• Video, photos: At 40, BDT celebrates its just desserts

    by John Moore | Aug 13, 2017
    Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The venerable Boulder dinner theatre will soon mark 150 productions after Technicolor bookends of Joseph

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    BDT Stage celebrated its past and looked forward to its future on Monday when the enduring dinner theatre marked its 40th anniversary with a special performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

    Generations of past and present BDT cast, crew and staff were invited back, along with friends and original investors. Fitting that the title was Joseph: The aerobic Andrew Lloyd Webber dance musical christened the then-named Boulder’s Dinner Theatre back in the Jimmy Carter administration.

    BDT Stage. Joseph. 1977 castWhen Joseph closes Sunday (Aug. 19), it will be followed by Rock of Ages, an homage to 1980s big-hair bands. That will mark BDT’s 150th production at 55th and Arapahoe streets in Boulder. Producing Artistic Director Michael J. Duran estimates the company has given 13,000 performances in that time.

    (Pictured right: Eleven members of BDT Stage's first production, 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,' in 1977, returned Monday. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    BDT has defied all the industry odds by surviving for four decades while all but one other metro-area dinner theatre (the Adams Mystery Playhouse) has fallen by the wayside. Back in 1977, the cast and creatives weren’t sure BDT would survive its first night.

    “It was a disaster,” said Dee Height, one of eight original investor families who put up $17,000 each to buy the land and start the business up in 1977. That’s a total of about $136,0000 in startup money. Crews were still laying down the carpet when it was time to open the doors for opening-night patrons. That first performance did not begin until 10 p.m. as the kitchen struggled to feed the crowd.

    The opening cast included Duran in the title role and two others who would go on to become longstanding professional BDT performers: Barb Reeves and John Scott Clough. Although the ensemble, 11 of whom returned for Monday’s party in Boulder, isn’t so sure just how professional that first show was back in the footloose and fancy-free 1970s.

    “For one thing, none of us could dance,” said Duran, who would nonetheless go on to a 23-year career as a theatre performer in New York before returning to run BDT in 2003. Duran was a late addition to that first Joseph cast. “He joined us two weeks before opening, and he saved our butts,” said castmate Jim Robb.

    So was that first show any good? “It’s all relative,” Duran said with a smile. “It was a small production, but for the very first show at a brand-new dinner theatre in Boulder? It was fantastic.”

    BDT Stage. John Moore

    The theatre used prerecorded music in its early days, and original investor (and current co-owner) Gene Bolles remembers being rallied to record a small trumpet part for that first show. “Our sound booth was the bathroom,” Bolles said. “So I sat on the toilet with the microphone in front of me, and we did about a hundred takes.”

    That first cast ranged in age from 17 to 25. Clough was the youngest.

    “We tried our best, but I was 17, and I was doing what 17-year-olds do, which is get into trouble,” said Clough. Two years after Joseph, Duran played Jesus in BDT’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. “On the final night, we put peanut butter on Mike’s crucifix, and he had to sit in it,” Clough said. Duran said he will never forget the night Jesus died with peanut butter in his crotch.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The founder and mastermind of BDT Stage was Ross Haley, who was not at Monday's party in person but was very much present in the thoughts of those gathered. Haley was the theatre director at nearby Boulder High School in 1976, and his production of Jesus Christ Superstar there was so well-received, parents and others encouraged him to found Boulder’s first professional dinner theatre.

    “Ross always encouraged us to take it very seriously,” said Reeves. Duran said Haley’s “vision and tenacity really helped keep this thing moving through the years.” Clough, likewise, said Haley “took great pride in this building. This was his baby.

    "And we … didn’t as much.”

    Clough mentioned a gigantic backstage fake-blood fight that left the men’s dressing room covered in corn syrup and red food coloring. “Ross was not happy,” Clough said with a smile.  

    BDT Stage. RagtimeBDT has now presented Joseph three times in its history, and all three Josephs were present Monday: Duran (1977), Scott Beyette (2004) and Jack Barton (2017). Beyette, who has been regularly performing with BDT for nearly 28 years, is now playing Joe’s ageless oldest brother, Reuben. He’s been at BDT so long that Barton remembers seeing him in BDT’s celebrated co-production of Ragtime with the late African-American Shadow Theatre Company (pictured above). He was 13. Barton, not Beyette.

    “In fact, I made my parents take me here to see Ragtime for my 13th birthday,” said Barton. “I have wanted to perform here since I was a little kid. That’s why I just feel super lucky to have been a part of this tonight.”

    Beyette is one of about a dozen local actors who have essentially performed at BDT for their entire careers. And the ties are multi-generational. The cast of Joseph includes four children whose parents have worked for BDT Stage onstage and off through the years. One of them is Beyette’s daughter Olyvia, who will star in the upcoming production of Rock of Ages.

    In the Spotlife: Meet Jack Barton of Joseph

    “I truly have been blessed to be able to do what I love to do, and live in this beautiful state, and raise a family,” said Beyette. “It’s been fantastic. Not a single day here has ever felt like work.”

    As he addressed the crowd on Monday, Duran acknowledged that many talented BDT performers have gone on to have successful careers in New York and Los Angeles, including Oscar winner Amy Adams, Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford and Tony nominee Beth Malone. “A lot of other people have come to work here and stayed, and we are ever so grateful to them as well,” Duran said.

    BDT Stage. Jack Barton. John Moore. The closest BDT ever came to closing was in 2003, when Haley was in ill health and the future of the theatre was uncertain. That’s when Bolles and his wife, Judy, bought the theatre and hired Duran to come home and run it. The Bolleses are the unlikeliest of theatre owners. Gene Bolles is a now-retired military neurosurgeon who worked on soldiers injured in Iraq. He has dedicated more than two decades to providing medical care in dozens of impoverished countries.

    Joseph is about dreaming, and I think we’ve all been dreamers, because being in the arts is a dream,” said Judy Bolles.  

    Forty years in, Duran said the reason BDT is still here is because “dinner theatre or not, we present some of the best theatre in the area. Our production values are high. The level of our talent is very high. People like working here and want to work here, and our food has gotten so much better.”

    Reeves says the impact BDT has had on audiences and the local theatre community is huge. “I can’t tell you the number of people this place has touched,” she said.   

    Duran also announced the release of a new book covering the history of the theatre, Remember the Magic, by Brandon Palmer. It is available through the theatre by calling 303-449-6000.

    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.

    BDT Stage's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: Ticket information
    Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice
    • Directed by Matthew D. Peters
    • Through Aug. 19
    • 5501 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder < MAP IT
    • Tickets $35-$55
    • For tickets, call 303-449-6000 or go to bdtstage.com

    Performance schedule:
    • 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 7:45 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 1:45 and 7:45 p.m. Sundays (dinner service 90 minutes before).

    Photo gallery from Monday's 40th anniversary celebration:

    BDT Stage's 40th anniversary

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos may be downloaded and shared with photo credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

    by John Moore | Jul 02, 2017

    Lauren Yee. The Great Leap
    Lauren Yee’s 'The Great Leap,' which was introduced as a reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, will premiere at the Denver Center next February, then re-open at the Seattle Rep just 12 days after closing here. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Companies are now jumping on new Denver Center works before they have even been fully staged here.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center is taking a major step forward in its development of new work for the American theatre in 2017. And one major reason is a hip new term in the theatrical lexicon: “Co-Pro.”

    For the first time, the DCPA Theatre Company will stage two new plays next season that will immediately transfer to major theatres around the country as essentially continuing world premieres. They will quickly re-open in their second cities with their Denver Center directors and casts intact.

    American Mariachi. Summit The Theatre Company opens José Cruz González’s American Mariachi on Jan. 26, 2018. Less than a month after it closes in Denver, the production will re-open at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, which bows in Denver on Feb. 2, will re-open at the Seattle Rep just 12 days after closing here.

    By virtue of these unique partnerships, both stagings are considered “co-productions.” Or, as the kids say, “Co-Pros.” Coincidentally, the re-opening nights in San Diego and Seattle will both take place on March 23.

    (Pictured above right: 'American Mariachi' was introduced as a reading at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    For 12 years, artistic leaders from around the country have come to the Denver Center’s Colorado New Play Summit each February to see readings of developing new works, then come back the next year to see the subsequent fully staged world-premiere productions before scheduling some of the plays themselves. Among the popular titles that have expanded through this slow growth plan have been Jason Grote’s 1001 and Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale.

    But now companies are coming here to see readings and committing to scheduling them even before they are fully staged at the Denver Center for the first time.

    Matt McGrath in 'The Legend of Georgia McBride.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. All this comes at a time when Denver Center-born works are proliferating on national stages like never before. In 2017, Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride will become the most-produced new Denver Center work since Quilters in 1982. Ten companies this year are presenting the story of a straight man who explores the world of drag to feed his family in cities stretching from Los Angeles to Key West, Fla., with four more already slated for 2018. Lopez’s newest work, Zoey’s Perfect Wedding, will debut at the DCPA’s Space Theatre next Jan. 19.

    (Pictured above right: Matt McGrath in the Denver Center's 2014 world premiere of 'The Legend of Georgia McBride.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.) 

    How Georgia McBride has evolved since Denver

    Since former Artistic Director Kent Thompson launched the Colorado New Play Summit in 2006, the DCPA has given 27 new plays their world-premiere stagings. At least 32 productions of 13 DCPA-born works are being presented around the country this year and next, most notably a high-profile return of the reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which plays from July 21-27 at The Muny in St. Louis. The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre. After that, star Beth Malone said, the goal is Broadway.

    LEAD MOLLY"That is absolutely the intention of putting it up at The Muny,” Malone said. “There is no other reason than for it go to Broadway. Everyone involved with it feels very strongly that we are completely on track.”

    (Pictured at right: The cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    Last week, two recent Colorado New Play Summit readings landed on The Kilroys, a curated list of the 31 most promising new plays by women: Yee's The Great Leap and Donnetta Lavinia Grays' Last Night and the Night Before.

    NATAKI GARRETT 3Even older new plays like Octavio Solis' Lydia (2008) are still making an impact. “Lydia is a blast-furnace drama now in its Seattle debut in a blistering, urgent staging from Strawberry Theatre Workshop," Misha Berson of the Seattle Times wrote last month of a "forcefully directed ensemble of visceral power." Last year, the Aurora Fox became the first company to stage the Denver Center’s Native American premiere of Black Elk Speaks since 1996.

    All of this proliferation is not only changing the way the nation looks at the Denver Center, said Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. It is changing how the Denver Center looks at itself.

    “The Colorado New Play Summit is a nationally renowned place where theatre companies from all over the United States come to see those playwrights who are moving up in the ranks and becoming the clarions for the future of playwriting,” she said.  “But I think this is where it was always heading. The most important part of the work we do as theatre artists is to foster and develop new work, and I think this is that idea coming to full fruition.”

    (Story continues after the video)

    Video spotlight: American Mariachi

    What makes for a successful Co-Pro, Garrett said, is the continuation of the Denver Center’s commitment to the playwright once the new play reaches its immediate second destination.

    “What I am really focused on with these companies is, 'Are you willing to make space for that writer to keep writing?’ ” Garrett said. “The whole point is to for them to be able to keep evolving their piece after they leave Denver, if that’s what the piece needs.”

    The Theatre Company’s commissioning program is one reason the pipeline stays stocked. At any given time, the company has a number of renowned and emerging playwrights under commissions. That essentially binds the playwright to write a new work of his or her choice, and the DCPA Theatre Company then has the right of first refusal to stage it. The playwrights with commissions in progress are:

    • Kemp Powers
    • Anne Garcia-Romero
    • Aleshea Harris
    • Mary Kathryn Nagle
    • Tony Meneses
    • David Jacobi
    • Regina Taylor

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


    The Unsinkable Molly Brown, by Dick Scanlan and Meredith Willson: The 1960 musical that tells the rags-to-riches tale of Colorado's greatest heroine is infused with new songs and a new script.

    • The Muny, St. Louis, July 21-27, 2017

    The Book of Will, By Lauren Gunderson:  The untold story of the race to publish Shakespeare's First Folio before half his canon was lost to history.

    • Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, June 9-July 28, 2017
    • Northlight Theatre, Skokie, Ill., Nov. 9-Dec. 17, 2017
    • Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Md., Nov. 29-Dec. 24, 2017
    • Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Ore., June-October, 2018

    The Great Leap, by Lauren Yee: An American college basketball team travels to Beijing in 1989.

    • American Conservatory Theatre New Strands Festival, San Francisco (reading), May 19, 2017
    • DCPA Theatre Company, Feb. 2-March 11, 2018
    • Seattle Rep, March 23-April 22, 2018 (co-world premiere)

    The Legend of Georgia McBride, by Matthew Lopez: A young Elvis impersonator turns to drag to feed his growing family.

    • Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, April 4-May 14, 2017
    • GableStage, Coral Gables, Fla., May 27-June 25, 2017
    • Marin Theatre Company, San Francisco, June 8-July 9, 2017
    • ACT Theatre, Seattle, June 9-July 2, 2017
    • Theatre Nova, Detroit, June 9- July 9, 2017
    • Dorset Theatre Festival, Vermont, Aug. 3-19, 2017
    • Northlight Theatre, Skokie, Ill., Sept. 14-Oct. 22, 2017
    • Hippodrome State Theatre, Gainesville, Fla., Oct. 13-Nov. 5, 2017
    • B Street Theatre, Sacramento, Calif.,Nov. 6-Dec. 9, 2017
    • Uptown Players, Dallas, Dec. 1-17, 2017
    • Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, March 23-April 22, 2018
    • Key West Players, Key West, Fla., May 2-19, 2018
    • Stoneham Theatre, Stoneham Mass., May 3-20, 2018
    • Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Md., June 8-July 1, 2018

    American Mariachi, by Jose Cruz Gonzalez: The musical tale of an all-female mariachi band in the 1970s.

    • DCPA Theatre Company, Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018
    • Old Globe (San Diego), March 23-April 29, 2018 (co-world premiere)

    Just Like Us, by Karen Zacarías: Documentary-style play follows four Latina teenage girls in Denver - two are documented, two are not.

    • Visión Latino Theatre Company, Feb. 24-March 12, 2017

    Dusty and the Big Bad World, by Cusi Cram: When a popular children’s TV  show spotlights a family with two daddies, it sparks a conservative outcry.

    • Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, July 6-19, 2017

    Appoggiatura, by James Still: A trip to Venice brings love, loss, pain and joy to three weary travelers in search of healing and happiness in a magical story filled with music and amore.
    • Indiana Repertory Theatre, March 7-31, 2018

    FADE, by Tanya Saracho: When Mexican-born Lucia is hired to write for a Latina TV character, she finds an unexpected muse in the Latino studio custodian.
    • Cherry Lane Theatre, New York, Feb. 8-March 5, 2017
    • TheatreWorks, Hartford, June 1-30, 2017

    Lydia, by Octavio Solis: A maid cares for a border family's near-vegetative teenage daughter who was left in a coma after a mysterious accident. 

    • Strawberry Theatre Workshop, Seattle, June 1-24, 2017

    Almost Heaven: The Songs and Stories of John Denver: The songwriter's life story is told through anecdotes and 21 songs.

    • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, Grand Lake, Sept. 1-30, 2017

    The Whale, by Samuel D. Hunter: An oversized, homebound and dying man struggles to reconcile with his estranged teenage daughter before it’s too late.
    • Verge Theatre Company, Nashville, June 2-14, 2017

    black odyssey, by Marcus Gardley: An imagination of Homer’s epic lens through the lens of the black American experience.
    • California Shakespeare Theatre, Orinda, Calif., Aug. 9-Sept. 3, 2017

    Quilters, by Molly Newman: A series of vignettes performed in song and spoken word that chart the joys and sorrows of the frontier journey West.

