• Shelley Butler on bringing Melissa Benoist to Broadway's 'Beautiful'

    by John Moore | Jun 18, 2018
    Melissa Benoist Beautiful Joan Marcus
    Melissa Benoist of Littleton is making her Broadway debut starring in 'Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,' through Aug. 4. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    Human Error director Shelley Butler's first-hand account of putting local favorite in her Broadway debut as Carole King

    By Shelley Butler
    Director, DCPA Theatre Company's Human Error
    Associate Director, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

    Two weeks ago I stood outside the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on 43rd Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue in New York City. A crowd of 500 had gathered on the sidewalk to grab autographs from the new star of the musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. A family walked past me, a mother and her teenage daughter, and as they turned toward the crowd to see the cause of the commotion, the teenager shouted, “MOM, THAT’S SUPERGIRL!”

    Yes, it was. It was also the woman currently playing Carole King eight times a week on Broadway, Melissa Benoist. Known to the world from her television role on the CW as the female counterpart to Superman and from her star-making turn on “Glee,” where the Littleton native and Arapahoe High School graduate belted out songs like Wrecking Ball, New York State of Mind, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend and other chart-topping hits. Beautiful marks her Broadway debut, and I had the great thrill of directing her into the role.

    Shelley Butler Quote Melissa Benoist BeautifulI hadn’t met Melissa before we began rehearsals together, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would she be down-to-earth, or diva glamorous? And how would she fill the shoes of a role originated by Tony award winner Jessie Mueller and followed by a line of remarkable actresses?

    I’ve been working as the associate director on Beautiful for two years, and when I’m not directing world premieres of new plays and musicals, I’m working at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre directing actors into the leading roles of the Broadway and first national touring companies. I also collaborated with the West End production of Beautiful and I staged the Japanese production. So I’ve worked with actresses all over the world on this role, and each time it is a different and uniquely rewarding experience.

    But I was surprised by how much fun it was working with Melissa on her Broadway debut. We instantly clicked. Minutes into our first rehearsal we bonded over our shared experiences with Denver. I had just returned from directing the world premiere of Eric Pfeffinger’s comedy Human Error for the DCPA Theatre Company, running through June 24 in the Garner Galleria Theatre. I had  previously directed The Most Deserving there, and am currently in pre-production for The Constant Wife opening in The Space Theatre on Sept. 21.

    I can say without a doubt that Melissa, who is scheduled to play Carole King through Aug. 4, is one of the most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met and she is exactly as delightful as you hope she’ll be. She’s the same wonderful person whether she’s surrounded by TV stars (like she was at the party after her opening) or speaking to a fan who’s traveled from the Midwest to see her live on stage.

    From 2012: Our interview when Melissa Benoist joined Glee

    When Melissa and I first sat down to read through the script together, I was immediately taken by her excellent instincts and her insatiable curiosity. Throughout our entire first session, she was eager to ask questions about the story, the character, the relationships, and over laughter and discussion we were able to quickly hone in on the tone of the show. Before my eyes she transformed from Supergirl to Carole King.

    It is always a thrilling challenge to take unique artists and work with them on how to find the soul of this role — a role that must honor the spirit of both the real Carole King, and the aesthetic of the theatrical show, as brilliantly created by the talented director (and my wonderful friend) Marc Bruni. But perhaps the thing I most relish as Associate Director is that Beautiful allows me the freedom to bring out the best in every actor I work with, so that the character can be uniquely their own. Musical Director Jason Howland also does this gorgeously with the Caroles vocally, so that audiences simultaneously hear the singular voices of the actresses while at the same time recognizing a tone and intonation that embodies Carole King.

    After the one-on-one sessions with Melissa working on script and character, it was time for staging and choreography. Our first rate production stage manager Peter Hanson taught the movements to the leading lady and the dance captain Sara Sheppard led her through the choreography. After Melissa had integrated the singing and dialogue with the staging (some which is very tricky due to the large moving set pieces) and had a few sessions with other actors on stage, she was ready for her “put-in.” A “put-in” is Broadway slang for a rehearsal with the full cast and all the technical elements in place (lighting, automated set moves) but without an audience.

    Beautiful Melissa Benoist Evan Todd. Photo by Joan Marcus 400When we added the full cast into the process, the entire company was quick to respond to Melissa’s warm energy on and off stage. I was particularly struck by the instant chemistry between Melissa and Evan Todd (who plays Carole’s husband, Gerry Goffin). It was a joy to tweak and tailor moments of their respective performances to integrate the two character interpretations and create a living, breathing marriage onstage. 

    (Pictured at right: Melissa Benoist and Evan Todd in 'Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    After all that it was time to add the most important ingredient, the audience. At the first performance the house was sold out and the entire audience was eager with anticipation; and I’ll admit to being a bit nervous while waiting for the lights to go down. After all, even though Melissa had conquered television, this was her Broadway debut, and I had to wonder what jitters she might be dealing with backstage. Before I knew it the show had begun, and there was Melissa, rising above any nerves and powerfully playing the nuance of each emotional moment and beautifully singing the great Carole King songs “Natural Woman,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and “I feel the Earth Move” and many, many more.

    Clearly her early stage days in Denver and her theatrical training gave her a strong foundation, and in her Broadway debut she looked like a veteran.

    During her quick preview period we met regularly to discuss the role and tweak moments, and she was a sponge for notes. She loves the details of the nuanced moments as much as I do, and with each preview the role became ironically both more her own and more a manifestation of Carole.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    By the time of her opening, the joy radiating from both sides of the stage lights was evident. The cast backstage and the audience in front of the house love her equally. She plays Carole King with relish; bringing a youthful sparkle and drive in the first act, and then landing all the power and gravitas the second act demands.

    As is probably abundantly clear by now, the role of Carole King fits Melissa like a glove. She sings the heck out of the songs and her performance is assured, natural and exhilarating. As I stood watching the crowds line the street in front of the stage door for her autograph, I was certain that this is only the first of many Broadway moments yet to come for Melissa Benoist.

    NOTE:
    The national touring production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which features a different cast than the Broadway production, returns to Denver's Buell Theatre from Sept. 4-9. Ticket information 

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Shelley Butler, director of DCPA Theatre Company's Human Error, running through June 24 in the Garner Galleria Theatre, is also the ongoing Associate Director of Broadway's Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. She has more than 30 Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional credits to date and has worked extensively with writers on new plays and musicals. Previously she directed The Most Deserving at the DCPA, and next season returns for The Constant Wife. Recent productions include the world premiere of Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House Part 2 at South Coast Repertory and the Japanese premiere of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo. She has directed and developed work across the country for theaters including: Ars Nova, Primary Stages, E.S.T., Women’s Project, Hartford Stage, South Coast Repertory, Denver Center Theatre Company, GEVA, New York Stage and Film, Dallas Lyric Stage, PlayPenn, New Dramatists, the Lark, New Georges, Dixon Place, The Playwright’s Realm, Urban Stages, Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theatre and Keen Company.


