• Look back: 2018 Colorado New Play Summit got real

    by John Moore | Feb 26, 2018
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Our gallery of photos above includes nearly 300 images from the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos Photos by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore and Adams Viscom.

    Readings explored contemporary social issues through the lens of real stories taken from the recent and distant past

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Perhaps more so than ever, the Denver Center’s 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit explored complex contemporary social issues through the lens of real stories taken from both the recent and distant past.

    Summit 2018 The Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, a forgotten pre-Civil War slave trial and a horrible, headline-grabbing drunk-driving tragedy were among the real-life inspirations for the Summit’s four featured readings, all of which become instant candidates for consideration to be fully staged in the future.  

    The Colorado New Play Summit has grown into one of the nation’s premier showcases of new plays. Since 2006, the Summit has workshopped 54 new plays, leading to 31 fully produced world premieres as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s mainstage season. At this year’s Summit, more than 800 attendees also were treated to a record three fully staged world premieres: American Mariachi, The Great Leap and Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.

    But history of another kind was made on Saturday when the topic of gender identity was addressed on a Denver Center stage for the first time in its nearly 40-year history, and it came from a most unexpected source. A teenage boy uttered the words, “Dad, I’m non-binary” in high-schooler Noah Jackson’s play Wine Colored Lip Gloss during public readings of DCPA Education’s three statewide student playwriting competition winners.

    “It means so much to me that the Denver Center allowed my story to be heard,” said Jackson, who attends Girls Athletic Leadership School. “I had someone come up to me in tears saying that my play touched her so much. I am just over the moon that people are actually feeling the words that I have worked so hard on.”  

    2018 Summit: A look at all four featured plays

    The 2018 Summit came as DCPA Theatre Company leadership continues to transition from Summit founder Kent Thompson to incoming Artistic Director Chris Coleman, who told the Friday night crowd the Summit was “a great calling card” for the job he is about to embrace. “A festival like this is impossible at a lot of theatres around the country,” he said. “But new-play development is creativity at its most pure. There is enormous joy and heartache in watching something come out of nothing. And I want to be a part of the future of this organization's voice around the country.”

    (Story continues below the video)

    Video: Our interviews with all four featured playwrights

    Press play to watch all four of our short spotlight videos.


    The four featured Summit readings at a glance
    :

    • A Summit Playwrights Social Barbara Seyda’s Celia, A Slave recalls a 19-year-old African-American slave in Missouri who was convicted of killing her master in 1855 and hanged.
    • Kemp Powers’ Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue is the story of mixed-race twins who are genetically the same but to the entire outside world, one is perceived as black, and one is perceived as white.
    • David Jacobi’s The Couches takes its cue from the real-life story of a 16-year-old Texas boy who drove drunk and killed four people. His lawyer successfully argued the boy had “affluenza" — meaning he was too rich to know right from wrong.
    • Sigrid Gilmer's Mama Metallica is the story of a woman who copes with her mother's dementia through her muse: The heavy-metal band Metallica. "What makes you laugh will make you cry," she said.

    “This is a precious and fragile time in the life of these plays and that's because they are reflecting life which is also so fragile, as we have learned in these past couple of weeks,” said Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett,” referring to the Florida school shooting. “And that's why it’s so important to support new work and nurture it and fund it and produce it and give it to the world. That's our responsibility: To keep life moving forward. And I like to think of the Summit as the beginning of that.”

    (Pictured at right: From 'Celia, A Slave', from left: Jada Dixon, Owen Zitek, Director Nataki Garrett, Celeste M. Cooper.)

    Celia A Slave. Summit. Photo by John MooreThe Colorado New Play Summit allows for two weeks of development of each new play, culminating in a first round of public readings. Playwrights then take what they learn from their first readings back into rehearsal before more rehearsal and a second round of readings for industry professionals.

    This year’s Summit drew industry leaders from 33 local and national theatre organizations, with more than 150 directors, actors, artistic leaders, educators and others from 12 states attending or taking part. Visitors represented companies ranging from the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C. to the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York. Closer to home, guests included the Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Curious Theatre, The Catamounts, Athena Festival Project and others.

    There was another added twist at this year’s festival in that both American Mariachi and The Great Leap are the Theatre Company’s first co-productions in nearly 20 years — upon closing, both will set off for stagings at other theatres with their Denver creative teams intact.

    Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap is a Denver Center commission, meaning she was hired to write a play for the Theatre Company’s right of first refusal. She used her Asian-American father’s real-life goodwill basketball tour to China in the 1980s as the basis for exploring, among many other things, the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Her play was read at the 2017 Summit, premiered in January at the Denver Center and will re-open at the Seattle Repertory Theatre later in March.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “This play would not exist without the Denver Center,” Yee said. “Not just because it's a commission, but also because of the way that the Colorado New Play Summit launches you into national consciousness. This is an event that the whole new-play development world looks at every year for leadership and inspiration.”

    The Couches. Adams VisComJosé Cruz González’s American Mariachi was given a second full year to germinate before being fully staged. It was introduced at the 2016 Summit, then developed for two years before opening in January. The story of a pioneering young woman who forms an all-female mariachi band in a desperate attempt to use music to communicate with a mother falling into dementia struck a universal chord with Theatre Company audiences. It now moves to the Old Globe Theatre, which is Director James Vásquez’s artistic home, for a run in San Diego.  

    (Pictured: Tasha Lawrence and Cesar J. Rosado in 'The Couches.' Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    “The Denver Center has been so unbelievably supportive since the moment we got here,” Vásquez said. “It's been a dream. And I feel like the luckiest guy in the world that now I get to take the show home and share it with my family and friends in San Diego.”  

    Vásquez is particularly grateful the Summit coincided with the Denver run of American Mariachi, where it was seen by dozens of artistic leaders from around the country.

    “It's overwhelming and exciting to think of how many industry professionals saw our play here at the Summit,” said Vásquez. “We do this work so we can share it, and I want Jose's play to get out into the world. So if the other professionals want to take it, I say … ‘Go.’ ”

    One of those professionals is former longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor David Ivers, now the Artistic Director at the Arizona Theatre Company. He already has added American Mariachi to his season lineup for performance in March 2019.

    American Mariachi resonates in myriad ways with the kaleidoscope of our community,” Ivers said. “The writing, the gift of mariachi music, the celebration and empowerment of women, and the struggle of loss in the face of hope are powerful and meaningful messages to explore in the communities we have the honor of serving.”

    2018 Colorado New Play Summit Slam. Photo by John MooreThe Summit again included two late-night "Playwrights Slams," where writers sampled their developing works in a fun and supportive atmosphere. One focused on local playwrights and was curated this year by the Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

    (Pictured at right: Playwrights Slam reader Mfoniso Udofia. Others included José Cruz González, Ricardo A. Bracho, Denver native Max Posner and Luis Quintero. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The Summit also included a gathering of the Women's Voices Fund, the Denver Center’s $1.5 million endowment that supports new plays by women and female creative team members. Since 2006, the Denver Center has produced 33 plays by women, including 14 world premieres, commissioned 19 female playwrights and hired 28 female directors Supporters of the fund were treated to a private gathering with 2018 featured playwright Sigrid Gilmer (Mama Metallica.)   

    The Summit ended on the same day the Denver run of American Mariachi closed. But unlike most other shows, closing day in Denver was just the start for the San Diego-bound cast and crew.

    “We’re leaving Denver,” said actor Amanda Robles. “But it doesn't feel like the end.”

    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.


    Christa McAuliffe's Eyes Were Blue
    From left: Cast members Tihun Hann, Celeste M. Cooper and Owen Zitek. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Selected NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Summit Spotlight: Barbara Seyda's collision with voices of the dead
    Summit Spotlight: Kemp Powers on a matter that's black and white
    Summit Spotlight: David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague
    Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
    Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

  • It's called 'micro-theatre,' and it's the next big thing in theatre

    by John Moore | Jan 03, 2018
    Meridith Grundei, shown performing in 'Sweet and Lucky' in 2016, will head Off-Center's new 'micro-theatre' project

    Meridith Grundei, shown performing in 'Sweet & Lucky' in 2016, will head Off-Center's new 'micro-theatre' project. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    DCPA’s Off-Center is accepting submissions of original short plays and performance pieces from Colorado artists.

    Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional line of programming, is seeking submissions of original short plays and performance pieces by Colorado artists for production. The deadline to submit is March 5.

    Charlie Miller quoteEach of the five chosen works will be awarded $1,000 and produced as part of an evening of "micro theatre" that will run for 24 performances at BookBar in October and November 2018.

    “Micro-theatre is essentially short pieces with incredibly intimate audiences of just 10 to 15 people," said Off-Center Curator Charlie Miller. "It's a unique approach to performance that is popular internationally, and we are excited to bring the format to Denver,”

    This event is conceived and will be led by newly named 2017 True West Award winner Meridith Grundei, who also was featured as one of Westword’s 2017 Colorado Creatives. Grundei recently directed Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage for The Catamounts in Boulder. That was a blood-pumping, leather-clad, sexy-weird gypsy-punk musical take on the ninth-century epic poem. She also has recently appeared in Off-Center's immersive Sweet & Lucky and the DCPA Theatre Company's Frankenstein. Last summer, she played Curtis in Colorado Shakespeare Festival's The Taming of the Shrew.

    "Meridith was inspired by the micro theatre she experienced in Mexico," Miller said. "Her passion was infectious, and it was clear that this format would be a perfect fit for Off-Center as a different kind of site-specific theatrical experience."

    Read about Meredith Grundei's 2017 True West Award

    Miller is also looking forward to the ways this project will engage the larger Denver artistic community.

    "In addition to Colorado-based playwrights and creators, Off-Center also plans to hire all performers and other collaborators locally," Miller said.

    This evening of micro theatre will feature five short original works by local artists. It will be performed environmentally at BookBar, with each piece performing in a different indoor or outdoor space simultaneously. The evening will accommodate around 70 audience members; groups of ten at a time will see each piece in different orders. During scheduled breaks between performances, audiences will drink wine, eat tapas and socialize.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Presenting these new works in a non-traditional setting also created the opportunity for a new partnership between Off-Center and BookBar, a community bookstore and wine bar that features a highly curated selection of titles for all ages.

    "BookBar is a local business we admire," Miller said. "They regularly host literary events that bring the community together over food and wine and we can’t wait to activate their spaces with new stories by Colorado creatives,” Miller said.

     

    Submission Guidelines

    Submissions must:

    • Be original, unpublished works that have not been previously produced. Writers/creators must have sole rights to all matters contained within the piece.
    • Be written/created by a Colorado resident
    • Have a run time of between 10 and 15 minutes, and be no more than 30 pages
    • Feature no more than three performers
    • Reference or relate to a work of literature
    • Take place in a location where there are books (a library, book store, living room, etc.)
    • Have simple technical and production needs
    • Be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. on March 5 at dcpa.today/micro

    Performance pieces that incorporate different art forms (dance/movement, music, visual art, etc.) are also encouraged to apply. To propose a non-scripted interdisciplinary work, please submit a written description of the work and include imagery or links to video to help convey your ideas.

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts provides equal opportunities to all applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, age, or disability. Applicants must be age 16 or older.

    Formatting Guidelines

    • Scripts must be typed in a generally accepted play-style format, with 12-point font and must be page-numbered. We will only accept PDF documents.
    • The first page/title page must contain ONLY the title of the piece. Do not put the author’s name anywhere on the manuscript.

    Other Rules

    • We will only accept one submission per person
    • Scripts/proposals not in compliance will not be considered
    • By submitting, you give DCPA Off-Center the rights to produce and perform the work in 2018. You agree (if selected) to collaborate with our team through the rehearsal and production process.
    • Winners are encouraged to make changes to their scripts through the development and rehearsal process, in collaboration with the production team.
    • The selection committee has the sole discretion over the manner in which the works are judged, and its determination of the winners will be final

    Selection Process

    Submissions will be reviewed blindly by a selection committee comprised of members of the DCPA staff and associated artists. All applicants will be notified via email in April 2018 and winners will be announced publicly at a later date.