    • Ferndale (Calif.) Repertory Theatre, March 9-April 2, 2017

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Video spotlight: The Great Leap

  • Video, photos: Denver Actors Fund's 'United in Love' concert

    by John Moore | May 04, 2017
    United in Love: Video highlights

    Video highlights from the 'United in Love' concert featuring, from left, Beth Malone, Annaleigh Ashford, Mara Davi and dozens more. Video edited by John Moore from footage provided courtesy of Eden Lane and Sleeping Dog Media.


    Ashford, Malone, Davi help raise $40,000 for nonprofit
    that helps local theatre artists in situational medical need

    Tony Award-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford (You Can't Take it With You) joined fellow Broadway veterans from Colorado Beth Malone (Fun Home) and Mara Davi (Dames at Sea) for United in Love, a sold-out concert event that raised $40,000 for the Denver Actors Fund on April 30 at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

    Denver Actors FundThe three headliners were "back to give back." They were joined by powerhouse singer, actor and First Lady of Denver Mary Louise Lee; Broadway’s Jodie Langel (Les Misérables); composer Denise Gentilini (I Am Alive) and Denver performers Jimmy Bruenger, Eugene Ebner, Becca Fletcher, Clarissa Fugazzotto, Robert Johnson, Daniel Langhoff, Susannah McLeod, Chloe McLeod, Sarah Rex, Jeremy Rill, Kristen Samu, Willow Samu and Thaddeus Valdez.

    Also joining the lineup were the casts of both The Jerseys (Klint Rudolph, Brian Smith, Paul Dwyer and Randy St. Pierre), and the upcoming all-student 13 the Musical (Rylee Vogel, Josh Cellar,  Hannah Meg Weinraub, Hannah Katz, Lorenzo Giovannetti, Maddie Kee, Kaden Hinkle, Darrow Klein, Evan Gibley, Conrad Eck and Macy Friday).

    (Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Annaleigh Ashford, Beth Malone, Mary Louise Lee and Mara Davi.)

    The purpose of the evening was to spread a message of love and hope while raising funds for the Denver Actors Fund, which has made $90,000 available to local theatre artists facing situational medical need. The concert was presented by Ebner-Page Productions.

    (Story continues below the photo gallery)

    United in Love: Complete photo gallery

    Denver Actors Fund United in Love Concert

    Photos by RDG Photography, Gary Duff and John Moore. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos may be downloaded and redistributed with credit.

    One of the most poignant moments of the evening came when actor Daniel Langhoff addressed the crowd, telling the story of his continuing fight against cancer, with assistance from The Denver Actors Fund. Langhoff was first diagnosed weeks after the birth of his first daughter. His recent recurrence coincides with news that his wife will give birth to their second child in the fall. (How you can help Daniel Langhoff.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The emcees were local TV arts journalist Eden Lane (also director of the Aurora Fox's current Priscilla Queen of the Desert), and actor Steven J. Burge, who recently starred in the Denver Center's An Act of God at the Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    The Music Director was Mitch Samu. The band included Tag Worley, Steve Klein, Andy Sexton, Scott Handler and Jeremy Wendelin.

    The photos above were provided by RDG Photography, Gary Duff and DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore, who is also the founder of the Denver Actors Fund. That is a 501c3 nonprofit, and all donations are tax-deductible. For more information, or to apply for aid, go to www.denveractorsfund.org.

    The Presenting Sponsor of United in Love was Delta Dental of Colorado, which matched audience contributions at the end of the evening, turning about $2,200 in donations into more than $4,400. The Gold Sponsor was Kaiser-Permanente. Silver Sponsors were Billings Investments and the Alliance Insurance Group.

  • The evolving Beth Malone: So Far ... So Good

    by John Moore | Apr 06, 2017
    Beth Malone. Photo by John Moore

    Beth Malone returns to Denver for two intimate cabaret concerts on April 15 at the DCPA's Garner Galleria Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Beth Malone's journey from a gravel road in Castle Rock to Broadway's bright lights took a right turn at a mirror.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    It’s about 1,800 miles from Haystack Road to Broadway, but the funny and sad and twisted and ultimately triumphant journey Beth Malone took from Castle Rock to New York City was light years in the making.

    Malone starred in the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2014 reimagining of The Unsinkable Molly Brown and was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in the groundbreaking musical Fun Home. She will tell her story in two uncommonly intimate cabaret concerts on April 15 at the Denver Center’s Garner Galleria Theatre.

    It’s called Beth Malone: So Far, and it covers Malone’s formative years in Colorado. She describes the family, friends and lovers she encountered on her way to starring in Broadway’s first musical with a lesbian protagonist.

    Audiences can expect a swath of recognizable pop songs and very funny anecdotes filled with local references. “I mention Country Dinner Playhouse, the Arvada Center and Boulder's Dinner Theatre (now BDT Stage) before the end of the opening number,” she says.

    But there is a beating and very vulnerable heart at the center of Malone’s story. It’s the crucial off-stage part that covers how she discovered her sexuality and came to own her true self — and the toll it took on her suburban, testosterone-fueled Castle Rock family. Her father, Bill, is a cowboy, and so naturally Malone was a cowboy, too. She is careful not to use the word "cowgirl."

    A Peggy Malone“No, I was a cowboy. I used to be my dad's little clone,” she said. Her mother, Peggy Malone, continues to be a popular country singer along the Western Slope, and she grew up alongside three typically competitive brothers.

    “So Far is about my redneck beginnings and how my parents ended up with such a wildly left-swinging daughter,” Malone said. “But more than anything, it’s really about my relationship with my dad, and what happened when I came out.”

    When Malone performed So Far two years ago at Joe's Pub in New York City, the show went over like gangbusters, she said. In part because cabaret concerts typically deliver upbeat songs and funny anecdotes — and Malone has plenty of those to tell. Like when she stumbled across the film Singin’ in the Rain on TV as a girl. “I didn’t know stuff like this existed,” she said. “I remember running down the hall and saying, ‘Mom, the most amazing thing is on TV!’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, that’s called a musical.’ And I said, ‘Well … that’s what I am doing with the rest of my life.”

    But cabaret concerts don’t typically also deliver a meaningful and sadly universal story of a father and daughter finding each other, breaking apart, and finding each another again  — in an entirely new and uncomfortable context.

    “It’s unexpectedly heart-wrenching,” said Malone. “You are laughing your butt off, and then you find yourself really invested in the love story between me and this heroic cowboy father-figure. When it gets hard for me, I think it gets hard for a lot of people in the audience, too.”

    Beth Malone. Photo by John Moore
    Beth Malone in Leadville. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Malone’s first play was Annie for Castle Rock Junior High School in 1984. When she was just 16, she landed her (first) dream job — as a hostess at the Country Dinner Playhouse. Two years later, she starred there in Baby. She made her Denver Center debut that same year at age 18 as the understudy to Mary Louise Lee — now the First Lady of Denver — in Beehive at the very same theatre Malone will be performing So Far on April 15.

    Malone made her debut with the DCPA Theatre Company in 1993 in the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Bon Voyage, an adaptation of Noel Coward’s failed musical Sail Away. She went on to make her name performing on stages all over Colorado from the Crystal Palace to Theatre Aspen to the Arvada Center, where she played the narrator in holiday stagings of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for five years running.

    But all through those years, Malone felt like an “other,” she says, and she didn't yet know exactly why. “I have a number in the show about what it's like to be Mulan in a dressing room with Snow White, Belle and Arial. … Do you know what I mean?”

    For those who might not know what she means, Malone describes Mulan as the cross-dressing Disney heroine who looks like a boy. “She's the action figure that nobody wants,” she said with a laugh. “That’s pretty sad for Mulan — and Mulan is me.”

    Malone fully expected to get married — to a man — when she met Rochelle (Shelly)  Schoppert 25 years ago. She says feeling true love for the first time was so intense, it felt like being shot by a gun. And that she fell in love with a woman, she said, “ruined my family for many, many years.” And yet, in 2014, the then 23-year couple rode their bikes to New York's City Hall and legally married.

    Beth Malone. Denver Broncos. Photo by John MooreMalone and her father will never come to a mutual understanding about many things, including their feelings on the current president. But time has a way of morphing the once inconceivable into the more natural order of things. Into something resembling a family. And like many families, the Malones have more in common than not — their love for the Colorado outdoors, their cowboy ways and perhaps most important — their intense mutual love of the Denver Broncos. Bill and Peggy Malone have accompanied Beth and her wife both times she sang the national anthem at Mile High Stadium, in 2014 and '16. (Pictured above from left: Peggy Malone, Beth Malone, Bill Malone and Rochelle Schoppert by John Moore.) Beth recently took her father on a trip to Ireland.

    So Far is actually a really warm, fuzzy, feel-good story,” Malone says of the way her story plays out. “And by the end, you’ll just want to call your dad.”

    Malone’s song list leans more toward pop than showtunes, starting with an appropriately country slant. “The show opens with Happiest Girl in the Whole USA, recorded by Donna Fargo, and segues into a Barbara Mandrell medley, so ... you can see where I am going with this,” Malone said with a laugh. “No one was more obsessed with Barbara Mandrell than I was.” Just wait till you hear the story about the kiss an 11-year-old Malone got from none other than ... Barbara Mandrell. 

    Coming-of-age songs include Melissa Etheridge’s Bring Me Some Water and k.d. lang’s Constant Craving alongside Foreigner’s I've Been Waiting for a Girl Like You. Musical-theatre fans will get a taste of Spring Awakening and a Fun Home mash-up that somehow invokes John Mayer. It builds, she says, to a poignant LeAnn Rimes song called What I Cannot Change.

    Malone has been developing So Far for years with initial producer Peter Schneider, playwright Patricia Cotter (The Break Up Notebook: A Musical) and Beautiful: The Carole King Story Music Director Susan Draus (who will play the show in Denver). But it has necessarily changed in tone, Malone said, since she last performed it in 2015, when  the gay community was riding an unprecedented wave of acceptance and legal victories.

    “All of these amazing, progressive things had just happened,” she said. “Marriage equality had passed, health-care was happening and Fun Home had won the Tony Award for Best Musical. So back then, I ended the show by saying, ‘It's a really bad time to be an angry white guy in America.’ ”

    Well ... that was then.

    "Now I have to say that the pendulum has fully swung the other way, and angry white guys are having their day again,” Malone said. “It’s just a hate orgy out there right now. That's how it feels to me. So there is a different vibe now, and I have had to rewrite the ending of the show a little because of that.”

    Beyond Fun Home
    The success of Fun Home has brought new career opportunities for Malone. Notable TV credits have included Brain Dead and The Good Wife. She has an upcoming indie film called Laying Low. But the biggest break by far was appearing opposite Robert DeNiro in last year's star-studded film The Comedian. Malone has a nice, long scene where she plays a reality-TV producer who gives DeNiro the brush-off when he pitches her an idea for a new show.

    “Yes, I busted DeNiro’s (bleeps),” Malone says with evident glee. “It was pretty amazing.”

    Also amazing: Hanging out on the set with the likes of Edie Falco, Danny DeVito and Broadway legend Patti Lupone when Lupone figured out that Malone was the star of Fun Home.

    “I was like, 'Oh my God, is anybody hearing this? Patti Lupone is telling me how good I am right now!’ " Malone said. "And sure enough, Edie Falco came up to me and said, ‘Patti Lupone was just crazy about you.’ It was just the best.”

    A Beth Malone 800 5

    Still, the greatest impact Fun Home has had on Malone's life was not only giving her a voice, she said. “It also gave me an audience that wanted to hear that voice," she said.

    Fun Home helped me to define my own beliefs and to commit to them publicly,” she said. “As an actor, I was always sort of a politician. I wanted to be with my wife, Shelly, behind closed doors, but I never was political about it, and I never pushed it anyone's face. I never stood up for anyone besides myself.

    "I have lived in Aspen, L.A. and New York – and being gay there is pretty easy. I never really gave a thought to teenagers who were trying to come out in Tennessee and Kentucky and Alabama. Now, I think about those kids all the time. Now, I talk to them whenever I can. That is my gift from Fun Home: The awareness that just living my life openly can be a beacon for other people – if only I am strong enough to stand up and claim it.”

    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.

    Beth Malone: So Far
    Beth Malone About the show: Tony-nominated Beth Malone (DCPA Theatre Company’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown) brings her acclaimed solo show back to where it all happened. Follow this adorably insane little lesbian as she takes you on a journey from Castle Rock to the South Pacific. From little girl crushes to grown-woman heartbreak. Join us for comedy, tragedy, and a crush on Connie Chung.

    • April 15, 5 and 8 p.m.
    • Garner Galleria Theatre
    • Tickets start at $50
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    An update on The Unsinkable Molly Brown:

    Molly_Brown_Beth Malone_JK_800Beth Malone will return to the role she re-created for the DCPA Theatre Company this summer when The Unsinkable Molly Brown plays The Muny this coming July 21-27 in St. Louis. The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre. After that, Malone said, the goal is Broadway.

    "That is absolutely the intention of putting it up at The Muny,” Malone said. “There is no other reason than for it go to Broadway," she said. And while there is not yet a producer attached for New York, “everyone involved with it feels very strongly that it we are completely on track to move it there.”

    (Photo above by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    The show has changed in some significant ways since its debut in Denver, Malone said. The song Don't Put Bananas on Bananas, originally written by Meredith Willson to be included in The Music Man, has been cut. And Molly Brown’s activism and commitment to social causes is given more dramatic importance in the new storyline.

    “Molly Brown was the head of the Survivors Committee of the RMS Titanic, and a big part of her work was making sure that all of those people in steerage weren't just immediately kicked out and sent back to the countries they came from because their paperwork was at the bottom of the ocean. Her commitment to the plight of the immigrant makes the story seem more relevant since our election in November.”

    There has been no announcement yet who will play opposite Malone as Leadville Johnny Brown.

     Selected previous Beth Malone coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:

    Photo gallery: Beth Malone in Denver:

    Beth Malone in Denver

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Two concerts announced: Beth Malone, 'The Last Five Years'

    by John Moore | Feb 21, 2017

    Beth Malone. Andam Kantor. Betsy Wolfe.

    DCPA Broadway announced two new concert shows this morning: Beth Malone: So Far and Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years in Concert starring Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe.

    DCPA subscribers can purchase tickets now. (Direct emails will be sent with instructions.) Tickets go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at DenverCenter.Org

    Beth Malone is a Colorado native who was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in Broadway's Fun Home. Prior to that, she starred in the DCPA Theatre Company's reimagining of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which has its next staging this summer at the Muny in St. Louis. Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe are acclaimed Broadway stars with eight credits between them.

    Beth Malone: So Far
    Beth Malone About the show: Tony-nominated Beth Malone (DCPA Theatre Company’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown) brings her acclaimed solo show back to where it all happened. Follow this adorably insane little lesbian as she takes you on a journey from Castle Rock to the South Pacific. From little girl crushes to grown-woman heartbreak. Join us for comedy, tragedy, and a crush on Connie Chung.
    April 15, 5 and 8 p.m.
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Tickets start at $50
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    The Last Five Years in concert starring Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe

    Last Five Years Kantor WolfeAbout the show: Adam Kantor (Fiddler of the Roof, RENT and Next to Normal on Broadway, Avenue Q off Broadway) and Betsy Wolfe (Falsettos, Bullets Over Broadway and The Mystery of Edwin Drood on Broadway) star in The Last Five Years in Concert. This intimate musical by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Songs for a New World, Honeymoon in Vegas, The Bridges of Madison County) chronicles the five-year relationship between two New Yorkers, struggling actress Cathy and promising writer Jamie, from their first meeting to their last goodbye. The Last Five Years is a powerful and personal look at marriage told from both points of view – Jamie’s story begins at the first meeting and follows through to the couple’s ultimate breakup, while Cathy relates the story in reverse, from falling out of love back to the first spark of romance.  This innovative storytelling structure makes for a show nearly entirely comprised of solo songs, with the actors meeting just once in the middle of the show in a duet.
    May 22
    Seawell Grand Ballroom
    Tickets start at $45
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Ticket information
    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – online at DenverCenter.Org – is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for these productions in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center.

