• Summer mountain theatre preview: Head for the hills!

    by John Moore | Jun 02, 2018

    Xanadu Ryahn Evers and Deylan Dean in Little Theatre of the Rockies' 'Xanadu,' opening June 7 in Greeley. Photo courtesy of Marco Robinson.

    In summertime, Colorado theatregoers heed the call to 'climb every mountain' in search of wide variety of stage offerings

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Coloradans love to climb their 14ers in the summer. And local theatregoers love to climb every mountain in search of a wide expanse of theatrical possibilities.

    Summer is when many of Colorado's famed seasonal repertory companies open from Grand Lake to Dillon to Creede and beyond. Combined they will present a dizzying array of offerings throughout the state ranging from the Colorado homegrown premiere of the madcap Broadway musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder in Grand Lake to Lake Dillon Theatre Company's The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, the searing story of a brash New Jersey detective determined to solve the disappearance of a 14-year-old gay teen. That will star frequent DCPA Theatre Company actor Jeffrey Roark.

    For those preferring to stay closer to home, scroll down for our complete list of summer theatregoing options covering every company in the state. (To add or correct, email jmoore@dcpa.org.)

    Summer Mountain or Repertory Theatre in Colorado:

    BRECKENRIDGE BACKSTAGE THEATRE

    • Scott-McLeanFeatured play: Monty Python's Spamalot
    • What’s it all about? Spamalot is coming to taunt Breckenridge. The Tony Award-winning best musical of 2005 was lovingly "ripped off" from the beloved source film, with its full allotment of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and one legless knight intact. Ish.
    • Directed by: Robert Michael Sanders
    • Keep an eye on: Scott McLean as Arthur. He’s been one of the area’s most reliable song-and-dance men for 20 years, most actively at the Town Hall Arts Center, where he recently appeared in Sisters of Swing and Peter and the Starcatcher. He’s got dramatic chops, too, as he displayed in the Edge Theatre’s Casa Valentina. Spamalot offers McLean the chance to show off his deadpan comic skills as the self-anointed knight who is never, ever in on the joke.  
    June 8-July 21: Our Teacher's A Troll (for children)
    June 15-July 21: Monty Python's Spamalot
    July 26-Aug. 12: Lend Me A Tenor
    Aug. 24-Sept. 2: Annie
    At 121 S. Ridge St.,  970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    COLORADO SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL

    • rodney_lizcanoFeatured play: Richard III
    • What’s it all about? The Bard’s most murderous, malicious and mesmerizing king is being presented indoors for the first time by the nation’s second-oldest Shakespeare festival. Richard, Edward IV’s deformed and embittered younger brother, will do anything to take the crown for himself — but once he has the throne, everything falls apart. Four centuries later, the masterful conclusion of Shakespeare’s Henriad history cycle still speaks volumes about lies, honor and the dark side of ambition. READ MORE
    • Directed by: Wendy Franz
    • Keep an eye on: Rodney Lizcano in the title role. He’s a graduate of the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory and just appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere of American Mariachi. He’s best-known in Boulder for his broad comedic Shakespeare roles but now he's getting his first chance to slink into a major, villainous lead.

    June 8-Aug. 12: Love's Labour's Lost (outdoors)
    June 22-Aug. 11: Richard III (Indoor stage)
    July 6-Aug. 11: Cyrano de Bergerac (outdoors)
    July 20-Aug. 12: You Can't Take It With You (indoors)
    Aug. 5: Edward III (indoors)
    At the Mary Rippon Amphitheatre and University Mainstage, CU-Boulder campus, 303-492-0554 or coloradoshakes.org

    CREEDE REPERTORY THEATRE

    • Emily_van_FleetFeatured play: 9 to 5
    • What’s it all about? This enduring fan favorite is a musical stage adaptation of the hit comedy film about workplace revenge back in the Rolodex era. When three unlikely women conspire to take control of their company, they learn there's nothing they can't do — even in a man's world.
    • Directed by: Amanda Berg Wilson
    • Keep an eye on: Emily Van Fleet as Doralee — Dolly Parton’s film part. Van Fleet is a 2017 True West Award winner who has been on the roll (of roles) of a lifetime following the DCPA’s The Wild Party at the Stanley Marketplace and most recently in the two (!) female leading roles in the Arvada Center’s Sunday in the Park with George. Long before she stormed Denver, she was a favorite in Creede, located 250 miles south of Denver in the San Juan Mountains.

    Through Aug. 9: Barefoot in the Park
    June 8-Aug. 26: The Wizard of Oz
    June 23-Sept. 8: Boomtown (improv comedy)
    June 29-Aug. 25: 9 to 5
    July 12-14: The KID Show (for children)
    July 27-Sept. 15: Miss Holmes
    Aug. 17-Sept. 14: Guadalupe in the Guest Room
    At 124 Main St., Creede, 81130, 719-658-2540 or creederep.org

    LITTLE THEATRE OF THE ROCKIES, GREELEY

    • Xanadu Ryahn Evers Featured play: Xanadu
    • What’s it all about? Based on the 1980 film starring Olivia Newton-John, this frothy 2007 Broadway adaptation about an artist and his encounter with muses is not your mamma's Xanadu. It pays homage to the original story and music, but with welcome reworking of the source film's evident problems. We're talking roller skates, short shorts and mythological mayhem. It's kind of like The Wedding Singer on roller skates.
    • Directed by: Shelly Gaza
    • Keep an eye on: Ryahn Evers as Kira. She’s a student of musical theatre at the University of Northern Colorado, also home of Colorado’s oldest theatre company. If she looks to you like she could be a princess, you are not alone. She's even paid to be one — as an actor for Wands and Wishes Occasions, a highly sucessful company that provides quality fairy-tale characters for children’s parties. “She is really dynamite,” says her director.

    June 7-July 20: Xanadu
    June 14-21: Lobby Hero
    June 21-July 19: Angel Street
    June 28-July 1: I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
    On the University of Northern Colorado campus, 970-351-4849 or littletheatrerockies.com

    LAKE DILLON THEATRE COMPANY

    • Jefrey RoarkFeatured play: The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey
    • What’s it all about? Flamboyant, optimistic 14-year-old Leonard Pelkey goes missing in a small Jersey town. As detective Chuck DeSantis investigates the clues left behind, James Lecesne’s one-actor play asks us how to live, who to love, and what gets left behind when one person is lost. The affecting and entertaining play is a testament to the beauty of a world where difference is celebrated rather than denigrated. Recommended for adults and students 14 and older.
    • Directed by: Christy Montour-Larson
    • Keep an eye on: Jeffrey Roark. He’s a graduate of the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory who most recently appeared in the DCPA Theatre’s A Christmas Carol as Jacob Marley. Other credits have included Sweeney Todd, All the Way and To Kill a Mockingbird

    June 18-June 17: The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey
    June 15-July 15: Rock of Age
    July 13-29: Topdog/Underdog
    Aug. 3-Sept 2: The Underpants
    Aug. 17-Sept. 2: Mr. Joy
    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, Silverthorne, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    ROCKY MOUNTAIN REPERTORY THEATRE, GRAND LAKE

    • Russell Mernaugh 200Featured play: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
    • What’s it all about? This was the most-nominated musical of the 2014 Broadway season, and Rocky Mountain rep is the first Colorado company to stage its own version of it. When the low-born Monty Navarro finds out he’s eighth in line for an earldom in the lofty D’Ysquith family, he sets down a ghoulish path to speed up the process. Can he knock off his unsuspecting relatives without being caught and become the second Earl of Highhurst? And what's love got to do with it?
    • Directed by: Michael Querio
    • Keep an eye on: Russell Mernagh made a name for himself in several Denver-area musicals, including Damn Yankees at the Town Hall Arts Center, before heading to Chicago (Goodman and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre) and then New York. But he’s continued to be a regular member of Grand Lake’s popular summer rep company, having played Chad in All Shook Up and Enjolras in Les Miserables, among others.  Now he's playing Monty Navarro, a man who is writing his memoirs on the eve of his possible (madcap) execution. Special shout-out, too, to Josh Kellman, who is playing all nine members of the D’Ysquith family in what Querio promises "will be a tour-de-force comedic performance." This is Kellman's seventh season with Rocky Mountain Rep. (Here's our expanded story from last year's 50th anniversary season.)

