• 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)

     

  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    by John Moore | Dec 01, 2017
    A Christmas Carol: Video


    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

     

    Your first look in video and photos at the seasonal staging that has come for a 25th time 'to save us everyone.'

    Here is your first look in video (above) and photos (below) at the DCPA Theatre Company's 2017 staging of A Christmas Carol, directed for the second time by Melissa Rain Anderson and starring Sam Gregory as Scrooge.


    Now in its 25th seasonal staging at the Denver Center, A Christmas Carol is a joyous and opulent musical adaptation that traces the money-hoarding skinflint Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol runs through Dec. 24 in the Stage Theatre. Ticket information below.

    A Christmas Carol: Production photos

    A Christmas Carol 2017

    Our full gallery of photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol. To see more, click on the image above. Photos by Adams Viscom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information
    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Through Dec. 24
    • Stage 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
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Carol 2017:
    Video: Governor, Carol cast send Colorado National Guard thanks and hope
    A Christmas Carol: A timeline to today
    DCPA's 25th A Christmas Carol brims with mistletoe and milestones
  • DCPA's 25th 'A Christmas Carol' brims with mistletoe and milestones

    by John Moore | Nov 06, 2017
    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    Above: Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' last week. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Favorite Sam Gregory is back as Scrooge and, for the first time in Denver, a young girl has been cast to play Tiny Tim.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When the DCPA Theatre Company presents the seasonal favorite A Christmas Carol later this month, it will be an offering filled with mistletoe and milestones. Check out the five things we learned at first rehearsal below.

    A Christmas Carol. Sam Gregory. The cast is again headed by Sam Gregory in his second season playing the miserly Scrooge. The most veteran member of the cast is Leslie O'Carroll, who has appeared in 19 of the Denver Center's 25 stagings, most as Mrs. Fezziwig.

    Back for her second year as director is Melissa Rain Anderson. She will again be staging the version adapted by Richard Hellesen, with music by the late David de Berry, as has been the DCPA tradition since 2006. "This is by far my favorite version," said Anderson, who has herself performed in this version of the story four times as an actor at theatres around the country. "I think it's the most Dickensian." Music Director Gregg Coffin has helmed this version of the show 22 times around the country.

    NUMBER 1LOOK WHO'S TWENTY-FIVE! A Christmas Carol is, no surprise, far and away the DCPA Theatre Company's most-produced show. This holiday season marks the company’s 25th presentation of the story dating to 1990 — having taken two years off along the way in favor of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. "That is a huge milestone," Anderson said. "It's a privilege to be a part of that legacy here at the Denver Center. With everything that is happening in the world, I am so happy to be in this room with all of these people and to be a part of telling this tale again as a true ensemble."

    NUMBER 2 A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim. Melissa Rain Anderson. Peyton Goosen.GOD BLESS THE GIRL. There have been 18 young Tiny Tims over the DCPA's first 24 years of A Christmas Carols. This year, for the first time, the role of the feeble boy whose death is imminent if Scrooge doesn't break down and finally offer his employee some health insurance, will be played by a girl. Anderson she credits DCPA Artistic Associate Grady Soapes with the idea to cast young Peyton Goosen. "I am always open to more females on the stage, so I was very for it," Anderson said. "Peyton is really smart, she is absolutely adorable and she is precocious. But most important, she was the best actor for the role."

    NUMBER 3KNOCK KNOCK. WHO'S THERE? A Christmas Carol has drawn 820,000 audience members since 1990, so if you live in Denver, chances are, you have seen it. But with 10,000 new residents moving into the city every month, it's become clear that thousands of audience members each year are experiencing A Christmas Carol for the first time "So many people love this production and count on it as a family tradition, but 40 percent of our A Christmas Carol audiences are new every year," said DCPA Associate Artistic Director Charlie Miller.

    NUMBER 4 SHE'S MIXING THINGS UP. Anderson introduced several changes last year, including, for example, introducing a grander sleigh for the Ghost of Christmas Present to ride in on. This year, she says audiences should keep an eye on the phantoms. "Their costumes are a little sleeker this year," Anderson said. "We are going to be able to see their bodies a little more, which I really like, because we have a really good dancers in our cast. I would like for people to see that they were once human."

    NUMBER 5WHO KNEW? Speaking of the creative vision, one of the most reliable aspects of the DCPA's production from year to year is the look of the set, originally designed by veteran Vicki Smith. We learned at first rehearsal that Smith's original inspiration was a Victorian Christmas card she came across.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Christmas Carol: Cast list

    • Hadley Brown (DCPA debut) as Belinda Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Latoya Cameron (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Cratchit/Ghost of Christmas Past
    • Kevin Curtis (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Dick Wilkins/Peter Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Michael Fitzpatrick (DCPA’s Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Mr. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Peyton Goosen (DCPA debut) as Tiny Tim/Ensemble
    • Sam Gregory (DCPA’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Hamlet, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Darrell T. Joe (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come/Ensemble
    • Chas Lederer (DCPA debut) as Swing
    • Kyra Lindsay (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Brody Lineaweaver (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Swing
    • Timothy McCracken (DCPA’s Smart People, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge understudy
    • Chris Mixon (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Old Joe/Ensemble
    • Grace Morgan (The Phantom of the Opera, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Belle/Fred’s Wife/Ensemble
    • Leslie O’Carroll (DCPA’s Benediction, A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Erik Pinnick (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Present/Ensemble
    • Daniel Plimpton (DCPA’s The Secret Garden) as Ensemble
    • Jim Poulos (Broadway’s Rent, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Fred/Young Ebenezer/Ensemble
    • Max Raabe (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA debut) as Boy Ebeneezer/ Ensemble.
    • Augie Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Helen Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Fan/Ensemble
    • Jeffrey Roark (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Jacob Marley/Ensemble
    • Marco Robinson (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Christine Rowan (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Shannan Steele (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Jackie Vanderbeck (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Charwoman/Ensemble
    • Brian Vaughn (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Bob Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Edward Cratchit/Ensemble
    A Christmas Carol. Photo by John Moore.



    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information
    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Stage 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


    The SantaLand Diaries:
    Back for Year 9

    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisComAround the corner in the Jones Theatre, Off-Center’s seasonal co-production of The SantaLand Diaries again will be staged in partnership with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. The production will be essentially unchanged for 2017, with Michael Bouchard again donning the caustic candy-striped socks for a third time in David Sedaris’ comic monologue recounting his real-life experience working as a Macy’s Department store elf.

    Bouchard is a Denver Post Ovation Award-winning actor best-known to Colorado audiences from his time at the Arvada Center, the Creede Repertory Theatre and the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Luke Sorge will again serve as "Other David."

    This will be Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's ninth annual holiday staging of The SantaLand Diaries, and the fourth since it moved to the DCPA's Jones Theatre. The director is again Stephen Weitz, who directed the DCPA Theatre Company's Tribes.

    The SantaLand Diaries: Ticket information
    The SantaLand DiariesAt a glance: David Sedaris' off-beat tales from his stint as a Macy's elf in New York City is the sure cure for the common Christmas show.

    • Presented by Boulder Ensemble Theatre with DCPA Off-Center
    • Performances Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Jones 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
  • 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 'My Brilliant Divorce' and 'A Chorus Line'

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

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

    Featured actor in the video above: Jane Shirley

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

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

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

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


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


    Featured actor in the video above: Matthew Dailey.

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

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

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

    Watch video of Matthew Dailey's Jersey Boys homecoming

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

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

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

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

    Matthew Dailey

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


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

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

    by John Moore | Apr 15, 2017
    Lauren Shealy. Photo by Danny Lam. EvitaJesse Sharp and Lauren Shealy in Lone Tree Arts Center's 'Evita.' Photo by Danny Lam.