     Selected previous Beth Malone coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:

    Photo gallery: Beth Malone in Denver: Beth Malone in Denver

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Video: Beth Malone will return to 'Molly Brown' in St. Louis

    by John Moore | Jan 23, 2017

    Beth Malone talks about playing Molly Brown at The Muny in St. Louis this summer. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Colorado may be Molly Brown’s home, but her next residence will be in her birth state of Missouri. And once again, Tony Award nominee Beth Malone will be playing history’s most unsinkable socialite.

    Two years ago, the DCPA Theatre Company launched a completely re-imagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, directed by Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall and featuring both a new book by Dick Scanlan and a recalibrated Meredith Willson score that includes new songs from the Willson catalog. Marshall called the result "Americana at its best: Big, strong, open-hearted and optimistic.”

    The production was well-received at the DCPA but Molly_Brown_Beth Malone_JK_800its creators were intent on incorporating lessons learned from Denver toward the eventual goal of a larger life on the national stage. The next step in that journey was announced recently when The Unsinkable Molly Brown was included on the 2017 season for The Muny this coming July 21-27. Located in St. Louis, The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre.

    Marshall again will direct, along with Scanlan and Music Director Michael Rafter. The Muny introduced Malone at an event tonight to announce her return to the role. Full casting will be announced at a later date.

    Malone said she realized a lifelong dream when she was cast in the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2014 production. “For me, that was the culmination of my entire career. It was a giant gift from God and the universe plopped right in my lap. It was amazing.” Shortly after, she was nominated for a 2015 Tony Award for her work in Fun Home.

    Of the St. Louis production, she added, "This is a very exciting next move for this piece, and I am very excited to get in the room again and work on it and put it up again." 

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown tells the story of perhaps the most colorful woman in Colorado history. The original 1960 Broadway musical was beloved by some but was also problematic. The musical tells the story of a Hannibal girl who went to Colorado and married a miner who became fabulously wealthy. But unlike others in her position, Brown opened a soup kitchen and fought for immigrants. Ultimately she boarded the Titanic but survived, rescuing others in the process.

    “It’s a classic American musical: beautiful and heartfelt,” said Mike Isaacson, the Muny’s artistic producer and executive producer. “And what Dick has done with it is extraordinary.”

    (Story continues below)

    Full photo gallery: Beth Malone in Denver:

    Beth Malone in Denver

    The photos above follow Beth Malone's time performing as Molly Brown in Denver, visiting Brown's adopted hometown of Leadville, Colorado, and returning both for Denver Broncos national anthems and to sing the praises of 'Fun Home.' Photos by John Moore and Jennifer M. Koskinen. To see more photos, click the forward arrow in the image above.

    Scanlan, a three-time Tony Award nominee also wrote the book for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and other musicals.

    “Dick has kept the songs you love…and hopefully he’s gotten rid of the ones you don’t,” DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson said.

    Meet the cast video series: Beth Malone

    In Molly Brown’s 1932 obituary, The Denver Post’s Jack Carberry wrote: “She was a pot rustler who, shamed by her ignorance, mastered music, literature and the arts to storm the portals and pass the barriers of society.”

    But while Scanlan promises audiences will see a much deeper Molly Brown than they did in the 1960 original, The Unsinkable Molly Brown remains very much a musical. And a musical comedy at that.  
    This Molly Brown is still unsinkable, Malone said, "but it’s based more on the historical facts, and the real-life love affair between Molly Brown and JJ Brown."

    “This is not a documentary,” Marshall added. “This is a historical fiction. This is the journey of Molly Brown as a woman, and her marriage.”

    That means this is also a romance.

    “Oh it is very much a romance,” Scanlan said.

    Malone credits her time with Molly Brown in Denver for setting her on the path of her Tony Award nomination for Fun Home.

    "I have to say that doing Molly Brown and have it be a success on the level that it was really helped me walk back into the Fun Home rehearsal knowing that I could lead a cast," said Malone. "Molly Brown and that whole experience at the Denver Center bolstered my confidence in my bones."

    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.

    Beth Malone sings two songs from The Unsinkable Molly Brown:

    In the video above, Beth Malone appeared at the 2015 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards, where she sang two songs from the show. Watch for at the very beginning, and again at the 2:45 mark. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Selected previous Beth Malone coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:

    Selected previous Molly Brown coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:


    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Beth Malone on 'Fun Home': ‘It’s about anyone born of a mother'

    by John Moore | Dec 14, 2016
    Video: Beth Malone sings the national anthem:

    Video: Colorado native Beth Malone returned home to talk about the Denver-bound Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home and sing the national anthem before the Denver Broncos' Oct. 30 win over the San Diego Chargers at Mile High Stadium. Malone is not appearing in the touring production, but she was here as an ambassador for the Fun Home, opening Jan. 10 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Tony Award-nominee Beth Malone had been told for two years how her groundbreaking, underdog Broadway musical Fun Home was changing perspectives and saving lives. The thousands of letters that poured in told her. The misfits and outcasts who lined up at the stage door told her. The everyday mothers and fathers told her.

    “People came out of the woodwork to tell us how impactful this material has been on their lives,” Malone said. Somehow this unlikely true story of an androgynous graphic novelist named Alison struggling to understand her father’s suicide was striking a universal cord both among audience members who were similar to the unprecedented protagonist she was playing – and those who were not at all like her.

    A young fan once told Malone, ‘I don’t know how to own my identity because I am being raised in a hostile environment. I was at the end of my rope, and I didn’t know how to go on. But then Fun Home happened.”

    Beth Malone Fun Home QuoteIt was unexpected, exhilarating and uplifting for Malone to be making that kind of a positive impact on people’s lives eight times a week in New York’s Times Square. So when the Broadway run of Fun Home ended triumphantly in September, validated by critics, strong ticket sales, a Pulitzer Prize nomination and the Tony Award for Best Musical of 2015, Malone’s defenses were down.

    Fun Home had ridden a perfectly timed wave of changing perceptions in America about gender identity, marriage and sexuality to make history as the first musical to feature a lesbian leading character.

    “Fun Home absolutely rode the crest of this huge, cultural wave," Malone said. “People made pilgrimages to see it from all over the world. One night we played to ambassadors from 15 different countries where homosexuality is a crime punishable by law. It felt like hearts and minds were changing that night. Not just in the United States, but internationally. We had a performance on the night that marriage equality passed, and during the curtain speech afterward, we all ran around with a rainbow flag outside to a standing ovation. I feel like the world was ready for Fun Home when it happened.” 

    But when Malone packed her car in September to drive across the country to her native Colorado, a mother was not ready for Malone when she walked into McDonalds bathroom in Pennsylvania – ironically, the very state where Fun Home is set. Malone walked in looking a lot like Alison – T-shirt, jeans, and close-cropped hair. A lot like Beth.

    “But when this woman saw me, she took her daughter’s hand, moved her behind her and said, ‘Don’t stare, don’t stare.’ At me! I’m the most innocuous person you will ever meet. I’m not going to hurt your daughter. I’m just a dyke. I thought, ‘Haven’t you ever seen a gender non-conforming person before? No? Well, maybe your daughter’s having a ‘Ring of Keys’ moment right now.”

    “Ring of Keys” is a song from Fun Home sung by an 11-year-old version of Alison. It’s probably the most well-known tune in the show because young actor Sydney Lucas performed in on national television at the 2015 Tony Awards, when Fun Home was named Best Musical.

    “Ring of Keys” is this song of discovery told from the perspective of a child who sees a butch woman walk into a diner with a handcart full of boxes,” Malone said. “She sees an identity in this woman that she recognizes as her own on a cellular level. In Alison Bechdel’s book, she says: ‘It was like seeing someone from my home planet. Someone I've never met before - but I just recognized.’ And she says, ‘Something about that makes me recognize something in me.’ ”

    New York Times: 'For better or worse ... we're home'

    But that moment echoed in Malone’s mind when she later learned that Fun Home would indeed be touring to cities across the country, starting in Cleveland and including a stop in her native Denver from Jan. 10-22.

    “I have to be very honest – I was conflicted,” Malone said. “I feel very vulnerable still with this material because I thought, ‘If people across the country are not going to embrace it or accept it, that is going to hurt me.’

    Fun Home. Joan Marcus “But that's the opposite of what has happened. The first two cities were sold-out runs. Local papers have said beautiful and amazing things about how important it is for the story to reach this vital audience. And then I remembered: Every time I've had any fear with Fun Home … whenever we have gone to a new level or to an unknown place, love and acceptance have truly outweighed any kind of hate that steps forward to be heard.”

    The Fun Home title comes from the shortened family nickname for the funeral home where Alison’s father worked. Malone describes the story as “the beautiful journey of a woman looking back at her childhood and trying to piece together what was actually happening when she was younger, trying to connect with her father.

    “We are all just trying to know each other,” she said. “But it can be really hard to know even the people in your own family. We’ve all experienced those moments of missed opportunity to really know someone.”

    (Photo above and right: Alessandra Baldacchino as 'Small Alison' and Robert Petkoff as Bruce in the touring production of 'Fun Home.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    But Malone says Fun Home is not only the story of Alison. “It’s about her father, Bruce Bechdel. It’s about her mother, Helen Bechdel. It is about the other kids. It’s about anyone who was born of a mother. It’s about anyone who was raised in a house with a family. You will learn something about yourself. You'll learn something you can't even put your finger on that you need to know. And when you walk out, you'll be like, ‘Oh. Wow.’ Now I'll have to give my entire identity some thought.”

    Beth Malone in Denver: Our photo gallery

    Fun Home in Denver Photos of Beth Malone singing the national anthen on Oct. 30 at Mile High Stadium. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Malone is a graduate of Douglas County High School in Castle Rock and attended the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. She performed in theatres across Colorado, including a noteworthy five-year run as the narrator in the Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She realized a lifelong dream in 2014 when she starred in the DCPA Theatre Company’s wholly reimagined staging of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    “For me, that was the culmination of my entire career. It was a giant gift from God and the universe plopped right in my lap. It was amazing.”

    Beth Malone Kate Shindle Fun HomeMalone is not appearing in the national touring production of Fun Home that comes to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in January. She recently returned to Denver as an ambassador of the show and to sing the national anthem at a Denver Broncos game at Mile High Stadium.

    “You have no way of knowing the depth of my allegiance to the state of Colorado,” Malone. “I love every square mile of it. More than anything, I want the people I care so much about to see this beautiful piece of theatre that I've been working on for the past five years. To see why it's so important to me. Hopefully it will resonate in their own lives. I know it will.”

    Here’s more of our conversation with Beth Malone:

    John Moore: You are an openly gay woman who has been married for 20 years. How do you think it might have changed your life if an 11-year old Beth had seen Fun Home?

    Beth Malone: If I had been exposed to this material at age 11, I think that I would have felt an inner strength and pride grow inside of me that, instead, I had to manifest way later in my life. I feel like there was a hidden part of me as I grew up that I definitely didn’t give honor to. It was a coating of shame around this part of me that was a true part of me that was something to explore, unearth and celebrate.

    (Pictured above right: Beth Malone as Alison on Broadway, top; Kate Shindle as Alison in the national touring production coming to Denver Jan. 10-22. Photo by Joan Marcus,)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: What do you think Fun Home might mean to an 11-year-old who sees it next month in Denver?

    Beth Malone: I hope Fun Home reaches an 11-year old who needs to hear it. I also hope it reaches the 11-year old sitting right next to her – because it can help compassion grow at a young age for the people you are growing up with. You know, if you ask a child to describe what Fun Home is about, it’s so simple for them to explain: “Love who you want to love, and live openly.”

    John Moore: So what has been the best part of your time in the Fun Home?

    Beth Malone: It has been such an amazing experience to witness people receiving the show one night at a time and to witness the incredible transformative power of art to change hearts and minds. Maybe even just incrementally. But a little bit of a softening has happened.

    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.

    Bonus coverage: About the national touring cast:

    John Moore: A couple of questions about the touring cast. Robert Petkoff, who played Sweeney Todd in the DCPA Theatre Company's production earlier this year, is playing Bruce. Have you ever performed with him?

    Beth Malone: No, but I understand he was amazing in Sweeney Todd.

    John Moore: Here’s what I know about Kate Shindle, who is playing the role of Alison that you played on Broadway: President of the Actor's Equity Union. Graduate of Northwestern. Talk about exploding preconceptions. 

    Beth Malone: I have to say that when I told the producers it was time for me to step away and let the tour be its own thing, I pointed out that I did have it written into my contract that I could only be replaced by a Miss America. That was in the small print. So they were like, 'Well, who can we get?' And Kate Shindle was No. 1 on the list -  because she’s just a rock star.

    Fun Home
    : Ticket information

    • Jan. 10-22, 2017
    •  The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    •  Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel memoir; book and lyrics by Lisa Kron; music by Jeanine Tesori; directed by Sam Gold
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    For more information on the production, please visit FunHomeBroadway.com.

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Fun Home:
    Denver’s Sweeney Todd will return with Fun Home tour
    Another Malone takes spotlight at Denver Film Festival
    Fun Home
    highlights Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Denver’s Beth Malone returning to Broadway in Fun Home

  • Jason Edwards, the other Man in Black, dies at 62

    by John Moore | Nov 17, 2016

    Jason Edwards in the DCPA's 'Ring of Fire.' Photo by Terry Shapiro. Jason Edwards in the DCPA's 'Ring of Fire.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.

    Broadway actor and Colorado native Beth Malone regularly receives the same short text message on her cell phone. It simply says, “Who-”

    What it lacks in character count, it made up for in character.

    “It was Jason Edwards just telling me, ‘Who loves you?’ out of the blue,” said Malone, reflecting today on the death of her friend and former castmate in Broadway’s Ring of Fire, a revue of Johnny Cash songs.

    Jason Edwards 400“He was the real deal,” said Malone. “He wasn’t slick. He was authentic, funny, a good friend – and the fact that he lived in New York City was always completely weird to me.”

    Edwards was far more comfortable in the mountains than in Manhattan, and yet the self-described good-old boy from the hills of Asheville, N.C., was right at home on any stage as long as he had guitar in his hands and a Johnny Cash song to sing.

    Edwards died Tuesday, Nov. 15, in Vero Beach, Florida on an extended fishing trip with friends after another successful Ring of Fire tour. He was 62.

    Randal Myler, a longtime musical collaborator, spoke to Edwards Tuesday about their mutual love for minor-league baseball. He said Edwards told him Tuesday had been one of the happiest day of his life.

    "Jason was his own guy," said Myler. He had a ton of friends, but he was at peace with himself.”

    Edwards played a wealth of country characters ranging from cowboys to truck drivers to George Jones. He starred in a notable touring production of Pump Boys and Dinettes opposite another familiar DCPA performer, Cass Morgan. But Myler understands why Cash became Edwards’ signature role after Ring of Fire debuted on Broadway in 2006.