    June 8-Aug. 24: Annie
    June 15-Aug. 23: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
    June 29-Aug. 25: The Full Monty
    Aug. 31-Sept. 29: Pump Boys and Dinettes
    At 800 Grand Ave, Grand Lake, 970-627-3421 or rockymountainrep.com

    SOUTHERN COLORADO REPERTORY THEATRE

    • Jacquie Jo Billings EvitaFeatured play: Evita
    • What’s it all about? This Evita will take a new approach to the story of Argentina's rags-to-riches first lady, setting Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved musical inside a tango bar in the heart of Buenos Aires on the night of Eva Peron’s death. Driven by ambition and blessed with charisma, Eva was destined to leave a lasting and unique 20th century political legacy. This season marks the debut of young Eli Carpenter (who assisted with the directing of many DCPA Theatre Company shows) as Artistic Director.
    • Directed by: Jimmy Bruenger
    • Keep an eye on: Jacquie Jo Billings as Evita. The 2014 True West Award winner for The Fantasticks at Miners Alley Playhouse is joining her sister, Jamie Billings (director of God of Garnage), at Trinidad’s venerable summer theatre. Jacquie Jo was nominated for a Henry Award for playing Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at Miners Alley, and later played the troubled daughter in Town Hall’s Next to Normal. The Billings sisters will perform together in Fly By Night. (Photos by Cody Schuyler.)

    June 15-Aug. 19: Fly by Night
    July 8-Aug. 17: Evita
    July 20-Aug. 18: God of Carnage
    At the Famous Performing Arts Center, 131 W Main St., Trinidad, 719-846-4765 or scrtheatre.com

    THEATRE ASPEN

    • Kimberly Doreen Burns Featured play: Ragtime
    • What’s it all about? One of the greatest American musicals of all time follows a Harlem musician, a WASP matriarch and a Jewish immigrant father in 1904 New York, while weaving in historic figures such as Harry Houdini, Booker T. Washington and Henry Ford. Based on E.L. Doctorow's novel, Ragtime is a sweeping and volatile tale of love in an intolerant time. It reminds us that everyone’s voice is vital in defining our American experience. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
    • Directed by: Mark Martino
    • Keep an eye on: Kimberly Doreen Burns, who will play Mother. Theatre Aspen always brings a stunning roster of New York-trained actors for the summer, and this year is no exception. Burns has taken on everything from Dot/Marie (Sunday in the Park with George) to Guenevere (Camelot) to Sarah Brown (Guys and Dolls) to Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady) to Nellie Forbush (South Pacific).  In Aspen, She also will play Mrs. Gibbs in Our Town under the direction of Hunter Foster, star of Broadway's Urinetown.

    June 27-July 3: Ragtime
    July 14-Aug. 8: Godspell
    July 20-28: Our Town
    At The Hurst Theatre, 470 Rio Grande Place, 844-706-7387 or theatreaspen.org

    THINGAMAJIG THEATRE COMPANY, PAGOSA SPRINGS

    • Hannah Zilber Little ShopFeatured play: Little Shop of Horrors
    • What’s it all about? Classic, campy rock musical about a down-and-out skid-row floral assistant named Seymour who becomes an overnight sensation after he discovers an exotic plant with a mysterious craving for fresh human blood. Soon "Audrey II" grows into an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore who offers Seymour fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite. Thingamajig has rented its puppets for this show from Denver puppet master Cory Gilstrap, “and they are magnificent,” Artistic Director Tim Moore says. “The licensor strongly encourages you to rent theirs, but we really wanted to support local artists — and Cory’s stuff is awesome.”
    • Directed by: Ali Whitman
    • Keep an eye on: Hannah Zilber as Audrey. The Chesapeake (Va.) native is, in Moore’s words,  “a true pin-up girl born in the wrong era — and as sweet as Southern performers have a reputation for being. We went to Graceland together and people stopped her for pictures the whole tour.”

    June 15-Aug. 31: Legally Blonde The Musical
    June 22-Aug. 29: West Side Story
    July 6-Aug. 30: Thoroughly Modern Millie
    July 7-Aug. 25: Pinkalicious the Musical
    July 13-Aug. 29: Little Shop of Horrors
    At the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 81147, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    More (non-rep) statewide summer theatre options:

    Equus Bas Bleu Photo William CottonBAS BLEU THEATRE, FORT COLLINS
    Through July 1: Equus
    401 Pine St., 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER AT COLORADO COLLEGE
    Through June 17: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
    June 29-July 21: Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind
    Aug. 30-Sept. 2: Pie
    30 W. Dale St., 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    FUNKY LITTLE THEATER COMPANY, COLORADO SPRINGS
    June 15-30: Always a Bridesmaid
    July 13-Aug. 4: Third annual Spectrum LGBTQIA Festival
    367 Pecan St., 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    IRON SPRINGS CHATEAU, MANITOU SPRINGS
    Through Aug. 11: A Precious Bit of the West...or...She Was Simply a Delight!
    June 15-Oct. 13: Disturbance at the Delta, Or...Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy
    444 Ruxton Ave., 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com

    JESTERS DINNER THEATRE, LONGMONT
    Through July 8: Annie
    July 13-Sept. 30: The Producers
    224 Main St., 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    MILLIBO ART THEATRE, COLORADO SPRINGS
    June 16-July 29: Summer Sundae-Fundays! (Theatre and ice cream)
    1626 S. Tejon St., 719-465-6321, www.themat.org 

    MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER, FORT COLLINS
    June 1-Aug. 25: Grease
    3750 S. Mason St, (970) 225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com 

    OPENSTAGE & COMPANY, FORT COLLINS
    Through June 30: The Comedy of Errors
    The Park at Columbine Health Systems, 947 Worthington Circle, 970-484-5237 or www.openstagetheatre.org 

    SPRINGS ENSEMBLE THEATRE, COLORADO SPRINGS
    July 19-Aug. 5: Tigers Be Still 
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    THEATREWORKS, COLORADO SPRINGS
    July 26-Aug. 26: Macbeth
    Aug. 2-25: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
    At Rock Ledge Ranch, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    THUNDER RIVER THEATRE COMPANY, CARBONDALE
    June 14-30: Bat Boy: The Musical
    At 67 Promenade, Carbondale, 970-963-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com


    Summer theatre options in the Denver metro area:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE
    Through Aug. 25: Murder at the Tiki Bar
    2406 Federal Blvd., Denver, 80211, 303-455-1848 or adamsmysteryplayhouse.com

    AND TOTO TOO
    44th and Tennyson streets, 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org
    June 15: The Play Crawl on Tennyson Street

    BDT STAGE, BOULDER
    Through Sept. 8: The Little Mermaid
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    BENCHMARK THEATRE, LAKEWOOD
    June 22-July 21: The Arsonists
    1560 Teller St., benchmarktheatre.com

    THE BiTSY STAGE
    Through June 17: A Hymn to the Goddess: An Egyptian Tale
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 www.bitsystage.com

    THE CATAMOUNTS, BOULDER
    Through June 17: "Rausch," an outdoor adventure
    Starts at Wild Woods Brewery, 5460 Conestoga Ct., 303-440-7826 or thecatamounts.org

    COAL CREEK THEATRE OF LOUISVILLE
    Aug. 23-25: An Evening of Colorado Grown One Acts
    Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant Ave., cctlouisville.org

    CURIOUS THEATRE 
    Through June 16: Your Best One
    June 25: Denver Stories, featuring Steve Farber
    June 14-July 1: Ars Nova’s Underground Railroad Game
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org  

    HUMAN ERROR. Photo by Adams VisCom.DCPA THEATRE COMPANY
    Through June 24: Human Error, Garner Galleria Theatre READ MORE (Photo at right of Marissa McGowan and Kimberly Gilbert by AdamsVisCom.)

    Aug. 24-Sept. 30: Vietgone, Ricketson Theatre READ MORE
    Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    DCPA BROADWAY
    Through June 10: School of Rock, Buell Theatre READ MORE
    June 13-July 7: The Book of Mormon, The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    July 12-Aug. 5: Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, Garner Galleria Theatre
    July 25-Aug 5: Les Misérables, Buell Theatre
    Aug. 8-19: On Your Feet!, Buell Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    DCPA OFF-CENTER
    Through July 1: Remote Denver, Starts at Lincoln Park, 13th Avenue and Mariposa Street WATCH THE VIDEO
    July 11-Aug. 22: Mixed Taste: Tag team lectures (Wednesdays), at Seawell Ballroom, 14th and Curtis streets
    303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    DENVER CHILDREN'S THEATRE
    June 25-29: West Side Story (performers grades 6-12)
    Elaine Wolf Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-316-6360 www.maccjcc.org

    EQUINOX THEATRE COMPANY
    Through June 16: Little Shop of Horrors
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinoxtheatredenver.com 

    EVERGREEN PLAYERS
    July 13-Aug. 5: 9 to 5
    Aug. 24-25: Epic Summer (improv comedy)
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    FIREHOUSE THEATER COMPANY
    Through June 9: Superior Donuts
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com  

    INSPIRE CREATIVE
    July 20-Aug. 5: Sister Act
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or Inspirecreative.org

