• Perspectives: How is 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' funny? Let's count to three, no, five

    by John Moore | Jan 23, 2018
    Photo gallery: Zoey's Perfect Wedding opening-night photos:

    The making of Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere comedy 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding,' by Matthew Lopez, playing through Feb. 25 in the Space Theatre. Photos include opening night and go back to the first rehearsal. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to the full photo gallery Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    How the creative team is creating a world-premiere comedy with a playwright who is making waves across the pond

    Perspectives is a series of public panel discussions held just before the first preview  performance of each DCPA Theatre Company offering. Next up:

    Zoey's Perfet Wedding. Perspectives. Photo by John MooreHere are five quick things we learned at the Jan. 19 conversation about Matthew Lopez's Zoey's Perfect Wedding, which opens Jan. 26 in the newly renovated Space Theatre:

    NUMBER 1Nice digs? Zoey's Perfect Wedding is a world-premiere comedy about a wedding that goes horribly, hilariously wrong. The play is set in 2008 at a Marriott Hotel in downtown Brooklyn, and there are many digs in Matthew Lopez's script about the nature of the digs. But the DCPA Theatre Company's creative team didn't exactly find the inspiration it was looking for when it visited the Brooklyn Marriott last summer. "It's sadly been renovated — and quite nicely," said Scenic Designer Dane Laffrey. "It's sort of rather tasteful now. I suspect in the former life of the hotel it was more decrepit than it is now. So our trip to that hotel was less helpful than we thought because it didn't feel like the right world for our play."

    (Pictured above, from left: DCPA Literary Director Douglas Langworthy, 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' Director Mike Donahue, Dramaturg Kimberly Colburn and Scenic Designer Dane Laffrey. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)  

    NUMBER 2Zoey Miek Donahue Matthew LopezCalling London. Playwright Matthew Lopez, who was in Denver last month for the start of Zoey's Perfect Wedding rehearsals, is currently in London for the March 2 premiere of his highly anticipated two-part play The Inheritance at The Young Vic. The epic play takes a panoramic view of gay life in New York today in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis depicted in Tony Kushner’s sprawling Angels in America, which is also about to get a Broadway remount with Denver native Beth Malone sharing the role of The Angel. Lopez's new plays will be directed by Stephen Daldry, the Tony Award-winner for, most recently, Billy Elliot, and an Oscar nominee for films including The Reader and The Hours. Lopez previously debuted his play The Legend of Georgia McBride at the Denver Center. (Pictured above: 'Zoey' Director Mike Donahue, left, and Playwright Matthew Lopez. Photo by John Moore.)

    NUMBER 3The game is afoot. Even though Lopez is ensconced in London, he remains very active in preparations for Friday's opening of Zoey's Perfect Wedding. "He's sending in rewrites every day," said Dramaturg Kimberly Colburn. How does that work? "In large part because he trusts in our  reporting," said Colburn, also the Literary Director at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif., who is spending much of her time watching preview audiences watch the play. "We tell Matthew where the audience laughed, and where they didn't ... which jokes aren't quite landing, or if the rhythm feels off. We'll tell him if a joke has maybe three too many words in it. And then he takes all that feedback and he puts it into that magical brain of his and he spits it out new pages. It has been a great and gratifying process because Matthew is such a trusting collaborator."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Video bonus: Your first look at Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Your first look at 'Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Watch more: Our video interview with Director Mike Donahue

    NUMBER 4Rule of  threes. There is a reliable axiom in comedy that three of something is funny, but four is not. "It's a mystery, but it's almost always true," said Colburn, who says she is "rigorously faithful" in her allegiance to the rule of threes. And there are a lot of threes (or were) in Zoey's Perfect Wedding. "You find the places where something happens four times, and then you have cut the right one," she said. "In one of our cuts, we decided that we cut the wrong one, so now we are restoring the old line and cutting this other line. It's a fun puzzle." If you are wondering, there are other numerical rules, Colburn said: "So three is funny, and four is not, but once you get to seven, it gets funny again. So you actually have some options." Certain sounds are funnier than others, too, she added, such as any hard consonant. "So a kiwi is always going to be funnier than an orange, every time" she said. "It's a mystery, but it's true."

