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

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

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 30: The Breakouts

    Steven J. Burge and Jeremy Rill


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

    The comedian and the crooner.

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

    Something's gotta give.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues after the photo.)

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


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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Coming Sunday: 2017 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues below the video.)


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards (to date)

     

  • 2017 True West Award: Sammie Joe Kinnett

    by John Moore | Dec 10, 2017
    True West Award Sammie Joe Kinnett
    Photo at right by Zachary Andrews.

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 10: Sammie Joe Kinnett

    Arvada Center
    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Sammie Joe Kinnett is one of the hundreds who started 2017 adrift in grief over the death of Murray Ross.

    Ross founded TheatreWorks as part of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1975 and for the next 42 years, he built it into a fertile incubator of young hearts and minds. Some of them were not even his students. Kinnett, for one, was a teenage community-college dropout who, through Ross, found a mentor — and a home — on a campus he didn’t even attend.

    "Ross was a divining rod of talent," said frequent Colorado Springs Director Geoffrey Kent. When Ross met Kinnett, he didn’t see a dropout. He saw his next Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He saw his future co-writer and the co-star of an original piece they developed together called I Am Nikola Tesla.

    sammie joe-15-m242x323“Murray was able to see when there was something special in someone,” said Kinnett, "and he was able to bring it out in them just by sheer belief.” Ross certainly brought it out in Kinnett, who developed into one of the most intelligent and consistently working comic actors in theatres across Colorado Springs.

    And so when Ross died in January, Kinnett confronted his own profound sadness and honored his mentor by going out and making people laugh. First in a revelatory take on the title character in the warhorse comedy The Foreigner at the Arvada Center. Then by putting a more humane spin on The SantaLand Diaries, David Sedaris’ comic monologue about working as a Macy’s elf (playing through Dec. 23). Both plays were directed by Kent, who calls Kinnett “the ‘fire and forget’ missile of comedians.”

    When he says that, he’s invoking the military term for a projectile that never fails to hit its target. “Once launched in any given direction,” Kent elaborated, “Sammie rockets forward with 110 percent commitment.”  

    Audiences saw a whole different side of Kinnett's comic skills when he played Sancho to Stephen Day's Henry Award-winning Cervantes in Man of La Mancha for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Reviewer Bill Wheeler wrote the casting of Kinnett as Sancho was brilliant, and that "he’s the finest comedic actor working in Colorado Springs."

    True West Awards Sammie Joe Kinnett The Foreigner Arvada CenterThe Foreigner
    has been done and doner since playwright Larry Shue (M*A*S*H) debuted it in 1983. But everything about the tired old comedy felt fresh at the Arvada Center — even, sadly, its intentionally racist overtones that felt uncomfortably contemporary in the wake of the Charlottesville riots. Kinnett played a pathologically shy young Brit who pretends not to speak English to avoid interacting with the rubes visiting a fishing lodge in rural Georgia.

    The reason it felt so fresh, said Drew Martorella, Executive Director of UCCS Presents, is because everything seems to when filtered through Kinnett’s playful lens.

    “Sammie Joe has an innocence about him that allows you to see the world through his eyes — and that is a great vehicle to allow comedy to happen,” Martorella said.

    (Pictured at right: Sammie Joe Kinnett, center, with Jessica Robblee, left, Lance Rasmussen (back) and Edith Weiss in the Arvada Center's 'The Foreigner.' M. Gale Photography.)

    'Murray Ross put beauty and goodness out into this world'

    Kinnett is a great physical comedian who uses his body as a readily available tool just as a painter uses a paintbrush or a mechanic uses a tire iron — and that was on confident display in The Foreigner. This was not the first time on a Denver stage for Kinnett, who turned two memorable summer seasons at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. But for many, The Foreigner was an introduction worthy of a classic comedy double-take. Take a gander at what the impressed critics had to say:

    • Joanne Ostrow, The Denver Post: “The Foreigner is a particular triumph for Sammie Joe Kinnett, who, through a mix of lithe physical antics, deft dialect work and spot-on timing, brings Charlie to life.”
    • Juliet Wittman, Westword: “Sammie Joe Kinnett sports a goofy, all-stops-out physicality and a gutsy, crazed creativity that lets him try anything and go anywhere for a laugh — the result being gales of laughter from the audience.”