    LONGMONT THEATRE COMPANY
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org
    July 21-Aug. 13: The Tempest

    LOWRY’S SPOTLIGHT THEATRE
    June 23-July 22: The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Seam Michael Cummings in District Merchants at Miners Alley Playhouse. Sarah Roshan Photography.MINERS ALLEY PLAYHOUSE
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com
    Through June 24: District Merchants READ MORE (Photo by Sarah Roshan)
    July 13-Aug. 19: Lend Me a Tenor

    PHAMALY THEATRE COMPANY
    July 12-Aug. 5: Into The Woods, at The Space Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-575-0005 or 303-893-4100; denvercenter.org or phamaly.org 

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY
    Through June 9: The Life & Times of Ol' Alfred
    At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    STAGEDOOR THEATRE, CONIFER
    27357 Conifer Road, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoortheatre.org
    July 13-29: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    SU TEATRO
    June 14-July 1: Anthem to Aztlan
    721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org 

    THEATRE COMPANY OF LAFAYETTE
    July TBA: A Midsummer Night’s Scream: A new-play festival inspired by the Edvard Munch painting
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org 

    TOWN HALL ARTS CENTER, LITTLETON
    Through June 18: Ain’t Misbehavin’
    2450 W. Main St., 303-794-2787 or townhallsrtscenter.com 

    VINTAGE THEATRE, AURORA
    Through July 8: Agnes of God
    June 22-Aug. 5: The Bridges of Madison County
    Aug. 3-Sept. 9: The Sunshine Boys
    1468 Dayton St., 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • It's Mother's Day! Here are 10 of the worst in theatre history

    by John Moore | May 12, 2018
    August Osage County Annie Butler Creede Repertory Theatre Photo by John Gary Brown.Annie Butler as Violet Weston in Creede Repertory Theatre's 2015 production of 'August: Osage County.' Photo by John Gary Brown.


    If you had, have or are a good mother, this list of 10 terrible moms ought to make you feel good about yourself today

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Who are your choices for bad theatre moms? Add them as a comment at the bottom of this story. And Happy Mother's Day!  

    NUMBER 1August Osage County OpenStage. Denise Freestone and Sydney Smith. Photo by Joe Hovorka.Violet Weston from August: Osage County. At the center of Tracy Letts’ modern Dust Bowl is this poisonous, pill-popping matriarch. Her worst sin? Perhaps it was allowing her husband to commit suicide when she could have done something to prevent it. Perhaps. (It’s a long list.) Violet has cancer of the mouth — medically and metaphorically. She has no switch to stop her from blurting the most vicious things that come to mind. She pops out furious epithets — most aimed at her own adult daughters — as quickly as she pops in pills. Her spawn all bear varying degrees of inherited burns they surely will pass on to their own children. How evil is Violet? Why, she even blasts Colorado. "It's not hard to do!" she says in the play. Sorry, Vi, but that makes you The Worst. (Pictured: Denise Freestone and Sydney Smith in OpenStage Theatre's 2017 production of 'August: Osage County' in Fort Collins. Photo by Joe Hovorka.)

    NUMBER 2Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van de Hey in Gypsy for Town Hall Arts Center 2009Mamma Rose Hovick from Gypsy. A rose is a rose is not always a rose. Take thorny Mamma Rose, whose name has become synonymous with “bad show-biz mom.” Rose (a real person) is a domineering mother with an insatiable drive to make stars out of her two daughters, whether in vaudeville, burlesque or strip-tease. (Hey there’s nothing humiliating about stripping as long as you are the star, she comes to believe.) Broadway fans have seen some of the great actors of our time take up the maniacal mantle, from Ethel Merman to Angela Lansbury to Patti Lupone to Tyne Daly to Bernadette Peters. Gypsy drives one daughter away and debases the other until in the end, even she admits: “I did it for me!” Frank Rich called Gypsy “nothing if not Broadway's own brassy, unlikely answer to King Lear.” (Pictured: Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van de Hey in Town Hall Arts Center's 2009 production of 'Gypsy.')

    NUMBER 3Emily Paton Davies as Maureen, Emma Messenger as Mag Photo 3_ Emma Messenger as Mag, Emily Paton Davies as Maureen Photo credit_ Rachel D GrahamMag from The Beauty Queen of Leenane. The New York Times’ Ben Brantley called Martin McDonagh’s satantically funny Irish mother-daughter tandem of Mag and Maureen Folan “one of the nastiest family units ever to grace (or disgrace) a stage.” Housebound (or is she?) Mag is “a maddening model of passive aggression” who destroys any chance her spinster daughter has for happiness out of her own selfish desire not to die alone. Any trace of love has long ago giving way to spite, resentment, hatred and casual violence. Ah, the Irish. (Pictured: Emma Messenger as Mag and Emily Paton Davies as Maureen in The Edge Theatre's 2014 production of 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane.' Photo by Rachel D. Graham.)

    NUMBER 4piper-laurie-carrieMargaret White from Carrie the Musical. Carrie's overprotective and abusive mother is a religious zealot. Although she loves Carrie and wants to protect her from the world, her fanaticism often drives her to, well, torture her daughter. After Carrie develops telekinesis and goes to the prom against her mom's wishes, Margaret comes to believe that killing Carrie is the only way to save her from damnation. Like you moms do. But Carrie uses her powers to stop her mother's heart after being stabbed by her. All’s well that ends well. (Pictured: Piper Laurie in the original 'Carrie' film.)

    NUMBER 5 Jan Giese as Mae Peterson; Stacie Jackson as Rosie Alvarez and  Jim Miller as Albert Peterson for Town Hall Arts Center's 'Bye Bye Birdie' in 2006. Mae Peterson from Bye, Bye Birdie. The original 1958 script describes Albert's mother as “the quintessential mamma,” to which I say, “No.” But, it’s a just a harmless musical comedy, you say. To which I say, “No.” But she loves her Sonnyboy. “No.” Mae Peterson is a controlling, selfish mother who not only is constantly interfering in Albert’s budding relationship with his secretary, she has emasculated Albert, leaving him neurotic, weak, easily manipulated and incapable of a grown-up relationship (even though Albert is in his 30s and should have been freed from his mother’s emotional clutches years ago.) Worst: She’s an unabashed racist, constantly denigrating Albert’s long-suffering significant other for no apparent reason other than she’s not white. Psst, Albert: Throw Mamma from the train! (Pictured: Jim Miller as Albert, Jan Giese as Mae and Stacie Jackson as Rosie in Town Hall Arts Center's 2006 staging of 'Bye Bye Birdie'.)

    NUMBER 6Erica Sarzin-Borrillo. Germinal Stage-Denver. Long Day's Journey Into Night. 2013Mary Tyrone from Long Day’s Journey into Night. The subtitle of Eugene O’Neill’s dysfunctional family classic could be: “Mary’s Magical Mystery Morphine Tour!” One of the many slowly unfolding mysteries of the play is what first set delusional Mary down the self-destructive path of her addiction, and it doesn’t speak well of her parenting skills that the answer seems to lie with son Edmund for the unforgivable crime of having been born. Mary believes Edmund’s birth was God’s punishment for first son Eugene’s death from measles. It’s all a big, tangled emotional web. And there’s nothing better for breaking down your tangled emotional webs like steady stream of legally prescribed morphine. (Wait, that’s not addictive, is it?) Ah, the Irish. (Pictured: Erica Sarzin-Borrillo in Germinal Stage-Denver's 2013 staging of 'Long Day's Journey Into Night.')

    NUMBER 7Mrs Wormwood. Cassie SilvaMrs. Wormwood from Matilda The Musical. On the badness scale, Matilda's mother pales in comparison to hers father and the evil Mrs. Trunchbull — but she’s awful nonrtheless. In the book, she plays Bingo five times a week. (In the musical, she’s obsessed with ballroom dancing.) Worst, Mrs. Wormwood doesn't give two hoots about her own daughter. She mocks Matilda's intellect and interest in books, telling her that looks are more important than getting an education. As a mom, she gets an F. (Pictured: Cassie Silva in the national touring production of Matlida The Musical.) 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 8Marge Lamb. Next to NormalDiana Goodman from Next to Normal. To be absolutely clear, she’s not bad. Just a bad mom. One of the worst, due mostly to her worsening struggles with bipolar disorder over 16 years. During the course of this wrenching, groundbreaking story, Diana visualizes her dead son alive and grown; she completely ignores her daughter who is very much alive; she slashes her wrists; she undergoes electroshock therapy; and ultimately, for her beleaguered husband’s own good (she says) she walks out on her family. And in a nice little closing twist, she somehow bequeaths her bipolar disease onto her husband, who soon starts to see their dead son, too. Couples should share everything. Just not visions of resurrected sons. And really ... so many sandwiches. (Pictured: Margie Lamb in 'Next to Normal' at the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins.)

