• It's Mother's Day! Here are 10 of the worst in theatre history

    by John Moore | May 12, 2018
    August Osage County Annie Butler Creede Repertory Theatre Photo by John Gary Brown.Annie Butler as Violet Weston in Creede Repertory Theatre's 2015 production of 'August: Osage County.' Photo by John Gary Brown.


    If you had, have or are a good mother, this list of 10 terrible moms ought to make you feel good about yourself today

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Who are your choices for bad theatre moms? Add them as a comment at the bottom of this story. And Happy Mother's Day!  

    NUMBER 1August Osage County OpenStage. Denise Freestone and Sydney Smith. Photo by Joe Hovorka.Violet Weston from August: Osage County. At the center of Tracy Letts’ modern Dust Bowl is this poisonous, pill-popping matriarch. Her worst sin? Perhaps it was allowing her husband to commit suicide when she could have done something to prevent it. Perhaps. (It’s a long list.) Violet has cancer of the mouth — medically and metaphorically. She has no switch to stop her from blurting the most vicious things that come to mind. She pops out furious epithets — most aimed at her own adult daughters — as quickly as she pops in pills. Her spawn all bear varying degrees of inherited burns they surely will pass on to their own children. How evil is Violet? Why, she even blasts Colorado. "It's not hard to do!" she says in the play. Sorry, Vi, but that makes you The Worst. (Pictured: Denise Freestone and Sydney Smith in OpenStage Theatre's 2017 production of 'August: Osage County' in Fort Collins. Photo by Joe Hovorka.)

    NUMBER 2Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van de Hey in Gypsy for Town Hall Arts Center 2009Mamma Rose Hovick from Gypsy. A rose is a rose is not always a rose. Take thorny Mamma Rose, whose name has become synonymous with “bad show-biz mom.” Rose (a real person) is a domineering mother with an insatiable drive to make stars out of her two daughters, whether in vaudeville, burlesque or strip-tease. (Hey there’s nothing humiliating about stripping as long as you are the star, she comes to believe.) Broadway fans have seen some of the great actors of our time take up the maniacal mantle, from Ethel Merman to Angela Lansbury to Patti Lupone to Tyne Daly to Bernadette Peters. Gypsy drives one daughter away and debases the other until in the end, even she admits: “I did it for me!” Frank Rich called Gypsy “nothing if not Broadway's own brassy, unlikely answer to King Lear.” (Pictured: Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van de Hey in Town Hall Arts Center's 2009 production of 'Gypsy.')

    NUMBER 3Emily Paton Davies as Maureen, Emma Messenger as Mag Photo 3_ Emma Messenger as Mag, Emily Paton Davies as Maureen Photo credit_ Rachel D GrahamMag from The Beauty Queen of Leenane. The New York Times’ Ben Brantley called Martin McDonagh’s satantically funny Irish mother-daughter tandem of Mag and Maureen Folan “one of the nastiest family units ever to grace (or disgrace) a stage.” Housebound (or is she?) Mag is “a maddening model of passive aggression” who destroys any chance her spinster daughter has for happiness out of her own selfish desire not to die alone. Any trace of love has long ago giving way to spite, resentment, hatred and casual violence. Ah, the Irish. (Pictured: Emma Messenger as Mag and Emily Paton Davies as Maureen in The Edge Theatre's 2014 production of 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane.' Photo by Rachel D. Graham.)

    NUMBER 4piper-laurie-carrieMargaret White from Carrie the Musical. Carrie's overprotective and abusive mother is a religious zealot. Although she loves Carrie and wants to protect her from the world, her fanaticism often drives her to, well, torture her daughter. After Carrie develops telekinesis and goes to the prom against her mom's wishes, Margaret comes to believe that killing Carrie is the only way to save her from damnation. Like you moms do. But Carrie uses her powers to stop her mother's heart after being stabbed by her. All’s well that ends well. (Pictured: Piper Laurie in the original 'Carrie' film.)

    NUMBER 5 Jan Giese as Mae Peterson; Stacie Jackson as Rosie Alvarez and  Jim Miller as Albert Peterson for Town Hall Arts Center's 'Bye Bye Birdie' in 2006. Mae Peterson from Bye, Bye Birdie. The original 1958 script describes Albert's mother as “the quintessential mamma,” to which I say, “No.” But, it’s a just a harmless musical comedy, you say. To which I say, “No.” But she loves her Sonnyboy. “No.” Mae Peterson is a controlling, selfish mother who not only is constantly interfering in Albert’s budding relationship with his secretary, she has emasculated Albert, leaving him neurotic, weak, easily manipulated and incapable of a grown-up relationship (even though Albert is in his 30s and should have been freed from his mother’s emotional clutches years ago.) Worst: She’s an unabashed racist, constantly denigrating Albert’s long-suffering significant other for no apparent reason other than she’s not white. Psst, Albert: Throw Mamma from the train! (Pictured: Jim Miller as Albert, Jan Giese as Mae and Stacie Jackson as Rosie in Town Hall Arts Center's 2006 staging of 'Bye Bye Birdie'.)

    NUMBER 6Erica Sarzin-Borrillo. Germinal Stage-Denver. Long Day's Journey Into Night. 2013Mary Tyrone from Long Day’s Journey into Night. The subtitle of Eugene O’Neill’s dysfunctional family classic could be: “Mary’s Magical Mystery Morphine Tour!” One of the many slowly unfolding mysteries of the play is what first set delusional Mary down the self-destructive path of her addiction, and it doesn’t speak well of her parenting skills that the answer seems to lie with son Edmund for the unforgivable crime of having been born. Mary believes Edmund’s birth was God’s punishment for first son Eugene’s death from measles. It’s all a big, tangled emotional web. And there’s nothing better for breaking down your tangled emotional webs like steady stream of legally prescribed morphine. (Wait, that’s not addictive, is it?) Ah, the Irish. (Pictured: Erica Sarzin-Borrillo in Germinal Stage-Denver's 2013 staging of 'Long Day's Journey Into Night.')

    NUMBER 7Mrs Wormwood. Cassie SilvaMrs. Wormwood from Matilda The Musical. On the badness scale, Matilda's mother pales in comparison to hers father and the evil Mrs. Trunchbull — but she’s awful nonrtheless. In the book, she plays Bingo five times a week. (In the musical, she’s obsessed with ballroom dancing.) Worst, Mrs. Wormwood doesn't give two hoots about her own daughter. She mocks Matilda's intellect and interest in books, telling her that looks are more important than getting an education. As a mom, she gets an F. (Pictured: Cassie Silva in the national touring production of Matlida The Musical.) 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 8Marge Lamb. Next to NormalDiana Goodman from Next to Normal. To be absolutely clear, she’s not bad. Just a bad mom. One of the worst, due mostly to her worsening struggles with bipolar disorder over 16 years. During the course of this wrenching, groundbreaking story, Diana visualizes her dead son alive and grown; she completely ignores her daughter who is very much alive; she slashes her wrists; she undergoes electroshock therapy; and ultimately, for her beleaguered husband’s own good (she says) she walks out on her family. And in a nice little closing twist, she somehow bequeaths her bipolar disease onto her husband, who soon starts to see their dead son, too. Couples should share everything. Just not visions of resurrected sons. And really ... so many sandwiches. (Pictured: Margie Lamb in 'Next to Normal' at the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins.)

    NUMBER 9Amnelia Pedlow nd Kathleen McCall. The Glass Menagerie in 2016. Photo by Adams Viscom Amanda Wingfield from The Glass Menagerie. So much to cover in such a short paragraph. Amanda is a delusional, nagging, controlling, egomaniac who lives in the past. That she loves her children is almost incidental to the crushing, suffocating damage she has imposed upon them since birth. Most debilitating: The constant reinforcement to daughter Laura that she is damaged goods, when the script gives every indication that whatever mobility issues the wounded bird had back in high school, they went mostly unnoticed by everyone but Amanda. (She's certainly well enough to walk the streets all day lying to her mother.) Now Laura is too messed up to hold down a job, much less a relationship. To be sure, Amanda is the result and personification of her gender-stilted times, but her legacy is two damaged children. The missing mystery character in this play is Amanda’s AWOL husband. But every time I see this play, I leave thinking he was lucky to get out alive. (Pictured: Amelia Pedlow and Kathleen McCall in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Glass Menagerie' in 2016. Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    NUMBER 10into-the-woodsThe Bad Mums from Into the Woods. Take your pick: Cinderella’s stepmother spawned two vulture daughters who find joy in abusing their stepsister; and now treats her dead husband's daughter like an abused servant. It’s been argued that the cursed Witch of this story is more misunderstood than evil, but, you know … she DID steal her neighbor’s newborn daughter and cursed the family to an infertile life. So at the very least needs to work on her conflict-resolution skills. Then there is Jack’s poor single mom, who means well but raises a clueless son whose best friend is an imaginary cow. She’s not a bad person, but she hasn’t exactly prepared her son to function well in the outside world. (Pictured: Beth Beyer as The Witch in 'Into the Woods' for Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in 2016.)

    Now who are your choices for theatre's worst moms? Add them as a comment at the bottom of this list. And have a Happy Mother's Day!

    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.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2017 True West Award: The Difference-Makers

    by John Moore | Dec 25, 2017

    25 2017 True West Award Combined

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 25: The Difference-Makers 

    Leading organizers of 2017 fundraisers on behalf of Denver Actors Fund:
    Ebner-Page Productions’ United in Love concert, $40,083
    The Mothers of 13 the Musical, $13,188
    Dr. Brian Kelly DDS, $10,300 in in-kind services
    Robert Michael Sanders’ Miscast 2017, $7,040
    BDT Stage’s Thoroughly Modern Millie and Annie, $6,147
    Dixie Longate standup comedy benefit, $4,804

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In 2017, The Denver Actors Fund has made $128,000 available to Colorado theatre artists in situational medical need, compared to $42,000 in all of 2016. And there is just one reason the rapidly growing grassroots nonprofit had that much money to give back in only its fourth year of existence: A boggling array of self-starting individuals, theatre companies and schools from all over the metro area organized their own fundraising efforts that generated $112,000 in unplannable revenue for the Denver Actors Fund.

    They are The Difference-Makers.

    2017 True West Award Eugene EbnerThe biggest chunk by far came from one remarkable sold-out concert at the Lone Tree Arts Center featuring Colorado-connected Broadway stars Annaleigh Ashford, Beth Malone and Mara Davi alongside Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee and more than 20 local performers. The event, called United in Love, was conceived and carried off by Ebner-Page Productions, aka Eugene Ebner and Paul Page. Their concert raised more than $40,000 for the non-profit in part because nearly everyone volunteered their time and talents — and because they went out and secured sponsorships totaling $20,000 from Delta Dental, Kaiser Permanente, Skyline Properties and Alliance Insurance.

    It was a night that changed the trajectory of the Denver Actors Fund forever. But it was just the start of a remarkable year during which school-age kids, for example, accounted for more than $25,000 in donations to the Denver Actors Fund all by themselves.

    The most astonishing of those efforts was a fully staged production of Jason Robert Brown’s 13 the Musical, which in 2008 became the first Broadway musical to feature a cast made up entirely of teenagers.

    2017 True West Award 13 the MusicalThe parents of 13 young metro-area actors banded together to self-produce the first-ever Colorado staging of 13 the Musical, which is the story of a New York-savvy teen whose parents’ divorce lands him in Indiana. The parents absorbed nearly all production costs as their own personal donations so that all proceeds from ticket sales and other revenue sources would go fully to the Denver Actors Fund. As a result, 13 the Musical generated more than $13,000 for The Denver Actors Fund in just two performances at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture. And it was a good production, because the young actors were supported by a dream creative team that included Robert Michael Sanders, Paul Dwyer, Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Shannan Steele and more (full list below).

    Sanders also again directed and produced Miscast, an annual evening of silly songs and games at the Town Hall Arts Center that raised another $7,000, bringing Sanders’ four-year Miscast efforts past the $20,000 mark.

    The Denver Actors Fund was also the designated beneficiary when tart-talking Dixie Longate returned to the Galleria Theatre for the Denver Center’s fourth staging of Dixie’s Tupperware Party. While in Denver, Dixie creator Kris Andersson wanted to try out Dixie’s new standup comedy routine, and the evening turned into a $4,804 windfall for the DAF.

    True West Award Robert Michael Sanders0Also this year, the Denver Actors Fund entered into a unique partnership with Thornton dentist (and former Broadway dancer) Brian Kelly, who accepted emergency dental cases referred through the Denver Actors Fund. Kelly helped four DAF patients in need of everything from root canals to full teeth replacement to complex bridge work. In all, Kelly donated more than $10,000 worth of his services to uninsured area artists.

    Area companies regularly designate certain performances for the benefit of the Denver Actors Fund, and this year, two remarkable evenings at BDT Stage organized by Producing Artistic Director Michael J. Duran raised a combined $6,147 for the DAF.

    All done on their own.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “I think the truest mark of a community is how much people will do to help each other without even being asked,” said Denver Actors Fund President Will Barnette. “These dollar figures brilliantly show the depth of love and caring and camaraderie we have in this Colorado theatre community.”