    Ross would have loved seeing Kinnett in this exquisitely executed role, Kent said. Here was this now fully grown-up actor putting on a confident comedy clinic that was fully gained through hard knocks and hard experience. And yet it was infused with a joyful spirit of reminiscent of Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful). Kinnett's humanity even bleeds through his current take on Sedaris’ famously cynical SantaLand elf in Colorado Springs.

    "TheatreWorks made a bold choice," writes the (unnamed) critic for the website Springs on Stage:  "They gave Crumpet a soul.

    "Kinnett brings a wild energy and warmth to the show,” the reviewer goes on to say. “This Crumpet wants to care — he’s just waiting for something that’s worth caring about. It’s a touching blend of deviance and heart.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    And as most any comedian will tell you, successful comedy is often born through life’s rockiest transitions. Over their decade together, Ross watched Kinnett grow up, fall in love, get married, become a father — and then a single father.

    Ross did live to see that his former community-college dropout is now enrolled at UCCS studying for a degree in Performing Arts and Psychology. It seems the more complicated Kinnett’s life has become, the better he’s become as an actor who floats easily from screwball farce to Shakespeare (sometimes at the same time).

    Man-of-La-Mancha_3“We would rehearse for The SantaLand Diaries from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Colorado Springs, and then Sammie would drive to Arvada to perform in The Foreigner that night — all as a full-time student and single dad,” Kent said. “I don’t know how he did it.”

    Kent might not know how Kinnett did it, but he is certain Ross has had everything to do with Kinnett’s now more widely recognized statewide success.

    “Sammie Joe is now equipped with the deep pathos to pair with that classic spit take,” Kent said. “He’s the complete package.”

    (Pictured at right: Sammie Joe Kinnett as Sancho in 'Man of La Mancha' for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Photo by Jeff Kearney.)  

    Martorella believes Kinnett “may be the most generous, most humorous, most accommodating performer we have ever turned out here in Colorado Springs,” he said. “We’re proud that we still have him, and we’re glad he’s still making people laugh.”

    Whatever "that thing" Kinnett has may be indefinable. Martorella knows only one simple thing:

    “Sammie Joe just makes me smile.”

    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.

    Sammie Joe Kinnett: 2017

    • The Hairy Ape, Colorado Springs TheatreWorks (Assistant Director)
    • The Foreigner, Arvada Center
    • The SantaLand Diaries, Colorado Springs TheatreWorks (Actor)

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

  • Video playlist: Our 2017 Henry Awards coverage

    by John Moore | Jul 27, 2017


    This, the third in our series of DCPA NewsCenter videos from the 2017 Henry Awards, offers part of the presentation of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award to Germinal Stage-Denver co-founders Denver Ed Baierlein and Sallie Diamond.

    Ed Baierlein. BLF Photography. Of her husband, Diamond said: "I don't think there is anybody I have ever seen who has brought me to the theatrical catharsis that you are supposed to have when you see someone on stage. He's very funny. He's very touching. He can make you cry. He can make me cry."

    The award was presented by their son, Tad Baierlein. Germinal Stage-Denver is currently presenting Seascape, by Edward Albee, through Aug. 20 in the black-box theatre at Westminster High School, 6933 Raleigh St. Call 303-455-7108.

    The Colorado Theatre Guild's 12th annual Henry Awards were held on July 17 at the PACE Center in Parker.

     

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. More videos will be added to this special YouTube playlist.

    Previous 2017 Henry Awards videos:
    2017 Henry Awards Outstanding Musicals in performance
    Watch our 2017 Memoriam video honoring those who have died

    Complete NewsCenter coverage of the 2017 Henry Awards:

    Our complete photo coverage of the 2017 awards
    2017 Henry Award nominations make way for the new
    Nominations: Henry Awards spreads love from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins


    Our complete photo gallery from the 2017 Henry Awards:

    2017 Henry Awards Photos by Brian Landis Folkins and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the forward arrow above.

  • 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: Daniel Langhoff

    by John Moore | Dec 15, 2016
    Daniel Langhoff

     



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff

    When a man is diagnosed with cancer, he tends to take stock. Make a bucket list. Daniel Langhoff made a bucket list of dream roles - both of them dreamers: Tateh, the immigrant single father in the epic musical Ragtime, and the chivalrous knight Don Quixote in the epic musical Man of La Mancha.

    Both characters are kind, inventive men who see the world not as it is, but how it should (or could) be. “They are both Daniel,” said director Kelly Van Oosbree, the director of both productions for Performance Now Theatre Company in Lakewood.

