• 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 (to date)

  • 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
  • 2015 True West Award: Man and Monster: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle

    by John Moore | Dec 10, 2015
    TJ Hogle and Todd Debreceni Town Hall Arts Center
    Photos by Town Hall Arts Center and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    ​Today’s recipient: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle

    Town Hall Arts Center's Young Frankenstein and Shrek

    Today’s presenter: DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore


    By the time Shrek The Musical closes at the Town Hall Arts Center on Dec. 27, actor TJ Hogle will have spent nearly 100 hours this year just getting in and out of custom masks created for him by Denver’s master of the makeup arts, Todd Debreceni.

    In an unusual Town Hall twist, Hogle was cast to play both the tap-dancing Monster who puts it on the Ritz in Young Frankenstein, followed by the stinky green ogre in Shrek. In both cases, directors Nick Sugar (Young Frankenstein) and Bob Wells (Shrek) turned to Debreceni for their monster-mashing.

    A Monster quoteAnd Debreceni never does anything halfway. By the time Hogle takes to the stage in blue (or green) face, he’s not just wearing a Halloween mask. He is wearing a custom prosthetic that has been tailored to the size of his face, head and shoulders.

    At first, it took about 90 minutes before every performance to fit Hogle into his Frankenstein makeup, and 30 minutes to get out of it after. His Shrek mask is less complicated, requiring 30 to 45 minutes before, and 20 after. As the runs have progressed, Debreceni and Town Hall costumer Terri Fong have innovated ways of streamlining the process to take less of the actor's time.

    Still, that’s a lot of time in the chair. And a certain amount of skin irritation is inevitable. Now, we’re not so sure Debreceni would be wise to irritate any part of a 6-foot-8 actor who specializes in playing monsters. But luckily for Debreceni, Hogle is a softie. He even agreed to have his head shaved to make the process easier. “His personality is so opposite of what you would expect from a person that size,” Debreceni said. “I think there is a lot of trust involved.”

    Here’s just a cursory look at what it took for Debreceni to create Hogle’s Young Frankenstein alter ego:

    • Debreceni and his team first create a “life cast” (see video below), a replication of Hogle’s head that serves as a mold for the prosthetics that will fit Hogle’s face precisely.
    • Debreceni applies an astringent to Hogle’s face to clean away dirt and oils. This helps assure the adhesive to come will hold.
    • Debreceni dusts Hogle with zinc oxide – that's the “anti” in your antiperspirant.
    • Debreceni applies a “barrier layer” called Top Guard – that’s a thin film glue primer between the skin and the adhesive to come. This step also helps control perspiration, which can undo a lot of a makeup man’s good work. In short: Never let them see you sweat.
    • Debreceni applies a tenacious adhesive called Pros-Aide to Hogle’s forehead.
    • Debreceni applies the custom-fit foam forehead prosthetic called a cowl. Debreceni has made about six of these base pieces hoping they will last through the run’s 36 performances.
    • “Stipples,” or tiny specks of latex, are then applied over Hogle’s entire face.
    • Hogle is covered in blue paint. And … showtime!

    If that already seems like a rather unglamorous way to spend 90 minutes of your day, consider that because of space restrictions, Debreceni and Hogle have set up shop in the Town Hall Arts Center men’s room. (Talk about team players.) But in the name of all that is holy, they did insist one activity be banned at any time Hogle’s makeup is being prepared - and it has something to do with the No. 2.

    Debreceni is pretty much the go-to ghoul guy in Denver. In 2008, he wrote the book that is now considered the how-to guide for the industry: Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen. Before starting his own effects business, his employers included TBS, 20th Century-Fox Television, Warner Brothers and Walt Disney Pictures. In addition to multiple stage and TV credits, Debreceni sculpted and molded wounds used in the 2013 Tom Hanks film Captain Phillips, and he is making the locally produced zombie web series After the Darklights look particularly creeptastic. Debreceni won 2006 and 2009 Denver Post Ovation Awards for his local stage work, and he got a head start on his Shrek routine last year working that musical with Seth Caikowski playing the ogre at BDT Stage in Boulder. He he is married to the multiple award-winning music director Donna Debreceni, also the Shrek music director.

    TJ Hogle wins 2015 Henry Award
    TJ Hogle won the Colorado Theatre Guild's 2014 Henry Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical for his performance in Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.' Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.


    Hogle is a Lakewood native who graduated from D'Evelyn High School and Fort Hays State University. He was the Henry Awards’ 2014 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for his work in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre.