    MEET LAUREN SHEALY

    forbidden_broadway_group_JOHN_MOORELauren Shealy plays the fated First Lady of Argentina Eva Peron in Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita through April 29. She is known to Denver Center audiences for Sweeney Todd; Forbidden Broadway; A Christmas Carol; The Doyle and Debbie Show; and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. She has also appeared locally at the Arvada Center (White Christmas, A Man Of No Importance, Curtains, Miracle On 34th Street, 1940s Radio Hour); and as Nellie in the Lone Tree Arts Center's South Pacific. (She also played that role on a national tour.) Off-Broadway credits include Lingoland and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

  • Lauren Shealy QuoteHometown: Denver
  • Home now: Lakewood
  • High School: Arapahoe
  • College: BFA in Drama from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Betty Haynes in the Arvada Center’s White Christmas
  • Twitter-sized bio: Lover of life, stories, music, family, heavy weights, hikes, hugs and cake pops. Habitual bath-taker, banana-bread maker and horror-movie watcher.
  • What was the role that changed your life? My role as a mother changed me as a performer. My heart underwent profound renovations. The current model has no walls, many doors – and seriously leaky faucets. Every day I wrestle with a delightful and terrifying mix of fear, love and humility. I am often raw, I doubt my goodness and question my strength. But I am strangely more brave. Encountering my best and worst self also has invited me to look at my stage characters differently. I have more empathy for them, and less judgment. When I look at Eva, for instance, I don’t see a power-hungry manipulator of men. I see a passionate woman who wants to matter, wants to be loved. I see a fighter who uses street sense, wiles and alliances to gain the mobility she needs to realize her dreams.   
  • Ideal scene partner: Emma Thompson (pictured below and right). I want to follow her around for a week and peek in her freezer. She’s so yummy to watch – fully present, strong and beautifully vulnerable. And she is so smart! She adapted the script for the Ang Lee version of Sense and Sensibility – and it’s perfection.
  • What is Evita all about? This is Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterful musical take on the  illegitimateEmma Thompson, dirt-poor 15-year-old Argentinian girl who, driven by ambition and blessed with charisma, was a starlet at 22, the president's mistress at 24, the First Lady at 27 and dead at 33. In short: It's about love and power.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing your part: I think the biggest challenge is burning voice, body and soul at an absolute fever pitch for two hours. Holding on to that intensity and maintaining the highest stakes possible as each scene tumbles forth is wildly challenging.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? Connection – to me, to the person next to them, to the memory of an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life. 
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I love, love ... love horror movies. I need them on a steady drip.
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? There are no perfect circumstances, there is no perfect time and life is so very short. If you know what you are meant to do – do it. If you love someone – tell them. If you can make the world kinder, safer and more honest – start … now.

  • The iconic balcony scene from Lone Tree Arts Center's 'Evita.' Scenic Design by Michael R. Duran. Photo by Danny Lam. 

    Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita: Ticket information

    • Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics by Tim Rice
    • Directed by Gina Rattan and Max Mamon (music)
    • Through April 29
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. Sundays. Also 1:30 p.m. Saturdays, April 15 and 22; Wednesday, April 19
    • Lone Tree Arts Center, just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue
    • Tickets $35-$70
    • For tickets or information, call 720-509-1000 or go to lonetreeartscenter.org

    Cast list:
    •  Lauren Shealy as Eva Peron
    •  Miles Jacoby as Che
    •  Jesse Sharp as Peron
    •  Seth Dhonau as Magaldi
    •  Katherine Jackson as the Mistress
    •  Natalie Beaumont as Young Girl
    •  Ensemble: Rob Costigan, Maggie Davenport, Andrea Forsythe, Eric Anthony Johnson, Thadd Krueger, Michayla Lupien, Angela Mendez, Matthew D. Peters, Alejandro Roldan, Shannan Steele
    •  Children: Natalie Beaumont, Sophia Dotson, Isabella Fabiani, Grace Klusacek, Heidi Rogers, Rebecca Ruth, Ross Smallwood, Callie Jean Tysdal, Ryley Weinstein

    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 Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    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 Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    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 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

    Lauren Shealy. Photo by Danny Lam. Evita
  • Cherry Creek Theatre pulls up carpet and moves into Mizel

    by John Moore | Jan 25, 2017

    Video above: Jeremy Rill as Cole Porter in 'Red Hot & Cole,' opening Jan. 26.



    Since 2010, Cherry Creek Theatre has performed in the most distinct setting of perhaps any local troupe – inside the Shaver-Ramsey Gallery surrounded by opulent, finely woven Oriental rugs more than likely worth more than the net worth of all the actors combined. But after six years and 18 productions, the company is apparently no longer feeling the (carpet) burn.

    Cherry Creek opens its seventh season on Thursday with its first show as the new resident theatre company at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. The group will perform Red Hot & Cole in the Pluss Theatre, which is the Mizel’s intimate studio theatre. The Shaver-Ramsey Gallery in Cherry Creek North served the company well, but the set and portable lights had to be taken down after every performance so the store could conduct normal business by day. A more permanent venue has been long overdue.

    Cherry Creek Theatre Shannan Steele Quote“To continue to provide the quality productions the theatre is known for, and to expand its artistic pursuits, additional space is required,” said Mark Rossman, who co-founded Cherry Creek Theatre with his wife, Maxine. 

    Steve Wilson, Executive Artistic Director of the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, said he is overjoyed by the new partnership. “The Rossmans and Cherry Creek Theatre have been a powerful artistic presence in our area, and the MACC is delighted to bring them into our facility to assist in the continued growth of their outstanding work,” he said.

    Under Artistic Producer and outgoing Colorado Theatre Guild President Pat Payne, Cherry Creek Theatre has produced an eclectic mix ranging from Proof, Doubt and Twelve Angry Men to musicals including Baby, John & Jen and several Sondheim revues.

    Two huge upsides from the move: Free parking at the Mizel, and the ability to schedule more matinee performances. One downside: No Friday performances at the Mizel because of the Sabbath day of rest. Also, the move out of Cherry Creek North, given that the theatre company was specifically created in 2010 to bring live theatre to the shopping district.

    “While we would have liked to remain in Cherry Creek North, current redevelopment of the area has made this impossible from a cost standpoint,” Rossman said.  

    Red Hot & Cole is a two-act revue that traces Cole Porter’s career from Indiana to the world stages of New York, London, Paris and Venice, through his marriage, his friendships with contemporaries and the tragic riding accident that crippled him mid-career. The score features more than 25 Porter standards, including “Night and Day,” “Anything Goes” and “In the Still of the Night.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Cherry Creek has helped make its name as a legit new company by often incorporating union actors into its productions, which is cost-prohibitive for most comparably sized small companies. The local theatre ecology is teeming with professional-caliber non-union actors. But by committing to hiring - and paying - union actors, Cherry Creek has the full pool of available talent to choose from, and Red Hot & Cole is a primary example. Among the cast of Jeremy Rill, Seth Dhonau, Damon Guerasio, Stephen Day, Matt LaFontaine, Sharon Kay White, Lauren Shealy, Shannan Steele, Susannah McLeod and Olivia James are five members of the Actors Equity union.

    Red Hot Cole Cherry Creek Theatre Those are some big names. Day starred in the Arvada Center’s La Cage Aux Folles and many others; White just won a True West Award for her work in Sister Act and others at the Arvada Center, and Steele is a very familiar face at the Denver Center, having appeared in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; The Last Five Years; My Way; Animal Crackers; Sweeney Todd, and A Christmas Carol. Likewise, Lauren Shealy has appeared at the Denver Center in Forbidden Broadway; A Christmas Carol; The Doyle and Debbie Show, and Love, Perfect, Change.

    The Director is Broadway performer Piper Arpan (Spamalot) and the Music Director is Susan Draus, Music Director of the recent Broadway hit Beautiful, The Carole King Musical and creator of last summer’s interactive party Reunion ’85 at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

    "This move into an actual theatre speaks volumes about the passion, commitment and drive of the Cherry Creek Theatre directors and board," said Steele. "They are such an asset to the arts community here in Denver."

    Cherry Creek Theatre’s inaugural three-show season at the Mizel will include The Baby Dance, directed by Gavin Mayer, March 30-April 30; and Beau Jest, directed by M. Curtis Grittner, Nov. 9-Dec. 10.

    Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Stephen Day, Susannah McLeod, Matt LaFontaine and Lauren Shealy.

    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.

