• Summit Spotlight: Barbara Seyda's collision with voices of the dead

    by John Moore | Feb 23, 2018

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.


    In this daily four-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 13 years, 29 plays introduced at the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. Today: Barbara Seyda, author of Celia, A Slave.

    By listening to the voices of history, playwright brings the voice of hanged slave to Colorado New Play Summit stage.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Barbara Seyda attended a backyard barbecue in Arizona eight years ago that not only changed the course of her life, it raised the voices of the dead.

    Seyda met a historian and scholar at the University of Arizona named John Weiss Grant. “And instead of making cocktail party chatter, he began telling me stories of freed and enslaved women of color from the 19th century — for three hours,” she said. “I went home that night and had a dream, which I think is a subconscious affirmation of the play.”

    A Barbara Seyda Celia 800 Adams Viscom The play is Celia, A Slave, which recalls a 19-year-old African-American slave who was convicted of killing her master in 1855 and hanged. It is one of four featured plays at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit that begins today. It was the first play written by Seyda, who was an Arizona-based writer, editor, photographer and designer until the voices of history spoke to her.

    “I think about that moment a lot because I never studied slave litigation, and I wouldn't have discovered this trial on my own,” she said. “So that was definitely an alchemic moment.” (Rehearsal photo above by Adams VisCom.)

    Seyda does not know why she had that life-changing dream that night. But she accepted the muse freely.

    “I think stories arrive on their own, like love and forgiveness,” she said, “and then we have to be brave and surrender to them. I also think writing is an irrational act. I think a lot of writing comes from the subconscious. It comes from ancestral spirits. It comes from our bodies and the silences that we hold within our families or within our communities and cultures.”

    Seyda pays attention to her dreams. “And that was a significant dream,” she said.

    2018 Summit: Quick look at all four featured plays

    Here's more of our conversation with Seyda:

    Barbara Seyda Quote. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    John Moore: What happens in your play?

    Barbara Seyda: My play is based Celia’s trial. It's told from the perspective of 24 characters, so it's kaleidoscopic in structure and fragmented. It deals with systemic racism, slave litigation, rape and the execution of a juvenile.

    John Moore: Tell us about your journey as a playwright.

    Barbara Seyda: I don't have an MFA from Yale in playwriting. I've never studied writing or theater. Celia, A Slave is my debut play. But I've been working backstage for 38 years, so that's been my drama school. I learned about theater working backstage, on the loading docks, in the pipe tunnels, the badly lit stairwells and the dressing rooms. After my dream, I began writing Celia as a screenplay. During that process, I saw Katori Hall's play The Mountaintop, directed by Lou Bellamy (DCPA Theatre Company's Fences) at the American Conservatory Theatre (in San Francisco), and it was astounding and inspiring. I went straight home and reframed the play for stage because I was just so invigorated by what Katori Hall did. She took a historical moment — the eve of Martin Luther King's assassination — and created this amazing, expansive, panoramic platform to explore: Two people are meeting at a hotel room: King and Camae, the maid, in a motel room. That’s the entire play. The other play I've always loved is Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith in 1991. She wrote in response to an incident in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where a Hasidic rabbi's motorcade went up on a sidewalk and hit a Haitian boy who died, and riots ensued. And Anna Deavere Smith interviewed all these folks and there are 31 voices in that play. It's a brilliant intersection of journalism and performance and public ritual. And I really studied that piece structurally when I was writing Celia, A Slave.

    John Moore: But Anna Deavere Smith had the benefit of being able to go back and interview the actual participants. You're exploring something happened in 1855. So how did you approach your research when there's nobody to interview?

    Barbara Seyda: I did a lot of archival research. I looked at the actual trial transcripts and court records. I looked at genealogical records and diaries and letters and legal papers. But I was also hearing voices at night. So I kept a notebook by the bed and I recorded the voices. I didn't know who was speaking or in what context. I just listened. I also scheduled interviews with midwives and hog farmers and death-penalty attorneys and the descendants of slaves and the descendants of slave owners, and basically anyone I could find who grew up in Missouri. And along with all of that, I started doing random street interviews with people I didn't know and then braided all of that material into the text.

    John Moore: What was driving you to wrote this story? Was it anger when you heard about what happened to Celia? A need to put this into the historical record?

    Barbara Seyda: It wasn't anger, but anger can be a catalyst and a motivating force. As a journalist, I was always interested in foregrounding the voices of those silenced by the mainstream. So this felt very much a continuation of what I've always done, except that I was doing it for stage instead of for the press.

    John Moore: So what are we actually seeing in your play? Is it a courtroom trial?

    A Barbara Seyda Celia Jacob Gibson. Adams Viscom Barbara Seyda: It's not a courtroom drama. It's a collision of voices of the dead. At one point in my writing I thought, ‘If I could somehow just gather all these characters in a room and interview them, this would make my job a lot easier.’ So I envisioned myself as a journalist interviewing the dead. The play kind of takes you through that process and that journey.

    John Moore: So why is now perhaps the right time for us to be looking back at what happened in 1855 to better understand better what's going on in America in 2018?

    Barbara Seyda: When I initially started working on the play, I asked myself, ‘Who is going to be interested in this obscure female slave trial from 1855 in pre-Civil War Missouri?’ I really didn't know if it would resonate with anyone. But now I think that the racists' consciousness that existed in 1855, and the rape culture that existed then is what created the foundation for American capitalism that continues today. We see it manifesting all the time. We see it manifesting in the White House.

    (Pictured at right: Cast member Jacob Gibson. Photo by John Moore.)

    John Moore: You've already been through the first weekend of the Summit, so can you talk bit about what you learned in the first week and the first public reading?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Barbara Seyda: The first week was amazing and intense and horrifying because I came with an original script and I didn't really know what was going to happen with that. And then (DCPA Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director) Nataki Garrett — my brilliant, genius, iconoclast director — she jackhammered the script, and we blew it up into 20,000 moving pieces. And just last weekend, I wrote six new scenes. So we had the original script, we had these fragments and then we had the new material. So the artistic team started to panic a bit. That’s when I realized that the writer's like a quarterback. You're calling the plays and everyone's looking to you. And the writer doesn't always know the answer. And so I said, ‘Have faith in me and have faith in the play and in this process.’ So we kind of moved through a slot canyon at night and through a 30-mile boulder field, and now we're coming out on the other end of it. And basically, we’ve given birth to a whole new script.

    John Moore: And just to clarify the history of this work: You won the national Yale Drama Prize for this play in 2015. So how is it still considered a new play?

    Celia Erin Willis. Photo by John MooreBarbara Seyda: We had a reading at Lincoln Center in New York, directed by Nigel Smith. And then the Rogue Theater in Tucson did it in September. But yes, the play continues to go through a transformation — and it's gone through the most radical transformation here in Denver.

    (Pictured at right: Cast member Erin Willis. Photo by John Moore.)

    John Moore: Is that transformation essentially taking a script that was primarily direct address and making it more of a tapestry?

    Barbara Seyda: I think it's becoming more of a tapestry play but I don't know because I don't have a cohesive vision of the new whole yet. I mean, there are sections that feel like stained glass to me. There are sections that feel like broken nails. There are pieces that feel highly orchestrated, tight, and precise. There are other sections that still feel kind of organic. And maybe there are still some potholes.

    John Moore: I know you are right in the middle of it, but how do you feel now that the Colorado New Play Summit exists and that this two-week development process is available to you?

    Barbara Seyda: I am so grateful for this Summit. I mean, it's pretty rigorous and challenging and intense. But because of all that intensity and rigor, something amazing, I think, is going to emerge.

    John Moore: Tell us about this particular collection of actors you’ve been given to work with here in Denver.

    Cajardo LindseyBarbara Seyda: I will just say I would crawl miles on my knees to see these actors perform. They are astounding. I'm humbled by their talent, by their ability, by the gifts that they bring to the table and to the stage. For example, Jingo is the hog farmer who starts the play. And he now has a significantly expanded role in the story that didn't exist before I arrived — and that’s because of the actor who’s playing him, Cajardo Lindsey (pictured right). There's something about him, about his presence, just being able to conjure and express this character. It just seemed to require and demand that I write more for him.

    John Moore: And what about your dramaturg?

    Barbara Seyda: Sydne Mahone is legendary. She has been my friend for 38 years, and a huge inspiration through my whole life. We met at Rutgers and after she graduated, she became the Literary Director and dramaturg at Crossroads Theatre Company in New Jersey, which was one of the pioneering African-American theatre companies in the U.S. She also created the annual Genesis playwriting festival. Folks like George C. Wolfe and Anna Deavere Smith and Suzan-Lori Parks and Robbie McCauley were all unknown until she brought them to Crossroads and produced their work. Then they went to New York and became mega superstars. She also was the editor of Moon Marked and Touched by Sun, which was the first anthology of African-American women playwrights. And so to have Sydne next to me on one side and Nataki on the other? Wow, what a team.

    John Moore: And finally: What do you think Celia would say if she knew this play existed?

    Barbara Seyda: God, what would Celia say? Well, she's finally had the opportunity to tell her own story.

    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.

    Celia Summit. Photo by John Moore
    From left: Cast members Tihun Hann, Celeste M. Cooper and Owen Zitek. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)


    Celia, A Slave: Cast list
    A Nataki Garrett Barbara Seyda 400 2 Adams VisComWritten by Barbara Seyda
    Directed by Nataki Garrett (pictured right)
    Dramaturgy by Sydne Mahone
    Stage Manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Becerra

    • Jingo: Cajardo Lindsey
    • Ulysses a.k.a. Uncle Pee Wee: donnie l. betts
    • George: Jacob Gibson
    • Justice Abiel Leonard / John Jameson: Gareth Saxe
    • Polly Newsom / Virginia Waynescot: Emily Van Fleet
    • David Newsom / Dr. Hockley Yong / Benjamin Sheets / Felix Bartey: Jake Horowitz
    • Viola / Solace: Nija Okoro
    • William Powell / Judge William Augustus Hall / Higgler: Steven Cole Hughes
    • Mildred Louisa Rollins: Billie McBride
    • Bethena / Euphrates: Jada Dixon
    • Celia: Celeste M. Cooper
    • Vine: Tihun Hann
    • Matt: Owen Zitek
    • Coffee Waynescot: Tristan Champion Regini
    • Aunt Winnie / Stage Directions: Erin Willis

    2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information
    Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25
    303-893-4100 or INFO

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

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

  • Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2018
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit Photos from the first day of the DCPA Theatre Company's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit, which features readings of new works by Sigrid Gilmer, David Jacobi, Kemp Powers and Barbara Seyda. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of downloadable photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    DCPA's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit is underway as dozens of artists begin work on four new plays 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Preparations for the DCPA Theatre Company's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit officially got underway today with the first gathering of dozens of professional actors, playwrights, directors and other creative artists who will help to develop four promising new plays over the next two weeks.

    They will take on developing works that address systemic racism and hypocrisy in the criminal-justice system, that revisit the Challenger space disaster and an 1855 slave trial. One — no joke — explores the intersection of Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams and the heavy-metal band Metallica

    A Summit 400"We're in this rocky time in this country, in our lives and in our history," Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett (pictured right) said at the welcome gathering. "As a nation, we are trying to figure who we are and who we are going to be — and in these moments, I feel like it is so important to listen to playwrights."