    “Simply from a casting consideration, there are very few JohnJason Edwards in 'Mama Hated Diesels.' ny Cashes out there,” said Myler. “There aren’t many guys with that kind of Johnny Cash macho, but with a gentle side, and also can act. Jason was the complete package.”

    Edwards first performed for the DCPA Theatre Company in the 2010 world premiere of the trucker musical Mama Hated Diesels, directed by Myler. Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever” was one of the songs he sang. Edwards returned to Denver in 2012 to both direct and star in Ring of Fire. Denver Post theatre critic Lisa Kennedy said of his performance: “Director Jason Edwards cuts a rugged, rightly creased figure as an older Johnny Cash tempered by life.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson called Edwards a brilliant musician, performer, writer, director, and producer. "In addition, he was a funny, smart, and deeply compassionate man," Thompson said. "Our paths crossed many times over the years, and he always had a smile, a warm welcome and a new idea for a show!  He loved the theatre, and we shall miss him."

    Today on Facebook, writer Seth Greenleaf said, “The world lost a really good guy, and I lost a dear friend.” Greenleaf met Edwards in 2005 when he was working on his new musical based on the songs of Johnny Cash. “We became instant friends, but he became instant friends with everyone he met. During our time outside of my urban comfort zone, he taught me my first chords on a guitar, took me to a country music hall in Nashville, and taught me how to order southern food. The cast was a family, and Jason was Pa.”

    Greenleaf said Edwards’ death was completely unexpected, “but with Jason, there was nothing left unsaid. No regrets or need to apologize for anything. You were always good with him, and he was always good with you. I have no doubt his first order of business in heaven is to walk up to Johnny himself and ask, “How’d I do?”

    Edwards was Born on April 28,1954, in Hendersonville, N.C., the son of Dawn and Irene Edwards. He graduated from North Buncombe High School in Weaverville and attended Belmont University in Nashville and Mars Hill College.

    He toured nationally and directed The Will Rogers Follies with Larry Gatlin, and Man of La Mancha with John Raitt. Off-Broadway credits included Of Mice and Men, Johnny Guitar, Honky Tonk Angel and Cowboy.

    His obituary in the Asheville Citizen-Times described Edwards as a fiercely loyal friend, and a champion of animals and underdogs. "Friends and colleagues have repeatedly described him as genuine, kind, compassionate, spiritual, honest, generous to a fault, fun, funny, encouraging, tenderhearted, and supremely gifted, a man whose energy brought joy to thousands from the stage, and to each person he met, no matter his or her station in life," it read.

    Edwards' survivors include his parents, son Michael Dawn Edwards and wife Stephanie. Funeral services were held  on Nov. 22 in Weaverville, N.C. 

    Myler said he will miss Edwards dearly, “but he was at home with himself. He was just a big-hearted guy and he left a lot of friends."

    Memorial gifts are being accepted by the Riverside Theatre Endowment Fund, which has been set up by the theatre in Edwards' name. Call 772-410-0481 for information.


    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.

    Jason Edwards in the DCPA's 'Mama Hated Diesels.' Photo by Terry Shapiro. Jason Edwards in the DCPA's 'Mama Hated Diesels.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.
  • Another Malone takes spotlight at Denver Film Festival

    by John Moore | Nov 09, 2016

    Video trailer for 'Reengineering Sam,' above.

    When it comes to driving at speeds greater than 200 mph, former race-car driver Sam Schmidt says, “You’re either scared or you’re not. And I wasn’t.”

    Schmidt grew up wanting to go farther and faster than everyone else – at any price. And that sounds a lot like a lot like Colorado’s Malone family, which goes further and faster than most everyone else - only on a much different kind of track.

    Brian Malone. Reengineering Sam. “Growing up in our household, there was a premium put on self-expression,” said Beth Malone, an actor who was nominated for a 2015 Tony Award for her performance in Broadway’s Fun Home. Brother Sean is an accomplished oil painter. Mother Peggy is a western vocalist based in Fruita. But it is brother Brian who is in the spotlight at the 39th Denver Film Festival.

    Brian Malone is the director of Reengineering Sam, a remarkable documentary that tells the uplifting story of Sam Schmidt, a rising IndyCar driver who was left a quadriplegic from a 2000 test-run crash. The film chronicles how an indefatigable spinal surgeon from Denver’s Craig Hospital put Schmidt back behind the wheel by helping to develop a race car that Schmidt can operate simply with gentle head movements. Just this month, Schmidt was given a limited Nevada driver’s license, even though he can’t scratch his own nose.

    This was a big, national cooperative project that involved scientists and engineers from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to Arrow Electronics in Centennial to Ball Aerospace in Pittsburgh. The successful collaboration not only gave Schmidt part of his identity back when he drove a qualifying lap at the 2014 Indianapolis 500 in his uniquely modified “Quadvette,” it opened the door to a wide range of new adaptive technologies that could fundamentally change the quality of life for more than 6 million Americans with limited mobility.

    Brian Malone. Reengineering Sam. “When Brian showed Sam driving that car with his head, I could hear people in the theatre sniffling all around me,” said Beth Malone, who flew home from New York to see Reengineering Sam at the Denver Film Festival on Nov. 5. “Brian figured out how to tell Sam’s story with a huge heart that really carries the film.” 

    Schmidt grew up in a Las Vegas racing family acutely aware of the sport’s inherent risks. He was a teenager when his father was partially paralyzed in an off-road racing accident. Malone chronicles how Schmidt earned his first victory at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1999 and realized his dream to race in the Indianapolis 500. But everything changed when Schmidt drove head-first into the unforgiving concrete at Walt Disney World Speedway on January 6, 2000, leaving him on a respirator for five months. Around his steering wheel, Schmidt had written the words “Nothing to Lose.” But the married father of two, and his family, had everything to lose. Or so he thought.

    The film not only shows how Schmidt staved off suicidal thoughts 15 years ago to managing the two professional racing teams he owns and the multimillion-dollar parts company he bought from his father when he was 25, a;; from his wheelchair. But a personal priority of Brain Malone’s was to shine an honest look at the toll Schmidt’s near-total paralysis takes on his team at home, including his wife, teenage kids and full-time nurse.

    “I knew that for this to become an important film, it would have to offer a realistic view of what handicapped folks have to go through every day,” Malone said. “And that despite those daily and minute-by-minute struggles, if you have the will and determination, you can really accomplish quite a bit with your life.”

    Photo gallery: Reengineering Sam at the Denver Film Festival:

    'Reengineering Sam' at the Denver Film Festival

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Brian Malone is a journalist by trade who has worked as a longtime local TV news producer with career stops with Channels 4, 9 and 31. Over the years, he has chronicled the work done at Craig Hospital, a national leader in spinal-cord and traumatic brain injuries. It was there he met Dr. Scott Falci, who told Malone about his efforts to help Schmidt drive again.

    Malone’s previous film subjects have included global warming, the media’s ulterior motive in its coverage of the Kobe Bryant rape trial in Aspen, and crookedness within the Douglas County public school board. Reengineering Sam would be a much more human story.

    Beth Malone Quote. Reengineering Sam. Fun Home. “Brian has an endless capacity for making art and exposing injustice,” Beth Malone said. But what takes Reengineering Sam to the next level, she believes, is that he presents a protagonist the audience can really root for.

    “I think what makes this a compelling film is that it is such personal narrative,” Beth Malone said. “Brian really shows you what it must be like to have all of your personal freedoms taken away.”

    Brian Malone, who attended Douglas County High School in Castle Rock, says he has taken creative inspiration from his sister’s example for more than 30 years.

    “Beth has more talent coming out of her pinkie than I ever will have in my whole body,” he said. “Apart from the obvious - that she is just phenomenal - she’s got that magic ingredient of being able to go out there on a stage and just turn it on in front of an audience, which is a mystery to me. I am more behind-the-scenes kind of guy. Beth is a real pro.”

    Reengineering Sam was a film with a $500,000 projected budget that Malone managed to make for a bare-bones $150,000. “Let's just say the kids are going top be looking at community college,” he said of his two daughters – jokingly.

    His film now has a real shot at national distribution, in part because it is produced by Denver’s own Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Daniel Junge. And, Malone believes, because the audience for Reengineering Sam transcends the racing and disabled communities.

    Check out our Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “What Sam’s story tells us is that when the worst happens, you can either push forward, accept it and have a meaningful life with whatever time you have left,” Malone said, “or … well, we are not even not going to allow you to think about the other option - because there is no other option.”

    DFF Brian MaloneBritta Erickson, Festival Director for the Denver Film Society, says she selected Reengineering Sam for the 2016 Denver Film Festival on its own evident merits, but she celebrates its local roots. “The Denver Film Society really prides itself on showcasing the best in world cinema,” Erickson said, “but when we can showcase members of our own filmmaking community, we get really excited about that.”

    Much of the Brian Malone’s next year will follow Reengineering Sam throughout the country. He is arranging a screening tour to align with the IndyCar racing series’ national traveling schedule. But one of his future projects includes his first collaboration with his sister on a passion project for both – a gritty look at the wholesale slaughter of abandoned horses.

    “People think these horses that end up at a kill lot are sick and old, and that they need to be put down,” Brian Malone said. “But the truth of the matter is that the majority of these horses are just people's pets that they simply outgrow or get bored with. So we’re going to turn the spotlight on that."

    Added Beth Malone: “It can be nice not to know certain things. But once you know something  - you can’t unknow it.”

    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.

    ‘Reengineering Sam’ was screened twice at the 2-16 Denver Film Festival. Follow the film on Facebook for news of future screenings.

     Craig Hospital surgeon Scott Falci and Brian Malone. Phot by John Moore.

    Craig Hospital surgeon Scott Falci and filmmaker Brian Malone. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.  
  • Spotlight on Colorado at the Denver International Film Festival

    by John Moore | Nov 02, 2016
    DIFF Brian Malone

    Brian Malone, brother of Broadway star Beth Malone, has produced 'Reengineering Sam,' a documentary about paralyzed race-car driver Sam Schmidt.

    The 39th Denver International Film Festival opens tonight with a red-carpet screening of the most anticipated film of the year – and one with a significant Colorado connection. La La Land is a sweet song-and-dance romance set in contemporary Los Angeles starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. And it is choreographed by Summit High School grad (and four-time Emmy Award nominee) Mandy Moore. It will be screened at 8 p.m. tonight (Nov. 2) at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. (And look for our exclusive interview later today on the DCPA NewsCenter).

    But there are plenty of additional local films generating significant buzz at this year’s fest. Andrew Novick, the cereal-infused brains behind the city’s hipster Denver County Fair, will present what he calls a 10-minute introduction to his forthcoming full-length documentary JonBenét's Tricycle. It has music by Adam Stone of Buntport Theater and Screwtooth Productions.

    DIFF JonBenet's Tricycle And while Broadway star Beth Malone has been getting plenty of attention of late for her Tony Award-nominated performance in Fun Home The Musical, her brother, Brian Malone, takes the spotlight at this year’s Film Festival with Reenginnering Sam, an uplifting documentary about how an Indy-car racer moved on after a crash left him a quadriplegic. The Malones are graduates of Douglas County High School.

    Local actor Bob Buckley is featured in A Song for the Living, about a young train engineer whose world is upended when his mother suddenly takes her own life. It was shot in and around Central City.  

    One panel conversation of note is titled State of the State: Overview. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford were just here filming Our Souls at Night. Before that, Quentin Tarantino shot The Hateful Eight near Telluride. Moderator Robert Denerstein will examine the state of cinema in Colorado at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the McNichols Building in Civic Center Park.  

    Here is a complete list of homegrown feature-length films, shorts and music videos being featured at the Denver International Film Festival, which runs running through Nov. 13 at the Sie FilmCenter and UA Pavilions cineplex:


    DIFF Actor MartinezActor Martinez
    Directed by Nathan Silver and Mike Ott
    75 minutes
    True story: regular Denver International Film Festival guests Nathan Silver and Mike Ott met volunteer Arthur Martinez two years ago in the Filmmaker Lounge. Over drinks, they decided to make a film together. The result is this startling, genre-bending investigation into the creative process and the motives behind it.
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 6:45 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 9:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Friday, Nov. 11, 2 p.m. Sie FilmCenter

    Growing Up Coy
    Directed by Eric Juhola
    82 minutes
    Meet the Mathises, a Colorado family whose 4-year-old child self-identifies as a girl. When Coy is forced to use the boys’ bathroom at school, they’re spurred to take legal action. This documentary follows their struggle all the way to the Supreme Court.
    Friday, Nov. 11, 1:15 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Saturday, Nov. 12, 1:45 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Sunday, Nov. 13, 2 p.m. Sie FilmCenter

    Reenginnering Sam
    Directed by Brian Malone
    82 minutes
    Sam Schmidt always wanted to go bigger and faster. His love of Indy car racing left him a quadriplegic, but he never pumped the brakes on his passion for life—and now he’s intent on gaining mobility through technology in this uplifting documentary produced by longtime festival guest Daniel Junge
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 1:45 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. Sie FilmCenter

    A Song for the Living
    Directed by Colin Floom and Greg Nemer
    Brandon is a young train engineer whose world is upended when his mother suddenly takes her own life. At the funeral home, he meets Fiona, a beautiful and mysterious mortician who takes a strong interest in him. Soon they discover they share a passion for music. And when Fiona serenades him with an ancient folk song, their lives become entwined for eternity. This tragic tale of heartbreak, deception and betrayal was shot in and around picturesque Central City with an ensemble cast including Nicole Elizabeth Olson, Grayson Low, Kate Linder and Bob Buckley.
    Wednesday, Nov. 9, 8:45 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Thursday, Nov. 10 4:15 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Friday, Nov. 11, 1:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter



    DIFF Elephant 340Elephant Revival – Petals
    Directed by Laura Goldhamer, Michelle Chistiance and Tim Douglas
    3 minutes
    Animator and local musician Laura Goldhamer returns with her patented whimsical style to feature one of Colorado’s top bands.
    Playing as part of Music Video Mixtape
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 9:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Thursday, Nov. 10 6:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter

    Scatter Gather – What More?
    Directed by Zachary Antonio
    4 minutes
    Some head-spinning animation with mouth lasers.
    Playing as part of Music Video Mixtape
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 9:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Thursday, Nov. 10 6:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter

    Valley Maker – Oh Lightning
    Directed by Joseph Kolean
    3 minutes
    Joseph Kolean presents a visual nature poem.
    Playing as part of Music Video Mixtape
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 9:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Thursday, Nov. 10 6:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter


    Acoustic Ninja
    Directed by Robert Bevis
    8 minutes
    Trace Bundy, known to his fans as the Acoustic Ninja, has never been interested in the fame and glamour offered by the mainstream music industry. Yet the self-represented Louisville, Colorado, resident has managed to acquire international acclaim and tour frequently.
    Playing as part of First Look 2: Highs and Lows
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 5 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 1:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter

    Denizen – "Devan"
    Directed by Rob Shearer
    2 minutes
    D. Michael Kingsford (also known as Devan) is Denver's own resident street poet. Armed with only a typewriter and an English degree, Devan writes poems on the 16th Street Mall in front of Tattered Cover Bookstore.
    Playing as part of California Typewriter
    Thursday, Nov. 3, 4:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Friday, Nov. 4, 3:45 p.m. UA Pavilions
    Monday, Nov. 7, 6:15 p.m. UA Pavilions 

    Dog Power
    Directed by Kale Casey
    34 minutes
    Dog Power gives you an introduction to the world’s fastest sprint sled dogs, their human teammates and the incredible variety of sports man’s best friends are involved in.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Documentary
    Wednesday, Nov. 9, 9 p.m. UA Pavilions
    Sunday, Nov. 13, 4:45 p.m. UA Pavilions