    Red Hot and Cole: Ticket information
    Who: Presented by the Cherry Creek Theatre Company
    When: Jan. 26 through Feb. 19
    Where: Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St.
    Times: 8 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; also 7 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 12 and 19. No Friday perfromances
    Tickets $30-$35
    Call 303-800-6578 or go to cherrycreektheatre.org

    Mizel Arts and Culture CenterThe exterior of the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, home of the Pluss Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • January: Colorado theatre listings

    by John Moore | Jan 04, 2017
    Becky's New Car, Firehouse Theatre,

    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.

    Five intriguing titles for January:

    NUMBER 1Red Hot and Cole. The Cherry Creek Theatre begins its seventh season with a big move out of the Shaver-Ramsey Gallery and into the Pluss Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. The cast includes Jeremy Rill, Seth Dhonau, Damon Guerasio, Stephen Day, Matt LaFontaine, Sharon Kay White, Lauren Shealy, Shannan Steele, Susannah McLeod and Olivia James. The director is Susan Draus, music director for the tour of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical and creator of last year’s fun romp at the Lone Tree Arts Center Reunion ’85. Jan. 26-Feb. 19 at 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or cherry creek theatre’s home page

    NUMBER 2The Wiz. Ignite Theatre’s 31st production will be the 1975 Broadway musical that tells the story of The Wizard of Oz from an African-American perspective. Ignite intended to ease on down this road last summer, but issues involving the use of the Aurora Fox as a host venue forced the postponement. Featuring Clarissa DuBose as Dorothy. Jan. 7-29  at the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 720-362-2697 or ignite’s home page

    NUMBER 3Peter TrinhComing to America. Theatre Esprit Asia returns with a compelling collaboration with the Theatre Company of Lafayette: Two monologues addressing issues of immigration. In Boat Person, Peter Trinh recounts the bloody fall of Saigon. In Antecedents, Maria Cheng recollects the Americanization of a precocious Chinese teenager. Jan. 13-22 at the Mary Miller Theater in Lafayette, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or www.tclstage.org

    NUMBER 4RFK: A Portrait of Robert Kennedy. James O’Hagan Murphy returns to his signature role as a tribute to his recently departed director, Terry Dodd. Presented by Vintage Theatre Jan. 6-8 at the Dairy Center in Boulder, 2590 Walnut St., 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org; and Jan. 13-22 At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive in Evergreen, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.com

    NUMBER 5The Happiest Song Plays Last. Curious Theatre presents the final chapter of its Elliot Trilogy of plays by Quiara Alegría Hudes. In a cozy North Philadelphia kitchen, a matriarch takes a stand in her new role as the heart and voice of a crumbling community. Halfway around the world in Jordan, her cousin (Elliot) finds that his wartime nightmares have followed him into his new life as a film star. Punctuated by live music from Puerto Rico and the Middle East. Jan. 14-Feb. 17 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Jan. 5-Feb. 4: OpenStage Theatre & Company’s Bright Ideas
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    JANUOARY OPENINGS DCPA 1Jan. 6-28: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Red
    121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Jan. 6-22: Performance Now's Man of La Mancha
    Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or performance now’s home page 

    Jan. 6-March 18: Midtown Arts Center's Million Dollar Quartet
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Jan. 6-8: Vintage Theatre's RFK: A Portrait of Robert Kennedy
    At the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    Jan. 6-29: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Godspell
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    Jan. 7-Feb. 4: Firehouse Theatre Company's Becky’s New Car
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or firehousetheatercompany.com

    Jan. 7-29: Ignite Theatre's The Wiz
    At the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 720-362-2697 or ignite’s home page

    Bright IdeasJan. 10-22: National touring production of Fun Home
    Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Jan. 12-March 12: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s Forever Plaid
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Jan. 12-29: Thingamajig Theatre Company's Buyer & Cellar
    Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    Jan. 13-Feb. 26: DCPA Theatre Company's The Book of Will
    Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Jan. 13-Feb. 12: The Edge Theatre's Burn This
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Jan. 13-22: Theater Esprit Asia and Theater Company of Lafayette’s Coming to America
    At the Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or www.tclstage.org

    Jan. 13-Feb. 4: Town Hall Arts Center's Avenue Q
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Jan. 13-Feb. 12: The Avenue Theater's Almost, Maine
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or the avenue’s home page


    Jan. 13-Feb. 4: Equinox Theatre Company’s The Who’s Tommy
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Jan. 13-22: Vintage Theatre's A Portrait of Robert Kennedy
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.com

    Jan. 13-22: Vintage Theatre's A Portrait of Robert Kennedy
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.com

    Carter NovingerJan. 13-March 5: Vintage Theatre's Brilliant Traces
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintage’s home page

    Jan. 13-29: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's WYNOT Radio Theatre in The Other Coast Caper
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Jan. 13-22: Longmont Theatre Company's Leading Ladies
    513 Main St., 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Jan. 13-March 18: Midtown Arts Center's Forbidden Broadway (Studio Theatre)
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Jan. 14-Feb. 17: Curious Theatre's The Happiest Song Plays Last
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    Jan. 20-Feb. 19: Aurora Fox's Myth
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Jan. 20-Feb. 12: Parker Arts Center and Inspire Creative's Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, parkerarts.org

    RFK VintageJan. 26-Feb. 19: Cherry Creek Theatre's Red Hot and Cole
    At the Mizel Arts and Culture Center's Pluss Theatre, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver, 303-800-6578 or cherry creek theatre’s home page

    Jan. 27-Feb. 26: DCPA Theatre Company's The Christians
    Stage Theatre, Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Jan. 27-March 5: Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Jan. 27-Feb. 12: Something’s Afoot
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoor’s home page


    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Jan. 8: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Shrek: The Musical
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Through Jan. 8: Vintage Theatre Productions' Beauty and the Beast
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com READ MORE

    Through Feb. 19: BDT Stage's Thoroughly Modern Millie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through March 12: DCPA Cabaret's An Act of God
    Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 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
    Ongoing productions
    2406 Federal Blvd., Denver, 303-455-1848 or adamsmysteryplayhouse.com

    THE AVENUE THEATER
    Jan. 26: Scriptprov (improv comedy and theatre actors working together)
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or the avenue’s home page

    BUNTPORT THEATRE
    Jan. 14: Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey (Monthly theatre for young audiences at 1 and 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month, through May 13)
    Jan. 17: The Great Debate
    Jan. 18: The Narrators (a live storytelling show and podcast)
    Jan. 27: Untitled (in the freight elevator at the Denver Art Museum)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    THE CATAMOUNTS
    Jan. 27: FEED: Darkness
    An examination of why we need darkness in order to see the light through a  short performance piece and live music. With a four-course meal and drink.
    At Still Cellars, a distillery and arthouse, 115 Colorado Ave., Longmont


    Paula Poundstone

    COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER

    Jan. 13-14: Staged concert of Next to Normal with Broadway veteran Susan Dawn Carson
    Jan. 27, 2017: An Evening With Paula Poundstone
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    CURIOUS THEATRE
    Jan. 8: Gabriella Cavallero host an evening of music and conversation with the Harlem Quartet. The program will spotlight the music in Quiara Alegría Hudes’ plays.
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org


    Waiting for Obama

    DENVER ACTORS FUND

    Jan. 19: Staged reading of John Moore's play Waiting for Obama
    The Edge Theatre 1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 720-231-7547 email denveractorsfund.org
    (Free, no advance ticketing. Drop in.)

    Jan. 22: Billy Elliot (the movie)
    Denver Actors Fund monthly film series in partnership with local theatre companies)
    Pre-screening entertainment by cast of Vintahe Theatre's upcoming production of Billy Elliot, The Musical
    At the Alamo Drafthouse, Aspen Grove, 7301 S Santa Fe Dr, Littleton, 720-588-4107 or BUY TICKETS

    LANNIE’S CLOCKTOWER CABARET
    Jan. 6: The Jerseys sing the Four Seasons and more
    D&F Clock Tower, 16th and Arapahoe streets, 303-293-0075 or clocktowercabaret.com

    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
    Jan. 14: Leaps of Faith
    "The Conversion of the Jews” by Philip Roth Young, performed by Michael Bouchard
    "The Blue Hole” by Erika Krouse, performed by Jessica Austgen
    "A Fable with Slips of White Paper Spilling from the Pockets” by Kevin Brockmeier, performed by Cajardo Rameer Lindsey
    1:30 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

  • 2016 True West Award: Patty Yaconis

    by John Moore | Dec 14, 2016
    True West Awards. Patty Yaconis. Edge Theatre

     



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 15:
    Patty Yaconis

                             Presented by Actor Emma Messenger

    For a glamorous woman, Patty Yaconis certainly takes on a lot of unglamorous work as Managing Director of The Edge Theatre, from hauling laundry to cleaning toilets.

