• Lenne Klingaman's reader-to-riches 'Waitress' story

    by John Moore | Nov 29, 2017
    Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photo by Joan MarcusFrom left: DCPA Theatre Company favorite Lenne Klingaman, Desi Oakley and Charity Angel Dawson in the Denver-bound national touring production of 'Waitress,' opening at the Buell Theatre on Dec. 19. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Denver Center favorite pivots from playing female Hamlet in Boulder to quirky waitress in Denver-bound Broadway hit

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Actor Lenne Klingaman has one of those incredible stories that will make you say, “Yeah, right.”  

    But in this case: Right!

    Klingaman's story starts in an audition room in New York City at the start of 2017. What you need to know is that when an actor auditions for a specific role, the casting director often provides what’s called “The Reader” for the hopefuls to exchange dialogue with. "The Reader" may not be the appropriate gender, age or type, but it doesn’t matter. The reader isn’t the one auditioning. "The Reader" never gets the part.

    Lenne Klingaman QuoteScratch that. In this case, Klingaman was "The Reader." And she got The Part.

    Klingaman returns to her adopted city of Denver on Dec. 19 to play Dawn in the first national touring production of the hit Broadway musical Waitress. This follows her triumphant summer turn as a female Hamlet for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. In between, there was a storybook wedding.

    But we digress.

    Despite a long list of national credits that includes playing Juliet in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet and two roles in the world-premiere play Appoggiatura, Klingaman somehow ended up in the audition room for Waitress as “The Reader” alongside Director Diane Paulus, who was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People On This or Any Other Planet; Curb Your Enthusiasm writer Jessie Nelson; and six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles. None of them knew who Klingaman was at the time. But as she went about her job reading lines for the actual job-seeking actors to play off, she made an impression.

    “After the final day, Diane followed me out of the room and asked if I sang at all,” said Klingaman, who told the influential director that, in fact, she had just released her debut pop album, The Heart is The Hunter. Paulus liked it, Bareillis liked it and, fast forward, Klingaman is now playing quirky Dawn in the first national touring production of Waitress. “I could not believe it was happening,” she says. “It's been quite a whirlwind experience.”

    Video: Lenne Klingaman sings from her solo album:

    Klingaman's roles in Hamlet and Waitress could not be more different, and yet both projects are emphatic expressions of female artistic empowerment. Colorado Shakespeare Festival Director Carolyn Howarth, for one, did not have Klingaman play Hamlet as a brooding man. In this A Midwinter Night’s Dream variation on the theme, the actor was allowed to explore Hamlet’s feminine side, and the result was an unorthodox but universal revelation in part because, The Boulder Daily Camera's A.H. Goldstein said, "Madness knows no boundaries of gender."

    When the play closed, Klingaman immediately got married. Then she joined the first touring cast of Waitress, which took its pace in theatre history when it became the first Broadway musical to have women as the director, writer, composer, choreographer (Lorin Latarro) and orchestrator (Nadia DiGiallonardo).

    "It has been an amazing joy to go from playing someone as intense and complex and dramatic as Hamlet to playing a ray of light like Dawn who looks at the world in a very positive, loving way,” she said.

    Here are excerpted highlights of Klingaman's wide-ranging conversation with the DCPA NewsCenter:

    John Moore: What did it mean to you to be given the chance to explore one of the great roles of the canon without having to subvert your own femininity?

    Lenne KlingamanLenne Klingaman: It was extremely empowering to work with Carolyn Howarth on a female Hamlet because it opened up this whole range of possibility of what acting can be, and of what women can do on the stage. There was something so freeing about playing a role written for a man. It demanded such a range that I don't think most women ever get the opportunity to play. Going forward, I am sure I will be wanting to push beyond where the feminine concept seems to end in roles I'll be playing in the coming years.

    (Photo above and right: Lenne Klingaman and Gary Wright in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'Hamlet.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    John Moore: Did the unprecedented female gender dynamic in the Waitress rehearsal room make a real difference in the creative process?

    Lenne Klingaman: To go straight from Hamlet — which was directed by a strong and wonderful woman, by the way — into an experience where, across the board, they were all women, was pretty incredible. It has been thrilling to be part of that collaborative female vibe. This is an amazing group of women who are creative and decisive and effective problem-solvers. But they also allowed for flexibility and fluidity, and they allowed us to put our own individual stamps on the show.

    Our interview with Lenne Klingaman on Hamlet

    John Moore: It seems ridiculous to think that it took 100 years for there to be an all-female creative team on Broadway. Do you feel like you're part of a moment for women in Broadway that is many decades late in coming?

    Lenne Klingaman: I hope this trend continues. I hope that people see that stories told by women, that are about women, and that are for women can be successful. Can be universal. And can be really huge hits. They used to call stories about women “chick flicks” in the movies. But stories like Waitress are worthy and valuable for everyone. And it's valuable to have women at the helm telling them from a different vantage point. It’s not that men can’t tell a woman's story — but there are angles that might only get bitten into from a female point of view. In Waitress, you'll see it in everything from the choreography to Sara Bareillis' lyrics to the way Diane makes the whole story move. So, yeah. I really do feel it.

    John Moore: Has Waitress changed to way you look at real-life waitresses?

    Lenne Klingaman in 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Lenne Klingaman: I think about how these women have to keep a smile on their faces and keep so much of their personalities submerged during  their interactions with the strangers they serve, and what that can do to a person once they get home. My character, Dawn, definitely suppresses part of herself at work because she's kind of a turtle when it comes to her personal life. I think it’s important for people to keep in mind that the people who serve them are human beings who have a lot of stuff going on in their lives. In our story, there is a bond and a sisterhood that these three waitresses share.

    (Photos above and right: Lenne Klingaman in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    John Moore: What else can we know about Dawn?

    Lenne Klingaman: The amazing part about Dawn is what a rich inner life she has, which you get to see in the second half of the show. She's a little bit of a nerd and she's a little bit O.C.D., but there is this beautiful kind of spark in the origin of her quirkiness that comes from a really serious place in her. That's been a joy to find as an actor, because all of her humor is really full of wonder and positivity.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: So how is this story a universal story — meaning for men, too?

    Lenne Klingaman: I think it's universal for the same reason a woman playing Hamlet is universal. What's happening for these three women is that they're all at the precipice of taking huge risks so that they can be who they truly are in their hearts. And when it comes to taking a leap into the unknown, and to really risk being your authentic self, your gender is immaterial. That moment of truth crosses any gender line. This is about letting your freak flag fly. It doesn't matter to an audience whether you are a man or a woman. It's pretty fun and sexy and daring for each of these women to take the risk, and I think that will be extremely enjoyable for everyone to watch.

    John Moore: What place does Colorado have in your life now after having spent so much time here?

    Lenne Klingaman: I feel like Denver has become a home away from home, and I am so excited to come back. And I'm really excited to be coming back with this show because of the light and life and joy that it brings. When we sing Everything Changes and we take our final bows, it is a communal and beautiful and joyful moment — after an entire evening of laughing your butt off. I'm really excited for Denver and Colorado to get to feel that in this moment and at this time we're existing in. This show will remind you of the true beauty of humanity.

    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.

    waitressWaitress in Denver: Ticket information
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. This is an uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 19-31
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

      Selected NewsCenter coverage of Waitress:

  • Something old, something new, something borrowed and 'Something Rotten!'

    by John Moore | Oct 17, 2017


    Cast of the national touring production of 'Something Rotten,' opening tonight (Oct. 17) at the Buell Theatre. Photo by Jeremy Daniel. 

    Something Rotten! is a cheeky new musical with its tongue planted firmly in the cheek of Broadway's past  

    Most Broadway newcomers don’t get their first show produced by Tony Award-winner Kevin McCollum, and they don’t typically land Tony-winner Casey Nicholaw as their director-choreographer. But brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick and British comedy writer John O’Farrell, the creators of the Tony Award-nominated Something Rotten!, aren’t like most Broadway first-timers.