    Melissa Benoist, second from top right, as Brigitta with Annaleigh Ashford (Liesl) in the Country Dinner Playhouse's 2000 staging of "The Sound of Music." In front of them is  Jesse JP Johnson, who is now in Broadway's "SpongeBob Squarepants."

  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'Human Error'

    by John Moore | Jun 05, 2018

    Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Compay's world-premiere comedy Human Error, by Eric Pfeffinger. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships. Featuring Marissa McGowan, Larry Bates, Joe Coots, Kimberly Gilbert and Wayne Kennedy. Directed by Shelley Butler. Runs through June 24 in the Garner Galleria Theatre. Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Photos below by Adams VisCom.

    Photo gallery: The production photos


    Human Error


    Human Error: Cast list

    Human Error: Creatives

    • Directed by Shelley Butler
    • Scenic Design by Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Design by Sara Ryung Clement
    • Lighting Design by Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Design by Jason Ducat
    • Dramaturgy by Sarah Lunnie
    • Stage management by Christopher C. Ewing
    • Assistant Stage Management by D. Lynn Reiland
    • Casting by Elissa Myers Casting

    Human Error: Ticket information

    HumanError_show_thumbnail_160x160After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through June 24
    • Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Human Error:
    Human Error:
    In comedy, your pain is our punchline
    Playwright on using comedy as a way of confronting our problems
    Five fun things we learned at first rehearsal
    Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America

    Video: Our interview with Eric Pfeffinger at the Colorado New Play Summit: 

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Human Error' playwright on comedy as a way of confronting our problems

    by John Moore | May 29, 2018
    Making of 'Human Error'

    Photos from opening night of 'Human Error' in Denver. Above, from left: Larry Bates, Joe Coots, Marissa McGowan, Kimberly Gilbert and Wayne Kennedy. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    (Note: Perspectives is a series of free public panel discussions held just before the first preview performance of each DCPA Theatre Company offering. Next up: Vietgone: 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, in the Jones Theatre.)

    Five things we learned at Perspectives: Right now is a pretty good time for all of us to sit back and have a laugh together

    By John Moore
    Senor Arts Journalist

    It’s not exactly breaking news that discourse in America is broken. But with ideological lines now drawn through the middle of American living rooms as definitively as borders, Human Error playwright Eric Pfeffinger and Director Shelley Butler think now might be a pretty good time for all of us to have a laugh together.

    Human Error Shelley Butler Eric Pfeffinger“I think we have to be realistic about the challenges we are facing as a nation, and we can't minimize the gravity of them, but there is something to be said for approaching the world with a sense of humanity and even optimism in terms of our capacity to deal with those problems,” Pfeffinger said before the first preview performance of his world-premiere play, now in performance at the Garner-Galleria Theatre through June 24.

    Human Error is Pfeffinger's comedy about two very different couples: One NPR-listening, latte-sipping, blue-state liberals; the other NRA-cardholding, truck-driving, red-state conservatives. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, the conservative wife is impregnated with the liberal wife’s fertilized embryo. Which sounds like an emotionally wrenching indie film that might inspire Oscar-worthy performances from the likes of, say, dramatic actors Tilda Swinton and Amy Adams.

    Yeah, not so much.

    “Most people would say: 'Oh, what a terrible tragedy for everybody involved.' And my reaction was: 'That could be a funny comedy,' Pfeffinger told audience members who gathered before the first preview performance of Human Error. “That's a strategy that I employ a lot as a writer: I take this thing that is not at all comedic for anybody involved and try to make it funny.”

    But something not so funny happened as Pfeffinger continued to develop his script after it was featured at the Denver Center’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit and then chosen for full production to close out the 2017-18 season. “I thought I was writing a fun comedy about reproductive technology — because who doesn’t love those?" he said. "But as I started getting into the world of the play, I realized it was increasingly about these two couples and the echo chambers they have chosen to isolate themselves within. Now that they are forced to spend nine months together working this thing out, they can no longer demonize and caricature these other people who don't think like they do. Because they learn to actually like each other in some fun and enlightening and surprising ways.

    “I went into the writing of this play thinking it was going to be a dark illustration of how impossible it is for us to understand one another — and how we are doomed as a people. But it turns out my play had a more human outlook on America than I do.”

    Here are five more things we learned at Perspectives:

    NUMBER 1

    Foot in mouth. Butler says Pfeffinger’s comedy-writing style is akin to situational comedy. Pfeffinger even provides a wink to the sit-com form by having his liberal dad-to-be — a black man named Keenan — work at a think-tank on the study of comedy, where he recently presented the topic: “Tumbling Over the Populist Footstool: Anti-Intellectualism in The Dick Van Dyke Show.” The kids may not know why that is so funny. But one of the most beloved opening sequences in TV history had Van Dyke (as Rob Petrie) come home from work and sometimes trip over his ottoman — and sometimes not. For six years, Americans never knew (and reportedly heavily bet on) whether Van Dyke would trip from week to week. The bit was dreamed up as a tribute to silent clowns from days of yore. Here’s the whole story.

    NUMBER 2

    Wet blanket. OK, a quick reality check: In-vitro fertilization is a $3 billion industry in the U.S., responsible for more than 1 million babies. And mistaken embryo implantation is a real thing, too. There is no concrete data on its incidence, but here’s one couple’s particularly harrowing account. More often than not, these cases tend to go under the radar. Failure can be especially devastating, as a single round of IVF can cost a couple up to $20,000.

    NUMBER 3

    The Doctor is off. After reading the above item above, you can imagine that the fertility doctor in Pfeffinger’s play must be a bumbling, mumbling idiot to make that kind of mistake. And he is, thanks in large part to the comedic stylings of BDT Stage veteran Wayne Kennedy. “It's possibly not the most flattering portrayal of a doctor in the American theatre,” Pfeffinger said. “I don't know that the play is going to be endorsed by the American Medical Association. But Wayne Kennedy does a fantastic job of creating this guy who's usually really good at this one very narrow, technologically specific branch of medicine — and then this thing goes wrong and suddenly he has to be good at working with people. ... And he's not good at working with people.” 