    The Colorado New Play Summit, which has one public weekend of readings Feb. 17-18, followed by a second weekend attended mostly industry professionals Feb. 23-25, is the DCPA’s signature festival dedicated to supporting playwrights and developing new work for the American theatre. Garrett made a point of thanking former DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson for founding the celebration of playwrights back in 2006. The Summit comes at a time when Denver Center-born new plays are proliferating on national stages like never before. And just yesterday, it was announced that  Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride, which was born at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit, will be made into a film starring Jim Parsons.

    Summit PlaywrightsThe 2018 Summit will feature readings of new works by (clockwise from top left) David Jacobi, Kemp Powers, Barbara Seyda and Sigrid Gilmer, alongside world-premiere productions by José Cruz González, Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee.

    The playwrights, some commissioned by the Theatre Company, are given two weeks with professional directors, actors and dramaturgs to workshop their new plays.

    "We get to hear from the mouth and the body and the heart and the soul of these vessels who bring forth their incredible ideas to remind us how much better we can be in the world," Garrett said.

    The pool of more than 35 actors is a mix of familiar names in the Colorado theatre community, returning Denver Center, visiting actors and several who currently performing in Theatre Company world premieres.

    The roster includes Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement winner Billie McBride, legendary film and stage director donnie l. betts; Denver Center veterans Steven Cole Hughes, Emily Van Fleet, Gareth Saxe, Erin Willis, Nick LaMedica and Aspen Rader; DPCA Teaching Artists Joelle Montoya, Quinn Marchman and Robert Lee Hardy; and nearly the entire cast of Curious Theatre's current offering of Detroit '67: Jada Dixon, Cajardo Lindsey and Anastasia Davidson. She and Alaina Beth Reel recently appeared in The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now.

    The Summit casts also include Linden Tailor from the DCPA Theatre Company's The Great Leap; Natalie Camunas from American Mariachi; and Nija Okoro, Grayson DeJesus and Nick Ducassi from Zoey's Perfect Wedding.
     
    Since its founding, the Summit has introduced 53 new plays, over half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit world premieres include Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, Tanya Saracho’s FADE, Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest, Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, Karen Zacarias’ Just Like Us, Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton’s Sense and Sensibility The Musical, and Dick Scanlan’s reimagined version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    2018 FEATURED NEW-PLAY READINGS:

    2018 New Play Summit 2018 Gilmer Mama Metallica
    By Sigrid Gilmer

    Directed by Jaki Bradley
    Dramaturgy by Ricardo A. Bracho
    Stage Manager: Dana Reiland
    Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Langeberg

    Budding playwright Sterling Milburn has always been overshadowed by her fabulous mother, Louise. Even when she’s holed up in a care facility with Parkinson’s, Louise finds a way to steal the spotlight. But with the overly critical eyes of Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams to fuel her rebellion and the frenetic energy of Metallica to help find her voice, Sterling sets out to write a story that is finally her own. As unfortunate histories mesh with hilarious interludes, Sterling must face the truth: her pain, her joys and her life will forever be shaped by and linked to the woman who raised her. Sigrid Gilmer’s joyfully irreverent black comedy entwines issues of identity with pop-culture icons for a truly unique — and head-banging experience.

    Says the playwright: "The two big influences on my life have been my mom and the heavy-metal band Metallica. My play is about how those two things collide. The play is also a love letter to theatre and the tradition of those big, sweeping autobiographical mid-20th century plays by Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams."

    • Sterling Milburn: Courtney Sauls
    • Louise Bell Milburn: Lee Sherman
    • James Hetfeld: Nick Ducassi
    • Lars Ulrich: Grayson DeJesus
    • Kirk Hammett: Linden Tailor
    • Cliff Burton: Adam Haas Hunter
    • Blue Orchid: Robert Lee Hardy
    • Pink Orchid: Luis Quintero
    • Stage Directions: Aspen Rader

    2018 New Play Summit 2018 David JacobiThe Couches
    By David Jacobi

    DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    Directed by Caitlin Ryan O’Connell
    Dramaturgy by Doug Langworthy
    Stage Manager: Corin Ferris
    Stage Management Apprentice: Amy LeGore

    Ethan Couch has lived in a bubble of pampered privilege for his entire life, so when he’s convicted of killing four people while driving drunk, he and his mother take $40,000 and flee to a resort in Mexico rather than face the consequences. In this self-imposed state of limbo, Ethan pays hotel clerk Daniel $1,000 to be his friend and help maintain the facade of his prior life. But as the unlikely pair drink, sing, and stumble through the night, delusions of how the world works melt away as quickly as their cash flow. Playwright David Jacobi draws from the infamous real-life 2013 “affluenza” court case to weave a surreal story of personal and legal recklessness.

    Says the playwright: "Ethan Couch came from a rich family and he a had a great lawyer who argued that Ethan was too rich to know right from wrong. I was enraged when he went on the run, but when he was caught, I felt like this was a really interesting idea of late-stage capitalism: These people hiding out in this antiseptic place waiting for justice. And the play devolves into this Lynchian nightmare. ... I think it's funny." 

    • Ethan Couch: Nick LaMedica
    • Tonya Couch: Tasha Lawrence
    • Daniel: Cesar J. Rosado
    • Stage Directions: Alaina Beth Reel



    2018 New Play Summit 2018 Kemp PowersChrista McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue
    By Kemp Powers
    A DCPA Theatre Company Commission

    Directed by Nicholas C. Avila
    Dramaturgy by Jerry Patch
    Stage Manager: Rick Mireles
    Stage Management Apprentice: Mariah Brown

    Even though they share the same DNA, twins Steven and Bernard have lived drastically different lives. The big reason? One is plagued by racism because of his dark skin while the other passes as white. Steven spent his childhood fitting in with fellow classmates and is now a successful attorney. Though he was an extraordinarily bright student who had his eyes on outer space, Bernard’s future is as dismal as the Challenger Space Shuttle that once inspired him. As he prepares for trial and potential jail time, Bernard must face his childhood bully behind the judge’s bench and confront his brother’s advantages. Following his DCPA audience favorite One Night in Miami…, playwright Kemp Powers’ piercing meditation on race and privilege targets the circumstances that can change a child’s destiny.

    Says the playwright: "This really happens through a wonder of genetics where one twin comes out looking completely black and the other comes out looking completely white. And in the days leading up to the Challenger disaster in 1986, these two brothers had a massive falling out. I wanted to explore how family so often manages to let each other down — with a racial context added. When the Challenger exploded, every schoolkid in America was watching live on television because Christa McAuliffe was the first schoolteacher to go into space, and that launch was supposed to symbolize where we were going as a society. Ultimately, this is a play about bullying and the issue of nature vs. nurture."   
    • Bernard “Bear” Gentry: Tobie Windham
    • Steven “Sevvy” Gentry: Allen E. Read
    • Joseph “Joey” Martinelli: Bradley Fleischer
    • Mr. B: Brian Shea
    • Migdalia: Natalie Camunas
    • Rich: Quinn Marchman
    • Summer: Anastasia Davidson
    • Stage Directions: Joelle Montoya


    2018 New Play Summit 2018 Barbara SeydaCelia, A Slave
    By Barbara Seyda

    Directed by Nataki Garrett
    Dramaturgy by Sydne Mahone
    Stage Manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Becerra

    In 1855, 19-year-old African-American slave Celia was convicted of killing her master and hanged. Her story became known as a notorious failure of justice in American history, but to truly understand its significance, look to the people of Calloway County who experienced it all. Using oral histories and official records as her guide, playwright Barbara Seyda investigates the event with a tapestry of interviews with the dead. This stunningly evocative play illuminates the brutal realities of female slave life in the pre-Civil War South as it resurrects a panorama of real people on stage. The piece won the Yale Drama Series playwriting competition.

    Says the playwright: "One of my structural prototypes was Fires in the Mirror, which was Anna Deavere Smith's response to the Crown Heights riot that took place in Brooklyn in 1991. She does this amazing integration of performance and public ritual and journalism, using the stage as a place of truth. My themes include systemic include racism and slave litigation."

    • Jingo: Cajardo Lindsey
    • Ulysses a.k.a. Uncle Pee Wee: donnie l. betts
    • George : Jacob Gibson
    • Justice Abiel Leonard / John Jameson: Gareth Saxe
    • Polly Newsom / Virginia Waynescot: Emily Van Fleet
    • David Newsom / Dr. Hockley Yong / Benjamin Sheets / Felix Bartey: Jake Horowitz
    • Viola / Solace: Nija Okoro
    • William Powell / Judge William Augustus Hall / Higgler: Steven Cole Hughes
    • Mildred Louisa Rollins: Billie McBride
    • Bethena / Euphrates: Jada Dixon
    • Celia: Celeste M. Cooper
    • Vine: Tihun Hann
    • Matt: Owen Zitek
    • Coffee Waynescot: Tristan Champion Regini
    • Aunt Winnie / Stage Directions: Erin Willis

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


    The 13th Annual Colorado New Play Summit

    Launch Weekend: Feb. 17-18
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 23-25
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists


  • 2017 True West Award: The Difference-Makers

    by John Moore | Dec 25, 2017

    25 2017 True West Award Combined

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 25: The Difference-Makers 

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

    They are The Difference-Makers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All done on their own.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    More information on The Denver Actors Fund

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

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

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

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

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


    Video bonus: Highlights from the United in Love concert:


    Video by The Met Report's Avery Anderson.

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

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

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


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

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards


    The 2017 True West Awards

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

    Production team:

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

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

    by John Moore | Dec 21, 2017

    LOGAN ERNSTTHAL 2017 True West Award 2

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 21: Logan Ernstthal

    Creede Repertory Theatre
    Miners Alley Playhouse
    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Logan Ernstthal is a big, burly, bearded mountain man of an actor with a glare as intimidating as the spelling of his last name. He is known for being versatile, ever-prepared and always collaborative. But also serious. … Super serious.

    Yeah, that’s what John Hauser thought, too, when the two began rehearsals for Miners Alley Playhouse’s A Skull in Connemara. Hauser quickly realized the big guy is really just a big kid at heart.

    “The first time Logan got a hammer in his hand and started pounding on some skulls, he was like a 5-year-old, he was having so much fun,” Hauser said.

    A Creede Repertory Theatre2017 was a remarkable year for Ernstthal for the dual opportunity to star in both Martin McDonagh’s dark-to-blood-red comedy A Skull in Connemara in Golden, followed by the world premiere of Colorado playwright Brian WatkinsGeneral Store to finish up his 10th summer season with the Creede Repertory Theatre. He rounded out his full year nicely with roles in the antique comedy Arsenic and Old Lace, the period romantic musical She Loves Me, the Chekhov adaptation Wild Honey and the boutique play Enchanted April.

    That eclectic slate tells General Store Director Christy Montour-Larson Ernstthal is an everyman kind of an artist with many colors on his palette. “He can be very funny, he can be very scary, he can be charming and he can break your heart,” she said. "He reminds me of James Gandolfini in that way.”