    Growing up in Louisiana, the Kirkpatrick brothers fell in love with musical theater, appearing in high school shows and going to what’s now the Baton Rouge River Center to see touring productions of Broadway hits. In 1983, Karey Kirkpatrick saw his first show on Broadway, My One and Only, starring Tommy Tune and Twiggy, at the St. James Theatre – the theater that’s now home to Something Rotten!.

    Careers took the brothers and their Something Rotten! collaborator O’Farrell in different creative directions – Karey to success as a screenwriter, songwriter and director, with credits including The Rescuers Down Under, James and the Giant Peach and Chicken Run; Wayne to acclaim as a Grammy Award-winning songwriter (Eric Clapton’s Song of the Year Change the World and Garth BrooksWrapped Up in You are his); O’Farrell to multifaceted success in the U.K. as a comic novelist, columnist and TV and film writer.

    The seeds of Something Rotten! were sewn in the mid-1990s when Karey, who now lives in Los Angeles, and Wayne, who calls Nashville home, would get together for holidays or catch up by phone.

    “We were big history buffs. It started with, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if Shakespeare’s London were a lot like what Broadway was in the 1930s?’” Karey says. “Then it was, ‘What would it be like to be writing plays in the shadow of William Shakespeare, after Romeo and Juliet just opened?’”

    “We thought of two writers,” Wayne says. “What if one went to a soothsayer? Then somewhere along the way it was, ‘What if the two writers were brothers? What if the soothsayer’s name was Nostradamus, but he wasn’t The Nostradamus? What if he was a senile, bad soothsayer, his nephew?’ Eventually it was, ‘If we’re going to do this, we should really get serious about it.’”

    The brothers buckled down, and in 2010, Karey reached out to McCollum, producer of Rent and Avenue Q.

    “We called Kevin and said, ‘What do you need?’ He said that Avenue Q was three songs and an idea,” Karey says. “He came to my house and we pitched him five songs and the idea. He said, ‘I think you’ve got something here.’ ”

    Karey brought in O’Farrell, whom he’d met on Chicken Run, to help write the show’s story. The brothers crafted the music and lyrics, eventually writing more than 50 songs. What they had, after plenty of revisions and a multi-year developmental process, is a buoyant musical set in Shakespeare’s day that imagines the creation of the very first musical.

    Something Rotten! centers around Nick and Nigel Bottom (the last name comes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream), brothers desperate for a hit in Elizabethan London, where William Shakespeare is a rock star-like god of the stage lately given to cribbing plots. 

    Nick’s wife, Bea, a can-do gal in the style of Shakespearean heroines who cross-dress to get things done, tries to help. Nigel falls for a pretty Puritan named Portia, whose daddy strongly disapproves. Unreliable soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus, nephew of the Nostradamus, looks into the future and tells Nick that theater’s next big thing will be – tahdah! – “musicals,” where people sing, dance and act all at the same time.

    Something Rotten! is laced throughout with humor for Shakespeare aficionados and musical theater geeks.

    “We were conscious of not wanting to be so inside that you could only get it if you had seen the most obscure musicals,” Wayne Kirkpatrick said. “We went broad, purposely. We referenced not only the musicals that inspired us, but also musicals people would know even if they hadn’t seen them, or maybe they’d only seen the movie. The same with Shakespeare. Everybody knows some Shakespeare lines. There are a lot of what we refer to as his ‘hits’ that everybody is going to know.” 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The end result is a show so that has been called fresh and funny and appeals to audiences of all backgrounds. “I think it doesn’t matter how much you know,” said Nicholaw, whose other current Broadway shows are Disney's Aladdin (coming to Denver April 6-28) and The Book of Mormon (returning to Denver from June 13 through July 1). “My nieces and nephews say it’s their favorite show that I’ve done, and they don’t know any of the references.”

    Added O’Farrell: “If it works as a musical for people who don’t know musicals or Shakespeare, then I’m happy. It’s about show business and putting on a show. The show works on many levels, but the main level it works on, I hope, is that it’s just a great fun night out.”

    For the no-longer-green creative team, Something Rotten! has been a challenge, an education and a joy, an experience they still savor as the touring production plays cities all over the United States.

    “This was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but [it was] so rewarding to sit in a theater and watch all these amazing contributions from people who took it beyond our idea to create this magical, happy experience,” Wayne Kirkpatrick said.

    (The preceding article was provided by Something Rotten!)

    Bonus: Something Rotten! sings!


    'Something Rotten!'
    is brimming with references from some of the most beloved modern musicals throughout history. Jazz hands out! Below is a list of just some of our favorites from the show-stopping number 'A Musical':

    “I believe it’s called ‘Miser-ahh-bluh’”: This is directly referring to Les Misérables, with music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, original French lyrics by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel and an English libretto by Herbert Kretzmer.

    “Feel that fascinating rhythm move into your feet”: These lyrics are from George and Ira Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm, which was first included in the Broadway musical Lady Be Good in 1924 with Fred and Adele Astaire.

    “It’s a musical, a Seussical?”: Seussical was a musical that debuted on Broadway in 2000 and was based on the books of Dr. Seuss. Stephen Flaherty independently composed the music and co-wrote the book with Lynn Ahrens, who also wrote the lyrics.

    Sailor Hats: During A Musical, Nostradamus and the chorus men don sailor hats, which harkens to several nautical-themed musicals, including South Pacific, Anything Goes, On the Town and Dames at Sea.

    “All That Jazz” number: This number comes from the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical Chicago (returning to the Buell Theatre starting Nov. 28), featuring the iconic Broadway choreography of Bob Fosse.

    “525,600 Minutes” excerpt: This moment comes from the song Seasons of Love from Jonathan Larson’s Rent which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1996. The 20th anniversary tour of Rent comes to the Buell Theatre Nov. 14-21,

    Wash Buckets: The ensemble brings on cleaning buckets and emulates the iconic staging of the song It’s the Hard Knock Life from Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s Annie. BDT Stage will be presenting Annie in Boulder from Nov. 18-Feb. 24.

    Get in 'Line': The lyrics refer to the tradition of a chorus or ensemble dancing in a line in synchronized fashion. This can be seen with the world-famous Radio City Music Hall’s Rockettes and the musical A Chorus Line. At the end of the song, the entire company crosses to one line downstage with headshots (or rather head… sketches) in front of their faces. This is also replication of the iconic staging from the musical A Chorus Line.

    Fun photo gallery: A peek at the Playbills. Elizabethan style!

    Something Rotten! A Peek at the Playbills

    As a show about the "first" Broadway musical, there are naturally quite a few hilarious references to the Great White Way in Something Rotten! See how the titles of some famous shows would have changed if they were created at the turn of the 17th century. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears.

    Something Rotten!: Ticket information
    Something Rotten!At a glance: Set in 1595, this hit musical comedy  tells the story of two brothers who set out to write the world's very first musical. It was called  'The Producers + Spamalot + The Book of Mormon. Squared,' by New York Magazine. The New York Post called Something Rotten! 'a big, fat hit.'

    • National touring production
    • Performances Oct. 17-29
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • In the Spotlife: Lenne Klingaman of 'Hamlet'

    by John Moore | Jul 11, 2017
    Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen

    Lenne Klingaman played Juliet in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Romeo and Juliet' and two roles in the world premiere of the time-traveling 'Appoggiatura.' Now she is one of the few female actors to take on Hamlet, for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

    Hamlet in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'Hamlet,' through Aug. 6. She also will be playing Hamlet in the upcoming Tom Stoppard play, 'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.'