    “But sometimes it's the quiet woman behind the man who deserves a bit of appreciation,” award-winning actor Emma Messenger says of the other half of the Yaconis power couple not named Rick. “Patty is there night after night acting as a beautiful hostess for the company, and she’s there long after the lights go down making everything continue to run smoothly for the actors.”

    True West Awards. Patty Yaconis Quote. Rick and Patty Yaconis took over the E-Project Theatre in Lakewood and renamed it The Edge Theatre in 2010 with the stated objective of lifting it from the overcrowded pack of small, similar neighborhood troupes in the Denver area. And while The Edge retains some enduring and endearing characteristics of a neighborhood community theatre, it has taken large and unmistakable steps toward its stated goal – namely in the regular hiring of top directors and actors and continuing to present challenging and often provocative fare.

    Rick Yaconis was recognized for his part in The Edge’s continued upward trajectory with a True West Award in 2014. This year, the spotlight shifts to his wife, who was responsible for 2016 being designated “The Year of Women” at The Edge. It was a commitment that not only gainfully employed many of Colorado’s best female actors, but it kept the audience’s focus on important women’s issues while re-familiarizing them with some killer historical figures such as Medea and Marie Antoinette.

    As The Edge’s in-house dramaturg, Patty Yaconis searches out quality and important roles for women, said Sherrill, whose hiring as Associate Artistic Director in May was one of The Edge’s biggest coups of 2016. “Patty’s mantra is, ‘Let’s get these strong, talented women into The Edge Theatre and let them do their thing.’ ”

    This year, a lot of really strong, talented women did their thing at The Edge – most of them portraying a wide variety of female protagonists trying, in their own and very different ways, to start their lives anew. Women like Karen Slack, Missy Moore, Emma Messenger and Shannan Steele, for starters. Here’s a sample of the breadth and variety of the work they took on in 2016:

    • Missy Moore won the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Award for her performance as a bottled-up and broken-down ex-convict trying to start her life over in Marsha Norman’s Getting Out.
    • True West Awards. Patty Yaconis. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins. Powerhouse and powder-keg actor Karen Slack took on no less than the scorned, child-murdering mother in the bloody Greek tragedy Medea.
    • Patty Yaconis herself took on the monster challenge of playing a wealthy Texas widow who turns to her surprisingly complex Cuban writer-turned-gardener in Robert Schenkkan’s steamy romance By the Waters of Babylon.
    • Shannan Steele played a checkered young mother whose Upper West Side life goes scratch just as quickly as an errant 8-ball drops into a side pocket when she crosses paths with a dangerous man from her past in the angry rock musical Murder Ballad - a first for The Edge.
    • Moore was back in high heels and runway kimonos in Marie Antoinette, David Adjmi’s contemporary take on the spoiled and fated young queen of France who pays dearly for her extravagance and artifice.
    • Emma Messenger, who has won four True West Awards in the past three years alone, wrapped the audience around her little finger without even leaving the couch in the one-woman play I’ll Eat You Last, a comic monologue about a self-invented woman in the boys club of Hollywood agents.
    • This year The Edge’s focus on women even extended to men. Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina told the remarkable, true story of 1960s heterosexual men who regularly escaped to an inconspicuous bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains to temporarily escape being … well, men.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Part of what makes Patty Yaconis so beloved by the ever-growing inner circle at The Edge Theatre, Sherrill said, is that she lives her life with such total and apparent joy - evidenced most recently by her decision to train to become a certified pole-fitness instructor at Tease Studio in Denver. That’s quintessential Patty Yaconis.

    “I took it on as a whim as a birthday present to myself,” she said in a recent interview with the Women's Radio Network. “I promised myself that I would always try to do something new every birthday. Pole fitness was addicting from the very first time I tried it not only because it was a great workout, but because I just felt this immediate high. It left me in such a good mood.”

    But Yaconis is rarely - if ever - not in a good mood, said Messenger, which is only one more reason she is so adored. Another is for the way she treats others.

    “Patty is a truly kind and caring person to all of the artists here at The Edge,” Sherrill said.

    Read about Rick Yaconis' 2014 True West Award

    True West Awards. Patty Yaconis Quote. Rachel D. Graham Photography

    (Photos, above and right: Patty and Rick Yaconis at the 2016 Henry Awards. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins. Above: M. Scott McLean and Patty Yaconis in The Edge Theatre's 'Casa Valentina.' Photo by Rachel D. Graham Photography.)


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS

    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

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


    Video bonus: John Moore's look back at the opening of The Edge Theatre in 2010:

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

    by John Moore | Oct 04, 2016
    Miscast 2016

    Photos from 'Miscast 2016,' which raised more than $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund.  To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are directly downloadable and may be freely used on social media. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Miscast, a popular annual community-wide benefit held Sept. 26 at the Town Hall Arts Center, raised $7,067 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief when members of the Colorado theatre community find themselves in situational medical need. In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $50,000 in direct aid to help local artists.

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

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

    Video excerpt:


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


    MISCAST 2016:

    Hosts:
    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather

    Program:

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MISCAST 2016:

    Hosts:
    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • DCPA announces DeVotchka-infused 'Sweeney Todd' casting

    by John Moore | Feb 18, 2016

    Sweeney Todd. Robert Petkoff. Linda Mugleston. Returning Denver Center favorites Robert Petkoff ('Sense & Sensibility the Musical') and Linda Mugleston ('Quilters') will play Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett.


    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced casting for its upcoming production of Sweeney Todd, which will bring Robert Petkoff and Linda Mugleston back to Denver in the roles of the Demon Barber and Mrs. Lovett.

    This staging of Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece will feature new orchestrations from Denver’s Grammy-nominated gypsy-punk band, DeVotchKa.

    Sweeney Todd. Kent Thompson quote“We are very much looking forward to sinking our teeth into this piece,” said Kent Thompson, Director and Producing Artistic Director of the Theatre Company.” “Thanks to Mr. Sondheim’s blessing, we have been working closely with DeVotchKa to create a new orchestral backdrop for this epic villain. The lifeblood, no pun intended, of the Denver Center is innovation. There is an inherent theatricality in DeVotchKa’s work that we believe will not only serve the piece, but will introduce the Demon Barber to a brand new generation of audiences.”

    Petkoff, whose most recent Broadway credits include All The Way (Hubert Humphrey), Anything Goes (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh) and Ragtime (Tateh) previously appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's Tantalus and Sense & Sensibility The Musical. Mugleston, whose Broadway credits include On the Twentieth Century (Ensemble), Beautiful The Carole King Musical (as Genie Klein), Young Frankenstein and Sondheim's Into The Woods, previously appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Quilters and A Christmas Carol.

    “The Denver Center is always innovative, no matter what they are doing,” Mugleston said. “The creativity is always very high-end, and it never feels like run-of-the-mill, normal fare. It’s always exciting.”

    Petkoff applauded Sondheim's spirit of play in allowing the DCPA to partner with bands like DeVotchKa to look at Sweeney Todd anew.

    First and foremost, he is an artist," Petkoff said. By taking a fresh look at the orchestrations, "you are changing how an audience hears this music ... and he recognizes as an artist that's how a piece of work breathes and lives."

    Other returning DCPA cast members will include Colin Alexander, Donterrio Johnson, Charlie Korman, Kathleen McCall, Jeffrey Roark, Christine Rowan, Lauren Shealy and Shannan Steele.

    The cast includes many actors with big-time Broadway credits, including Kevin McGuire (Judge Turpin), who played several roles in Les Misérables, and Michael Brian Dunn (Pirelli) who played several roles in the first Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd in 1990.