    (Photo above and right: Logan Ernstthal and Stuart Ryder in Creede Repertory Theatre's  'General Store.' Photo by John Gary Brown.)

    A Skull in Connemara and General Store offered big, meaty and physically demanding roles in two wildly different mysteries that actually had more in common than meets the eye. Ernstthal played Mike in one, Mick in the other. One had flying skulls and bloody hatchets; the other had axes, bear traps and a huge mysterious metaphor that was making all kinds of racket under the floorboards of Mike’s faltering general store on the Eastern plains of Colorado.

    In Skull, directed by Billie McBride, Ernstthal played an Irish gravedigger who comes under suspicion over his possible involvement in his wife’s sudden death seven years before. Westword’s Juliet Wittman said Ernstthal’s Mick “is convincing from his earliest moments — a quiet and apparently reasonable man with something threatening and unspoken at his core.”

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    John Hauser and Logan Ernstthal. A Skull in Connemara. Miners Alley Playhouse. Photo  by Sarah Roshan.
    (Above: John Hauser and Logan Ernstthal in 'A Skull in Connemara' for Miners Alley Playhouse. Photo by Sarah Roshan.)


    In General Store, whatever is lurking under Mike's floorboards is getting louder — and hungrier. Mike is a decent, hardworking friend and father trying to stave off the ravenous creature below. And if that makes Mike the American Dream in Watkins’ metaphor (and it does), you can infer what the insatiably, greedy creature below might represent.

    “Brian has written a play that’s about the fear of uncertainty,” Montour-Larson said. “It doesn’t matter how much work the little guy puts in day in and day out — in this world, he going to get screwed over by the system.”

    Ernstthal calls General Store “a beautiful beast of a play. It’s as if Sam Shepard and the Coen Brothers and Stephen King had a love child.” (I'll add: Raised by the kids from Stranger Things.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    By the time the play ended each night, Montour-Larson said, “Logan was physically and mentally exhausted. He hoists, he pulls, he grapples, he goes down into the pit. He even gets squirted in the face with bile.”

    That's an underrated skill for an actor, Montour-Larson said: The ability to perform seamlessly with the demands of a show as technically challenging as General Store. Ernstthal had to be in perfect sync with everything from sound and light cues to a snapping bear trap, or the staging would lose all believability.

    "As the play becomes more parabolic each minute it goes on, so do the technical and acting challenges," Montour-Larson said. 

    Oh, and did we mention? The guy can dance. “In fact, I think it’s his ability as a dancer that makes him capable of so much physical exertion in our play,” Montour-Larson said.

    That’s just one reason Ernstthal is so widely thought of “an actor’s actor,” said playwright Jeff Carey, a graduate of the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory masters program.

    “He can play anything," said Carey. "What makes him so specific is that he immerses himself in every role. More than that — he actually becomes the role.”

    Montour-Larson, who directed the world premiere of the DCPA Theatre Company’s Two Degrees in January, has worked with pretty much all of the top actors in the Colorado theatre community. “And I found Logan to be one of the most talented actors I’ve ever worked with,” she said.


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



    Video bonus: Logan Ernstthal talks about General Store:

    Featured actor in the video above: Logan Ernstthal


    Logan Ernstthal: 2017

    • Mick Dowd in A Skull in Connemara for Miners Alley Playhouse
    • Frederick in Enchanted April at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
    • Teddy Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace for Creede Repertory Theatre
    • Zoltan Maraczek in She Loves Me for Creede Repertory Theatre
    • Mike in General Store for Creede Repertory Theatre
    • Porfiry Seyonovich Glagolyev in Wild Honey at Colorado Springs TheatreWorks

    Logan Ernstthal is from Darien, Conn, and studied theatre at Ithaca College in New York and the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He also has performed in Colorado forColorado Springs TheatreWorks, Colorado Shakespeare Festival (Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night; Lord Stanley in Richard III and Long John Silver in Treasure Island. He also was an understudy for three roles in the DCPA Theatre Company's The Three Musketeers.  

    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


  • 2017 True West Award: Randy Chalmers

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

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


    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 17: Randy Chalmers

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

    And this year, along came young Randy Chalmers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues below the photo)


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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    Randy Chalmers 2017: 

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

    They said it:

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

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards


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

  • 2017 True West Award: Maegan Burnell

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

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 14: Maegan Burnell

    Arvada Center Stage Manager

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

    We're talking a two-logistician family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Maegan Burnell Quote Robert Michael Sanders Miscast True West Awards


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Stage Manager Maegan Burnell 2017: 

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

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

  • In the Spotlife: Ethelyn Friend of '________________', An Opera

    by John Moore | May 24, 2017
    The Singing House. An Opera. Ethelyn Friend.
     


    MEET ETHELYN FRIEND
    The Writer and Mrs. Harrigan in The Singing House Productions' '________________', An Opera, running through June 10.

  • Hometown: Pound Ridge, N.Y.
  • Home now: Lafayette, Colo.
  • Ethelyn Friend QuoteHigh school: Wykeham Rise School in Torrington, Conn., which burned to the ground in January
  • College: MFA in Acting from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Calamity Jane in the musical Calamity! for Facing June Productions in Boulder.
  • Twitter-sized bio: I'm an actor who can't stay up late, gets up at dawn and spies on herons; a singer still searching for her "style"; and a voice teacher who only wants people to love their voices. My 28-year-old daughter just texted three descriptive words about me: "nice pretty mommy." Awww.
  • What's your handle? @friendethelyn on Instagram
  • The role that changed your life: When Billie McBride cast me as Bananas in the Arvada Center's production of The House of Blue Leaves in 2008. I felt so totally trusted (thanks, Billie!) and rediscovered the pure joy of performing.
  • Ideal scene partner: I want to be alongside Billie Whitelaw (another Billie!?) while she performs all of Samuel Beckett's roles, and just mirror her.
  • What is ______________, An Opera all about? It's an experiment in both storytelling and musical performance staged in a Victorian house in old-town Lafayette. Through multiple musical styles, six characters unravel a secret hidden in the broken heart of a family. My favorite "pre-press" blurb (which I'm sure I don't deserve) is this: "Ethelyn Friend will render an opera unlike any other, in the sweet spot between Gertrude Stein, Spike Jonze and Kendrick Lamar." That was from playwright Erik Ehn of Brown University.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: I love playing a character who is a writer in the very midst of a creative process. But even though I am performing text I have written, I still have to treat it like a script I just have been given, and work through all my usual actor pitfalls like "playing the obstacle" (as my acting teachers would say), and not foreshadowing the coming tragedy and staying active and positive in the moment. (Hmm, I think that's a "life lesson").
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing ______________, An Opera? We are including many aspects of improvisation in the hope that our audiences are able to feel the intensity and presence of live performance in a new way. We are working with a memorized libretto, but music that is improvised on the spot. I also hope they experience a gentle form of catharsis, which is one of the oldest purposes of theatre.
  • What's one thing people might not know about you? I'm an introvert.
  • What do you want to get off your chest? I'm tired of perfectionism in all its forms. Let's be human. And messy.
  •  

    Ethelyn Friend. HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES. Arvada Center
    Ethelyn Friend, with Kevin Hart, in the Arvada Center's 'The House of Blue Leaves' in 2008. Photo by P. Switzer.


    The Singing House's '_______________', An Opera : Ticket information

    • At a glance: One day, a writer recovers a memory of incest and tries to hide it inside an opera
    • Created by Ethelyn Friend and Gary Grundei
    • Directed by Erica Terpening-Romeo
    • Through June 10
    • 507 W. Baseline Road, Lafayette MAP IT
    • Tickets $20-$25
    • For tickets, click here


    Performance schedule:
    • 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays

    Cast list:

    • Allison Caw
    • Jessica Cerullo
    • Ethelyn Friend
    • Barrett Ogden
    • Erica Terpening-Romeo   

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

  • In the Spotlife: Carla Kaiser Kotrc of 'A Skull in Connemara'

    by John Moore | Mar 24, 2017
    Carla Kaiser Kotrc. Cody Schuyler Photography. Cody Schuyler Photography.


    MEET CARLA KAISER KOTRC

    Carla Kaiser Kotrc plays the lovely MaryJohnny Rafferty in Martin McDonagh's dark Irish comedy, 'A Skull in Connemara,' through April 30 at Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden. Cody Schuyler Photography

  • Home: Arvada
  • High school: Manual High School
  • College: Western State Colorado University
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Mae Peterson (Mama) in Bye, Bye, Birdie for Performance Now
  • Carla Kaiser Kotrc. The Last Session.Twitter-sized bio: I am a graphic artist by day, actor by night, grateful wife, extracurricular creativity enthusiast, horrifying cook, devoted procrastinator, passionate adventurer and loyal friend. 
  • Instagram handle: @foruaprincess
  • What was the role that changed your life? Playing Vicki in The Last Session (pictured at right). I’ve had the great honor to have played the role twice. The first time was in 1999, directed by John Mandes at The Shop in Denver. I was in the midst of getting divorce from my best friend.  After seven years of marriage, my then-husband told me he was gay. In The Last Session, Vicki's husband revealed his homosexuality during their marriage.  Going through all the emotions of that character’s journey really helped me come to terms with my own failed marriage. And how to let go of the dream of wedded bliss, while still retaining the original friendship. My ex-husband remains a very special person to me, and I so admire his strength and honesty in living a full and meaningful life true to himself.  Like me, he has found his forever partner, and my pilgrimage through The Last Session both times allowed me to discover more of myself. I will always be grateful.
  • Meryl StreepIdeal scene partner: I would simply adore an afternoon with Meryl Streep. I have always admired her unparalleled talent, unapologetic outspoken nature and masterful ability to become someone else so completely. I would speak with her about her process when researching a role, and just bask in the glow of her. Of course, I will have probably peed my pants upon meeting her, so the first few moments will probably be awkward.
  • What is A Skull in Connemara all about? This play is the second chapter in Martin McDonagh's Leenane Trilogy (along with The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Lonesome West). He gleefully mock sentimental Irish stereotypes with bleak tales filled with hilarious miscreants, misfits and misanthropes. A Skull in Connemara introduces us to Mick Dowd, who for one week each autumn is hired to dis-inter bones in crowded sections of the local cemetery to make way for new arrivals. But as the time approaches for him to dig up the bones of his own late wife, rumors about his possible involvement in her sudden death seven years before resurface. This play is a blasphemously funny whodunit complete with flying skulls and bloody hatchets.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing Maryjohnny Rafferty: She is a cantankerous, bingo-obsessed nag, town gossip, and poteen (moonshine) mooch who is comfortable with her lot in life. It’s a challenge to be held in the boundaries of a different place and time, and of someone so completely opposite of myself. But that’s acting, right? In the end, I’m a dedicated ball of nerves who is always grateful for the journey.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? I hope they laugh – it’s absurd, dark, dramatic, and feckin’ funny! And I hope they admire, as I do, the incredible talent of my castmates, as well as the production team. Billie McBride, our director and the True West Awards' 2016 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year, doesn’t miss a thing. Her eye is keen and her instincts are masterful. And a special shout-out to Jonathan Scott-McKean, whose set, light and sound designs for this production send you immediately into the exact environment for our story. It is absolute perfection from the mossy cemetery to the small cottage where Mick resides.
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? Actor Tim Fishbaugh and I drive through downtown Denver once a month distributing sandwiches, bottles of water and new socks to the homeless and needy. We are approaching our third year of service.  Actually many people do know this about me, but what most people don’t is that I do not have a uvula. Yep, uvula-less – that’s me!
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? I am a devoted viewer of Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton. Therefore I would like to answer his famous 10 final questions:
    1. A Carla Kaiser Kotrc 160What is your favorite word? Grateful.
    2. What is your least favorite word? Hate.
    3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Something I’ve never seen, eaten, or done before. 
    4. What turns you off? Misinformed tweets by people of great responsibility who should be the most informed. It’s childish and divisive.
    5. What is your favorite curse word? Well since my parents-in-law are probably going to be reading this I’ll say, FECK! (Which is really just the sassy, Irish version of my real favorite curse word.) 
    6. What sound or noise do you love? The sound of my husband’s laughter. It’s so full of life and utter joy.
    7. What sound or noise do you hate? An animal in pain.
    8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Standup comedian, writer for Saturday Night Live or wildlife photographer.
    9. What profession would you not like to do?  White House Press Secretary.
    10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?: “We cleared your browser history.” (Rim shot.)

  • Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara: Ticket information

    • Written by Martin McDonagh
    • Directed by Billie McBride
    • March 24 through April 16
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. most Sundays (1 p.m. March 26 and April 30)
    • 1224 Washington St., Golden
    • Tickets $17-$27
    • Info: 303-935-3044 or minersalleyplayhouse.org

    Cast list:
    •  Logan Ernstthal as Mick Dowd
    •  Carla Kaiser Kotrc: MaryJohnny Rafferty
    •  John Hauser: Mairtin
    •  John Jankow: Tommy

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

    by John Moore | Dec 31, 2016
    True West Awards Billie McBride 800 2



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    2016 Theatre Person of the Year: Billie McBride

    When Billie McBride won the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, she was convinced she would never work again. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, they think I am that old?'” she said with a caustic laugh. 

    Pshaw. McBride has barely taken a day off since. One rather wonders how she possibly found time in 2016 to have played seven leading roles and direct three productions from Fort Collins to Dillon to Colorado Springs. That’s 10 productions – for 10 different theatre companies – in 12 months.

    True West Awards Billie McBride Quote“She is, quite simply, the best around,” said Rebecca Remaly Weitz, who directed McBride in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Ripcord. And that, quite simply, is why she is the True West Awards’ 2016 Theatre Person of the Year: She’s the best around.

    McBride, who has Broadway credits on and off stage, has now reached a certain age where she gets asked to play, well, “a lot of old ladies,” as she bluntly puts it. A lot of them. But in 2016, that meant bringing a dizzying array of women to life ranging in age from 70 to 91.

    OK, so McBride’s characters often share a few consistent personality traits. They tend to be a bit prickly, terse, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, feisty, annoying, bracing, nasty, sour, volcanic, difficult, acerbic and irascible. (Those are all words critics used to describe McBride’s characters in 2016 – “cantankerous” twice, that I could find).

    But it is important to note that she is not being typecast. “Billie is a genuinely loving, giving, wonderful person,” said Christopher Alleman, who directed McBride in The Velocity of Autumn for the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. She’s just really good at acting cranky.

    Still, McBride’s 2016 portrayals represented a vast breadth of life experiences that informed every aspect of her fully fleshed characters. I mean, she did everything this year from jumping out of a plane to nearly blowing up her own son with a Molotov cocktail. Consider:

    • Driving Miss Daisy, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center: Daisy is a 72-year-old Jewish widow who embodies oblivious Old South racism in 1948 Atlanta.
    • 4000 Miles, Cherry Creek Theatre: Vera is a no-nonsense, 91-year-old New York grandmother, widow … and member of the Communist Party.
    • The Velocity of Autumn, Lake Dillon Theatre Company: Alexandra is an 80-year-old artist who has barricaded herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with enough explosives to take out a city block.
    • Outside Mullingar, Little Theatre of the Rockies: Aiofe is a tremulous, 70-year-old Irish widow trying to keep a leash on her admittedly “cracked” and obstinately single daughter.
    • The Last Romance, Senior Housing Options at The Barth Hotel: Carol is a prim, 79-year-old retired executive secretary who is slowly coaxed into a joyful awakening by a stranger in a park.
    • Ripcord, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company: Abby is an acidic, 80-year-old patrician whose boast that she is not afraid of anything is put to the comic test.
    • Lost Creatures, And Toto Too Theatre: Silent-film star Louise Brooks was a 72-year-old shut-in when British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan invaded her dingy little apartment, and somehow a love story ensued.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    In a recent essay about David Lindsay-Abaire’s Ripcord – perhaps the slightest story among McBride’s 2016 catalog, Ellen Mareneck found unexpected depth in this Odd Couple meets Grumpy Old Men tale of two opposite women forced to share a room in a senior living residence. “Under the docile exterior of age, there is a ruthless drive to retain relevance and power,” Mareneck wrote of the play. But no words could better describe McBride’s ongoing importance to the Colorado theatre ecology.

    By simply doing what she does best year after year in a profession that doesn’t often value women, and in a society that typically renders older people obsolete, McBride stands in towering, empowering opposition to the norm.

    Perhaps the greatest achievement of McBride’s year was her unexpectedly gritty performance in Eric Coble’s The Velocity of Autumn. There was nothing even slightly adorable about McBride’s portrayal of a declining woman locked in a bitter showdown with her family over where she will spend her remaining years. As soon as her estranged son arrives, the emotional bombs start detonating. The play has been praised for “touching a nerve that is exposed in many no-win debates across America over what’s best for a relative no longer at her sharpest.” McBride unflinchingly embraced her role as essentially a domestic terrorist with a profound absence of sentiment.

    "We knew as soon as we chose the play that we had to have Billie play the role,” said Alleman. “There wasn't any more thought put into it. Billie is incredibly talented, and she brought fierceness to the role.”

    True West Awards Billie McBride

    Top row, from left: Lost Creatures, Outside Mullingar.
    Second row: Driving Miss Daisy, 4000 Miles, The Velocity of Autumn.
    Third row: The Last Romance, Ripcord.


    Somehow McBride also managed to direct Lost in Yonkers for the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins, Hello Dolly! for middle- and high-school actors at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, and the workshop production of a new play called The Closet by Siegmund Fuchs for the Historic Elitch Theatre.

    As a director, McBride is known for asking you to leave your toolbox at the door when you arrive at the theatre. Not the crewmembers building the set – the actors. Just like carpenters, all actors have go-to tactics they go back to again and again. McBride has a reputation for breaking actors of those safe habits like so many wild horses.

    “She is tough and yet incredibly kind,” said Jalyn Courtenay Webb, who hired McBride to direct Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers in Fort Collins. McBride, who has a long history directing for the Denver Children’s Theatre, has a special way with younger actors, said Webb, whose 11-year-old nephew won the role of young Arty. “She was really great at talking to him at his level,” she said. “She didn’t treat him like a kid or like an adult. She treated him like the actor he needed to be in that show.”

    BILLIE McBRIDE/At a glance:

    • Grew up in Le Roy, Ill.
    • College: Illinois Wesleyan University
    • Broadway credits: A Kurt Weill Cabaret, Production Supervisor, 1979; Torch Song Trilogy, Assistant Stage Manager, 1982; played June in Safe Sex with Harvey Fierstein, 1987
    • Made DCPA Theatre Company debut in 2015 playing straight-talking Willa in world premiere of Benediction
    • Selected local credits not mentioned above: The Arvada Center (The Women, Cabaret), TheatreWorks (The Lying Kind), The Barth Hotel (On Golden Pond), Miners Alley Playhouse (Grace and Glorie)
    • Currently a company member with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    Video: Our 2015 'Meet the Cast' profile of Billie McBride:



    TRUE WEST AWARDS THEATRE PERSON OF THE YEAR/A look back
    2016: Actor and director Billie McBride
    2015: Donald R. Seawell: Denver Center for the Performing Arts founder
    2014: Steve Wilson: Phamaly Theatre Company and Mizel Center for Arts and Culture
    2013: Shelly Bordas: Actor, teacher, director and cancer warrior
    2012: Stephen Weitz: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company co-founder
    2011: Maurice LaMee: Creede Repertory Theatre artistic director
    2010: Anthony Garcia: Su Teatro artistic director
    2009: Kathleen M. Brady: Denver Center Theatre Company actor
    2008: Wendy Ishii: Bas Bleu Theatre co-founder
    2007: Ed Baierlein: Germinal Stage-Denver founder
    2006: Bonnie Metzgar: Curious Theatre associate artistic director
    2005: Chip Walton, Curious Theatre founder
    2004: Michael R. Duran: Actor, set designer, director and playwright
    2003: Nagle Jackson, Denver Center Theatre Company director and playwright
    2002: Chris Tabb: Actor and director

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride
  • 'Lost Creatures': Love finds its voice in the ruins of Rochester

    by John Moore | Nov 05, 2016

    Watch the trailer for Louise Brooks' 1929 silent film, 'Pandora's Box.'


    By McKenzie Kielman

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Louise Brooks was an iconic American silent-film star from the 1920s and ’30s, the flapper who immortalized the bobbed hairstyle 50 years before Dorothy Hamill skated her way into America’s hearts. Kenneth Tynan was a highly regarded English theatre critic who so idolized Brooks that he tracked her down in 1978 to profile her in The New Yorker. By then, Brooks was a forgotten recluse living in a dingy apartment in Rochester, N.Y.

    Lost Creatures. And Toto Too. Billie McBride and Annabel ReaderAnd yet, despite their 20-year age gap, an unlikely love story unfolded in the course of their marathon dialogue about sex, philosophy, art and criticism.

    Acclaimed local playwright Melissa Lucero McCarl (Painted Bread) imagines what might have happened during that fateful encounter in Lost Creatures, the final play in the 11th season for And Toto Too, the only Colorado theatre company dedicated exclusively to new works by women playwrights. The fan and the idol identify one another as kindred spirits despite the May-December age difference. 

    Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski, the DCPA’s Associate Director of Education, directed the play starring Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement Award winner Billie McBride and former local theatre critic Mark Collins, along with Annabel Reader as Lulu, the famous character Brooks played in the 1929 silent film Pandora’s Box. Appropriately enough, Lulu does not speak during the play, either.

    Read Kenneth Tynan's New Yorker profile on Louise Brooks

    “I’m very intrigued to see how audiences respond to this third character, who is somewhat spectral and never clearly defined - on purpose - as if she’s not really there, or a product of imagination,” said Elkins-Zeglarski.

    Patrick Elkins Zeglarski. Lost Creatures. Although film is a fundamental basis for the dialogue, no clips from the 24 films Brooks appeared in have been incorporated into the play. “Oh, the horror,” Tynan jokes. But the absence is intentional, Elkins-Zeglarski said.

    “Ken even starts the evening by saying there are no film clips, because this is a play about language and ideas,” he said. “We will be talking about film, but we will not be looking at film.”

    McCarl’s resulting play, he said, is smart. “It’s just an exceptional evening to sit in the company of these two great minds as they delight and challenge each other.”