    Read more: Our complete interview with the playwright

    NUMBER 4

    The space case. Human Error is the first DCPA Theatre Company season offering ever presented in the Garner Galleria Theatre, more commonly home to ensemble musicals such as The Taffetas and First Date. And Butler says the space has presented several logistical challenges. Galleria shows typically offer wait service throughout the show, but that is not the case for Human Error because, well: A play is going on. “We're really happy for people to buy drinks in the bar and bring them with them into the theatre,” Butler said, “but this isn't a cabaret show.” The Galleria is also an intimate space but it does seat 200 in narrow rows that go back a long way. Careful not to lose any of the subtlety of the comedy, Butler has chosen to mic her actors in an inconspicuous way. “You may not even notice they are there, but the mics allow the actors to play the comedy the way the comedy wants to be played — and still reach the back of the house,” she said. "Eric has so many great throwaway lines (spoken as an aside, often no more loudly than a whisper), and with mics the actors don’t have to change their delivery in order for those lines to be heard.”

    NUMBER 5 Working for a living. As playwrights go, Pfeffinger is a big deal, having had his works performed at the Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky., the Geva Theatre Center in New York, the Denver Center and more. He’s also a librarian at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in Ohio — and didn’t get to attend Friday’s official opening performance because he had to work his shift. “Yes, playwriting is very lucrative,” Pfeffinger said with a laugh. “The day job is just for fun.” Actually, even successful playwrights juggle writing with all sorts of outside jobs to pay the bills. “Even Tony Kushner will say, 'If I'm weren't writing these screenplays, you wouldn't be getting these plays,’” Pfeffinger said. “That definitely influences the rhythm of my work. And when I have a great opportunity like this one in Denver, I have to take vacation time to do it. But I love working at the library. It keeps me in constant contact with a huge range of people — including the kinds of people who are in this play. I think working at the library informs my work as a playwright in an invaluable way.” But still, Butler added: “Every time Eric has to go back to the library, we get depressed.”

    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.

    Chris Coleman Human Error. Photo by John Moore
    Chris Coleman delivers his first opening-night curtain speech as the new Artistic Director of the DCPA Theatre Company, at 'Human Error.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Human Error: Cast list

    Human Error: Creatives

    • Directed by Shelley Butler
    • Scenic Design by Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Design by Sara Ryung Clement
    • Lighting Design by Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Design by Jason Ducat
    • Dramaturgy by Sarah Lunnie
    • Stage management by Christopher C. Ewing
    • Assistant Stage Management by D. Lynn Reiland
    • Casting by Elissa Myers Casting
    Video: Our interview with Eric Pfeffinger at the Colorado New Play Summit: 

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Human Error: Ticket information

    HumanError_show_thumbnail_160x160After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through June 24
    • Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Human Error:
    Human Error:
    In comedy, your pain is our punchline
    Playwright on using comedy as a way of confronting our problems
    Five fun things we learned at first rehearsal
    Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Human Error': In comedy, your pain is our punchline

    by John Moore | May 12, 2018
    HUMAN ERROR ERIC PFEFFINGER QUOTE. Photo by John Moore


    With this new comedy about a botched embryo implant, playwright posits: To err is human ... to laugh divine

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere comedy Human Error, a young couple goes to what they think is a routine appointment at a fertility clinic only to discover that their fertilized embryo has been mistakenly implanted into somebody else. 

    So, obviously … it’s a comedy. 

    “You know: Another one of your standard-issue switched-fertilized-embryo farces,” jocular Midwestern playwright Eric Pfeffinger says with a laugh. 

    It’s a funny premise … but you haven’t even gotten to the punchline yet. 

    “So one couple are blue-state, latte-sipping, NPR-listening liberals,” Pfeffinger said. “And the other are NRA-cardholding, pickup-truck-driving, red-state conservatives.” 

    Human Error rehearsal. Photo by John MooreThat’s the punchline: Two couples who, under normal circumstances, would never choose to be in the same room with each other, now will have to spend nine months building some kind of a family — and hopefully not killing each other along the way. 

    As they say in comedy, your pain is another guy’s pleasure. 

    (Rehearsal photo, from left, Kimberly Gilbert, Marissa McGowan and Wayne Kennedy. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 

    Human Error is a comedy about the state of the nation currently and the political polarization we are all grappling with,” Pfeffinger said of his play, which was featured at the Denver Center’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit only a month after Donald Trump’s inauguration. And, well, there’s been a bit more rancor since then.  

    “If anything, Americans’ inclination to isolate ourselves within comfortable ideological silos has only increased,” Pfeffinger said back on an April day when the national headlines were dominated by the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress. 

    The bad news is: Political, social and cultural polarization is just a given in America right now.

    “But the good news is: The worse things get, the better it is for my play,” Pfeffinger said with a smile. “So … yay?”

    Geography, technology and social status have made it easy for Americans to isolate themselves from anyone who doesn’t already think the same way they do, Pfeffinger said. That means we are only rarely confronted with contradictory or challenging points of view. But Pfeffinger has the power of the playwright in his fingers: He can put any two people he wants face-to-face on a stage. Or, in this case, he can put any two couples he wants face-to-face in the same bumbling fertility doctor’s office.

    “None of the people in my play know anybody else like the other couple,” Pfeffinger said. “They don’t have to confront the reality of someone who thinks differently until they are thrown together by this clerical mix-up at the clinic.” The play is not so much about the ethics of fertility technology, Pfeffinger says — as dramatic as that can be. “It’s more about the echo chambers we Americans often find ourselves in, and the defense mechanisms we adopt when we are forced to step outside our comfort zones and acknowledge that there are other people in the world who are not just like us.”

    But remember, Pfeffinger said his play is not a Lifetime movie event. He said it was funny. And not nasty, David Mamet kind of funny. “It’s BIG funny,” he said. “When I first heard about this kind of thing actually happening at fertility clinics, my first response was, ‘Oh that sounds like an episode of Three’s Company: “Wait, that’s not your embryo — that’s my embryo!” And … cut to commercial.’

    Human Error draws explicit connections to various kinds of classic comedy, particularly the TV sitcom, which is what I grew up mainlining.”  

    So really, Pfeffinger had no choice but to take a comic approach to the subject. It’s all he knows. 

    Human Error: Five funs things we learned at first rehearsal

    “Everyithing I write is a comedy. That’s how I function,” said Pfeffinger, who has past lives as both an improv comedian and a newspaper cartoonist. “Let’s take this thing that does not seem particularly funny to the people it is happening to and find the humor n it.”

    And after all that prolonged division and unrest in the country, he said, now might be a really good time for us to laugh. 

    “A lot of people embrace comedy as an opportunity to escape from what is stressful about the world,” Pfeffinger said. “I happen to believe that comedy is one of the best ways to confront difficult ideas and to examine and articulate those ideas. Comedy lowers your defenses by making you laugh.” 

    Human Error castPfeffinger has continued to hone the play in the 15 months since the Colorado New Play Summit, in close consultation with director Shelley Butler and dramaturg Sarah Lunnie. But not with the intent of either making the play more overtly funny or politically relevant.

