be broken
    No. 4: Overcoming barriers and finding commonality 
    ​No. 5: Making music with total strangers
     

    OUR RECENT NEWSCENTER COVERAGE OF PHAMALY:

    Phamaly to take The Fantasticks to Japan
    Phamaly picks Bryce Alexander as new artistic director

    Video: Phamaly says thanks to artistic director Steve Wilson
    DCPA Access-Ability Video featuring Phamaly actors

  • Japantastick No. 1: Phamaly's 'massive moment' in Osaka begins

    by John Moore | Mar 22, 2015

    Stewart Caswell, David Wright and Jeremy Palmer. Photo by Michael Ensminger

    From left: Stewart Caswell, David Wright and Jeremy Palmer in Phamaly Theatre Company's 'The Fantasticks.' Photo by Michael Ensminger  



    It is, in the words of actor Daniel Traylor, “a massive moment in Phamaly's history.”

    Denver’s acclaimed professional handicapped theatre company is traveling today to Osaka, Japan, to perform the classic musical The Fantasticks. It will be the first-ever international performance in the company’s 26-year history.

    “I am at once exhilarated and anxious,” said newly appointed Phamaly Artistic Director Bryce Russell Alexander. The 10-day cultural exchange trip will include Phamaly actors leading community workshops and will culminate with a performance of The Fantasticks in front of more than 1,500 – the largest one-time Phamaly audience ever ... by perhaps three times.

    Fantasticks Quote“How will they react - not only to our very open disabilities - but also to the production?” Alexander said. "Only time will tell.”

    Phamaly has produced professional plays and musicals since 1989, cast entirely with performers who have physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. The company has been invited to Japan by the Communication Center for Persons with Disabilities, also known as “Big i” in Osaka. The nickname stands for the first letter of the words independence, information, intercommunication and international. The name was chosen in hopes of advancing global exchange and the independence of people with disabilities.

    “This whole thing hasn't settled for me quite yet, and I don't think it will till we land in Japan,” said Traylor, who plays Matt in The Fantasticks. “We're going out there embracing what makes each other's awareness of disabilities different and successful. I'm excited to see the butterfly that comes from this.”

    Original company member Mark Dissette, who plays Hucklebee, says he has "wondered, cried, screamed and begged for Phamaly to have more recognition beyond Denver. Now, that time has come.”

    Harpist Barb Lepke-Sims is new to Phamaly with this production, which was recently presented at both the Aurora Fox and Arvada Center. “I am excited to become part of the Phamaly family and make new friends in Japan,” she said. “I also want to thank the Japanese harpists who made it possible for us to rent a harp in Japan so that Phamaly could be able to use the full orchestration for the play.”

    Lepke-Sims first played harp for The Fantasticks as a high-schooler in New Jersey, and she has been playing the show regularly in the 35 years since. “As a 17-year-old, I would never have dreamed this play would one day take me to Japan,” she said. “It’s exciting to see how one thing leads to another and how one's life unfolds.”

    Alexander and his cast of eight actors will lead four days of mock auditions and acting workshops for nearly 100 participants traveling from all over Osaka Prefecture, a geographical region of Japan that spans 733 square miles. At the end of the four days, the community participants will hold their own performance of original writing, in which they will share their own stories.

    “The opportunity to share our stories, understand their experiences and combine our performance styles will result in a deeper and unified understanding of disability theory and advocacy across our cultures,” Alexander said. “We will bring that knowledge back to the United States where we can broaden our impact, refine our messaging and deepen our artistic process.”

    The Fantasticks, written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, is the world’s longest-playing musical. It has been running off-Broadway for more than 52 years in New York. It is the poignant tale of two young lovers, their meddling fathers and the wall that divides them.

    The DCPA NewsCenter will follow Phamaly’s trip by producing a daily blog with words and photos from the cast and crew in Japan.