    Questions? Email offcenter@dcpa.org

  • 2017 True West Award: Meridith and Gary Grundei

    by John Moore | Dec 22, 2017

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS Gary Grundie Meridith C. Grundei

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 22: Meridith C. Grundei and Gary Grundei

    The Catamounts
    Naropa University

    DCPA Theatre Company
    Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    Bar Choir
    Stories on Stage
    The Singing House Productions
    Pipedream Productions
    Visionbox Studio

      Local Theater Company
    Theatre Playback West

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Gary and Meridith C. Grundei are proof that the couple that rocks together, rolls together.

    On Sept. 29, the free-spirited pair packed up a used R.V. and hit the road with their daughter to travel the United States and Mexico for a year. They’re having what they are calling “an improvised year” in what already has been a fairly improvised life together so far.

    The Grundeis are couple of unconventional artists, and nothing if not an unconventional couple. Meridith is a director and Gary a composer, but both are performers to the bone, and neither is confined to a single discipline. For example, one of their popular fringe acts has them playing a brutal, drunken couple hilariously called Jack and Coke.

    Burns and Allen, they are not. Funny, they most definitely are.

    GerRee Hinshaw, who partners with Gary on a traveling rock flash-mob called Bar Choir, calls them The Fabulous Grundei Duo: “They are the rare couple who can collaborate with each other and still be friends — and keep all their other friends,” she said.

    One of their points of connection, says Amanda Berg Wilson, Artistic Director of the Boulder-based collective known as The Catamounts, is that they both have strong and compatible but individual artist identities.

    “Meridith has a very playful sense that dovetails nicely with Gary’s improvisational taste in music and art,” Berg Wilson said. “They’re always up for an adventure as artists and in life, and this road trip is certainly proof of that.”

    Their first stop was for their daughter to meet her birth family. Subsequent adventures already have been had in Georgia, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Florida and two unexpected weeks in Nashville following a breakdown. But the unexpected is kind of the point. Friends believe, but no one is ever really sure, that they are presently in Mexico.

    Meridith C. and Gary Grundei True West Award Photo by John MooreThe Grundeis hit the road at the height of a prolific period of ongoing and eclectic creative activity spanning theatre, music, academia, improv comedy, performance art and more. Their list of creative undertakings for 2017 is all the more impressive given they did it all in only nine months.

    Topping that list is Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage for The Catamounts at the Dairy Arts Center. This was truly event theatre: A blood-pumping, leather-clad, sexy-weird gypsy-punk musical adaptation based on the ninth-century epic poem, backed by a live band playing an original score written by the composer of Broadway’s The Great Comet of 1812.

    Meridith was the director while Gary was music director, bandleader and even the actor who played King Hrothgar of the Danes in sexypants. He was the embodiment of a true rock star as the king who entreats Beowulf to get rid of the man-eating monster Grendel.

    In most musicals, the man at the piano sits at that piano and plays. But Gary Grundei just plays in every sense of the word. On stage and in life.

    “He jumped fully into it,” Berg Wilson said. “He had a great sense of humor about it. He’s a super-compelling performer with this fabulous, unique voice.”

    Berg Wilson called Beowulf “très Catamounts.” Westword’s Juliet Wittman called the free and fierce evening “a throbbing and raucous experience.” And that Meridith Grundei could take credit for the show’s precision, flow and eye appeal.

    Beowulf. Catamounts The staging earned a whopping nine Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award nominations for The Catamounts, including best musical. Both of the Grundeis were individually nominated.

    Both Grundeis are in equal but separate demand. Beowulf was fully Meridith’s idea, one that was four years in the making. One of the reasons her husband decided to go all-in on it himself was the rare opportunity to work together with his wife on an extended theatrical project. At the time, Gary was composing music for the DCPA Theatre Company's provocative church-service play The Christians. But he declined a tempting offer to also play with the onstage church band he put together each night so he could do Beowulf with his wife instead.

    Gary separately collaborated on two other cool 2017 creative partnerships: First was Visionbox’s workshop production of a complex new musical called The Wild Hunt written by popular film actor Bill Pullman (currently starring in The Ballad of Lefty Brown). The other was the creation of a tantalizingly titled new musical called "__________”, An Opera with acclaimed local actor Ethelyn Friend. Grundei conducted live, improvised music at each performance in a Victorian house in old-town Lafayette for what was later described as "a singular opera experiment that found that sweet spot between Gertrude Stein, Spike Jonze and Kendrick Lamar."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Meridith, meanwhile, is an actor, director, improviser and public-speaking coach who created her own traveling corporate training company called Red Ball Speaks. She played Curtis (Petruchio’s servant) in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s The Taming of the Shrew last summer and later accepted Pipedream Productions’ community-wide challenge to perform the one-person play White Rabbit Red Rabbit script unseen before opening an envelope containing that script before an already gathered audience.

    In September, she helped the second-year MFA students at Naropa University stage the devised piece Under Construction, written by Charles Mee, again with her husband as music director and sound designer.

    The Grundeis both have long ties to the DCPA Theatre Company. Gary started as a paid intern in 1997 and soon was hired on a big-shot sound designer. Over the years, he often has been commissioned to compose original scores for productions ranging from Plainsong to Shakespeare’s As You Like It to The Christians. Meridith has appeared in three Denver Center productions as an actor, most recently in Frankenstein and Off-Center’s Sweet and Lucky.

    True West Grundei Gary’s other great musical love is an irregular bit of flash-mob fun called Bar Choir with Hinshaw, host of the enduring monthly Freak Train at The Bug Theatre. “Choir is that thing you didn't know you need in your life,” Hinshaw said. “But once you've had it, you crave it at random times in your day.”

    The idea: The hosts put out an invitation on social media encouraging singers of all experience levels — including none — to show up at a hipster bar such as Syntax Physic Opera, learn three tunes from rockers who have included Pat Benatar and The White Stripes and, after a bit of instruction, perform them for a generally blown-away happy-hour bar crowd.

    Gary Grundei’s invitation for one and all to join in on the next Bar Choir (whenever that might be) is pretty much his clarion call for living an artistic life.

    “Everyone has a voice,” Grundei said. “If you can talk, you can sing. If somebody at some point in your life told you that you can’t sing, what the (bleep)? Are you going to believe that? The more you sing, they better you get. So come (bleeping) sing with us.”

    If life is an unpainted canvas, then the Grundeis are evidence that life is also a not-yet-traveled highway.


    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.


    Video bonus: Our visit to Bar Choir at Syntax Physic Opera


    To read more about Bar Choir, click here

    Meridith C. Grundei: 2017

    • Directed Beowulf for The Catamounts
    • Performed in Stories on Stage's Mother's Day program
    • Played Curtis in The Taming of the Shrew for Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • Facilitator for Pain Management, a devised piece for Local Theater Company
    • Performed Red Rabbit White Rabbit for Pipedream Productions
    • Directed Under Construction for Naropa University masters students

    Meridith Grundei, a native of Fort Collins, has performed for the DCPA Theatre Company in Frankenstein, and for Off-Center in Sweet & Lucky and SWEAT. Other Theatre credits: The Misanthrope (American Conservatory Theatre), God's Ear, Messenger #1, Failure...A Love Story, Mr. Spacky, Mr. Burns, The Three Faces of Dr. Crippen, Spirits to Enforce (The Catamounts), Faith (Local Theater Company) and House of Yes (square product). Recipient of the 2011 Camera Eye Award and nominated as Best Actress in a Comedy by the 2012 Culture West True West Awards. She is married to frequent DCPA Theatre composer Gary Grundei.

    Meridith Grundei and Gary Grundei as Jack and Coke. Photo by John Moore.Gary Grundei: 2017

    • Composed music for workshop production of The Wild Hunt, by Bill Pullman, for Visionbox Studios
    • Composer of The Christans for DCPA Theatre Company
    • Music Director, Band Leader and performer (Rothgar) in Beowulf for The Catamounts
    • Co-host, Bar Choir (ongoing)
    • Music Director of Under Construction for Naropa University masters students
    • Composed music for Stories on Stage's Making Merry holiday program

    Gary Grundei, who is from Ohio, is a composer, pianist and teacher whose music has been heard at the Kennedy Center, DCPA Theatre Company, New York Stage and Film, Boulder Theater, Ogden Theatre, Boulder’s Chautauqua Community House, Vintage Theatre, Occidental College, and The Ohio State University. He also writes for and plays with the band High Fiction, and directs Golden Lotus studio in Lafayette.

    (Photo above and right: Meridith C. Grundei and Gary Grundei performing as as Jack and Coke. Photo by John Moore.)


    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

  • Study: There's a lot of Denver in Denver Center casts this fall

    by John Moore | Dec 13, 2017

    Fall Casting 800 Photos by Adams Viscom

    Survey of DCPA cast lists shows 56 percent of all available jobs this fall have gone to actors who live in Denver area 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    There has been a lot of Denver at the Denver Center this fall. An analysis of cast lists for the eight shows presented since the start of September shows that 56 percent of all actors who have taken to a DCPA stage also call Denver home.

    That doesn’t even include the eight child actors who currently populate the Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol. And when you add in all the actors who grew up in Colorado but are now based elsewhere, the number of actors with local connections jumps to 67 percent.  

    “The Colorado acting community is such a multi-talented group, and that is evident in all the amazing work featured across the entire state and on every one of our stages at the DCPA this fall,” said DCPA Director of Casting Grady Soapes.

    The survey includes all homegrown programming offered by the DCPA, totaling 73 adult actor slots. Much of the local infusion this year can be traced to Off-Center’s immersive musical The Wild Party at the Stanley Marketplace, as well as DCPA Cabaret’s newly launched musical First Date at the Galleria Theatre, both of which cast entirely local actors.

    First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowFirst Date director Ray Roderick, who is based out of New York, is responsible for the longest-running musical in Colorado Theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, also at the Galleria, as well as The Taffetas, Five Course Love and many others. And while he is always empowered to cast actors based anywhere around the country, he almost always fills his Denver cast lists with Denver actors. Why? Because he can, he says.

    (Pictured above and right: Local actors Seth Dhonau and Adriane Leigh Robinson will be taking their 'First Date' through April 22. Photo by Emily Lozow.)

    “There is no question that there is a wealth of talent here in Denver,” Roderick said. “When I work at other regional theatre centers and I choose my cast, I’m often told, 'Well what have they done on Broadway?’ I never get that here at the Denver Center. The fact is, when you are casting a show, what matters is the story, period. And we have beautiful storytellers in Denver. That they happen to live in Denver has nothing to do with their level of talent.”

    It was the Denver Center’s Jeff Hovorka who convinced then-DCPA President Randy Weeks that the first staging of the Galleria Theatre’s Always…Patsy Cline back in 1997 could be effectively cast with local actors. Melissa Swift-Sawyer and Beth Flynn made Denver musical-theatre history when their show ran for three and a half years, only to be surpassed by I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, another all-local show that opened in 2000 and became Denver’s longest-running musical by 2004.

    “The three biggest successes in the Galleria Theatre history, including Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women, all have had local casts,” said Hovorka, now the DCPA’s Director of Sales and Marketing for Broadway and Cabaret. “Denver always has had an incredibly strong talent base, and we are always proud to celebrate the homegrown talent we have in this city.”

    Check out the all-local cast of DCPA's First Date

    The Wild Party Director Amada Berg Wilson, also the founder of a Boulder theatre company called The Catamounts, put 15 local actors to work on Off-Center’s risky plunge into immersive musical theatre, which was attended each night by 200 live party guests.

    “Having an all-local cast is evidence that we really do have the talent right here to pull off a show like this,” said Wilson. “And I think it is great that as the Denver Center continues to experiment with immersive theatre, we are developing a base of talent right here who have the tools and the vocabulary to make this specific kind of work. We are discovering that audiences are really hungry for more of it, and now we have the people here to do it.”

    michael-fitzpatrick-leslie-ocarroll-photo-credit-adamsviscom_24874516748_oThe list of local actors working for the Denver Center this fall spans beloved veterans such as Leslie O’Carroll, who is again playing Mrs. Fezziwig in the Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, to first-timers such as longtime BDT Stage favorite Wayne Kennedy and Adriane Leigh Robinson, who just played Sally Bowles for the Miners Alley Playhouse’s Cabaret.