    NUMBER 9Amnelia Pedlow nd Kathleen McCall. The Glass Menagerie in 2016. Photo by Adams Viscom Amanda Wingfield from The Glass Menagerie. So much to cover in such a short paragraph. Amanda is a delusional, nagging, controlling, egomaniac who lives in the past. That she loves her children is almost incidental to the crushing, suffocating damage she has imposed upon them since birth. Most debilitating: The constant reinforcement to daughter Laura that she is damaged goods, when the script gives every indication that whatever mobility issues the wounded bird had back in high school, they went mostly unnoticed by everyone but Amanda. (She's certainly well enough to walk the streets all day lying to her mother.) Now Laura is too messed up to hold down a job, much less a relationship. To be sure, Amanda is the result and personification of her gender-stilted times, but her legacy is two damaged children. The missing mystery character in this play is Amanda’s AWOL husband. But every time I see this play, I leave thinking he was lucky to get out alive. (Pictured: Amelia Pedlow and Kathleen McCall in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Glass Menagerie' in 2016. Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    NUMBER 10into-the-woodsThe Bad Mums from Into the Woods. Take your pick: Cinderella’s stepmother spawned two vulture daughters who find joy in abusing their stepsister; and now treats her dead husband's daughter like an abused servant. It’s been argued that the cursed Witch of this story is more misunderstood than evil, but, you know … she DID steal her neighbor’s newborn daughter and cursed the family to an infertile life. So at the very least needs to work on her conflict-resolution skills. Then there is Jack’s poor single mom, who means well but raises a clueless son whose best friend is an imaginary cow. She’s not a bad person, but she hasn’t exactly prepared her son to function well in the outside world. (Pictured: Beth Beyer as The Witch in 'Into the Woods' for Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in 2016.)

    Now who are your choices for theatre's worst moms? Add them as a comment at the bottom of this list. And have a Happy Mother's 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.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • April theatre openings: Don't pass on 'Passing Strange'

    by John Moore | Apr 06, 2018
    Stew, right, the subject and star of the 2008 Broadway musical 'Passing Strange.' Photo by David Lee.

    Stew, right, was the subject and star of the 2008 Broadway musical 'Passing Strange.' Its first local production will open this month at the Aurora Fox. Photo by David Lee.


    Ten intriguing titles for April offer groundbreaking musicals and a wealth of challenging contemporary works 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Things will be busier than ever at the Denver Center this month, with a wide range of offerings from Disney's Aladdin to The Who's Tommy to Native Gardens to the final weeks of First Date, This is Modern Art and a sold-out Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. Here we take our monthly look at everything else Colorado theatregoers will have available to them this month:  

    NUMBER 1Trent Armand KendallPassing Strange. This groundbreaking musical went head-to-head with In The Heights for the 2008 Best Musical Tony Award. It opens as a concert with a rousing funk band led by a showman named Stew who takes us back to the tumultuous 1970s where we retrace young Stew’s epic journey from the suburban comforts of Los Angeles to Amsterdam and Berlin in search of “something more real than real." But this is no nostalgia trip. It’s a difficult and meaningful odyssey about cultural identity and family that culminates as young Stew comes face-to-face with present-day Stew — and to terms with the unalterable cost his youthful narcissism has exacted on those he left behind. This is catchy and cathartic performance art unlike anything Broadway has seen before. And the Aurora Fox is the first local theatre company to dare to let anyone in Colorado see it. Directed by Nick Sugar, starring Broadway's Trent Armand Kendall (Into the Woods) and featuring Sheryl McCallum (DCPA's The Wild Party). April 13-May 13 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    NUMBER 2Sunday in the Park with George. The Arvada Center presents the regional premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Broadway revival inspired by the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. This gorgeous musical merges past and present into poignant truths about life, love and the creation of art. George is frustrated as he searches for his artistic path only to find the answer to his future is in the past. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and nominated for 10 Tony Awards. The cast is led by Cole Burden and Emily Van Fleet (as both Seurat’s mistress and model) along with an all-star ensemble that includes local favorites Billie McBride, Boni McIntyre, Jeffrey Roark, Heather Lacy, Robert Michael Sanders, Joe Callahan, Abby Apple Boes, Paul Dwyer, Piper Arpan, Jeremy Rill, Michael Bouchard, Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, Drew Horwitz, Shannan Steele and Susannah McLeod. April 17-May 6 at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 3Honorable DisorderHonorable Disorder. The new Emancipation Theater Company's inaugural production tells the story of DeShawn Foster, a native of Denver’s Five Points neighborhood and a veteran of  Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following the loss of his commanding officer and father figure, DeShawn struggles to hold on to  his “Soldier’s Creed.” Honorable Disorder addresses the issues of a typical American family in present-day Denver as seen through the eyes of a young black man and his perceived value by those who care most for him. Written and directed by iconic local performance artist Jeff Campbell and featuring Theo Wilson, Erica Brown, Chet Sis, Corey Rhoads and Devon James. Through April 29 at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, 119 Park Avenue West, EmancipationTheater.com

    NUMBER 4The 2018 Local Lab. Local Theater Company will welcome three playwrights to Boulder for its seventh annual new-play festival: Clockwork by Emily Zemba, a comedy about a congresswoman up for re-election scrambling to fish her campaign out of the toilet; Ladybits by Rehana Lew Mirza, about an aspiring comedian who finds solace within a group of other female comedians feeling marginalized in an industry dominated by men; and Paper Cut by Andrew Rosendorf, a raw exploration of the physical and emotional toll of war on a soldier returning home as an amputee. "We are committed to bringing stories to the stage that challenge the world we live in today," said Artistic Director Pesha Rudnick. "I can’t think of a more exciting time to engage our community in some of our nation’s most pressing issues through the lens of art." April 20-22 at The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    NUMBER 5 Fences. The Lone Tree Arts Center is calling its production of perhaps August Wilson's most popular play its greatest assemblage of talent to date, led by Esau Pritchett. The sixth play in Wilson's decade-by decade "Century Cycle" is the story of a family led by a garbage collector whose rise through the Negro baseball leagues hit a racial ceiling. But now, in 1957, his son sees the world through very different eyes. Fences won the Tony Award for Best Play and was recently made into an Oscar-winning film. Through April 21 at 10075 Commons St. in Lone Tree, 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org

    NUMBER 6Romeo and Juliet. Phamaly Theatre Company, which creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities, brings to life Shakespeare's timeless love story that explores the passion, beauty, poetry, and tragedy of putting aside differences to pursue love above all else. This is a workshop production with minimal staging. Starring Jacob Elledge and Elizabeth Bernhardt, and directed by 2017 True West Awards Theatre Person of the Year Regan Linton. All performances will include open captioning. April 14-22 at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-575-0005 or thedairy.org

    NUMBER 7Dirt, A Terra Nova Expedition. This new play by Laura Pritchett opens with a young scientist in an underground bunker who has recently lost her love after he sacrificed himself to preserve remaining resources for the others. As she waits for the roots to regenerate, she keeps her sanity by daydreaming the science, culture, history and myth of soil. During her journey, she discovers that perhaps humanity has found its humility. April 7-May 6 at the Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    NUMBER 8Going to a Place Where You Already Are. Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's new play by Bekah Brunstetter, a staff writer for NBC’s This Is Us, centers around an elderly couple facing a sudden end-of-life crisis. In this nuanced comedy, two generations wrestle with love and a life well lived as they wonder what might come next. Brunstetter says she wrote the play "to really confront what I believe — or rather, what I can't seem to stop believing." Directed by Rebecca Remaly Weitz. April 12 through May 6 at Boulder's Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    Baker: 'It’s hard to listen when the message is a brick'

    NUMBER 9Glengarry Glen Ross. OK, so we've said this before, but this time we mean it: The Edge Theatre Company is going on hiatus after farewell stagings of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, followed next month by Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Glengarry, which won Mamet a Pulitzer in 1984, shows parts of two days in the lives of four desperate and potty-mouthed Chicago real-estate agents who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts to sell undesirable real estate to unwitting buyers. The cast includes Josh Hartwell, Warren Sherrill, Bill Hahn, Kevin Holwerda Hommes, Jihad Milhem, Max Cabot and Tony Ryan. The director is Missy Moore. Fair warning: The Alec Baldwin character in the film does not exist in the play. To see him, you have to come to a special Denver Actors Fund screening of the film (with a live appearance from The Edge cast) on Monday, April 23 at Alamo Drafthouse. The play runs April 13-May 5 at 1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    NUMBER 10Bullets Over Broadway. John Ashton directs the regional premiere of this musical stage adaptation of Woody Allen's 1994 screenplay about a  straight-arrow 1920s playwright who finds a producer to mount his show on Broadway. Only ... he's a mobster. The cast includes Mary McGroary, Damon Guerrasio, TJ Hogle, Maggie Tisdale, Michael O’Shea, John Gleason, Colby Dunn, Adrianne Hampton and Bernie Cardell. April 13-May 27 at 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    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.