    “Tonally, structurally and thematically, the play is pretty much the same now as it was at the Summit,” he said. “It’s more a matter of helping the play to become more of what it’s already wanting to be. That includes making the funny stuff funnier and the human stuff, uh, human-er.”

    Human Error will become the first Theatre Company season offering ever staged in the Garner Galleria Theatre, which will provide an intimate, cabaret-like atmosphere that will be new for many Theatre Company audiences. 

    “This is a play where the comedy comes from the audience connecting with these very different, very recognizable people,” Pfeffinger said. “I think where the audience and the performers are palpably sharing the same space and breathing the same air, that’s where comedy thrives.”

    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.


    Human Error at Tommy Photo by John Moore
    From left: Kimberly Gilbert, Director Shelley Butler, Playwright Eric Pfeffinger, Joe Coots, and Marissa McGowan of 'Human Error,' at the opening of DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Who's Tommy.' Not pictured: Larry Bates and Wayne Kennedy. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Human Error: Cast

    Human Error: Creatives

    • Directed by Shelley Butler
    • Scenic Design by Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Design by Sara Ryung Clement
    • Lighting Design by Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Design by Jason Ducat
    • Dramaturgy by Sarah Lunnie
    • Stage management by Christopher C. Ewing
    • Assistant Stage Management by D. Lynn Reiland
    • Casting by Elissa Myers Casting
    Video: Our interview with Eric Pfeffinger at the Colorado New Play Summit: 

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Human Error: Ticket information

    HumanError_show_thumbnail_160x160After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances May 18 through June 24
    • Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Human Error': Comedy won't draw a red or blue line in the sand

    by John Moore | Apr 30, 2018
    Making of 'Human Error'

    Photos from the making of 'Human Error in Denver. Above, from left: Joe Coots, Marissa McGowan, Larry Bates, Kimberly Gilbert and Wayne Kennedy at the first day of rehearsal for 'Human Error,' which has its first performance on May 18. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Director promises the only harm that may come from watching this world-premiere comedy is a busted gut

    By John Moore
    Senor Arts Journalist

    Rehearsals have begun for the DCPA Theatre Company's season-ending, world-premiere comedy Human Error, about what happens when you put two completely opposite young couples together with only one thing in common: A bumbling fertility doctor who has mistakenly implanted a fertilized embryo from one woman into the uterus of the other.

    You know: "Another one of your standard-issue switched-fertilized-embryo farces,” Ohio playwright Eric Pfeffinger said with a laugh.

    Human Error Shelley Butler Photo by John Moore One couple are NPR-listening, latte-sipping, blue-state liberal; the other NRA-card-holding, truck-driving, red-state conservatives. The conflict between them will be recognizable to anyone presently breathing in America. Keenan and Madelyn are mixed-race liberals. Jim and Heather are affluent Christians who love God, guns and having babies. Have them share an egg, and hilarity ensues. (If the response of those audiences who first saw the play as a reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit are to be believed.)

    But in this highly polarized time in America, Director Shelley Butler and her team are determined to keep the play from becoming no more injurious to anyone watching than perhaps a busted gut.

    "You could approach this staging with a really obvious red-and-blue set design, and go hard on the red-and-blue lighting, but we really endeavored not to do that," Butler said.

    "When Eric and I met three years ago, the political and cultural divide in our country had been building for decades — but I don't think either one of us knew that in 2018, his play would be more applicable than ever. Part of what I responded to in the play then is that Eric didn't approach any of these characters as caricatures. He really embraced the humanity in all of them. This play is unapologetically a comedy, but we are not setting any of these people up for ridicule." 

    Here are five more things we learned at first rehearsal: 

    NUMBER 1Get thee to the Galleria. Human Error will be the first DCPA Theatre Company season offering ever presented in the Garner Galleria Theatre, more commonly home to ensemble musicals such as The Taffetas and First Date. This unlikely venue for a play will provide an intimate, cabaret-like atmosphere that will be new for many Theatre Company subscribers. "We put in in the Galleria Theatre because it has that inherent feel of being compact and very personal," Theatre Company Associate Producer Grady Soapes said. Added Butler: "It really feeds into our populist approach to this production."

    NUMBER 2

    Border war! The play is set in Sylvania, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo whose northern border is the southern border of Michigan. Keenan and Madelyn live in Michigan, while Jim and Heather live on Sylvania. Anyone who knows that part of the Midwest also knows the antagonism between those two states is real. A lot of it has to do with perhaps the greatest rivalry in all of college sports, between the Ohio State and the University of Michigan football teams, but tere is an ideological divide as well. Human Error Sound Designer Jason Ducat knows of this all too well, having grown up in the border town of Bowling Green, Ohio, which is probably what the coiner of the term "spitting distance" had in mind. "We don't feel too highly about that state to the north," said Ducat, who couldn't even bring himself to say "Michigan."  

    NUMBER 3

    Book of Will Kimberly Gilbert Round House TheatreKennedy is back. Local audiences will be quick to recognize Wayne Kennedy in the role of the bumbling fertility doctor. Kennedy, who was a featured performer in Off-Center's recent immersive staging of The Wild Party, has been a familiar face on the BDT Stage in Boulder for 27 years, and he won all the awards for his portrayal of Tateh in productions of Ragtime at the Arvada Center and BDT Stage. The actors playing the two couples are mostly new to Denver. Big Joe Coots, who was a meanie in the national touring production of Kinky Boots, participated in a five-part video series for the DCPA NewsCenter while he was here. It was called "Kinky Qs," and in it, Coots tackled meaningful questions like, "Have you ever been bullied?" (His answer may surprise you.) Marissa McGowan toured through Denver with Les Miserables. Kimberly Gilbert was not in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere staging of The Book of Will — however, she did play Elizabeth Condell in the Round House Theatre's recent production in Bethesda, Md. (Photo above by Kaley Etzkorn.)  Larry Bates played Martin Luther King in South Coast Repertory's All the Way.   

    Read more: Our complete interview with the playwright

    NUMBER 4

    Director's roots. You may remember Director Shelley Butler from the Theatre Company's 2013 staging of Catherine Trieschmann's The Most Deserving, a world-premiere comedy about amateur art and amateur politics in a tiny West Kansas town. Butler already has her return trip to to Denver booked: She will be directing W. Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife from Sept. 21-Oct. 21 in the Space Theatre.

    NUMBER 5 We're only human-er: Pfeffinger has continued to hone his play in the 15 months since the Colorado New Play Summit, in close consultation with Butler and dramaturg Sarah Lunnie. But not with the intent of either making the play more overtly funny or politically relevant. “Tonally, structurally and thematically, the play is pretty much the same now it was at the Summit,” he said. “It's more a matter of helping the play to become more of what it's already wanting to be. That includes making the funny stuff funnier and the human stuff, uh, human-er.”