    (Leslie O'Carroll, right with 'A Christmas Carol' castmate Michael Fitzpatrick, is now the longest-tenured actor in the DCPA Theatre Company.)

    Longtime Galleria Theatre favorites Jordan Leigh and Lauren Shealy, now appearing in First Date, have built sustainable acting careers around steady work at the DCPA, including occasional crossover roles in Theatre Company productions. Shealy, headlined the Lone Tree Arts Center’s summer production of Evita that was nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards.

    Colorado theatre favorite Steven J. Burge, who joined the Denver Center earlier this year to play none other than God in the long-running Galleria Theatre hit An Act of God, is back in First Date, which runs through April 22. This is a job, Burge says, “that I would not quit even if I won the lottery, because I love it so much.”

    Each May, the Denver Center holds three days of “general auditions” that are open to local actors to sign up for. This year a record 100 union and 275 non-union actors participated, directly resulting in many of the fall hirings.

    Many of the Denver Center’s current crop of actors have tentacles that reach throughout the Colorado theatre community from Creede Repertory Theatre (Diana Dresser and Emily Van Fleet) to Phamaly Theatre Company (Leonard E. Barrett), which exists to create performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    Michael Bouchard and Luke Sorge, the two actors playing David in Off-Center’s The SantaLand Diaries, are both company members with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, which was co-founded by occasional DCPA Theatre Company actor and Director Stephen Weitz.  

    The Theatre Company’s season-opening production of Macbeth included local playwright Steven Cole Hughes, also a longtime Teaching artist for DCPA Education and graduate of the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory. Robert O’Hara’s cast was a Denver Center reunion of sorts that also brought home Colorado natives Gareth Saxe, Erik Kochenberger and Skyler Gallun.

    Skyler GallunSaxe, a graduate of Colorado College and Denver East High School, played Scar for two years on Broadway in Disney’s The Lion King, but his DCPA Theatre Company roots go back to Cyrano de Bergerac in 2001. Kochenberger also graduated from East High School — but his was in Pueblo. Gallun, who previously appeared in Lord of the Flies, led a talkback with students from his alma mater, George Washington High School, after one Macbeth matinee (pictured at right by John Moore).

    DCPA Education head of acting Timothy McCracken, who has recently performed with both BETC (Outside Mullingar) and Local Theatre company (The Firestorm), landed this fall in both the Theatre Company’s Smart People and A Christmas Carol. His Smart People co-star Jason Veasey graduated from Coronado High School in Colorado Springs and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. His many past local credits include playing Jesus in Town Hall Arts Center’s Godspell.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This fall also has brought the launch of DCPA Education’s new Theatre for Young Audiences program. The three-person cast of The Snowy Day who performed Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved story for 19,000 pre-kindergarten through third-graders included longtime DCPA Teaching Artist Rachel Kae Taylor (also an NTC grad with three Theatre Company credits) and Robert Lee Hardy, who was recently seen in Vintage Theatre’s A Time to Kill In Aurora.  

    finalpdheadshots0005-web“This has been an exciting year not only for the local actors but for myself and the DCPA,” Soapes (pictured right) said of his local casting. “The dedication this organization has made to further highlighting the talent we have here in Denver has also deepened our appreciation for the artists who are working hard every day to entertain our audiences —  my hat goes off to them,” he said.

    Soapes said his top priority always will be to cast the best person for every role, regardless of ZIP code.

    “We here at the DCPA are excited to continue to tap further into the local talent pool, open our doors wider and show the entire industry why Denver is a destination for quality theatre,” Soapes said.

    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.

    Grady Soapes Quote


    Denver Center Fall 2017 Casting:

    Macbeth: 17 actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Steven Cole Hughes as Doctor of the Psychic/Ensemble)

    Actors from Colorado:

    • Skyler Gallun as Donalbain/Ensemble
    • Erik Kochenberger as Hecate Two/Ensemble
    • Gareth Saxe as Duncan/Ensemble)


    'A Snowy Day. Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy. Zak Reynolds. Photo by Adams Viscom.The Snowy Day:
    Three actor jobs

    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Rachel Kae Taylor as Archie, Amy, Mom and others
    • Robert Lee Hardy as Peter

    Smart People: Four actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Timothy McCracken
    Actors from Colorado:
    • Jason Veasey

    The Wild Party: 15 actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Brett Ambler as Gold
    • Leonard Barrett Jr. as Oscar D’Armano
    • Allison Caw as Sally
    • Laurence Curry as Black
    • Diana Dresser as Miss Madelaine True
    • Katie Drinkard as Mae
    • Trent Hines as Phil D’Armano
    • Drew Horwitz as Burrs
    • Wayne Kennedy as Goldberg
    • Sheryl McCallum as Dolores
    • Jenna Moll Reyes as Nadine
    • Marco Robinson as Eddie Mackrel
    • Emily Van Fleet as Queenie
    • Aaron Vega as Jackie
    • Erin Willis as Kate

    Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women: Three actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Barbara Gehring
    • Linda Klein
    • Amie MacKenzie

    A Christmas Carol (through Dec. 24): 21 adult actor jobs; eight youth jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Sam Gregory as Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Chas Lederer as Swing
    • Kyra Lindsay as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod as Swing
    • Timothy McCracken as Ebenezer Scrooge understudy
    • Leslie O’Carroll as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Jeffrey Roark as Jacob Marley/Ensemble
    • Shannan Steele as Ensemble
    • Marco Robinson as Ensemble

    A Michael Bouchard 800The SantaLand Diaries (through Dec. 24): Two actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Michael Bouchard as David
    • Luke Sorge as David understudy
    First Date (through April 22): Eight actor jobs

    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Adriane Leigh Robinson as Casey
    • Seth Dhonau as Aaron
    • Steven J. Burge as Man 1
    • Aaron Vega as Man 2 (Nov. 11-Dec. 3)
    • Jordan Leigh as Man 2 (Dec. 5-April 22)
    • Lauren Shealy as Woman 1
    • Barret Harper as Male Understudy
    • Cashelle Butler as Female Understudy
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017

    VIDEO:

    Your first look inside the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party.' Just push play. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.


    The Denver Center's Off-Center programming wing is presenting the Jazz Age musical The Wild Party as a 360-degree immersive theatregoing experience where the 208 audience members are guests at a corker of a gin-soaked Big Apple soiree, right alongside the 14 professional actors in the ensemble. It is staged in what was once an airline hangar at the new Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood. The director is Amanda Berg Wilson and the all-local ensemble includes Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis. The Wild Party runs through Oct. 31 only.

    OPENING-NIGHT PHOTOS:

    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    Photos from the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party,' from the Opening Night party back to the first day of rehearsal. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    OFFICIAL PRODUCTION PHOTOS:

    The Wild Party
    The official production photos for 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.


    The Wild Party: Ticket information
    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Previous NewsCenter and other local media coverage of The Wild Party
    :



    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    The Wild Party: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    Reviews:
    Westword: This one party you should not miss
    5280 Magazine: full of fun, flappers, booze and tunes
    303 Magazine: The Wild Party delivers on the promise of its name

    About the Stanley Marketplace
    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

  • 'The Wild Party': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Sep 15, 2017
    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    Photos from the first rehearsal for Off-Center's upcoming off-site, immersive production of 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The audience will become, like the characters in the play,
    'a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center is preparing to present the Jazz Age musical The Wild Party as a 360-degree immersive theatregoing experience where the 208 audience members are guests at a corker of a gin-soaked Big Apple soiree, right alongside the 14 professional actors in the ensemble. It will be staged in what was once an airline hangar at the new Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood.

    And that is not at all how composer Michael John LaChiusa originally imagined his piece to be staged. Like most musicals, The Wild Party was first presented in front of an audience separated from the stage by theatre’s nearly ubiquitous, invisible “fourth wall.”

    There’s no wall here.

    “Our production is going to put our audience directly in the Jazz Age,” two-time True West Award-winning Director Amanda Berg Wilson said Tuesday at the company’s first rehearsal for the show opening Oct. 11.

    The Wild Party. Amanda Berg Wilson. Photo by John MooreThe DCPA’s adventurous Off-Center wing is known for creating original nontraditional work in nontraditional spaces, most notably last year’s sprawling Sweet & Lucky, which played out in a huge warehouse north of downtown. The Wild Party will be its first musical, and first scripted work.

    The musical is based on a scandalous, book-length poem written by Robert Frost protege Joseph Moncure March in 1926. It was described as “a kind of obscene, more destructive take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Scott Miller, Artistic Director of St. Louis’ New Line Theatre. The poem paints a vivid and decadent picture of Manhattan just before the market crash. It centers on the damaged, reckless relationship between a dancer named Queenie and a vaudeville clown named Burrs. The audience here will witness many personal dramas unfold up close and in three dimensions.

    The Wild Party. Allison Caw, Marco Robinson, Katie Drinkard and Jenna Moll Reyes. Photo by John Moore.“The audience is not going to be passive witnesses to the party,” said Wilson. “They are going to be integral components of the party – and its conspirators. So we are going to encourage them to help mix the bathtub gin; to console the coke-snorting wannabe starlet; to read love letters; to be pulled into boiler rooms for intimate moments; to see things they are not supposed to see.” In the end, the audience will become, like the characters in the play, "a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends." 

    Which helps explains why this is a 21-and-over evening. It’s a party, after all. And apparently a wild one.

    “Our goal with each audience member is that they are going to experience a kind of release that you only have when you have had a really wild night," Wilson said.

    Here are five more things we learned about 'The Wild Party' at the first rehearsal:

    NUMBER 1A Wild Party PoemThe source poem, which went virtually unread for two years because no publisher would touch it, inspired iconic beat writer William Burroughs to become a writer. “It is a witty and risqué poem about two vaudeville performers who fight, make up, throw a party and flirt with danger,” Wilson said. “It name-drops Martha Graham and Langston Hughes, and the book for the musical is by George C. Wolfe (the Public Theatre icon who first directed Angels in America). The story is set at a time when America was waking up to its identity as a wild and creative nation that was emerging into its own sense of self separate from Europe. That sense of self was really born in vaudeville and speakeasies and the avant-garde of the 1920s when jazz, arguably the most American of art forms, was being born. These are people who are not only trying to figure out who they love but who they are and who they will present as. Ambisextrous, Jewish, uptown, downtown, black and white identities are all explored in these jazz-soaked numbers.”

    NUMBER 2The audience will be encouraged (but not required) to dress up for the party. Says Costume Designer Meghan Anderson Doyle: “I think we get the best of the 1920s in this piece because we get the glitz and glamour of beaded dresses and tuxedos and dinner jackets and champagne, and then we get the soft sensuality and the vulnerability of stockings and garter belts and bathtub gin.”

    NUMBER 3The Wild Party. David Nehls. Photo by John Moore.The Music Director is David Nehls (pictured right),  who has helmed the music for most every musical at the Arvada Center for more than a decade. "I am very excited that we have an amazing, seven-piece live band," Nehls said. One of those players is Trent Hines, himself an active Music Director in the local theatre community. For this production, Hines is also being integrated into the story as an actor.

    NUMBER 4The cast is made up entirely of local actors. Wilson, also the founder of a Boulder theatre company called The Catamounts, performed in Sweet & Lucky alongside Diana Dresser, Jenna Moll Reyes and The Wild Party choreographer Patrick Mueller. “Having an all-local cast is evidence that we really do have the talent right here to pull off a show like this,” said Wilson. “And I think it is great that as the Denver Center continues to experiment with immersive theatre, we are developing a base of talent right here in Denver with an increasing set of tools and vocabulary so that we can keep making this kind of work. And we are discovering that audiences are really hungry for it.”