    Some audience members may come in with a vast knowledge of Brooks and Tynan, while others may never have heard of either one. Elkins-Zeglarski said the conversation stands on its own. But he finds it inconceivable that these two renowned figures in film history might otherwise be lost in the sands of time. Pop culture loses a Louise Brooks and gains a Kardashian. "I don’t think the play judges that, but I do think that the play says, ‘Hey, there are other options out there,' " Elkins-Zeglarski said. “We are spending time with two of those options.”

    And while everyone knows Kim, Kylie, Klohé, Kourtney and Kendall, we call all relate to Brooks, Elkins-Zeglarski said, “Whether you are also someone who wants to create, or are someone who is also managing addiction, or if you identify with being labeled or pigeonholed but not succumbing to those people. I think this is a very modern and contemporary conversation, even if it takes place in the late 1970s.

    Meet Mark Collins, the critic who plays the critic Kenneth Tynan

    “That’s a benefit of this play. You get to spend an intimate evening with these two people and walk away wondering, ‘How did these lives touch me in this theatrical journey?’”

    Lost Creatures. Kenneth Tynan. Louise Brooks. The city is helping bring McCarl's world-premiere staging to the Denver Performing Arts Complex in a new performance space called The Commons, located at 1245 Champa St. It’s part of the city’s Next Stage Now program - a public initiative to enliven and diversify the downtown arts complex. A new partnership between the city’s department of Arts & Venues, the Boettcher Foundation and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts has made $200,000 available to support public performances, programming and place-making initiatives at the arts complex in 2016. 

    McKenzie Kielman is a sophomore at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and is an intern this semester for the DCPA NewsCenter. Contact her at cintern@dcpa.org

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Lost Creatures: Ticket information
    Nov. 9-13
    At The Commons, 1245 Champa St.
    Performances 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays
    Tickets $25
    Call 720-583-3975 or go to and-toto-too-theatre-company.org

     

     

  • In the Spotlife: Mark Collins of 'Lost Creatures'

    by John Moore | Nov 01, 2016
    Mark Collins. Lost Creatures
    Photo of Mark Collins by Sara Harris.

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

    MEET MARK COLLINS

    The former Boulder theatre critic is playing renowned theatre critic Kenneth Tynan in Melissa Lucero McCarl's 'Lost Creatures' for And Toto too Theatre Company

    • Lulu Mark Collins Lost CreaturesHometown: Reidsville, N.C.
    • Home now: Denver
    • High School: Boulder High School
    • College: I have a BFA in Acting from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an MFA in Acting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
    • What have you done for us lately? I played Michael in God of Carnage at Miners Alley Playhouse
    • What is Lost Creatures all about? In 1978, former British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan visited reclusive former silent-film star Louise Brooks in her dingy one-room apartment in Rochester, N.Y. Tynan, a fan of Brooks', was there to interview the 71-year-old for a profile he wrote that eventually ran in the New Yorker. Playwright Melissa Lucero McCarl imagines what happened when these two kindred spirits – two lost creatures – met and drank and talked and ...?
    • Tell us about your character: Kenneth Tynan was a foremost drama critic, and a notorious and purposefully provocative sexual deviant; he suffered from emphysema and had a life-long stammer. As an actor, though, the big stretch for me has been that Ken speaks in complete and often flourishing paragraphs. I, on the other hand, have trouble speaking in complete sentences. So that’s been a challenge.
    • Lost CreaturesWhat do you love most about this experience? First, to get to work with this dynamite team – the supportive and miracle-making duo of (producers) Susan Lyles and Darren Smith; our onion-peeler-of-a-director Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski, our smokin’ hot writer Melissa McCarl, clever stage manager Lauren Myer, and the lovely tandem of Billie McBride and Annabel Reader - is a real treat. Billie will break hearts as Louise, I guarantee it. But one of the things I’m most looking forward to is how the audience responds to the character of Lulu, played by Annabel. She, as Louise Brooks’ iconic film character from the 1929 pre-talkie Pandora’s Box (you’ll recognize the hairstyle she made famous), is a silent character. She is (mostly) unseen by others on stage, yet Lulu is ever present and ever mischievous, and Annabel has created this fully realized character without words wonderfully.
    • From 2012: Moore & Collins: Two ex-theater critics having coffee

    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I think many people in the local theater scene know I was a theater critic for the Boulder Camera for several years. Many don’t realize that was a freelance position, and my full-time work for much of that period was as a sports editor/writer for the (University of Colorado) Buffalo Sports News. Truth be told, I’m much more fluent on the history of the Colorado Buffaloes football than I am on, say, Bertolt Brecht.
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? Um, so, as an audience member, my pet peeve is those increasingly present, but frustratingly intrusive post-curtain marketing speeches. Please don’t tell me to like you on Facebook when I’m absorbing and processing and feeling what’s just happened on your stage. Oh, but that’s a downer note to end on. So, I want to get this off my chest, too: Theater is filled with lost creatures, and I’m so grateful to be among that tribe here in Colorado!

    KennethTynan


    Lost Creatures: Ticket information

    • By Melissa Lucero McCarl
    • Directed by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    • Nov. 3-19
    • Presented by And Toto too Theatre Company at 1245 Champa St. (In the brand new performance space called The Commons.)
    • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays 
    • Tickets $15-25
    • Info: 720-583-3975 or go to andtototoo.org 

    Cast List:
    • Mark Collins as Kenneth Tynan
    • Billie McBride as Louise Brooks
    • Annabel Reader as Lulu

    About the Next Stage NOW Project
    Lost Creatures is supported in part by Next Stage NOW, a public initiative with a mission to enliven and diversify the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Denver Arts & Venues in partnership with the Boettcher Foundation and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts has made $200,000 available to support public performances, programming and place making initiatives at the Arts Complex in 2016.

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • November: Colorado theatre openings

    by John Moore | Oct 27, 2016
    November openings DCPA


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


    Five intriguing titles for November:

    Theatregoers have a dizzying array of options in November, with more special events and activities offered than in any other month. All told, you have 81 productions or events to choose from, including a whopping nine from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts alone. Statewide, you can choose between two stage adaptations of Night of the Living Dead, two musicalized versions of the holiday family film A Christmas Story, two It's a Wonderful Lifes, two The Crucibles and four variations of A Christmas Carol.

    At the Denver Center, you will find everything from three nights of David Sedaris to Jersey Boys to Hip Hop Nutcracker to the ongoing irreverent comedy An Act of God. And that doesn't even include two of Denver's most popular November activities: The Denver International Film Festival (Nov. 2-13) and the Denver Improv Festival (Nov. 10-12). Here are five (of many) intriguing titles or events to check out:

    1 PerspectivesJohn Hauser Young John Hauser is on a roll. His latest coup is landing the role of a troubled Texas teen named Jason in Hand to God, presented by Curious Theatre Company. Not to be confused with the DCPA's An Act of God, Robert Askins' ruthlessly profane comedy is about a God-fearing boy coping with his father’s recent death who is forced to join his mother’s Church-led puppet group. When Jason discovers that his foul-mouthed sock puppet has a demonic life all its own, all hell breaks loose. Literally. Hauser is part of the DCPA's Frankenstein company and stars as Romeo in the Education Department's traveling Shakespeare in the Parking Lot program. He also recently starred as Eugene in Miners Alley Playhouse's Biloxi Blues. Hand to God runs Nov. 5-Dec. 17 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    2 Perspectives

    The world premiere of Lost Creatures, written by Denver native Melissa Lucero McCarl, follows the evening British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan met his longtime cinematic obsession, actress Louise Brooks. It's May 1978 and she has sequestered herself for many years, but they discover they are kindred spirits. Starring local big-shots Billie McBride and Mark Collins, and directed by DCPA Education's Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski. Presented by And Toto Too Theatre Company from Nov. 3-19 at 1245 Champa St., 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org 

    3 PerspectivesGerminal Stage-Denver is presenting a limited engagement of Dalton Trumbo's 1939 anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun. It's the story of a World War I soldier who wakes up in a hospital bed and gradually realizes he has lost his arms, legs and all of his face in an artillery blast. Now through Nov. 6 at the 73rd Avenue Playhouse, 7287 Lowell Blvd., 303-455-7108 or germinalstage.com.

    4 PerspectivesEquinox Theatre Company is launching a world-premiere comedy by local actor (and writer) Christian Munck called One Death, Please? It's about a young pop-star named Olive Warren who seems to have it all. But she doesn't, and now she's determined to to take her own life with the help of an assisted suicide clinic. This new play is said to "shine a harsh spotlight on the brutality of the popular media." Nov. 11-Dec. 3 at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    5 PerspectivesThe DCPA’s Tony-winning Theatre Company is helping the community celebrate Denver Arts Week with a special, free evening on Nov. 7 titled Magic of Theatre.
    Ever wonder how it rains on stage? Snows inside? Or how many recipes there are for fake blood? Come explore the secrets of the trade with expert craftspeople. Activities may range from a light show and multimedia display to painting through a bamboo shoot to an exercise in stage combat. Guests also will be treated to scenes from current productions. Details are still being finalized. 6:30 p.m. at the Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    And that's just the start of things. Here are all your options in one handy list:  

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Oct. 28-30: DCPA's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
    JonesTheatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Oct. 28-Nov. 12: Coal Creek Theater of Louisville and Theater Company of Lafayette's Absurd Person Singular
    At the Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant Ave., Louisville, 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org 

    Oct. 28-Nov. 27: Vintage Theatre Productions' Stella and Lou
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Oct. 28-Nov. 6: Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun

    At the 73rd Avenue Playhouse, 7287 Lowell Blvd., 303-455-7108 or germinalstage.com

    Oct. 28-Nov. 12: Funky Little Theatre Company's The Bold, the Young & the Murdered
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    Nov. 3-19: And Toto too Theatre Company’s Lost Creatures
    At The Commons on Champa,1245 Champa St., 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org 

    Nov. 3-13: Upstart Crow's The Crucible
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-442-1415 or upstart’s home page

     

    Nov. 5-Dec. 17: Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    Nov. 5-Dec. 3: OpenStage Theatre & Company’s The Flick
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or www.openstagetheatre.org

     

    Nov. 5-Dec. 18: The Bitsy Stage's Sadko's Song: A Russian Tale
    1137 S. Huron St. Free, but reservations are required by calling 720-328-5294 or  emailing patti@BitsyStage.com

    Nov. 9-Nov. 13: DCPA Broadway's Jersey Boys
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Nov. 10-12: Control Group Productions' Alone with Todd
    At Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St., controlgroupproductions.org

    Nov. 11-Dec. 30: Town Hall Arts Center's A Christmas Story, The Musical
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Nov. 11-Dec. 31: Midtown Arts Center's A Christmas Story, The Musical
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Equinox One Death Please. Photo by Christine Fisk. Nov. 11-Dec. 3: Equinox Theatre Company's One Death, Please?
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Nov. 11-20: Inspire Creative's The Diary of Anne Frank
    19650 E. Mainstreet, Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    Nov. 17-Dec. 4: Maya Productions' Conviction
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-444-7328 or thedairy.org

    Nov. 18-Dec. 24: Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org READ MORE