    Makeup on the scale that Debreceni dabbles in is uncommon for local live theatre, and as an art form, it does not yet get the same level of credit as acting or the other design arts. But for a musical like Young Frankenstein or Shrek, Debreceni thinks believable makeup is as essential as the lighting, set or costumes. “It’s an integral part in creating the world of the play," he said. "Effective makeup helps to preserve the illusion, which is especially necessary in small theatres where the actors might come right up into your lap. We want to make it as believable as we can.”

    But as much fun as it is to play in Debreceni’s sand box, he said his primary concern is always creating a comfortable, breathable mask that allows the actor the freedom to do his or her best work.

    “In the end, it’s never about the makeup,” Debreceni said. “It’s always about the performer and the performance.”

    As for working with Hogle, two big monster shows in a row might be it for now.

    “I think he’s done with monsters for a while,” Debreceni said with a laugh. 

    Watch this time-lapse video of the 'Life Cast' Todd Debreceni and crew made on the head and shoulders of actor TJ Hogle.


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS

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

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

    by John Moore | Sep 22, 2015

    Video highlights from Miscast 2015. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Miscast 2015, a community-wide benefit for the Denver Actors Fund,
    raised $4,102 for the non-profit organization that serves members of the local theatre community in need.

    This year's show, held Sept. 14 at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, featured 45 local performers, including an aging (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.

    Miscast 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. The popular revue has been staged intermittently by various local theatre companies. But after a few years of dormancy, the Denver Actors Fund revived the tradition as its annual fundraiser last year.

    The Denver Actors Fund provides both financial and situational help to members of the local theatre community both on and off stage. Funds raised at Miscast 2015 brought the 2-year-old organization over the $50,000 mark in overall revenues raised.

    Under the guidance of director Robert Michael Sanders, Miscast took on more of a variety-show flavor in 2015. The bill included actors performing in miscast roles, as is the norm, but hosts Mark Pergola and Damon Guerrasio opened up the program to include fun audience-participation games that were chosen to capture the zeitgeist of the late-night TV wars, such as an homage to Jimmy Fallon's popular "Lip Sync Battles" on The Tonight Show.

    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. Several theatre companies and local merchants donated prizes.

    After two playful audience members took on the challenge of a cold lyp-sync assignment (including actor Margie Lamb, who starred in Town Hall's Next to Normal, syncing Sir Mix-A-Lot's "I Like Big Butts"), audiences were told the third contestant would be Eden Lane, host of the weekly arts TV showIn Focus with Eden Lane, airing on Fridays on Rocky Mountain PBS Channel 12. It was soon evident Lane, who has performed on Broadway, was a ringer.

    Lane emerged in the signature red boots from the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots and lip-synced Lola's big song, "Sex Is in the Heel," joined by members of the cast of Ignite Theatre's recent La Cage Aux Folles: Peter Dearth, Carlos Jimenez, Jeffrey E. Parizotto, Keith Rabin Jr. and Eric Pung.

    For the second straight year, Miscast featured a comical appearance by M.U.T.T.: The satirical Multicutural Urban Theatre Troupe, which performed several short scenes from plays they are clearly miscast for, including this year scenes from Shakespeare's Othello and Romeo and Juliet. The actors included Arlene Rapal, Laura Slack and Sam Wood.

    "Miscast 2015" was attended by more than 200, including DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. Several of  the volunteer performers have appeared in DCPA productions, including Leslie O'Carroll (A Christmas Carol) and Sarah Rex (Forbidden Broadway).




    Photos from "Miscast 2015" held Sept. 14 at the Town Hall Arts Center. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. All photos are available for free downloading by clicking "View original Flickr image."