    NUMBER 5The man charged with turning the airplane hangar at Stanley Marketplace into a New York apartment is Jason Sherwood, who first came to the Denver Center in 2014 as an assistant on The Unsinkable Molly Brown and returned last year as the lead Scenic Designer for Frankenstein. This season, he will create the worlds for the Denver Center’s The Wild Party, Macbeth and The Who's Tommy.

    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.



    The Wild Party: Cast list

    • Brett Ambler: Gold
    • Leonard Barrett Jr.: Oscar D’Armano
    • Allison Caw: Sally
    • Laurence Curry: Black
    • Diana Dresser: Miss Madelaine True
    • Katie Drinkard: Mae
    • Trent Hines: Phil D’Armano
    • Drew Horwitz: Burrs
    • Wayne Kennedy: Goldberg
    • Sheryl McCallum: Dolores
    • Jenna Moll Reyes: Nadine
    • Marco Robinson: Eddie Mackrel
    • Emily Van Fleet: Queenie
    • Aaron Vega: Jackie
    • Erin Willis: Kate


    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party
    :



    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    About the Stanley Marketplace
    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT
  • 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 'You on the Moors Now’ and 'Almost Heaven'

    by John Moore | Aug 30, 2017
    For 10 days, the DCPA NewsCenter will offer not only 10 intriguing theatre titles to watch on theatre stages throughout Colorado. This year we are expanding our preview by featuring 10 musicals AND 10 plays. Today is Day 2.

    PLAY OF THE DAY: The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now

    Featured actor in the video above: Anastasia Davidson

    • Sept. 8-30
    • At the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    Catamounts. Anastasia Davidson 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org
    • Playwright: Jaclyn Backhaus
    • Director: Amanda Berg Wilson

    The story: You on the Moors Now features iconic characters from 19th-century novels Jane Eyre, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. Set in the mythical land of Moors, our four heroines have run away after shockingly rejecting the suitors who ardently loved them. Stung by the spurning, the men wage war on the women.

    But what is it about? This timely feminist romp juxtaposes the romantic confines of the past with present ideas of courtship and playfully examines women’s perennial quest to be valued as men’s equals, the ancient interconnectedness of love and loss, and the contemporary recognition that humans must find their own way before finding one another.

    Cast list:

    Catamounts. You on the Moors NowElizabeth Bennet: Anastasia Davidson
    • Cathy: Laura Lounge
    • Jo March: Alaina Beth Reel
    • Jane Eyre: Alex Forbes
    • Fitzwilliam Darcy: Brian Kusic
    • Heathcliff: Matthew Blood-Smyth
    • Laurie Laurence: Joe Von Bokern
    • Mr. Rochester: Jason Maxwell
    • Player 1: Caroline Bingley, Amy: Luciann Lajoie
    • Player 2: Mr Bingley, Old Grandpa Laurence: Jihad Milhem
    • Player 3: Nelly Dean, Beth, Jane Bennet: Maggie Tisdale
    • Player 4: Joseph, Mrs. March: Sam Gilstrap
    • Player 5: St. John Rivers, Bhaer, Edgar Linton: Austin Terrell
    • Player 6: River Sister, Meg: Joan Bruemmer-Holden


    MUSICAL OF THE DAY: Rocky Mountain Rep’s
    Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver

    Featured actor in the video above: Matilde Bernabei

    • Sept. 1-30
    • 800 Grand Ave in Grand Lake, located 100 miles northwest of Denver
    Grand Lake. Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. Matilde Bernabei970-627-3421 or rockymountainrep.com
    • Director: Jeff Duke
    • Music director: Michael Querio

    • The story: Almost Heaven is a revue of John Denver songs in wonderfully creative new arrangements, connected with words and thoughts from the artist, about the artist and placing the songs' creation in context of our country's history. This musical was premiered by the DCPA Theatre Company in 2003 and was extended for nine months. 

    • But what is it about? While the songs are certainly well-known, hearing them performed surrounded by the beauty of Grand Lake will be special. The musical also emphasizes John Denver's work as an environmentalist and social activist.

    Cast list:
    Jack Bartholet
    Matilde Bernabei
    Suzanna Champion
    Paige Daigle
    Jens Jacobson
    Kyle Ashe Wilkinson
    Jeff Duke
    Michael Querio

    Grand Lake. Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. Almost Heaven. John Denver.

    The cast of Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre's 'Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver' has a little fun at rehearsal in Grand Lake. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Our complete 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview:

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

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

  • 2017 Henry Award nominations make way for the new

    by John Moore | Jun 20, 2017
    Beowulf. Catamounts

    From left: Allison Caw, Amanda Berg Wilson and Joe Von Bokern in The Catmounts'  'Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage,' which tied for the most Henry Award nominations by a musical with nine. Photo by Michael Ensminger. 

    DCPA leads way as always wildly unpredictable nominations embrace companies from Carbondale to Colorado Springs

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Suffice it to say, a whole lot of people will be attending the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards for the very first time.

    While the DCPA Theatre Company led all Colorado companies for the fifth straight year with 21 nominations, followed by the Arvada Center with 16, a plethora of companies that have barely registered on the Henrys’ radar in the past have emphatically taken their place at the table this year – most from outside the Denver metro area.   

    Sean Jeffries. Henry Awards. Thunder RiverThunder River, a small theatre company in Carbondale, didn’t just receive its first Henry Award nominations - it received its first 11. Most of that can be attributed to a mind-boggling individual accomplishment: Sean Jeffries (pictured right) becomes the first person to ever receive five nominations in a single year for his lighting, scenic and sound designs. New Thunder River Executive Artistic Director Corey Simpson also picked up nominations as both a director (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and supporting actor (The Tempest).

    Lone Tree Arts Center, which mostly presents touring shows and concerts, earned 13 nominations for staging three of its own shows. The city of Colorado Springs steamrolled its way into the party with 12 nominations for TheatreWorks, 11 for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and even three for the tiny Springs Ensemble Theatre. The love for TheatreWorks could not have come at a more poignant time, following the January death of founder Murray Ross, who is nominated of Outstanding Direction of Marivaux’s romantic comedy The Game of Love and Chance.

    Denise FreestoneUp in Fort Collins, OpenStage & Company charted 12 nominations, followed by the Midtown Arts Center with seven. Other breakout years: Eight nominations each for the Backstage Breckenridge Theatre, the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre of Grand Lake, and PACE Center/Inspire Creative. Those nine emerging companies garnered just 17 cumulative nominations last year. This year, they totaled 90.

    (Pictured right: Denise Burson Freestone and Sydney Parks Smith are both nominated as Outstanding Lead Actresses in OpenStage Theatre & Company's 'August: Osage County.') 

    The 12th annual Henry Awards will be presented July 17 at the PACE Center in Parker. The seven companies under consideration for Outstanding Season are the Arvada Center, DCPA Theatre Company, Lone Tree Arts Center, Openstage Theatre & Company, Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks and Thunder River.

    Book of Will. Rodney Lizcano The most honored play of the season is the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, with 12 nominations, followed by OpenStage’s August: Osage County, with seven. The Book of Will tells how two obscure members of William Shakespeare’s acting company took it upon themselves to publish the first complete published collection of Shakespeare's plays. It already has been picked up for subsequent productions all around the country.

    (Pictured right: Rodney Lizcano is one of three of 'Book of Will' castmates nominated as Outstanding Supporting Actor.)

    The leading musicals of 2016-17 in a topsy-turvy Outstanding Musical field were Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Man of La Mancha and The Catamounts’ Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, with nine nominations. That was a blood-pumping, gypsy-punk musical based on the ninth-century epic poem with an original score by Dave Malloy, composer of Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre, And The Great Comet of 1812.

    That was followed by the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s Man of La Mancha (9), the Arvada Center’s Jesus Christ Superstar (7), PACE Center and Inspire Creative’s collaborative staging of Monty Python’s Spamalot (6) and two Lone Tree Arts Center stagings, of Evita (6) and the world premiere of Randal Myler’s Muscle Shoals (6), which chronicled the music that came out of the famous recording studio in Muscle Shoals, Ala., in the 1960s.

    But all that emergence means a lot of traditional Henry Award favorites are taking a back seat this year. Last year, for example, Performance Now, Vintage, Buntport and Town Hall combined for 29 nominations. This year, the four scored a combined three. 

    The Henry Awards are a notoriously unpredictable affair from year to year, often heaping unexpected love on a breakout company one year and then all but forgetting it the next. Theatre Aspen, which earned a whopping 25 nominations and swept the 2016 Henrys with eight awards, received only one nomination this year.

    Among the ongoing Henry Awards mysteries is the continuing snub of the rock-solid Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, which has now received only four nominations the past three years combined. Phamaly Theatre Company, which makes performance opportunities available to actors with disabilities, was shut out. For the second straight year, Cherry Creek Theatre received no nominations, and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival received just one – for Hunter Ringsmith’s riveting performance as supporting actor in Equivocation.

    One of the most dramatic individual nominations of the year has to be Matt LaFontaine’ s recognition as an Outstanding Actor in a Musical. He assumed the role of Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar just days before the opening because of an illness in the cast.

    Colorado Springs husband and wife Joye Cook-Levy and Scott RC Levy are both nominated as directors - Joye for TheatreWorks’ play Constellations and Scott for Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s musical Man of La Mancha. The married couple of Meridith C. Grundei and Gary Grundei are nominated as director and musical director, respectively, of The Catamounts’ Beowulf. And Joan Bruemmer-Holden is nominated as both a supporting actor and the choreographer of that show.

    Other multiple nominees this year include costumer Clare Henkel, scenic designer Brian Mallgrave, and sound designers Jason Ducat and Allen Noftall.

    A glaring omission from this year’s nominee slate is Curious Theatre Company, historically one of the Henrys’ favorite recipients - but also a prime example of the feast-or-famine nature of these awards. After winning a remarkable 20 Henry Awards over three years from 2012-14, Curious was shut out the past two seasons. Artistic Director Chip Walton later pulled his company out of consideration for this year’s awards, citing a profound lack of diversity among last year’s winners.

    Curious Theatre quote“Curious approached the Colorado Theatre Guild with concerns about the lack of diversity represented at the Henry Awards last year, as well as many judges' limited knowledge of the theatre craft, especially with regard to technical design,” said Managing Director Katie Maltais. “As the Guild chose not to change its practices or provide additional learning opportunities for judges, Curious left the Henry Awards. We hope that one day the Henry Awards will showcase the full richness of our theatre community, and our strong stance on equity and inclusion and firm commitment to artistic excellence demands we wait until that day to participate in the awards.” 

    Despite its 21 nominations, the DCPA slate also reflects the roller-coaster nature of the Henry Award nominations. While The Book of Will led all productions with 12 nominations, including three supporting actors, the critically acclaimed Disgraced, The Secret Garden and Frankenstein only managed five among them. The Glass Menagerie earned three.

    The Colorado Theatre Guild is a statewide advocacy group, and last year it expanded its nominations to spread more bounty to more companies throughout the state by now designating seven nominations for each category. This year nominations went to 29 different companies and 56 of 190 eligible shows. The expanded pool of nominees means each has just a 14 percent chance of actually winning.

    The Guild also splits the four design categories into two tiers determined by member companies' annual overall operating budgets. Only six companies have annual budgets above the $1.2 million threshold and therefore are considered Tier I: The DCPA, Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Theatre Aspen, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Colorado Springs TheatreWorks. The rest all compete in Tier II.

    Established in 2006, the Henry Awards serve as the Colorado Theatre Guild's annual fundraising event. The awards are named for longtime local theatre producer Henry Lowenstein. Nominations are determined through a judging process conducted by more than 45 statewide theatre reporters, educators and assigned judges.