  • Hometown: Minneapolis
  • Home now: Brooklyn
  • College: BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz, MFA from the University of Washington
  • Lenne Klingaman What have you done for us lately? I played Sylvie and Young Helen in the DCPA Theatre Company's Appoggiatura.
  • What's next? I can't tell you yet, but it is going to be FUN!
  • What's your handle? @lenne03 on Instagram, @lennek on Twitter
  • Website: lenneklingaman.com
  • Twitter-sized bio: Lenne Klingaman is a performer of stage/screen/mic and mirror. Onstage, she has built a plane, acted on trapeze, rope and silk - in a cape and high-heeled boots. Her album The Heart is the Hunter is on iTunes and Apple Music
  • The role that changed your life: Playing Juliet. Every time. She and Shakespeare were my first theatrical loves and playing her four different times over a span of 10 years  was the best acting lesson I could ever ask for. She taught me not to be precious, to keep asking questions, never give up, that there is always another way, and to always look for strength in characters, even when they’re at their weakest.
  • Harriet WalterIdeal scene partner: Mark Rylance. I want to know where those ideas come from. So perfectly simple and complex all at once. Or Harriet Walter. I am obsessed with her book Brutus and Other Heroines that my Hamlet director Carolyn Howarth lent me in preparing to play Hamlet. I just want to have wine with Walter after rehearsal to chat all things feminism in theater. She knows my soul. 
  • Our full interview with Lenne Klingaman on playing Hamlet

  • In short, what is Hamlet all about? Mortality and what we are put here on this planet to do. Fortune, and how you handle it.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing a female Hamlet: I love my character with my whole heart. All the flaws, all the joy, all the wit, all the desire, all the intellect, all the heart, all the love. Love drives this human. Love for her father, for her family that’s been broken apart, for her mother, as conflicted as that is, for her friends … and so when they wrong her, the pit of despair and pain runs so deep, not much can stop her. The push and pull of this character is a fascinating thing to witness and enact. Her intellect, mixed with her deep drive to act, to do something, whether it be exacting revenge or finding out the truth, is luscious to sink my teeth into. Every night I am confronted by having to do Hamlet's “Rogue and Peasant Slave” speech, followed immediately by “To Be or Not to Be.”  This juxtaposition is the very heart of the character. We could talk about placement of “To Be” for a while, but I will say the positioning of it at Act 3, Scene 1, out of all the three folio/quarto options, makes the most sense to me. I don’t think the speech is about killing oneself. It is about action. About what it means to truly live, which goes hand-in-hand with dying, the ultimate consequence of living.
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Lenne KlingamanWhat do you hope audiences get out of seeing your show? Oh, I hope people hear the text anew. That they fall in love with it in new ways. That they feel like a new and different life has been breathed into it - but was always there. I hope young girls see me sword fight, spit, kick things, love, swear, cry, and shout, and want to do all of that, too. (Maybe not the stabbing part.) I hope men see it and want to play Hamlet with some new ideas in mind. I hope people see a kingdom that is falling apart. Because ultimately, that is what Hamlet is fighting – corruption of the spirit, of the soul, of the kingdom. (And there is so much spying in this play. Everyone is a spy!)
  • What don't we know about you? I love puzzles. I am currently obsessed with Two Dots and Sudoku. I also believe in past lives. (I am just going to leave that one hanging.) “Alexander returneth to dust. The dust is earth, of earth we make loam, and why of that loam, where to he was converted, might they not stop a beer barrel.” Exactly, Shakespeare. (Or maybe he was just encouraging us to recycle…?).
  • What do you want to get off your chest? I am thinking a lot about the human existence right now. (Can’t imagine why.) I think we are so busy defining and refining the divisions between us that we forget how powerfully unique each and every one of us is. If we stopped finding labels and parties to identify with, and rather spoke from our own experiences and our beliefs and our hearts, we might actually see that we are far more united than divided. We might finally accept the intense fluidity that comes with human existence. It is all about multiplicity, identifying it within our own self, and thus training our brains to comprehend it outside of us.
  • Read Lenne Klingaman's interview in the New York Times

    Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. KoskinenAva Kostia as Laertes, left, duels to the death with Lenne Klingaman as Hamlet for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    Hamlet: Ticket information

    • Written by William Shakespeare
    • Directed by Carolyn Howarth
    • Through Aug. 13
    • University Theatre, University of Colorado campus MAP IT
    • Tickets $23-$39
    • For tickets, call 303-492-8008 or go to cupresents.org
    • Note: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead plays July 21-Aug. 13

    Remaining Hamlet performance schedule:
    • Sunday, June 18, 6:30 p.m.
    • Friday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 23, 1 p.m.
    • Wednesday, July 26, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 30, 1 p.m. 
    • Wednesday, Aug. 2, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, Aug. 5., 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 6, 1 p.m.

    Cast list:

    Gary Wright: Claudius
    Michael Bouchard: Rosencrantz
    Kristofer Buxton: Osric/Tragedian
    Elise Collins: Fortinbras/Tragedian
    Sam Gregory: The Player/Ghost
    Lenne Klingaman: Hamlet
    Ava Kostia: Laertes
    Rodney Lizcano: Polonius/Gravedigger
    Jihad Milhem: Horatio
    Emelie O'Hara: Ophelia
    Sean Scrutchins: Guildenstern
    Cindy Spitko: Voltemand/Tragedian
    Austin Terrell: Cornelius/Tragedian
    Mare Trevathan: Gertrude
    Blake Williams: Marcellus/Tragedian Carolyn Howarth: Director
    Paul Behrhorst: Stage Manager
    Whitney Brady: Assistant Lighting and Scenic Designer
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Hugh Hanson: Costume Designer
    Stephen C. Jones: Scenic Designer, Lighting Designer
    Darion Ramos: Assistant Stage Manager

    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 Tim Howard of Backstage Breckenridge's The Producers
    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

  • Photos: 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'

    by John Moore | May 24, 2017
    2017 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    Photo gallery: DCPA Teaching Artist John Hauser performs with 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' at the recent Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Traveling to high schools across Colorado, DCPA teaching artists perform abridged versions of Shakespeare plays for a popular education program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The next day, the actors often conduct classroom workshops to help students make the connection between the play its current-day relevance in their own lives. Here are photos from spring 2017, when the cast performed 45-minute versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet.

    Now finishing its third year, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot has now served about 25,000 Colorado students, 15,000 this school year alone. DCPA Education traveled to 31 schools in eight counties, did 98 performances and conducted 59 classroom workshops. The photos above come from performances of Midsummer at a local library, as well as the Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival.

    Our full coverage of the DPS Shakespeare Festival

    The current cast is made up of Jessica Austgen, John Hauser, Kevin Quinn Marchman, Chloe McLeod, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord, with technical support from Stuart Barr. The director is DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous.

    Teachers can book performances for the fall by emailing education@dcpa.org.

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is made possible by a grant from Anadarko.

    Selected previous coverage of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
    How Shakespeare in a truck rolls down the window on today's world
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot brings Bard to life at Weld Central High
    2015 True West Award: Rosaline the 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck
    The Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Shakespeare Fest: Students put spirit of youth in everything

    by John Moore | Apr 29, 2017

    Above: Video coverage from the 2017 The Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival on April 28. Our guests include Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock; DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden; DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg; teacher Tim Boyle (John F. Kennedy High School); students Amelia Corrada (Denver School for the Arts), Vincent Haney (Denver North High School) and Alexis Ayala (J.F.K). Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    'Today, we keep the arts alive. Today we triumph
    over hatred, over grief and over despair.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Surely no one will compare Friday to a summer’s day. But compared to the bone-chilling festivities of a year ago, the 33rd Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival was, in the Bard’s own words, a comfort like sunshine after rain.

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalDespite a gloomy forecast, the mild weather cooperated just long enough for 5,000 students from kindergarten through high school to perform more than 640 short scenes, dances, soliloquies and sonnets on stages in and around the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The celebration is the largest and oldest student Shakespeare Festival in the country.

    Performing in 14 tents, theatres and stairway landings spread out over four acres, students from an estimated 80 schools soliloquized, sang, fenced, danced, played musical instruments, raged and gently wooed – but did not kiss. (Festival rule: High-fives – not smooches!)

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalDressed in authentic period garb, Mayor Michael B. Hancock told the wee throng that the DPS Shakespeare Festival has become part of the fabric of Denver. “We believe wholeheartedly in arts education,” said Hancock, a graduate of DPS’ Manual High School. “We believe in connecting to our history. We believe in upholding our culture. You are making Denver proud today.”

    Most participating DPS teachers have spent the past two months introducing Shakespeare to their students and creating live performances through auditioning, rehearsals, text analysis and costume-building. Studies have shown that studying Shakespeare improves students’ literacy and literary skills, especially in a district like DPS, where more than 50 percent speak English as a second language.