    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.


    Human Error at Tommy Photo by John Moore
    From left: Kimberly Gilbert, Diretor Shelley Butler, Playwright Eric Pfeffinger, Joe Coots, and Marissa McGowan of 'Human Error,' at the opening of DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Who's Tommy' last Friday. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Human Error: Cast:

    Human Error: Creatives

    • Directed by Shelley Butler
    • Scenic Design by Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Design by Sara Ryung Clement
    • Lighting Design by Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Design by Jason Ducat
    • Dramaturgy by Sarah Lunnie
    • Stage management by Christopher C. Ewing
    • Assistant Stage Management by D. Lynn Reiland
    • Casting by Elissa Myers Casting
    Video: Our interview with Eric Pfeffinger at the Colorado New Play Summit: 

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Human Error: Ticket information

    HumanError_show_thumbnail_160x160After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances May 18 through June 24
    • Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Deeper dive: A closer look at 'The Constant Wife'

    by John Moore | Apr 04, 2018

    Chris Coleman The Constant Wife. Photo by Adams VisCom
    Photo by Adams VisCom.



    Note: In this daily series, we will take a deeper dive into the eight titles recently announced on the DCPA Theatre Company's 2018-19 season. Today: The Constant Wife

    The Constant Wife

    • Written by: W. Somerset Maugham
    • Year: 1927
    • The Constant Wife 2005Director: Shelley Butler, who will first helm Human Error (May 18 in the Galleria Theater). In 2013, Butler directed the world premiere of Catherine Trieschmann's comedy The Most Deserving, which was later presented in New York.
    • Dates: Sept. 21-Oct. 21 (Opens Sept. 28)
    • Where: Space Theatre
    • Genre: Satire of manners
    • At a glance: As the intelligent, charming housewife of a successful and wealthy doctor, Constance Middleton would appear to have everything as she cheerfully plays her traditional role. But she knows far more than she’s willing to let on. This cheeky satire pokes holes in the expectations of relationships, fidelity and social roles that are just as relevant today as they were in the 1920s. The Constant Wife takes joy in the imperfections of life and applauds those who elude the strict confines of society to discover true happiness. 
    • Says Artistic Director Chris  Coleman: “I was knocked out the first time I read this play. It’s a hilariously witty, totally fresh, unbelievably modern look at marriage. It’s almost 100 years old, and it feels like it was written yesterday. Here you have this upper-class British family, and this very privileged woman finds out early on that her husband is having an affair with her best friend — and she's like, "Yeah ... so?" This woman learns how tackle the world on her own outside of any prescribed relationship. It’s delicious to watch her make those discoveries and forge her own economic future. I also think this is the kind of play that this company can do extraordinarily well.
    • The constancy of today: "This seems like the perfect play for the 'Me Too moment' of today," Coleman said, "because here you've got a wife who's has a total lack of sentiment on the subject of matrimony. She is the perfectly modern wife.
    • What the critics have said: "Maugham is concerned with the hypocrisy of the moral double standard imposed upon men and women, and recognizes, surely in advance of his time, that for a woman, the only important freedom is economic freedom. He is also willing, cynically perhaps, to castigate the modern wife of his period as, in the bitter words of his heroine: 'The prostitute who doesn't deliver the goods.' it is a perceptive enough attack on the upper‐middle-class English marriage of his age." — The New York Times' Clive Barnes in 1975.
    Constant Wives On Broadway, 'The Constant Wife' has been played by, from left, Katharine Cornell (1951), Ethel Barrymore (1926), Ingrid Bergman (1975) and Kate Burton (2005).

    • About the author: Maugham was a wildly popular British novelist and short-story writer who was reportedly the highest-paid author in the world throughout the 1930s. He was praised for having a clear, unadorned style, cosmopolitan settings and a shrewd understanding of human nature. He is perhaps best remembered for his novels Of Human Bondage (1915) and The Razor’s Edge (1944), the latter the story of a young American war veteran’s quest for a satisfying way of life.
    • Fun facts: Variety called Maugham’s protagonist in The Constant Wife “a perverse protofeminist — and an antecedent to the women of “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex and the City” ... The Constant Wife has been staged on Broadway four times, most recently in 2005 starring Kate Burton (daughter of Richard) as Constance. (Lynn Redgrave played her mother, pictured above and right). In 1975, Ingrid Bergman played Constance, Katharine Cornell in 1951 and Ethel Barrymore originated the role in 1927. So no pressure, 2018 Constance, whoever you turn out to be.


    TC-web-Season-Ann-800x30034(Artwork by  DCPA Senior Graphic Designer Kyle Malone.) 


    2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season at a glance:

  • Aug. 24-Sept. 30: Vietgone (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 7-Oct. 14: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 21-Oct. 21: The Constant Wife (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • Nov. 21-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019: Last Night and the Night Before (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019: Anna Karenina (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019: The Whistleblower (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • April 26-May 26, 2019: Sweat (Space Theatre) READ MORE

  • DCPA Theatre Company tickets and subscriptions:
    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are now available online at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy 30 percent off savings, free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season: In with the old ... and the new

    by John Moore | Apr 01, 2018
    Chris Coleman offers a play-by-play look at the 2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season, his first as the company's new Artistic Director. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Coleman's 40th anniversary season includes two world premieres, Tolstoy and an African-American Oklahoma!

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Incoming DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman has announced a 40th anniversary season he believes both honors the company’s past and boldly steps into the future — and in some intriguing examples, at the same time.

    Coleman will return to the company’s roots by presenting its third Rodgers and Hammerstein musical following previous stagings of Carousel and South Pacific. But Coleman is promising a fresh new look at Oklahoma! by telling the beloved story of a spirited rivalry between local farmers and cowboys from a mostly African-American perspective. Similarly, Coleman will offer adaptations of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and W. Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife, stories of women overcoming great societal barriers that may strike audiences as remarkably contemporary.

    A Last Night 800 1“It’s incredibly exciting to imagine what you want your first season at an organization to be,” said Coleman, who assumes his full-time Denver duties in May. "This company has long been known as a place where you can do really big, interesting, meaty, dramatic literature. One of the things that's exciting to me is to do something really traditional and then follow that with something that is brand new and edgy. That collision of styles and voices is really juicy to me.”

    Pictured above: Valerie Curtis-Newton, left, will return to again direct 2017 Colorado New Play Summit offering 'Last Night and the Night Before' on the mainstage season. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Coleman covers the traditional-to-edgy gamut with the announcement of both an eight-play Theatre Company season that includes three classics and two world premieres, as well as an innovative five-play slate from the company's adventurous Off-Center wing.  

    nataki-garrettWhen Coleman was named Artistic Director in November, he promised programming that will further the DCPA’s efforts to diversify its audiences, champion local storytelling and give voice to underserved communities. All five of the other mainstage directors he named today are women — and three of the playwrights are women or persons of color. Four if you count Off-Center's commission of a planned immersive hip-hop piece from This is Modern Art co-writer Idris Goodwin.
      