    NUMBER 5Turning the table. Because the play takes place at a wedding reception, it makes sense that the banquet table serves as the nerve center of the action. And that presents a particular staging challenge for Laffrey: You never want things to get static in a story with a lot of scenes that have people sitting around a table. "That's a challenge on any kind of set, but there are ways to cheat," Laffrey said. "Often on a proscenium stage, you'll only see three chairs at a four-sided table, and I am always wondering where the fourth chair went." For Zoey's Perfect Wedding, which is presented in the round, Laffrey is employing a turntable so the banquet table slowly rotates throughout the play. "It's like a revolving restaurant — without the restaurant," Laffrey said. His solution means no one in the audience will be stuck looking at the same point of view for the entire pay. "It makes for a more democratic audience experience," he said.

    Bonus: What's your fortune? Audiences will be be handed fortune cookies upon their arrival at the Stage Theatre that offer yummy life advice — in  the form of quotes from Lopez's script. Samples: "Get a cheap apartment, find a couple dozen roommates and live!" and, "Tradition dies today!"

    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.

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    : Production photos

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Your first look at the official production photos for 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to the full Flickr photo gallery. Photos by Adams VicsCom.


    Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    :
    Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 19-Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Fun Home' is finding a home on stages all over Colorado

    by John Moore | Jan 17, 2018

    Fun Home. Miners Alley Playhouse. Sophie Dotson. Photo by John Moore.

    Sophie Dotson, who plays 'Small Alison' in Miners Alley Playhouse's staging of 'Fun Home' opening Jan. 26 in Golden, sang 'Ring of Keys' at an anti-censorship event at the theatre in September. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Landmark Best Musical of 2015 will be staged in Golden, Colorado Springs and, opening tonight, in Fort Collins

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Fun Home
    was never supposed to make it to Broadway. The first major musical with a lesbian protagonist couldn’t possibly win the Tony Award. There was no chance a touring production could ever succeed traveling the conservative heartland. And surely small theatres across America would never have the courage to stage the story themselves.

    And yet … all of those things have happened.

    Every state in the country has at least one homegrown production of Fun Home scheduled in 2018. Colorado has three — in Fort Collins, Golden and Colorado Springs.
    “That gives me goosebumps bigger than the Rockies,” said Boulder’s Liz Armstrong, co-producer of the underdog 2015 Broadway sensation that starred Tony-nominated Douglas County native Beth Malone.

    Beth Malone Fun Home QuoteMalone is fiercely vulnerable when it comes to Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of a woman who dives deep into her past to revisit how she discovered her own sexuality while at the same time trying to piece together the puzzle of her enigmatic father. It is a disarmingly honest musical about seeing your parents for the first time through grown-up eyes.

    “At first I thought, ‘If people across the country are not going to embrace or accept Fun Home, then that is going to hurt me very deeply,’ ” Malone told the DCPA NewsCenter. “But 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.”

    And the fact that Fun Home is not just coming to Colorado, but is now being made in Colorado, Malone said, “pleases me more than I can even express.”

    Malone was speaking from New York during a costume fitting for her next role as no less than The Angel in the coming Broadway revival of Angels in America. She said if not for the job that promises to shoot her career into yet another stratosphere, “I would go to every single one of those productions in Colorado — just to watch the audience.”

    What she would see, Malone expects, is what she saw time and again when she was performing Fun Home in Times Square: Lives changing before her eyes. Not only those in the audience struggling with their own identities, but those holding firm to moral objections to homosexuality itself.

    Fun Home has this magical ability to incrementally shift people’s attitudes,” Malone said. “Fun Home has a way of teaching people how to think and how to feel from a different spot in themselves than they are used to operating from. I saw it happen with my own dad.”

    Fun Home Midtown Arts CenterMalone was estranged for her conservative father for years after she came out as gay. Fun Home, she said, helped them find each another again — in an entirely new and admittedly uncomfortable context. “After he saw Fun Home,” Malone said, “I noticed just a shade more compassion in him, after having been opened up by this one very specific story.”

    And in that small Fun Home example, Armstrong says, “I see the potential for a mass awakening of humanity.” Especially at the very thought that, say, a young lesbian in rural Greeley might find her way to the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins to see Fun Home when it opens on Thursday (Jan. 18).