    CAST LIST
    (in alphabetical order)

    • Colin Alexander (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Jefferson Behan (DCPA Theatre Company Debut) as Swing
    • Daniel Berryman (Off Broadway: The Fantasticks; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Anthony Hope
    • Samantha Bruce (Off Broadway: The Fantasticks; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Johanna
    • Kevin Curtis (Off Broadway: Invisible Thread; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Tobias Ragg
    • Dwelvan David (First National Tour The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Beadle Bamford
    • Tia DeShazor (DCPA Theatre Company Debut) as Ensemble
    • Michael Brian Dunn (Broadway’s Sweeney Todd, Doctor Zhivago, Amazing Grace; DCPA Theatre Company Debut) as Pirelli
    • Donterrio Johnson (DCPA Theatre Company’s Lookingglass Alice) as Ensemble
    • Charlie Korman (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, Lord of the Flies) as Ensemble
    • Kathleen McCall (Broadway’s M. Butterfly; DCPA Theatre Company’s All The Way, Benediction) as Beggar Woman
    • Jean McCormick (DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Ensemble
    • Kevin McGuire (Broadway’s Les Misérables; DCPA Theater Company Debut) as Judge Turpin
    • Linda Mugleston (Broadway’s Anything Goes, Young Frankenstein, Into The Woods; DCPA Theatre Company’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Quilters, A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Lovett
    • Robert Petkoff (Broadway’s All The Way, Ragtime, Spamalot, Fiddler on the Roof; DCPA Theatre Company’s Sense & Sensibility The Musical, Tantalus) as Sweeney Todd
    • Jeffrey Roark (DCPA Theatre Company’s All The Way, A Christmas Carol, To Kill A Mockingbird) as Ensemble
    • Danny Rothman (DCPA Theatre Company Debut) as Ensemble
    • Christine Rowan (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, Animal Crackers) as Ensemble
    • Lauren Shealy (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol) as Swing
    • Shannan Steele (DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, Animal Crackers) as Ensemble

    CREATIVE TEAM
    Kent Thompson (Director)
    Gregg Coffin (Music Director)
    Erik Daniells (Conductor)
    Joel Ferrell (Choreographer)
    James Kronzer (Scenic Designer)
    Kevin Copenhaver (Costume Designer)
    Kenton Yeager (Lighting Designer)
    Zach Williamson (Sound Designer)
    Geoffrey Kent (Fight Director)

    Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Ticket information

  • 270x270-sweeney-toddMusic and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Book by High Wheeler (adapted by Christopher Bond); musical adaptation by DeVotchKa
  • April 8-May 15 (opens April 15)
  • StageTheatre
  • Grammy-nominated Denver band DeVotchKa takes on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a reinvention of Sondheim’s musical thriller. Hell-bent on revenge, Sweeney Todd takes up with his enterprising neighbor in a devilish plot to slice their way through London’s upper crust. Justice will be served — along with audacious humor, bloody good thrills, and DeVotchKa’s brand of lush gypsy punk.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Sweeney Todd:
    Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    DeVotchKa frontman promises a Sweeney Todd that's 'loud and proud'

    Sweeney Todd. Robert Petkoff and Linda Mugleston return
    Robert Petkoff previously appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Sense & Sensibility the Musical' (top) and Linda Mugleston in 'Quilters' (above). Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
  • 'Beautiful' Music Director hosting 'Reunion '85' at Lone Tree Arts Center

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2016
    Shannan Steele Reunion 85
    Shannan Steele in 'Reunion 85.' 


    The Tony-winning Beautiful - The Carole King Musical does not come to Denver's Buell Theatre until July, but Susan Draus, the tour's Music Director, is now hosting a one-of-a-kind theatrical comedy concert called Reunion 85 through this coming weekend (Feb. 13) at the Lone Tree Arts Center. (Draus is pictured at right.)

    Susan DrausReunion '85 takes place in the Event Hall (not the regular theatre) Lone Tree. The setting is the Clovis High School Class of 1985 reunion. Upon arriving, you assume the identity of a class member. You get a fictional name tag, you have your photo taken, and you can even look through the yearbook to learn more about your fictional character. (That is, if you take your character development seriously. If not ... just head to the bar and hope they don't call you out, Mr. Chess Club Secretary.)

    The Class President and Class Floozy are your emcees for an evening of frighteningly retro '80s rock hits, punctuated with the opening of a time capsule, the re-enactment of the school play and more, all culminating with a dance party that for graying Denverites might bring back fuzzy memories of Thirsty's, M-80s or After the Gold Rush.

    Your hosts for the evening are game actors Tom Deckman and Piper Arpan. The band is the realest of deals, including a few from the DCPA Theatre Company's recent world premiere musical The 12: Guitarist Justin Francoeur and drummer Todd Talbot.

    Klint Rudolph, who performed in DCPA Cabaret's long-running hit I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, is on keys and guitar; Lynn Keller is on bass and Music Director Chris Sargent is on keys.

    Your vocalists are hot heavy-hitters Karen Jeffreys (Arvada Center's Camalot), Shannan Steele (DCPA's Love, Perfect Change and most recently A Christmas Carol) and John Pinto Jr., who was part of the most recent The Book of Mormon tour and was a featured player in the Arvada Center's 2006 Christian romp, Altar Boyz.

    Draus, of Beautiful, is the creator of all this silly (but seriously good) fun. She is planning for this to be the first in a series of musical reunions themed by decade. (Think the August Wilson Cycle - only for high-school reunions).

    Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, which plays July 19-31 in the Buell Theatre, tells the true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation.

    Reunion '85
    'Reunion '85' culminates in an old-school dance party.


    Reunion '85: Ticket information:

    • Remaining concert parties: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11; and 8 p.m. Feb. 12-13
    • At the Lone Tree Arts Center, 10075 Commons St., just west of I-25 and south of the Park Meadows Mall
    • Call 720-509-1000 or go to lonetreeartscenter.org

    Beautiful — The Carole King Musical: Ticket information:

  • July 19-31 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. July 31


  • More on Beautiful:
    Video podcast: Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector

    Piper Arpan. Reunion '85.Piper Arpan belts it out in 'Reunion '85.'
  • Photos, video: Your first look at 'A Christmas Carol' 2015

    by John Moore | Dec 07, 2015


    In the video above, please enjoy a brief montage of scenes from the DCPA Theatre Company's 2015 seasonal production of A Christmas Carol. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    A Christmas Carol. Max Raabe. Photo by John Moore. Below, we present our exclusive backstage photos from opening night on Dec. 4, both before the show and at the party after the performance. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this opulent musical adaptation has become essential to the holiday season in Denver. Now in its 23rd DCPA staging, A Christmas Carol traces skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s overnight journey to redemption.

    Director Bruce K. Sevy has announced that venerable actor Philip Pleasants has decided he will be playing Scrooge for the final time. He will return in the new year to perform in All the Way. But after Dec. 27, the actor is hanging up his humbug.

    Philip Pleasants backstage before his final opening-night perfromance as Scrooge. Photo by John Moore. Philip Pleasants backstage before his final opening-night performance as Scrooge. Photo by John Moore.

    Our photo gallery:

    Photos from opening night of the DCPA Theatre Company's 2015 staging of 'A Christmas Carol,' both backstage before the show, and at the party afterward. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. To download any photo for free, click on "View original Flickr" image and choose from a variety of download sizes.



    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information

    Through Dec. 27 at the Stage Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • Accessibility performance: 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19

  • Previous 2015 'Meet the Cast' profiles:

    Meet Courtney Capek (Belle)
    Meet Shannan Steele (Fred's wife)
    Meet Jake Williamson (Ensemble)
    Meet Ben Heil (Peter Cratchit)
    Meet Ella Galaty (Fan)

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Carol:
    Philip Pleasants: A Scrooge for the ages, one last time
    First rehearsal: Scrooge, in typical fashion: Let's get to work!
    From Denver Center's Tiny Tim to TV's Fuller House
    Beginnings and endings for stars of A Christmas Carol, The SantaLand Diaries
    Video: Leslie O'Carroll performs A Christmas O'Carroll ... in 5 minutes
    Actor Scott McLean is now also a published children's author
    Video: The Christmas Carol Coast to Coast Challenge. No. 1: Denver
    By the numbers: A Christmas Carol over 22 years at the DCPA
    First day of 2014 rehearsal: Interviews, cast list and photos

    Previous years' 'Meet the Cast' videos:
    James Michael Reilly
    Leslie Alexander
    Philip Pleasants
    Sam Gregory
    Mehry Iris Eslaminia
    Allen Dorsey
    Leslie O'Carroll
    Stephanie Cozart
    Charlie Korman
    Kyra Lindsay
    M. Scott McLean

    A Christmas Carol. Photo by John Moore.