    The mainstage season includes two world-premiere plays: Donnetta Lavinia GraysLast Night and the Night Before, which was featured at the company’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, and Itamar MosesThe Whistleblower. With the exception of A Christmas Carol, which returns for a 26th year, every playwright and source writer (even Tolstoy) will be new to Theatre Company audiences except Nottage, whose Ruined was one of the most celebrated productions in company history In 2011.

    The Off-Center offerings, said Curator Charlie Miller, will complement the Theatre Company season and tell exciting stories in unconventional ways. “From original micro plays to new theatrical experiments to a large-scale immersive hip-hop show, Off-Center will take audiences into unexpected Denver spaces and showcase local artists, stories, and communities,” he said.

    Take a deeper dive into each play on the 2018-19 season

    The Theatre Company debuted on New Year’s Eve 1979 with The Caucasian Chalk Circle, starring Tyne Daly. Coleman says there is special significance to this being the 40th anniversary season because the company is old enough to have built an significant canon but also young enough to still have staff, artists and audience members who have been here all along — a lot of them.

    "As we step into the next chapter of the Theatre Company’s history, it's inspiring and energizing to look back on the extraordinary body of work that this company has brought to the region over the last 40 seasons," Coleman said. "What's really vivid to me is how many people have been around from Day 1. There are so many people who are really invested in the history and the future of this organization. So, to me, that's worth celebrating. And I view that as a launching pad for me.

    These playwrights and directors are the cream of the crop, and I look forward to the conversations these works will open up with the Denver community."

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

    Meet new Theatre Company Artistc Director Chris Coleman


    Chris Coleman 2018-19 season announcement


    2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season at a glance:

    • Aug. 24-Sept. 30: Vietgone (Ricketson Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Sept. 7-Oct. 14: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Stage Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Sept. 21-Oct. 21: The Constant Wife (Space Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Nov. 21-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019: Last Night and the Night Before (Ricketson Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019: Anna Karenina (Stage Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019: The Whistleblower (Space Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • April 26-May 26, 2019: Sweat (Space Theatre) DEEPER DIVE

    DCPA Theatre Company tickets and subscriptions: New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are now available online at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy 30 percent off savings, free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. BUY ONLINE

    2018-19 Off-Center season at a glance:

    • July 11-Aug. 22: Mixed Taste: Tag team lectures on unrelated topics (Wednesdays only, with MCA Denver, Seawell Ballroom)
    • Oct. 23-Nov. 18: Bite-Size: An evening of micro theatre (at BookBar)
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 24: The SantaLand Diaries (with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at The Jones)
    • March 2019: Powered by Off-Center (The Jones)
    • Dates TBA: Untitled Immersive Hip-Hop Show

    Off-Center ticket information: The single ticket on-sale date for all Off-Center productions will be announced at a later time. Subscriptions are not available for Off-Center shows.


    2018-19 THEATRE COMPANY SEASON: Title by title

    (Descriptions provided by DCPA Theatre Company)

    Vietgone

    • Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2016 VietgoneBy Qui Nguyen
    • Original music by Shane Rettig
    • Directed by Seema Sueko
    • Aug. 24-Sept. 30, 2018 (Opens Aug. 31)
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • Glance: This rap-spitting, pop culture-crusted dramedy is an ode to the real-life courtship of Playwright Qui Nguyen’s parents. Forced to leave their country during the height of the Vietnam War, two refugees find themselves at the same relocation camp in Arkansas – the land of Harleys, hot dogs and “howdy!” Before they find their way into each other’s arms, they’ll have to blaze a trail in their weird new world and leave behind the baggage they didn’t pack. Jump on this emotional ride for an adventure that hums with excitement as it hops across time and around the globe through the highs and lows of love.
    • Fun fact: Qui Nguyen is the self-described geeky playwright behind She Kills Monsters, which addressed stereotypes and social issues through the game “Dungeons and Dragons.”
    • Take a deeper dive into Vietgone

    (Pictured: Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2016 production of 'Vietgone,' courtesy Oregon Shakespeare Festival.)

    Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

    • Oklahoma!Music by Richard Rodgers; book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    • Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs
    • Original Dances by Agnes de Mille
    • Directed by Chris Coleman
    • Sept. 7-Oct. 14, 2018 (Opens Sept. 14)
    • Stage Theatre
    • Glance: With a spring in their step and a song in their hearts, cowboys, farmers and travelling salesmen alike have chased their destinies to a land that promises everything they could hope for: love, opportunity and a brighter future. The first collaboration by the legendary team of Rodgers and Hammerstein became a landmark musical for its rollicking music and stunning dance numbers, and this joyful presentation will solidify why it has stood the test of time. New DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman makes his DCPA directorial debut with this production, and he will set the story in one of the 50 all-African-American towns in the early days of the Oklahoma Territory. Discover an overlooked piece of American history as one small community stakes its claim on a place full of hope. The choreographer will be Dominique Kelley, a dancer in the film La La Land and the musical Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk.
    • Fun fact: Oklahoma! opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre 75 years ago Saturday, and the cast of the Denver-born Frozen marked the anniversary with a curtain-call singalong that you can watch at this YouTube link.
    • Take a deeper dive into Oklahoma!

    The Constant Wife

    • The Constant WifeBy W. Somerset Maugham
    • Directed by Shelley Butler
    • Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2018 (Opens Sept. 28)
    • Space Theatre
    • Glance: As the intelligent, charming housewife of a successful doctor, Constance Middleton cheerfully plays her traditional role. But she knows far more than she’s willing to let on. This cheeky satire pokes holes in the expectations of relationships, fidelity and social roles that were just as relevant in the 1920s as they are today. Featuring an infectiously plucky heroine at the helm, The Constant Wife takes joy in the imperfections of life and applauds those who elude the strict confines of society to discover true happiness. DCPA alum Shelley Butler (Human Error, The Most Deserving) returns to direct this contagious comedy.Fun fact: Variety calls Maugham’s protagonist “a perverse protofeminist — and an antecedent to the women of “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex and the City.”
    • Take a deeper dive into The Constant Wife

    A Christmas Carol

    • Sam Gregory A Christmas Carol. By Charles Dickens
    • Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    • Music by David de Berry
    • Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    • Nov. 21-Dec. 24, 2018 (Opens Nov. 29)
    • Stage Theatre
    • Glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, the Theatre Company’s joyous and opulent seasonal offering now in its 26th year 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. Note: This is an added attraction, not part of the Theatre Company subscription season.
    • Fun fact: Denver favorite Sam Gregory is scheduled to return for a third time as Scrooge.
    • Take a deeper dive into A Christmas Carol