    Here’s a small sampling of additional efforts large and small that benefited more than 40 individual artists facing situational medical needs in 2017 alone:

    • 2017 True West Award BDT StageThe young people in the cast of Town Hall Arts Center kid-centric’s stage adaptation of A Christmas Story created a group they called The Lollipop Kids, and they sold $3,405 worth of suckers in the theatre lobby.
    • For the second straight year, the Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden designated one performance of A Christmas Carol for the DAF, including all ticket revenue and bar sales. The evening sold out, and the Christmas miners raised $3,664 — or about $40 per person.
    • Denver School of the Arts was the very first school to take collections for the Denver Actors Fund in 2014, and the $2,117 the theatre students raised this year at performances of The Producers brought the troupe’s three-year total to a record $6,230. Other school-age groups that raised money for the DAF in 2017 included Front Range Theatre Company in Highlands Ranch ($2,041), Cherry Creek High School ($1,614) Summit Middle School in Boulder ($938.35), Parker Performing Arts School ($475) and CenterStage Theatre Company in Louisville ($406).
    • The journalism students at Metropolitan State University hosted an original Christmas special just last week that raised $2,000. The evening, donated by the city of Northglenn, was co-hosted by student Avery Anderson of The Nightly Met and popular area actor Annie Dwyer (currently Miss Hannigan in BDT Stage’s Annie). The program included appearances by Anna Maria High (Aurora Fox’s Hi-Hat Hattie), Abigail Kochevar (Miners Alley Playhouse’s upcoming Fun Home), casts from Town Hall’s Seussical and BDT Stage’s Annie, bands and combos such as Mister Tim and The Denver Dolls, Ryan Chrys and the Rough Cuts and many more.
    • 2017 True West Award Dixie Longate The Denver Actors Fund hosts a monthly film series at the Alamo Drafthouse in partnership with a rotating local theatre company, next featuring 500 Days of Summer on Jan. 22 with live entertainment from cast members from DCPA Cabaret’s First Date. Half of all ticket proceeds go to the DAF, and the series generated $5,400 in 2017.
    • The Jerseys, made up of area musical-theatre veterans Brian Smith, Paul Dwyer, Klint Rudolph and Randy St. Pierre, designated one February performance at the Clocktower Cabaret to the DAF and raised $2,208.
    • The caustic puppet musical comedy Avenue Q includes a cynical panhandling number called The Money Song, and this year TWO companies used the opportunity to raise real-time money for the DAF during the actual show. The StageDoor Theatre in Conifer raised $1,589 that way, and the Town Hall Arts Center brought in $1,361.
    • The Edge Theatre hosted a staged reading of DAF founder John Moore’s play Waiting for Obama, which had been recently staged in New York, and the evening raised $1,173 for the DAF.

    More information on The Denver Actors Fund

    • Some of the most creative fundraisers were purely personal initiatives. Patty Kingsbaker, who founded Radical Artists talent agency, urged guests at her retirement party to give to the DAF, raising $743. Teenager Willow Samu turned her senior recital into a fundraiser for the DAF and collected $350 at the Clocktower cabaret. Actor Billie McBride, a Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement Award-winner, used Facebook to auction off an album she owned that was signed by the original Broadway cast of A Chorus Line, raising $250. Local journalist and In Focus host Eden Lane, who this year made her Denver directorial debut with the Priscilla Queen of the Desert, raised $206 selling custom-made Priscilla coffee cups in the Aurora Fox lobby. Actor Sue Leiser sold hats she made inspired by the Women’s March on Denver, resulting in a $140 donation.
    • The DAF encourages every company in the state to designate one performance per run for a spare-change collection. It’s called Tap Shoe Initiative, which brings in modest amounts that have added up to more than $17,000 over the past four years. This year’s leading Tap Shoe participant was one of the state’s smallest companies: Firehouse Theatre Company raised $937 for the DAF over four collection nights.

    2017 True West Award Brian KellySeparately, the local theatre community was spurred to action last month by the wrenching death of 42-year-old actor Daniel Langhoff from cancer just 10 days after the birth of his second daughter. Over the next six weeks, donations and special events generated $53,000 in targeted donations through the DAF that will help Langhoff’s wife plan for the long-term needs of their children. Among the special efforts:

    • Vintage Theatre’s designated performance of Honeymoon in Vegas raised $2,094.
    • Choreographer and fitness trainer Adrianne Hampton hosted a special class featuring Broadway songs and raised $250.
    • The boards of the Town Hall Arts Center, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre and Performance Now each donated $1,000 to the Langhoffs. Performance Now also pledged to donate 2 percent of all profits for the next year to the DAF (about $365 per show), and challenged all other Colorado theatre companies to do the same.
    • Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company closed out 2017, appropriately enough, by raising exactly $2,017 on opening night of its Every Christmas Story Ever Told.

    “The number of people who planned, participated or attended all of these efforts on behalf of the Denver Actors Fund numbers into the thousands,” the DAF’s Will Barnette said. “Every one of those people is a difference-maker. Their efforts not only sustain us, they galvanize us as we enter 2018. We simply could not do what we do without the continuing efforts of the Colorado theatre community to keep us funded.”

    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. He is also the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.


    Video bonus: Highlights from the United in Love concert:


    Video by The Met Report's Avery Anderson.

    Denver Actors Fund Beneficiaries 2017
    With Name, 2017 Financial Aid and Medical Need

    1. A Daniel Langhoff 800 1Daniel Langhoff, actor, $52,918 ($66,938 overall), Cancer treatments
    2. Archie Valleda, actor, $8,457, Dental
    3. Abner Genece, actor, $6,471, Car accident
    4. Norrell Moore, actor, $4,685, Cancer treatments
    5. Sasha Fisher, actor, $4,522, Car accident
    6. Katherine Paynter, actor, $4,290, Knee surgery
    7. Mark Shonsey, actor, $4,095, Premature birth
    8. Nancy Warner, crew, $3,832, Two emergency surgeries
    9. Don Gabenski, actor, $3,529, Purchase wheelchair
    10. Paul Hartman, pit musician, $2,950, Car accident
    11. Traci J. Kern, actor, $2,693  ($3,243 overall), Cancer tests, Sliced hand
    12. Family of Christopher Tye, actor, $2,500, Funeral expenses
    13. Jaime Lujan, actor, $2,725 ($3,825 overall), Rotator-cuff surgery
    14. 800-DON-GABENSKI-FULL-600x452Patrick Sawyer, director, $2,150 ($5,167 overall), Heart surgery
    15. Anonymous, $2,019 ($2,519 overall), Dental
    16. Becky Toma, props designer,  $1,701 ($1,995 overall), Surgery   
    17. David Ballew, actor, $1,680, Dental
    18. Emily K. Harrison, producer/actor, $1,520, Emergency room
    19. Carol Kelly, hair designer, $1,499, Medical leave
    20. Anonymous, $1,190, Dental
    21. Keegan Flaugh, actor, $1,180, Dental emergency
    22. Meghan Ralph, stage manager/actor, $1,120 ($2,788 overall), Dental emergency
    23. Anonymous, $1,000, Emergency room
    24. Catherine Aasen Floyd, actor, $720, Cancer treatment
    25. Daniel Perkins, actor, $675, Seizures, back surgery            
    26. Joey Wishnia, actor, $600 ($1,597 overall), Eye injections
    27. Twanna Latrice Hill, actor, $540 ($922 overall), Medical
    28. Nick Thorne, actor, $500, Memorial gift
    29. Sheila Traister, actor, $500 ($2,800 ovverall), Bodily injury
    30. Maggie Sczekan, actor, $365, Dental
    31. Lara Maerz, stage manager $246, Diabetes treatments
    32. Faith Goins, actor, $175  ($4,375 overall), Infant’s death
    33. Note: List above does not include beneficiaries of rides, meals and other Action Team assistance
    Video bonus: 'The Cancer Warriors' at Miscast 2017
     

    Actors Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles, performed an original variation of the song "Tonight," from 'West Side Story,' at Miscast 2017. Video 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

    a-denver-actors-fund-800UNITED IN LOVE
    • Hosts: Steven J. Burge and Eden Lane
    • Musical Director: Mitch Samu
    • Performers: Annaleigh Ashford, Beth Malone, Mara Davi, Jodie Langel, Denise Gentilini, Jimmy Bruenger, Eugene Ebner, Becca Fletcher, Clarissa Fugazzotto, Robert Johnson, Daniel Langhoff, Susannah McLeod, Chloe McLeod, Sarah Rex, Jeremy Rill, Kristen Samu, Willow Samu and Thaddeus Valdez.  Also the casts of both The Jerseys (Klint Rudolph, Brian Smith, Paul Dwyer and Randy St. Pierre), and 13 the Musical (see below).
    • The band: Tag Worley, Steve Klein, Andy Sexton, Scott Handler and Jeremy Wendelin
    MISCAST 2017
    • Hosts: Steven J. Burge, Eric Mather and Shannan Steele
    • Performers: Robert Michael Sanders, Megan Van De Hey, Jackson Garske, Destiny Walsh, Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Rylee Vogel, Jeremy Rill, Reace Daniel, Jose David Reynoza, Randy Chalmers, Hope Grandon, Kenny Moten, Margie Lamb, Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff, Norrell Moore, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel

    Production team:

    • Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    • Assistant to the director: Jessica Swanson
    • Musical Direction and Live Keys: Donna Debreceni
    • Stage Manager: Maegan Burnell
    • Assistant Stage Manager: Haley Ivy Di Virgilio
    • Technical Director: Mike Haas
    • Lights: Alexis Bond
    • Sound: Curt Behm and Tom Quinn
    • Costumes: Nicole Harrison
    A DAF 1313 THE MUSICAL:
    Cast (moms in parentheses):
    • Joshua Cellar (Emily Cellar)
    • Conrad Eck (Kristin Eck)
    • Macy Friday (Megan Friday)
    • Evan Gibley (Michelle Gibley)
    • Lorenzo Giovanetti (Carmela Giovanetti)
    • Kaden Hinkle (Shannon Gaydos-Hinkle)
    • Hannah Katz (Erin Katz)
    • Darrow Klein (Jennifer Klein)
    • Michelle Lee (Huwon Lee)
    • Gabe Legg (Angela Legg)
    • Carter Novinger (Jennifer Novinger)
    • Rylee Vogel (Kristi Vogel)
    • Hannah Meg Weinraub (Michelle Weinraub)

    Creative:
    • Robert Michael Sanders: Producer and director
    • Paul Dwyer: Assistant director
    • Anna Smith: Assistant director
    • Jayln Courtenay Webb: Music director
    • Lauren Hergenreter: Stage manager
    • Sydney Eck: Assistant stage manager
    • Tom Quinn: Sound
    • Jennifer Orf: Lighting
    • Choreographer: Stephanie Hess, Shannan Steele, Matthew D. Peters, Jessica Hindsley, Abigail Kochevar
    Band:
    • Jason Tyler Vaughn: Guitar
    • Heather Holt Hall: Keyboards
    • S. Parker Goubert: Bass
    • Evan Jones: Drums
  • 2017 True West Award: Randy Chalmers

    by John Moore | Dec 17, 2017
    2017 True West Awards Randy Chalmers

    Main photo above: Randy Chalmers performed at 'Miscast 2017,' a benefit for The  Denver Actors Fund, in a number with 'In the Heights' castmate Jose David Reynoza that was spun as a comic competition between two male actors for the lead in 'Funny Girl.'


    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 17: Randy Chalmers

    Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    Town Hall Arts Center
    Inspire Creative and Parker Arts

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Randy Chalmers is a young guy to already have a signature role, but the rising actor joined some heady company this year when he played the same character in Hairspray for the third different company and third different director.

    Only a handful of local actors have ever done it in Colorado, and the names are big: Joanie Brosseau (Evita), Billie McBride (Driving Miss Daisy), Margie Lamb as the mad mother in Next to Normal, Sharon Kay White as Adelaide in Guys & Dolls, Carla Kaiser Kotrc as Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Scott Rathbun as William Barfee in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Carolyn Lohr (Kate Monster) and Leslie Randle (Bad Idea Bear) in Avenue Q, and the great comedian Bill Berry as Mr. Sowerberry (Oliver) among them.

    That overachieving Megan Van De Hey has played Patsy Cline four times in Always … Patsy Cline for four different directors. That's not everyone but ... it's a short list. (Side note: The legendary Melissa Swift-Sawyer has played Patsy five times for four directors in four states.)

    And this year, along came young Randy Chalmers.

    400 Randy Chalmers HAIRSPRAY Photo Becky TomaThe Colorado Springs native, whose very first postgraduate performance was a breakout turn as Seaweed J. Stubbs in Hairspray for Performance Now in 2014, joined that rarefied group this year by again playing Seaweed in back-to-back stagings of the sweetly subversive John Waters musical for the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton and then Inspire Creative in Parker.

    How back-to-back? He was in performances for one when rehearsals began for the other.

    Chalmers’ roster of Hairspray directors goes like this, in order: Kelly Van Oosbree, Nick Sugar and Liane M. Adamo.

    (Photo above right: Randy Chalmers in Town Hall Arts Center's 'Hairspray.' Photo by Becky Toma.)

    One might imagine that playing the same role for a third time could start to become old hat for an actor. Van De Hey says “the difficulty comes in being open to new direction and not just re-creating the exact same performance.” Re-creation, she says, is easy. “Finding new is difficult.”

    But Tanner Kelly, the Music Director for Inspire Creative’s Hairspray collaboration with Parker Arts in July, said Chalmers approached the challenge as a professional in every sense of the word. “Though Randy was still playing Seaweed in another production, he was willing and ready to try our fresh take and adapt to what we wanted for our production,” Kelly said. “Not only did I love what he brought to Seaweed and to our version of Hairspray, I also loved what Randy brought to the table as a human being.”

    Seaweed is the charismatic son of R&B icon Motormouth Maybelle in the story, set in segregated 1962 Baltimore. He’s a charming, silky-smooth dancer but is only allowed to appear on a popular local TV dance show on the designated monthly Negro Day. And in falling in love with an impressionable white teenager, Seaweed turns a woke Penny Pingleton into a gleefully proud Checkerboard Chick. In Chalmers’ case, make that Checkerboard Chicks: Scene partners Chelsea Ringer, Cara Lippitt and Christy Oberndorf.