    Daniel Traylor, who plays Matt, sang at the DCPA's recent 'Saturday Night Alive' fundraiser. Photo by Steve Peterson.As the team prepared to make the flight today, we asked them to tell us what they are most excited or nervous about. Here are some of their responses:

    • "Who do you have to write to get international time sped up? This cultural exchange of ideas and friendship can't happen fast enough." —Stewart Caswell, Mortimer
    • “How do I fit everything I need for 10 days into a manageable suitcase? If only there were some art of folding I could study, but where in the world would THAT be a thing?” Jeremy Palmer, El Gallo
    • “I am anxious and so very excited for Sunday to get here, even though I'm not packed at all for our 10-day trip yet.” Lyndsay Palmer (Mute)
    • “I am so excited. I have no idea what to expect, but I know it will be a great adventure. I mean, look who I am going with. This will be the trip of a lifetime for this old (older) man.” David Wright (Henry the old Actor)
    • “I am nervous about the plane trip and that we get there safely. But once we arrive, I will be 100 percent open to anything that happens.” Harpist Barb Lepke-Sims.
    • “I (feel I) must meet a challenge that is both exciting and terrifying in a place that I have only read about." Mark Dissette, Huckabee.
    Phamaly’s primary production each year is a Broadway musical staged at the Space Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. This summer, it will present Cabaret from July 16-Aug. 9.


    Pictured above right: Daniel Traylor, who plays Matt, sang "Being Alive" from "Company" at the DCPA's recent "Saturday Night Alive" fundraiser. Photo by Steve Peterson.

    CHECK BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR OUR NEXT JAPANTASTICK UPDATE 

    CAST LIST:
    El Gallo: Jeremy Palmer
    Luisa: Jenna Bainbridge
    Matt: Daniel Traylor
    Hucklebee: Mark Dissette
    Bellomy: Robert Michael Sanders
    Henry: David Wright
    Mortimer: Stewart Caswell
    Mute: Lyndsay Palmer

    OUR RECENT NEWSCENTER COVERAGE OF PHAMALY:
    Phamaly to take 'The Fantasticks' to Japan
    Phamaly picks Bryce Alexander as new artistic director
    Video: Phamaly says thanks to artistic director Steve Wilson
    DCPA Access-Ability Video featuring Phamaly actors
  • 2014 True West Award: Robert Michael Sanders

    by John Moore | Dec 05, 2014
    True_West_ROBERT_MICHAEL_SANDERS_800


    TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 AWARDS

    True_West_Award_300

    First, a brief re-cap: Last year, Robert Michael Sanders’ hands were partially paralyzed when doctors botched a routine shoulder surgery. Sanders: A man whose livelihoods as an actor, director, teacher, guitarist, handyman and builder depend on the full use of his hands. Now, Sanders is many things (let's just say ... for example … stubborn!). But a quitter is not one of them. Sanders’ mobility was made somewhat better through intense rehab at Craig Hospital. But he has had to come to terms with the fact that he will never recover the full use of his hands.

    Now with that out of the way, let's just do a quick rundown of Sanders’ first full year as an actor with a disability:

    • He played a racist department-store owner - and a slightly less-racist radio-station owner - in the Arvada Center’s Memphis.
    • He directed the gritty musical See What I Wanna See for Ignite Theatre.
    • He played Henry in the Arvada Center’s Embers, a live reading of that freaky Samuel Beckett radio play.
    • He organized and directed a return of the local theatre tradition Miscast, raising nearly $2,000 for the Denver Actors Fund.
    • He assisted with the direction of the musical John and Jen for the Cherry Creek Theatre Company.
    • He directed a kids’ version of Cinderella for Academy of Theatre Arts at Town Hall Arts Center.
    • And, this very holiday season, Sanders is playing a crotchety old man named Saunder Clös (who, pssst, may really be Santa Claus) in the Aurora Fox’s Red Ranger Came Calling, based on a story by Bloom County cartoonist Berkeley Breathed (playing through Dec. 20).
    • And Sanders will start 2015 by playing Luisa’s father, Mr. Bellomy, in his debut with the “handi-capable” Phamaly Theatre Company. That will play at the Aurora Fox from Jan. 29-Feb. 15, and then at the Arvada Center from Feb. 27-March 1, before traveling to Osaka, Japan, in March.

    Talk about a guy who's got a grip.

    The point is this: When life throws you a beanball, you have choice. You can hit the ground - and stay there. Or you can get up, dust yourself off, and move on. Sanders got up. He adapted. He didn’t bend to life’s will. He as much as told life there's nothing he can’t do – even with limited use of his hands. So far: Sanders wins.


      2014 TRUE WEST AWARDS:
    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

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    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 

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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.