    'MISCAST' MUSICAL NUMBERS:
    • Taylor Nicole Young Cory Wendling, "Me, Beauty and the Beast
    • Reace Daniel and Matt LaFontaine, two numbers from Chicago
    • Steven Burge and Sarah Rex, "The National Anthem,' with appearance by Tim Howard
    • Phamaly Theatre Company, "When You're a Gimp," a West Side Story variation featuring: Brian Be, Don Gabenski, Adam Johnson, Harper Liles, Amber Marsh, Don Mauck, Lucy Roucis, Robert Michael Sanders, Rachel VanScoy, Daniel Wheeler, Leslie Wilburn, Linda Wirth and Lisa Young
    • Carter Edward Smith, "So Much Better," from Legally Blonde.
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb, "Dead or Alive," from Rock of Ages, joined by members of Midtown Arts Center's cast from the same show:  Courtney Blackmun, Barret Harper, Jon Tyler Heath, Morgan Howard, Michael Lasris, Anne Terze Schwarz and Jason Tyler Vaughn
    • Maximillian Peterson, "Climb Every Mountain," from The Sound of Music
    • Megan Van De Hey and Leslie O’Carroll, "You and Me" from The Book of Mormon
    • John Ashton, "Tomorrow," from Annie
    • Mark Pergola and Damon Guerrasio, "This Little Light of Mine"
    PRODUCTION TEAM:
    • Robert Michael Sanders, director
    • Donna Debreceni, musical director
    • Jessica Swanson, assistant director
    • Ronni Gallup, Event coordinator
    • Jonathan D. Allsup, stage manager
    • Alexis Bond, lights
    • Cara Wallingford, sound
    • Clint Heyn, technician

    SPECIAL THANKS:

    • Anonymous donor who bought tickets for cast and crew
    • Brenda Billings
    • Tom Borrillo
    • Bree Davies, Westword
    • Kim Drennan
    • Becca Fletcher
    • Deb Flomberg
    • Nikki Harrison
    • Kevin Hart
    • Margie Lamb
    • Cheryl McNab
    • Debbie Minter
    • North End Sound Inc
    • Susan Ramsdorf
    • Leslie Rutherford
    • Lola Salazar
    • Gloria Shanstrom
    • Kent Thompson and Kathleen McCall-Thompson
    • Town Hall Arts Center
    DONOR THEATRES AND MERCHANTS:


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the Denver Actors Fund:
    Miscast 2015 is coming to the Town Hall Arts Center
    Miscast 2014 photos, video highlights
    How Denver Actors Fund is helping the local theatre community
    DSA students make remarkable, record donation to Denver Actors Fund
    2014 True West Award: Kristen Samu and Denver Actors Fund volunteers
    'Once, The Musical' cast members perform at Denver Actors Fundraiser


    EDITOR'S NOTE: The Denver Actors Fund was started in 2013 by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore, who runs the DCPA's NewsCenter, and local actor and attorney  Christopher Boeckx. The current President is Brenda Billings of Miners Alley Playhouse.

  • Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 10 shows to watch

    by John Moore | Sep 04, 2015
    Town Hall Arts Center's 'West Side Story.'

    Town Hall Arts Center's 'West Side Story' opens Sept. 11.



    Theatre never takes a rest in the busy Colorado theatre community, but September is always considered the traditional launch of the theatre season. The NEA recently ranked Colorado first in the nation in per-capita theatre attendance, and while the Denver Center for the Performing Arts plays a major part in that success, so does the work of the approximately 100 theatre companies of all sizes throughout Colorado, as new President and CEO Scott Shiller acknowledged at a local theatre forum on Monday.

    Continuing a September tradition that goes back 16 years, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore will help mark the opening of the theatre season by offering a quick overview of all DCPA fall shows, as well as 10 intriguing titles on the upcoming theatre calendar outside the arches of the DCPA. These are not the 10 “best"; just 10 intriguing titles that have caught John’s eye as a former Denver Post theatre critic.

    OUR COMPLETE LIST OF SEPTEMBER THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO

    Before we dig in, the 10 fall DCPA offerings (with links to more information on each):

    Through Sept. 13: The Book of Mormon, Buell Theatre
    After record-breaking engagements in 2012 and 2013, the hilariously profane Denver-born tour is back by popular demand for a limited engagement.

    Through Oct. 11: Defending the Caveman, Garner Galleria Theatre

    Enduring,insightful comedy about the ways men and women relate to each other in the  ongoing battle for understanding between the sexes.

    Sept. 9-20: Matilda The Musical, Buell Theatre
    An extraordinary girl, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her destiny.

    Sept. 11-Oct 11: Lookingglass Alice, Stage Theatre
    Imagination soars and laughter and awe abound in this Chicago-born, gravity-defying hit inspired by Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories.

    Sept. 25-Nov 1: As You Like It, Space Theatre
    Banished lovers Orlando and Rosalind become entangled in a beguiling game of mistaken identity when Rosalind disguises herself as a man.

    Oct. 9-Nov. 15: Tribes, Ricketson Theatre
    Meeting Sylvia causes Billy, deaf since birth, to question what it means to be understood.