    Go to the Denver International Film Center home page

    Directed by Katie Stjernholm
    9 minutes
    At the ripe age of 90, Yvonne has yet to retire from her ice-skating career. Arguably the world's oldest ice skater, she is still at the rink five days a week.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Documentary
    Wednesday, Nov. 9, 9 p.m. UA Pavilions
    Sunday, Nov. 13, 4:45 p.m. UA Pavilions

    Directed by Noah Kloor
    7 minutes
    An old man is given the gift of ultimate knowledge—but has no way to communicate it.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Narrative
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. UA Pavilions
    Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Directed by David Liban
    18 minutes
    A boy named Sonny and a woman named Emma struggle separately to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Emma suggests they travel together to seek out someone who may be able to help them.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Narrative
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. UA Pavilions
    Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Happy F-ing Valentine’s Day
    Directed by Jeremy Dehn
    14 minutes
    Everyone’s least favorite holiday provides the backdrop for this comedy short, which asks the question: How can an attempt to do something so good turn out so f-ing wrong?
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Narrative
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. UA Pavilions
    Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Directed by Joseph Kolean
    6 minutes
    Host Zachny Filltoms-Onalo shows you how to set up a turntable.
    Playing as part of Off the Rails
    Thursday, Nov. 3, 4:15 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 7:15 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 4:15 p.m. Sie FilmCenter

    JonBenét's Tricycle

    Directed by Andrew Novick
    10 minutes
    A man who collects almost everything decides what to do with one of his eeriest acquisitions.
    Playing as part of Ovarian Psycos
    Thursday, Nov. 10, 9:15 p.m. UA Pavilions
    Friday, Nov. 11, 8:45 p.m. UA Pavilions

    The Journey is the Destination
    Directed by Olivia Friedman
    4 minutes
    Artist and elementary-school teacher Barth Quenzer weighs the values of imagination and storytelling by looking backward at the creative process.
    Playing as part of The Red Turtle
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 11:30 a.m. Sie FilmCenter

    Kickass Katie Lee
    Directed by Beth Gage, George Gage
    10 minutes
    Meet Katie Lee, the 96-year-old activist who opposed the Glen Canyon Dam and has forever been its immutable warrior and outspoken foe, in this uplifting short.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Documentary
    Wednesday, Nov. 9, 9 p.m. UA Pavilions
    Sunday, Nov. 13, 4:45 p.m. UA Pavilions

    Less Than Angels
    Directed by Adam Loehr
    27 minutes
    Less Than Angels
    takes a look at the life of former Denver Film Festival portraitist Thomas Haller Buchanan, exploring the dichotomy between the realities of work as a commissioned artist and his dreams of renown as a fine artist.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Documentary
    Wednesday, Nov. 9, 9 p.m. UA Pavilions
    Sunday, Nov. 13, 4:45 p.m. UA Pavilions

    Directed by Chase Bortz
    11 minutes
    In 1960, two friends stumble into a diner full of code talkers. Can they figure out how to speak the language?
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Narrative
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. UA Pavilions
    Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Nova Initia
    Directed by Scott Thompson
    6 minutes
    A story about hope and new beginnings.
    Playing as part of First Look 1: Who Are You?
    Friday, Nov. 4, 3:45 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 11:45 a.m. Sie FilmCenter

    On the Tracks
    Directed by Erik Sween
    14 minutes
    Thousands of people demonstrated against nuclear weapons at Colorado’s Rocky Flats in 1978. Hundreds were arrested during the eight-month-long occupation by Truth Force, with the likes of Allen Ginsberg blocking trains full of radioactive material — and Joe Daniel was there to photograph it all.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Documentary
    Wednesday, Nov. 9, 9 p.m. UA Pavilions
    Sunday, Nov. 13, 4:45 p.m. UA Pavilions

    Directed by Chris Barron
    3 minutes
    Sometimes you have a reason to be afraid.
    Playing as part of A Song for the Living
    Wednesday, Nov. 9, 8:45 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Thursday, Nov. 10 4:15 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Friday, Nov. 11, 1:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter

    The Places We’ve Been Have Become All But Ghosts
    Directed by Caleb Andrew Ward
    8 minutes
    Two lovers eat, drink, get high and try to find out if there's anything left between them by searching in the places between words.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Narrative
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. UA Pavilions
    Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Directed by Alexander Rhodes-Wilmere
    8 minutes
    During a devastating drought, two sisters struggle to support their ailing mother after their monthly water deliveries are unexpectedly delayed.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Narrative
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. UA Pavilions
    Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Rat Nest
    Directed by Kelly Spencer
    10 minutes
    After leaving her lonely childhood behind, Charlie moves into her own apartment with her pet rat and stumbles upon a cast of quirky characters who become the unlikely members of her own rat’s nest.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Narrative
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. UA Pavilions
    Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Directed by Nathan Silver
    4 minutes
    Nine-year-old Nathan attempts to direct a movie based on the Los Angeles riots. But the actors aren't cooperating.
    Playing as part of Actor Martinez
    Saturday, Nov. 5, 6:45 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 9:30 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
    Friday, Nov. 11, 2 p.m. Sie FilmCenter

    Directed by Bryce Thomas-Hoogland
    13 minutes
    An astronaut who crash-lands on a planet far from home looks back at her life on earth with her husband.
    Playing as part of Colorado Short Narrative
    Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. UA Pavilions
    Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Directed by AJ Koch
    6 minutes
    A woman living in a fantasy world must decide whether to give up her dreams forever or risk death in the winner of this year’s 48-Hour Film Project.

    Check out our Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Henry Awards welcome Theatre Aspen to the party

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016

    Theatre Aspen's 'Cabaret' is the most-nominated musical of the year in Colorado theatre, with 11 Henry Award nods. The winners will be announced Monday night, July 18.  Photo by Jeremy Swanson.

    The Colorado Theatre Guild expanded in 2012 to make companies beyond the metro area eligible for its annual Henry Awards, which celebrate overall excellence by member companies. And ever since, Theatre Aspen Artistic Director Paige Price has crossed her fingers and hoped: “Maybe this will be our year.”

    2016 is looking like Theatre Aspen’s year. What with 25 nominations for three of its four offerings last summer: Cabaret, Other Desert Cites and Peter and the Starcatcher.  That’s second only to the 27 nominations for the DCPA Theatre Company.

    “I was in a board meeting when we got word of the nominations,” Price said. “I was sitting there counting them up and I couldn’t believe it. I felt like Sally Field. I definitely feel more welcome to the party now.”

    Theatre Aspen, located 160 miles southwest of Denver, has been presenting Broadway-quality summer repertory theatre in the idyllic setting of the Rio Grande Park for much of its 33 years, and with a roster of Broadway alumni including Tony Award nominee Beth Malone. But other than a special nod as the state’s outstanding regional theatre company of 2009, Theatre Aspen has yet to win an actual Henry Award.

    That seems all but certain to change tonight. The most-nominated musical of the year is Theatre Aspen's Cabaret, with 11, and the most-honored play is Other Desert Cities, with eight.

    “This acknowledgement is nothing short of huge for our entire organization,” Price said. “It’s fun to let people know that we are playing in the same ballpark with the Denver Center. And we have been saying that it in every curtain speech since the nominations came out.”

    That Theatre Aspen performs in a tented theatre in a park may give potential audiences the wrong impression about what kind of theatergoing experience they are in for there. “People hear we are in a park, and often they don’t even think we have a roof,” Price said. “But when they walk in, they see that it’s like walking into any studio theatre off-Broadway – except that the walls wobble with the wind.

    “What I tell people is that if you could take Broadway and shrink-wrap it - that’s the caliber of theatre we offer.”

    Sex With Strangers: Read our profile of Paige Price

    The Hurst Theatre, with a capacity of less than 200, makes for an unlikely home for Broadway musicals and intense dramas. Audiences experience stories in extreme close-up and with great emotional immediacy.

    “It’s really in-your-face theatre,” Price said, “and our audiences respond to that.”

    While Cabaret has been around for nearly 40 years, Theatre Aspen presented the recent Broadway revival that Price says is much darker and deeper than people remember. And Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities is a brutal family drama that centers on a daughter who returns home with news she is publishing a divisive family memoir focusing on the suicide of her late brother.

    “I think Other Desert Cities really spoke to the people of this community,” Price said. “It was both the polarity of political views here, combined with the very real problem of suicide in mountain towns. I know some of our patrons were uncomfortable – which is a good thing.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    2016 was not only a transformational year for Price as Theatre Aspen’s Artistic Director but also as an actor herself. Price has several Broadway credits but had not performed in eight years when she was cast in Curious Theatre’s Denver staging of Laura Eason’s Sex with Strangers. That’s a two-person play for which Price and Michael Kingsbaker earned a Henry Award nomination as Outstanding Ensemble. And Price has the DCPA Theatre Company’s production of Theresa Rebeck’s world-premiere play The Nest to thank for it.

    “While I was watching that play at the Denver Center, I had an epiphany,” she said. “I was seeing all those wonderful actors just going at it with all they had, and I said to myself, ‘This is exactly what I’ve been missing in my life.’ Sometimes you just have to jump off a new cliff, and after eight years of not doing that, it was important for me to tap into the part of me that makes me click as an artist.”

    Theatre Aspen's 'Other Desert Cities' is the most-nominated play of the year, with eight  Henry Award nods. Photo by Jeremy Swanson.

    Here’s more of our conversation with Paige Price: 

    John Moore: When did you start to sense things were changing as far as the outside perception of Theatre Aspen?

    Paige Price: We didn’t really hit our stride until we decided to do Les Misérables in 2013. That was a seminal year for us. The Broadway cast was something like 28, and we were given the opportunity to explore how it might look in a much more intimate setting, with a cast of only 18. Until then, we had been doing the kind of shows you would expect for the size and scope of the theatre we are in. But with Les Misérables, the proximity to the actors delighted our audiences.

    John Moore: What impression do you hope your 25 Henry Award nominations will have, both on Denver actors and audiences?

    Paige Price: I hope the actors in Denver will be more interested in coming up here and working. And for potential audiences, we have added more matinees to make it easier for people in Denver to make a day trip and still get home at a reasonable hour.

    John Moore: So you also have been nominated for your performance in Sex with Strangers at Curious Theatre. It’s been an ongoing controversy within the Henrys as to whether two people should constitute a true ensemble. What are your thoughts on that issue?

    Paige Price: I thought it was an interesting and flattering way of looking at that show because I don’t think one person works without the other. I don’t know. I think you could make the case that every show is an ensemble effort. But that’s the judges’ perview.  

    John Moore: What does Theatre Aspen have in store for the audience at Monday’s Henry Awards?

    Paige Price: Jon Peterson will be performing a song from Cabaret. It will be a great way to underscore what we do here at Theatre Aspen, and give people a taste of the quality of the actors who come and perform for us. I am really looking forward to it. Feeling like we are part of the larger community is very important for us.

    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.

    Theatre Aspen's 2016 Henry Award nominations:
    Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company

    Other Desert Cities
    Outstanding Production of a Play
    Outstanding Direction of a Play: Sarna Lapine
    Outstanding Ensemble Performance
    Outstanding Actress in a Play: Lori Wilner
    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play: Curran Connor, Jack Wetherall
    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play: Peggy J. Scott
    Outstanding Scenic Design: Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams

    Outstanding Production of a Musical
    Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Mark Martino
    Outstanding Musical Direction: Eric Alsford
    Outstanding Choreography: Mark Martino
    Outstanding Ensemble Performance
    Outstanding Actor in a Musical: Jon Peterson
    Outstanding Actress in a Musical: Kirsten Wyatt
    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical: Richard Vida
    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Lori Wilner
    Outstanding Lighting Design: Paul Black
    Outstanding Sound Design: David Thomas

    Peter and the Starcatcher
    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Michelle Coben
    Outstanding Costume Design: Annabel Reader
    Outstanding Lighting Design: Paul Black
    Outstanding Scenic Design: Paul Black
    Outstanding Sound Design: David Thomas

    2016 Henry Awards: Ticket information
    6 p.m. Monday, July 18
    PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, MAP IT
    Tickets: $23 for CTG members, $30 non-members or $50 VIP. Tickets are available at  parkerarts.org, or by calling 303-805-6800. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $35

    Recent NewsCenter coverage of the Henry Awards: 
    DCPA leads hugely expanded pool of 2016 Henry Award nominees
    Paige Price: From Broadway to Sex With Strangers
    DCPA leads way with 11 2015 Henry Awards

  • Wally Larson held his theatre students to a higher standard - proudly

    by John Moore | Apr 22, 2016
    Wally Larson. Courtesy of Heather Larson Fritton.
    Photo courtesy of Heather Larson Fritton.

    There was real meaning behind the mundanity whenever legendary high-school theatre teacher Wally Larson told a student to go “sweep the stage.”

    At some point, everyone was made to sweep the stage, from the star to the spotlight operator.

    Wally Larson Quote  Beth Malone“Only later did I recognize this for the Zen act it really was,” said Tony Award-nominated actor Beth Malone (Fun Home), a graduate of Douglas County High School. “It was a way to keep our budding egos in check. It created a level playing field.”

    “Sweeping the stage” meant that everyone was expected to get involved, added Larson’s daughter, Heather Larson Fritton. “Everyone was expected to help build the sets, paint the sets and tear them down. And yes, sometimes, you had to sweep the stage.” That in a nutshell, is what made her father an extraordinary teacher.

    “He made every star do technical work, and he made every technical student feel like a star,” she said. “He made everyone feel special.”

    Larson died April 6 after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 75.

    Larson taught theatre at Douglas County High School and Highlands Ranch High School for a combined 33 years. Over that time, he directed 173 school productions. His hundreds of students have included Malone, Broadway actor Kurt Domoney (A Chorus Line), longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor Kathleen McCall, DCPA Teaching Artists Brian Landis Folkins and Brian McManus, and area actors Kenny Moten, Damon Guerrasio and Trina Magness.

    “His style of mentorship was treating you like you were capable - therefore making you capable," Malone said.

    Malone keeps thinking back to one particular afternoon when it was just she and Larson and a table saw.

    “We were on the stage and he had a pile of 1x4s that he needed ripped in half,” she said. Malone had never operated Larson’s loud and powerful table saw before, but Larson worked with Malone over and over until they had produced a perfect pile of 1x2s.

    “I had a feeling we had accomplished something together as a team,” Malone said. “It was stupid, but it gave me such a feeling of satisfaction and ‘grown-up-ness’ that he would assume I was a reliable-enough assistant to trust with this job. That was how he got you.” 

    Wally LarsonMcCall said Larson pushed her harder than any teacher, mentor, director or friend than she has ever had.

    “Mr. Larson was an intense man, a perfectionist, and he was passionate about the work and the kids he taught," said McCall, who is currently playing the Beggar Woman in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Sweeney Todd. "He was demanding, and he never let us think for a moment that we were just doing ‘high-school theatre.’ He set the bar high - and we rose to the occasion.”

    Fritton said Larson also was a champion of teenagers who had bad home lives.

    “My father left the theatre open at night and on weekends so kids would always have a place to go,” she said. “He also made sure the theatre was open on prom night so that the kids who didn’t have a date would have a place to go and have fun.”

    Larson, McCall said simply, “helped me find my home inside the walls of a theatre." 

    Larson was never much of a drinker, but he didn’t want his students to drink, and he didn't want his own children to, either. So he led by his own example and gave up alcohol in the mid-1980s. He asked every student to sign a pledge promising not to drink, smoke or chew tobacco while working on one of his theatre productions.

