• Deeper dive: A closer look at 'Sweat'

    by John Moore | Apr 09, 2018

    In the video above, playwright Lynn Nottage and Broadway director Kate Whoriskey talk about connecting to the human experience with 'Sweat.'


    Note: In this daily series, we have been taking a deeper dive into the eight titles recently announced on the DCPA Theatre Company's 2018-19 season. Today we finish with Sweat

    Sweat

    • Written by: Lynn Nottage
    • Year: 2015
    • Director: Nataki Garrett
    • Dates: April 26-May 26, 2019 (Opens May 3)
    • Where: Space Theatre
    • Genre: Drama
    • Ruined. Photo by Terry Shapiro. About the author: Nottage is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter from Brooklyn. In a national survey conducted by the DCPA NewsCenter following the 2017 death of Edward Albee, Nottage placed third as the leading, living voice in American playwriting, behind only Tony Kushner and Sam Shepard (who has since passed away). "Lynn Nottage, like August Wilson before her, spotlights the marginalized without sentiment, sensationalism or a victim mentality," The Denver Post wrote in 2011. Sweat won the Pulitzer, an Obie Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and was nominated for a Tony Award. Ruined, which also won a Pulitzer, is set amid civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, based on the playwright's interviews with Congolese women, exposing largely unknown radical and violent injustice that happening in Africa. That made for one of the most remarkable productions in DCPA Theatre Company history in 2011. Nottage's Intimate Apparel has been presented at the Arvada Center and, just last month, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Nottage is currently an artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory. (Pictured above: Kim Staunton in the DCPA's 'Ruined.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.)
    • lynn-nottage QUOTEThe play at a glance: For the people of poverty-stricken Reading, Pa., work is  much more than a paycheck – it’s the glue that has held the town together for generations. 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. Using warm humor and deep empathy, Nottage paints a moving portrait of today’s working-class America in decline.
    • Says the playwright: "I very much wanted the play to be a conversation starter. I feel my role as an artist isn't to come up with solutions but to ask the right questions at the right moment.”
    • Says new DCPA Artistic Director Chris Coleman: "One of the things I love the most about Lynn Nottage is the way she takes an idea and makes it human. Lynn is a significant voice in the American theatre, and I’m thrilled we get to experience her work again. We’re also incredibly lucky to have a powerhouse director like Nataki Garrett at the helm of this important drama, and I look forward to taking the questions this play asks and diving deeper into conversations with the Denver community.”

    The N.Y. Times article that inspired Nottage to write Sweat

    • The author's influence: Nottage began working on the play in 2011 by interviewing residents of Reading, which at the time was, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, officially one of the poorest cities in America, with a poverty rate of 41 percent. Nottage was particularly influenced by a New York Times article reporting on that city. "Reading is a city that’s sort of hopelessly fractured along racial and economic lines," Nottage told the Village Voice. "When you’re there, you feel it."
    • What the critics have said about Sweat: The New York Times called Sweat "an extraordinarily moving drama that powerfully contrasts life’s happiest highs with the heart-wrenching struggles of survival." The play's characters have  been described as the same kind of disenfranchised blue-collar workers who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Michael Schulman of The New Yorker called Sweat "the first theatrical landmark of the Trump Era —  a tough yet empathetic portrait of the America that came undone." He also said Nottage's play "harks back to the working-class naturalism of Clifford Odets." Wrote Jeremy Gerard of Deadline: “No play in recent memory has shed more light on the crises and tribulations of America’s great retrenched working middle class than Sweat."
    • Notes on the play: Sweat was first performed by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2015. It moved to to Broadway after a sold out off-Broadway run at The Public Theater. The Broadway cast included Carlo AlbanLydia5, who made an indelible turn in the DCPA Theatre Company's Lydia in 2008 (pictured right. ... The action takes place in a fictional bar. The story tells of two meetings: One between a parole officer and two ex-convictl the other three women who were childhood friends working in the same factory. Switching scenes from the present with eight years before, Nottage shows how events take these characters on divergent pathways ... Lower education generally means higher poverty.  Just 8 percent of Reading residents have a bachelor’s degree. The national average is 28 percent.

    TC-web-Season-Ann-800x3004
    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

  • Five things to know about Sunday's Tony Awards

    by John Moore | Jun 09, 2017
    Dear-Evan-Hansen-You-Will-Be-Found-4645-Photo-Credit-Matthew-Murphy 800
    'Dear Evan Hansen,' which will launch its national touring production in Denver in October 2018, is nominated for nine Tony Awards on Sunday, including Best Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 

    Broadway's big night is a valley of the 'Dolls':
    A Doll’s House Part 2 and Hello Dolly! among leaders

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Hamilton has brought more widespread pop-culture attention to Broadway theatre than any musical in decades. And that helped make last year’s Tony Awards telecast the most-watched in 15 years. But as an awards program, it was also something of a fait accompli for viewers as Hamilton racked up 11 trophies.