    2016-17 HENRY AWARD NOMINATIONS

    Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company

    • Arvada Center
    • Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
    • DCPA Theatre Company
    • Lone Tree Arts Center
    • OpenStage Theatre and Company
    • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Thunder River Theatre Company

    Outstanding Production of a Play

    • "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company, Dulcie Willis, Director
    • "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company, Davis McCallum, Director
    • "Constellations," TheatreWorks, Joye Cook-Levy, Director
    • "Don’t Dress for Dinner," OpenStage Theatre & Company, Wendy S. Moore, Director
    • "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Thunder River Theatre Company, Corey Simpson, Director
    • "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks, Murray Ross, Director
    • "Tartuffe," Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director

    Outstanding Production of a Musical

    • "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts, Meridith C. Grundei, Director; Gary Grundei, Musical Direction                                
    • "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center, Gina Rattan, Director; Max Mamon, Musical Direction                                
    • "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company, Scott RC Levy, Director; Sharon Skidgel, Musical Direction
    • "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative, Kelly McAllister, Director; Tanner Kelly, Musical Direction                                
    • "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center, Kenny Moten, Director; Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Musical Direction
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center, Randal Myler, Director; Dan Wheetman, Musical Direction
    • "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center, donnie l. betts, Director; Jodel Charles, Musical Direction

    Outstanding Direction of a Play

    • Lynne Collins, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Joye Cook-Levy, "Constellations," TheatreWorks
    • Davis McCallum, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Matt Radcliffe, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Murray Ross, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Corey Simpson, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Dulcie Willis, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company

    Outstanding Direction of a Musical

    • donnie l. betts, "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Meridith C. Grundei, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Kelly McAllister, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • Scott RC Levy, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Randal Myler, “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Gina Rattan, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Nick Sugar, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company

    Outstanding Musical Direction

    • Neal Dunfee, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
    • Gary Grundei, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Max Mamon, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Sharon Skidgel, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Jason Tyler Vaughn, “Murder Ballad,” The Edge Theater Company
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb, "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center
    • Dan Wheetman, “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center

    Outstanding Actor in a Play

    • William Hahn, "Burn This," The Edge Theater Company 
    • Kevin Hart, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre   
    • Sammie Joe Kinnett, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Steven P. Sickles, "Le Bete," OpenStage Theatre & Company     
    • Micah Speirs, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company               
    • Dan Tschirhart, "The Flick," OpenStage Theatre & Company        
    • Adam Verner, "Don’t Dress for Dinner," OpenStage Theatre & Company                                                                                                         

    Outstanding Actress in a Play

    • LuAnn Buckstein, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre      
    • Carley Cornelius, "Constellations," TheatreWorks
    • Denise Burson Freestone, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company      
    • Kathleen McCall, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company          
    • Emma Messenger, "Misery," The Edge Theater Company
    • Sydney Parks Smith, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company 
    • Caitlin Wise, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks

    Outstanding Actor in a Musical

    • Leonard E. Barrett Jr. , "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Joshua Blanchard, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Stephen Day, “Man of La Mancha,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company                                                                
    • Miles Jacoby, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • August Stoten, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative
    • Colin Summers, "Million Dollar Quartet," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Joe Von Bokern, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts

    Outstanding Actress in a Musical

    • Jacquie Jo Billings, "Little Shop of Horrors," Miners Alley Playhouse
    • Colby Dunn, "The Toxic Avenger," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre        
    • Sarah Groeke, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Cecilia Iole, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Marissa Rudd, "Sister Act," Midtown Arts Center
    • Tracy Warren, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
    • Danielle Hermon Wood, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play

    • Nathan Cox, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Rodney Lizcano, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Wesley Mann, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Owen O’Farrell, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Hunter Ringsmith, "Equivocaton," Colorado Shakespeare Festival            
    • Triney Sandoval, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Corey Simpson, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play

    • Miriam A. Laube, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Carolyn Lohr, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre              
    • Leslie O’Carroll, "Silent Sky," Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Amelia Pedlow, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Christina Sajous, "Disgraced," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Linda Suttle, "A Time to Kill," Vintage Theatre Productions
    • Edith Weiss, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

    • Brandon Bill, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative
    • Ben Hilzer, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • John Jankow, "A Christmas Story," Midtown Arts Center
    • Matt LaFontaine, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Bob Moore, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Nicholas Park, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Kyle Ashe Wilkinson, "Titanic," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

    • Jenna Bainbridge, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Joan Bruemmer-Holden, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Charlotte Campbell, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
    • Anna High, “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Rebecca Hoodwin, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Carol Rose, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Megan Van De Hey, "The Toxic Avenger," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre   

    DROWNING GIRLS

    Outstanding Ensemble Performance

    • "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director
    • "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center

    Outstanding New Play or Musical

    • "The Book of Will," by Lauren Gunderson

      Directed by Davis McCallum; Produced by DCPA Theatre Company

    • “The Firestorm,” by Meridith Friedman

      Directed by Pesha Rudnick; Produced by LOCAL Theater Company

    • "Full Code," by David Valdes Greenwood

      Directed by Stephen Weitz; Produced by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    • "The History Room," by Charlie Thurston

      Directed by Pesha Rudnick; Produced by Creede Repertory Theatre             

    • "I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Music and Lyrics by David Nehls, Book by Kenn McLaughlin

      Directed by Gavin Mayer; Produced by Arvada Center

    • "Lost Creatures," by Melissa Lucero McCarl

      Directed by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski; Produced by And Toto too Theatre Company

    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There,” by Randal Myler

      Directed by Randal Myler; Produced by Lone Tree Arts Center

    Outstanding Choreography

    • Mary Ripper Baker, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Joan Bruemmer-Holden & Amanda Berg Wilson, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Jeff Duke and Stephanie Hansen, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Kelly Kates, “The Robber Bridegroom,” Town Hall Arts Center
    • Michael Lasris, "A Christmas Story," Midtown Arts Center
    • Matthew D. Peters, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," BDT Stage
    • Kate Vallee, "42nd Street," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse      

    Outstanding Costume Design Tier 1

    • Camille Assaf, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Stephanie Bradley, "Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Janson J. Fangio, "Enchanted April," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Sydney Gallas, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Clare Henkel, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Clare Henkel, "Tartuffe," Arvada Center
    • Lex Liang, “Shrek,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Outstanding Costume Design Tier 2

    • Kari Armstrong, "The Snow Queen," Bas Bleu Theatre Company
    • Buntport Theater, "The Crud," Buntport Theater
    • Pamela Clifton, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre         
    • Judith Ernst, "The Wizard of Oz," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    • Tricia Music, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • Jesus Perez, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Annabel Reader, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts

    Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 1

    • Charles R. MacLeod, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company  
    • Shannon McKinney, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Jon Olson, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
    • Holly Anne Rawls, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Paul Toben, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Brian Tovar, "Frankenstein," DCPA Theatre Company   
    • Mike Wood, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks

    Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 2

  • Seth Alison, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Brandon Ingold, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Jen Kiser, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
  • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Mallary, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
  • Brett Maughan, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," BDT Stage
  • Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 1

    • Lisa Orzolek, "Disgraced," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Brian Mallgrave, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Brian Mallgrave, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Christopher L. Sheley, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Sandra Goldmark, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Paul Black, "Mamma Mia," Theatre Aspen
    • Jason Sherwood, "Frankenstein," DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 2

    • Shaun Albrechtson, "Steel Magnolias," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • James Brookman, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • M. Curtis Grittner, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Lori Rosedahl, "The Flick," OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • Kyle Scoggins, "Little Shop of Horrors," Miners Alley Playhouse

    Outstanding Sound Design Tier 1

    • Jason Ducat, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
    • Jason Ducat, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Benjamin Heston, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Morgan McCauley, "Tartuffe," Arvada Center
    • Stowe Nelson, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • David Thomas, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Zach Williamson, “The Secret Garden, “ DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Sound Design Tier 2

    • Travis Duncan and Jeremiah Walter, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Carlos Flores, "Misery," The Edge Theater Company
    • Sean Jeffries, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Allen Noftall, “Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Allen Noftall, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You Theatre," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Jon Northridge, "Million Dollar Quartet," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Tom Quinn and Kenny Storms, "Murder Ballad," The Edge Theater Company
      Additional Special Awards will be announced in July.

    2017 Henry Awards: Ticket information

    • Monday, July 17
    • 6 p.m. drinks; 7 p.m. awards
    • PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, MAP IT
    • Tickets: $23 for CTG members, $30 non-members or $50 VIP. Tickets are available at parkerarts.org, or by calling 303-805-6800. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $35.
    • Ticket onsale date: June 30

    Nominations by Company:
    DCPA Theatre Company – 21
    Arvada Center – 16
    Lone Tree Arts Center – 13
    OpenStage & Company – 12
    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks – 12
    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center – 11
    Thunder River Theatre Company – 11
    The Catamounts – 9
    Breckenridge Backstage Theatre – 8
    PACE Center/Inspire Creative - 8
    Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre – 7
    Midtown Arts Center – 7
    Lake Dillon Theatre Company – 6
    Aurora Fox – 5
    The Edge Theatre – 5
    BDT Stage – 3
    Springs Ensemble Theatre – 3
    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company – 2
    Candlelight Dinner Playhouse – 2
    Miners Alley Playhouse – 2
    And Toto too Theatre Company – 1
    Bas Bleu Theatre – 1
    Buntport Theater– 1
    Creede Repertory Theatre – 1
    Colorado Shakespeare Festival – 1
    Local Theatre Company – 1
    Theatre Aspen – 1
    Town Hall Arts Center – 1
    Vintage Theatre – 1

  • Off-Center throwing a 'Wild Party' at Stanley Marketplace this fall

    by John Moore | Mar 21, 2017
    Charlie Miller


    By Hope Grandon
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Off-Center, the unconventional and most adventurous wing of Denver Center programming, has announced its next off-site collaboration and first full-scale musical production: An immersive, 360-degree staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s jazz musical The Wild Party to run Oct. 12-31 at Stanley Marketplace.

     

    Amanda Berg Wilson “Last summer, Off-Center took over a 16,000-square foot warehouse in RiNo to bring you Sweet & Lucky. This fall, we’re breaking out the bathtub gin and heading to the Hangar at Stanley to tackle the first musical in Off-Center’s history,” said Off-Center curator Charlie Miller.

    “Much like Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party will transport audience members to a different era where they will be immersed in the story as guests at Queenie and Burr’s party. The live band will be swinging, and we’ll find out what happens when you let down your guard and give yourself over to the party. I am so excited to dive into this piece with our incredible team of collaborators.”

    The Wild Party, which was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000, will be directed by Sweet & Lucky cast member Amanda Berg Wilson (pictured above), also the artistic director of the Boulder-based company The Catamounts and a 2016 True West Award winner.

    Stanley Marketplace home to Travelers of the Lost Dimension

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension, currently running throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21. 

    Full details including cast and creative team will be announced at a later date.

    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

    (Note: The Michael John LaChiusa adaptation of 'The Wild Party' is very different from the Andrew Lippa version that was presented last year by Ignite Theatre at the Aurora Fox.)

    The Wild Party
    Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    Oct. 12-31, 2017
    At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'The Christians': Gary Grundei on music to move the masses

    by John Moore | Jan 11, 2017
    The Christians Gary Grundei


    Longtime DCPA composer Gary Grundei leads a community gospel choir in Boulder that does not require its members to believe in any specific religious precepts. All comers are welcome to sing out as a powerful means of spiritual reflection and contemplation. “At its best, I believe that church is a place to participate,” Grundei said, “especially when you don't have to have everything all figured out.”

    Which sounds a bit like Lucas Hnath’s highly acclaimed The Christians, one of the most-produced plays in the American theatre this season. Set in an “actual” 18,000-seat megachurch service, this provocative new play is the story of an evangelical pastor who comes to question a basic tenet of his faith - and his changing perspective will prove challenging to his tens of thousands of followers.

    A The Christians Gary Grundei Quote“When music works to maximum effect in a church service, I think it gives you a chance to consider big questions in a way that is not necessarily linear or rational,” said Grundei. “It gives you the space to sit with it in your body, ear, and voice. The music I am drawn to in church doesn't necessarily tell you what to think or feel in a dogmatic way. When you sing those phrases over and over again, there's room for you to have it mean something a little different each time or change as you're singing it. I find that to be a very rich experience.”