    Aladdin Photo by Deen van Meer
    Disney's 'Aladdin' flies into Denver on April 7. Photo by Deen van Meer.


    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    April 5-21: Lone Tree Arts Center's August Wilson's Fences
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org

    A Picasso. Logan Ernstthal and Susie RoelofszApril 5-29: Cherry Creek Theatre Company's A Picasso
    At the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver, 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org
    (Pictured at right: Logan Ernstthal and Susie Roelofsz)

    April 5-15: Theatrix USA's Stand Still & Look Stupid
    At the Beacons/Parkside Mansion, 1859 York St., theatrixusa.org

    April 6-29: Emancipation Theatre's Honorable Disorder
    At Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, 119 Park Avenue West, EmancipationTheater.com

    April 6-May 6: Town Hall Arts Center's Sisters of Swing
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or town hall’s home page

    April 6-28: Equinox Theatre Company’s Reefer Madness: The Musical
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    April 6-21: StageDoor Theatre's Fame
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoortheatre.org
    (No performances April 13-15)

    April 7-28: National touring production of Disney’s Aladdin, Buell Theatre
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    April 7-May 6: Bas Bleu's Dirt! A Terra Nova Expedition
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    April 12-May 6: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Going to a Place Where You Already Are
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    April 12-21: 5th Wall Productions' Venus in Fur
    The Bakery 2132 Market St.,720-771-8826 or ticketleap.com
    No performances April 13-14

    April 13-May 6: DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    April 13-May 5: The Edge Theatre Company’s Glengarry Glen Ross
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    April 13-May 13: Aurora Fox's Passing Strange
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    April 13-22: Germinal Stage Denver's The Creditors
    At the John Hand Theater Ballroom on the Colorado Free University Campus at Lowry, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-455-7108 or germinalstage.com

    April 13-July 8: Jester’s Dinner Theatre’s Annie
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    April 13-May 27: Vintage Theatre's Bullets Over Broadway
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    April 14-22: Phamaly Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet
    At the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-575-0005 or thedairy.org

    April 17-May 6: Arvada Center's Sunday in the Park with George
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    LaManchaPromoApril 19-May 5: And Toto too Theatre Company’s The Way Station and The South Star
    At The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St., 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org

    April 26-May 13, 2018: TheatreWorks' Amadeus
    At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    April 26-June 17: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Man of La Mancha (pictured right)
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    April 27-May 27: DCPA Theatre Company's The Who's Tommy
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    April 27-May 20: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s Fully Committed
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:


    Lawrence Hecht Michael EnsmingerThrough April 14: Curious Theatre's The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism & Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org READ MORE

    Through April 15: Off-Center's This Is Modern Art
    Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through April 15: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Kiss Me Kate
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

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

    Through April 22: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s Fun Home
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org READ MORE

    Through April 23: DCPA Cabaret's Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Lili Shuger as AnneFrankThrough April 28: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre's The Diary of Anne Frank
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com
    (Photo at right of Lili Shuger by Meghan Ralph)

    Through April 28: OpenStage's And Then There Were None
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through April 28: Miners Alley Children's Theatre’s Little Red Riding Hood
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 Or minersalley.com

    Through April 29: Miners Alley Playhouse's The 39 Steps
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Through May 3: Arvada Center's All My Sons
    Studio Theatre, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through May 4: Arvada Center's The Electric Baby
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through May 4: Denver Children's Theatre's Sleeping Beauty
    Public performances 1 p.m. Sundays
    Elaine Wolf Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-316-6360 www.maccjcc.org

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

    Through May 13: Vintage Theatre's The Audience
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through May 20: BDT Stage's Always … Patsy Cline
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through May 25: Arvada Center Children's Theatre's Seussical
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through May 26: Midtown Arts Center's Ragtime
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, (970) 225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through Aug. 11: Iron Springs Chateau’s A Precious Bit of the West, or: She Was Simply a Delight!
    444 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE
  • Ongoing productions

  • AVENUE THEATER


  • Weekends: Comedy Sportz

  • BAS BLEU THEATRE
    • Sunday, April 15: The Homeless Choir Speaks, a film by Susan Polis Schutz
    At 401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org


    BUG THEATRE
    • Thursday, March 19: The Emerging Filmmakers Project, showcasing Denver's indie film scene on the third Thursday of every month.
    • Monday, April 30: Freak Train: Open-mic variety show hosted by GerRee Hinshaw on the final Monday of every month

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


    BOULDER PHILHARMONIC

    • Monday, April 23: Bernstein at 100: Leonard Bernstein Tribute Concert 

    The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra presents Leonard Bernstein's iconic West Side Story, in collaboration with Central City Opera and choirs.
    At Levin Hall at the Boulder JCC, 6007 Oreg Ave., Boulder TICKETS

    • Sunday, April 29: Bernstein at 100: West Side Story in Concert

    The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra presents Leonard Bernstein's iconic West Side Story, in collaboration with Central City Opera and choirs.
    At the Lone Tree Arts Center, 10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org


    BUNTPORT THEATER

    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com


    Glengarry 2DENVER ACTORS FUND

    • Monday, April 23: Screening of the film Glengarry Glen Ross with live entertainment from The Edge Theatre's upcoming production of the profane David Mamet classic about the cutthroat world of real estate. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7. Choose your preferred seating

    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com


    EVERGREEN CHORALE

    • Friday, April 20: Swing Into Spring: Big band sound of William and the Romantics
    At the Evergreen Lake House, 303-674-4002 or evergreenchorale.org


    LOCAL THEATER COMPANY

  • April 20-22: Local Theater Company's Local Lab new-play festival.

    At the Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or tickets.thedairy.org


  • MILLIBO ART THEATRE
    • April 12-19: Women’s Theatre Festival
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321 or themat.org


    PARKER ARTS
    • April 6-7, 2018: Parker Arts’ Wiley and the Hairy Man
    • April 13, 2018: Parker Arts’ Henry and Mudge
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, 303.805.6800 or www.ParkerArts.org


    PLATTE VALLEY PLAYERS AND BRIGHTON MUSIC ORCHESTRA
    • Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m.: Guys and Dolls in Concert
    At The Armory Performing Arts Center, 300 Strong St., Brighton, 303-227-3053 or plattevalleyplayers.org
    • Sunday, April 22 at 4 p.m.: Guys and Dolls in Concert
    At First Presbyterian Church of Brighton, 510 S. 27th Ave., Brighton, 303-227-3053 or plattevalleyplayers.org

     


    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY
    • Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    • April 17-28: 4th EVER WordFest
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org


    STORIES ON STAGE

    • Saturday, April 14: Course Correction. Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month: Cajardo Lindsey,  Emma Messenger and Sam Gregory perform stories about self-help.
    1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive,  303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org
  • Abner Genece: An actor survives, and the son also rises

    by John Moore | Mar 18, 2018
    Abner Genece. Matthew Gale Photography. Arvada Center.


    When the actor took one small step onto the Arvada Center stage, it was one giant leap back from near-fatal tragedy

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When actor Abner Genece woke up days after the accident with as many tubes in his body as broken bones, he wasn’t thinking of whether he might ever perform again. He was thinking of his son, Jayden, who had been airlifted from the highway carnage to a pediatric trauma center in another state.

    “I was confused and upset,” said Genece, whose body was being held together by nine permanent titanium plates — and held down by physical restraints.

    But then he remembered hearing Jayden’s voice cut through the cacophony of fear in those terrifying initial moments after impact: “I’m OK, Daddy. I love you, Daddy.”

    Abner Genece Selfie with Jayden“As soon as I was able to think more clearly, I was assured by the trauma staff and my brother and sister that Jayden was indeed alive,” Genece said this week, eight months after he and Jayden were struck from behind by a semi-truck traveling at nearly 70 mph. Days later, he said, “what could have happened to Jayden dawned on me in its full clarity.”

    Father and son were driving to Oregon to visit cousins for the holiday weekend. They were stopped on a Wyoming highway by police because of an accident ahead. Genece remembers stopping at a rest stop a few minutes before to fuel up and buy some snacks. “We even took a selfie,” he said (pictured above and right). Genece doesn’t remember getting back into the car. “I only remember waking up several days later in a Salt Lake City intensive-care unit.”