    “This experience gives them the opportunity to really dig into Shakespeare’s words and find emotions and character motivations and storylines,” said Jacqueline Smilack, a journalist and fourth-year English teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School. And for those who speak English as a second language, she said, “Shakespeare is the great equalizer. Everyone comes into it on the same page.” A team from Denver School of the Arts presented a scene from Romeo and Juliet with two students performing in English and two others in Spanish.

    (Story continues under the photo gallery)

    Full photo gallery: 2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. Photos may be downloaded and shared with credit to the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Alix Gonzalez, 15-year-old sophomore from North High School, performed Friday in her third festival, dating back to middle school. “I love it because it gets me out of my comfort zone,” she said. “Speaking in old English stretches your confidence as an actor because of how big you have to go to do Shakespeare.”

    Watch our Facebook Live stream from the parade

    Each year, DPS students submit essays for the privilege to play William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I in the welcoming ceremonies, and ride at the head of a short parade from the 16th Street Mall to the Denver Performing Arts Complex. This year’s honorees were Denver North High School Senior Vincent Haney and Denver School of the Arts senior Amelia Corrada, who has been accepted into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Haney said he was speechless and euphoric when he learned he had been selected to speak as The Bard.

    Story: Where do those 5,000 costumes come from?

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festival“Theatre is the voice of our people,” Haney said as Shakespeare. “And today, our message is as strong as ever. Today, we keep the arts alive. Today we triumph over hatred, over grief and over despair. Today we sing, today we dance, today we act.”

    Corrada said Shakespeare remains timely because “the themes of Shakespeare’s plays are the same themes we are living through in our country right now. Through his verse, he exposes us to the very truth and nature of friendship, magic, betrayal, war and even love in all its forms. It's totally relevant.”

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalSmilack admitted that Shakespeare can be intimidating for first-time students, and they are not alone. “It can be intimidating for teachers, too,” she said. Because many teachers are not specifically trained in teaching or interpreting the Shakespeare canon, she said, “This exercise gives teachers good perspective on what our students are going through.”

    Now in its fourth decade, the DPS Shakespeare Festival’s bloodlines go back for generations. Acclaimed singer and actor Mary Louise Lee (Hancock’s wife), performed in the festival as a student at Thomas Jefferson High School. The First Lady has made restoring arts-education programs in schools her top priority since founding her nonprofit, Bringing Back the Arts. John F. Kennedy High School Drama Director Tim Boyles, who brought a fresh group of festival participants this year, performed in the festival when he himself was a student at JFK.

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalNot all of the performances on Friday were by students. A team of DCPA Education Teaching Artists presented a 45-minute version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that they perform at schools statewide in and around a beat-up old pickup truck as part of the “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” program. All costumes and props come from the back of the truck – so, for example, floor mats are used as a wall, and an ice-scraper is used as a sword to depict a suicide.

    This is the DCPA’s third year partnering with Denver Public Schools and the DPS Foundation to present the festival. “We provided workshops, we judged auditions, we opened our doors and we offer financial support to 4,000 students from across Denver to participate in this event,” said President and CEO Janice Sinden. “We do that because the DCPA knows arts education improves academic success, produces leaders and cultivates creativity. Plus, it’s fun.”

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalDance Legend Cleo Parker Robinson, a graduate of the Denver Public Schools who created Cleo Parker Robinson Dance 47 years ago, brought two of her company members to perform a short excerpt from their current offering, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet layered with scenes from George Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess (through May 7 at 119 Park Avenue West.)

    “It's thrilling to see students of all backgrounds and ages be introduced to the magic of theatre in this way,” said Robinson. “Our presence here today is meant to show these young students that Shakespeare can be expressed through the word, through music – and also through the ballet of Prokofiev.”

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalThe Grand Marshal of this year’s parade was Deputy Director of Denver Arts and Venues Ginger White Brunetti, who heads the city’s Imagine 2020 arts program.

    While students were free to perform from any of Shakespeare’s works, this year’s featured title was Much Ado About Nothing. But in the words of DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg, “Today there is going to be much ado about something.” 

    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. This is his 16th year covering the DPS Shakespeare Festival.


    Our 2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

  • Shakespeare rolls down the window on today's world

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2017
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    Photos from DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' program over the past three years, most recently a visit to University Schools in Greeley. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by McKenzie Kielman and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    How presenting Shakespeare in a pick-up truck
    rolls down the window on everyday issues for students 

    By McKenzie Kielman
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    “What light through yonder window breaks?” 

    If you are Stuart Barr and Max McEwen, abosutely none. For the DCPA Education crew to arrive in Greeley on time, the equipment must be loaded onto a truck before the sun rises. On this Tuesday morning, that’s 4:30 a.m. Pitch dark.

    Traveling to high schools across Colorado, DCPA teaching artists perform abridged versions of Shakespeare plays for a popular education program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The next day, the actors conduct classroom workshops to help students make the connection between the play its current-day relevance in their own lives.

    Stuart BarrThere would be no Shakespeare in any parking lot without the early morning prep work undertaken by Barr, the DCPA Education’s Technical Director, and McEwen, his Assistant Technical Director. They meet in the pre-dawn dark at the downtown warehouse where the equipment is stored, but they have devised a methodical system to load their rig under the helpful aid of a nearby streetlight. The main set piece going along for the ride is an old, white 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck. It’s a beat-up contraption with a crystal door handle to accessorize the gearshift. But it has no mirrors, license plates or other legalities necessary to be road-ready.

    In fact, the truck has been known to have a mind of its own when Barr tries to get the motor to turn over after chilly evenings. The gas pedal will stick, and off they often fly. Surely the Bard’s line, “Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?” has come to Barr’s mind during these moments. The crew jokes that in order for the truck to be the center of a production filled with interesting characters, it had to be a character itself. They call this truck Rosaline - after the poor girl Romeo dumped about two seconds after first seeing Juliet.   

    When the truck has been tamed and tethered onto the flatbed, there is a quick double-check of necessary equipment, and then off toward Greeley they go, the Hamilton soundtrack punctuating the crisp morning air.

    While the program is called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, the “parking lot” portion of the title can be interpreted liberally. The location of the actual performance at each school can vary widely depending on the building layout, traffic, noise pollution and weather.

    Problems are solved as they come up through trial and error, which at times can be painful. During the program's pilot run in 2015, Barr found out the hard way that wireless microphones do not work well near metal buildings. So the crew had to completely dismantle the whole staging and reassemble elsewhere. Now it's more of a well-oiled machine.

    Read more: Shakespare in the Parking Lot visits Weld Central

    Upon arrival, Barr and McEwen go straight into memorized action. And one of the most important items on their daily checklist is to simply take a moment to enjoy the sunrise. After a brief discussion about its quality of color and a comparison to the numerous others they have experienced together, they go back into work mode. Soon the actors arrive and begin assisting with the equipment and other assigned tasks. 

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie KielmanOnce the stage is set, the equipment operational and the sound check complete, it’s time for fight call. According to union rules, each fight sequence in the performance must be practiced in advance under the supervision of the designated fight captain. Although the actors could by now do these exercises in their sleep - and often do depending on how early their call time is - Fight Captain and actor Jessica Austgen reminds the crew: “Safety first, safety last, safety always.” 

    Other performers in this cast of Romeo and Juliet are John Hauser as Romeo, Jenna Moll Reyes as Juliet, with Napoleon M. Douglas, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya and Justin Walvoord playing a variety of supporting roles. Depending on the size of school, the actors can do up to four performances a day, each 45 minutes long, for audiences that at times exceed 200. 

    Long days spent together in the parking lot or in the classroom together over an intensive five weeks have fostered close friendships among the crew. Between performances, the group will play Frisbee or occasionally luck out to find the school has, say, a disc golf course. It’s in the downtime this crew has gone from co-workers to comrades.

    The sun, if not a curtain, rises

    The performance is timed to coincide with a typical high-school class session so as not to disrupt the normal school routine. On this day, the students seem intrigued by the unusual setting of the performance, the fight scenes, the masquerade ball, Shakespeare in the Parking Lotthe love story and Shakespeare’s beguiling words – all happening on and around this broken-down truck.