    Last Night and the Night Before (world premiere)

    • Summit. Last Night. Donnetta By Donnetta Lavinia Grays
    • Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton
    • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019 (Opens January 25)
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • Glance: When Monique and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it shakes up Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly New York lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble and brings their family’s Southern roots with her, grabbing hold of Rachel’s life more ferociously than she could have ever imagined. Poetic, powerful and remarkably funny, Last Night and the Night Before play explores the struggle between the responsibilities that are expected of us and the choices we actually end up making.
    • Fun fact: This play was featured in the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Its original title was simply, Sam. The new title references a line from the children’s game "Last night and the night before, I met my baby at the candy store."
    • Take a deeper dive into Last Night and the Night Before


    Anna Karenina

    • TC-web-Season-Ann-400x3003By Kevin McKeon, adapted from the novel by Leo Tolstoy
    • Directed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman
    • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019 (Opens Feb. 1)
    • Stage Theatre
    • Glance: Love holds the power to bind us together or tear us apart, and no one knows better than Countess Anna Karenina. As a noblewoman and socialite, her glamorous lifestyle shrouds her unhappy marriage. But everything changes when she meets the dashing army officer Count Vronsky. She risks her social status, marriage, friends and family for the thrill of forbidden love. Anna Karenina uses the romantic backdrop of Tsarist Russia to tell a turbulent tale of passion and betrayal, dreams chased and lost, and the consequences of getting swept off your feet. Helmed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman, this lush, modern adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece brings the opulent setting and heart-wrenching story to life.
    • Fun fact: The play was made into a 2012 movie adapted by Tom Stoppard and featuring Keira Knightley and Jude Law.
    • Take a deeper dive into Anna Karenina


    The Whistleblower (world premiere)

    • itamarmoses whistleblowerBy Itamar Moses (pictured right)
    • Directed by TBA
    • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019 (Opens Feb. 15)
    • Space Theatre
    • Glance: For screenwriter Eli, an offer to finally create his own TV show should be the ultimate culmination of his goals, but instead shocks him into wondering why he had those dreams in the first place. Armed with a new sense of spiritual clarity, he sets out on a quest to serve up some hard truths to his coworkers, family, exes and friends. What could possibly go wrong? A lively world premiere about the lies we tell to protect ourselves  and how the tiniest gestures can have deep impact on those around us. Written by Itamar Moses, the award-winning author of the musical The Band’s Visit, currently on Broadway.
    • Fun facts: The Whistleblower was first introduced as a staged reading at South Coast Repertory’s 2015 Pacific Playwrights Festival in Costa Mesa, Calif. — alongside Vietgone. Also, Moses was an Executive Story Editor for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."
    • Take a deeper dive into The Whistleblower

    Sweat

    • TC-web-Season-Ann-400x3004By Lynn Nottage
    • Directed by Nataki Garrett
    • April 26-May 26, 2019 (Opens May 3)
    • Space Theatre
    • Glance: For the people of poverty-stricken Reading, Pa., work is so much more than a paycheck – it’s the glue that holds the town together. The floor of their central factory is where lifelong friendships are made, where love blossoms and where family members work side-by-side. But as layoffs become the new norm and a cheaper workforce threatens the viability of the local union, the threads that once kept the community together begin to fray. Sweat is an “extraordinarily moving drama,” said The New York Times, that powerfully contrasts life’s happiest highs with the heart-wrenching struggles of survival. Using warm humor and deep empathy, this 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner from Lynn Nottage (Ruined) paints a moving portrait of today’s working-class America in decline.
    • Fun fact: Nottage developed her play through interviews with actual former steelworkers in Reading.
    • Take a deeper dive into Sweat

    2018-19 OFF-CENTER SEASON: Title by title

    Mixed Taste: Tag team lectures on unrelated topics

    • Mixed Taste Aug 9Co-presentation with MCA Denver
    • July 11-Aug. 22, 2018 (Wednesdays only)
    • Seawell Ballroom
    • Glance: Returning for a second summer series, even mismatched subjects find common ground in this fun lecture forum that can go pretty much anywhere. Two speakers get 20 minutes each to enlighten you on unrelated topics, but can’t make any connections to each other. Ideas start to blend afterward, when audience members ask questions to both speakers and anything goes.
    • Fun fact: One clever example from last year’s series: “Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art.” Last year’s series emcee Suzi Q. Smith wrote a poem during each performance and read them at the end of every evening.
     

    Bite-Size: An evening of micro theatre

    • 2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS Gary Grundie Meridith C. GrundeiCreated and directed by Meridith Crosley Grundei
    • Oct. 23-Nov. 18, 2018
    • At BookBar, 4280 Tennyson St.
    • Glance:
    • Bite-Size brings you five short plays with bookish twists performed in and around BookBar, an independent bookstore and wine bar in the Tennyson Street Arts District. Grab tapas and drinks between the short performances of original works by Colorado-based artists. There is no better way to see a variety of local playwrights and performers in one place. Whether you’re a theatre geek, a bookworm or on the hunt for an off-beat night out, this evening will leave you eager to crack into a fresh hard-cover and dream up some tales of your own.
    • Fun fact: Director Meridith Grundei, a 2017 True West Award winner, packed up a used R.V. and hit the road with her husband and daughter in 2017 to travel the United States and Mexico for a year.


    The SantaLand Diaries

    • A Santaland Diaries Michael BouchardCo-presentation with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • By David Sedaris, adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
    • Directed by Stephen Weitz
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 24, 2018 (Opens Nov. 25)
    • The Jones Theatre
    • Glance: This acclaimed one-man show is based on David Sedaris’ best-selling memoir about his curmudgeonly experience working as a Macy’s SantaLand elf, once again featuring Michael Bouchard and Luke Sorge as David, and his devilish Macy’s persona, Crumpet the Elf. Think holiday shopping is brutal? Try being on the receiving end of Macy’s SantaLand madness in a pair of pointy shoes. This twisted tale is the cure for the common Christmas show and the perfect excuse to take a break from it all.
    • Fun fact: 2018-19 will mark the 10th anniversary of BETC’s annual holiday staging, the last seven in partnership with Off-Center. That will equal The Bug Theatre’s run of 10 seasonal The SantaLand Diaries starring Gary Culig.

    Powered by Off-Center

    • March 2019
    • The Jones Theatre
    • Glance: Discover your next favorite Colorado performer as they debut new work at the Denver Center. Off-Center is offering the spotlight to local creators of all kinds as they get their projects off the ground with the support of our team. We’re giving our local artistic community a new place to play and a platform to experiment, engage and excite us all. Performance dates and participating artists to be announced.