    “He held his theatre kids to a higher standard,” Fritton said. “Proudly.”

    Son Brady calls Larson “an Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat of a man. He was a husband, father, grandfather, theatre teacher and a Colorado Rockies baseball enthusiast who worked blissfully at Coors Field after his retirement.”

    Wally Larson
    Wally Larson in hic classroom. Photo courtesy of Heather Larson Fritton.

    Wallace Alfred Larson was born Aug. 21, 1940, on the family farm near Pelican Rapids, Minn. His father, Alf, was a farmer, and his mother, Mildred, a schoolteacher. Wally and siblings JoAnn, Richard and Dale attended a one-room schoolhouse through 6th grade.  He graduated from Pelican Rapids High School in 1958 and spent two years at Dakota Business College. He then enrolled at at Moorhead State College, where he met the two great loves of his life: Theatre and Diane Monear.

    The couple were married in the summer of 1965 and moved to Littleton to pursue careers as teachers. They marked their 50th anniversary last summer by taking the whole family to a cabin retreat in Battle Lake, Minn. Wally and Diane privately celebrated, Fritton said, by sneaking off for a moonlight fishing trip.

    Wally Larson QuoteThe Larsons raised three children - Brady, Heather, and Drew - and Fritton said being born of two teachers came with high expectations. “If I ever came home with an A-minus," she said, "they would ask why it wasn’t an A."

    It’s no coincidence, she believes, that the children of these two teachers grew up to become a writer, an actor and an artist.

    “Having a general thirst for knowledge of the world was always part of our upbringing,” Fritton said. The Larsons were the kind of family that would take road trips, and actually stop and read the informational signs at every rest stop.

    Larson enjoyed acting as a young man and never wanted to teach anything other than theatre. He was hired at Douglas County High School in 1966 and directed his first all-school musical the next year: Bye Bye Birdie.

    On most Saturday mornings, Wally would drive all of his children to school, where they would help paint and build sets while mom sewed costumes.

    Summertime was family time. “We spent many summers on road trips and visits to the lakes in Minnesota, camping and family bike rides,” Brady said. “He was a loving and involved father. He proudly attended many school plays, dance recitals, choir concerts, art shows, and was always up for a game of catch.”

    Larson gave his theatre students the challenge – and in some cases the unprecedented opportunity – to take on meaningful, consequential and sometimes controversial stage titles such as Carnival, Equus, Man of La Mancha, The Foreigner, Noises Off and Into the Woods.

    Wally Larson 8003“His favorite plays were the really hard plays that you typically don’t see high-school theatres do,” Fritton said.

    After being present throughout her father’s production of Man of La Mancha, Fritton remembers singing the song Dulcinea to her classmates – her kindergarten classmates. The 5-year-old didn’t realize then the woman in the song is tormented and then brutally raped. “I just thought it was beautiful – and emotional,” Fritton said with a laugh.

    She also saw her father’s Equus at age 8 or 9. That’s the story of a boy who blinds six horses with a metal spike after attempting to make love for the first time. “I didn’t realize what the story was about,” Fritton said, “but I just loved watching my dad pull that kind of intensity out of his students.”

    After 22 years at Douglas County High School, Larson took on the challenge of building a new theatre program from scratch at Highlands Ranch High School, where he worked for another 11 years.

    He was proud whenever his graduates made it to Broadway, but that was never his barometer for success, Fritton said.

    “He didn’t care whether they ended up in the theatre,” she said. “He wanted them to go out and live successful lives in whatever fields they chose.”

    Larson’s retirement in 1998 led to his second dream job - with the Colorado Rockies, which lasted another 16 years. “He started at the gate, and then became supervisor of the Rock Pile seating section in center field,” Brady said. “He quickly moved up to the Command Center Team Leader, where he was in charge of emergency dispatch - all the while having an incredible view of every home game.”

    Larson enjoyed working on his land, trimming trees, gardening with his wife and taking cross-country road trips. He was also the grandfather of six. “He taught them important life lessons such as how to gather firewood, how to build a tree house - and how to yell at a fishing pole!” Brady said.

    Larson spent his final week taking in spring-training baseball games in Arizona. “He was relaxing by the pool alongside his kids and grandkids, with hope eternal for a winning Rockies season,” Brady said.

    McCall said Larson believed theatre has the capacity to hold a mirror up to human nature in all its forms: Beautiful and ugly, confrontational and compassionate. “He challenged us to think and express our beliefs, challenge our assumptions about life, and also allowed us to give joy, and find joy with others and in ourselves,” she said.  

    “And in the midst of creating theatre, the lessons in the costume shop, the scene shop and lighting grid, we learned valuable life lessons. We learned that the only failure is in not trying - that we have more inside of us to give than we can begin to imagine.”

    Malone will never forget seeing her classmate who played Maria in West Side Story sweeping the stage before a performance. “Through these seemingly small acts, he helped us lucky few realize our own innate wisdom and compassion for each other,” Malone said. "But he never said that's what he was doing. ... He just said, ‘Sweep the stage.’ ”

    Larson is survived by his wife Diane; his children, Brady, Heather, and Drew; his grandchildren, Zane, Jack, Norah, Remington, Teagan, and Quinlan; his sister JoAnn Neu (Melvin), and his brothers, Richard (Linda) and Dale (Marsha).

    Memorial Celebration for Wally Larson

    • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 1
    • Denver Center for the Performing Arts
    • Conservatory Theatre (in the Newman Center for Theatre Education)
    • 1101 13th St. (corner of Arapahoe and 13th street. MAP IT

    Memorial contributions

    Donations can be made in Larson’s name to the Educational Theatre Association, which provide scholarships for high school students to pursue theatre studies in college. CLICK HERE. (Please indicate on the donation form that the funds are for Scholarships for Students, and in memory of Wally Larson.)

    Wally Larson
  • 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.
  • Video: Todd Cerveris: Break a Leg from Broadway

    by John Moore | Feb 05, 2016

    Michael Cerveris and Beth Malone of Fun Home on Broadway wish Michael's brother, Todd Cerveris, well in this selfie video on Opening Night of the Denver Center's 'All The Way,' tonight (Feb. 5).

    Malone is a Castle Rock native who in 2014 starred in the DCPA Theatre Company's reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    Todd Cerveris plays Gov. George Wallace in All the Way, which plays through Feb. 28 in the Stage Theatre.  Call 303-893-4100.

    Meet the Cast: Todd Cerveris

    All the Way
    : Ticket information

  • All the WayJan. 29-Feb. 28 at the Stage 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.

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of All the Way
    5 things we learned about 'All the Way': Johnson gave a dam!
    Video: Cast reads from Civil Rights Act
    When Robert Schenkkan meets LBJ, sparks fly
    Five ways you don't have to connect the dots 'All the Way' to today
    Art and Artist: Stage Manager Rachel Ducat

    Full casting announced
    Official show page
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16

    Michael Cerveris and Beth Malone
  • Video: 2015 Henry Award Acceptance Speeches

    by John Moore | Jul 28, 2015

    Here are short excerpts from acceptance speeches by recipients of the Colorado Theatre Guild's 2015 Henry Awards. The ceremony was held July 20 at the Arvada Center.

    It was a huge night for the DCPA's Billie McBride, who won three Henry Awards and presented another. She was honored for directing Vintage Theatre's 'Night Mother, which also won Outstanding Production of a Play. And she was named Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play for her work in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere play, Benediction. "Kent Thompson is a gentle and loving director," she says, "and it's just a beautiful play."

    In accepting the DCPA Theatre Company's Outstanding Season by a Company Award, DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller told those attending the ceremony: "The work that you are creating day in and day out is the envy of the nation. The fact that the NEA has just said that 52 percent of everybody who lives in the state of Colorado comes to attend live theatrical events, compared to 36 or 38 percent everywhere else in the country, is remarkable. And it doesn't happen by accident. It happens because of the incredible storytellers who are here in this room. The DCPA is so honored to be a part of this theatrical community."

    You'll also see Beth Malone accept the Outstanding Actress in a Musical Award for her work in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and Colin Hanlon accept The 12's award as Outstanding New Play or Musical. 

    To see performance highlights from the Henry Awards, click here.

    The director of the awards ceremony was Jim Hunt.

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller accepts the Theatre Company's Henry Award for Outstanding Season. Photo by John Moore.  DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller accepts the Theatre Company's Henry Award for Outstanding Season by a Company. Photo by John Moore. 

    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
    Video: 2015 Henry Award performance highlights
    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
  • 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. 

  • Beth Malone, Colin Hanlon will perform at Henry Awards

    by John Moore | Jul 13, 2015

    Tony Award nominee and Colorado native Beth Malone is scheduled to perform at the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards ceremony on Monday, July 20, at the Arvada Center, the DCPA NewsCenter has confirmed. And Colin Hanlon, who starred as the conflicted disciple Peter in the Theatre Company's world premiere staging of The 12, is also booked to perform.

    Malone is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for originating the titular role in the DCPA Theatre Company’s newly refreshed The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Malone then went on to earn a Tony Award nomination as Best Actress in a Musical for her work in Broadway’s newly crowned 2015 Best Musical, Fun Home.

    The Henry Awards honor achievement in Colorado theatre, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown leads all plays and musicals with 12 nominations for 2014-15. The DCPA Theatre Company earned two of the five nominations for best musical: Molly Brown and The 12. Each of the five nominated musicals are invited to perform during the Henry Awards.

    “We are thrilled to welcome Beth Malone and Colin Hanlon back to Denver,” said Scott Shiller, new President and CEO of the DCPA. “I am excited to experience my first Henry Awards, and for the DCPA to share this evening with such an incredible group of artists and theatre companies. I continue to be impressed with the dedication and passion for the theatre arts in Colorado. And we are honored to be part of this powerful and vibrant community that is contributing to the national landscape of theatre and driving the importance of the arts.”
    The Arvada Center homecoming promises to be an emotional one for Malone, who played the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on the Arvada Center stage during the holiday season for three years running, from 1999 to 2001. In the Talkin’ Broadway review of Joseph, critic T. Burnett likened Malone’s performance as the Narrator to the character of Ché in Evita. Bob Bows of ColoradoDrama.Com called Malone “a zesty and dynamic chanteuse.”

    "I am thrilled to be returning home to Colorado to perform at the Henrys," Malone said today. "I have so many wonderful memories at the Arvada Center, and I am really looking forward to being on that stage again."

    Beth Malone and Colin Hanlon. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Hanlon will perform a number from The 12, which examines issues of faith, courage and responsibility when a group of disciples lose their teacher. It is nominated for three Henry Awards, including Outstanding Musical and Outstanding New Play or Musical.

    "The second I left Denver, I thought, 'Please, teacher: When am I coming back?!' I never expected it would happen this quickly," Hanlon wrote in an email. Hanlon has an accomplished theatrical resume, but is perhaps best known for his guest-starring roles on TV’s Modern Family.

    "I'm honored and humbled to have been asked to represent The 12 at The Henry Awards," Hanlon said. "It will be bittersweet because I wish my entire cast and creative team could be here to celebrate our nominations. This town is filled with amazingly creative theater that's going on everywhere."

    (Photos: Beth Malone, left, and Colin Hanlon. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    The only days off in Malone’s busy Broadway Fun Home schedule are Mondays. So she plans to fly home on Sunday, perform at the Henrys the next day, and then return to New York that night. For her, it will be very much worth it to spend a day back home celebrating her Molly Brown experience.

    "I have to say that doing Molly Brown, and have it be a success on the level that it was, really helped me walk into Fun Home knowing that I could lead a cast," said Malone. "Molly Brown and that whole experience at the Denver Center bolstered my confidence in my bones."

    Malone, a graduate of Douglas County High School and the University of Northern Colorado, grew up in Castle Rock and began working at the Country Dinner Playhouse at age 16. Two years later, she was starring there in Baby. She made her DCPA debut that same year at age 18 as the understudy to Mary Louise Lee — now the First Lady of Denver — in Beehive, produced by Rick Seeber in what is now the Garner Galleria Theatre.

    Malone made her debut with the Denver Center Theatre Company in 1993 in the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Bon Voyage, a musical adaptation of Noel Coward’s Sail Away directed by Bruce K. Sevy. She then spent several years performing in and around Snowmass at the Crystal Palace and Theatre Aspen before performing regularly at many Front Range theaters.

    Last year, Malone originated the role of cartoonist Alison Bechdel in Fun Home, which was then a Pulitzer-nominated, off-Broadway musical about a woman who was coming to terms with her sexuality at the same time her closeted father committed suicide.

    Malone returned to the DCPA last fall to play Molly Brown, winning the lead role even though no one from the creative team knew then that she, like Molly Brown, was a Colorado native. The staging was directed by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall and written by three-time Tony nominee Dick Scanlan. That staging took place just before Fun Home transferred to Broadway and Malone earned the Tony Award nomination that will surely change the course of her professional life.

    Beth Malone, back, played the Narrator in three successive stagings of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' at the Arvada Center. She'll return to that stage on Monday, July 20, for the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards.
    Beth Malone with Charles Langely in the Arvada Center's 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.'Beth Malone, back, above, played the Narrator in three successive stagings of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' at the Arvada Center. She'll return to that stage on Monday, July 20, for the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards. At right, Malone with 'Joseph' star Charles Langely. File photos by P. Switzer.

    2014-15 Henry Awards
    6 p.m. Monday, July 20
    Arvada Center. 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
    Tickets: $23 for CTG members, $30 non-members or $50 VIP. Tickets go on sale July 6 through the Arvada Center website or by calling 720-898-7200. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $35.


    The DCPA Theatre Company's 2015 Henry Award nominees:
    Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company

    Outstanding Production of a Musical
    The 12, Richard Seyd, Director; Michael Mancini, Musical Direction
    The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Kathleen Marshall, Director; Michael Rafter, Musical Direction

    Outstanding Direction of a Musical
    Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Musical Direction
    Michael Rafter, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Choreography
    Kathleen Marshall, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Actor in a Play
    Mike Hartman, Benediction

    Outstanding Actress in a Play  
    Joyce Cohen, Benediction

    Outstanding Actor in a Musical
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Actress in a Musical
    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play            
    Billie McBride, Benediction

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical
    Constantine Germanacos, The Unsinkable Molly Brown 

    Outstanding New Play or Musical
    The 12, book and lyrics by Robert Schenkkan; music and lyrics by Neil Berg; Richard Seyd, Director; Michael Mancini, Musical Direction

    Outstanding Costume Design
    Paul Tazewell, The Unsinkable Molly Brown 

    Outstanding Lighting Design
    Lap Chi Chu, The 12
    Donald Holder, The Unsinkable Molly Brown 

    Outstanding Scenic Design

    Derek McLane, The Unsinkable Molly Brown      

    Outstanding Sound Design
    Craig Breitenbach, The Unsinkable Molly Brown 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Henry Awards:
    The Henry Awards: The complete list of nominations
    Duck and cover: Gloria Shanstrom takes your Henry Awards questions
    Guest essay by Margie Lamb: Something about the Henry Award doesn't add up

    More NewsCenter coverage of Beth Malone and Colin Hanlon:

  • Denver Center joins celebration of landmark Supreme Court ruling

    by John Moore | Jun 26, 2015

    Love wins
    Design by Carolyn Michaels for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

    The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling today that same-sex couples no longer can be denied the freedom to marry is being celebrated by the local, regional and national theatre communities.

    Scott Shiller, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' new President and CEO, said today's momentous decision "reaffirms the DCPA's longstanding commitment to theatre that reflects our diverse community.