    More than 400 years later, Romeo and Juliet remains steeped in recognizable themes of violence, blind loyalty and the origin of love. As the playwright himself said, “Never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

    While the set and costuming are modernized, it is important to DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous, who conceived this pilot program, that the students hear Shakespeare’s actual, if abbreviated, language.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "Oftentimes, the students watching these performances have recently read Romeo and Juliet as part of their preparation for the actors’ visit. Seeing the play performed by professional actors after having read it can be vitally helpful in helping the students comprehend the action and its meaning," she said.

    Romeo and Juliet is a cornerstone of high-school reading curricula all over the country. And reading about a sword fight can certainly be exciting. However, it’s a completely different experience to watch a fully choreographed stage combat scene, let alone one that takes place against the cab of a truck.”

    Watrous came up with the idea for Shakespeare in the Parking Lot from seeing newfangled food trucks in action. Performing the play in an environmental setting gives the DCPA an opportunity to engage young audiences in a new way.

    “This unique approach breaks out of the physical theatre and directly delivers the show to students in an outdoor, non-traditional playhouse experience that introduces thousands of students across the region to the theatre arts,” Watrous said.

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie Kielman 2
    On the second day, the 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' program moves into the classroom, here at University Schools in Greeley. Photo by McKenzie Kielman

    Why don't you take it inside?

    The next day, in this case a Wednesday at University Schools in Greeley, the actors lead students through three workshop activities to foster a discussion about the production and its meaning. They are asked to name a line from the play that sounded familiar to them, a character they related to, a moment in the play that stood out, or perhaps the trickiest question: Did Romeo and Juliet really experience true love? The fictional girl is only 14, after all, and the couple have no shared past. The question, put another way: Do you believe in love at first sight?

    With each question, the volume in the classroom grows along with the students' passionate opinions. “When you know, you know,” one group concludes. Another cluster of students disagrees, saying, “We’re too young to know anything for sure.”

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie Kielman 3For the next segment, the students are asked to register their opinion on a suggested issue by moving to one side of the room or the other, like in a political caucus, to reflect whether they agree or disagree. Taking the middle ground – or being unsure – is not allowed in this exercise. They must take a stand. But as the students begin to defend their positions out loud, they can change sides by moving from one group to the other.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    An example: “Holding a grudge is a sign of strength.” One student immediately moves to the side indicating that she agrees. When asked to support her position, she giggles and says, “Because I’m petty.” A fellow student disagrees, saying, “It takes more guts to forgive someone.”

    More consequentially, the students are asked: “Violence always leads to violence.” One student disagrees. “You shoot someone, they’re dead,” he says. “They can’t do anything.” But DCPA actor John Hauser, who is co-leading this session, plays devil's advocate by pointing out an example from the performance the day before: Tybalt kills Mercutio, so Romeo kills Tybalt. And in the end, both Romeo and Juliet are dead.

    Another student responds with a real-world example by saying simply: “ISIS.”

    In a lighter moment, the student are asked whether friends should always come first in every situation, even before significant others. A quieter student sets up the scenario more simply: “Pals before gals.” It's a moment of welcome levity after such an earnest examination of the play’s issues.

    (Story continues below video)

    Video: Our visit to Weld Central High School in 2015:

    The workshop allowed the students to dig deep into matters that are clearly important to them both at school and at home. The moderators suggested the following talking points, and each sparked meaningful back-and-forth among the students:

    • Loyalty is dangerous
    • The only appropriate punishment for murder is death
    • Parents can never understand what a child feels
    • Going behind someone’s back can be necessary
    • Teenagers have right to privacy no matter what
    • Parents have a right to know a child’s whereabouts at all times
    • Parents own and therefore can regulate any items they have bought for their child

    To finish up, the students are presented a “what-if” scenario involving a fictional teenager and her father: A senior in high school, a few months shy of turning 18, has been getting into trouble and is disrespectful to her father. She is breaking curfew and other house rules. Frustrated and concerned, the father would like to gain access to her password-protected cell phone and computer. So he asks his older, adult daughter for her help with the passwords. Should the older sister give them to her father? 

    Students immediately dive into arguments on both sides of the issue. As the debate continues, the DCPA moderator adds to the stakes: What if the girl is also coming home with alcohol on her breath, and is possibly experimenting with drugs?

    Most of the students remain on the daughter’s side: “People need privacy,” says one. “Strict parents make for sneaky children,” offers another.

    Others sympathize with where the father is coming from. “What if she’s getting into illegal stuff?” one asks. “If you are not doing anything bad, there would be nothing to hide,” opines another.

    Check out the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

    There is one classroom consensus - that a direct, one-on-one conversation between the father and younger daughter is in order.

    From the start of one normal class period to the end, these students have gone from being quiet and impartial to conversational and assertive. DCPA actor Justin Walvoord later says the point of the workshop wasn’t to change the students' minds about any particular issue. It was to empower them to be opinionated, and also to more thoughtfully consider and respect the opinions of people they don’t necessarily agree with. 

    In its first two years, more than 15,000 students have participated in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The program returns on April 3 and runs through May 12 - one week longer than originally scheduled to accommodate demand. Participating schools can now choose between Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    The bottom line, Barr said, is that Shakespeare in the Parking Lot “is a touring production that introduces Shakespeare to young people who have never seen a play before with a group of very hard-working professional performers who have become a tightly knit group of friends," he said. 

    “And seeing some beautiful Colorado sunrises!”

    McKenzie Kielman is a sophomore at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and an intern for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is made possible by a grant from Anadarko

    Selected previous coverage of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot brings Bard to life at Weld Central High
    2015 True West Award: Rosaline the 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck
    The Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

  • In the Spotlife: John Hauser of 'Hand to God'

    by John Moore | Nov 04, 2016
    Spotlife John Hauser Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. Photo by John Moore.
    Above: John Hauser as Romeo in DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' schools production of 'Romeo and Juliet.' He is pictured with Jenna Moll Reyes, who is also his castmate in Curious Theatre's 'Hand to God.' Below and right: Hauser as Jason and his foul-mouthed friend, Tyrone.

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


    The DCPA Teaching Artist is now starring as both Jason (a boy) and Tyrone (a puppet) in Curious Theatre Company's regional premiere of the deliciously devilish comedy 'Hand to God.'

    • Hometown: Cocoa, Fla.
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs
    • College: Adams State University in Alamosa
    • What have you done for us lately? I played Eugene in Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues at Miners Alley Playhouse, and I was an understudy in the DCPA Theatre Company's Frankenstein.
    • What is Hand to God all about? It's a ridiculously raunchy dark comedy set in a small town in Cypress, Texas. I play Jason, a God-fearing but troubled teen who is coping with his father’s recent death and is forced to join his mother’s church-led puppet group. When he discovers that his foul-moA Spotlife John Hauser Quoteuthed sock puppet, Tyrone, has a satanic life all its own, Jason comes face-to-face with his own demons … literally. Hand to God is a blasphemous exploration of faith, grief and humanity.
    • Tell us about the challenge of playing these two particular characters: Well, I’ve never done any puppetry or had any real puppet training, so that was a little difficult at first, from a technical standpoint. But the real challenge is making a clear distinction between Jason and Tyrone. Tyrone interrupts Jason throughout the play, so learning how to cut yourself off can be a little awkward at first.
    • What do you love most about performing at Curious? I saw Curious' production of Red in 2011, and it completely changed my opinion of what theatre was and could be. From that day forward, I have wanted to work on that stage.
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I love to cook. I mean, I really love it. I’m just doing this acting thing until my cooking career takes off. Just kidding, but if I weren’t acting I’d probably be cooking … or eating.
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? It’s really incredible to be in a cast made up entirely of local actors. As much as I love meeting new people from all over, it’s great to see that Denver can bring a lot to the table and put on a kick-butt show.