    The Christians will feature live music at every performance from an 11-member praise band made up of eight singers and three musicians. The score of known contemporary gospel and traditional spirituals, including "God's Unchanging Hand" and "Farther Along," will be arranged by Grundei, who has spent most of his 20 years with the DCPA Theatre Company composing original underscoring for homegrown productions such as the Plainsong Trilogy.

    “We are definitely going to church with this play,” said Grundei, who was also the choir director at Parker United Methodist Church for two years. “We haven't determined yet how participatory it will be. But honestly, my hope is to get some of the audience to participate.‘’

    The DCPA describes The Christians as “an intimate look at the moments that define who we are and what we believe.” Grundei says the play is respectful to people of faith, and opens a two-way ideological dialogue that proves relevant to anyone who has ever questioned something they believe in, whether they are a person of faith or not.  

    Video bonus: Chicago Mass Choir's take on 'God's Unchanging Hand'

    “Honestly, I really love this play,” Grundei said. “It is beautifully written. It brings such sensitivity to progressive ways of thinking about a spiritual life. And it offers a really smart perspective on what it's like for someone who is going along on the spiritual path and is now struggling with whether to lose some of the dogma he has been taught. I tend toward not telling folks exactly what to believe, but rather let's steep ourselves in the tradition of stories that have wisdom and stories and music.”  

    Grundei, MeridithGrundei first came to the Denver Center to design sound for A Servant of Two Masters in 1997. He has a band called High Fictions and teaches music at Naropa University in Boulder. He is also the co-creator of Bar Choir, a kind of flash mob of melody-makers who take over hipster bars once a month by breaking into songs by artists ranging from Pat Benatar to the White Stripes to Prince. Grundei’s wife is actor Meridith C. Grundei (pictured right), whose recent DCPA credits include Sweet and Lucky and Frankenstein.

    Here is more of our conversation:

    John Moore:  How big would a real praise band be in a megachurch that’s the size of the one represented in The Christians?

    Gary Grundei: The church in our play has a huge choir of 100 or so, but they are not there this day. Today, when we stop in on the story, there is instead this small worship choir made up of eight very talented and enthusiastic singers.  

    John Moore: What is the role of a praise band in an actual large community church service with as many as 18,000 people in attendance?

    Gary Grundei: Our job at the beginning of the service is to raise the energy of the people gathered, get them on their feet and get them participating in the service. We'll see if anyone in the congregation wants to sing along or not.

    John Moore: What’s different when you are putting together a band for a church service as opposed to a band to play for a live musical in a theatre?

    Gary Grundei: For The Christians, we are looking for musicians who really understand contemporary and gospel music. In a traditional musical, you read charts that tell you exactly what to play. We're not looking for that. We are looking for people who are willing to bring out their own musical personalities in their music.

    John Moore: Did you attend services at one of these 18,000-seat community churches as part of your research?  

    Gary Grundei: Actually, whenever I visit a new town I like to find the local gospel church, just to have that experience. I have many times been moved, crying, moving my feet and shouting during these services. But I've only been to two actual local megachurches: One was very new-age, and I found that to be very affirming. The other, to be honest, was not very dynamic, and the music was not very good. I found myself not engaged by anything except the Jumbotron. Now, that was gorgeous. They had good lighting and good camera work, too.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: What is your role as arranger here?

    Gary Grundei: The songs will be based on common traditional arrangements. There will be a little bit of scoring throughout the piece, too, in the tradition of an organ player who plays under the sermon a little bit.

    John Moore: Are you a member of the band?

    Gary Grundei: I'm not because I am committed to doing a production of Beowulf that my wife is directing for The Catamounts in Boulder.  It conflicts with the performance schedule.

    John Moore: Tell us about how you got started at the Denver Center.

    Gary Grundei: The first thing I did at Denver Center was the sound design for A Servant of Two Masters in 1997. I had a paid internship in the sound department, so I designed three shows that year.  It just so happened that Anthony Powell was directing Macbeth, and they didn't have a composer budgeted.  And so I said,  ‘Well, I'm already on contract. How about you put me to work composing music for Macbeth? And he did. I had a good run of doing all the Shakespeare plays with Anthony Powell for a number of years.  And then when Kent Thompson came onboard, he brought me in to do some of the new plays, like the Plainsong trilogy. That was great.

    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.

    Video bonus: Watch Gary Grundei lead a recent Bar Choir event:

    Here's a video glimpse at a recent Bar Choir gathering where drop-ins learned songs including Pat Benatar's "We Belong" and the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army." Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To read more about Bar Choir, click here.


    The Christians
    : Ticket information
    The ChristiansA new play about the mystery of faith and what happens when a doctrinal controversy shakes the foundation of a large community church.
    Jan. 27-Feb. 26
    Stage Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of The Christians:
    The Christians: Five things we learned at first rehearsal 
    The Christians
    is 'a pathway to empathy
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics




  • 2016 True West Award: The women running theatre in Boulder

    by John Moore | Dec 30, 2016

    True West Awards Boulder women

    (Clockwise from top left: Rebecca Remaly Weitz, Emily K. Harrison, Amanda Berg Wilson and Pesha Rudnick. Inset right: Joan Kuder Bell as Mrs. Millamount in Upstart Crow's 'The Way of the World.')



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 30: The women running theatre in Boulder

    First off: Yes, there is something inherently wrong with singling out a group of successful women for their accomplishments based in part on their gender.

    Then again, when you have been systematically singled out for exclusion over decades in large part based of your gender, then perhaps the occasional exception to the unjust rule is something to celebrate.

    You may have seen the damning national stats: While women make up about 68 percent of all theatregoing audiences, fewer than 25 percent of the stories they see performed on American stages are written or directed by women. Further, 73 percent of all Artistic Directors and 62 percent of Executive Directors at leading U.S. theatres are white men. But did you know 65 percent of those working in jobs just below those leadership positions are women or persons of color? That means women and minorities do most of the work – and white men get promoted.

    True West Award Quote Boulder womenIt’s no wonder any self-starting woman with aspirations of running a theatre company would bypass the rat race and instead start her own.

    Call it an anomaly, a coincidence or a hopeful trend, but at a time when rectifying longstanding gender disparity is a major priority in the American theatre, one need only look to Boulder to find four distinctive theatre companies that were started or co-founded by creatively adventurous, collaborative women:

    (Photos above and right, clockwise from top left: Emily K. Harrison, Pesha Rudnick, Amanda Berg Wilson and Rebecca Remaly Weitz.) 

    The city of Boulder’s theatre roots run deep through the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, which turns 60 this summer; through Joan and Richard Bell’s Upstart Crow, which has presented classical theatre since 1980; and through BDT Stage, which has been staging Broadway-caliber musicals for nearly 40 years.

    But it is these four upstart women of the Boulder theatre community who have revived the city’s reputation as a culturally active and relevant hot spot. And for that, Duran says, Boulder is most grateful.

    “I am honestly blown away by all four them,” said Duran, who has been the Producing Artistic Director at BDT Stage for 13 years. “They are all so educated, and they have such amazing backgrounds in theatre and academia. These women are bringing brave new voices to the theatre and bringing different kinds of theatregoing experiences to Boulder audiences, and that benefits all of us.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The question is: Are these companies significant because they exist – or rather, is it significant that women brought them into existence? To Rudnick, it matters that women started all four companies because female theatre administrators are a collective rarity in the American theatre. “It matters because there is diversity in the female perspective, and feminism is rooted in humanism,” she said. “At Local Theater Company, we are interested in making theater that supports artists, our families and in telling stories that are inclusive and diverse.”

    Wilson knows one thing for sure: The question intself wouldn’t matter a bit if all four companies were not doing good and progressive work. “To boot: All four companies are dedicated almost exclusively to producing work that is new to Colorado,” she said. “All four companies are actively wrestling with how to address the emerging mandate that issues of equity and diversity must be addressed in the work and organizational structure of every theatre company. And all four are significant in this town and state because nationally, significant organizations that are also female-led are few and far between.”

    Our report from the 2016 Statera conference on gender parity

    And all four companies truly were firing on all cylinders in 2016. We asked each leader for a brief rundown of their accomplishments this year:

    BETC Vera Rubin. Michael Ensminger BOULDER ENSEMBLE THEATRE COMPANY, Rebecca Remaly Weitz: “We produced two word premieres (Vera Rubin: Bringing the Dark to Light and Full Code) and three regional premieres (Cyrano, Ripcord and Every Xmas Story Ever Told). We also workshopped a new play (The Madres) that has been selected as a finalist by the National New Play Network. We continued our successful annual co-production of The SantaLand Diaries with Off-Center at the Denver Center's Jones Theatre. Our support from the Shubert Foundation was increased by 50 percent, and I was the grateful recipient of the 2016 Emerging Professional Artist Award from the National Theatre Conference. We now have two full-time and three part-time employees. And our ensemble has grown to 23 fabulous people. (Photo: Mackenzie Sherburne and Chip Persons in 'Vera Rubin: 'Bringing the Dark to Light.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    Catamounts The Taming. Michael EnsmingerTHE CATAMOUNTS, Amanda Berg Wilson: We produced two adventurous regional premieres by rising American playwrights (Jordan Harrison’s Futura and Lauren Gunderson’s The Taming). We served up three weekends of theatre, food and community though our original FEED series. We led young artists through the process of creating and performing their own work at Flatirons and Heatherwood Elementary schools. We received a three-year organizational grant from the Boulder Arts Commission, and our funding from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District increased by 58 percent. We hired our first employee (me!), and we moved our administrative headquarters from my damn couch to a sexy new co-working space. But what I am most proud of in 2016 is that we made a public commitment to increase the diversity in our programming and artists. (Photo: McPherson Horle in 'The Taming.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    Local The Firestorm. Michael Ensminger. LOCAL THEATER COMPANY, Pesha Rudnick: As Local moves into our fifth season, we've renewed our fierce commitment to developing new American plays that address issues that are urgently “of the moment.” The Firestorm was a perfect example of that — it’s a new play by Meridith Friedman that addresses white privilege, racism and marriage during a heated election season. We added facilitated audience conversations that offer a platform for true, genuine dialogue. The Creede Repertory Theatre presented The History Room, which we first introduced during our 2016 Local Lab New Play Festival. Our new literacy program, Literature Live, will launch in February with a world premiere production of A Home in the Heart, an adaptation of Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street. It’s a stunning novel that explores immigration, coming-of-age and self-expression, and we will be presenting it for students, teachers and families in partnership with the Boulder Public Library. (Photo: Jada Suzanne Dixon in 'The Firestorm.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    Square Product Cockroach. J Akiyama Kinisissquare product theatre company: We collaborated with Hoarded Stuff Performance on the world premiere of an awkward existential comedy called This Aunt is Not a Cockroach. We collaborated with Chicago’s The New Colony to produce two staged readings: Evan Linder's Byhalia, Mississippi, which we read as part of a simultaneous world-premiere Conversation here in Boulder, and our own original work called SLAB (about Hurricane Katrina), which we read at The Den Theatre in Chicago. We collaborated with Quake Theater on Ham & Millicent’s Boulder Arts Week Art Walk. And in the fall, we collaborated with the University of Colorado on a production of the Neo-Futurists' 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, which we originally staged in 2012. (Photo: Laura Ann Samuelson in 'This Aunt is Not a Cockroach.' Photo by J. Akiyama, Kinisis Photography.)

    Coming Saturday: The 2016 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year

    True West Awards. Boulder women. Amanda Berg Wilson. In October, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts hosted a national conference that addressed gender disparity in the American theatre. Much attention was paid to the particular challenge mothers face maintaining administrative careers while raising children. Berg said it is significant that most of the women who run theatre companies in Boulder are also mothers.