    A Christmas Carol. Photo by John Moore.
  • Meet the cast: Shannan Steele of 'A Christmas Carol'

    by John Moore | Nov 16, 2015
    Shannan Steele in the DCPA's 2014 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
    Shannan Steele in the DCPA's 2014 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.


    MEET SHANNAN STEELE

    Ensemble, Fred's Wife in A Christmas Carol

    Shannan SteeleAt the DCPA Theatre Company: Animal Crackers (understudy), and A Christmas Carol (ensemble). At the Garner-Galleria Theater: I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (Woman No. 1, Henry Award nomination), The Last 5 Years, and My Way. At the Arvada Center: More than 20 productions, including The 1940s Radio Hour (Ginger Brooks, Henry Award nomination), Tarzan the Stage Musical (Kala, True West Award), Cabaret, Les Miserables, Violet, and Memphis. At Cherry Creek Theater: Baby (Pam, True West Award nomination). At Theaterworks: Church.

    • Hometown: Laramie, Wyo.
    • College: Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Master of Science in Physical Therapy (both from Regis University)
    • What was the role that changed your life?I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” here at the Denver Center, in the Galleria Theater, which I performed in from spring of 2002 until fall of 2004. It changed me as an actor, because I believe it was during this production that I actually became an actor (despite plenty of acting gigs prior). Having the privilege of playing a role over a long amount of time helped to develop my skills in a way I didn’t anticipate. I had the immense support of an incredible director (Ray Roderick), a cast with vast amounts of talent that exceeded my own and content that challenged me on every level. I always feel it was my launching pad into being an actor - or at least truly desiring to be a good one.
    • Why are you an actor? World peace. Yep, that’s it ... world peace. Somehow, I find attempting to tell human stories gives permission to my fellow humans to embrace their own humanity, to find compassion for the humanity of others, to reach more deeply for truer connections and a more forgiving sense of self.  Wow … If that worked like my idealistic mind wants it to, maybe we really would have world peace.
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor?  I already have the gift of a career outside of acting, as I am also a physical therapist. And I love it. I love the one-on-one connection of meeting someone in a time of need - typically a time of pain, and finding a way to help. Sometimes my patients need an ear more than they need three sets of 10 repetitions of a certain exercise. Either way, I have found great satisfaction in embracing the mystery of the physical body and my attempt to help people regain strength and balance within it.
    • Kevin SpaceyIdeal scene partner: Kevin Spacey. He is brilliant no matter what he does. I would be trembling in awe and humility and an inferiority complex too massive to describe. But I would attempt to sponge every bit of his brilliance and learn everything I could.
    • Why does this play matter? Easy. … A Christmas Carol is about human transformation. We all need to be transformed from time to time, and this is a story so profound it impacts the surrounding community, family and, most important, the soul.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of it? I hope the audience sees the need for their own transformation, or at least the windows of opportunity available to them (and us all) to find the gentle, the tender, the love that lives in each of us. To “keep Christmas well” … means so much more than the holiday, or the religion, for me. It  means keeping ourselves, our loved ones, our purpose to simply love. To keep all of that “well" would be a life well-lived.
    • Finish this sentence: All I want is ... "LOVE!"

    Shannan Steele

    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information

    By Charles Dickens
    Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Nov 27-Dec 27 (Opens Dec. 4) | Stage Theatre
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    TTY: 303-893-9582

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Carol:
    First rehearsal: Scrooge, in typical fashion: Let's get to work!
    From Denver Center's Tiny Tim to TV's Fuller House
    Beginnings and endings for stars of A Christmas Carol, The SantaLand Diaries
    Video: Leslie O'Carroll performs A Christmas O'Carroll ... in 5 minutes
    Actor Scott McLean is now also a published children's author
    Video: The Christmas Carol Coast to Coast Challenge. No. 1: Denver
    By the numbers: A Christmas Carol over 22 years at the DCPA
    First day of 2014 rehearsal: Interviews, cast list and photos

    Previous 2015 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Meet Courtney Capek (Belle)

    Previous years' 'Meet the Cast' videos:
    James Michael Reilly
    Leslie Alexander
    Philip Pleasants
    Sam Gregory
    Mehry Iris Eslaminia
    Allen Dorsey
    Leslie O'Carroll
    Stephanie Cozart
    Charlie Korman
    Kyra Lindsay
    M. Scott McLean
  • Four Westword Best of Denver Awards go to DCPA

    by John Moore | Mar 26, 2015
    Westword Best of Denver
    Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen and Terry Shapiro.


    The DCPA was singled out for four of Westword’s Best of Denver Awards for 2015, it was announced today. The alternative weekly produces an annual special edition with a wide swath of both traditional and quirky award categories. 

    Best Ensemble
    Animal Crackers

    Directed by Bruce Sevy Animal Crackers was a romp of a musical, a trifle, a bright, funny nothing full of bad puns, visual jokes and silly stunts. The cats included Michael Fitzpatrick, Celia Tackaberry, Christine Rowan, Jeremy Benton, Stephanie Rothenberg, M. Scott McLean, Jim Ferris, Jonathan Brody, Jonathan Randell Silver, Jeffrey Roark, Shannan Steele, Brett Ambler and Justin Walvoord. Read more

    Best Light Entertainment
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    The Garner Galleria is the place to sit back with a drink in hand, ease off your shoes under your seat and catch some laughs. Read more

    Best Page-to-Stage Adaptation
    Benediction

    Author Kent Haruf, author of luminous novels about life on Colorado's eastern plains, died last fall, and this year, the Denver Center presented Benediction, dramatized by Eric Schmiedl, the third of Haruf's novels the company has staged. Read more

    Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
    Amelia White,  Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

    Having dressed up for a costume party, Sonia, played by Amelia White, transforms from a down-at-the-heels, enraged and self-pitying nobody in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike into a magnificent sequin-clad dowager. Read more
  • 2014 True West Award: Shannan Steele

    by John Moore | Dec 28, 2014
    True_West_Award_SHANNAN_STEELE_800


    TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 AWARDS

    True_West_Award_300

    It would have been easy to skip Tarzan The Musical at the Arvada Center. Broadway critics went after it like Scar feasting on Mufasa in The Lion King. OK, so Scar didn’t exactly pick his brother’s bones clean, but you get the picture: Of all the stage adaptations in the Disney theatrical machine, Tarzan is easily the most derivative. The New York Times was particularly tough, describing Phil Collins’ score as made up of “soda-pop songs that evaporate as quickly as bubbles on a pond.” It equated an afternoon at Tarzan to an expensive afternoon at a day-care center. Ouch!

    So when the Arvada Center turned over a slot on its 2013-14 season to a patron vote, I can only imagine there were a few gulps among the powers-that-be when Tarzan climbed to the top of that poll’s vine.

    Shannan SteeleBut it turns out that skipping Tarzan would have meant skipping out on much of what the Arvada Center does best. Director Gavin Mayer’s production sported a botanic wonderland of a set (by Brian Mallgrave); evocative sound and lighting (David Thomas and Shannon McKinney); colorful costumes (Meredith S. Murphy); and "flight director" Geddy Webb’s aerial magic working beautifully in concert with Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck’s airborne choreography. For a story as simple as Tarzan, it turns out staging the musical was not even a remotely simple undertaking.

    But most of all, skipping Tarzan would have meant missing Shannan Steele as you have never seen her before. You know: As a jungle boy’s gorilla baby mama. Steele brought a very human heart to her role as the matriarchal gorilla who raises the infant Tarzan after leopards snatch his human parents - and her own baby ape. This is a cookie-cutter role in lesser paws. But whether Steele is playing the heartbreakingly wounded video dater Rose Ruiz in the Denver Center’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, or infertile mom Pam in Cherry Creek Theatre’s Baby the Musical, she can’t help but add layers of emotional significance to roles like mama Kala in Tarzan. Maybe that’s because she’s a mother herself, but I think it’s more because that’s just who Steele is, and always has been. 