    (Story continues below the photo)


    Randy Chalmers True West Awards Seaweed
    Above: Randy Chalmers in three productions of 'Hairspray': Photos by Becky Toma (left), Pam Spika (middle) and RDG Photography (right).

    2017 was remarkable Chalmers for more than just Hairspray. The role that perhaps even more clearly signaled the emergence of a mature leading man was his follow-up performance in Town Hall’s In the Heights. Randy Chalmers Rose Van Dyne IN THE HEIGHTS Town Hall Photo By Becky Toma

    That's Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Fiddler on the Roof-inspired love letter to the gentrifying Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. Chalmers played Benny, a taxi-cab dispatcher who falls in love with the Puerto Rican boss’ daughter, Nina.

    “Chalmers smooth, riffy voice is exactly what the role requires,” wrote Broadway World reviewer Chris Arneson. Or, as esteemed Music Director Donna Debreceni puts it: “He’s got a voice like buttah.”

    Says Sugar, who has now directed Chalmers in five productions: “It's great to see Randy embrace his strengths and talents and shine as a performer. He continues to get stronger as a musical-theater actor with each show, and it's exciting to watch that growth come alive on stage.”

    (Pictured at right: Randy Chalmers with Rose Van Dyne in Town Hall Arts Center's 'In the Heights.' Photo By Becky Toma.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Chalmers graduated from General William Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs and attended the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. His early credits in Denver include major opportunities made possible by the late, audacious Ignite Theatre, including Rent and Dreamgirls.  

    Audiences presently can see Chalmers in a completely different light this holiday season as a Wickersham Brother in Town Hall’s kid-friendly (and nearly completely sold-out) Seussical. He’ll follow that by playing Sebastian for Inspire Creative in the first homegrown production of The Little Mermaid since Disney first introduced the developing musical to the world here on its way to Broadway in 2007. The Inspire Creative production will play at the PACE Center from Jan. 19-Feb. 11.

    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.

    Randy Chalmers 2017: 

    • Destiny Walsh and Randy Chalmers at Miscast 2017. Photo by John Moore.Ensemble in Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Toxic Avenger The Musical
    • Seaweed J. Stubbs in Hairspray, Town Hall Arts Center
    • Seaweed J. Stubbs in Hairspray, Inspire Creative and Parker Arts
    • Benny in In the Heights, Town Hall Arts Center
    • Wickersham Brother in Seussical, Town Hall Arts Center

    They said it:

    • Donna Debreceni, In the Heights Music Director: "Whether he is a Wick in Seussical; or a pig in Shrek; or Flick in Violet; or Seaweed in Hairspray; or most recently, an amazing Benny in In the Heights, Randy’s instincts and innate musicality are something I can always depend on and — most important — enjoy.”
    • Alisa Metcalf, Performance Now Artistic Director: “He’s very reliable, a hard worker and just a really sweet person … and super-talented to boot.”

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards


    Video bonus: Inspire Creative's Hairspray cast appears at Alamo Drafthouse:

  • 2017 True West Award: Maegan Burnell

    by John Moore | Dec 14, 2017
    2017 True West Award Meagan Burnell Arvada Center

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 14: Maegan Burnell

    Arvada Center Stage Manager

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Maegan Burnell moved to Colorado to become a stage manager and fell in love with a stage manager and is soon moving to Chicago so they can both be stage managers together.

    We're talking a two-logistician family.

    “If those two ever have a kid,” Director Robert Michael Sanders said of Burnell and Jonathan D. Allsup, “he’ll be born with head-sets on and holding a spreadsheet.”  

    Today’s True West Award is a parting shot. Because Burnell is moving true east. And the Arvada Center’s Lynne Collins, for one, is “desperately sad we are losing her."

    Stage managers are the chief practitioners of what are often called the invisible arts. They are highly organized, detail-oriented, no-nonsense train conductors who are inordinately calm in the midst of chaos. And if they are doing their jobs well — you in the audience will never know they even exist.  

    “Stage managers are the unsung heroes of what we do,” said Collins, who was hired as the Arvada Center’s Artistic Director of Plays in 2016 to create a company of recurring actors to perform a four-play repertory season. It was Collins’ job to run that operation. It was Burnell’s job to help build that operation from scratch.

    “The logistics of stage-managing a repertory company are enormous,” Collins said. “In our case, it means you are running three productions at the same time. It means managing overlapping actor calendars. It means keeping track of hours and rehearsal spaces."

    A stage manager’s job description can vary from theatre to theatre and show to show. Typically, they provide practical and organizational support to the director, actors, designers, stage crew and technicians throughout the production process. And after the opening performance, when it’s time for the director to move on, the stage manager becomes the law by running the show and standing in for the director in all matters.

    And Burnell, Collins said, “is phenomenal at all of that. She is calm and cool and collected and organized and compassionate and utterly without drama.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Burnell was a grad student when she was hired in 2012 as an assistant stage manager by the acclaimed Creede Repertory Theatre, which presents up to seven productions each summer in the San Juan Mountains about 250 miles southwest of Denver. Her boss was Allsup, who is now the cause of all the distress running throughout the Colorado theatre community because he’s the one she will be starting a life with in Chicago after the Arvada Center’s second rep season ends in May with All My Sons.

    Burnell, originally from Waterford, Mich., graduated from Central Michigan University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City's graduate program before answering the call from Creede. She was lured to Denver in 2014 to become the permanent Stage Manager (losing the “Assistant” from her title forever) of the Arvada Center’s highly accomplished children’s theatre program, starting with Billie McBride’s Lyle the Crocodile.

    In the short three years since, she has helmed mainstage productions at the Aurora Fox, Cherry Creek Theatre Company, The Avenue Theater, Slingshot Theatre and Vintage Theatre, working for an impressive roster of top-notch directors including Sanders, Christy Montour-Larson, Edith Weiss, Bev Newcomb-Madden, Warren Sherrill, Jim Hunt, Piper Lindsay-Arpan, Gavin Mayer, Pat Payne and DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous.

    Notable credits include Porgy & Bess at the Aurora Fox and Tartuffe, which launched the Arvada Center’s rep company in 2016. And it can’t be underestimated, Allsup said, what it took to start that operation from nothing. Her impressive list of 2017 credits has included Bus Stop, The Drowning Girls and The Foreigner. Coming up, before she bolts: Sense and Sensibility and All My Sons.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Maegan Burnell Quote Robert Michael Sanders Miscast True West Awards


    But Allsup says what gives Burnell the most joy has been running the Arvada Center’s annual “teen intensive” — that’s a fully staged Broadway production for students, most recently no less than Les Misérables. That and volunteering to run big benefit events such as Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards and the Denver Actors Fund’s annual Miscast cabaret at the Town Hall Arts Center.

    “I love seeing the pure joy that she feels when she is working with students who are eager to learn,” Allsup said. “And I think she especially loves mentoring young theatre technicians at the Arvada Center more than anything.”

    Jonathan Allsup Maegan Burnell True West AwardsAs one of the state’s few gainfully employed, full-time stage managers, Burnell really has no free time for charity. But she makes time, Sanders said, because since the minute she landed in Creede, the Colorado theatre family has become her family. That was obvious enough last week when more than 700 packed the Arvada Center to celebrate the life of actor Daniel Langhoff. “You just don’t always see that in other cities,” Allsup said.  

    Allsup thinks Burnell can do just about anything, but he said the most difficult challenge she has ever taken on will simply be leaving the theatre community that has in short order gone from embracing her to utterly depending on her. “Colorado will always be the state that gave her the start of her career,” said Allsup, who was hired as the new Production Manager at Chicago’s Paramount Theatre seven months ago.

    “Maegan stepped into this community and she made a difference everywhere she went,” added Sanders. “She made a lot of places better while she was here.”

    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.

    Stage Manager Maegan Burnell 2017: 

    • Drowning Girls, Arvada Center
    • Bus Stop, Arvada Center
    • Les Misérables Teen Intensive, Arvada Center
    • The Foreigner, Arvada Center
    • Henry Awards, Colorado Theatre Guild
    • Miscast 2017, Denver Actors Fund

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

  • 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
  • 2017 True West Award: Brandon Case

    by John Moore | Dec 09, 2017
    True West Award 2017 Brandon Case

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 9: Brandon Case

    Aurora Fox
    Technical Director
    Scenic Designer

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Brandon Case’s current program bio is far more revealing than most. In it, the Aurora Fox’s Technical Director and resident Scenic Designer describes himself as “skinny as a pencil, smart as a whip and possibly the scariest man currently living.”

    And who’s going to argue with that?

    Wait, what’s that, you say? He’s quoting the Wes Anderson movie Fantastic Mr. Fox? Well that works, too. Because if you ask anyone how the Aurora Fox just pulled through the most challenging year in its 33-year history, they will pretty much say it was The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

    Brandon Case Softball True West Awards After longtime Executive Director Charles Packard resigned in May, Case and Production Manager Jen Orf stepped up and led the remaining staff through a transition that is now in its seventh month.

    “Brandon stepped up when they were down with more time, more hours and more leadership,” said director, actor and former Fox employee Robert Michael Sanders. “It would have been really easy for him to roll over and wait to see what the coming changes would bring. But instead he took over. And he refused to let anything take away from the quality of the work that they were doing.”

    Patron Services manager Beau Bisson puts it this way: “If theatre were a dodge-ball game — as it often feels like — Brandon would always be my first pick as a teammate. When he’s around, you get this sense that everything will work out. Because when things hit the fan, you want Brandon Case to be there.”

    A short list of Case’s job duties this year includes overseeing the building facilities and all its sound and light equipment. Because the Fox is owned by the city of Aurora, Case also supervised departmental budgets, schedules and hiring, all while navigating the additional layer of municipal oversight.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Case is the rare Technical Director who also doubles as resident Scenic Designer. And in 2017, he brought five wildly different worlds to vivid life on the Fox’s main stage: Myth, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Stephen Sondheim’s Company, the current Hi-Hat Hattie and Tales of a 4th-Grade Nothing for the Little Foxes children’s troupe.

    And he gets around. This very month, Case has three theatrical designs in theatres across the metro area: The Fox’s Hi-Hat Hattie (through Dec. 23), The Edge Theatre’s Resolutions (through Dec. 31) and he made significant contributions to Lone Tree Arts Center’s Home for the Holidays (through Dec. 17).

    Case is a Littleton native who was home-schooled and just kind of appeared at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center in 2006 offering to help out as a set-builder and sound operator. He was hired full-time by the Aurora Fox in 2011 and has since become known for creating all types of scenery and props using many forms of carpentry, metalwork, mechanics and automation.

    In that aforementioned Aurora Fox program bio, Case also claims to be “married to the prettiest girl in town” — and that’s not a line cribbed from a Wes Anderson movie. That would be Rae Leigh Case, an actor and costume designer currently appearing in the Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (through Dec. 23).

    A Brandon Case Myth True West Awards 400And what she wants you to know is that Case hand-crafts and hand-paints virtually his entire scenic designs, down to the crown molding now framing the Hi-Hat Hattie opera-hall set. The “skull mound” in She Kills Monsters? The cool steam-punk look for Jekyll and Hyde? The wilderness campfire in Myth? “He doesn’t go on eBay or to thrift stores to find that stuff,” she said. “Brandon makes all of that himself, no matter how many hours it takes.”

    (Pictured at right: 'Myth' at the Aurora Fox. Photo by Christine Fisk.)

    This past April, Case took on one of the great scenic challenges of his career: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which is a journey across the Australian outback on an oversized tour bus that, in real life, would never even remotely fit on the Aurora Fox stage. Case went out and found the bus, chopped it down to a manageable size and then added all of the requisite lights, paint and glitter. And he did virtually all of that work by himself (with some help from his brother). Just take a look at the time-lapse video below:

    Time-lapse video of 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' Scenic Designer (and Aurora Fox Technical Director) Brandon Case pulling an all-nighter to assemble the bus. All by himself.

    “Theaters the size of the Aurora Fox often have an entire scenic department," Rae Leigh Case said. “But at the Fox, it’s usually it’s just Brandon and one other dude he hires." 

    Brandon Case Hi Hat Hattie True West AwardsBisson says Case is equal parts artist and craftsman. “It seems cliché to say that he continually surprises me with his work, but truly, he continually surprises me with his work,” he said. “He’s like the John Napier of The Aurora Fox. Or MacGyver. Or both.”

    And aside from being a meticulous artist, Bisson said, Case happens to be not the scariest man currently living. Instead, “he’s funny, a great listener and deeply passionate about The Aurora Fox.” Qualities that came in most handy in 2017. “This year, I would add backstage counselor and peacekeeper," Bisson said.

    He was, for lack of any better way to put it: The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

    “I try to make it as known as possible,” his wife says, “that Brandon’s abilities go so beyond far beyond what people know of so far. I think he is going to change the face of set design in this theatre community."

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

    Brandon Case: 2017 Scenic Designs

    • Myth, Aurora Fox
    • Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Aurora Fox
    • Company, Aurora Fox
    • Hi-Hat Hattie, Aurora Fox
    • Tales of a 4th-Grade Nothing, Aurora Fox children’s theatre
    • Resolutions, Edge Theatre
    • Home for the Holidays (contributed), Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Also: Technical Director of the Aurora Fox’s Chinglish

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

  • What a wonderful world it was with Daniel Langhoff

    by John Moore | Nov 12, 2017

    Video above: Daniel Langhoff sings 'What a Wonderful World' at an April benefit concert for the Denver Actors Fund. Video provided by Eden Lane and Sleeping Dog Media.