    “We lose too many excellent theatre artists to the necessities of family life because your child-bearing years unfortunately often overlap with some of your best creative and career-development years,” Wilson said. “And the low pay and long hours aren't terribly conducive to hiring babysitters who are sometimes paid more to watch your kid while you make your art than you are to make it. So to stick with it once you have kids takes a certain amount of ingenuity and grit and dedication to a vision — and hopefully a supportive partner. Women still labor under so many double standards when it comes to balancing work and family life. I'd like to think our community benefits from those of us who are willing to try to walk that tightrope.”

    (Photo above and right: Amanda Berg Wilson is not above mopping the floor after performances by The Catamounts. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    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 (to date)
    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
  • Meet the cast: Meridith C. Grundei of 'Frankenstein'

    by John Moore | Oct 22, 2016
    Meridith C. Grundei
    Photo of Meridith C. Grundei by Kellie Coughlin.


    MEET MERIDITH C. GRUNDEI

    Servant/Ensemble/Understudy for Elizabeth and Gretel in Frankenstein

    At the Theatre Company: Sweet & Lucky and SWEAT, both with Off-Center. Other Theatre credits: The Misanthrope (American Conservatory Theatre), God's Ear, Messenger #1, Failure...A Love Story, Mr. Spacky, Mr. Burns, The Three Faces of Dr. Crippen, Spirits to Enforce (The Catamounts), Faith (Local Theater Company) and House of Yes (square product). Recipient of the 2011 Camera Eye Award and nominated as Best Actress in a Comedy by the 2012 Culture West True West Awards. She is married to frequent DCPA Theatre composer Gary Grundei.

    • Hometown: Fort Collins
    • Training: I have an MFA in Contemporary Performance from Naropa University in Boulder
    • What was the role that changed your life? I was in a dance concert, and in one of the dances, the choreographer gave me the lines, “When I grow up, I want to be just like Wonder Woman!”  I loved speaking on stage and from that moment, I wanted to act. I was 10 years old.
    • Why are you an actor? I believe that stories are crucial to our understanding of where we came from, where we are and where we are capable of going. I love being a storyteller. It is my way of giving back in this crazy world we live in.
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? I would do what I am already doing. I started a business six years ago called Red Ball Speaks where I travel to companies and use improv and theatre to teach team communication.
    • Meridith C. Grundei and Charlie Korman Ideal scene partner: I would have to say Gilda Radner. I would love to have had a good laugh with that woman.
    • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • Why does this production of Frankenstein matter? It shows how quickly we judge the “other.” If only humans would suspend judgment for a moment and see someone for who they really are, perhaps our world would have fewer “monsters.”
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing Frankenstein? I hope people take the time to reflect on how they treat others. I also hope they feel the tension our director and design team have created. Love it!
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... for people to experience life, to take risks, to be curious and to ask the hard questions."

    • Failure A Love Story, Meridith C. Grundei. Photo by John MoorePhoto above and right: Cast members Meridith C. Grundei and Charlie Korman at the Opening Night party for 'Frankenstein.' Photo above: Grundei goes for a swim in The Catamounts' 'Failure: A Love Story' in 2013. That was a fanciful musical fable about three 1920s Chicago sisters who never saw death coming. (Also pictured: Ed Cord, front, and Ryan Wuestewald.) Both photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

      Follow Meridith C. Grundei on her web site, or on Twitter @redballspeaks

       

      Frankenstein: Ticket information
      Frankenstein• Through Oct. 30
      • Stage Theatre
      • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Oct. 23
      • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
      • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

      Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frankenstein:
      Photos: Opening Night of Frankenstein
      Video series: Inside look at the making of Frankenstein
      Five things we learned about Frankenstein at Perspectives
      Photos, video: Your first look at the making of Frankenstein
      Frankenstein
      : On the making of a two-headed monster
      Frankenstein and race: It IS a matter of black and white
      Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'
      A Frankenstein 'that will make The Bible look subtle'
      How Danny Boyle infused new life into Frankenstein
      Casting set for Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie
      Introducing DCPA Theatre Company's 2016-17 season artwork
      Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
      2016-17 season announcement

      More 2016-17 DCPA Theatre Company 'Meet the Cast' profiles:

      Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
      Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
      Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
      Mark Junek, Frankenstein
      Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
      Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
      Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
      John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
      Wesley Taylor, An Act of God

      Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center.

  • The Year of Gunderson has begun in Colorado

    by John Moore | Sep 22, 2016


    The Catamounts are presenting Lauren Gunderson's political comedy ' The Taming,' featuring Laura Lounge, in Boulder through Oct. 8. Photo by Michael Ensminger.


    The Year of Gunderson has begunderson in Colorado theatre.

    Three Colorado theatre companies, including the DCPA, are presenting three different plays by 34-year-old wunderkind Lauren Gunderson. Sure, that’s impressive and all, but let's consider this playwriting phenomenon from a slightly larger context:

    Gunderson is officially the most-produced living playwright in the country right now, according to American Theatre Magazine. And she's No. 2 overall, behind only the august August Wilson. Yes, ahead of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. (But not ahead of William Shakespeare or Stephen Sondheim, who, for whatever reasons, do not count in the magazine's annual survey. Still … )

    Lauren Gunderson quote “This is a pretty amazing moment in my career,” Gunderson said from her home in San Francisco. “I have always dreamed of having a place in a smart, adventurous theatre community like the Denver/Boulder area. I am really honored and excited to have my work be in that soup. Colorado gets me.”

    Oh, Colorado gets lots of Gunderson between now and May 2017 – and probably lots thereafter. Boulder’s The Catamounts just opened their sixth season with The Taming, a wild political farce being offered up just in time for this hilarious election season. In February, The DCPA Theatre Company will launch the world premiere of The Book of Will, which tells how Shakespeare’s greatest plays were snatched from the dustbin of history after his death. And in April, Boulder’s Ensemble Theatre Company will present Silent Sky, about pioneering Harvard astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt.

    “That really makes me happy because those three plays represent three phases of my life and three very different styles of my writing,” Gunderson said. “They are kind of a microcosm of my dream career.”

    What’s most remarkable, American Theatre wrote in announcing its survey results, is that Gunderson has become America’s most produced living playwright largely without the New York stamp of approval. Of the 16 professional productions of Gunderson’s plays in the 2016-17 season, only one was set to be staged in the Big Apple.

    Gunderson, also the mother of two, attributes her place on the list to her personal propensity for working on three plays at a time - an instinct that was catalyzed in her when she began writing plays as a 15-year-old in Atlanta.

    “Writers write,” Gunderson said. “You just have to write, and write a lot.”

    She started writing – a lot – when she realized most plays don’t have parts for a teenage girl or her friends, so Gunderson started to write her own. “It really was kind of selfish,” she said with a laugh. “I was trying to write as a way to explore the extent of one's emotional capacity.” She began by emulating her heroes: Samuel Beckett, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Paula Vogel among them. But eventually, she said, “I got the confidence to write about who I am right now.”

    Here is a brief look at the three Gunderson plays that will be presented to Colorado audiences this season:

    The Taming
    Presented by The Catamounts
     
    Now through Oct. 8
    Carsen Theatre at the Dairy Arts Center, Boulder
    303-444-7328 or ONLINE TICKETING

    The premise of The Taming sounds like the start of a bad joke: You take a Republican, a Democrat and a libertarian, and lock them in a hotel room. ... Only it’s actually a really good joke.

    “Oh, it’s a laugh riot, which is the only way I could get away with writing such a political play,” Gunderson said. “Basically everyone gets skewered, so you will be able to laugh at whichever side you don't like.”

    The Catamounts' 'The Taming. Laura Lounge, McPherson Horle. Photo by Michael EnsmingerThe Taming focuses on three women, led by a Miss America contestant who has political aspirations to match her pageant ambitions. All she needs to revolutionize the U.S. government is the help of a conservative senator's aide and a bleeding-heart liberal blogger.

    “It is definitely based on The Taming of the Shrew," said Gunderson. The Miss America contestant is named Katherine (naturally), “but it is not an adaptation or a re-telling of Shakespeare. It was really all of the misogyny in his play that inspired me to write mine. I am going to go out on a limb here and say I don't ever need to see The Taming of the Shrew ever again. It's just useless right now, and maybe even a little dangerous. And it's not even very funny. I walk away from that play thinking, ‘So the abuser definitely won, and nobody seems to have a problem with that. Fabulous.’ ”

    The frustration Gunderson felt watching The Taming of the Shrew is the same she feels looking at Congress. “So I wanted take the misogyny out of Shakespeare’s play and put congressional partisan politics in its place.

    “But it's really all about, 'How do we work together to save the country?' We can't even have a conversation anymore. We're not even the same species. And that means nothing is getting done. Our country has stalled, and you can see that now more than ever with this election cycle. That’s why I think theatre companies are doing this play all over the country this year.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    So if not the shrew, then … who is being tamed here, exactly?

    “America,” Gunderson said with a laugh.

    The Taming is the first production since The Catamounts' public pledge to produce at least one play per season by a female, LGBTQ or non-white playwright. To which Gunderson says: Right on.

    “I am deeply excited by who The Catamounts are, and that they are doing this play,” she said. TICKETS

    (Pictured above right: McPherson Horle and Laura Lounge in The Catamounts' 'The Taming.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)




    Our video interview with DCPA commissioned playwright  Lauren Gunderson, author of 'The Book of Will.'

    The Book of Will
    Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company

    Jan. 13-Feb. 26, 2017
    Ricketson Theatre
    303-893-4100 or ONLINE TICKETING

    A Book of Will Lauren Gunderson 600 2The Book of Will, an original DCPA Theatre Company commission, is based on the true adventure of Shakespeare's great friends and fellow actors, John Henry Condell and John Heminges. “They were responsible for editing, curating and publishing Shakespeare's First Folio, without which we certainly would have lost half of Shakespeare's plays, including some of the absolute timeless greats,” Gunderson said. “We know how valuable Shakespeare is to the world at large, but they didn't know it at the time. They had no idea how impactful this project would be to everyone.”

    But her play, she said, is ultimately about friendship and mortality. “It asks: What do we leave behind? What's worth saving? Why is it valuable? What does theatre do for society and culture and civilization?” she said. “The play really starts to hone in on those things. But it does so, ideally, with a real, grounded heart.”

    (Pictured above right: 'The Book of Will' was a featured reading at the DCPA's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)



    Silent Sky
    /Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    April 6-30, 2017
    Grace Gamm Theater at The Dairy Arts Center, Boulder MORE INFO

    Gunderson was going through New York’s famed Strand Book Store when she came across a pamphlet on Henrietta Swan Leavitt, a little-known astronomer whose research led to the theory of the expanding universe.

    Silent Sky. Monette Magrath. South Coast Rep 2011“I was shocked to find a female scientist I had not yet heard of, because I gravitate toward those stories,” said Gunderson. Leavitt was tasked by the Harvard College Observatory to measure and catalog the brightness of stars in 1893. But as a woman, she wasn’t even allowed to use a telescope. “They were just looking at numbers and at glass photographic plates of the sky - not even the real sky,” Gunderson said.

    So while the play is about astronomy and math, it’s really about the subjugated women forced to conduct their work in an enclosed office. Nevertheless, Leavitt found a pattern in a certain kind of blinking star that led to the modern cosmology we have today, including the works of Edwin Hubble (ironically, of the telescope fame).

    Leavitt’s discovery felt immediately theatrical, visual and musical to Gunderson. “I thought those things sounded like they belong on stage,” she said.

    There are at least two commonalities at the heart of Gunderson’s works. One, she said, is “getting the story back into women's bodies and women's brains and women's mouths.”

    And the other is legacy. “My work usually ends up coming to grips with facing the future without us, and what we leave behind,” she said.

    “For The Taming, it's all about how do we change this country? Katherine’s big goal is literally to rewrite the Constitution. Silent Sky is about contributing to science, even if you don't get to see where the end of that exploration goes. And of course, The Book of Will is about launching one of the most important books in the Western canon.

    “To me, the big question usually comes down to: 'What we can do to change the world around us for the better?' ”

    (Pictured above right: Monette Magrath in 'Silent Sky' at South Coast Rep in 2011.)