    As Kala, Steele had to sing or say some seriously syrupy stuff. (Like, “You’ll Be in My Heart!”) But she managed to be … yes, steely, in presenting Tarzan’s surrogate mama as a fierce protector who jeopardizes her own “marriage” to keep him and, ironically, to ultimately teach the boy what it means to be a man.

    Steele, who’s from Laramie, is a longtime Arvada Center favorite but is also familiar to DCPA audiences. She’s been performing this month in A Christmas Carol (closing today). Love, Perfect, Change holds the distinction as the longest-running production in Colorado theatre history. She also appeared in the Frank Sinatra musical My Way at the Garner Galleria Theatre, along with The Taffetas and The Last Five Years. She also was the choreographer for Cherry Creek Theatre's brother-sister musical John & Jen this past May.

    And just so you know: She’s no ape. Steele graduated with a math degree from Regis University, and earned her masters in physical therapy.

    The critics weren’t wrong about Tarzan: From Bat Boy to Jekyll and Hyde to King Kong to The Lion King to Oedipus Rex, this is familiar storytelling territory. But Steele managed to make it feel deeply relatable to anyone who is a mother - or has had one. Furry, matted or smooth-skinned - that's just who she is.
     

                                     2014 TRUE WEST AWARDS TO DATE:

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

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

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

    *The DCPA Theatre Company is not considered for True West Awards, which are instead intended as the DCPA's celebration of the local theatre community.

    Moore's daily coverage of the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

  • Video: Highlights, interviews from Randy Weeks celebration

    by John Moore | Nov 12, 2014


    Friends, family and dozens of industry executives were among the 1,500 who attended a celebration of Randy Weeks' life at the Buell Theatre on Nov. 3.

    This video captures highlights, excerpts from musical performances and interviews afterward. Guests include David Turner (The Book of Mormon), Hal Luftig (Kinky Boots), Nancy Gibbs (Peter and the Starcatcher) and Anita Dloniak (Pippin The Musical) on why their entire national touring production has been dedicated to the late DCPA President.

    Also: Denver Post Chairman William Dean Singleton; Director Ray Roderick; actors Kris Andersson (Dixie Longate), Shannan Steele and Michael Gold; and Denver School of the Arts students Jimmy Bruenger and Madison Kitchen. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 12 minutes.

    To read our full report or access downloadable photos from the event, click here.


    To watch videos of complete, individual songs performed at the celebration:
    I Love a Piano
    Old Cape Cod
    Give My Regards to Broadway
    One (Singular Sensation)

    Our coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:

    Celebration draws 1,500 to recall a singular friend in story and song
    DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
    Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
    Randy Weeks photo gallery
    DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
    A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video
    'Pippin' dedicates entire tour to Randy Weeks

    Randy_Weeks_Celebration_Video_800
     
    Linda Klein, left, and Barbara Gehring of "Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women" left their current road stop in Rochester, N.Y., to attend the Nov. 3 celebration of DCPA president Randy Weeks, who was represented, in a way, by a Brooks Brothers mannequin stand-in. Photo by John Moore


    TO SEE OUR COMPLETE GALLERY OF DOWNLOADABLE PHOTOS FROM THE RANDY WEEKS CELEBRATION, CLICK HERE.

    Memorial Contributions:
    Memorial gifts can be made to The Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for the Bobby G Awards, which supports the advancement of musical theatre for Colorado high school students. Please make checks payable to Denver Center for the Performing Arts and mail to: DCPA Development Office, 1101 13th Street, Denver, CO 80204.
  • Randy Weeks celebration draws 1,500 to recall a singular friend in story and song

    by John Moore | Nov 05, 2014



    A month before Randy Weeks died in a London hotel room, he mailed his godson a random greeting card that said: “Life is not measured by how many breaths we take, but in the number of moments that take our breath away.”

    That was but one of many poignant remembrances peppered between showstopping musical numbers at a bittersweet public celebration on Monday afternoon for the President of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, who died in his sleep Oct. 9 while attending a conference of theatre presenters. He was 59.

    It was delivered from the Buell Theatre stage by Jimmy Calano, who was Weeks’ pledge son 40 years ago at the Kappa Sigma fraternity at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Later, Calano asked Weeks to be the godfather to his own son.

    “Although Randy was cheated out of his fair share of breaths, he took our breath away by the power of his friendship, by the way he made us feel special, and by how he flat-out took care of us,” Calano told a crowd that was estimated at 1,500 by the city of Denver.

    Video: Cast members from 'Kinky Boots' sing 'Give My Regards to Broadway' to honor the late Randy Weeks. To see our entire downloadable photo gallery from the Randy Weeks celebration, click here.

    Attendees included family and friends; DCPA employees past and present; theatre audiences; more than 100 fraternity brothers; and members of the local and national theatre communities including theatre owners, producers, presenters, booking agents, press agents and representatives from both The Broadway League and the Independent Presenters Network.

    Dean Singleton, chairman of The Denver Post and a member of the DCPA’s Board of Trustees, said, “We have lost one of the greatest minds in theatre. Not only did Randy bring Broadway to Denver, but he made Denver the first stop for some of the greatest productions leaving New York. Randy had the unique ability to convince people that Denver was the right place for a first stop -- and he delivered.”


    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_Quote_2

    In his 23 years as the Executive Director of the DCPA’s Broadway division, Weeks presented more than 400 shows that served 11.6 million patrons. In his tenure, Denver hosted the launches of 10 national touring productions, including The Lion King, The Book of Mormon and, most recently, Pippin. Representatives from those shows and more flew to Denver to attend Monday’s classy send-off. The program culminated with University of Northern Colorado freshman Abby Noble singing “One (Singular Sensation)” from A Chorus Line alongside nearly 30 members of the Denver School of the Arts’ recent production of Hairspray.

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_1

    Abby Noble of Grandview High School and the University of Northern Colorado, right, performing with students from Denver School of the Arts. Photo by John Moore. To see more photos, click here.

    In May, Noble was named Outstanding Actress in a Musical at the Bobby G Awards, which honor achievements in Colorado high school theatre. The program was spearheaded by Weeks in 2012 and quickly became his greatest professional joy. He also served on the Friends Foundation at Denver School of the Arts.

    Two of Monday’s performers were DSA students Jimmy Bruenger and Madison Kitchen, who fell in love with Broadway musicals by watching productions that Weeks brought to the Buell Theatre stage. Monday’s celebration afforded both the opportunity to perform on that same stage for the first time. Even in death, Bruenger said, Weeks was making dreams come true.

    “When I found out we were being asked to perform here, I started hyperventilating,” Kitchen added. “Both of us saw Kinky Boots here just last night. And so to be on that stage for the first time today? It’s incredible.”

    Video: Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Abby Noble sings "One" with students from Denver School of the Arts.


    The Pippin tour has recently bestowed upon Weeks what is believed to be an unprecedented honor: The entire tour has been dedicated to Weeks, who will now be acknowledged in programs in every city Pippin visits. The idea was suggested by Kathleen O’Brien, Weeks’ counterpart with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

    “This has been the best tour-opening experience in my 27 years out on the road, and Randy is the reason,” said Pippin national press rep Anita Dloniak, citing the camaraderie and professionalism he inspired in his staff. “And he throws the best parties,” she added. Honoring Weeks, she said, was one way for the Pippin family to grapple and cope with their grief over his sudden death. 

    “He is just a wonderful force to be reckoned with,” Dloniak said. “A giant ... but a gentle giant.”

    Nancy Gibbs attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver and has since produced many major theatricals including Wicked; I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (the longest-running show in Denver theatre history); Traces; Next to Normal, and Peter and the Starcatcher, which launched its first national tour in Denver in August.

    “Randy was a leader,” Gibbs said. “Once he stepped up to the plate, he knocked it out of the ballpark.”

    David Turner, General Manager for The Book of Mormon, said it was Weeks who convinced producers that Denver was the only place for that tour to launch.

    “Randy was the one who knew that the writers (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) were from here, and he really wanted us to make that connection,” Turner said.

    The Book of Mormon launch in Denver sold all 51,000 available tickets in less than five hours. Turner called that an “extremely important” validation of the show.