    The busy actor, husband and father fought cancer like the errant knight he played in Man of La Mancha. He was 42.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When award-winning Denver actor Daniel Langhoff was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2015, the first-time father dreamed what most every doctor told him was an impossible dream: To beat an unbeatable foe. And yet, over the next rocky and remarkable two and a half years, he reached star after unreachable star.

    Daniel LanghoffThe cancer was discovered just a few months after Langhoff and wife Rebecca Joseph welcomed daughter Clara into the world. Langhoff then fought the disease with the same earnest fortitude and blind optimism as Cervantes, the playwright who defends his life through storytelling in the classic Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. That's a bucket-list role Langhoff somehow found the mettle to play last year during a brief cease-fire with his disease, which would make a raging comeback only a few months later.

    In April, doctors discovered a second, more virulent form of cancer in Langhoff’s abdomen, and it was everywhere. The Langhoffs were told it would be a matter of months. Not that the diagnosis changed Langhoff’s attitude one bit. He fought on with grit, optimism and no small share of Quixotic delusion.

    “Dying never entered his mindset,” said Langhoff’s best friend, Brian Murray. “He always thought he would beat it.” It was only recently in the hospital, when Langhoff was no longer able to eat and fluid was filling his lungs that the impossible dreamer offered Murray this one slight concession to his adversary: “The prognosis is not good,” he told Murray.

    DanielLanghoffFacebook“Daniel fought the cancer by trivializing it — like it was just this little thing to be taken care of,” Murray said.

    Rebecca Joseph, known as R.J. to friends, gave birth to a second daughter, Naomi, on Nov. 2. It happened that day because Joseph made it happen that day. She had doctors induce labor to make certain Langhoff would be alive to see Naomi born. A few days later, Langhoff was admitted to Denver Hospice, where he again defied experts' expectations by fighting on for days until there was no fight left in him.  

    Langhoff died at precisely midnight today, peacefully and as his wife held his hand. He was 42.

    When he left, he was different from the man who married R.J. in 2015. During the ensuing years, as cancer gradually robbed his life, life in turn gave him everything to live for: A wife, two daughters, and the seminal roles of his acting career.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Daniel Langhoff Find an extensive gallery of Daniel Langhoff photos at the bottom of this report.


    A punctilious punster

    Langhoff was born in Denver on Nov. 8, 1975, and has been a performer since the third grade. He graduated from Cherry Creek High School and the University of Northern Colorado, and has been working steadily at theatres all over Colorado since 1999.

    He was known as a consummate actor with a quirky sense of humor; a way with a guitar, a song and a terrible pun; a geeky affinity for sci-fi films ...  and a massive collection of inappropriate T-Shirts.

    One of his favorites said: “When I die, I am going to haunt the (bleep) out of you.”

    "That was Daniel," his wife said.

    "Daniel was into weird science fiction, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, anything counter-culture and all manner of useless knowledge," said his frequent co-star and sometimes director, Robert Michael Sanders. "We had a shared love for underrated big-hair metal bands and Alien movies." 

    In the dressing room, Langhoff was a serial punster who was known for running exasperated castmates out of the room with his wit. But on stage, Sanders describes Langhoff as an intelligent, steady actor who could only be distracted from his task by perhaps, say … a random reference to Ridley Scott (maker of Alien).

    He was also one of the most dependable and pragmatic friends you could ever have, said Murray, who has been friends with Langhoff since appearing in Company together at the Town Hall Arts Center in 2008. 

    “I always called him my Vulcan,” said Murray, currently starring in Town Hall’s Seussical. “He was Spock, and I was Kirk. I was the emotional one, and he was the logical one."

    Ironically, Langhoff was the human being Murray turned to when he needed one most.

    "When I was going through a divorce in 2009, the only thing that helped me get by was playing video games with Daniel until 3 in the morning and telling him the same stories all over again," Murray said. "He would say to me, 'Brian, this thing happened. It was outside of your control. Now what you have to do is move through it and move on from that." 

    Perhaps the greatest testament to any man's character, Murray said: "Daniel was kind to everyone — even to the people who annoyed him." (Although, to be fair, Langhoff also loved to quote Tom Waits' life philosophy: "Champagne for my real friends ... and real pain for my sham friends.")

    Traci J. Kern was a real friend. For 22 years, Langhoff has been her constant. "Soon after our meeting, Daniel proclaimed himself the little brother I never wanted," she said. "Anytime I needed him, he was there. No questions asked, because it didn’t matter. Dan lived his life full of passion. Whether it was talking about music, theatre, movies, Stephen King novels, sports, his family, his babies or his wife — he spoke with such enthusiasm, you couldn’t help but be drawn in."

    A life on every stage

    Daniel Langhoff was, simply put, “the most consistent actor ever,” said Sanders. He was also just about the most consistently working Denver actor ever. The list of area theatre companies Langhoff has performed with reads essentially like the list of all area theatre companies. You would be hard-pressed to find a person or company whose path has not, at some point, crossed with Langhoff's on a Colorado stage.

    Dan Langhoff DCPA Love Perfect Change Shanna Steele Robert Michael Sanders Lauren Shealy“Once Daniel got it right, he went out and nailed it at that level every night," Sanders said. "You never had to worry what he was going to do, whether it was for one person or 100. Even for dumb stuff like Guys on Ice – he would find moments that mattered.”

    Langhoff made his Denver Center debut in 2010 in the musical comedy Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre, followed by a stint in a revival of the longest-running musical in Denver history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. He also performed in the DCPA Theatre Company’s seasonal stagings of A Christmas Carol in 2014 and 2015. The latter staging was right when Langhoff was starting his cancer fight. He had surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes – then immediately joined the cast, fitting rounds of chemo into 10-show weeks at the Stage Theatre.

    Langhoff’s substance and versatility put him in an elevated class among local performers: He was a nuanced dramatic actor with a rich singing voice — and an uncommon knack for comedy and children’s theatre. He could glide from playing the conflicted pastor fomenting the Salem witch trials in Firehouse’s The Crucible, to Coolroy in the Arvada Center’s children’s production of Schoolhouse Rock Live, to the long-suffering husband of a bipolar housewife in Town Hall’s Next to Normal.

    Langhoff’s breakout year was 2016, which began in triumph and ended in terror. It started with Performance Now's Ragtime. As Langhoff was continuing his initial chemotherapy, when he called Director Kelly Van Oosbree to express his interest in playing Tateh.

    “I remember thinking, ‘How in the hell is this going to happen?’ ” Van Oosbree said. “I couldn’t wrap my brain around it because if were in the same situation, I wonder how I would even cope. But Daniel did not let cancer stop him from doing anything.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Langhoff had strong sentimental and professional reasons for wanting to play Tateh. He had played the homegrown terrorist known as “Younger Brother” in a remarkable production of Ragtime for the Arvada Center in 2011, and he wanted to complete the circle by playing Tateh — also a dreamer, also a new father — for Performance Now. “Tateh was a role that spoke to him,” said Van Oosbree said.

    Dan Langhoff Sunglasses project. Photo by John MooreIn the summer of 2016, doctors declared Langhoff cancer-free. He celebrated by performing for the Arvada Center (40th anniversary concert), Firehouse (The Crucible) and Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Every Christmas Story Ever Told). He began 2017 by reuniting with Van Oosbree to play the chivalrous and insistent dreamer in Man of La Mancha. These were perfect bookend roles, said Van Osbree: Both Tateh and Cervantes are kind, inventive men who see the world not as it is, but how it should — or could — be. “They are both Daniel,” she said.

    But just as Man of La Mancha was to begin rehearsals, Langhoff noticed another abnormality in his abdomen, and doctors soon discovered a new, more prevalent and more vicious strain of cancer in his abdominal walls. Langhoff began a second round of chemo just as he had been cast to perform in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Arvada Center, followed by Ring of Fire at Vintage Theatre. This time, he would not be well enough to play either role. And he again downplayed the challenge. “I am just more physically compromised than I was before,” he conceded at the time.

    The great work of helping others

    Langhoff was known for helping out any company or cause that needed a hand — or a voice. Back in 2010, he joined the volunteer cast of Magic Moments' The Child. That's an annual musical revue where up to 200 disabled and able-bodied performers perform together, many for the first time. Langhoff played a war veteran opposite a devil character played by Drew Frady, his castmate back in the Arvada Center's 2008 staging of Les Miserables. Langhoff had been recruited as a late replacement for another actor. On his first day, the stage manager ended her introduction of Langhoff by saying, to his horror, “He loves hugs.” And, he later said with a laugh, “I didn’t really have the heart to correct her.”

    Over the next few months, Langhoff said, he learned to love hugs.

    “This is the kind of place where you can still be 5 minutes late for rehearsal, even if you show up on time, because there is a 5-minute gantlet of hugs to navigate,” he said.

    Daniel Langhoff, Laura Mathew Siebert and Nate Siebert. Photo by John Moore. Throughout his cancer ordeal, Langhoff was both a beneficiary of, and great champion of, The Denver Actors Fund, which in three years has made $133,000 available to Colorado theatre artists in situational need. Between direct aid and targeted donations, the theatre community has so far made more than $14,000 available to help the Langhoff family with medical bills, along with practical volunteer assistance. And Langhoff has given back at every opportunity, performing at five DAF fundraising events over the past three years.

    In April, a weakening Langhoff made a galvanizing appearance at United in Love, a benefit concert staged by Ebner-Page Productions that raised $40,000 for the Denver Actors Fund at the Lone Tree Arts Center. (See video at the top of this page.) 

    Dan Langhoff. Annaleigh Ashford. RDG PhotographyLanghoff sang a heart-rending version of What a Wonderful World to acknowledge the support and love he has received from the theatre community throughout his medical ordeal. “All of these performers, this stunning audience, all of these donors make me feel like my fight ahead is just a matter of logistics,” he said.

    (Photos at right, top: Photographer Laura Mathew Siebert, with son Nate Siebert, raised money for Langhoff's cancer fight in 2016 by taking portraits and donating the proceeds. Photo by John Moore. At right: Broadway's Annaleigh Ashford with Langhoff at Klint Rudolph at the April 'United in Love' concert for the Denver Actors Fund. RDG Photography.)

    His final performance was on Sept. 25 at Miscast, a popular annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, and it was one for the ages. Langhoff, Jona Alonzo and Norrell Moore, all actors in the midst of their own cancer journeys, performed a variation of the song Tonight, from West Side Story, that was written by Langhoff and his (pregnant) wife, who also choreographed. It was essentially a rousing declaration of war against cancer, and it brought the Town Hall Arts Center audience to their feet. The trio were immediately dubbed "The Cancer Warriors."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Daniel Langhoff, Jona Alonzo and Norrell Moore perform Sept. 25 at 'Miscast,' a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund, at the Town Hall Arts Center.


    The impact of family


    Everyone close to Langhoff says the courage and unyielding optimism he has shown since his diagnosis can be explained in three simple words: Rebecca, Clara and Naomi. "Those three were everything to him," Murray said. "They were his life."

    He met his R.J.  in a theatre, but Langhoff wasn't on the stage; he was a member of the audience. Joseph caught Langhoff's eye after a performance of Vintage Theatre’s Avenue Q. Langhoff noticed the assistant stage manager — usually one of the most invisible jobs in all of theatre. She eventually agreed to a late-night date at the Rock Bottom Brewery that almost didn’t happen because she was running late. Langhoff was appearing in, ironically, the dating comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Denver Center's Galleria Theatre. She was attending Red at the Curious Theatre, which ran longer than she was expecting. Luckily, he waited. Sanders later married the couple in a ceremony at the Town Hall Arts Center.

    Langhoff recently helped Sanders in a profound creative way when the singer-songwriter went into production on his second solo album (under the name Robert Michael). In 2013, Sanders was the victim of a botched shoulder surgery that partially paralyzed his arms and left him unable to play the guitar. Sanders now writes new music through the help of friends who act as his fingers. Langhoff co-wrote the lyrics and music to a track called Forever that Sanders says is informed in part by their own personal experiences:

    You found your forever. You put your hand in his.
    He pulled you close to him, gave you that forever kiss.
    You found your forever, now you'll wake up every day.

    With him smiling back at you, and you have no words to say.

    And that's OK.
    You found your forever. 

    (To listen to 'Forever' on Spotify, click here. Backing vocals by Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore.)

    As the theatre community struggles to process the news that Langhoff is gone, his friend Murray was asked what Langhoff himself might say to bring comfort to those he leaves behind. His response:

    "I think the Vulcan in Daniel would say to us exactly what he said to me: 'This thing happened. It was outside of everyone's control. I did everything I could to make it not happen, but it still happened. Now what you have to do is move through that and try to move on from that.' "

    In addition to his wife and daughters, Langhoff is survived by his parents, Jeannie and Charlie Langhoff, and his sister, Amy Langhoff Busch.

    After an intimate family service later this week, a larger celebration of Daniel Langhoff's life will be announced in the coming weeks.

    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.

    Here's how to help Daniel Langhoff's family:
    The Denver Actors Fund is accepting targeted donations that will go 100 percent to Rebecca Joseph to help with medical, funeral and expenses. Any eventual excess funds will go toward the future educational needs of daughters Clara and Naomi. Here's how it works: Click here. When prompted, "Where do you want your donation directed?" choose from the pulldown: "For the family of Daniel Langhoff." The Denver Actors Fund will absorb all transactional fees.) If you prefer to mail a check, the address is P.O. Box 11182, Denver , CO 80211. Separately, if you are motivated to start your own campaign to proactively raise additional funds for the Langhoffs, you can create your own personalized fundraising page on the Langhoffs' behalf. To do that, just click on this (different) link. Choose "Start a fundraiser." Follow the instructions from there.