    Untitled Immersive Hip-Hop Show

    • Idris Goodwin 160Written by Idris Goodwin
    • Directed by Jenny Koons
    • Glance: Following the hit experiential shows Sweet & Lucky and The Wild Party, Off-Center is cooking up its next large-scale immersive adventure. Off-Center has commissioned playwright Idris Goodwin and New York-based director Jenny Koons (Burn All Night at American Repertory Theatre) to create a one-of-a-kind new hip-hop-inspired event. Title, location, dates, and details to be announced.
    • Fun fact: Goodwin is the director and co-writer of This is Modern Art, currently playing through April 15 in The Jones Theatre.

    Note: Due to the nature of live performance, all productions, prices and dates are subject to change.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2015 Summit Spotlight video: Catherine Trieschmann's 'Holy Laughter'

    by John Moore | Feb 21, 2015


    In Catherine Trieschmann's Holy Laughter, an Episcopal priest finds the reality of leading a church in the Eastern Plains of Colorado to be radically and comically different from what she learned in seminary. As she wrestles with church finances, eccentric parishioners, changing sexual mores and her own doubting heart, Abigail struggles to make peace with the realities of contemporary church life.

    Trieschmann also wrote last season's hit comedy, The Most Deserving. While Holy Laughter is set in the church, 'The play really has its fingers in some universal questions," Treischmann says.

    The cast includes Sadieh Rifai, Kelley Rae O’Donnell, Michael Santo, Kim Staunton, Chris Murray, Mehry Eslaminia and Chelsea Frye. The director is Shelley Butler. Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

    Of working at the DCPA, Trieschmann says:  "My relationship with the Denver Center has changed my life — and my ability to afford child care, honestly while I write. Knowing I can write a complicated, female protagonist, and that this theatre is going to embrace that? These things have been incredibly encouraging to me."

    For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

    THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES:
    Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
    Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
    Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
    Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho

    MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:

    Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
    Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

    'Holy Laughter.' Photo by Kyle Malone. Kelley Rae O'Donnell and Chris Murray have a laugh during 'Holy Laughter' rehearsal. Photo by Kyle Malone.
  • Summit cast lists: Familiar names, new names and ... Laurence Lau

    by John Moore | Feb 09, 2015

    A SUMMIT 800


    Preparations begin in earnest today for the 10th Colorado New Play Summit, and the first since the premiere showcase of new American works for the American Theatre expanded to two weeks.

    The four selected plays will be developed this week, presented to the public next weekend (Feb. 14-15), then go back into rehearsal for another round of improvements before being presented again the following weekend for the national theatre industry (Feb. 20-21). 

    Laurence LauThe cast lists have now been announced. One name that jumps out to pop-culture aficionados is Laurence Lau, who has made quite a name for himself as a theatre actor since becoming an international household name playing Greg (as in Greg and Jenny) on TV's All My Children. Lau last appeared in Denver playing the pedophile boyfriend in the national touring production of August: Osage County.

    Among the familiar names to DCPA Theatre Company audiences are Kim Staunton (black odyssey), Michael Santo (Death of a Salesman, Jackie & Me), Lise Bruneau (Heartbreak House), Nasser Faris (Inana), Victoria Mack (The 39 Steps) and Jessica Love (Map of Heaven). The ensembles also include Nick Mills and Mehry Iris Eslaminia, both of whom are appearing in the world premiere of Appoggiatura. Shelley Butler, who directed Catherine Trieschmann's hit comedy The Most Deserving last year, is back to helm Holy Laughter. No cast members from Benediction will be participating in Summit readings this year because of conflicting performance schedules.

    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.


    CAST LISTS:

    The There There
    By Jason Gray Platt
    Director: Courtney Sale
    Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    One couple traverses a lifetime in a single sitting in this expansive, stirring new play.  From their first touch in the present day through the next 45 years, the dynamics of their relationship fluctuate as quickly as the latest twists of technology. Packing an entire life into six potent scenes, Platt’s masterful dialogue probes the heart and questions what it means to hang on to humanity as the 21st century advances.

    Role: Actor
    Actor 1: Nick Mills
    Actor 2: Vin Kridakorn
    Actor 3: Melissa Recalde
    Actor 4: Nasser Faris
    Actor 5: Lenny Von Dohlen
    Actor 6: Lise Bruneau
    Reader: Heather Hughes



    The Crown

    By Theresa Rebeck
    Director: Adrienne Campbell-Holt
    For the small-town regulars at The Crown, life is an endless series of jokes and over-the-top conversations that liven up the neighborhood watering hole… until a well-heeled woman walks in and tries to buy the beautiful antique bar. A comedy with quirky humor and quick wit. A DCPA Theatre Company commission.

    Role: Actor
    Margo: Carly Street
    Patrick Wilcox: John Procaccino
    Barry: Brian D. Coats
    Nick Freelander: Laurence Lau
    Laila Freelander: Carine Montbertrand
    Sam: Victoria Mack
    Ned Batish: Kevin Berntson
    Irene Colatonio: Jessica Love
    Reader: Royce Roeswood


    Fade
    By Tanya Saracho
    Director: Jerry Ruiz
    Dramaturg: Stephanie Ybarra
    Mexican-born Lucia is hired to write for a Latina character on an L.A.-based TV series. She soon discovers that Abel, the Chicano studio custodian, has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows and she begins incorporating Abel’s insights into her scripts, Lucia’s professional stardom starts to rise, but her personal life only becomes more and more complicated. A DCPA Theatre Company commission.

    Role: Actor
    Lucia: Alejandra Escalante
    Abel: Eddie Martinez
    Reader: Amy Luna



    Holy Laughter

    By Catherine Trieschmann
    Director: Shelley Butler
    Dramaturg: Joy Meads
    An Episcopal priest finds the reality of leading a church is radically and hilariously different than what she learned in seminary. As she wrestles with church finances, eccentric parishioners, changing sexual mores and her own doubting human heart, Abigail struggles to make peace with the realities of contemporary church life. Hymns, liturgical dance and a wicked tongue lift this antic portrait of a small, struggling congregation to comic heights. Trieschmann wrote last season's hit comedy, The Most Deserving. A DCPA Theatre Company commission.

    Role: Actor
    Abigail: Sadieh Rifai
    Esther /Myra: Kelley Rae O’Donnell
    Lloyd / Victor: Michael Santo
    Martine / Vivienne: Kim Staunton
    Noah / Sam: Chris Murray
    Ensemble/Guitar and Vocals: Mehry Eslaminia
    Reader: Chelsea Frye


    For more information on the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit, or to order tickets, call 303-893-6030 or click here to go to the DCPA’s web site.
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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.