    (Photo above and right: Monica Howe and Vince Wingerter in Midtown Arts Center's production of 'Fun Home,' opening tonight, Jan. 18.)

    “And that possibility moves me more than any words could ever capture,” said Armstrong, who, like Bechdel, grew up with a closeted gay father. Armstrong was raised in Texas but spent summers in Aspen before moving there at age 25 — and later to Boulder. After her parents’ divorce, she said, “Dad moved to Aspen specifically because it had a gay community that he could breathe and live in, as opposed to the Bible Belt in West Texas.”

    Liz Armstring. Fun Home quoteSo Fun Home is a story that lives in her bones. New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley called it "an extraordinary musical that pumps oxygenating fresh air into the cultural recycling center that is Broadway."

    Alison is represented onstage by three actors playing the character at different ages. One of the signature moments of the musical comes in the song “Ring of Keys,” when the youngest Alison takes notice of a woman with short hair walking into a store wearing dungarees and boots — and experiences sexual attraction for the first time. This moment, Armstrong said, is a rite of passage for every young person dressed in skin, regardless of sexual orientation.

    “Everyone has a ‘ring of keys’ moment,” Armstrong said. “Everyone has to find themselves.” That is just one reason Malone believes the potential audience for Fun Home is really anyone born of a mother. “Because Fun Home is not only the story of Alison,” she said. “It’s also about her father, Bruce. It’s also about her mother, Helen. It is also about the other kids. It’s about anyone who was raised in a house with a family. And when you walk out, you'll be like, ‘Oh. Wow.’ Now I'll have to give my entire identity some thought.’ ”

    Putting the fun into Fun Home

    Kurt Terrio, Len Matheo and Scott RC Levy are the three Colorado theatre producers who had their own, more literal, “ring of keys” moments — when each saw Fun Home for the first time and immediately knew they had to one day produce it themselves. They are the ones who accepted the risk of staging Fun Home at, respectively, the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins, Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

    None of them has yet experienced pushback from any subscribers based on the story subject. Matheo, frankly, thinks that’s in part “because many of them don’t yet know exactly what it is,” he said. But he thinks some blowback is inevitable, based on Miners Alley Playhouse’s recent experience of staging HIR. That was an intentionally abrasive and dark comedy that almost incidentally features a trans teenager.

    “But I personally think, and perhaps, naively so, that Fun Home is so powerful, so beautiful and so perfect that it will transcend the hate-filled responses we received when we produced HIR,” Matheo said.  

    And when Matheo says he thinks Fun Home is perfect, he means it. “The music is perfect, the book is perfect, Alison Bechdel’s novel is perfect and, quite honestly, my cast is perfect,” he said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime show.”

    In Fort Collins, Terrio has made scoring the first Colorado stagings of big and often envelope-pushing Broadway musicals part of Midtown Arts Center’s mission. His premieres have included Next to Normal, once, In the Heights, Rent and Avenue Q.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “I’ve always admired Kurt’s tenacity when it comes to bringing new shows to the Midtown Arts Center,” said actor Alisa Metcalf, who plays Alison’s embattled mother, Helen. “I think it’s pretty amazing that we get to be a part of this regional premiere of Fun Home. It’s such special story, and I’m excited to get to be a part of telling this very complicated relationship this woman has with her husband.”

    (Note: It was announced last week that the Midtown Arts Center property has been sold, and the theatre company will have to find a new home by the end of 2019.)

    Levy believes it is imperative that he seize the opportunity to stage landmark stories like Fun Home in Colorado Springs, one of the largest military cities in the world, when they become available. “The chance to produce the regional premiere here is an opportunity I would never pass up,” said Levy. And if members of his audience take issue with the story, content or characters, he added, “I would welcome that — so that the dialogue can continue.”

    Abigail Kochevar. Miners Alley Playhouse. Fun Home. Photo by John MooreKeeping a watchful eye

    Malone will be keenly watching from New York for news of the three Colorado productions, and for word on how people are receiving them.