    Daniel Langhoff picked the year he got his life back to have the year of his life as an actor.

    A Daniel Langhoff QuoteA year ago, when Langhoff was just beginning a six-month round of chemotherapy, he got word that Performance Now would soon be staging Ragtime. He called Van Oosbree to express his interest in playing Tateh, the poor inventor who rises to become one of the most prominent silent-film directors of the era.

    “I remember thinking, ‘How in the hell is this going to happen?’ ” Van Oosbree said. This was December, just a few months after Langhoff married, became a father and was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. Van Oosbree knew he had just begun chemotherapy.

    “I couldn’t wrap my brain around it because if were in the same situation, I wonder how I would even cope,” she said. “But Daniel did not let cancer stop him from doing anything.”

    Quite the contrary. Langhoff had surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes in October – then immediately joined the cast of the DCPA Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, fitting rounds of chemo into 10-show weeks at the Denver Center. Then, on to Ragtime.

    Langhoff, 41, had strong sentimental and professional reasons for wanting to play Tateh.

    He had played the homegrown terrorist known as “Younger Brother” in a remarkable production of Ragtime for the Arvada Center in 2011, and he now wanted to complete the circle by playing Tateh for Performance Now. Like Tateh, Langhoff was now a first-time father, having welcomed daughter Clara into the world with wife Rebecca Joseph earlier in the year.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “As a father and a dreamer, Tateh was a role that speaks to him,” Van Oosbree said. As surely will the  imprisoned author Miguel de Cervantes, the chivalrous and blindly hopeful dreamer who sees beauty in brokenness and uses the power of storytelling to save his own life. Langhoff, in his own way, has used storytelling, insistent optimism, the love of family – and amazing advancements in medicine – to save his own.

    Arvada center 40. Daniel Langhoff. Provided by the Arvada Center, Matthew Gale Photography 2016.In July, he was declared cancer-free. He celebrated by performing as a featured vocalist in the Arvada Center's 40th anniversary concert outdoors alongside fellow big-time local musical-theater stars Megan Van De Hey, Lauren Shealy and Stephen Day, accompanied by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. (Picture above by Matthew Gale Photography). He then played the Rev. John Hale in Arthur Miller’s classic The Crucible for Firehouse Theater Company. The minister is the dupe who comes to Salem intent on seeing witchcraft at play. Currently he's appearing in the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's regional premiere of the madcap Every Christmas Story Ever Told though Dec. 24. After Man of La Mancha (Jan. 6-22), he will join the ensemble of Jesus Christ Superstar for the Arvada Center (March 24-April 16), then perform the music of Johnny Cash in Ring of Fire for Vintage Theatre (June 23-Aug. 6).

    Daniel Langhoff and Anna Eastland in Ragtime. Photo by Rachel D. Graham PhotographyVan Oosbree said it was a coup for her to get Langhoff to even audition for Ragtime. Not because Performance Now doesn’t do great work, but because it’s not a place where an actor makes a living. “And Daniel was making a living as an actor,” Van Oosbree said. “You come to Performance Now because you love it, and Daniel loved it. It really, really meant something for him to play Tateh – and it meant something to all of us that he wanted to do it here.

    “Daniel doesn’t care about the money. He cares about doing thought-provoking, meaningful theater.”

    But there’s no question, Van Oosbree said, that Langhoff’s battle with cancer enhanced his portrayal of Tateh. It made his performance somehow deeper and richer; sweeter and more soulful, she said.

    “I think anyone who goes through something like that realizes how important and brief our time is,” she said. “And that makes you more grateful for the time that you have.”

    Langhoff is not winning a True West Award for overcoming cancer. He’s winning a True West Award for overcoming cancer as a new husband and father, all while conquering one big role after another, and maintaining an uncommon kindness and humility throughout.

    (Photo above and right: Daniel Langhoff and Anna Eastland in 'Ragtime.' Photo by Rachel D. Graham Photography.)

    Daniel Langhoff/At a glance

    • High School: Cherry Creek
    • College: Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • DCPA connection: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre; A Christmas Carol for the DCPA Theatre Company
    Daniel Langhoff and Lisa Kraai in The Crucible. Photo by Christine Fisk.
    Daniel Langhoff and Lisa Kraai in Firehouse's 'The Crucible.' Photo by Christine Fisk.


    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: Daniel Langhoff presents Community Impact Award to Denver Actors Fund:

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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.

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