    “For everybody who wasn’t sure how The Book of Mormon would be received outside of New York, that was an incredible vote of confidence,” Turner said. 

    Weeks was respected by his colleagues for his uncanny ability not only to maximize blockbuster, popular fare, but to predict the next big thing. One of the most poignant moments in Monday’s celebration came when seven members of the 2013 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Kinky Boots took the stage to sing “Give My Regards to Broadway” in Weeks’ honor. The show is currently playing in Denver through Sunday (Nov. 9).

    “During a very early preview performance of Kinky Boots, Randy ran up to me at the intermission and said, ‘Promise me this show will play Denver,’ ” said Kinky Boots’ Hal Luftig. “To a producer with a show still in previews, that meant the world to me. And now, here we are in Denver, playing to packed houses every night.”

    Weeks also was credited for his willingness to take risks both large and small. Weeks could have responsibly passed on important, challenging musicals with questionable commercial road potential, like Next to Normal (about a mother’s suicidal depression) and Spring Awakening (about 1890s German teens experiencing puberty in the complete absence of information). But when Weeks came across shows that had the potential to change audiences’ lives, he felt a deep obligation to schedule them.

    “He was so clearly willing to take risks here,” said The Book of Mormon’s Turner, “and over time, he developed an audience that was willing to take risks with him. That combination is very rare.”

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_2
    Actor Shannan Steele and director Ray Roderick banter with an aptly dressed Randy Weeks stand-in at Monday's celebration. Photo by John Moore. To see more photos, click here. 

     

    Added Ray Roderick, who directed large world premieres like I Love a Piano in the Auditorium Theatre and small cabaret shows in the Garner Galleria: “Randy saw the Denver community as one that was going to embrace good work no matter what it was. Denver is a very big demographic, and a very smart demographic, and Randy managed to please a lot of different kinds of people.”

    Weeks was remembered on Monday for far more than just his many professional successes. He was remembered as an uncommonly compassionate friend … and a most decidedly uncommon dresser.

    Weeks was known for wearing argyle sweaters and golfing pants adorned with animal prints only Rodney Dangerfield could love. The sweaters were a tribute to his late mentor, Robert Garner. “But the pants were all Randy,” said his longtime assistant, Claudia Carson, who directed the musical portion of Monday's celebration. Family members confessed that Weeks left seven pair of Brooks Brothers animal-print pants behind in his closet at home.

    “We’re going to miss Randy because he was always there with outstretched arms and a sweater that looked like something out of 1962 Paris Vogue,” joked Kris Andersson, otherwise known as Dixie Longate, whose Dixie’s Tupperware Party has played in the Garner Galleria Theatre four times. “It was so vogue that you probably wouldn’t want to dress that way. You’d look at it and go, ‘Really?’ But Randy owned it.”

    Andersson’s longtime manager Michele Helberg credited Weeks for “reinvigorating the Dixie brand” five years ago when he first brought the Tupperware Party to Denver. And Andersson credited Weeks for green-lighting last summer’s mouthful of a sequel, Dixie’s Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday.

    “He used his influence with other people in the industry to take a new artist and a new piece of work and move it forward further than if we had to do it on our own,” Helberg said. “If it hadn’t been for Randy and his Denver Center family, I don’t think we would be where we are right now.”

    "Randy used to say, 'It’s all about the fun,' ” Andersson added. “We get to have fun every day of our lives, and a really big part of that is because Randy looked at our show and said yes. And then, when the opportunity came along to do the new show, Randy put tickets on sale before I had even written it. He had that much faith in me.”

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_3

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_Quote_1



    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein are two other performers whose lives were forever changed when Weeks decided to move their two-woman sleepover Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women from the Avenue Theatre to the DCPA.

    And here’s the thing: “He picked up our show without ever even seeing it,” Klein said. In those days, the title was truth in advertising: No men allowed.

    “He had heard about it, and he knew that women loved it, and so he just said, ‘Why aren’t we doing this?’ ” Klein said.  

     That came as no surprise to Ekeberg, Weeks' protege and successor.

     “Randy led with his heart, and he put his heart into everything,” Ekeberg said.

    Girls Only played at the Garner Galleria Theatre for two years and has now been seen by 250,0000 women … and a few men. “That’s not something Linda and I could have done on our own,” Gehring said.

    Girls Only is currently playing in Rochester, N.Y., but the Denver-based duo came home for Monday’s celebration.  “We had to,” said Klein. “We needed to grieve with our friends.”

    DCPA Chairman Daniel Ritchie welcomed Monday’s crowd, and the master of Ceremonies was CBS-4 Critic-At-Large Greg Moody. Speakers included all three of Weeks’ siblings -- Pam Weeks, Joel Weeks and Stephanie Gamble. Others included Al Nocciolino, representing the Broadway League and the Independent Presenters Network. He was with Weeks at the London conference. He told Monday’s crowd that Weeks spent his final day shopping, and bought a deck of cards adorned with vintage fighter planes for his history-buff dad. That night, Weeks attended a performance of the controversial new play King Charles III in London's West End. Afterward, Nocciolino said, “Randy was holding court and telling everyone he had just seen the best performance he had ever seen.” 

    Video: "I Love a Piano" performed by Shannan Steele, Lauren Shealy, Randy St. Pierre, Michael Gold, Sarah Rex and Jordan Leigh.

    The musical program included performers from some of Weeks’ favorite shows, including I Love a Piano and Forever Plaid. The first show Weeks ever presented in the Garner Galleria Theatre was Forever Plaid, and on closing night in 1992, cast members sang “Old Cape Cod” as a gift to him in honor of his New Hampshire roots. Michael Gold, Drew Frady, Randy St. Pierre and Scott Rathbun sang the song at Monday’s celebration.

    Shannan Steele credited Weeks for hiring local actors, citing the upcoming opening of Forbidden Broadway in the Garner Galleria Theatre, which has an all-local ensemble.

     “I think most of my career wouldn’t exist without his efforts and his vision for the local community,” Steele said. “If you ever got to work under Randy, it was always a huge employment opportunity – and a huge artistic opportunity.”

    Gold, who performed in Roderick’s I Love a Piano, has known Weeks since he joined the DCPA box-office team as a college student in 1978. “I remember seeing him run credit cards over carbon paper; it was that long ago,” Gold said.

    When Joel Weeks took to the podium at the Buell, he referenced Weeks’ eulogy to his mentor, Robert Garner. “In it, he said, ‘How can you know someone for such a long time and never fully comprehend how much they have become a part of your life?’ ” Joel Weeks said.

    “My journey will be an amazing one if I can just try to emulate a fraction of what my brother was.” 

    Ekeberg, the final speaker, said his boss’ true strength lay in one-on-one relationships. “He made you feel special; he made you feel heard, and he made you feel important,” Ekeberg said. To honor that spirit, he urged the crowd to heed the message of Pippin:

    “Find the simple joys,” Ekeberg said.

    Our coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
    DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
    Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
    Randy Weeks photo gallery
    DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
    A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video
    'Pippin' dedicates entire tour to Randy Weeks



    Video: Randy St. Pierre, Michael Gold, Drew Frady and Scott Rathbun sing 'Old Cape Cod.'

    MORE PHOTOS:

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_3


    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_4

    TO SEE OUR COMPLETE GALLERY OF DOWNLOADABLE PHOTOS FROM THE RANDY WEEKS CELEBRATION, CLICK HERE.
          

    Memorial Contributions
    Memorial gifts can be made to The Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for the Bobby G Awards, which supports the advancement of musical theatre for Colorado high school students. Please make checks payable to Denver Center for the Performing Arts and mail to: DCPA Development Office, 1101 13th Street, Denver, CO 80204.

  • Photos: Opening night of Denver Center's 'Animal Crackers'

    by John Moore | Apr 12, 2014

    image

    The cast of the Denver Center Theatre Company's "Animal Crackers"  on a raucous opening night. This slapstick Marx Brothers musical comedy plays through May 11 at the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org.  All photos by John Moore.

    To see our full gallery of photos from the fun evening, including a speakeasy-themed opening party, click here.

    image

    Jonathan Randell Silver, right, plays Chico onstage ... and a bit of Groucho off. Photo by John Moore.

     

  • POPULAR POSTS
     
    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.