    Oct. 13-25, 2015: If/Then, Buell Theatre
    In this tour launch, Broadway superstar Idina Menzel (Wicked, Rent, Frozen) will reprise her acclaimed role alongside other original cast members

    Oct. 21-Feb 13, 2016: Cult Following, The Jones
    Off-Center’s signature night of unrehearsed, unscripted theatre features the  quick-thinking talents of some of Denver’s best improv performers.

    Oct. 27, 2015-Feb 21, 2016: Murder For Two, Garner Galleria Theatre
     A musical murder mystery comedy with a twist: One actor investigates the crime, the other plays all of the suspects - and they both play the piano.

    Nov. 4-29, 2015: Disney's The Lion King, Buell Theatre​
    More than 70 million people have now experienced the Julie Taymor phenomenon. The national tour debuted in Denver a decade ago.



    Any Given Monday

    Vintage Theatre
    Sept. 4-Oct. 25
    Directed by Sam Gilstrap (pictured)
    Sam GilstrapOn the surface, this play sounds like it could be a trifle – it’s described as “a comedy for the men who love football and the women who despise it.” Yet it’s written by Bruce Graham – the same guy who wrote one of the most unsettling plays of the past 20 years in Coyote on a Fence, which was about a racist death-row inmate. So maybe this football romp has some bite. It’s about a good guy whose life is shattered when his wife leaves him for a smooth-talking lothario. A development that doesn’t sit well with his best friend, who takes matters into his own hands.

    More Bruce Graham: Graham’s biggest success outside Coyote on a Fence has been The Outgoing Tide, a “death with dignity” dramedy about a man who wants to ensure his family’s security before his mind is consumed by Alzheimer’s disease. It’s playing Sept. 11-Oct. 12 at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins. 



    American Girls
    The Edge Theatre
    Sept. 4-27
    Directed by Angela Astle
    Edge Theatre In a very celebrity-driven culture, two God-fearing teenage girls have their sights set on much bigger things. They want fame, even if it means selling their souls to the devil in the name of the Bible. Their naiveté leads them down a dark and seedy path, forcing them to grow up much too soon. A regional premiere written by Hilary Bettis

    (Photo: Bethany Richardson and Alexis Robbins.) 



    The Flick

    Curious Theatre Company
    Sept. 5-Oct. 17
    Directed by Chip Walton
    John Jurcheck, left, and Laura Jo Trexler. Photo by Michael Ensminger. Polarizing playwright Annie Baker has been called everything from America’s next “it” playwright to the world’s next Harold Pinter. Which means she writes a lot of pauses. The Flick, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize, is a short play – on paper – that lasts 3 hours in performance. That’s because Baker is known for writing giant intentional silences into her scripts that seem bent on forcing audiences to confront their discomfort with silence. But is that entertainment … or a psychological experiment? You decide as you follow three sad sacks who work at a run-down old movie house in Massachusetts. This play has been hailed as “an hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world.” Featuring Christopher Hayes, John Jurcheck, Royce Roeswood and Laura Jo Trexler.
    (Pictured: John Jurcheck, left, and Laura Jo Trexler. Photo by Michael Ensminger.)


    Lonny (Sean Riley) and Dennis (Joel Adam Chavez) in 'Rock of Ages' at the Midtown Arts Center.
    Lonny (Sean Riley) and Dennis (Joel Adam Chavez) in "Rock of Ages" at the Midtown Arts Center.

    Rock of Ages
    Midtown Arts Center, Fort Collins
    Sept. 10-Nov. 29
    Directed by Kurt Terrio
    Midtown is well-known for being first to locally stage some of Broadway’s most popular musicals. In this jukebox musical lark, Aqua Net, Lycra, lace and liquor freely flow in 1987 at one of the Sunset Strip’s last legendary rock venues. A small-town girl (natch) and a big-city rocker fall in love to rock legends of the ’80s such as Styx, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Journey and more.



    Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story
    BDT Stage
    Sept. 11-Nov. 14
    Directed by Wayne Kennedy
    Brett AmblerThis easygoing bio-musical Starring Brett Ambler (pictured) tells the true and tragic story of the bespectacled Buddy’s rise to fame, from the 1957 day when “That’ll Be The Day!” hit the airwaves, through his tragic death less than two years later – a moment forever immortalized by Don McLean as “The Day The Music Died.” The score includes 20 Holly hits including: “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy,” “Rave On” and “Raining in My Heart.”