    Nov. 18-Dec. 18: Two live radio plays: It's A Wonderful Life in repertory with A Christmas Carol
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Nov. 19-Feb. 25, 2017: BDT Stage's Thoroughly Modern Millie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Nov. 19-Dec. 23: Bas Bleu Theatre Company's The Snow Queen
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Nov. 11-20: Longmont Theatre Company's Tuesdays with Morrie
    513 Main St., 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Nov 20: DCPA Broadway's The Hip Hop Nutcracker
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Nov. 25-Dec. 24: DCPA Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol, Stage Theatre
    At the Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Nov. 25-Dec. 24: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and Off-Center's The SantaLand Diaries
    At the Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Nov. 25-Dec. 23: Miners Alley Playhouse's A Christmas Carol
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Nov. 25-Jan. 8: Vintage Theatre Productions' Beauty and the Beast
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Nov. 25-Dec. 24, 2016: The Avenue Theater's Santa’s Big Red Sack
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or the avenue’s home page

    Nov. 25-Dec. 18: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Bad Jews
    At the Outlets at Silverthorne. Dillon, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Nov. 25-Dec. 30, 2016: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's She Loves Me
    121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Nov. 25-Dec. 31: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s A Wonderful Life
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Nov. 25-Dec. 31: Thin Air Theatre Company's A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol
    139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-3247 or thinairtheatre.com

    Dec. 1-18: Boys Hair Club's A Krumpus Story
    Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St. TICKET INFO

     

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Bat Boy. Longmont Theatre. Through Oct. 29: Longmont Theatre Company's Bat Boy: The Musical
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Through Oct. 29, 2016: Naropa Universiity's Spill
    2130 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder MORE INFO

    Through Oct. 29: OpenStage Theatre Company’s Ultimate Beauty Bible
    At the Center for Fine Art Photography, 400 N. College Ave., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

     

    Through Oct. 29: Bug Theatre's Night of the Living Dead, Live (with Paper Cat Films)
    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info

    Through Oct. 30: DCPA Theatre Company's Frankenstein
    Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through Oct. 30: Cherry Creek Theatre's The Last Romance
    Shaver Ramsey Showroom, 2414 E. 3rd Ave., Denver, 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    Through Oct. 30: Springs Ensemble Theatre’s The Elephant Man
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Through Oct. 30: Thingamajig Theatre Company's Grounded
    At the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    Through Oct. 30: Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre’s Sarah, Plain and Tall
    Famous Performing Arts Center, 131 W Main St., Trinidad, 719-846-4765 or scrtheatre.com

    Through Oct. 30: Vintage Theatre's Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, The Musical
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Oct. 30: 5280 Artists Coop's Colorism

    1400 Dallas Street, Aurora, 5280artistcoop.ticketspice.com

    Through Oct. 30: Star Bar Players' Night of the Living Dead, Live
    At the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado. 719-520-1899 or starbarplayers.org

    Through Oct. 30: Thin Air Theatre Company's Cripple Creep Show
    139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-3247 or thinairtheatre.com

    Through Oct. 30: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
    Second Stage, 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Through Nov. 5: Midtown Arts Center's Motones vs. Jerseys
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through Nov. 5: Firehouse's Theatre's The Crucible
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehouse’s home page READ MORE

    Through Nov. 5: The Avenue Theater's Wait Until Dark
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Through Nov. 6: Arvada Center’s Tartuffe
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 6: Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres, or The Sun That You Are
    At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 6: Aurora Fox's Dracula
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-739-1970 or aurorafoxartscenter.org

    Through Nov. 6: TheatreWorks' Game of Love and Chance
    3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Through Nov. 6: Evergren Players' Stepping Out
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreen players’ home page

    Through Nov. 12: BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2! (#WhatDidIComeInHereFor)
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com READ MORE

    Through March 12, 2017: DCPA Cabaret's An Act of God
    Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 13: The Edge Theatre's Marie Antoinette
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Through Nov. 13: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s Evita
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Nov. 13: Local Theater Company’s The Firestorm
    Carsen Theater at The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org READ MORE

     

    Through Nov. 13: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Full Code
    Grace Gamm Theater at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc.org

    Through Nov. 13: Ignite Theatre's Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe
    2590 Washington St., 866-811-4111 or click here for tickets

    Through Nov. 19: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
    Second Stage, 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Through Nov. 27: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Godspell
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

     

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

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

    ATHENA PROJECT
    Nov. 19: Staged reading of Sheltered, a play by local playwright Catherine Wiley
    7 p.m.  $20 ticket includes donation to The Gathering Place.
    At Red Line Contemporary Art Gallery, 2350 Arapahoe St. or tickets

    BUNTPORT THEATRE

    Sept. 30: Untitled at the Denver Art Museum
    Nov. 12: Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey (Monthly theatre for young audiences at 1 and 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month, through May 13)
    Nov. 15: The Great Debate
    Nov. 16: The Narrators (a live storytelling show and podcast)
    Nov. 18-19: Stratus Chamber Orchestra with Buntport Theater at Augustana Lutheran Church
    Nov. 19: TRUNKS: a live comic book is back! (2-4 p.m.)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    THE CATAMOUNTS
    Nov. 5-6: FEED: Los Muertos
    Celebrating stories and rituals honoring the departed, including a three-course meal, live music and performance.
    Firehouse Arts Center, 667 4th Ave., Longmont, 720-468-0487 or brownpapertickets.com

    DENVER ACTORS FUND PRESENTS ...

    (Monthly film series in partnership with local theatre companies)
    Nov. 15: A Christmas Story
    Pre-screening entertainment by cast of Town Hall Arts Center's current production.
    At the Alamo Drafthouse, Aspen Grove, 7301 S Santa Fe Dr, Littleton, 720-588-4107 or BUY TICKETS

    DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
    Nov. 2-4: DCPA Broadway's An Evening with David Sedaris
    At the Seawell Grand Ballroom, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    DENVER IMPROV FESTIVAL

    Nov. 10-12: The Denver Improv Festival features the top improv performers from across Colorado as well as teams from all over the country. BUY TICKETS
    Venues:
    The Bovine Metropolis Theater, Voodoo Comedy Playhouse and Backstage at Beryl's.

    LAKE DILLON THEATRE COMPANY
    Nov. 4-5: Tim and Ben
    The Outlets at Silverthorne. Dillon, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    LAKEWOOD CULTURAL CENTER
    Nov. 18: Aquila Theatre's Much Ado About Nothing
    Nov. 19: Aquila Theatre's Agatha Christie's Murder on the Nile
    470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or Lakewood.org

    LANNIES CLOCKTOWER CABARET
    Nov. 2: Drag Decades with Hostess Shirley Delta Blow
    Nov. 4 and 11: The Jerseys Sing the Four Seasons
    Nov. 5-26: Unforgettable, an R&B tribute starring Mary Louise Lee and Michael C

    Nov. 25: Revenge of the Misfit Toys, holiday improv comedy 
    D&F Clock Tower, 16th and Arapahoe streets, 303-293-0075 or Clocktowercabaret.com

    November openings. Einstein Mizel. MIZEL ARTS AND CULTURE CENTER
    Nov. 20: Einstein!, a solo play by Jack Fry, 4 p.m.
    Elaine Wolf Theatre, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-316-6360 or maccjcc.org

    PACE CENTER
    Oct. 27: Rock the Presidents
    This high-energy musical revue spans 223 years of American presidents.
    20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, parkerarts.org

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY

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

     

    STORIES ON STAGE
    Nov. 12: Born Funny
    1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-494-0523 or TICKETS
    Selections include:
    "Attempting Normal," by Marc Maron, performed by Drew Horwitz
    “Confessions of a Juggler,” by Tina Fey, performed by MareTrevathan
    “The Long Epiphany,” by George Carlin, performed by Bob Buckley

    November openings. Aquila Lakewood Cultural Center
  • In the Spotlife: Anne Oberbroeckling of 'Ripcord'

    by John Moore | Sep 17, 2016
    Anne Oberbroeckling and Billie McBride star in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's 'Ripcord,' by David Lindsay-Abaire. Photo by Michael Ensminger.


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

    MEET ANNE OBERBROECKLING

    Marilyn Dunne in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord

    • Hometown: Long Beach, Calif.
    • Home now: Denver
    • College: Degree in theatre and English from Clark College in Dubuque, Iowa
    • What have you done for us lately? Amanda in the Cherry Creek Theatre Company's The Glass Menagerie
    • What is Ripcord all about? Well, it is written by David Lindsay-Abaire, so while it can be about one thing, on the surface, it is really about so very much more. But the
      essence is the story of two old gals in an assisted living facility in New Jersey who are polar opposites. They make a bet where one of them wins the room for herself. One is trying to make one angry and the other is trying scare the first one. The bets
      become more complicated and intricate and crazy.
    • Most challenging aspect for you as an actor: Marilyn is a mother, grandmother and widow. She is one of the most positive and energetic women I may have ever played. That is a challenge right there. The bets are going to require some technological challenges (so I guess that is the crew, not me, whew.) l have also been basing her on an old friend who passed away from ALS last year. She is my spirit animal on this one.
    • What do you love most about this play? I love David Lindsay-Abaire's outlook on life. It is sweet and funny and slightly off-kilter.
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I want to write, and I continue to make attempts at it Just wait.
    • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? I wish to heck there were much more gender-blind, age-blind and color-blind casting. We are all so darn afraid to take chances with things like that in the U.S. There is so much more of that done in other countries. I remember this quote from an actor who said: "I  want to play the parts that weren't written for me." Isn't that great?

      Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord: Ticket information
      • Directed by Rebecca Remaly (read her interview with the Daily Camera)
      • Through Oct. 9
      • At the new Grace Gamm Theater in the renovated Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
      • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, plus 7:30 p.m. Thursdays Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. Also: "Tech Tuesday," 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27. (Includes pre-show happy hour and post-show conversation for $40).
      • Tickets $20-$35
      • 303-440-7826 or BUY ONLINE


    Cast list:

    Abby Binder: Billie McBride
    Marilyn Dunne: Anne Oberbroeckling
    Scotty: Michael Bouchard
    Benjamin/Lewis: Josh Hartwell
    Colleen: Lindsey Pierce
    Derek: Kevin Lowry

    Please Note: Ripcord contains some profane language and adult situations, so may not be suitable for patrons under high-school age. Parental discretion advised.

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage

  • Workshop: Agent Patty Kingsbaker on teaching actors about business

    by John Moore | Apr 13, 2016

    Patty Kingsbaker
    Patty Kingsbaker with her actor son, Michael Kingsbaker, at the Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards. Michael Kingsbaker just starred in "Sex With Strangers" at Curious Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    As a longtime casting director, producer and talent agent, it is Patty Kingsbaker’s job to find work for Colorado actors. If they don’t get paid, she is fond of saying, “then I don’t get paid."

    Kingsbaker, co-owner of Radical Artists Agency, has seen an astonishing array of talent in the Colorado acting community over the past 30 years. That’s why she is continually surprised to see how ill-prepared actors both young and veteran can be for the scarier, business side of the industry.

    “As a whole, most actors never think about the business of acting, or what they are doing to sabotage themselves,” said Kingsbaker, who, appropriately enough for her career path, grew up around the boxing rings of Miami.