    Photo gallery: A look back at the life of Daniel Langhoff

    Daniel LanghoffTo see more photos, click on the photo above to be taken to our full Flickr album.


    Daniel Langhoff/Selected shows and companies

    • High School: Cherry Creek
    • College: Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • Denver Center for the Performing Arts: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre; A Christmas Carol for the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Arvada Center: A Man of No Importance (Breton Beret), Ragtime (Younger Brother), A Man for All Seasons, A Wonderful Life, The Crucible, Man of La Mancha, Miracle On 34th Street Les Miserables. Children's shows: Charlotte's Web, Lyle the Crocodile, Schoolhouse Rock
    • Town Hall Arts Center: Next To Normal (Dan), Annie (Daddy Warbucks), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Company, Batboy! The Musical
    • Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company: Every Christmas Story Ever Told
    • Firehouse Theatre Compay: The Crucible (Rev. Hale)
    • Miners Alley Playhouse: Pump Boys and Dinettes
    • Performance Now: Man of La Mancha (Cervantes), Ragtime (Tateh)
    • Aurora Fox: Spamalot (King Arthur)
    • Vintage Theatre: Hamlet, Prince of Pork, 18 Holes (Lyle)
    • Next Stage: Assassins (The Balladeer)
    • Magic Moments: The Child
    • Hunger Artists
    • Film: Bouquet of Consequence, Why There Are Rainbows

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

  • 'Cancer Warriors' bring powerful inspiration to 'Miscast 2017'

    by John Moore | Oct 01, 2017
    Miscast 2017
    Photos from 'Miscast 2017,' which raised nearly $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund on Sept. 25 at the Town Hall Arts Center. To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are directly downloadable and may be freely used on social media. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Three actors battling cancer help Denver Actors Fund raise almost $7,000 with help from dozens of local theatre artists

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Last year, Miscast 2016 gave birth to the Killer Kids. This year unleashed the Cancer Warriors.

    Miscast, a popular annual community-wide benefit held Sept. 25 at the Town Hall Arts Center, raised $6,842 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief when members of the Colorado theatre community find themselves in situational medical need.

    In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $128,000 in direct aid to help local artists.

    More than 30 local actors performed in roles they would never normally be cast to perform. The event was hosted by Steven J. Burge and Eric Mather, and directed by Robert Michael Sanders, who has produced and presented Miscast in its entirety for four years as his personal contribution to the Denver Actors Fund. Since 2014, Sanders' efforts have now raised $20,011 for the grassroots nonprofit. 

    The most inspiring moment of this and perhaps any other Miscast took place when actors Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles, performed an original variation of the song "Tonight," from West Side Story. The number was put together by Langhoff and his (pregnant) wife, Rebecca Joseph.

    Miscast 2017. Photo by John Moore.

    The evening included the return of "The Killer Kids of Miscast," who were given that name after a remarkable performance at last year in which they performed a twisted variation of "The Cell-Block Tango" from Chicago, accompanied by Donna Debreceni. Most of the kids played a traditional storybook characters such as Little Orphan Annie and Peter Pan. In the year since the performance, a video of that performance has been viewed nearly 500,000 times on YouTube and Facebook. 

    A Miscast. Killer Kids. Photo by John MooreThis time, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel performed a more Denver-centric parody of "Hey Officer Krupke" from West Side Story, in which the same storybook characters sing of getting older and lament not yet being seriously considered for adult roles. (Photo at right by John Moore. Video to come.)

    Those same six kids - and seven others - are also preparing to present a fully stage, self-produced staging of Jason Robert Brown's 13 the Musical, entirely as a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund. Brown also wrote The Last Five Years. Performances are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 8, at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. Information.

    The hosts also engaged audiences in participatory games including Match Game and The Dating Game (with Guest Host Avery Anderson, a college journalist from The Met Report). As guests entered the Town Hall lobby, they were asked if they wanted to be entered into a drawing to play in several on-stage games. Those who did paid $5 - sparing audience members with no desire to leave their seats.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Abner Genece, an actor from the Arvada Center, delivered remarks on behalf of The Denver Actors Fund. In June, Genece was in a life-threatening car accident that resulted in many surgeries and left his 12-year-old son with a broken neck. The Denver Actors Fund has provided more than $6,000 to the Genece family, and volunteers have helped him with groceries and household chores as he recovers.

    Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the nearby Melting Pot restaurant and iN-TEA shop in Littleton, contributed more than $1,000 in prizes for the event. Participating theatre companies included included the Denver Center,  Arvada Center, Aurora Fox, Benchmark Theatre, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre, Cherry Creek Theatre Company, Creede Repertory Theatre, Miners Alley Playhouse, Midtown Arts Center and Performance Now.

    For more information on the Denver Actors Fund and its services, or to donate, go to DenverActorsFund.Org.

    MISCAST 2017:

    Hosts:
    Steven J. Burge
    Eric Mather
    Shannan Steele

    Program:

    • Steven J. Burge, Eric Mather, Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van De Hey, “The Circle of Life,” from The Lion King
    • Jackson Garske, "Waiving Through a Window," from Dear Evan Hansen, as a Starbucks barista
    • Destiny Walsh, “Whatever Happened to My Part,” from Spamalot
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb and Rylee Vogel, "I Know Him So Well,” from Chess, as a (surprise) love song to Denver Actors Fund founder John Moore
    • Jeremy Rill, “Everybody’s Girl,” from Steel Pier
    • Reace Daniel, “Out Tonight,” from Rent
    • Jose David Reynoza and Randy Chalmers competing for the lead role in Funny Girl
    • Hope Grandon, Kenny Moten and Margie Lamb as the three Fionas singing “I Know It’s Today,” from Shrek the Musical
    • Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, singing a variation of “Tonight" from West Side Story as a battle cry against cancer, altered lyrics written by Daniel Langhoff and Rebecca Joseph. Directed and choreographed by Rebecca Joseph.
    • Killer Kids of Miscast: Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel singing a variation of “Hey Officer Krupke,” from West Side Story, about coming of age in the local theatre community. Choreography by Piper Arpan
    • Group finale, “I Will Survive”

    Video: The Cancer Warriors at Miscast 2017:

    Performing here are Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles. Video by John Moore.

  • Performer lineup for 'Miscast 2017' is announced

    by John Moore | Sep 06, 2017
    Miscast 2016

    Photos from 'Miscast 2016,' which raised more than $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund.  To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and press the forward arrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Many of those appearing are giving back to the local nonprofit that was there for them in their time of need

    Miscast 2017, the fourth annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, returns Sept. 25 to the Town Hall Arts Center with funnymen Eric Mather and Steven J. Burge as this year's hosts, it was announced today.

    Mather is the host of the Clocktower Cabaret's weekly BLUSH: A Burlesque Fantasy, while Burge just played God in the DCPA's extended hit comedy An Act of God and soon will return to the Galleria Theatre in the new relationship musical First Date.

    Miscast 2017 hosts Eric Mather and Steven J. BurgeMiscast is an opportunity for some of the local theatre community’s top performers to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever … get cast to perform on a legitimate stage. The program includes audience-participation games and general silliness.

    Last year's Miscast
    raised $7,067 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief for members of the Colorado theatre community facing situational medical need. In just four years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $120,000 in direct aid to help local artists, along with neighborly assistance from a group of 60 volunteers.

    One of the more than 70 artists who have been helped by The Denver Actors Fund is Mather, who received financial and other volunteer support when his son was born last year at just 1 pound, 9 ounces.

    "We are thankful to the Denver Actors Fund and the local theatre community for helping us in our time of financial need," Mather said. "It really does take a village.”

    Actors from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs submitted proposed songs along with their  "Miscast concepts" for judges to consider, and once again, Miscast Director Robert Michael Sanders said he received far more submissions than he had performance slots.

    "This year's turnout was completely overwhelming," said Sanders. All applications were considered by a special selection committee based on variety and cleverness, among other factors. A premium, Sanders said, is placed on submissions that extend beyond simple race- or gender-swapping.

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

    2017 Miscast


    Sanders has announced the following lineup of actors who will either perform or appear at this year's Miscast. But he's keeping their planned songs secret until their performances. The list includes Hope Grandon, PR and Events Manager for the DCPA Theatre Company (and former Chicago performer). Several of those listed have received prior assistance from The Denver Actors Fund, most recently Norrell Moore of the Arvada Center's upcoming A Chorus Line. Moore was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 and has received $3,900 from The Denver Actors Fund to help her through it. The full list (in alphabetical order) is subject to change:

    • Jona Alonzo
    • Avery Anderson
    • Miscast 2016. Photo by John Moore. Randy Chalmers
    • Reace Daniel
    • Jackson Garske
    • Abner Genece
    • Hope Grandon
    • Nick Johnson
    • Margie Lamb
    • Daniel Langhoff
    • Norrell Moore
    • Kenny Moten
    • Jose David Reynoza
    • Jeremy Rill
    • Andrew Uhlenhopp
    • Destiny Walsh
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb

    And featuring the return of the Killer Kids of Miscast:

    • Kaden Hinkle
    • Hannah Katz
    • Darrow Klein
    • Evan Gibley
    • Rylee Vogel
    • Hannah Meg Weinraub

    Creative team:

    • Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    • Musical Director: Donna Debreceni
    • Stage Manager: Maegan Burnell
    • Assistant to the Director: Jessica Swanson

    (Pictured above right: Anna High, Suzanne Connors Nepi, Tim Howard and Barret Harper in 'Miscast 2016.')

    This year's event will include several special performance twists, such as a series of games a la Jimmy Fallon and other late night TV hosts. Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the Denver Center, are contributing more than $1,000 in prizes for the event.

    Miscast 2017: Ticket information

    • Monday, Sept. 25
    • Doors open at 6 p.m.; show starts at 7 p.m.
    • At the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, CO, 80120
    • $20 (plus fees if ordered online)
    • Call 303-794-2787 or order online at townhallartscenter.org
    • Cash bar available

    Learn more about DAF at www.denveractorsfund.org. Follow DAF at Denver Actors Fund on Facebook or on Twitter at @DenverActorsFun.


    Video: The Killer Kids of Miscast 2016

    Watch the video that has been viewed nearly half a million times on social media since last September's 'Miscast 2016.' The so-called 'Killer Kids of Miscast' will be back this year with a new number. The 2016 lineup was Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • In the Spotlife: Tim Howard of 'The Producers'

    by John Moore | Jun 19, 2017

     


    MEET TIM HOWARD     
    Leo Bloom in Breckenridge Backstage Theater's 'The Producers,' running through Aug. 6. In 2014, Howard won a DCPA True West Award for his work in Town Hall Arts Center's 'How to Succeed in Business...'

  • Tim HowardHometown: Denver
  • Home now: Arvada
  • High school: Littleton High School
  • College: Five Towns College (Long Island, N.Y.)
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Clyde Barrow in Town Hall Arts Center's Bonnie & Clyde.
  • What's next? I will be playing Drew in Rock of Ages at BDT Stage
  • What's your handle? @timothybrooks88 on Instagram
  • Twitter-sized bio: Currently enjoying the last year of my 20s. Hate adulting. Enjoy the outdoors and going on adventures. Usually, adventures start or end with my friends saying: "Tim, don't!" Or: "I do not want to take you to the hospital." But I'm still here (because of my friends). Love to go camping, hiking and backpacking. When I was 9, I got involved with The Academy of Theater Arts (ATA) and played there until I was 18 and have been involved with theater ever since. Someday I would love to have the means to travel. But on an actors salary ... hah!
  • The role that changed your life: I played Leo Bloom once before, five years ago at the Town Hall Arts Center. Before that, I was often cast in the ensemble or as a secondary character. I grew up with Paul Dwyer teaching me comedy and being cast as the comic relief and a lot of very fun character roles at ATA. Matt Dailey was always the leading man opposite Melissa Benoist. Paul, who co-directed the shows with Alann Worley, always said, "Matt got the girl, but Tim got the audience." Once I was given the opportunity to play Leo, I was suddenly seen as a leading man. It changed how I looked at roles. It wasn't always comedy, and I found myself getting more passionate about the "acting" part of musical theater.
  • Robin WilliamsIdeal scene partner: I have always wanted to act on stage with Robin Williams. He was such an inspiration to me growing up. He had such a knack for it. I wanted to be him. One thing that made me admire him even more was that he was an incredible actor as well. He understood emotion. Everything he did was so natural and real. Every role I take on, I try to be the kind of actor he would be proud to work next to.
  • What is The Producers all about? Max Bialystock, a has-been Broadway producer, can't seem to produce a hit. He meets a timid accountant named Leo Bloom who discovers (in theory) that a producer could make more money with a flop than a hit. Together they hatch a scheme to produce "the worst musical ever written": Springtime for Hitler. Everything does not go as planned, and they find themselves in a lot of awkward and funny situations.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: Leo Bloom is the shy, timid, mousy accountant who plays by the rules but has a secret desire to be a Broadway producer. He slowly comes out of his shell and finds there is more to him than even he knew there was.  When I played this role before five years ago, I found Leo to be pretty much like who I was then. I had just come back from college, and Denver theater wasn't the same as I remembered it. I was getting to know new people, and I wasn't ready to let them in. In that production, it was very easy to understand Leo. Fast-forward five years: I just finished Bonnie and Clyde. I was playing a character who was confident, spoke his mind, knew who he was and how to follow his dreams. Clyde, unlike Leo, wouldn’t let anything get in the way. I now identify with Clyde more than Leo, so I have found it difficult to transition from one back to the other. However, this challenge is allowing me to find a new take on Leo, and I have more of an understanding about his journey toward self-confidence.
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing your show? I hope they laugh. Laughter is, as they say, the best medicine. This is a musical adaptation of the 1967 Mel Brooks hit, The Producers. Brooks even wrote the music, so how can you not laugh? I hope every audience leaves feeling happy. It's a great show to see if you are having a rough day and need a break from the outside world. On a more serious note, I hope they leave knowing that even when everything in your life goes wrong, you can always find a way through and have a happy ending.
  • What's one thing people might not know about you? I don't volunteer or do good deeds like everyone thinks I do. I watch a lot of Netflix and drink beer instead. But, when I was 7, I was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome. People don’t usually believe me when I tell them. It was a very tough time for me. I was bullied and made fun of a lot. A few years later I got into theater, and that changed my life. Throughout my school years, I was still picked on, but because of my comedy training, I knew how to handle it. I like to think theater is the reason my tics went away. Tourette's is still a part of me, but no one can tell.
  • What do you want to get off your chest? I am passionate about brewing beer. We live in a state where craft beers are a growing art form. Right now I have a Kiwi Wit beer in fermentation and I'm looking forward to sharing it with my Producers cast in Breckenridge.