    Saturday Night Fever
    Arvada Center
    Sept. 11-Oct. 4
    Director: Rod Lansberry
    Shannan SteeleThe end of the Arvada Center’s summer musical tradition was an unsettling development, but Broadway spectacle – along with big hair, bell-bottoms and platform shoes – make a big comeback with the regional premiere of the stage adaptation of the classic John Travolta film. Featuring the music of the Bee-Gees, Saturday Night Fever brings back the zeitgeist and volatility of American pop-culture in the 1970s. Starring Ian Campayno and McKayla Marso as Tony ‘n Stephanie Mangano, and featuring local favorites including Emma Martin, Damon Guerrasio, Steven Burge, Tom Borrillo, Sharon Kay White, Adam Estes, Michael Bouchard, RJ Wagner, Shannan Steele (pictured right), Heather Doris, Sarah Rex, Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, Jenna Moll Reyes and more. Costume design by Mondo Guerra.

    West Side Story
    Littleton Town Hall Arts Center
    Sept. 11-Oct. 11
    ​Directed by Nick Sugar
    Nick SugarTown Hall is revisiting Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece 10 years after a staging that launched Elizabeth Welch (Maria) on her way to The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. This production stars Carolyn Lohr and Jared Ming as the fated lovers, and brings back from 2005 director Nick Sugar, Ronni Gallup (Anita), Kent Randell (Bernardo) and Tim Howard (Riff).

    Northside West Side: The Candlelight Dinner Playhouse is also presenting West Side Story in Johnstown, about 45 miles north of Denver, from Sept. 24 through Nov. 15.

    Still more Sondheim: The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center becomes just the second Colorado company to ever stage Putting It Together (Sept. 10-27), and the Cherry Creek Theatre Company presents Sondheim on Sondheim from Oct. 2-25.


    Emily Paton Davies and DCPA Head of Acting Tim McCracken will star in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Copmpanys 'Outside Mullingar' opening Sept. 17. Photo by Michael Ensminger
    Emily Paton Davies and DCPA Head of Acting Tim McCracken will star in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's 'Outside Mullingar' opening Sept. 17. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    Outside Mullingar
    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    Sept. 17-Oct. 11
    Directed by Rebecca Remaly Weitz
    Timothy McCrackenBetsy (the colloquial name for BETC) is the first of what is sure to many companies staging John Patrick Shanley’s latest comedy, which has been described as an Irish Moonstruck. It’s about two stubborn, feuding neighbors who put down their pitchforks and take a chance on later love. Featuring a stellar cast of Emily Paton Davies, DCPA Head of Acting Tim McCracken (pictured right), three-time 2015 Henry Award winner Billie McBride (DCPA's Benediction) and Chris Kendall.  

    More Mullingar: OpenStage & Company of Fort Collins will also stage Outside Mullingar in January.



    Baby with the Bathwater
    Phamaly Theatre Company
    Oct. 8-25 at the Avenue Theater
    Directed by Warren Sherrill
     Trenton SchindeleChristopher Durang’s 1983 absurdist comedy is about parents who are so clueless about even the most basic parenting skills, they think it’s a good idea to give their baby Nyquil. These two are too polite to check the child’s sex (it’s a boy) so they name him Daisy - which leads to all manner of future emotional and personality problems. Phamaly exists to provide performance opportunities to persons with disabilities. The cast includes Micayla Smith, Trenton Schindele, Daniel Traylor, Kimberlee Nanda and Kenzie Kilroy.


    The Explorers Club
    Lone Tree Arts Center
    Oct. 15-24
    Directed by Randal Myler
    photo of Sam GregoryNeil Benjamin’s wildly funny comedy features the madcap adventures of eccentric London-based explorers who are members of a prestigious club. And the looming possibility of a woman assuming the presidency of this club threatens to shake the foundations of the British Empire. This Colorado premiere features a notable cast filled with DCPA favorites including Brad Bellamy, Stephanie Cozart, Sam Gregory, Mark Rubald, Colin Alexander, Randy Moore, Director Randal Myler and Costumer Kevin Copenhaver.  

    OUR COMPLETE LIST OF SEPTEMBER THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO
  • Miscast 2015 announces stellar lineup for Sept. 14 at Town Hall

    by John Moore | Aug 20, 2015
    Denver Actors Fund Miscast 2015

    The lineup for "Miscast 2015," a community-wide benefit for the Denver Actors Fund to be held Sept. 14 at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, has just been announced - and the cast list is enough to make any local director envious.