    Genece and his son both sustained multiple, life-threatening injuries. Abner required several surgeries on his ribs and spine. Jayden, who was 11 at the time, had to wear a neck brace for several months. Both needed dental surgery to repair their teeth.

    Genece’s spirits were high that day. He had been recently featured in Curious Theatre’s Water by the Spoonful, and just the day before had participated as a director and performer in Curious’ National Collective Festival, a week-long intensive for promising young playwrights. Genece was preparing to perform in a play that September in Jackson, Wyo. And he had just received word days before that he was one of 11 actors chosen as full members of the Arvada Center’s Black Box Theatre Company for the 2017-18 season. That not only meant he would be performing in three plays in repertory — he had guaranteed employment for a year. It is considered one of the best jobs any actor in Denver can get.   

    Lynne Collins, artistic director of the Arvada Center’s repertory company, chose Genece to play Sir John in Sense and Sensibility, Jim Bayless in All My Sons and Ambimbola in The Electric Baby. So when she got the call days later that Genece was now fighting for his life in a Utah hospital, Collins couldn’t wrap her head around the sadness of it all — and the heavy irony.

    Abner Genece Sense and Sensibility“Just a week before, Abner was auditioning to play a Nigerian man who spends 90 percent of the play in a hospital bed wondering if he will ever walk again,” Collins said of The Electric Baby. That’s a play about a woman who causes a car accident that kills a young man and brings together a group of fractured souls who connect around a mysterious dying baby who glows like the moon.

    “When I cast him in the role, Abner told me, ‘I understand this character’s background. I know I can do the dialect. But you know what? I have never spent any time in a hospital,’ ” Collins said. He thought maybe he should spend some time in a hospital to better prepare for the role. And a week later … “

    A week later, Genece was facing a long road toward recovery that would be difficult, painful, expensive and presumably quite slow. His new daily regimen would now include ongoing physical, occupational and mental therapies.

    But one thing he never had to worry about was whether he still had a job at the Arvada Center at the end of October. In fact, the Arvada Center sent bouquet of flowers to the I.C.U. the very next day.

    Photos: NewsCenter coverage of All My Sons opening night

    “It never occurred to me not to stick with Abner,” Collins said. “Just as a general rule, you should try very hard not to punish people on the heels of a very horrible tragedy in their lives. The idea of making Abner’s situation worse by abandoning him was simply not an option.”

    Genece said support from Collins and Arvada Center Executive Director Philip Sneed was steadfast and clear from the beginning. “What was unclear was whether I would be physically able to return by the time rehearsals for Sense and Sensibility began,” said Genece.

    “The decision would be mine,” he added. “I would return only if I felt that I could perform at the level that I had set for myself."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Video: Abner Genece speaks at Miscast 2017:


     

    But Genece, needless to say, was highly motivated to recover both fast and fully. That job for the Wyoming theatre in September was out of the question. Instead, the goal became walking into rehearsals for Sense and Sensibility not quite three months after the accident.

    Back in July, the end of October seemed both just around the corner and a lifetime away. While Genece went to work on his recovery, an army of friends, relatives and strangers mobilized to help. The Denver Actors Fund provided Genece with more than $6,300 in medical relief as well as volunteers who provided meals, groceries, housekeeping and transportation.  

     “Simply put, I would not be here without the Denver Actors Fund,” Genece said. “During some of the toughest times, they helped provide food, shelter, financial aid, a caring ear and a diligent hand.”

    Abner Genece Electric BabyBut during that time Genece, who is divorced, still had basic living expenses and obligations to meet. His supplemental streams of income were impacted directly. “My work as a teaching artist, a workshop facilitator and a Lyft driver stopped immediately,” he said. His family started an online fund that raised naother $23,000. Genece singled out local directors Betty Hart and Robert Michael Sanders for their help in the months after the accident, as well as Pastor Brad Richardson of Crossroads Church Northglenn and Genece's brothers, Richard and Daryl. “I was both humbled and inspired,” he said.

    Collins was hopeful Genece would be able to handle the demands of The Electric Baby from his character’s hospital bed. But this adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is a rollicking one, and very demanding on the actors. “It was scary for all of us in the rehearsal room because it is a very physical play, and on certain days we could really tell that Abner was hurting and pushing himself too hard, so we made him sit down and rest," Collins said. "But he did not want any special treatment, so whatever pain he was dealing with, he was keeping very private.”

    Genece describes the support he received from his fellow artists as both "thoughtful and proactive." Arrangements were made for his dressing room to be located as close to the stage as possible. He was ordered not to do any heavy lifting. “Costume fittings were scheduled and executed with special care,” he said. “The stage managers were especially attentive to my need for frequent breaks as my spine, shoulder blades and ribs were all very much still healing. These and other considerations made it so much easier for me to focus on the task at hand.”

    Another constant source of support was his son, Jayden. Professional theatre companies don’t typically allow the actors to bring their children to rehearsals because of the potential distraction. But for Genece, Jayden’s presence was another form of medicine.

    “It definitely helped Abner to have Jayden literally in his corner,” Collins said. “He’s a good theatre kid and he was so quiet. But you could tell that just having Jayden there made Abner feel better. The love they share is really palpable, and I imagine this has only bonded them even more.”

    Castmate Emma Messenger describes Genece as both a gentleman and a gentle man. "We are all very protective of him," actor Kate Gleason added. But perhaps none more so than Regina Fernandez, who remembers working with Genece on a schools touring production for Kaiser Permanente — and in particular one early morning drive to Greeley two years ago. 

    "We talked that day about how our ultimate goal was the same — to be hired into the Arvada Center's Black Box Theatre Company," Fernandez said. They achieved that goal together, but the triumph was nearly taken away from Genece as quickly as he got it. And that, Fernandez said, made seeing Genece walk onstage on opening night of Sense and Sensibility on Jan. 26 all the more of a miracle.

    "But no more so than any other night," Fernandez said, "because now I think that every night with Abner is a miracle."

    Genece says he has been blessed to work with many wonderful people over the years. "However, this repertory company holds a special place in my spirit," he said, "particularly when one considers the mountain I had to climb, and am still climbing. In so many ways, great and small, these talented artists made me feel welcomed, like a valued member of the team. And perhaps most of all, like I was being encouraged to bring my personal truth and creativity to the fore. That has had everything to do with the quality of my recovery.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Collins said she teared up when she saw Genece make his opening-night entrance. She said she saw an actor who was funny and adorable and, in her words, “a big ball of love" on the stage.

    Abner Genece All My Sons“Abner is a lovely and humble man,” she said. “I was just so grateful for him — and for us —  that we were all able to make this happen. Abner has earned a karma point.”

    Genece said Sense and Sensibility is such a physically robust production that on opening night, "I didn’t have much time to reflect during the show, thankfully,” he said. “But afterward, while celebrating with Jayden at the party, I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude and triumph.”

    Gratitude for the opportunity to realize what Genece says every actor aspires to achieve: “Those brief onstage moments in the dark, when I can feel the audience gasp and my spirit expand,” he said. "When magic is possible — if only for an instant.”

    Now that all three plays are open (and will run through the first week of May), Genece has had an opportunity to reflect on his journey from being left broken on a Wyoming highway to whole and performing on the Arvada Center stage.

    “I’ve learned that we will be tested in our lives,” he said. “We will suffer. There will be pain. But it’s how we choose to deal with those events that ultimately determines the quality of our lives. It’s a long road. Trust that there are good people in the world; there are angels. And trust that you are enough.

    “And in those dark moments: Double down on yourself.”

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist. He is also the founder of the Denver Actors Fund.

    Abner Gence: My Three Characters

    • “In Sense and Sensibility, I play Sir John Middleton, a male gossip, a female gossip, an old servant, a furniture mover and the doctor. In Kate Hamill’s adaptation, the physical and vocal demands are considerable. I particularly enjoy the opportunity to play characters at opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum.”
    • “In The Electric Baby, I play Ambimbola, an immigrant from Nigeria who works as a cab driver. One of my challenges in this production was to embrace the irony of playing a man who spends the bulk of the play suffering in a hospital bed.”
    • In All My Sons, I play Dr. Jim Bayliss, a loyal friend of the Keller family who goes to great lengths to tend to their well-being. Among the challenges in this play was exploring the natures of loyalty and loss, two themes that I am familiar with in my own life.”