    Hand to God: Ticket information
    • By Robert Askins
    • Directed by Dee Covington
    • Nov. 5-Dec. 17
    • Presented by Curious Theatre Company at 1080 Acoma St. 
    • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays beginning Nov. 13. No performance on Thanksgiving Day.
    • Tickets $34-$44
    • Info: 303-623-0524, or go to curioustheatre.org 

    Cast List:
    John Hauser as Jason/Tyrone
    Tara Falk as Margery
    Michael McNeill as Pastor Greg
    Jenna Moll Reyes as Jessica
    John Jurcheck as Timothy

    A video preview of Curious Theatre's 'Hand to God.'

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    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 Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    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 Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Spotlife John Hauser Biloxi Blues Miners Alley. Photo by Sarah RoshanJohn Hauser and Chloe McLeod in 'Biloxi Blues' at Miners Alley Playhouse earlier this year. Photo by Sarah Roshan.
  • Soggy skies can't shake 5,000 students' Shakespeare spirit

    by John Moore | Apr 29, 2016
    2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos may be downloaded and recirculated with source attribution. Click on any photo to download.

    "April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 98

    Michael Berger grew up with a stutter. On Friday, the high-school senior stood ebulliently in the rain and welcomed thousands to the 32nd annual Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival.

    A DPS Shakespeare 160"This is the greatest honor I have ever had in my theatre career,” said Berger, a senior at Denver School of the Arts who was chosen from hundreds of DPS students to perform as none other than the Bard himself at the festival’s opening ceremonies in Skyline Park.

    “My first performance as an actor was here. It was in the fourth grade, I was 8 or 9, and I performed Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1,” he said definitively. “Because of that, I was inspired to continue in the theatre. And it was through Shakespeare that I learned how to speak clearly. So this is very much full circle for me.”

    The rain-snow mix didn’t dampen the students’ spirits, but the chill surely put the shake in the Shakespeare as nearly 5,000 chilly students from 80 schools in grades kindergarten through high school braved the cold to perform more than 640 short scenes, dances, soliloquies and sonnets on stages in and around the Denver Performing Arts Complex while bundled in an array of colorful costumes that were often covered in parkas.

    DPS Shakespeare Fetsival opening ceremonies: Micael Berger as Shakespeare, Vicky Serdyuk as Queen Elizabeth I, and DCPA CEO Scott Shiller. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
    DPS Shakespeare Festival opening ceremonies: Michael Berger as Shakespeare, Vicky Serdyuk as Queen Elizabeth I, and DCPA CEO Scott Shiller. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Denver Center or the Performing Arts CEO Scott Shiller served as Grand Marshall for the three-block opening parade alongside Berger and George Washington High School senior Vicky Serdyuk, who won the annual honor of playing Queen Elizabeth I at the oldest and largest student Shakespeare festival in the country.

    “Shakespeare was the first live performance I ever saw – and I was in daycare,” Serdyuk said with a laugh. “I remember that the actors talked funny, but that they made it sound so good.”

    Shiller told the students that by participating in arts-education programs like the Shakespeare Festival, studies indicate they will be more likely to graduate, enroll in college, contribute meaningfully to civic life and volunteer. “Plus, children who are exposed to live performance are 165 percent more likely to receive a college degree,” he said.

    Gillian McNally, who served as a festival adjudicator and general encourager, was undaunted by the cold. Despite the gloomy weather, she declared Friday to be the most beautiful day of the year.

    DPS Shakespeare Quote “This might be the only time most of these students ever perform on a stage in their whole lives – and we celebrate that,” said McNally, an Associate Professor of Theatre Education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. “Just look at these wonderful, handmade costumes,” she added, indicating young students from the DaVinci Academy dressed as a human forest. “That tells me teachers collaborated with students and their parents, and they made something together. That’s what this is all about: We are making something together.”

    More than half of all students enrolled in Denver Public Schools speak English as a second language. Serdyuk says it makes sense that many DPS English teachers use Shakespeare as a language-learning tool in the classroom. “Shakespeare’s English follows a lot of the same rules as many of these students’ first languages,” she said. 

    Berger serves as student teacher for Denison Montessori School’s Shakespeare program.  He says Shakespeare is less intimidating for students whose native language isn’t English because they are already learning one foreign language – so what’s another? “It’s neat seeing kids learn to speak Shakespeare while they are learning English at the same time,” Berger said.

    Christine Gonzalez, who teaches kindergarten through 6th grade students at Denison, said Berger has been a big help to her students. “He keeps it light and fun and inspirational,” she said. “It’s easier to learn when you make it fun.”

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Mary Louise Lee, an accomplished performer and also the First Lady of Denver, addressed the crowd about the importance of arts education. “I am a proud product of the Denver Public Schools,” said the graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School. Lee, wife of Mayor Michael B. Hancock, has made restoring arts-education programs in schools her top priority since founding her nonprofit, Bringing Back the Arts.

    The DPS Shakespeare Festival draws students of all ages and experience levels. While hundreds were performing for the first time Friday, Denver School of the Arts senior Jimmy Bruenger was performing in his seventh DPS Festival.

    “I remember feeling nervous my first year because I was performing Shakespeare for the first time,” said Bruenger, who was born in Mexico. “But I looked around and I saw younger kids who were only 6 or 7 years old and they were completely into it. That gave me confidence that I could do it, too.”

    Seven years later, Bruenger is not only a recent winner of a True West Award and Denver Mayor's Award for the Arts, but also a full scholarship to the University of Oklahoma from the Daniels Fund. After he performed in his final Shakespeare Festival on Friday, he was off to star in the opening of a world premiere musical about the Armenian genocide called I Am Alive.

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. This is the first year the DCPA served as a full producing partner in the DPS Festival. The DCPA’s Education Department offered up its Teaching Artists to assist all 80 participating schools in their preparations for Friday.

    “We are proud to partner alongside the largest school district in the state,” Shiller said. “Colorado’s commitment to arts integration outpaces the national average in nearly every category. In fact, 64 percent of our high schools offer theatre education, just like our own Shakespeare Festival.”

    Friday’s crowd was peppered with prominent figures in the local theatre community. Susan Lyles, founder of the city’s only company dedicated to female playwrights (And Toto Too) was on hand to root on her son, Harrison Lyles-Smith, who played a shepherd with a wicked death scene in As You Like It.

    Lyles said Harrison and his 5th-grade classmates at Steck Elementary School have been practicing for two hours every Friday since February. “It has given him self-confidence and a fearlessness when it comes to Shakespeare that a lot of adults don’t have,” she said.

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Sara McPherson Horle, Executive Producer of The Catamounts Theatre Company of Boulder, happened to have a nephew in that same class at Steck. For her, one of the great rewards young Samuel Davis has gotten out of the experience is the lost art of listening.

    “You have to be self-disciplined to be an actor at any age,” Horle said. “Learning to listen is a huge thing, but especially at this age.”

    McNally said the emphasis of the festival is not on producing professional-quality performances – although many of the older students come awfully close. What the judges want more to encourage is passion, which leads to the development of useful life skills such as public speaking and boosted self-esteem.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    But occasionally there are performances that make even the Shakespeare purists turn their heads. DCPA Head of Acting Timothy McCracken was particularly impressed with the 3rd through 5th graders from Isabella Bird, a “heart-centered” community school where teacher Rebecca Sage says students are all made to feel valued for their own specific, individual talents.

    DPS Shakespeare Quote 2“The general clarity of their storytelling was astounding, and their delivery were astounding,” McCracken said after watching Sage’s students perform a Cinco de Mayo-informed take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Ricketson Theatre. “That was an amazing throughline for elementary-school actors." 

    Sage said her approach to the project was not unlike the approach of any director who takes on a full-fledged theatrical production: “It all starts with table work,” she said. That means working through the script with the students line-by-line, making sure they understand the meaning, the innuendo and most important, the comedy of the words they speak.

    Sage’s students fully bought into the project, she said, in part because Friday’s festival was only the start of their reward. Next week, the students will perform the full story back at the school for parents and friends. Sage said her students have been putting in half-mornings two days a week since January.

    “It was hugely gratifying for them to put in the work, both at home and at school, and then to get that kind of validation and respect once they got here today,” she said. “This whole experience is a huge incentive for them to continue doing things that challenge them and take them to their edge.”