    "Miscast 2015" 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 $10 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available at 303-794-2787 or online at townhallartscenter.org.

    Scheduled performers include Megan Van De Hey, Leslie O’Carroll, Matt LaFontaine, Steven Burge, John Ashton, Jayln Courtenay Webb (the newly announced Managing Director of Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins) and members of the acclaimed handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company.

    The hosts are again Damon Guerrassio and Mark Pergola (better known in the local theatre community as Elvira Barcelona.)

    This year's event will include several special performance twists, such as a series of games a la Jimmy Fallon's lip-sync contest on "The Tonight Show." Eden Lane, host of Colorado Public Television's "In Focus with Eden Lane," is one of the local luminaries who has agreed to play along for one of the games.


    To see our complete gallery of photos from the evening, which raised just more than $2,000 for The Denver Actors Fund, click here.

    The Denver Actors Fund provides financial and practical services to members of the local theatre community who find themselves in medical need. In just two years, the grassroots nonprofit has raised more than $47,000 to help local artists.

    Each applicant submitted a proposed song and a 'Miscast concept' for judges to consider. Now just in its second year as a Denver Actors Fund benefit event, 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 "Miscast" selection committee based on variety and cleverness, among other factors.

    "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. 15. Last year featured a Girl Scout singing "My Unfortunate Erection" (from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and members of Phamaly doing a Full Monty strip-tease. For starters.

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

    Performers:
    Taylor Nicole Young and Cory Wendling
    Carter Edward Smith
    Matt LaFontaine and Reace Daniel
    Jalyn Courtenay Webb
    Max Peterson
    Phamaly Theatre Company
    Steven Burge
    Megan Van De Hey and Leslie O’Carroll
    John Ashton
    Kaiser Educational Group "The Mutts"
    Special appearance by TV personality Eden Lane
    (More surprises to come)

    Crew
    ​Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    Event Coordinator: Ronni Gallup
    Musical Direction: Donna Debreceni
    Lights: Alexis Bond
    Stage Manager: Jonathan Allsup
    Special Thanks: Leslie Rutherford, Denise Kato and Cheryl McNab, Town Hall Arts Center

    MISCAST 2015:
    7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 14
    Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St.
    A benefit for the Denver Actors Fund
    Tickets for “Miscast” are $10 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available now at townhallartscenter.org or call 303-794-2787

    To read more about last year's "Miscast," and see photos and video, click here

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA.

  • Video: 2015 Henry Awards performance highlights

    by John Moore | Jul 23, 2015


    Here are our performance highlights from Monday's Henry Awards, including Outstanding Actress winner Beth Malone, who came home from her night off in Broadway's Fun Home the Musical to sing from the DCPA's The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which later was named Outstanding Musical. She sang from the songs "I Ain't Down Yet" and "Wait for Me."

    Beth Malone performs from 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' at the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photos by Brian Landis Folkins for the DCPA's NewsCenter.  Also featured are Colin Hanlon of The DCPA's The 12, The Henrys' Outstanding New Play or Musical. He sang the song "Three Times (I Denied)."

    The Town Hall Arts Center​ showcased both its Outstanding Musical nominee Anything Goes ("Blow, Gabriel Blow, featuring Norrell Moore and trumpeter Michael Skillern) as well as Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominee Tim Howard, who performed "I Believe in You" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

    (Photo: Beth Malone performs from 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' at the Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photos by Brian Landis Folkins for the DCPA's NewsCenter.) 

    Also featured were high-school students Curtis Salinger and Ana Koshevoy of Durango High School, who performed a medley from their production of Les Misérables, which in May won the Bobby G Awards' highest honor as Outstanding Musical by a Colorado high school in 2014-15.

    The director of the awards ceremony was Jim Hunt. The musical director was Donna Kolpan Debreceni. Her orchestra included Bob Rebholz, Scott Alan Smith, Larry Ziehl and Michael Skillern.

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    Colorado Theatre Guild honors DCPA with 11 Henry Awards
    The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
    Videos: Our memorial tributes to departed artists in 2014-15
    Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions
    Beth Malone, Colin Hanlon will perform at Henry Awards
    Guest essay by Margie Lamb: Something about the Henry Award doesn't add up


    Colin Hanlon performs from 'The 12' at the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.
    Colin Hanlon performs from 'The 12' at the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards at the Arvada Center. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. 


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

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