    Abner Genece: At a glance
    Abner Genece is making is Arvada Center debut. Other local credits: Water By The Spoonful (Curious Theatre Company); The Arabian Nights (Aurora Fox Center); Off Broadway: Othello, Hamlet, Tartuffe and Waiting For Godot (Jean Cocteau Repertory); Regional: The Bluest Eye (Moxie Theatre), The Meeting (Stella Adler Theatre), For The Love of Freedom (Greenway Arts Alliance), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum); Film and Television: Unrest, A-List, Harry’s Law, Zeke and Luther and Law & Order

    Arvada Center: Ticket information:

    Black Box Theatre Company repertory season:

    • All My Sons, written by Arthur Miller and directed by Lynne Collins, runs through May 3
    • The Electric Baby, written by Stefanie Zadravec and directed By Rick Barbour, runs through May 4
    • Sense and Sensibility, adapted from the Jane Austen by Kate Hamill and directed by Lynne Collins, runs through May 6
    • 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
    • 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org
    • The Arvada Center's 2017-18 Back Box Theatre Company ensemble members are 

      Zachary Andrews, Jessica Austgen, Regina Fernandez, Abner Genece, Kate Gleason, Geoffrey Kent, Emma Messenger, Emelie O'Hara, Lance Rasmussen, Jessica Robblee and Greg Ungar

    Abner Genece All My Sons. Matt Gale PhotographyThe cast of 'All My Sons.' Matt Gale Photography.
  • Video, photos: Daniel Langhoff celebration of life highlights

    by John Moore | Jan 21, 2018
    Video highlights:



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

    The host was Robert Michael Sanders.

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

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

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

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Special thanks: Rebecca Joseph.

    Read more on the life of Daniel Langhoff


    Photo gallery:

    Daniel Langhoff

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

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

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

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 30: The Breakouts

    Steven J. Burge and Jeremy Rill


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

    The comedian and the crooner.

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

    Something's gotta give.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues after the photo.)

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


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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Coming Sunday: 2017 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues below the video.)


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist 

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

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

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


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

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards (to date)

     

  • 2017 True West Award: Composer and Music Director David Nehls

    by John Moore | Dec 29, 2017
    2017 True West Award David Nehls

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 29: David Nehls

    Composer and Music Director
    I’ll Be Home for Christmas

    Killer Wigs from Outer Space

    The Wild Party

    Mommie Dearest

    A Midnight Clear

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Composer David Nehls had four new musicals in various stages of development over the past 12 months.

    Wait, wait. Let me repeat that:

    Composer David Nehls had FOUR NEW MUSICALS in various stages of development over the past 12 months.

    It’s nearly incomprehensible to think that one composer based here in Colorado could have that much new musical material gestating out there in the theatre world all at once. And all four of his musicals got staged and seen, in some form or other, in three states.

    And that doesn’t even include his musical direction of someone else’s musical: Nehls made his Denver Center debut in 2017 by taking on Off-Center’s full-flapper cannonball dive into immersive theatre with The Wild Party, a truth-in-title Jazz Age musical that was staged under The Hangar at Stanley in Aurora.

    Joan_CrawfordLadies and gentlemen, this is David Nehls’ moment. And his moment includes brain-eating parasites, unapologetic holiday sentiment and partnerships with none other than the daughter of Joan Crawford (pictured at right) and a star of Broadway’s Rock of Ages.

    Maybe we should go back to the beginning of the year.

    Nehls began 2017 by bravely leaving the safe embrace of his 12-year artistic home at the Arvada Center, where he supervised the music for about 45 mainstage productions. And he went out on top: His final project there was one of his own: The Arvada Center premiered Nehls’ I’ll Be Home for Christmas, a familiar holiday throwback with a little bit of bite. He ended 2017 premiering a purely joyful holiday commission called A Midnight Clear: A Musical Tale of Christmas at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, where Nehls’ writing partner, Kenn McLaughlin, is the Artistic Director.

    "The work that David is doing is really vital for the future of the American musical,” said Denver's Robert Michael Sanders, who traveled to Houston to be the assistant director A Midnight Clear. "Because without people like David continuing to take these big risks and write this new stuff, we’ll continue to just perform The Sound of Music and Beauty and the Beast into the next century."

    Here’s a quick look at Nehls' four very different new musicals in 2017:

    A David Nehls 800


    I’ll Be Home for Christmas

    • World premiere at the Arvada Center
    • Nov. 18-Dec. 23, 2016
    • Written with: Kenn McLaughlin
    • At a glance: Set in 1969, the Bright family prepares for their annual Christmas variety show, always one of the most-watched national TV events of the year. As the telecast approaches, they welcome their eldest son home from the Vietnam war. The former teen idol is now a decorated hero but deeply challenged by his return to civilian life in front of the cameras.

    Killer Wigs from Outer Space

    • Workshop staging at the University of Colorado Boulder on Dec. 5-6, 2016. Fully presented at the New York Musical Festival from July 10-16, 2017
    • Written with: Zac Miller
    • At a glance: This “hair-raising rock opera” is the story of a carnival handyman named Orville who is attacked by a galactic, brain-eating parasite. The alien transforms Orville into "a rock ’n roll prophet for peace with out-of-this-world hair." We follow Orville on his epic operatic journey to save our world. The New York cast featured Mitch Jarvis, who starred in Broadway’s Rock of Ages.

    Mommie Dearest

    • Presented as a reading on Sept. 1, 2017, at Out of the Box Theatrics in New York
    • Written with: Christina Crawford
    • At a glance: This is the musical stage adaptation of Crawford’s shocking, bestselling memoir about growing up as the adopted daughter of Joan Crawford. The focal point of the stage story, written in full collaboration with Christina Crawford, is the famous actor’s will, which disinherits her two eldest adopted children. The plot becomes the coming-of-age story of the brother-sister pair who try to remain family as various obstacles force them down different paths.

    A Midnight Clear: A Musical Tale of Christmas

    • True West Award David Nehls Megan Van De Hey A Midnight Clear HoustonNov. 8-Dec. 24, 2017
    • Stages Repertory Theatre, Houston
    • Written with: Kenn McLaughlin
    • At a glance: It’s Christmas Eve 1964, and a snowstorm threatens to cancel a concert hosted by the Sisters of the Poor Sacred Heart. But when a mysterious stranger and a stranded motorist arrive at their chapel, the nuns find that the songs of Christmas have far more power than they had imagined. The score combines traditional Christmas songs with Nehls originals including “A Joyful Christmas Noise,” “St. Christopher's Prayer” and “Eyes of a Wandering Stranger.”


    'If regular theatre takes place in three dimensions, then immersive theatre takes place in six.'

    No less impressive than creating those four new works from scratch was tackling the unique challenges Nehls was presented by Off-Center’s staging of The Wild Party, said director Amanda Berg Wilson.

    “First of all, the way the music functions in an immersive-theatre space like The Stanley is a totally different ballgame from how it works in a traditional theatre,” Berg Wilson said. “If regular theatre takes place in three dimensions, then immersive theatre takes place in six. Performing the show environmentally seriously changes how the music is going to play out in your time and space.”

    Imagine a cast of 15 actors playing characters who are attending a drunken, decadent party in a 16,000-square-foot apartment crammed with 200 guests. The live band is stationed in one far corner of the room, but the actors sing and dance and run down tiny aisleways at times more than 100 feet away from the musicians. This was a new performance challenge for actors and musicians alike.

    “David really had to be there to support the actors and to help them develop techniques for how to perform the songs in completely different corners of this massive room and still make it sound blended and lovely,” Berg Wilson said.

    A David Nehls The Wild Party Aaron Vega Jenna Moll Reyes Photo by Adams ViscomAnd Nehls had to abandon his own comfort zone to do that. “After so many years at the Arvada Center doing outstanding, but traditionally presented musical theatre, David had to be willing to go places he had never gone before —  and he was completely game for it,” Berg Wilson said.

    Perhaps no actor has more practical experience working with Nehls than the multiple award-winning Megan Van De Hey, who has performed in nearly two dozen productions under Nehls’ musical supervision since 2005. She even went on the road to Houston with Nehls last month to play the Mother Superior in A Midnight Clear.

    “The one thing that has impressed me the most about David over the years is how much that he, as a composer and lyricist, thinks about the characters and the story and the mood and the ambience — and then he puts all of that into his songs,” said Van De Hey. “He has a very clear concept for every show that he goes into.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    She cited the Arvada Center’s 2012 production of the Cold War musical Chess as an example. “He took every song that was focused on the Russians and filled it with the warmth of violin and cellos,” Van De Hey said. “And anything that had to do with the Americans had more of an electric sound to it. That’s the kind of twist that David adds to everything he does.”

    In recent years, Nehls vigorously joined the now 30-year-old grassroots movement to resurrect the dilapidated old Elitch Theatre summer playhouse that once hosted the likes of Vincent Price, Grace Kelly and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as a year-round, functioning crown-jewel of Denver theatre. As a former board member, Nehls got further than anyone else has in 2015 when the old wooden theatre in the Highlands began hosting an annual new-play festival of readings.