    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.

  • Soggy skies can't shake 5,000 students' Shakespeare spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 2015 True West Award: Mark Collins

    by John Moore | Dec 29, 2015

    From left: Emily K. Harrison, Maggy Stacy and Mark Collins in square product theatre company's 'How I Learned to Drive.' Photo by Jun Akiyama.

    2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    ​Today’s recipient: Actor
    Mark Collins

    Today’s award presenter:
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore


    This is the story of how a mild-mannered theatre critic put down the pen and took up the acting sword.

    This year, Mark Collins established himself as among the very best actors in town by playing five challenging roles for five different local theatre companies:

    • The Cripple of Inishmaan, Miners Alley Playhouse: Collins played the parasitic gossip Johnnypateenmike, who trades news for bits of food.
    • A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney, The Catamounts: He played Roy Disney, a human counterpoint to his tyrannical brother, Walt.
    • Jerusalem, The Edge Theatre: He played Wesley, a drug-addicted British pub owner with a likeable veneer.
    • Driving Miss Daisy: Cherry Creek Theatre: He played the iconic Miss Daisy’s Southern son, Boolie Werthan
    • How I Learned to Drive, square product theatre company: Collins was an authoritative Uncle Peck, a disturbingly comprehensible child molester. 

    That the above would turn out to be Collins’ acting slate for 2015 might have seemed incomprehensible just a few years ago.

    True West Award Mark Collins QuoteFor 10 years, Collins was one of the leading critical voices in the Denver/Boulder theater community, combining a compassionate eye for the art of making theater with an opinion backed by a master’s degree. As a contributor to the Boulder Daily Camera, Collins was always understated and well-informed.

    Then in April 2012, after more than 700 reviews, Collins did something extraordinary: He walked way from the Daily Camera to pursue acting. Not that he wasn't trained for the switch. Collins majorly disproves the stubborn and almost always ill-informed cliché that those who can’t act … or direct … or write plays … become critics. Collins earned his BFA in acting at the University of Colorado and his MFA from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

    Just three short years after leaving journalism behind, critics are describing Collins’ acting in much the same way his former readers described his critical analyses: Understated and well-informed.

    Bill Wheeler, for example, found Collins’ submissive performance in Walt Disney to be "a gem." Beki Pineda credited Collins for turning a minor role into an important one. "His versatility continues to astound,” she wrote.

    In his 2012 farewell essay for the Daily Camera, Collins asserted that "it is a critic's utmost responsibility to be honest about what he thinks when he's writing for readers who are potential ticket-buyers.” Well, his present successor at the Daily Camera, A.H. Goldstein, must have been honestly blown away by Collins’ performance in How I Learned to Drive. “Collins' success at fusing villainy with charm and sympathy is unnerving,” Goldstein wrote. Joanne Ostrow of The Denver Post called Collins “smooth, seductive and almost irresistible” in the role.

    On top of all that, Collins also works with local companies as a dialect coach.

    In a 2012 interview with CultureWest.Org, Collins said he quickly learned not to miss his old life after leaving the Daily Camera. It wasn’t that he felt a burden had been lifted, per se. “This just fits me better,” he said.

    Collins next appears as Aegeus in Medea, starring Karen Slack, at The Edge Theatre. It opens Jan. 15.

    True West Award Mark Collins in Miners Alley Playhouse's 'The Cripple of Inishmaan.'
    Mark Collins as the starving Irish gossip Johnnypateenmike in 'The Cripple of Inishmaan.' Photo courtesy Miners Alley Playhouse.

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. This year, 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 around the state 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


    THE 2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS TO DATE
    Day 1: Rachel D. Graham
    Day 2: BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Day 4: Laurence Curry
    Day 5: Bernie Cardell
    Day 6: Susan Lyles
    Day 7: John Jurcheck​
    Day 8: Christopher L. Sheley
    Day 9: DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
    Day 10: Man and Monster: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle
    Day 11: Shauna Johnson
    Day 12: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant
    Day 13: Sesugh Solomon Tor-Agbidye
    Day 14: Keith Ewer
    Day 15: Allison Watrous
    Day 16: Jonathan Farwell
    Day 17: Bob, Wendy and Missy Moore
    Day 18: Emma Messenger
    Day 19: Shannon McKinney
    Day 20: Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter
    Day 21: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
    Day 22: Scott Beyette
    Day 23: Augustus Truhn
    Day 24: Jimmy Bruenger
    Day 25: The Masters of Props: Rob Costigan, Peki Pineda and Becky Toma
    Day 26: Jalyn Courtenay Webb
    Day 27: Andre Rodriguez
    Day 28: Rebecca Remaly
    Day 29: Mark Collins
    Day 30: Phamaly Theatre Company's Cabaret
    Bonus: Donald R. Seawell
  • 2015 True West Award: John Jurcheck

    by John Moore | Dec 07, 2015
    John Jurcheck True West Award
    John Jurcheck and Laura Jo Trexler in Curious Theatre's 'The Flick.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.


    2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    ​Today’s recipient:
    Actor John Jurcheck

    Today’s presenter: 2014 True West Award winner Amanda Berg Wilson


    Actor John Jurcheck started and finished his year playing adrift characters in two proudly passive plays written by Annie Baker, perhaps the most praised and polarizing playwright in America at the moment. Baker has made her name by testing the limits of theatre audiences’ patience. She writes long, intentional pauses into her stories where nothing – seemingly – happens on stage. We're not talking pregnant pauses. We are talking camel gestation.

    Baker has been celebrated for forcing theatregoers to confront their growing discomfort with silence in our increasingly short-attention-span society. To fans, Baker’s plays are a celebration of the inordinate ordinary. To naysayers, her plays are a monotonous waste of your time. 

    John Jurcheck in 'The Aliens' at Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Photo by Daniel Leonard.The Pulitzer Prize committee has a decidedly checkered record when it comes to determining America’s best plays, but one thing was certain when it chose Baker’s The Flick for its 2014 honor: The award made inevitable that audiences around the country were going to be challenged with her opus. This year, Curious Theatre pounced on The Flick, while Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company snatched its precursor, The Aliens. And in many ways, Jurcheck was the glue that held both productions together. (Pictured above: John Jurcheck in 'The Aliens' for the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Photo by Daniel Leonard.)

    In The Aliens, Jurcheck played KJ, an unbalanced, Beat-like slacker wiling away his early 30s in the alley behind a Vermont café. In The Flick, he was Sam, a dead-end film buff wiling away his early 30s mopping floors at an old-time Massachusetts movie house.

    On paper, we are talking two very short scripts. In performance, more than five hours combined. That’s a lot of silence. And sighing. And sweeping. And, in one instance, a very long attempted sneeze.

    John Jurcheck quoteAmanda Berg Wilson, founder of Boulder’s The Catamounts and today's True West Awards guest picker, walked into The Flick dubious, she says politely. “I am a 90-minute-play girl. I don’t get excited by writers who think their plays should be 3½ hours long.”

    She left the performance believing Jurcheck had accomplished something remarkable.

    “It was naturalism to perfection,” Wilson said. “He was so seamless in his rhythm. He seemed to completely inhabit the world of the play in his character.”

    And of those interminable silences?

    “The incorporation of a real-time feel is incredibly necessary for the tension of that play,” she said. “But John made the pauses into tense and meaningful silences that were fascinating to watch. Nothing about what he did came across as experimental or random.”

    In The Aliens, Jurcheck also had to tackle live music challenges. Baker tasked his character with singing arrhythmic, nonlinear songs that, Jurcheck told A.H. Goldstein in an interview with the Boulder Daily Camera, “offer my character a way to make sense of his life. They let him express these feelings that he has that have never been accepted in regular society. They let him experiment with ideas and release tensions in his life."

    Jurcheck, a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, sympathetically communicated frustration, boredom, passivity and depression in his roles, along with the effects of drug abuse and psychological disturbance. And he did it largely without the benefit of dialogue or forward action. That is, to both audiences and fellow actors of the craft, an accomplishment worth shouting about.


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. This year, 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 around the state 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

    THE 2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS
    Day 1: Rachel D. Graham
    Day 2: BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Day 4: Laurence Curry
    Day 5: Bernie Cardell
    Day 6: Susan Lyles
    Day 7: John Jurcheck​
    Day 8: Christopher L. Sheley
    Day 9: DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
    Day 10: Man and Monster: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle
    Day 11: Shauna Johnson
    Day 12: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant
    Day 13: Sesugh Solomon Tor-Agbidye
    Day 14: Keith Ewer
    Day 15: Allison Watrous
    Day 16: Jonathan Farwell
    Day 17: Bob, Wendy and Missy Moore
    Day 18: Emma Messenger
    Day 19: Shannon McKinney
    Day 20: Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter
    Day 21: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
    Day 22: Scott Beyette
    Day 23: Augustus Truhn
    Day 24: Jimmy Bruenger
    Day 25: The Masters of Props: Rob Costigan, Peki Pineda and Becky Toma
    Day 26: Jalyn Courtenay Webb
    Day 27: Andre Rodriguez
    Day 28: Rebecca Remaly
    Day 29: Mark Collins
    Day 30: Phamaly Theatre Company's Cabaret
    Bonus: Donald R. Seawell

  • 2014 True West Award: Amanda Berg Wilson and Jeremy Make

    by John Moore | Dec 03, 2014
    True_West_Awards_3_Amanda_Berg_Wilson_Jeremy_Make_800


    TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 AWARDS

    True_West_Award_300

    Amanda Berg Wilson and Jeremy Make shared very little stage time in The Catamounts’ fertile staging of There is a Happiness That Morning Is. No matter. Their fearless performances communicated an essential, messy, shared connection – from a distance. Happiness is a cerebral, challenging comedy written entirely in verse by Mickle Maher. It’s about two New England college English professors who have been caught making love in scandalously public fashion. Now both must apologize to their respective classes if they want to keep their jobs. In their subsequent, alternating lectures, each takes a turn invoking contrasting words from the radical English poet William Blake, whose Songs of Innocence and of Experience ruminated on “two contrary states of the human soul.” Bernard (representing innocence) basks in the transcendent morning afterglow of the couple's campus hook-up like a pent-up, deflowered teen. It's a particularly joyful performance from Make given these two lovers have been coupled for 20 years. Prim and practical yet deliciously profane Ellen (experience), by contrast, directs her hilarious hormonal ire at the college president who busted them in the bushes. “Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed,” Blake wrote. But we didn’t need to see Make and Wilson make naked love to know these actors made art on the stage in Boulder. We not only felt the connection that has fueled the couple's affair, but their very disparate emotional crises laid bare. We’ve known Wilson as the driving off-stage force behind the rising Catamounts -- she was last seen onstage way back in the early 2000s as a member of The Bug Theatre Company. It was a treat to be reminded that Wilson remains very much an actor as well. Next she will make her Curious Theatre debut in Detroit. 

    2014 TRUE WEST AWARDS:
    1: Norrell Moore
    2. Kate Gleason
    3. Amanda Berg Wilson and Jeremy Make
    4. Ben Cowhick
    5. Robert Michael Sanders
    6. David Nehls
    7. Adrian Egolf
    8. Emma Messenger
    9. Buntport's Naughty Bits
    10. Tim Howard
    11. Gleason Bauer
    12. Daniel Traylor
    13. Aisha Jackson and Jim Hogan
    14. Cast of 'The Whipping Man'
    15. Rick Yaconis
    16. Michael R. Duran
    17. Laura Norman
    18. Jacquie Jo Billings
    19. Megan Van De Hey
    20. Jeremy Palmer
    21. Henry Lowenstein   
    22. Sam Gregory
    23. Wendy Ishii
    24. J. Michael Finley
    25. Kristen Samu and Denver Actors Fund volunteers
    26. Matthew D. Peters
    27. Shannan Steele
    28. Ludlow, 1914
    29. Spring Awakening and Annapurna
    30 Theatre Person of the Year Steve Wilson

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

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

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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.