  • Tim Howard. Scott Rathbun.Scott Rathbun, left, with Tim Howard in Backstage Breckenridge's 'The Producers.' 



    The Producers: Ticket information

    • Written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
    • Directed by Robert Michael Sanders
    • Through Aug. 6
    • 121 S. Ridge St., Brekenridge MAP IT
    • Tickets $23-$39
    • For tickets, call 970-453-0199 or go to backstagetheatre.org


    Remaining performance schedule:
    • Sunday, June 18, 6:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, June 24, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, June 25, 6:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, June 28, 7:30 p.m.
    • Thursday, June 29, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, June 30, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, July 1, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 2, 6:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, July 5, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 9, 6:30 p.m.
    • Friday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, July 15, 7:30 p.m.
    • Thursday July 20, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, July 22, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 23, 6:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, July 26, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, July 28, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, August 2, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, August 4, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, August 5, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, August 6, 6:30 p.m.

    Cast list:

    Tim Howard
    Scott Rathbun
    Colby Dunn
    Brian Jackson
    Christopher Willard
    Josh Rigo
    Barret Harper
    Stephanie Hesse
    Jessica Hindsley
    Kaitlyn Althoff
    Rose Metcalf
    Mary McGroary
    Cole Mitchell
    Alissa Robinson
    Eli Stewart
    Connor Sullivan

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Jack Barton of BDT Stage's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    Meet the ensemble of Buntport Theater's The Crud
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Ethelyn Friend of ________________, An Opera
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Emily K. Harrison of She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Haley Hunsaker of Funky Little Theatre Company's Extremities
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Heather Lacy of the Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Tamara Meneghini of The Last Testament of Mary
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
    Meet Adriane Wilson of Miners Alley Playhouse's Cabaret

  • In the Spotlife: Rebekah Ortiz of 'The Robber Bridegroom'

    by John Moore | Mar 27, 2017
    Rebekah Ortiz Photo of Rebekah Ortiz by Kellie Coughlin Henriksen.


    MEET REBEKAH ORTIZ

    Rebekah Ortiz plays Rosamund in Town Hall Arts Center's 'The Robber Bridegroom,' a 1975 musical set in late 18th-century Mississippi through April 30.

  • Pippin. Rebekah Oriz. Ignite Theatre Hometown: Lakewood
  • Home now: Lakewood
  • High school: D’Evelyn
  • College: BFA in musical theatre from Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Miss Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Millie for BDT Stage
  • What's next? I will be playing Stepsister in The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown from June 15-Aug. 27
  • Twitter-sized bio: Proud Colorado native who lives for family, travel and theatre - and still gets her breath taken away whenever she sees those Rocky Mountains.  
  • Twtter and Instagram handle: @bekahlekah
  • What was the role that changed your life? I was cast in the ensemble for Fiddler on the Roof in the ninth grade. Fiddler is a beautiful, timeless, perfectly written piece that always will have something to teach us about being human. This is when I first learned to bring a character to life with an incomparable sort of empathy. I learned theatre would be a way for me to teach others through my own imagination. I always strive to keep that ninth-grade passion for getting inside the head of whatever character I am creating.
  • Rachel Bay JonesIdeal scene partner: I was fortunate to have played Catherine in Ignite Theatre's 2011 production of Pippin, a role Rachel Bay Jones later played in the 2013 Broadway revival, which I was fortunate to see in New York. Everything about it was incredible. I cried. She now plays the mother in Dear Evan Hansen. I recently listened to her interview on one of my favorite podcasts, Theatre People. As she spoke, I connected with her passion, honesty and heart. She is a kindred spirit. I’d love to tackle a project with her to see how she approaches a scene.
  • What is The Robber Bridegroom all about? It's a Southern-fried Robin Hood musical set in late 18th-century Mississippi. It tells the story of Jamie Lockhart, a refined gentleman by day and a dangerous bandit by night, and how his world is turned upside down when he falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy planter. The musical is filled with comedic performances and features a catchy, energetic folk and bluegrass score. The Robber Bridegroom won the Tony Award in 1975 for Best Book of a Musical - and for good reason.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing Rosamund: In the original version, the Robber takes advantage of Rosamund in a shockingly dark way. We decided to play with Rosamund being a stronger woman who has greater control of her destiny. It has been challenging to let go of the original script, and how those actions defined the character. Finding the motivation behind the new choices, allowing them to shape who Rosamund is, what she wants, and how she’s going to get it, is my challenge.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? A lot of laughs and a bounce in your step. You won’t be able to help but smile and tap your foot. You should sail through a tall tale filled with wildly large characters and leaves you in stitches.
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I love long-distance hiking. My first big hike was the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with my husband. My most recent was the Kalalau Trail in Kauai with river crossings, bamboo forests and steep, slippery climbs. I love the challenge of a good hike, and the feeling of accomplishment afterward. Hiking is a metaphor for life - all its ups and downs, challenges and rewards. I also love it because by exploring different parts of the world by foot, you can really appreciate the detail and slow down.
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? My passion is empowering women to overcome taboos about their health. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is a female hormonal condition with varying symptoms, the most heartbreaking of which is infertility. It’s estimated to affect 1 in every 10 to 15 women, yet many gynecologists and doctors know little about how to treat it. In my personal journey through research and experimenting with nutrition, I learned that my cycle is connected to my overall mental and physical health. Paying attention to the subtle changes in my body has changed my life. I’ve really begun to understand the shroud of mystery hanging over women’s health. Society has bred misleading and inadequate health education that impedes women from living to their fullest potential. I could go on and on, but I will just say that every woman should read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler and be enlightened by the knowledge it brings.

  • Town Hall Arts Center. The Robber Bridegroom. Michael R. Duran
    The set for the Town Hall Arts Center's upcoming production of  The Robber Bridegroom' designed by Michael Ray Duran.

    Town Hall Arts Center's The Robber Bridegroom: Ticket information

    • Adapted from the Eudora Welty novella by Alfred Uhry (book and lyrics) and Robert Waldman (music)
    • Directed by Bob Wells and Donna Debreceni (music)
    • March 31 through April 30
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; additional matinee on Saturday, April 15
    • 2450 W. Main St., Littleton
    • Tickets $20-$42
    • Info: 303-794-2787 (press 5), or townhallartscenter.org

    Cast list:
    •  Ryan Buehler as Jamie Lockhart
    •  Rebekah Ortiz as Rosamund
    •  TJ Hogle as Clement
    •  Steph Holmbo as Salome
    •  Chas Lederer as Big Harp
    •  Ben Cowhick as Little Harp
    •  Ryan Heidenreich as Goat
    •  Caitlin Conklin as Raven and Goat’s Mother
    •  John Mackey as Airie
    •  Townsfolk: Cara Lippitt, Leah Nikula and Kris Graves

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Probem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre'sThe Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Jane Shirley of Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
  • 2016 True West Award: Robert Michael Sanders

    by John Moore | Dec 02, 2016
    True West Awards. Robert Michael Sanders


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 2:
    Robert Michael Sanders

    Robert Michael Sanders has been one one of the busiest members of the Colorado theatre community for years, and not even a botched shoulder surgery that left his hands partially paralyzed in 2014 has even slightly slowed him down. In 2016, his haberdashery included acting, direction, properties and public relations. He is also an accomplished singer who just completed his second solo album under the name Robert Michael for release on iTunes later this month. (His 2007 cover of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" has more than a million plays on Spotify, and he released three previous albums with his band Silence.)

    True West Awards. Robert Michael SandersSanders is nothing if not versatile - and adaptable. Here's a quick rundown of his theatre year:

    • Directed Tell Me on a Sunday for The Avenue Theater; The Last Romance for Cherry Creek Theatre; Guys on Ice for Town Hall Arts Center; and the children's shows Jumping Jiving Juliette and Seussical Jr. for Town Hall
    • Performed in the Edge Theatre's Getting Out and Murder Ballad 
    • Assisted the properties master on The Avenue Theater's Wait Until Dark
    • Directed publicity efforts for Aurora Fox's Little Women, Black Elk Speaks and Catch Me If You Can, as well as The Avenue's Bakersfield Mist

    Onstage, good-guy Sanders is often called upon to play the bad guy - his "resume of racists" is longer than other actors' entire CV's. He has had particularly hiss-worthy turns over the years in the Arvada Center's Ragtime, Memphis and A Man of No Importance, and he owned that persona again this year in the Edge Theatre's Getting Out, playing a former prison guard who takes a shine to a woman just out of prison - with lecherous strings attached. "Sanders'  dual personality turns on Arlene in the worst possible way," wrote reviewer Bill Wheeler. "Sanders delivers his schizophrenic character beautifully, going from the nicest guy on stage to the nastiest in the blink of an eye."

    But what made 2016 a singular year for Sanders was the range he showed in The Edge's Murder Ballad, one of those unctuous contemporary rock musicals that dares you not to like it. But Sanders managed to emerge from a veritable menagerie of pool-hall damage by showing a full and effective range of emotion from gentle to, well, murderous, thanks to a score uniquely suited to his rock background.

    But for all the good Sanders does on and around the stage, perhaps his most impressive trait is his ongoing commitment to the fellow artists in the Colorado theatre community. Sanders organizes and directs Miscast as an annual fundraiser for the Denver Actors Fund - a silly night of games and songs where actors get to play roles they would never get cast to perform in otherwise. It is a logistical nightmare and a dream-come-true for the fund that makes money and personal services available to artists in situational medical need. Sanders' three Miscast-directed events have now raised more than $13,000 for the Denver Actors Fund - a record $7,067 in 2016 alone.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Sanders was chosen to be the recipient of today's True West Award by former Phamaly Theatre Company Artistic Director Bryce Alexander, who relied on Sanders as both an actor and general liaison during his tenure running the acclaimed local theatre company that creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    "I am constantly amazed at Robert's overall commitment to every single level of Colorado theatre," said Alexander. "Robert is always there to support you. This amazing artist and person (and his wife) should be celebrated."

    That amazing wife would be Megan Van De Hey. Yes, Sanders capped his exceptional year with a personal coup by marrying one of the most consistently honored actors in the Colorado theatre community. Not bad for a nice guy.

     

    Robert Michael Sanders/At a glance:

    • High School: Broomfield
    • Denver Center tie: He was in the cast of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at the Garner Galleria Theatre
    • Album: “Feel It Coming,” under the name of Robert Michael
    • Next project: Directing Almost Maine for the Avenue Theater, Jan. 13-Feb. 12


    Robert Michael Sanders. Miscast. Photo by John Moore. Robert Michael Sanders addresses the crowd at 'Miscast 2016,' which he directed on behalf of the Denver Actors Fund. 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
    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
  • In the Spotlife: Seth Maisel of 'Guys On Ice'

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2016
    Guys on Ice
    Director Robert Michael Sanders first presented 'Guys on Ice' earlier this year at the Aurora Fox with Josh Nelson, left, and Charlie Schmidt. Playing Seth Maisel's role was Steven J. Burge. The production, with a new cast including Maisel, plays at the Town Hall Arts Center through Oct. 23.

    (The DCPA NewsCenter regularly profiles actors performing in theatre productions throughout the state of Colorado.)

    MEET SETH MAISEL

    Ernie the Mooch in 'Guys on Ice' at the Town Hall Arts Center

    • Seth Maisel Toxic AvengerHometown: Ouray
    • Home now: Centennial
    • High School: Pueblo Centennial
    • College: B.A. degrees in English Lit and Theater from Pomona (Calif.) College;  MFA in Theater from Florida Atlantic University
    • What have you done for us lately? I played Toxie, The Toxic Avenger in The Toxic Avenger, The Musical for Equinox Theatre Company (See photo at right.)
    • What's coming up next? I will be playing Sipos in She Loves Me for Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • What is Guys on Ice all about? I call it a hilarious musical version of Waiting for Godot, except it’s about ice fishing in Wisconsin - and you can understand what’s going on. The official description goes more like this: "Marvin and Lloyd are ice-fishing buddies and home-grown philosophers who talk (anSeth Maisel quoted sing) about life, love and Leinies. Songs include 'Ode to a Snowmobile Suit' and 'Fish is the Miracle Food.' Fun for the whole family."
    • Tell us about your character: Ernie the Mooch is the jerk who drinks all their beer, ruins their fishing, and crushes their hopes. ... So he’s a lot of fun!
    • What do you love most about the Denver theatre community? I love the Denver theater community, especially as it is represented here at Town Hall. There is an openness and family-feeling here that the Town Hall family is careful to foster.  It is easy to do my best work when I have great support and get to work with such wonderful people. 
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? Before settling firmly into my office chair, I used to work as a white water raft guide.
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? I’ve been using the same headshot for more than 10 years - and I’m still getting away with it! It’s become kind of a joke. (See photo above to the right.)