    Scott Shiller"We endeavor to produce work that is thought-provoking, relevant and inspiring; theatre that changes minds and reflects the lives of our patrons on many levels," Shiller said. "Over the years, the Denver Center has furthered dialogue about homosexual rights through ground-breaking new works including The Laramie Project, The Whale, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Appoggiatura and Benediction."

    The last four on that list were world premieres developed by DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson just within the past three years. But the commitment goes back decades.

    “From addressing censorship stemming from gay parenting in Dusty and the Big Bad World to the politics of gay marriage in our presentation of 8 The Play, the Denver Center is proud of its contributions to furthering important conversations and inspiring thoughtful dialogue that is meaningful to our audiences,” Shiller said.
    Throughout history, he  added, theatre has been a key driver of social change.

    "Whether it was unionizing in the 1910s and '20s, the fight for women's voting rights, the civil-rights movement, and now marriage equality ... theatre and theatre artists have been changing minds by telling important stories that bring social change." 

    That sentiment was echoed by Actors' Equity Association president Kate Shindle.

    "Finally," she said in a statement. "With all the rhetoric and fearmongering surrounding the issue, it's important to remember what this is really about: loving, consenting adults who want to commit their lives to each other. And that is always a good thing. Actors Equity is proud to be part of this tremendous, historic moment.”

    Speaking to Playbill Magazine, Tony Award-nominated actor and Colorado native Beth Malone celebrated that her longtime marriage to wife Rochelle Schoppert will now be recognized in her home state.

    "It's all just been about trying to be seen,” Malone told Playbill’s Adam Hetrick. “Just see us. See us as we are right in front of you - as these couples who are going to live their lives side by side. That is who we are. That’s what this is. Now everyone will see that we are married just like you are married."

    Malone starred in the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown and went on to earn a Tony nomination for Fun Home on Broadway, playing the first lesbian protagonist in Broadway musical history. (See the Playbill video)

    Broadway is known as “The Great White Way,” but today the theatre community has turned into the Great Rainbow Way. All over the country, theatres such as the Goodman Theatre in Chicago turned their marquees rainbow colors.

    DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg said the Denver Center has long driven the conversation about issues that are vital to the gay community, including the Theatre Company's presentation of The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde back in 1999 and predecessor Randy Weeks' decision to bring the national touring production of Angels in America to Denver all the way back in 1995. 

    "That was a big deal at the time," Ekeberg said, "I was proud to work for an organization that wasn't going to pre-judge the show on behalf of our audience."

    Since then, he added, "The Denver Center has never shied away from bringing shows that represent different walks of life," citing Falsettos, La Cage Aux Folles and Priscilla Queen of the Desert among many others. 

    In today's majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: "It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

    In Washington, President Obama declared, "This ruling is a victory for America." And locally, the reaction was similarly euphoric. There is a sense, it has often been said today, that America has once again lived up to its promise.

    “How does it feel? To live in a country that finally recognizes the legal equality of your friends and family that are gay and lesbian?” local actor GerRee Hinshaw posted on Facebook. “If it feels for you like it feels for me, I am weeping at the sudden understanding that this awful chasm of rights has closed. 

    "All minds and hearts may not yet be open to them, but it doesn’t matter anymore,” added Hinshaw, a married mother and host of the Bug Theatre’s monthly Freak Train. “If someone tries to get between them and their rights to live a full, happy life, that someone is now a criminal. I feel so free from the haters right now. I really had no idea the impact this ruling would have on me, personally. But my family, my friends ... they are protected. Finally."

    The DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere staging of 'Appoggiatura' addressed the death of a late patriarch who divorced his wife to live with a man. Pictured are Darrie Lawrence, Rob Nagle and Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen
    The DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere staging of 'Appoggiatura' addressed the death of a late patriarch who divorced his wife to live with a man. Pictured are Darrie Lawrence, Rob Nagle and Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen


    George Takei, Star Trek: Oh Happy Day! The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that marriage equality is the law of the United States. Yes, ALL of these United States. I have waited decades for this day, and my heart is full of joy and my eyes wet with tears. Let the celebrations begin, and may the happy couples live long and prosper together.

    Broadway actor Rory O'Malley (The Book of Mormon) via Playbill: Today is a historic day and the Broadway community played an extremely vital part in making happen. I feel so honored that Broadway Impact gave me a front row seat to all of their passion, enthusiasm, and hope. We are a powerful group of artists and I can't wait to see what kind of positive change we bring to the world next. 

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell via Playbill:  I'm more emotional than I expected to be since it was predicted. I know the Right Wing will see it as some kind of Gay Pride agenda plot. John Roberts has the face of someone who knows that history will not honor his decision and I can't help but think the timing was his little Easter egg. Sad. But I am now looking up at my late dad's picture. He was against gay marriage for a long time, but seven years ago I told him that if he ever refused to come to my wedding I wouldn't know what I would do. He looked at the tears streaming down my face and he said to me, "I will be there."




  • Thompson: Theatre Company turned questions into exclamation points

    by John Moore | Jun 13, 2015

    Selected images from the 2014-15 DCPA Theatre Company season. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen

    An expanded New Play Summit, robust attendance and a slate of challenging new work all helped Kent Thompson overcome big challenges entering his 10th season.

    Kent Thompson went into his 10th season as Artistic Director of the DCPA Theatre Company with some feelings of uncertainty. He came out of it feeling like things could not have gone much better – on stage or off.

    “The beginning of the season was a time of both strategy and sacrifice at the same time,” Thompson said.

    Kent Thompson2014-15 would be the first season in the company’s 36-year history without a company of resident actors audiences could expect to appear throughout the year. That choice was made in part because the company also made the strategic decision to offer eight shows in 2014-15, down from 10 the year before. The goal, Thompson said, was to focus more attention, time and resources on each individual offering. That would make for higher quality on both sides of the footlights - but it would also mean fewer jobs to go around for both actors and crew.

    There was also much at creative stake with a high-risk season that started and ended with two big musicals (The Unsinkable Molly Brown and The 12), both of which brought big-name creative teams into the Denver Center’s artistic womb to work alongside the company’s pool of in-house designers and crew. The slate would include four world-premiere productions - fully half of the season - and seven titles that had never before been staged anywhere in Colorado.

    “There was a lot there that could go wrong,” Thompson said. 

    And almost nothing did.

    Molly Brown and The 12 were both positively received. Molly Brown was the culmination of a nearly decade-long quest to reimagine and refresh the classic 1960 Broadway musical about one of Colorado’s most beloved citizens. Directed by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall and shepherded in every other way by book writer and lyricist Dick Scanlan, the Denver Center introduced a more fully fleshed Molly Brown and a far more complex love story with husband Leadville Johnny Brown. Castle Rock native Beth Malone was widely praised for her performance as Molly Brown, then went to Broadway, where she was nominated as Best Actress in a Musical for her work in the most celebrated new musical of the year, Fun Home.

    The 12 brought composer Neil Berg and Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle) to Denver to explore what might have happened in the three days after the disciples went into hiding following Jesus’ crucifixion. The result was a simultaneously thoughtful and rocking new musical that asked serious questions about faith and personal responsibility in the wake of their leader’s death. The staging earned a four-star rating from Lisa Kennedy of The Denver Post, who called it “visceral and vivid.”

    “What might have happened” was also the question playwright Kemp Powers took on when he wrote One Night in Miami, another clear triumph of the 2014-15 season. Performed against the backdrop of Ferguson and roiling racial tensions across America, One Night in Miami imagined what might have happened in a Miami hotel room between Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and Jim Brown immediately after Clay shocked Sonny Liston to win boxing’s heavyweight championship in 1964.

    The season also included a terrifying staging of Lord of the Flies in the slot Thompson reserves to appeal to middle-school students; the 22nd Denver Center staging of the holiday tradition A Christmas Carol; and a winning production of the most popular play in America this year: Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

    Benediction. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. The other two world premieres were Kent Haruf’s Benediction, which completed the first trilogy in DCPA Theatre Company history, and James Still’s Appoggiatura – the story of three people sharing their grief for the same man while traveling in Venice.

    (Photo at right from "Benediction," by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    Perhaps most significantly, Thompson successfully expanded his signature Colorado New Play Summit to two weeks.

    “To me, that’s been 10 years coming, but it was the perfect time to expand the Summit,” Thompson said. “There was a demand for it, and it seems to be drawing newer audiences to us both locally and nationally.”

    Kent Thompson QuoteThe Theatre Company hit its projected attendance goals for all eight shows, which is believed to be a first in company history. The overall season attendance of 125,544 represents an 11 percent drop from 2013-14, but considering the number of shows was reduced by 20 percent, 2014-15 actually marked a significant spike in per-show attendance. That was reflected in the size of nightly audiences in the Theatre Company’s three theatres. On average, each performance was filled to 75 percent of capacity – up from 65 the year before.

    “People tend to have a better time when there are more people in the room because theatre is by its very nature communal,” Thompson said. “Think about those moments when it is packed, and there is such a buzz in the house. That's a better experience not only for audiences, but also for the actors.”

    There was some concern that the 2014-15 season would not include a Shakespeare title. Thompson promised the Bard’s sabbatical would be short, and indeed, the Theatre Company’s first-ever staging of As You Like It will help launch the 2015-16 season when it opens Sept. 25.

    Here are excerpts from our annual end-of-the season talk with Kent Thompson:

    John Moore: The season began at a time of great change. How did you approach things?

    Kent Thompson: Producing eight shows instead of 10 or 11 was an opportunity for us to focus on how to improve everything we do, from how we produce each play to how we sell them to how we inform people about them. It was very risky, and some of it was heartbreaking. But if it worked, it would be very exciting. We would drive up the total number of people seeing the shows. We would have a healthier balance of ticket sales and contributions. But for me, the chance to focus more time and resources on eight shows instead of 11 was really the secret to success. It was hard because I had to make a lot of really difficult choices that affected both staff and resources. But we did it. And at the same time, we decided to expand the Colorado New Play Summit to two weeks. And we did two musicals in a single season - not in any way that I planned that. So it was mixed.

    John Moore: As you said, fewer shows meant fewer hours for your people in the shops and on your stages. But the shows were well-received across the board, and your attendance was up.

    Kent Thompson: Yes. And that's the thinking of the entire team here at the Denver Center, whether it is production or marketing or development or elsewhere. Part of the idea was this: How do we deliver something that is unforgettable and intimately shared - and how do we up our game at the same time? It was based on a real commitment by everyone to create ways that we can serve more people and take our mission further.

    John Moore: Let’s review some of the major points of the season, starting with The Unsinkable Molly Brown. You opened with a musical, led by a national creative team, and in collaboration with an outside producer (NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt). That's a pretty good indication of how things are changing around here. That is a high-stakes undertaking. How do you think you came out?

    Kent Thompson: I think it was a great experience. There were some major changes that really worked - such as really activating the Molly Brown character, and not allowing her to disappear in the second act like she does in the original just because you don't want to talk about her activism. I thought the idea of a strong woman who has strong convictions and she acts on them - to her own success or pain - was really great. That was the biggest change. I thought there were some incredible moments. I think the toughest challenge for the creative team was this: How do you even do a musical on The Stage Theatre? It's a thrust stage (meaning the playing area reaches out into the auditorium so that the actors are by audience on three sides). That was the challenge for Sense & Sensibility, too. Most theatres in New York are proscenium stages (where the actors perform entirely behind the stage arch). Whether Molly Brown will go big, I don't know. But it was a huge event for us. And by us, I mean Denver and Colorado. I always wanted to do it because would I knew it have a first-class creative team and first-class producer enhancing the production. And it was about something that is really important in Colorado history. I thought there was some great talent in it, too.

    John Moore: You have always measured the success of your new plays by their continued life. So do you feel like this has one?

    Kent Thompson: I feel like it has a continued life, but I don't know what it is, or when it will happen. And that’s not from a lack of interest. That's from the fact that you've got a first-class creative team and a first-class producer who also happens to run NBC Entertainment. Their schedules book up way in advance. But, yes, I think it's on the way to something. 

    John Moore: Since you mentioned it: What about Sense & Sensibility?

    Kent Thompson: The issue there is a little more complex because they are considering going in many possible directions – like maybe trying the Asian market first, which is huge for English-spoken musical theatre. I mean, it's becoming ginormous over there. They are also considering going to England. One of the barriers for them is probably that Jane Austen is adapted a lot. I've seen workshops since our show here in Denver, and they have advanced how the story is structured. I think it has become more interesting. I think they've got some incredible music and storytelling. I think they have something really valuable. And I think it will have a future.

    John Moore: A personal favorite of mine was Lord of the Flies, and I understand that every available seat to every student matinee performance was filled – and with some wildly enthusiastic audiences.

    Kent Thompson: Yes, they were.

    John Moore: Was it received with the same fervor by adult audiences in the evening performances?

    Kent Thompson: It did pretty decently. I did foresee that men and boys would find it much more fascinating than women and girls, because it's about a male rite of passage. What I didn't foresee - which I should have - is that young adults and children do not walk into a show like this with the same dread that parents and older audiences do. One funny story I have is that a woman told me she was so happy we didn't include the cannibalism scene. ... There is no cannibalism scene in the book. But that lets you know the kind of state that people were walking into our show with. What was fascinating to me is that some people loved it. And some people absolutely hated it. And a lot of people were just kind of speechless after it. What I really noticed was that people were endlessly talking about it, even a few days after seeing it.

    John Moore: And when people say they hated it, it's likely that means they hated where the play took them.

    Kent Thompson: Exactly. They hated where the play took them because it took them to a dark place. And we have a lot of dark places around the world today that are tough to deal with, so I think it created a visceral reaction. That's where that experience takes you.

    John Moore: Well you certainly offered a counter in your first Christopher Durang play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

    Kent Thompson: I think that is his most approachable play.

    John Moore: Tell me about choosing to stage the final chapter of the Kent Haruf trilogy in the smaller Space Theatre after offering the previous two in the Stage Theatre.

    Kent Thompson: That decision really strongly came down to this: Which two theatres do I think Appoggiatura and Benediction belong in most? I thought the nature of the storytelling in Benediction was not about the expansive community that the first two stories were about. So I thought it would benefit from the intimacy of the smaller theatre.

    John Moore: And of course you expanded the Colorado New Play Summit to two weeks.

    Kent Thompson: I think attendance at the Summit proved there is a lot of pent-up demand for new work, particularly locally and regionally, and expanding allowed us to accommodate more visitors both from here and from out of town. The other thing it did, to varying degrees of success, was embolden the playwrights much more to actually revise while they were here.

    John Moore: Did you see significant changes in the plays from the first week to the second?

    Kent Thompson: Depending on the play, yes. I saw improvement in some plays, and, in others, not so much. But it was interesting because it gave the playwrights the opportunity to have a couple of looks at it. I think our challenge is to figure out how the playwrights and our staff can best use those two weeks.

    John Moore: You had more industry people here than ever before. What kind of feedback did you get?

    Kent Thompson: They liked that we gave them many additional opportunities to engage - whether it was the workshops with Matthew Lopez or Paula Vogel, or the Local Playwrights Slam, or our high-school playwriting competition. What we got back from the field is that this feels like a genuine home for new plays, and that we are putting our money where our mouth is. They also feel like it's well-run. There's a kind of high they perceive both from the staff at the Denver Center and all the people who come to it. They feel like it's not stuck in the same place. And I think a lot of festivals where you do a few readings and a couple of world-premieres can get stuck in place. But I get a lot of expressions about how well we run the Colorado New Play Summit. Around the country, what playwrights are hearing is, “Well, we want a new play - but we need one that’s either going to be a Broadway musical, or we need one that is no more than four characters and has only one set." That's not what we are looking for here. It's more diverse. What we are doing here is really trying to create a better process to make a new play.