    Eliminating common mistakes is one theme of a three-hour seminar Kingsbaker will be conducting April 27 through DCPA Education called “The Business of Acting: How to Build Your Opportunities and Career.” Topics will include resumés, networking, agent, and where you can improve your chances at being seen for a role.

    We talked to Kingsbaker about her career, and her upcoming workshop at the Denver Center.

    Register for Patty Kingsbaker's April 27 workshop at the DCPA

    John Moore: Tell us about the origin of Radical Artists Agency

    Patty Kingsbaker: I returned to Denver in 1995 after three years in L.A. and a yearlong sabbatical in Crested Butte. The plan was to head back to L.A. and join forces with a friend who had just opened his own agency. Someone from the DCPA heard I was in town and asked if I would sit on a panel for them. Kathey True, who was with another agency at the time, was also on the panel. After the panel a group of us went out, and that is when Kathey asked me if I would ever come back to Denver as an agent and I said no; not unless it was my own agency. Three months later, we opened Radical Artists Agency.

    John Moore: Give us an overview of what your company does.

    Patty Kingsbaker: We represent actors and voice talent for work in film, television, commercials and industrials.

    Patty Kingsbaker 1

    Clockwise from top left: Patty Kingsbaker clients Billie McBride, Melissa Benoist, Leslie O'Carroll and John Ashton.

    John Moore: Tell us a few success stories.

    Patty Kingsbaker: We’ve had actors on all the major shows out of New Mexico. Kathleen M. Brady, Leslie O’Carroll, John Ashton, Jefferson Arca and Kurt Soderstrum were all on Breaking Bad at a time when actors out of L.A. couldn’t even get an audition. But I’m probably most proud of Billie McBride being cast in three separate film and television projects when they originally wanted a male for the roles, and I fought to get her seen. (Honestly: Why does a judge or school principal have to be male?) I also helped Melissa Benoist (CBS’ Supergirl) get her first film role in the Lee Daniels’ film Tennessee. And I facilitated a meeting with her first agent in New York.

    John Moore: So explain how this works: A client company that is filming, say, a TV commercial calls you up and gives you a character breakdown, and says you can send three of your actors to the audition. Pick up the story from there: How do you choose your three clients? And what do you say to your clients who don’t get chosen? And do you get paid if your actor doesn’t get picked?

    Patty Kingsbaker: I can spend days setting up an audition between e-mails, phone calls, distributing scripts, answering questions, rearranging call times and more. I’m usually working on multiple jobs at the same time. I have to make some tough calls about who gets the audition, but I’m going to send in the actors I believe have the best shot at that project, and I feel completely justified making that call. It’s a business decision, and that is what this seminar is all about: The business of acting.

    John Moore: You find screen work for actors, many of whom you discover performing in local live theatre productions. What do you look for in an actor you want to sign?

    Patty Kingsbaker: I look for different things. Talent goes without saying, but sometimes it’s just a great commercial vibe. This is a commercial market, so some of my best actors don’t work a lot because they don’t fit into a commercial or corporate world.

    Patty Kingsbaker quoteJohn Moore: What is the biggest mistake actors make when trying to land an agent?

    Patty Kingsbaker: Not being prepared with the right tools for their trade. I’m going to cover this in the seminar.

    John Moore: What is the biggest mistake actors make when trying to keep an agent?

    Patty Kingsbaker: When we sign an actor, we commit to the relationship for the long haul. I have dropped actors because they did something unprofessional, or they haven’t provided me with the tools I need to market them. The other issue I have is that they don’t get back to me in a timely manner. I don’t have time to chase after actors and I made a decision when we opened Radical that I wouldn’t work harder for an actor than they are willing to work for themselves.

    John Moore: What makes an actor better-suited for the stage as opposed to the screen? And do you try to steer them into a specialty?

    Patty Kingsbaker: I personally don’t believe actors are better suited for stage or screen. Years ago, when I was building my business with theatre actors, producers would tell me they didn’t want to see theatre actors because they were too “big” in their acting. I explained that they had been seeing bad actors, not theatre actors. A good actor can adjust to the medium, an inexperienced actor cannot - and I stand behind that to this day.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Everyone wants to be a star. What do you find actors are least likely to do in order to make that happen?

    Patty Kingsbaker: If they tell me they want to be a star, I tell them to find another career. If an actor can’t imagine anything else in this life that would make them happy; if they need to perform and they’re always working on their craft - which is a lifelong pursuit for an actor - they might have a shot at making a living. Then, if they get a break and get to make big money, it’s about doing what they love - not being a star.

    John Moore: For some actors, the goal is to get to New York or L.A. As an agent based in Denver, is your job to help them to get there? Or to convince them to stay? 

    Patty Kingsbaker: The big opportunities are in New York and Los Angeles. Some are ready for that leap and some are not. I’ve pushed some actors out of this market and I’ve told others they aren’t ready - and they usually go anyway. I’m always trying to prepare younger actors for bigger markets. But they need to be grounded in who they are, what they want and understand that this is a business.

    John Moore: For other actors, the goal is to stay in Denver, raise a family and do as much fulfilling professional work as an actor as they can along the way. But is there enough film, TV and commercial work for an actor to make a living in Denver? 

    Patty Kingsbaker: I have actors who make a living here - some who make an extremely good living. Most of them do multiple things like theatre, teach, voiceover work and on-camera work. But they’re committed to this business and have arranged their lives so that they don’t miss opportunities when they come up. Others have full-time jobs and aren’t always available, but they understand that is the choice they’ve made. Our top-grossing guy was in radio, but he decided to make the leap into full-time voice work. He started Skyping with Los Angeles and then New York coaches. It put him into a whole other category, and he is now doing national work on a daily basis. The biggest problem with Denver actors is they stop studying their craft.

    John Moore: Give us a brief overview of what you will be covering during your three-hour seminar at the Denver Center on April 27?

    Patty Kingsbaker: I’ll be speaking about training, headshots and resumes. These are an actor’s biggest marketing tools, and most fail at getting them right. I will also discuss casting websites - what to avoid and why. I’ll touch on what you need before to go to a larger market, and of course how to get and keep an agent here in Colorado. I will also discuss industry etiquette, which should be common sense, but unfortunately from my experience, is not. And I’ll probably throw in a few war stories along the way.


    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.

     

    Patty Kingsbaker: Career at a glance

    • Began as a casting director in Denver
    • In the late ‘80s, became a producer for Grad Films in Phoenix
    • Returned to Denver in 1991 and began career as a Talent Agent, building one of the strongest talent divisions in Colorado over the next 10 years
    • In 2001, became Talent Producer for Wild Jams Productions at FOX Television in Los Angeles
    • Returned to Denver in 2005 and opened Radical Artists Agency, where she currently represents the top echelon of Denver actors and voice talent for work in film, television, voice-over, corporate industrials and commercials
     

    The Business of Acting: How to Build your Opportunities and Career

    One session • $60 • Three-hour class time
    Wednesday, April 27 • 6:30-9:30 p.m. • Conducted by Patty Kingsbaker

    Information: 303-893-4100 or REGISTER


    Course description
    : Becoming a successful actor takes a serious review of your approach to the business side of your career. You’ll take a look at your resumé, networking, agent, and how immersed you are in the market to determine where you can improve your chances at being seen for a role and landing your next job. Patty Kingsbaker, Partner and Agent at Radical Artists Agency, will share her knowledge and insights stemming from a 30-year career as a casting director, producer and talent agent. Topics will include getting prepared for the business side of acting, finding an agent, how to choose casting sites, and how to build your career as a working actor. If you plan to stay in this market or move to a larger one, this evening is a must.

  • 2015 True West Awards: Rebecca Remaly

    by John Moore | Dec 28, 2015
    True West Award Rebecca Remaly

    Timothy McCracken and Emily Paton Davies of 'Outside Mullingar.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    ​Today’s recipient:
    Rebecca Remaly
    Managing Director, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

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


    Stephen Weitz has been on a pretty public roll these past few years. The co-founder of the 10-year-old Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company just directed Tribes and The SantaLand Diaries back-to-back at his second artistic home, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Meanwhile, his own rising company back in Boulder has been picking up four-star reviews like so many coins in a fountain, most recently for the Chekhov variation Stupid F***ing Bird and, last month, for John Patrick Shanley’s Irish romance Outside Mullingar.

    Rebecca Remaly quote 2In 2012, Weitz was named the True West Theatre Person of the Year. But he would be the first to insist that the driving force behind his theatre company, his family and pretty much his whole life is his wife, Rebecca Remaly.

    When the pair started BETC (colloquially known as “Betsy”) in 2006, their artistic plan was noble. The mission: “To present profound theatrical stories that inspire our audiences and enrich our community.” And in 2009, Remaly figured out a foolproof, slightly ignoble way to pay for it: By staging an annual production of The SantaLand Diaries, which just completed its sixth sold-out holiday run and third as co-production with the DCPA. Remaly directed the inaugural production that started it all.

    Remaly is also an accomplished director who has been authoritatively delivering one solid regional premiere after another for BETC. She has helmed 17 titles over the past decade, and two in 2015: The Aliens and Outside Mullingar. One is a deliberately slow-motion tale following two wayward young men who spend their days in the alley behind a coffee shop talking music and Bukowski. The other is the old-fashioned romantic tale of a pair of stubborn, middle-aged Irish introverts who decide to take a chance on late love.

    Broadway reviewers were largely ambivalent about Shanley’s unexpectedly sentimental turn after his searing Doubt, but Remaly’s staging of Mullingar struck a deep chord with audiences and critics alike. If it’s true that directing is about 90 percent casting, then Remaly hit Mullingar about 90 percent out of the ballpark when she cast Chris Kendall, Emily Paton Davies, DCPA Head of Acting Timothy McCracken and Colorado Theatre Guild Life Achievement winner Billie McBride. The Denver Post’s Joanne Ostrow called what that foursome presented “spellbinding.”

    But of perhaps even greater importance to BETC’s success has been Remaly’s contributions as Managing Director. With Remaly managing the business side of the operation, BETC’s annual operating budget has steadily climbed over the past three seasons from $285,000 to $350,000 to $420,000. Back in 2006, it was $12,000. That represents a growth of 3,400 percent.

    “She's incredible with numbers, and I give her a ton of credit for the financial health and success that the company has achieved over the years,” said Weitz. “At the same time, she's a hell of a good artist. Many of our most successful shows have been under her direction. I would go so far as to say she's possibly the most underrated director in the area.”

    Westword’s Juliet Wittman has certainly seen the light. Remaly’s An Empty Plate in the Cafe du Grand Boeuf in 2014 “announced emphatically that BETC was at the top of its game, both in choice of material and in terms of performances.”

    If Remaly weren’t so busy behind the scenes, you’d likely be seeing more of her on the stage as well. Her acting resume includes Doubt (Sister James), Stop Kiss (Sara), The Glass Menagerie (Laura) and Antigone (Ismene) for BETC. She also played Hannah in Curious Theatre Company’s world premiere of Collapse. And then there is young Jamison, the son she and Weitz welcomed to the family in 2012.