    Town Hall Arts Center's Guys on Ice: Ticket information
    • Lyrics by Fred Alley, music by James Kaplan, conceived and researched by Fred Alley and Frederick Heide.
    • Directed by Robert Michael Sanders
    • Through Oct. 23
    • At 2450 W. Main St., Littleton
    • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
    • Tickets $25
    • Info:  303-794-2787 ext. 5, or townhallartscenter.org

    Cast List:
    Seth Maisel as Ernie the Moocher
    Mark Middlebrooks as Lloyd
    Brian Murray as Marvin


    A video sneak peek at 'Guys on Ice.' (Not the same cast or production as the one currently being staged at the Town Hall Arts Center.)

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    Meet Jeff Jesmer of The Crucible
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

    by John Moore | Oct 04, 2016
    Miscast 2016

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


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

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

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

    Video excerpt:


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


    MISCAST 2016:

    Hosts:
    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather

    Program:

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MISCAST 2016:

    Hosts:
    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Video, photos: Town Hall, Alamo present 'Legally Blonde'

    by John Moore | Jun 02, 2016


    Video: Highlights from the live performance and Q&A before and after the Denver Actors Fund screening of 'Legally Blonde' at the Alamo Drafthouse Denver. 

    The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and the Denver Actors Fund partner on a monthly film series focusing on films inspired by musicals that are currently being performed by a Colorado theatre company.

    On May 23, the Alamo screened Legally Blonde, starring Reese Witherspoon, preceded by live entertainment from the Town Hall Arts Center's current production of Legally Blonde, the Musical. The host was cast member Chelley Canales. Film director Robert Luketic and screenwriters Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah appeared in person for a Q&A and autographs.  

    Choose your seat for the Footloose screening June 20

    Among the topics discussed after the film was how Littleton played into the creation of the writing team of Smith and McCullah. Here's an expanded quote from Smith on that subject:

    “Karen was writing screenplays while living here in Littleton, and I was living in L.A. and reading screenplays. She was being an awesome writer who sent her scripts hither and yon into Hollywood, and I read some. And so I called her on the phone and I said, ‘I would love to meet you. Will you come to L.A.? Let’s have drinks.’ And then we one drink that led to probably 25 drinks. And that night, we started writing a script together on cocktail napkins. And then we began a long-distance writing relationship in which she was here in Littleton and I was in L.A., and we wrote 10 Things I Hate About You.”

    Read our fun interview with Robert Luketic

    Next up in the film series will be Footloose, with entertainment from BDT Stage, on Monday, June 25. Click here for tickets.

    The Denver Actors Fund provides financial assistance to members of the Denver theater community in situational medical need.


    Our Legally Blonde photo gallery:


    DAF Presents ... Legally Blonde

    Photos from the Denver Actors Fund benefit screening of 'Legally Blonde.' To see more, click the forward button on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.


    Next: Denver Actors Fund Presents ... Footloose
    A benefit screening for the Denver Actors Fund
    Monday, June 20
    At the Alamo Drafthouse, 7301 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, 303-730-2470

    • 6pm Doors
    • 6:30p.m. Live entertainment from BDT Stage
    • 7pm film

    Tickets $20 CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

    Note: The Town Hall Arts Center is presenting Legally Blonde, the Musical onstage through June 19 at 2450 Main St., Littleton. The director is Nick Sugar. Call  303-794-2787, or go to townhallartscenter.org

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The cast of Town Hall Arts Center's stage production of 'Legally Blonde, the Musical' meets film director Robert Luketic and screenwriters Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah after the benefit screening for the Denver Actors Fund.
  • Michael Gorman: The Oldsie of Newsies returns to Denver

    by John Moore | Mar 14, 2016

     

    Michael Gorman NewsiesMichael Gorman jokingly refers to himself as one of the “Oldsies” in Newsies. Now he’s not so "oldsie" that he was hawking papers for a nickel on big-city street corners back at the turn of the century. You know ... the 20th century. But oldsie enough where Gorman did have his own paper route as a lad in suburban St. Louis.

    Not that delivering The St. Louis Post by bicycle before the dawn of each dawn suited him for long.

    “When I was a kid, it was either get up early and go to Mass, or get up early and deliver the paper,” said Gorman. “I tried it for a while, but I wound up going to Mass instead.”

    Still, good training for his current gig playing three different oldsies (including the Mayor of New York) in Disney’s Newsies. The wildly popular musical, with a score by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast) and a book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles), is based on the real-life Newsboys’ strike of 1899.

    “I think it's popular because it’s about this guy named Jack Kelly, who is the leader of a band of newsboys and he has a dream of a better life,” said Gorman. “Literally, these boys are homeless. They're sold into a refuge if they disobey some made-up law. And so Jack leads them on a strike that literally shuts down New York. It’s really the story of hope.”

    And it features the kind of physically demanding dancing Gorman hasn’t seen since A Chorus Line. And he knows a thing or two about A Chorus Line. Gorman played Bobby for nearly three years in the original Broadway production starting in 1978, which he said was like being surrounded by dance royalty.

    Gorman has truly lived the life of a gypsy actor, perpetually traveling the world as a performer and choreographer. But from 1981-2006, his home base was Colorado. He worked at nearly every local theatre here, a list spanning the Arvada Center to the now shuttered Country Dinner Playhouse and Heritage Square Music Hall. He was crushed to hear of Heritage Square’s closing two years ago in Golden.

    “Those were the funniest people I've ever met,” he said. “I learned more about comedy in that job than in any job I’ve ever had…until now.”

    Gorman has worked with essentially every local musical actor of note from that period, including red-hot Tony Award nominee Beth Malone (Broadway's Fun Home) and the superhero of CBS' Supergirl, Melissa Benoist.

    Gorman directed Malone in Little Shop of Horrors at the Arvada Center. And he’s not at all surprised that his back-alley backup singer has rocketed to the top of her field. “She deserves every bit of her success,” he said. “What a good egg — and what a good lady.”

    Melissa Benoist A Chorus Line Town Hall Arts Center


    Gorman directed Benoist in the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center’s 2006 production of A Chorus Line. When Benoist was later cast in the hit Fox TV series Glee, she said she considered that production to be one of the two seminal experiences of her young career. She played Bebe.

    “That changed my life, and I think it was totally a precursor to this experience on Glee because it required singing and acting and dancing – and having to be honest doing them all at once,” Benoist said at the time. “We moved at a really fast pace, and I learned really difficult material that Michael Gorman was throwing at us every day. And it didn't stop. It was a really grueling and challenging experience for everyone in that show, and I learned so much.”

    And if Benoist credits Gorman, then Gorman credits the material.

    “I get very emotional about this because it’s such a tough show to put up,” he said. “You try to put the heart into it, and you really try to protect your actors because there's nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. It's a brutal show. There’s a great reward when you do it, but, boy — it's brutal getting there.”

    During his time in Denver, Gorman was often lured away from home by the legendary Baayork Lee, who since 1975 has dedicated her life to preserving the legacy of A Chorus Line creator Michael Bennett. Starting in 1983, Gorman was to Lee what Lee was to Bennett: The assistant who put dancers through the grueling boot camp that prepared them to perform in A Chorus Line. The job took Gorman all over the world to bucket-list places like Australia, Israel, Singapore and the London Palladium. But after that grueling odyssey, he was eager to come home and immerse himself in “character acting,” and that is exactly what Newsies has afforded him. “It’s one of the best jobs I've ever had,” he said.

    “It’s such a great dance show, and people just go nuts over it. It reminds me of how I started in A Chorus Line. I see these boys in Newsies having the same kind of experience. It's like a sports event seeing them do all of the athletic things they do. How could you not fall in love with them?

    “And one of the most exciting things about Newsies, I think, is that it's growing the next generation for the theatre. Not only for performing, but for coming to the theatre as well. It has sparked such a following.”

    An as for the oldsies mingling with the Newsies, he said: “I don't think we're mentoring them. I think it's mutual. I feel like everyone here is mentoring each other.”


    Disney's Newsies: Ticket information

  • March 23-April 9 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  •  Kids' Night on Broadway, Talkback with the Company: 7:30 p.m. March 24
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 3

  • Check out more of our Colorado theatre coverage

    Disney's Newsies Joey Barreiro as Jack Kelly with the North American touring company Disney’s 'Newsies.' Photo by Deen van Meer.
  • Directors talk tough with local actors: Get to class!

    by John Moore | Jan 19, 2016
    Continuing Classes Forum

    Photos from the recent communitywide forum on the need for continuing education among local theatre performers. To see more photos, hit the 'forward' button. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Local theatre directors and producers had a provocative message for Colorado’s teeming talent pool at a specially called forum last week: “Get to class.”

    Representatives from Colorado theatre companies large and small gathered at Cap City on Jan. 12 to light a fire under the creative community.

    “We’re good,” said longtime BDT Stage Artistic Director Michael J. Duran. “But good is not good enough.”

    Producers sense a complacency settling in over the acting community because, ironically enough, the local theatre ecology is so healthy. There are more than 50 theatre companies in the metro area, and more than 100 statewide, which means there are plenty of shows - and plenty of roles - to go around.

    But if you want the jobs that actually pay more than gas money, the actors were told in the complete absence of sugar-coating: They need to be continually honing their craft.

    “I think the problem is our community doesn’t think they have to work that hard because they are working all the time,” said choreographer Piper Arpan. “If I am working all the time, then there is a sense then that I must be good enough.’ ” 

    Doctors and attorneys are required to participate in continuing education to keep their licenses, but nothing obligates an actor to continue taking dance, voice or acting classes. "Why is that?" Duran said. "Athletes don’t stop practicing when they turn pro."

    But as long as actors continue to be cast in shows, why should they bother with the time, expense and inconvenience of classes?

    Read more: Audition advice from the experts

    Duran had a rather pointed response: Just because actors are working does not mean they are they are getting better by merely working. Worse, Duran said, many don’t even seem to want to get better. And that is being reflected in the quality of productions theatres are putting on local stages.

    “Every one of us (producers) makes concessions and lowers our expectations for our shows,” Duran said. “We dumb it down because we don’t have the dancers to make our shows what they could be. Listen, just because you are cast in a dance show does not make you a good dancer: It makes you a warm body.”

    Tim McCracken QuoteWell, if that doesn’t make a warm body hot … to trot … to class … what will? That is the question.

    “How do we find the competitive edge within ourselves?” Duran said. “How do we create the desire to improve just for the sake of getting better at what we do?”

    Arvada Center Artistic Director Rod Lansberry told the gathering of about 40 that every casting director goes into every audition hoping that any given actor will be amazing. After all, you would then be the solution to the director’s problem. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

    “We want you to have those skills that we need,” Lansberry said. “But you have to bring them to us. We can’t give them to you.”

    This was an uncommonly blunt forum presented by Duran in partnership with the Colorado Theatre Guild. Others who spoke either in person or by proxy included Charles Packard of the Aurora Fox; Chris Starkey from AXS Group; Gloria Shanstrom and Pat Payne of the Colorado Theatre Guild; Jalyn Courtenay Webb from the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins; Ali King of the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown; directors Nick Sugar (Town Hall Arts Center’s Violet”) and Spotlight's Bernie Cardell; Arvada Center choreographer Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck; BDT Stage's Matthew D. Peters, Jessica Hindsley and Scott Beyette; and other interested individuals.

    And the tough love didn’t get any less tough as the evening progressed. For example, Lansberry told attendees that the buzzword today is “triple threat.” As in, “If you want to work in this town, you have to be able to do all three well,” Lansberry said of acting, singing and dancing. “They don’t have shows coming out that are not for triple threats.”

    Starkey took that one step further. “Now you actually have to be a quadruple threat,” he said, “because more and more, shows are calling on performers who also can play their own musical instruments.”

    Once the ABC message got through – “Always Be Classing” – the conversation turned to practical matters, such as: Are there a variety of classes out there available to be taken (there are); how is a potential student to know where they are (read on); and who’s to say the investment will eventually pay off? (No one honestly can.)

    Tim McCracken, the new Head of Acting for DCPA Education, took the opportunity to introduce those in attendance to the breadth of year-round classes the Denver Center makes available to more than 68,000 every year, covering all disciplines, experience levels and age groups.

    “I think in the past there has been this notion that the DCPA is somehow separate from the rest of the theatre community, and that could not be further from the truth,” McCracken said, citing a whole host of the community’s most prominent performers who also work as Teaching Artists for the DCPA. As for any perceived cost barrier, McCracken spoke of scholarship opportunities that can bring the cost of classes down by as much as 75 percent.

    “We want more inclusion with the entire Denver theatre community,” McCracken said. “That’s our goal.”

    Michael J DuranArpan ran down a range of metro area dance companies that offer lessons for all abilities, and Hindsley and Peters spoke of continuing classes held at BDT Stage as well. By the end of the evening, a Facebook page (The Denver Area Actors Continuing Education Forum) had been created that is dedicated to informing potential students about class opportunities. There was also preliminary talk of a more organized repository, perhaps one to be taken on by the Colorado Theatre Guild’s web site.

    “So I would suggest this is not question of opportunity,” Arpan said in conclusion. “It is a question of motivation.”

    This is not a topic of conversation you can start within the local theatre community without opening up a Pandora's Box of ecology-related questions, such as: Why can’t more theatres afford to pay a living wage? Why do the biggest theatres feel they must cast from outside the metro talent pool? How can a mid-size market like Denver make it more attractive for our most talented performers not to leave for New York or Los Angeles? Each is worthy of its own forum.