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. John Hauser and Jenna Moll Reyes Shakespeare in the Parking Lot's Romeo and Juliet

    DCPA Teaching Artists John Hauser and Jenna Moll Reyes starred in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot's 'Romeo and Juliet' at the DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Also new this year was the evening Shakespeare After-Fest program, when arts organizations from across Denver came together to continue the celebration of the Bard. The program included music from DeVotchKa's Tom Hagerman and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, mini-performances from The Catamounts, The Black Actors Guild, DCPA's Off-Center, Stories on Stage and PHAMALY. DCPA Education also performed its hour-long production of Romeo and Juliet from its outreach program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.

    The First Lady of Denver left the kids with a Shakespeare quote whose authorship has been disputed over time – but its meaning was indubitably apropos for Friday’s occasion:

    “The meaning of your life is to find your gift,” Lee told the gathered crowd. “The purpose of your life is to give it away.”

    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.

    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Kent Thompson and the Four Loves of 'As You Like It'

    by NewsCenter Staff | Sep 28, 2015
    Carolyn Holding and Maurice Jones are just one of four love stories that play out in 'As You Like It.' Photo credit: Adams Visual Communications.
    Carolyn Holding and Maurice Jones are just one of four love stories that play out in Shakespeare's 'As You Like It.' Photo credit: Adams Visual Communications.

    During preparations for the DCPA Theatre Company's first-ever production of Shakespeare's As You Like It, opening Friday (Oct. 2), dramaturg Doug Langworthy sat down with director Kent Thompson to talk about the play, the production and that great motivator of all things - love.

    By Douglas Langworthy
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Doug Langworthy: Is there something new you want to explore with this production?

    Kent Thompson: I think Rosalind is one of the great, strong women in literature. And she is the best wedding planner on Earth, managing to bring together four weddings at once - including her own. She’s representative of so many strong women we are seeing today who figure out how to make it work, whether it’s in romance or life. And that’s really exciting to me.

    Doug Langworthy: When are you going to set the play?

    Kent Thompson: We will follow the progression of the seasons. We go to the country first in the winter, which changes into spring, and then summer, when all the plants bloom, people start falling in love and the world order starts to get restored. The setting will be a blend of Impressionism and art nouveax, which was a man-made version of nature. Early noir films will influence the look of the court, which will be black and white, gray and silver. It will have the feel of a winter palace.

    Doug Langworthy: This play seems to be about a lot of different kinds of love. What do you think Shakespeare is trying to say about that?

    Kent Thompson: The title has always fascinated people — As You Like It. What is “It”? I think part of 'It' is about the types of love in the play. The four couples are unique. Rosalind and Orlando are one of the great couples in romantic literature because Orlando is a natural-born gentleman, even though he’s not been educated by his brother - as he should have been after his father died. But he also has an incredible heart. We know he has great physical prowess because he wins a wrestling match. Rosalind is one of the smartest, most observant, probably best-read women around, so she knows everything that’s been written about love, and she’s watched it in other people. They get to exchange a better sense of the mind with a better sense of the heart, so it’s like passion meets wit. With Touchstone and Audrey, you’ve got the urban stand-up comic of the court and the wench, the buxom goatherd in the country. He’s in it for the lust, while she’s in it for the social position. With Oliver and Celia, who are both actually more traditional in their world views, it’s love at first sight. Boom, they’re in love, they’re going to be married in two days. But there’s a journey he has to go through that’s very painful, being banished himself and becoming homeless, coming to Arden and getting lost. And then with Phoebe and Silvius we have a scornful woman who thinks a lot of herself and the absolutely lovesick young man. So it’s really four images of love, and then you have these other love relationships that are about father and daughter, brother and brother, who’s banished, who’s in, who’s out. I see it as a play of that romantic journey and all the resulting transformation.

    Doug Langworthy: Can you talk about the love between Rosalind and Celia?

    Kent Thompson: Rosalind and Celia start the play in late adolescence/early adulthood, and they’ve learned so much and matured so much by the end of the play. They have been brought up together and might as well be sisters. They have a bond that’s intensely strong — Celia has no hesitation to run off when her cousin Rosalind is banished. That kind of love is remarkable, and it speaks to the strength of those two women.

    Doug Langworthy: How would you compare Orlando to that other great Shakespearean lover, Romeo?

    Kent Thompson: They are both children of wealthy, aristocratic families. The biggest difference in some ways is that Romeo has picked up the poetry and in some ways the femininity of the high-born Renaissance lover, the art of courting, the art of love. But then he’s suddenly jolted awake by the murder. It’s interesting because the strongest person in that play is Juliet. In this play, Orlando is the prototype of the very masculine male. He’s a natural gentleman with a great heart and integrity, a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve.

    Doug Langworthy: How would you compare Touchstone to other Shakespearean fools?

    Kent Thompson: We know Touchstone was played by Robert Armin, one of the great Elizabethan jester actors. He was the smart, witty, rapid-fire kind of comedian. There was another clown-actor that played the broader roles like Bottom in Midsummer or Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, roles that did not rely on how fast you were with your wit. Touchstone is also the type of fool like Feste in Twelfth Night, in that he has the ability to see people and comment upon them. Touchstone is a guy who always has the ridiculously good comeback, the Robin Williams of the world vs. Jim Carey, whose comedy is very broad.

    Doug Langworthy: What about all the music in the play, all the songs?

    Kent Thompson: The songs and music in the play are composed by Gary Grundei, who has composed music for many Shakespeare productions at the Denver Center. The songs in the play are very important, and you’ll notice that none of them happen in the court. The music definitely incorporates the themes that folk music does, about the harshness of winter, the ingratitude of men, the love or even lust between a man and a woman. The final song is Hymen’s song, which is about marriage and fertility and joins all the couples together.

    Doug Langworthy: Any final thoughts?

    Kent Thompson: I think it will be romantic, fun, beautiful and heartfelt.

    As You Like It: Ticket information

  • Sept. 25-Nov. 1
  • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
  • Space Theatre
  • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of As You Like It:
    As You Like It opens: A woman's woman in a man's world
    As You Like It begins rehearsals: 'Literally, watch it bloom'
    Costume corner: Letting it all go in the Arden Forest
    Shakespeare's largest female role might surprise you: It's Rosalind
    Casting announced for Theatre Company's fall shows
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    Official show page

    As You Like It 'meet the cast' profiles (more to come):
    Maurice Jones, Orlando
    Geoffrey Kent, Actor, Assistant Director and Fight Director

  • 'As You Like It': A woman's woman in a man's world

    by John Moore | Sep 24, 2015
    Rosalind is being played in Denver by Carolyn Holding. Photo credit: Adams Visual Communications.
    Rosalind, the leading lady of 'As You Like It,' is being played in Denver by Carolyn Holding, with Maurice Jones as Orlando. Photo credit: Adams Visual Communications.

    The newly opened DCPA Theatre Company season could be described in many ways as The Year of the Woman. A lineup filled with strong, independent female characters continues with the most fully realized woman in the Shakespeare canon — and you might be surprised to learn who she is.

    Sorry, Juliet, Cleopatra and Lady M. The largest female role in all of Shakespeare is Rosalind of As You Like It.

    The late Anne Barton, one of the 20th century’s foremost Shakespeare scholars, went so far as to say the gender-bending heroine (and hero!) of As You Like It “is as central and dominating a figure in her fashion as Hamlet is in his own, very different play.”

    Rosalind is, simply put, the rare woman Shakespeare treated like a man. Think about it: Rosalind starts this pastoral comedy in a rather grim place. Her father has been banished and she escapes her murderous uncle by bravely exiling herself to the forest. And yet she manages as well as any man here — by dressing like a man.

    “I find it particularly interesting to look at this play right now because here is such a strong and complex central female character who is also beautiful and charming and smart,” said Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, director of the company’s first-ever staging of As You Like It in its 37-year history. “She is the engine of the play, without a doubt. I like her wit, her pluck and her sense of heart.”