    Despite Nehls’ breakout year as a composer in 2017, his success in new-musical development is not actually new. Nehls first hit it big back in 2004 with The Great American Trailer Park Musical, which he developed here in Denver with Betsy Kelso before it went on to dozens of productions in New York, Australia, the U.K. and many points in-between.

    Van De Hey was asked how she reconciles the breadth of Nehls’ story subjects, ranging from the sci-fi silliness of Killer Wigs to basking in the show-biz mud to holiday stories geared for traditional theatre audiences.

    From 2014: Nehls' work to save the Historic Elitch Theatre

    “No one who has met David would ever expect him to turn out to be a sentimentalist in any way, shape or form,” said Van De Hey. “But actually, so much of his work is rooted in actual memories from his own childhood.”

    She describes working with him as "insanely collaborative."

    “It’s never been his way or the highway,” she said. "If you are the person who is going to be singing his song, he talks to you. He asks you questions. He asks for your point of view. As a composer, he works with the actor, and you discover the song together. And when David turns a song over to you, he is really turning a piece of himself over to you."

    And that works to everyone's advantage, Sanders said.

    "David is not only furthering his own craft — he’s creating work for the rest of us,” Sanders said on behalf of the hundreds of actors, musicians and other creative personnel who produce musicals in Colorado and around the country.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist 

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

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards (to date)

  • 2017 True West Award: The Difference-Makers

    by John Moore | Dec 25, 2017

    25 2017 True West Award Combined

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 25: The Difference-Makers 

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

    They are The Difference-Makers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All done on their own.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    More information on The Denver Actors Fund

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

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

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

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

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist. He is also the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.


    Video bonus: Highlights from the United in Love concert:


    Video by The Met Report's Avery Anderson.

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

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

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


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

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards


    The 2017 True West Awards

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

    Production team:

    • Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    • Assistant to the director: Jessica Swanson
    • Musical Direction and Live Keys: Donna Debreceni
    • Stage Manager: Maegan Burnell
    • Assistant Stage Manager: Haley Ivy Di Virgilio
    • Technical Director: Mike Haas
    • Lights: Alexis Bond
    • Sound: Curt Behm and Tom Quinn
    • Costumes: Nicole Harrison
    A DAF 1313 THE MUSICAL:
    Cast (moms in parentheses):
    • Joshua Cellar (Emily Cellar)
    • Conrad Eck (Kristin Eck)
    • Macy Friday (Megan Friday)
    • Evan Gibley (Michelle Gibley)
    • Lorenzo Giovanetti (Carmela Giovanetti)
    • Kaden Hinkle (Shannon Gaydos-Hinkle)
    • Hannah Katz (Erin Katz)
    • Darrow Klein (Jennifer Klein)
    • Michelle Lee (Huwon Lee)
    • Gabe Legg (Angela Legg)
    • Carter Novinger (Jennifer Novinger)
    • Rylee Vogel (Kristi Vogel)
    • Hannah Meg Weinraub (Michelle Weinraub)

    Creative:
    • Robert Michael Sanders: Producer and director
    • Paul Dwyer: Assistant director
    • Anna Smith: Assistant director
    • Jayln Courtenay Webb: Music director
    • Lauren Hergenreter: Stage manager
    • Sydney Eck: Assistant stage manager
    • Tom Quinn: Sound
    • Jennifer Orf: Lighting
    • Choreographer: Stephanie Hess, Shannan Steele, Matthew D. Peters, Jessica Hindsley, Abigail Kochevar
    Band:
    • Jason Tyler Vaughn: Guitar
    • Heather Holt Hall: Keyboards
    • S. Parker Goubert: Bass
    • Evan Jones: Drums
  • 2017 True West Award: Maegan Burnell

    by John Moore | Dec 14, 2017
    2017 True West Award Meagan Burnell Arvada Center

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 14: Maegan Burnell

    Arvada Center Stage Manager

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Maegan Burnell moved to Colorado to become a stage manager and fell in love with a stage manager and is soon moving to Chicago so they can both be stage managers together.

    We're talking a two-logistician family.

    “If those two ever have a kid,” Director Robert Michael Sanders said of Burnell and Jonathan D. Allsup, “he’ll be born with head-sets on and holding a spreadsheet.”  

    Today’s True West Award is a parting shot. Because Burnell is moving true east. And the Arvada Center’s Lynne Collins, for one, is “desperately sad we are losing her."

    Stage managers are the chief practitioners of what are often called the invisible arts. They are highly organized, detail-oriented, no-nonsense train conductors who are inordinately calm in the midst of chaos. And if they are doing their jobs well — you in the audience will never know they even exist.  

    “Stage managers are the unsung heroes of what we do,” said Collins, who was hired as the Arvada Center’s Artistic Director of Plays in 2016 to create a company of recurring actors to perform a four-play repertory season. It was Collins’ job to run that operation. It was Burnell’s job to help build that operation from scratch.

    “The logistics of stage-managing a repertory company are enormous,” Collins said. “In our case, it means you are running three productions at the same time. It means managing overlapping actor calendars. It means keeping track of hours and rehearsal spaces."

    A stage manager’s job description can vary from theatre to theatre and show to show. Typically, they provide practical and organizational support to the director, actors, designers, stage crew and technicians throughout the production process. And after the opening performance, when it’s time for the director to move on, the stage manager becomes the law by running the show and standing in for the director in all matters.

    And Burnell, Collins said, “is phenomenal at all of that. She is calm and cool and collected and organized and compassionate and utterly without drama.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Burnell was a grad student when she was hired in 2012 as an assistant stage manager by the acclaimed Creede Repertory Theatre, which presents up to seven productions each summer in the San Juan Mountains about 250 miles southwest of Denver. Her boss was Allsup, who is now the cause of all the distress running throughout the Colorado theatre community because he’s the one she will be starting a life with in Chicago after the Arvada Center’s second rep season ends in May with All My Sons.

    Burnell, originally from Waterford, Mich., graduated from Central Michigan University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City's graduate program before answering the call from Creede. She was lured to Denver in 2014 to become the permanent Stage Manager (losing the “Assistant” from her title forever) of the Arvada Center’s highly accomplished children’s theatre program, starting with Billie McBride’s Lyle the Crocodile.

    In the short three years since, she has helmed mainstage productions at the Aurora Fox, Cherry Creek Theatre Company, The Avenue Theater, Slingshot Theatre and Vintage Theatre, working for an impressive roster of top-notch directors including Sanders, Christy Montour-Larson, Edith Weiss, Bev Newcomb-Madden, Warren Sherrill, Jim Hunt, Piper Lindsay-Arpan, Gavin Mayer, Pat Payne and DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous.

    Notable credits include Porgy & Bess at the Aurora Fox and Tartuffe, which launched the Arvada Center’s rep company in 2016. And it can’t be underestimated, Allsup said, what it took to start that operation from nothing. Her impressive list of 2017 credits has included Bus Stop, The Drowning Girls and The Foreigner. Coming up, before she bolts: Sense and Sensibility and All My Sons.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Maegan Burnell Quote Robert Michael Sanders Miscast True West Awards


    But Allsup says what gives Burnell the most joy has been running the Arvada Center’s annual “teen intensive” — that’s a fully staged Broadway production for students, most recently no less than Les Misérables. That and volunteering to run big benefit events such as Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards and the Denver Actors Fund’s annual Miscast cabaret at the Town Hall Arts Center.

    “I love seeing the pure joy that she feels when she is working with students who are eager to learn,” Allsup said. “And I think she especially loves mentoring young theatre technicians at the Arvada Center more than anything.”

    Jonathan Allsup Maegan Burnell True West AwardsAs one of the state’s few gainfully employed, full-time stage managers, Burnell really has no free time for charity. But she makes time, Sanders said, because since the minute she landed in Creede, the Colorado theatre family has become her family. That was obvious enough last week when more than 700 packed the Arvada Center to celebrate the life of actor Daniel Langhoff. “You just don’t always see that in other cities,” Allsup said.  

    Allsup thinks Burnell can do just about anything, but he said the most difficult challenge she has ever taken on will simply be leaving the theatre community that has in short order gone from embracing her to utterly depending on her. “Colorado will always be the state that gave her the start of her career,” said Allsup, who was hired as the new Production Manager at Chicago’s Paramount Theatre seven months ago.

    “Maegan stepped into this community and she made a difference everywhere she went,” added Sanders. “She made a lot of places better while she was here.”

    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.

    Stage Manager Maegan Burnell 2017: 

    • Drowning Girls, Arvada Center
    • Bus Stop, Arvada Center
    • Les Misérables Teen Intensive, Arvada Center
    • The Foreigner, Arvada Center
    • Henry Awards, Colorado Theatre Guild
    • Miscast 2017, Denver Actors Fund

    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

  • 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

  • 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

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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.