    Remaly is part of a remarkable organic trend that is underway in Boulder: With the exception of Michael J. Duran of the venerable BDT Stage, all of Boulder’s present theatre companies are managed by women: Pesha Rudnick (Local Theatre Company), Amanda Berg Wilson (The Catamounts), Emily K. Harrison (the lower-cased square product theatre company) and Remaly (BETC).

    Weitz knows one thing for sure:

    “In all honesty, BETC would be nothing without her," he said. "There's no way we would have ever gotten this far without her leadership.”

    Stephen Weitz with son Jamison at a 2013 opening that happened to be his son's first bithday. Photo by John Moore.
    Stephen Weitz with son Jamison at a 2013 opening that happened to be his son's first birthday. Photo by John Moore.

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


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

    by John Moore | Dec 08, 2015
    Christopher L. Sheley, 4000 Miles, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Photo by Jeff Kearney.
    Photo by Jeff Kearney for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.


    2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    ​Today’s recipient: Scenic Designer Christopher L. Sheley,
    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company’s 4000 Miles


    Today’s presenter: DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore


    How detail-oriented is Christopher L. Sheley? The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company’s Resident Set Designer placed dead bugs inside the hanging light fixtures in the Greenwich Village apartment he created for 4000 Miles, one of the most fully realized productions on any Colorado stage this year.

    In Amy Herzog’s play, this apartment belongs to 91-year-old New Yorker named Vera, inspired by the playwright's own grandmother. The level of detail Sheley achieved in re-creating it in Colorado Springs was so meticulous, audiences came early and stayed late to take it all in: The parquet floors, the massive shelves of books, the fade around the wall art, the hanging hints of the owner's radical past. It all bore artful consideration.

    Sheley and the Fine Arts Center are a perfect match: A theatre company housed within an art museum and, for a decade now, a scenic designer who creates worlds on stage that are themselves works of art. 

    Scott RC Levy QuoteNext to a wall phone in the kitchen, Sheley posted a sheet listing the names and phone numbers Grandma Vera might actually call – written in actor Billie McBride’s own handwriting. Sheley even mixed dirt into the wall paint to indicate age and sun-weathering. The apartment looked – and even smelled – like it was lifted right out of the Village. That’s because that was a real coffee maker brewing up the grounds in that kitchen.

    Sheley is a master of hyperrealism, which was necessary to help the four actors tell this story with authenticity. Levy and Sheley were also acutely aware that the playwright had spent a lot of time in the real New York apartment that inspired it. “We wanted to honor that, and to get it right," Levy said.

    They got it right, all right. And a big reason the apartment looked so jarringly real was because Sheley shrank the actual dimension of The SaGaJi Theatre’s proscenium – and added an actual apartment ceiling. You almost never see room ceilings in plays performed at theatres. Ceilings are mostly implied because they have to allow for the stage lighting hanging from above to get through. Not here.

    Sheley got the inspiration - and the confidence – that he could pull off the concept from having seen the Denver Center Theatre Company’s 2012 production of The Whale, designed by Jason Simms.

    Benjamin Bonenfant and Billie McBride in '4000 Miles,' Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Photo by Jeff Kearney.“When we saw The Whale, we realized it was possible to pluck out a legitimate-looking apartment in all the right measurements and transfer them right onto the stage,” Levy said. It helped that Sheley's work was perfectly complemented by Holly Anne Rawls’ lighting design, right down to the hallway bleed under Vera’s front door. The set was also recently honored with a Pikes Peak Arts Council Award.

    Sheley, a native of St. Louis, came to the Fine Arts Center in 2005 and quickly established himself as among the most gifted scenic designers in Colorado. He won 2006 and 2010 Denver Post Ovation Awards for designing Pirates of Penzance and Sweeney Todd, respectively. Levy says Sheley's greatest strengths are collaboration, detail and tirelessness.

    (Photo above right: Benjamin Bonenfant and Billie McBride in '4000 Miles.' Both appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's recent world-premiere staging of 'Benediction.' Bonenfant is currently appearing in the DCPA's 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Jeff Kearney for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.)

    And Sheley is apparently not without a sense of humor. In a wink to the Fine Arts Center faithful, he hung an original Lew Tilley painting on Vera's wall. Tilley was a beloved local painter, poet and actor. He was also Sheley’s predecessor as the Fine Arts Center’s resident scenic designer before his death in 2005. Also hidden among the books dominating Vera’s shelves, Sheley slipped in an unseeable copy of a 2011 American Theatre Magazine that spotlighted 4000 Miles’ off-Broadway debut on its cover. That production starred Denver native Gabe Ebert in the role of the wayward cyclist grandson who has shown up on his grandma’s apartment with both bike and baggage in tow.

    Levy’s staging of 4000 Miles was a real treasure in the Colorado theatre season, in large part because os the nuanced performances by McBride, Benjamin Bonenfant, Rachel Baker and Erica Erickson. But Sheley gave them a 4,000-mile head start by depositing them, and the audience, immediately into the literal world of the play.

    (Note: ‘4000 Miles’ will be staged next from Jan. 29-March 6 by Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden. Click here for information.)

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

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

  • Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 10 shows to watch

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

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



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

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

    OUR COMPLETE LIST OF SEPTEMBER THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    Any Given Monday

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

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



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

    (Photo: Bethany Richardson and Alexis Robbins.) 



    The Flick

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


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

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



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




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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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


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

    OUR COMPLETE LIST OF SEPTEMBER THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO
  • 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
  • DCPA will adapt Haruf's final novel for the stage

    by John Moore | Jun 11, 2015
    Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.

    Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.


    The DCPA Theatre Company will adapt the late Colorado author Kent Haruf's final book, Our Souls at Night, for the theatrical stage, it was announced tonight at an event related to the release of the book at the Colfax Tattered Cover Book Store.

    Cathy Haruf. Associate Artistic Director Bruce K. Sevy delivered the news at a public taping of Colorado Public Radio's Colorado Matters. Sevy told an overflow crowd that, for the fourth time, playwright Eric Schmiedl will be commissioned to adapt a Haruf novel for the DCPA, following Plainsong, Eventide and Benediction.

    A commission is not a guarantee that the play will receive a full production on the Theatre Company's season. But, Sevy said, that would be the eventual goal. "We always approach them as if they will be produced," he said.

    (Photographed: Above right: Cathy Haruf. Below left: Bruce K. Sevy makes the announcement at the Tattered Cover. Photos by John Moore.)

    Bruce K. Sevy makes the announcement at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore. The time between a commission and a fully staged production is typically a minimum of three years. Any future staging would again be directed by DCPA Artistic Director Kent Thompson.

    The DCPA Theatre Company adapted and staged Haruf's Plainsong Trilogy as three live theatrical world premieres over the past decade, culminating with Benediction in February. Our Souls at Night, the story of a man and  woman grappling with their advanced age, is not a part of the Plainsong series, although it is set in the same fictional town of Holt, Colorado.

    At tonight's Tattered Cover event, DCPA actors Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from Our Souls at Night. Colorado Public Radio's Ryan Warner then led a discussion with Haruf's wife, Cathy, and editor, Gary Fisketjon.

    Fisketjon referenced a chapter in the book where the primary couple, Addie Moore and Louis Waters, are lying in bed and talking about their fellow Holt neighbor - Kent Haruf. And how his Benediction was about to be staged at the Denver Center. It is a meta moment in which Haruf for the first time essentially establishes himself as a longtime neighbor to his fictional characters living the town he made up.

    Sevy already was imagining how that exchange might play out if Our Souls at Night is eventually staged at the Denver Center.

    "I love it," Sevy said. "That moment is going to play like gangbusters. Can you imagine sitting in the theatre and watching these characters talk about seeing Benediction?"

    Cathy Haruf said she imagines her husband would be nothing short of delighted to know that his final novel might join his previous works as DCPA Theatre productions.

    "He didn't write any of them to be plays," she said, "but he was always really pleased with the other productions that they have done. He wanted so badly to make it long enough to see Benediction." 

    Haruf finished Our Souls at Night just days before he passed away in November 2014. Cathy Haruf told the Tattered Cover audience of about 100 that "Kent lost his fear of dying" in writing his final book after he had received a terminal diagnosis for lung disease. "What greater gift could anybody ask for?"

    Schmiedl is one of 38 playwrights who have been commissioned by Thompson to write new plays since 2006. A commission essentially gives the DCPA the right of first refusal when it comes to possibly staging the work.

    The DCPA NewsCenter interviewed Kent Haruf just five days before he died. You can read the transcript here.

    About Our Souls at Night
    (Description provided by publisher Alfred Knopf)
    To buy the book, click here

    A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

    In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

    Their brave adventures — their pleasures and their difficulties — are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

    Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage of Kent Haruf:
    DCPA actors to read from Kent Haruf's final book
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    Benediction opens as a celebration of the 'Precious Ordinary'
    DCPA to celebrate Kent Haruf on Feb. 7
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71

  • DCPA actors to read from Kent Haruf's final book on Thursday

    by John Moore | Jun 10, 2015
    Mike Hartman, Cathy Haruf and Lauren Klein at the Kent Haruf celebration on Feb. 7. Photo by John Moore.
    Cathy Haruf, center, will appear Thursday at the Tattered Cover with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio. Photo by John Moore.


    Denver Center Theatre Company actors Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall will read from the late Colorado author Kent Haruf's final book, Our Souls at Night, at a live radio event starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 11, at the Colfax Tattered Cover Book Store (2526 E. Colfax Ave.)

    270x270-kent-haruf-in-some-ways-it-felt-as-if-it-was-what-was-keeping-me-aliveIn addition, Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio's Colorado Matters will lead a discussion with the author’s wife, Cathy Haruf, and editor, Gary Fisketjon.

    Haruf was the author of the Plainsong Trilogy, which the DCPA adapted and staged as three live theatrical world premieres over a decade, He finished Our Souls at Night just days before he passed away in November 2014. Two months later, the DCPA staged the world premiere of Benediction.

    The DCPA NewsCenter interviewed Kent Haruf just five days before he died. You can read the transcript here.

    Haruf, a native of Pueblo and resident of Salida, published six works of fiction — including the best-selling Plainsong in 1999. While all of those books took place in the fictional eastern Colorado town of Holt, Haruf expressed an ongoing annoyance that  when people claimed Holt was based on Yuma.

    "They're not (Yuma stories)," Haruf told the DCPA's John Moore. "I chose the look of that country as a specific place that I knew very well, and that I could use as the background setting for the stories I wanted to tell. But if you think about it, these stories could happen essentially anywhere."

    Our Souls at Night is again set in Holt, but it is unlike any book he has written before. It is inspired by his relationship with his wife. Haruf set out to write one short chapter every day for two months after he was diagnosed as terminal.

    "In some ways, it felt as if that was what was keeping me alive," he said. "It was something significant for me to get up for every day."

    Haruf joins a a number of other local authors who write about Western issues featured in the “Colorado Matters at the Tattered” series.

    Seating for the event is limited and available on a first-come-first-served basis. Hear more about it here.

    Selected previous coverage of Kent Haruf:
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    Benediction opens as a celebration of the 'Precious Ordinary'
    DCPA to celebrate Kent Haruf on Feb. 7
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71
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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.