    John Moore: And that leads us to One Night in Miami. That play created a different kind of buzz than I've ever felt at the Denver Center before. In One Night in Miami, I saw changes within the actors themselves over the time they spent here in Denver. In some cases, I think it changed the direction their lives are going to take moving forward. And it changed how they look at themselves as black men in America today.

    Kent Thompson: For me, that was a magical moment in the theatre where everybody we cast, and everybody we had working on the show, both internally and externally, were singing in harmony from the beginning. Everything came together in a kind of perfect moment, and that says a lot about (Director) Carl Cofield's leadership. I think it is an incredibly well-written play. Even though it's short, it goes into depth with all six characters. I'm sad that Ferguson happened. But I think because of some of those incidents, the play became more resonant in terms of how you define yourself as an African-American man, or as just a man a friend, a leader - any of those things. There was something about it that was kind of magical, and it’s what you hope for when you pick it. And also, we had so many people who helped us, whether it was Tina Walls (sister of one of the Little Rock Nine), whether it was bringing the Denver African-American Philanthropists to us, or some of the other outreach. But this was a play that drew everyone in. It didn't matter your color.  So many people were talking about it. I would say that people are still talking about that play. There was this desire to make this play blossom – and you could feel that as soon as you walked into the theatre.

    John Moore: And you don't get many plays that are set 50 years ago that tell you more about what's going on with race relations in America today.

    Kent Thompson: It really came down to the fact that these were six people who were really trying to figure out what it meant to be African-American in the 1960s. Just like we've got so many people trying to figure out what it means to be African-American in the United States today.

    John Moore: And we finish with The 12, which really spoke to people of faith. When you are continually trying to tell the stories of underserved communities in Denver, does it occur to you that people of faith might be one of those communities?

    Kent Thompson: I was drawn to the story and the music and the writing first. But I knew it would attract a different audience in terms of the faith-based. I also knew there might be another part of the audience that I would offend. So I thought, "Let's just put it out there. Let's find out." Look, I'm the son of a Southern Baptist preacher, so I knew everything about this story that there is to know, both written in Christian history and theology, and in the Bible - and I thought the idea was incredible. I thought the combination with rock ‘n roll was really fascinating. I had no doubt that it would draw from a Christian community, but I was hoping that it would draw from a lot of different faiths. A lot of people who don’t have a faith but have gone through the loss of a seminal figure related to it. Because whether you are talking about Martin Luther King or John F. Kennedy, we all face those moments when we lose somebody we think of as our leader. Now what do we do? So for me, it was a really interesting experience to watch a group of people trapped in a room work their way back to the core of what they felt they learned.

    John Moore: Robert Schenkkan and I talked about how people of faith don’t always expect their faith to be taken seriously or respected in the theatre.

    Kent Thompson: That’s true. I think the plays in the American theatre tend to be more on the liberal spectrum. We’re artists. We tend to be the guys who are outside the church performing on the steps, and then get arrested.

    John Moore: But one of the questions I got from people of faith is that the Bible tells us Jesus did show up in that room. So why not give him a place in his own story?

    Kent Thompson: Actually, if you go by the Bible, he didn't show up in the room. If you go by Christian history, he did. But also, Mary Magdalene is not a prostitute in the Bible. Church leaders made her into a prostitute 200 to 300 years later. For me, the real issue is how do they struggle with their faith and re-center and go on in the face of most likely being killed? We know how their lives ended. That's all in Christian history. I see both sides. I had one patron come up to me and say, "I was upset that Christ was not in it. And that’s the only thing I didn’t like about it.” And the very next day, a patron came up to me and said, "I am so glad that Christ was not in it, because that made the story so much more dramatic.”

    John Moore: So how would you summarize the overall reaction from your audience? Judging by social media, it was clear some people were coming five and six times. That happens with Broadway touring shows like Wicked, but you don’t see that very often with Theatre Company shows.

    Kent Thompson: No, and it also rarely happens for something that’s new. But I think it was an extraordinary response. What do we take from that? That there's a thirst for genuine explorations of faith. But is it simply Christian faith? I mean, we've done two now recently, including Shadowlands. I have produced it and directed it before, and both places were very different climates. But they both drew huge audiences - and not because of Narnia. Because there is a grappling at the core of it. “Is my way the right way?”

    John Moore: When you look at The 12, Shadowlands, A Christmas Carol and even to an extent the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown, do you think you have stumbled onto an underserved audience in the faith-based?

    Kent Thompson: I think we have stumbled upon an audience that normally doesn't come to the theatre. You can say they are underserved in the sense that we haven't normally done plays like those. However, as an artistic director right now, I am thinking about looking at expressions of other faiths, because I don't want to just simply do Christian-based things.

    John Moore: What’s next for The 12?

    Kent Thompson: I don’t think Robert Schenkkan necessarily anticipates that it will ever go to New York. But he does think it will have a life all over America - and I agree.

    John Moore: So how do you summarize the season as a whole?

    Kent Thompson: If I had to say what the theme of the season was, I’d say it was a series of comic, romantic, tragic and dramatic stories of people figuring out a way to move forward in spite of being stuck … or grieving … or in trouble. It was really about how we deal with that and re-create our lives. I think you can see that radiating throughout the season. You can see that in Molly Brown and in what she wants to do with her life. You can see that in The 12. You can see that in One Night in Miami. You can see it in Benediction. And even in Lord of the Flies: Those kids are changed forever by that experience - and a lot of them not for the better. But at the end of the play, this is a story that says the Piggys of the world are important.

    A look ahead to 2015-16 season:
    Sept. 11-Oct 11: Lookingglass Theatre Company’s Lookingglass Alice, Stage Theatre
    Sept. 25-Nov 1: As You Like It, Space Theatre
    Oct. 9-Nov. 15: Tribes, Ricketson Theatre
    Nov. 27-Dec 27: A Christmas Carol, Stage Theatre
    Jan. 22-Feb. 21, 2016: The Nest, Space Theatre
    Jan. 29-Feb 28, 2016: All The Way, Stage Theatre
    Feb. 5-March 13, 206: FADE, Ricketson Theatre
    April 8-May 15, 2016: Sweeney Todd, with DeVotchKa orchestrations, Stage Theatre
    To read more about the season, click here
    Theatre Company introduces bold new artwork for 2015-16 season
    For subscription information, click here


    Some of our favorite stories this season from the DCPA NewsCenter:
    Visiting Leadville with DCPA's new Molly Brown, Beth Malone
    Cold coffee, hot popcorn make for a good Vanya stew
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    Video: A behind-the-scenes look at Lord of the Flies
    The #CarolCallout is spreading across the country
    'Benediction' opens as a celebration of ‘The Precious Ordinary’
    Appoggiatura's James Still is running to catch up to himself
    For two inaugural DCPA actors, you can come home again
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    The 12: Three days that rocked the world
  • Annaleigh Ashford brings a Tony Award home to Colorado

    by John Moore | Jun 07, 2015
    Annaleigh Ashford holding her Tony Award in the press room
    Annaleigh Ashford holds her Tony Award in the press room.

    Eight years after making her Broadway debut in Legally Blonde The Musical, Wheat Ridge native Annaleigh Ashford is now a Tony Award winner.

    Ashford, 29, was honored with theatre's highest prize tonight for her widely praised role as the eccentric ballet dancer Essie opposite James Earl Jones in the Broadway revival of the classic American comedy You Can't Take It With You.

    Annaleigh prepares before the ceremony. Photos courtesty Holli Swanson. "I can't believe I am standing here on the Radio City Music Hall stage for the worst dancing that ever happened on Broadway," Ashford said to great laughter.

    She thanked her two families, both of the real and You Can't Take It With You varieties. Of her husband, Joe Tapper, and her biological family - including mother Holli Swanson sitting in the very back row of Radio City with Ashford's sister and father, she said, "Thank for being weird and silly and loving me unconditionally."

    She avoided the the trap of possibly leaving anyone out of her thanks by saying: "Thank you to every friend I’ve ever had, every teacher I have ever had, and everybody I have ever met.”

    Reached after the ceremony, Ashford's mother told the DCPA NewsCenter: "We are in heaven. This is a dream come true. We screamed. And we may have peed our pants a little bit."

    (Photo: Annaleigh Ashford prepares for the Tony Awards ceremony. Photo courtesy Holli Swanson.)

    The other actresses nominated in Ashford's category were Patricia Clarkson (The Elephant Man), Lydia Leonard (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two), Sarah Stiles (Hand to God) and Julie White (Airline Highway).

    Colorado's other native nominee, Beth Malone, was up for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for Fun Home, the groundbreaking story of a woman dealing with the aftermath of her father's suicide. The award went to the long-suffering Kelli O'Hara​, who played Anna in a revival of The King & I.

    O'Hara, who has been nominated for six Tony Awards but had not won before tonight, kept up an unusual Broadway winning streak: No actress who has ever headlined a Broadway production of The King & I has ever not won a Tony Award.

    Malone, a graduate of Douglas County High School in Castle Rock and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, starred last year in the DCPA Theatre Company's newly reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She was considered a Tony Award longshot in part because the musical is a true ensemble piece, and her role of Alison is shared among three actors of different ages. However, she also had some momentum as the only nominee playing an original character.

    Beth Malone's name is called by Neil Patrick Harris. Her disappointment was no doubt tempered by Fun Home's win as Best Musical. Fun Home is the first musical in Broadway history to feature a lesbian protagonist. Based on Alison Bechdel's best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home is a refreshingly honest coming-of-age story about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes. It was adapted for the stage by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, who together won Tony Awards for best book and score of a musical - an accomplishment that even Ashford noted in her post-awards press conference.

    "Two years ago, Cyndi Lauper became the first woman ever to win for Best Score," said Ashford, who co-starred in that winning production of Kinky Boots. "I remember that being such a milestone, and it's great to see women continuing the trend."

    (Photo: Beth Malone's name is called by Tony Award presenter Neil Patrick Harris.) 

    Another Colorado native, Denver East High School graduate Rebecca Eichenberger, plays several roles in An American in Paris, which won four awards. Spencer Ross of Denver is one of the show's producers.

    Listen to our five-minute conversation with Annaleigh Ashford the day after the Tony Awards.

    British writer Mark Haddon's heartbreaking and technically ingenious The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time won for best play. Like Fun Home, it features a most uncommon protagonist: A 15-year-old with an unstated condition similar to Asperger syndrome. The tormented math savant is accused of killing the neighbor's dog, which sets him off on a harrowing journey to the big city. The play's title quotes the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1892 short story Silver Blaze.

    The Tony Awards were remarkably spread out this year, with Fun Home and Curious Incident leading the way with five awards each, and An American in Paris and The King & I earning four.

    The Tony Awards are often seen as a primary means for Broadway to introduce big new national touring productions to the American heartland audience. Fun Home marks the second straight year when Tony voters honored arguably the most daring and least commercial of all the nominees. The DCPA jumped on the 2014 Tony Award-winning best musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder (Feb. 16-28). Fun Home has announced a national tour to begin next year, but no cities have yet been announced. 

    Broadway producer (and prominent theatre blogger) Ken Davenport called Fun Home's surprise win over An American in Paris no less than David besting Goliath.

    "This is a shocking upset," Davenport wrote. "Let this forever prove that there is no block of touring presenters who vote for the shows they think will play in their theatres around the country to greater success. Got it?  There is no road vote.  Avenue Q beat WickedGentlemen’s Guide beat Aladdin.  And Fun Home beat Paris, just to name a few. 

    "Never before have I been more proud of our industry than last night, when it rewarded this achingly beautiful new musical that challenges today’s audiences. More people will see Fun Home because of that Tony.  And the world will be just a little bit of a better place because of it.  And that’s the power of theater."

    Ashford made her stage debut in Denver at age 9 in Theatre Group's Ruthless the Musical. She played an aspiring child actress who hangs a rival girl from a catwalk with a jump rope so she can star in the school play, Pippi in Tahiti, The Musical.

    Ashford, who came home to the Denver Center in April to perform her acclaimed cabaret show, Lost in the Stars, has been on an astonishing professional roll. She has appeared in five big Broadway productions. She was called “a sly comic genius” by The New York Times. She provided a voice in the biggest animated movie on the planet – Frozen. And she has returned to her delicious role as prostitute Betty DiMello on Showtime's Masters of Sex.

    Her first Tony Award nomination came in 2013 for playing Lauren in Kinky Boots. This fall, she returns to Broadway as a dog who threatens to break up a marriage in A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia. After the Tony Awards ceremony, Ashford said she will be enrolling in obedience classes with her dog in Los Angeles starting next week.

    "Hopefully at the end of this I will be better trained - and so will my dog," she quipped.


    Ashford graduated from Wheat Ridge High School at age 16 and from Marymount Manhattan College at 19. She was asked in the press room whether she would have any advice now for her younger self.

    "I would have told myself to slow down," she said. "I was really racing the clock back then, and there are times when I wish I had taken it a little easier on myself, because that time is a special time."

    While other young women her age were just starting college at 19, Ashford found herself living at The Y in New York in a room so small, she could touch the two walls across at once.

    "So that was a depressing year," she said.

    No comparison to 2015, to be sure.
    "I was just thinking about how different my life is from from five years ago," she said. "I was working as an actor, but not always consistently, and I so was reminded how lucky we are to just have a job as an actor. And so the slower times and the quieter times just make me that much more grateful for the faster times - and moments like this."

    Annaleigh prepares before the ceremony. Photos courtesty Holli Swanson.
    Annaleigh Ashford prepares before the ceremony with her family, including husband Joe Tapper. Photos courtesy Holli Swanson.

    ​2015 TONY AWARDS

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Fun Home


    The King and I

    Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Sam Gold, Fun Home

    Helen Mirren, The Audience

    Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Kelli O’Hara, The King and I

    Michael Cerveris, Fun Home

    Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You

    Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I

    Richard McCabe,The Audience

    Christian Borle, Something Rotten!

    Fun Home, by Lisa Kron

    Fun Home, Music: Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics: Lisa Kron

    Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Bob Crowley and 59 Productions, An American in Paris

    Paule Constable, for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Natasha Katz, for An American in Paris

    Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

    Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris

    Catherine Zuber, The King and I

    Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall: Parts 1 and 2

    Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre: Tommy Tune
    John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award: Stephen Schwartz
    Regional Theatre Tony Award: Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, Ohio

    Tweets about Annaleigh Ashford and Beth Malone:

    Our recent interview with Beth Malone:

    Our 2015 New York report (to date)
    Colorado's Annaleigh Ashford and Beth Malone both nominated for Tony Awards
    Ashford: From Ruthless to the Good Girl of Tony Town
    Our exclusive interview with Annaleigh Ashford
    Video: Coloradans in New York: Beth Malone
    Video: Coloradans on Broadway: Aisha Jackson
    Video: Coloradans in New York: Playwright Max Posner
    Video: Coloradans on Broadway: Actor Rebecca Eichenberger
    Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'
    Lin-Manuel Miranda on the power of theatre to eliminate distance
    Broadway: The British aren't coming: They're already here!
    Colorado's Annaleigh Ashford and Beth Malone both nominated for Tony Awards Broadway League dedicates New York conference to DCPA’s Randy Weeks
    Idina Menzel will launch 'If/Then' national tour in Denver
    Photos: Annaleigh Ashford's return to Denver for Lost in the Stars
    Video: Watch Annaleigh perform at Miscast in New York

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

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