    “You have no way of knowing the depth of my allegiance to the state of Colorado,” said Malone, a graduate of Douglas County High School and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. “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 was working on for five years. To see why it's so important to me. Hopefully it will resonate in their own lives. I know it will.”

    (PIctured right: Abigail Kochevar rehearsing for Miners Alley Playhouse's 'Fun Home,' opening Jan. 26. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    And there’s no arguing with the message, she said.

    “Shame causes unnecessary anguish and is handed down from generation to generation,” she said. “Fun Home sometimes has the effect of leaving people asking themselves what role they have played in this cycle. And that can be a very life-altering question.

    “I can’t wait to hear what people think when they see it and hear it and feel 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.

     

    Fun Home in Colorado: Ticket information:

    MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER
    Jan. 18-March 17
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com
    Capacity: 236

    • Director: Kurt Terrio
    • Musical Director: Paul Falk
    • Bruce: Vince Wingerter
    • Helen: Alisa Metcalf
    • Small Alison: Julia Gibson and Ella Sokolowski
    • Adult Alison: Monica Howe
    • Medium Alison: Sarah Briana Lewis
    • Joan: Zulfiya Julia Asquino
    • John: Ryan Fisher
    • Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby/Jeremy: Corbin Payne
    • Christian: Matthew Farley 

    MINERS ALLEY PLAYHOUSE
    Jan. 26-March 4
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com
    Capacity: 90

    • Director: Len Matheo
    • Musical Director: Mitch Samu
    • Bruce: Rory Pierce
    • Helen: Heather Lacy
    • Small Alison: Sophie Dotson
    • Adult Alison: Susannah McLeod
    • Medium Alison: Abigail Kochevar
    • Joan: Chloe McLeod
    • John: Brody Lineaweaver
    • Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby/Jeremy: Marco Robinson
    • Christian: Jack Eller 

    COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER AT COLORADO COLLEGE
    March 29-April 22
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or
    csfineartscenter.org
    Capacity: 399

    • Director: Nathan Halvorson
    • Bruce: Patrick Oliver Jones
    • Helen: Megan Van De Hey
    • Small Alison: Kelly Tanburg
    • Adult Alison: Allison Mickelson
    • Medium Alison: Jessica Kahkoska
    • Joan: Mackenzie Beyer
    • John Bechdel: Gabe Levy
    • Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby/Jeremy: Parker Fowler
    • Christian Bechdel: Atticus Baker
    • Child Understudy: Ellie Levy

    ABOUT FUN HOME

    • Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel memoir
    • Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron
    • Music by Jeanine Tesori

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Fun Home:

    Video: Beth Malone talks Fun Home, sings Broncos anthem

    Beth Malone: Fun Home is 'for anyone born of a mother'
    Beth Malone returns to Denver to perform So Far
    Denver’s Sweeney Todd will return with Fun Home tour
    Denver’s Beth Malone returning to Broadway in Fun Home

  • 2017 True West Award: The Difference-Makers

    by John Moore | Dec 25, 2017

    25 2017 True West Award Combined

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 25: The Difference-Makers 

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

    They are The Difference-Makers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All done on their own.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    More information on The Denver Actors Fund

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

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

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

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

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


    Video bonus: Highlights from the United in Love concert:


    Video by The Met Report's Avery Anderson.

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

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

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


    About The True West Awards: '30 Days, 30 Bouquets'

    The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore's daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards


    The 2017 True West Awards

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

    Production team:

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

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


    DCPA AROUND THE COUNTRY: 2017-18

    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.  
    LEAD MOLLY
    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:

    FEATURE-LENGTH FILMS

    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

     

    MUSIC VIDEOS

    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


    SHORT FILMS

    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

    Edges
    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

    Enlightened
    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

    Feral
    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

    Instructions
    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

    Lingo
    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

    Phobia
    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

    Rations
    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

    Riot
    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

    Terrene
    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

    Wander
    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-cabaret-photo-by-jeremy-swanson3ae8c947b2b24071ace7b9cd8fccbff9

    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-other-desert-cities-photo-by-jeremy-swanson
    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

    Cabaret
    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.

    TO SEE THE COMPLETE LIST OF HENRY AWARD NOMINATIONS, CLICK HERE

    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:

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

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