    Rosalind, who is being played in Denver by Carolyn Holding, is especially self-aware when it comes to matters of the heart. Thompson calls her “the greatest wedding planner in Shakespeare.” That’s because the play ends with four weddings and no funerals — essentially all at her direction. One of those four weddings, of course, is her own. And to Orlando, a really good guy and a true gentleman.

    But the Arden Forest is not the same enchanted timberland you find in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is a forest where all the romantic players pine for partners who pine not back. Think of As You Like It as a hormonal The Tempest- without the magic.

    And yet … four weddings!

    Thompson calls Rosalind “the great psychologist of all the people around her.” But at her core, she’s just a girly-girl in love. And it’s fun for us to watch her grow more jealous … of herself.

    Her eventual partnership with Orlando is so well-matched and true that 400 years later, it feels to a modern audience as a downright contemporary coupling. “I think Orlando teaches Rosalind heart and passion,” Thompson said. “And she teaches him intellect, wit and being able to see the world not through those rose-colored glasses.”

    Rosalind is a perfect character for these gender-fluid contemporary times. She is a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman — she is both a man’s man and a woman’s woman.

    “I think all of that together creates both great sexual and comic tension,” Thompson said. “That is delicious for the audience because of course we know what’s going on. So it’s great fun to watch."

    All the more remarkable given that Shakespeare created Rosalind way back in the Elizabethan era. “It’s still very much a patriarchal world,” Thompson said. “But Shakespeare is kind of the Elizabethan feminist.” For evidence, look no further than the fact that Rosalind gets the final word in As You Like It — making her the only female character in the entire Shakespeare canon who gets to deliver the epilogue.

    The only other Bard female who drives the action forward as efficiently as Rosalind, Thompson suggests, might be Juliet. “She actually is the strongest person in Romeo and Juliet,” he said. “She’s the one who is proactive and goes to the Friar. He’s the one who falls down crying. She figures out a way to do it, and she’s willing to go there, even though she may die. But Rosalind is really the only female Shakespeare character who manages to direct everything down to that last scene.”

    And Rosalind is just one of many strong female protagonists on the Theatre Company’s 2015-16 season. Lookingglass Alice (now playing on and above The Stage Theatre through Oct. 11) presents a much more active Alice than Wonderland readers are used to. The role is so physically demanding, in fact, that two actors are alternating performances in the role of Alice. Tribes features a hard-of-hearing young woman named Sylvia who opens up a whole new world to a young deaf man named Billy. The protagonist in FADE is a novice named Lucia who gets a job writing on a major TV drama. The Nest is a biting ensemble comedy that includes three significant and distinct New York women. And let’s not forget Mrs. Lovett, who stirs up the pot in Sweeney Todd— with human flesh.  

    When asked if he will be celebrating this year-long trend of strong, proactive female protagonists, Thompson joked, “I will be celebrating it now that I am conscious of it.

    “I think it makes sense, because we are committed to women playwrights, we are committed to new writing and we are committed to women actors. But if you look at it, yes, it is very true that there will be vigorous female protagonists throughout the season. I think that’s really emblematic of a lot of interesting work that is going on right now, with stronger female characters being portrayed.”

    Shakespeare's Five Largest Roles for Women (by line count):

    The female character who speaks the most lines in any Shakespeare play is Rosalind, the spirited heroine of the romantic comedy As You Like It. According to ShakespearesWords.com, Rosalind comes in first with 685 lines. Ironically, she speaks many of those lines while playing a man – and Rosalind would have been played by a boy during Shakespeare’s time anyway. Here are the top five (with fun character descriptions from Shmoop.com):

    1. Rosalind, As You Like It
    Lines: 685
    Shmoop.Com: Who is this "Rosalind" girl and what makes her so great? Well, she's the daughter of the banished Duke Senior and cousin/BFF to Celia. She's also the saucy, cross-dressing girlfriend of Orlando. In the play, Rosalind gets 86'ed from her uncle's court but, instead of boo-hooing about her lousy circumstances, she puts on a brave face and runs away to the Forest of Arden in search of freedom. Our girl is not only adventurous, but she's also gutsy.

    2. Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra
    Lines: 678
    Shmoop.Com: Cleopatra is the Queen of Egypt, lover to Antony, and former lover of both Julius Caesar and Pompey the Elder — it's safe to say homegirl has a "type." She’s one of Shakespeare’s richest female characters (in terms of both wealth and character development), and can be used as a case study of both a woman in power and a woman in love.

    3. Imogen, Cymbeline

    Lines: 594
    Shmoop.Com: This British princess is just about as perfect as they come: She's wise, beautiful, resourceful, and — most important — she's honest. She stands up for herself to her dad and notices the Queen is a "dissembling courtesy" (read: faker) right away. While she mourns the banishment of her husband and moans about having a "foolish suitor" (Cloten), she doesn't wallow in self-pity.

    4. Portia, The Merchant of Venice
    Lines: 574
    Shmoop.Com: Portia is rich and hot, which makes her the most eligible bachelorette in Belmont. The heiress to her dead father's fortune, Portia's wealth makes her a meal ticket in the eyes of Bassanio, who sees Portia as the answer to all his financial woes — if he can marry her that is. As Bassanio points out, he's not the only guy who'd like to land the heiress. Gee, it sounds like Portia's got a perfect life, right? Not so fast. Not only is every potential suitor out to get his hands on Portia's wealth, but Portia doesn't even get to choose her husband.

    5. Juliet, Romeo and Juliet
    Lines: 542
    Shmoop.Com: Poor Juliet. Not only does she end up dead, she doesn't get nearly the love that Romeo does. But we think she deserves a lot more credit. As the beautiful and only daughter of the Capulets, Juliet is slated to marry Verona's hottest non-Montague bachelor until she takes her fate into her own hands. This is a girl who knows what she wants, and gets it — even if it means death.

    Shakespeare's women

    As You Like It
    'meet the cast' profiles (more to come):

    Maurice Jones, Orlando
    Geoffrey Kent, Actor, Assistant Director and Fight Director

    As You Like It: Ticket information
  • Sept. 25-Nov. 1
  • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
  • Space Theatre
  • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of As You Like It:

    As You Like It begins rehearsals: 'Literally, watch it bloom'
    Shakespeare's largest female role might surprise you: It's Rosalind
    Casting announced for Theatre Company's fall shows
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    Official show page
  • DCPA's Juliet nearing her goal to complete debut album

    by John Moore | May 22, 2015

    Lenne Klingaman, who played Juliet in the DCPA Theatre Company's Romeo and Juliet, and more recently Sylvie and Young Helen in Appoggiatura, is nearing her fundraising goal to complete her debut album, "The Heart is the Hunter."

    Lenne Klingaman in 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen. The album is described as indie folk or rock/pop Americana.

    "We have recorded the music, the vocals and everything in between," Klingaman said. "Now it's time to mix, so we are headed to Nashville (to do that)."

    The  next phase of production will cost about $7,000. If you would like to help, here is a link to Klingaman's Kickstarter page.

    Photos: Lenne Klingaman in 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    Here's more background on the project in Klingaman's words:

    "In 2014, my father wrote me a song when I was going through a tough transition in my life. And he nailed it. It's about the agony and ecstasy of love, and how the heart is the compass and the comfort for that pain and growth. And even when you might not want to listen, she will guide you through the storm. Sometimes she will take you unwillingly, but you will reach the shore. The song is titled "The Heart is the Hunter." It brought the whole album together. The spirit of the song is my compass for the project. Every decision comes back to it. And it only seemed right to name the album after it.

     "We worked with an incredible drummer, John O’Reilly Jr., who has worked with fun., The Format, Jimmy Eat World, Jason Mraz, Schuyler Fisk, Rachael Yamagata and Mandy Moore.  A fantastic mandolin player, Peter Ostroushko, graced us for a song. You may know him from A Prairie Home Companion, and his work with Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, & Greg Brown. And I am blessed with the keys and producing talents of Mark Christine, as well as with the guitar, bass, songwriting, engineering and producing skills of my longtime music making partner, Steve Klingaman.

    Our Lenne Klingaman "Meet the cast" video:

    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.