    A year later, with Hamilton still running strong but out of awards contention, Sunday’s Tony Awards, hosted by Kevin Spacey, promises to spread the focus around.

    160x600_TuneinBanners_1199Think of Times Square as the Valley of the ‘Dolls’: A Doll’s House Part 2 and Hello Dolly! are among this year's wide-ranging favorites.

     “Compared to last year, where the vast majority of the award attention was centered around Hamilton, this year has many more competitive categories and unknowns,” said John Ekeberg, Executive Director of DCPA Broadway and a Tony Awards voter. “I expect there to be much more drama, shall we say.”

    Broadway introduced 13 new musicals this past season. That's the highest number in 35 years, and it doesn't include five revivals. That means few clear frontrunners this year, Ekeberg said, which should make the 2017 awards unusually competitive.

    Leading the musical field with 12 nominations is Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, followed by the emotionally visceral Dear Evan Hansen, with nine. Come From Away is a potential dark horse, with seven. (See play descriptions below.)

    David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter breaks down the races

    It was recently announced that Denver will launch the first national touring production of Dear Evan Hansen in October 2018. Director Michael Greif, who also helmed the groundbreaking musicals Rent and Next to Normal, told the DCPA NewsCenter, “Dear Evan Hansen is a cathartic story about a kid who comes to love himself. And it's about a grieving family that gets healed.” Read our full interview here.

    The favorites among new plays are Lucas Hnath's A Doll's House, Part 2, with eight nominations, and J.T. Rogers' Oslo, with seven. Hnath also wrote The Christians, which was presented by the DCPA Theatre Company this last season.

    Celebrity nominees include Cate Blanchett, Kevin Kline, Laura Linney, Chris Cooper, Josh Groban, David Hyde Pierce, Danny DeVito, Nathan Lane, Richard Thomas, Patti LuPone, Cynthia Nixon and Sally Field. But most eyes will be fixed on Bette Midler, who is starring in a fun revival of Hello, Dolly!, which is nominated for 10 awards.

     “I can’t wait to see how it all sorts out,” said Ekeberg.

    The awards will be telecast on a one-hour delay at 7 p.m. Sunday on CBS-4 Denver. For those who just can’t wait, you can stream the awards live online here.

    Five things to know about Sunday’s Tony Awards

    NUMBER 1laurie-metcalfA Doll's House Part 2 claims the rare distinction of having earned nominations for its entire four-member cast, including Laurie Metcalf (pictured right), the runaway favorite to win for lead actress in a play.

    NUMBER 2There’s a fun twist to the Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical category. The nominees include Gavin Creel (Hello, Dolly!) and Andrew Rannells (Falsettos), both of whom played Elder Price in Broadway’s The Book of Mormon.

    NUMBER 3Celebrity presenters will include Scott Bakula, Sara Bareilles, Orlando Bloom, Glenn Close, Brian d’Arcy James, Tina Fey, Sutton Foster, Josh Gad, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Groff, Mark Hamill, Taraji P. Henson, Allison Janney, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Kendrick, John Legend, John Lithgow, Patina Miller, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chazz Palminteri, Sarah Paulson, Lea Salonga and Tommy Tune.

    NUMBER 4Performers will include the casts of Bandstand, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Falsettos, Groundhog Day The Musical, Hello, Dolly!, Miss Saigon, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 and War Paint, along with additional performances by The Radio City Rockettes and Tony Award winners Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr.

    NUMBER 5Annaleigh AshfordIf you heard all the great buzz about Jake Gyllenhaal and Wheat Ridge native (and past Tony Award winner) Annaleigh Ashford in Sunday in the Park with George, you may wonder why the show isn’t among the mix of nominees. The producers withdrew the show from Tony Award consideration. Their statement: "With a season so full of tremendous, soon-to-be long-running new musicals and revivals, the producers feel this extremely limited, special run of Sunday stands most appropriately outside of any awards competition. The production is nevertheless proud to be part of such a landmark Broadway season.”

    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.

    NOMINATIONS FOR 2017 TONY AWARDS

    BEST PLAY

    A Doll's House, Part 2
    Author: Lucas Hnath
    The reimagined Ibsen classic considers what has and hasn't changed in terms of gender politics in the past 140 years.

    Indecent
    Paual_VogelAuthor: Paula Vogel
    Indecent
    recounts the controversy surrounding the play God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch, for which the cast of the original production were arrested on the grounds of obscenity.

    Oslo
    Author: J.T. Rogers
    Oslo
    shapes nine months of secret back-channel peace negotiations into a riveting political thriller.

    Sweat
    Author: Lynn Nottage
    This working-class drama, set in 2008, tells the story of a group of friends whose friendships come apart when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust. Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.


    BEST MUSICAL

    Come From Away
    Set in the week following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Come From Away tells the true story of what transpired when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon.

    Dear Evan Hansen
    The story of a lonely boy who perpetuates a lie that earns him Internet fame.

    Groundhog Day The Musical
    Based on the 1993 film of the same name, the plot centers an arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again.

    Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
    . A brilliantly conceived electro-poperatic retelling of a chapter of War and Peace


    Best Book of a Musical

    Come From Away
    Irene Sankoff and David Hein

    Dear Evan Hansen

    Steven Levenson

    Groundhog Day The Musical
    Danny Rubin

    Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Dave Malloy


    Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

    Come From Away
    Music and Lyrics: Irene Sankoff and David Hein

    Dear Evan Hansen
    Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

    Groundhog Day The Musical
    Music and Lyrics: Tim Minchin

    Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Music and Lyrics: Dave Malloy


    Best Revival of a Play

    August Wilson's Jitney
    John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation
    Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes

    Present Laughter



    Best Revival of a Musical

    Falsettos
    Hello, Dolly!

    Miss Saigon



    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

    Denis Arndt, Heisenberg
    Chris Cooper, A Doll's House, Part 2
    Corey Hawkins, John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation
    Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
    Jefferson Mays, Oslo


    Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

    Cate Blanchett, The Present
    Jennifer Ehle, Oslo
    Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
    Laura Linney, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
    Laurie Metcalf, A Doll's House, Part 2


    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

    Christian Borle, Falsettos
    Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Andy Karl, Groundhog Day The Musical
    David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
    Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen


    Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

    Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Christine Ebersole, War Paint
    Patti LuPone, War Paint
    Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
    Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon


    Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

    Michael Aronov, Oslo
    Danny DeVito, Arthur Miller's The Price
    Nathan Lane, The Front Page
    Richard Thomas, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
    John Douglas Thompson, August Wilson's Jitney


    Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

    Johanna Day, Sweat
    Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll's House, Part 2
    Cynthia Nixon, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
    Condola Rashad, A Doll's House, Part 2
    Michelle Wilson, Sweat


    Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

    Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
    Mike Faist, Dear Evan Hansen
    Andrew Rannells, Falsettos
    Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos


    Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

    Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!
    Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
    Jenn Colella, Come From Away
    Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
    Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia


    Best Scenic Design of a Play

    David Gallo, August Wilson's Jitney
    Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong
    Douglas W. Schmidt, The Front Page
    Michael Yeargan, Oslo


    Best Scenic Design of a Musical

    Rob Howell, Groundhog Day The Musical
    David Korins, War Paint
    Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!


    Best Costume Design of a Play

    Jane Greenwood, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
    Susan Hilferty, Present Laughter
    Toni-Leslie James, August Wilson's Jitney
    David Zinn, A Doll's House, Part 2


    Best Costume Design of a Musical

    Linda Cho, Anastasia
    Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
    Paloma Young, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Catherine Zuber, War Paint


    Best Lighting Design of a Play

    Christopher Akerlind, Indecent
    Jane Cox, August Wilson's Jitney
    Donald Holder, Oslo
    Jennifer Tipton, A Doll's House, Part 2


    Best Lighting Design of a Musical

    Howell Binkley, Come From Away
    Natasha Katz, Hello, Dolly!
    Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Japhy Weideman, Dear Evan Hansen


    Best Direction of a Play

    Sam Gold, A Doll's House, Part 2
    Ruben Santiago-Hudson, August Wilson's Jitney
    Bartlett Sher, Oslo
    Daniel Sullivan, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
    Rebecca Taichman, Indecent


    Best Direction of a Musical

    Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
    Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
    Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen
    Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day The Musical
    Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!


    Best Choreography

    Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
    Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, Groundhog Day The Musical
    Kelly Devine, Come From Away
    Denis Jones, Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical
    Sam Pinkleton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812


    Best Orchestrations

    Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, Bandstand
    Larry Hochman, Hello, Dolly!
    Alex Lacamoire, Dear Evan Hansen
    Dave Malloy, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812


    Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories

    Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre

    James Earl Jones 

    Special Tony Award
    Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, Sound Designers for The Encounter

    Regional Theatre Tony Award
    Dallas Theater Center

    Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
    Baayork Lee

    Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
    Nina Lannan
    Alan Wasser


    Tony Nominations by Production

    Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 - 12
    Hello, Dolly!
    - 10
    Dear Evan Hansen
    - 9
    A Doll's House, Part 2
    - 8
    Come From Away
    - 7
    Groundhog Day The Musical
    - 7
    Oslo
    - 7
    August Wilson's Jitney
    - 6
    Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes
    - 6
    Falsettos
    - 5
    War Paint
    - 4
    Indecent
    - 3
    Present Laughter
    - 3
    Sweat
    - 3
    Anastasia
    - 2
    Bandstand
    - 2
    The Front Page
    - 2
    John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation
    - 2
    Miss Saigon
    - 2
    Arthur Miller's The Price
    - 1
    The Glass Menagerie
    - 1
    Heisenberg
    - 1
    Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical
    - 1
    The Play That Goes Wrong
    - 1
    The Present
    - 1

    Have fun: Tony Awards trivia


    Follow along on social:

    #TonyAwards2017
    www.TonyAwards.com

    Some information in this report was culled from national media reports.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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