    But as the discussion pertains to classes, Duran reiterated his staunch belief that the quality of theatre on our local stages would be much higher if every singer, dancer and actor took it upon themselves to continually work on their craft.

    “The thing I think we need to figure out,” Duran said, “is how to make people hungry to be better.”

    WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS TOPIC?
    Please enter your comments at the bottom of this story. 

  • January: Colorado theatre openings

    by John Moore | Dec 31, 2015

    Multiple award-winner Karen Slack will star in 'Medea' at the Edge Theatre. Photo by RDG Photography.

    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of all upcoming Colorado theatre openings. Companies are encouraged to submit future listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to jmoore@dcpa.org.



    There's so much good stuff happening on local theatre stages this month, it has to be reduced to bullet points. Some highlights:
    • A world premiere (The Nest) and the most recent Tony-winning play (All the Way) by the DCPA Theatre Company.
    • Karen Slack as that mother-killer of all mother-killers, Medea.
    • The first local staging of Green Day’s American Idiot.
    • Film star Bill Pullman presenting a one-night showing of his developing new play The Wild Hunt.
    • A mobile staging of Oleanna presented by a new theatre company that seriously exists only to raise money for other local theatre companies.
    • Curious Theatre’s regional premiere of Sex With Strangers, written by Cherry Creek High School alum Laura Eason and featuring the Denver acting debut of Paige Price – a Broadway actress who also runs Theatre Aspen.
    • Only the second local staging of the highly acclaimed off-Broadway musical Violet, about a white girl who crosses the country in the 1960s in search of a minister to heal her scarred face.
    • A long-overdue local staging of perhaps the angriest social play of the past 50 years: The Normal Heart.
    • A gender-reversed staging of Shakespeare’s gender-battle comedy The Taming of The Shrew
    • A fun new '80s musical revue that transports audiences into their 1985 high-school reunion (Reunion '85).

     Check out all of your more than 40 theatregoing options for January below:





    THIS MONTH'S DCPA OFFERINGS AT A GLANCE:

    Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Jan. 19: National Touring Production of Shaping Sound (pictured above)
    Buell Theatre. INFO

    Jan. 22-Feb. 21: DCPA Theatre Company’s The Nest
    Space Theatre. INFO

    Jan. 26-31: Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage
    Buell Theatre. INFO  

    Jan. 29-Feb 28: DCPA Theatre Company’s All The Way
    Stage Theatre. INFO


    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:
    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)


    Jan. 2-24: Ignite Theatre’s American Idiot
    At the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 720-362-2697 or ignitetheatre.com

    Jan. 2-Feb. 6: Spotlight Theatre’s The Big Bang
    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Jan. 7-23, 2016: The Source Theatre’s The Other Bed
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    Jan. 8-Feb. 14: Aurora Fox’s The Arabian Nights
    Studio Theatre, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-739-1970 or aurorafoxartscenter.org

    Jan. 8-March 25, 2015: Midtown Arts Center's Ring of Fire
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Jan. 8-24: Performance Now’s Brigadoon
    Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or performancenow.org

    Taming of the Shrew. Photo by Denver Mind Media. Jan. 8-Feb. 6: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s Murderers
    121 S. Ridge St., 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Jan. 8-17: Lost and Found Productions’ gender-reversed The Taming of the Shrew
    At The Bug Theatre: 3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or LostandFoundProductions.net (Photo right by Denver Mind Media.) 

    Jan. 9-Feb. 6: Openstage Theatre Company's Outside Mullingar
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Jan. 9: Funky Little Theatre's 24SEVEN: Seven New 10-Minute Plays in 24 Hours
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, funkylittletheater.org

    January 300 PullmanJan. 10: Visionbox Studio’s The Wild Hunt
    At the EXDO Event Center, 1399 35th St., 720-810-1641 or visionbox.org
    (Pictured: Bill Pullman, right)

    Jan. 14-March 6: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s Hello, Dolly!
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970) 744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Jan. 14-24: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Buyer and Cellar
    30 W. Dale St, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Jan. 15-Feb. 7: Town Hall Arts Center’s Violet
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Jan. 15-Feb. 14: The Edge Theatre Company's Medea
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Jan. 15-Feb. 21, 2016: Vintage Theatre’s The Normal Heart
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Jan. 15-March 4: Midtown Arts Center's I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Jan. 15-30: Funky Little Theatre's Italy
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, funkylittletheater.org

    Jan. 15-31: Inspire Creative and Parker Arts’ Mary Poppins
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, inspirecreative.org

    Jan. 15-24, 2016: Longmont Theatre Company's Yankee Tavern
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Jan. 16-Feb. 20: Curious Theatre’s Sex with Strangers
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    Jan. 16-Feb. 21: Progressive Theatre’s Oleanna
    *Jan. 16-17 at Buntport Theatere, 717 Lipan St.
    *Jan. 31 at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, benefiting Spotlight Theatre
    *Feb. 6 at Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora
    * Feb. 20-21 at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, benefiting Firehouse Theatre

    Jan. 16: Stories On Stage’s Finding Your Way
    At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    Jan. 19: National Touring Production of Shaping Sound
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Jan. 21-Feb. 7: Vera Rubin: Bringing the Dark to Light
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc.org

    Jan. 21, 2016: Christine Ebersole: Big Noise from Winnetka
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or www.lonetreeartscenter.org

    Jan 21-31: Millibo Art Theatre’s Echo
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321 or www.themat.org/echo

    Jan. 21-Feb. 7: Springs Ensemble Theatre’s The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Jan. 22-Feb. 21: DCPA Theatre Company’s The Nest
    Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Jan. 22-Feb. 27: The Avenue’s Tell Me on a Sunday
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Jan. 22-24: Evergreen Players' The Sound of Music Sing-along
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    January 600 Dirty DancingJan. 26-31: Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org  (Pictured at right: Christopher Tierney and Gillian Abbott. Photo by Matthew Murphy.)

    Jan. 26-Feb. 21: Arvada Center’s Mrs. Mannerly
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Jan. 28-Feb. 13: Lone Tree Arts Center's Reunion ‘85
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or .lonetreeartscenter.org

    Jan. 29-March 5: Miners Alley Playhouse’s 4000 Miles
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Jan. 29-Feb 28: DCPA Theatre Company’s All The Way
    Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Jan. 29-Feb. 14: StageDoor Theatre’s Calendar Girls
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Jan. 29-31: Theater Company of Lafayette's The Gin Game
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson St., 800-838-3006 or tclstage.org

    Jan. 30-Feb. 28: Bas Bleu Theatre’s Hide Sky
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Continuing current productions:

    Through Jan. 17: Vintage Theatre’s Funny Girl
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Feb. 21: Denver Center Cabaret's Murder For Two
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through Feb. 27: BDT Stage's The Addams Family
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    ONGOING OR MONTHLY PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE
    Ongoing productions
    2406 Federal Blvd., Denver, 303-455-1848 or adamsmysteryplayhouse.com

    BUNTPORT THEATRE
    Jan. 19: The Great Debate: Arguing dumb topics.
    Jan. 20: The Narrators: True stories centered on a monthly theme
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.org

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY
    Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

  • 2015 True West Award: The Masters of Props

    by John Moore | Dec 25, 2015
    True West Awards Props Masters

    2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    ​Today’s recipients:
    The Masters of Props
    Becky Toma, Rob Costigan and Beki Pineda


    Today’s award presenter:
    Kevin Copenhaver
    DCPA Costume Crafts Coordinator


    Theatregoers generally know what a scenic, lighting, sound or costume designer contributes to any show. But the vastly underappreciated Properties Master? Not so much. Once, after a theatregoer saw Becky Toma's name listed in a program under that title, she asked Toma if she runs the building where the show was being staged.

    Not that kind of properties management.

    Every theatre production relies to an extent small or sprawling on the work of the Props Master. Those in the field prefer the less gender-confusing title “Properties Designer.” But few know what the job actually entails. Essentially the Properties Designer gathers everything an actor touches during the course of the play. So if you need, say, an umbrella, newspaper or pet snake, it is the job of the Properties Designer to find it, make it, borrow it or steal it.

    Beki Pineda quote“The thing people don't often know is that we are an integral part of the production team as well,” said Toma. “I don't think many people are aware of the fact that we are researchers, historians and designers. We collaborate with the director and all of the other designers to ensure there is a cohesive look to the production.”

    And here’s something very few people understand: If the scenic designer draws a room that calls for a stationary piece like a bar or a couch or a clock hanging on the wall, generally it is the Properties Designer who goes out and finds it (or makes it). So part of their everyday reality, veteran Beki Pineda said, “is that the set designer always gets credit for everything you've done.”

    Toma, Pineda and Rob Costigan are three of Denver’s most highly sought at their craft. And no one is more appreciative of the significant artistic contribution they make to every show than today’s True West Awards Guest Picker, DCPA Costume Crafts Coordinator Kevin Copenhaver, who chose to honor all three equally.

    The best Properties Designers are not only artists, Copenhaver said, they are organized, vigilant and extremely patient. Because invariably, just as soon as they think they are finished with a show, the people running it will often come up with a few more things for them to find. So a day in the life of a Properties Designer can be a bit like an ongoing scavenger hunt. And typically, they are working on three to four shows simultaneously.

    “I don’t think people realize that this is hard work,” Pineda said. “It's not just going to thrift stores and antique stores. It's putting in the work of going to estate sales and auctions every week to update the stock and keep new furniture available. It's loading and unloading furniture and heavy pieces. It's finding just the right prop and then having it cut from the show - and not being able to get your money back.”

    Copenhaver says it is the demeanor of the Properties Designer that separates the good ones from the great ones. “For example, Becky is always a tremendous support,” Copenhaver said of working with Toma. “She’s consistent, she loves the art and she never has a bad word to say about anyone. She is a joy to work with.”

    Rob Costigan collaborated with Scenic Designer Michael R. Duran in Lone Tree Arts Center's 'The Explorers Club.' Photo by Danny Lam.Rob Costigan collaborated with Scenic Designer Michael R. Duran on Lone Tree Arts Center's 'The Explorers Club.' Photo by Danny Lam.


    Costigan is the rare Properties Designer who also has performed as an actor on local stages for three decades. He has appeared in 30 productions at the Arvada Center.  Sometimes he even acts and designs the same show, most recently playing a zany professor with a pet snake in The Lone Tree Arts Center’s prop-heavy farce, The Explorers Club.

    Pineda, coincidentally, doubles as a writer for GetBoulder.Com. That makes her one of the few theatre critics who understands the relationship between the Props Designer and the Scenic Designer. About Costigan’s work for The Explorers Club, she wrote:

    “The trip to Lone Tree is worth it just to take a look at the gorgeously sumptuous and ornate set Scenic Designer Michael Duran and Props Designer Rob Costigan (doing double duty) put together. The Grand Room and Bar of The Explorer’s Club is laden with the souvenirs of their travels, including stuffed trophies. Rich in detail, authentic in style, it provided an excellent setting for this talented troupe of explorers."

    Copenhaver, for one, can’t fathom how anyone could both design and perform in the same show. “That’s not something I would ever dream of doing, but I appreciate Rob’s energy and his sense of fun,” Copenhaver said. “He has boundless energy, and you have to give him credit for really caring and not being jaded.”

    The job of the Properties Designer rarely comes with awards. To Pineda, the reward comes mostly from internal recognition and a personal sense of a job well done. But there are moments.  

    “There's no feeling like the curtain going up on a set you've decorated and hearing the audience's appreciative gasp of pleasure,” Pineda said, “or having an actor tell you they love what you've brought for them to play with.”

    Our three honorees at a glance:

    Rob Costigan: The Aurora native graduated from Smoky Hill High School and Regis University. Among his meatier roles have been playing the barber in Man of La Mancha and Henry Ford in Ragtime, for which he was nominated by the Henry Awards. He also won a 1998 Denver Drama Critics award for playing Barnaby Tucker in Country Dinner Playhouse’s Hello, Dolly! Along with partner Bob Bauer, Costigan’s properties company does pretty much all the shows at the Town Hall Arts Center and Phamaly Theatre Company, among others.

    Beki Pineda: The tireless one has four shows opening in January: Big Bang at Spotlight, The Normal Heart at Vintage, Mary Poppins at the PACE Center in Parker and Arcadia at Denver School of the Arts. Pineda, who hails from a town of fewer than 2,000 in central Illinois, maintains a huge warehouse of stuff that local theatre people can rent for their shows. Pineda, busier than ever in her 70s, also works as the Box-Office Manager at Denver School of the Arts and regularly volunteers for the Denver Actors Fund helping out artists who are often significantly younger than she is. She already has started work on One Man, Two Guvnors, opening Feb. 5 at the Vintage Theatre.

    Becky Toma: Her roots go back to the heyday of the old Bonfils Theatre, and she now serves as Props Designer for the Mizel Center and Town Hall Arts Center. The Virginia native and Colorado Women’s College grad is probably best known for her collaborations with the great local director Nick Sugar, including 2015’s Young Frankenstein and West Side Story at Town Hall. She just closed The Drowsy Chaperone, performed by Wolf Academy students at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, and she is now working with Sugar on Violet, which opens at Town Hall on Jan. 15. Other upcoming jobs include Art Dog for Denver Children’s Theatre and the Aurora Fox’s highly anticipated staging of the DCPA-born Black Elk Speaks.

    Becky Toma had many wall hangings on her list of things to populate the set of Town Hall's West Side Story.' Becky Toma had many wall hangings on her list of things to populate the set of Town Hall's West Side Story.'


    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
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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.