• 2017 True West Award: Kenny Moten

    by John Moore | Dec 07, 2017
    2017 True West Award Kenny Moten. Photo by John Moore

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 7: Kenny Moten

    Motones vs. Jerseys
    Miscast 2017
    Aurora Fox Cabaret Series
    Owner, Narrative Creative Consulting

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    If you think being a performer is hard, try being a performer and the owner of your own entertainment and consulting company. Kenny Moten makes the transition from actor to producer to businessman and back again in same manner that often describes his rich singing voice: Smooth as silk.

    Moten is among the very few performers who also knows how to run a business.

    Kenny Moten“It’s rare because owning an entertainment business is brutal in a way that is very different from the way performing is brutal,” said Moten’s frequent creative partner — and employee — Jalyn Courtenay Webb. “When you’re the boss, you are not only responsible for yourself, but for the people you hire and the team you put together. But Kenny has just the right temperament for it. He does everything with integrity. He’s a solid human being.”  

    Moten is the creator and owner of Narrative Creative Consulting, which presents entertainment events and uses various art forms to help clients ranging from National Jewish Hospital to Snooze Eatery to the Denver Center shape their narratives, customer service, employee training and brand strategies.  

    Moten is also the co-creator, director, writer and a featured performer of a clever new musical form called Motones vs. Jerseys. In July, it was up for three Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards, including Outstanding Musical, for its nearly sold-out run at the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins.

    In September, Moten lent his support (and that smooth-as-silk singing voice) to the Denver Actors Fund by appearing in Miscast 2017 as one of the three Fionas singing I Know It’s Today from Shrek the Musical. In October, the Aurora Fox turned to Moten to launch its risky new monthly cabaret series with 12 O’clock Tales: An Evening of Songs and Stories. Both shows sold out, which Webb said is further indication of Moten’s popularity as a performer — and his business acumen. Both come from more than 20 years as a professional performer, Webb says.

    Kenny Moten Miscast 2017“Kenny’s name is synonymous with excellence, and people know that in our community and beyond,” she said. “He was not going to do his show in an empty house — and he certainly did not.”

    Moten caps a remarkable 2017 with a return next week to Motones vs. Jerseys as part of a unique new creative partnership with BDT Stage in Boulder. "MvJ," as the kids call it, is a feel-good, nostalgic evening featuring the music of Motown and The Four Seasons — along with their many ancestors and descendants — in a good-natured competition. After two teams of four performers each rock out a playlist spanning Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Bruno Mars and many more, the audience chooses a winning team using their cell phones to vote.

    (Pictured right: Kenny Moten with his 'Miscast 2017' co-stars, Margie Lamb, left, and Hope Grandon. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter,)

    It’s a concept Moten first developed with Chris Starkey, now of Imprint Group DMC. After several refinements, Moten unveiled a slick new version of the show last year at the Midtown Arts Center, where it received a standing ovation “every single night,” said Webb, who is both the show’s Music Director and nightly emcee. “And let me tell you, I’ve never seen that happen at any dinner theatre before in my life.”

    Motones vs. Jerseys opens on Dec. 10 and will play on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights through Jan. 23, playing in rep the rest of the week with BDT Stage’s holiday staging of Annie.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Moten, who is originally from Hagerstown, Md., graduated from Highlands Ranch High School and the University of Colorado Denver. He transitioned from Barnstormer to leading man with a remarkable 2005 performance in Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the late Country Dinner Playhouse opposite now Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee. Westword’s Juliet Wittman called Moten not only “a wonderful singer with a voice full of poignancy and power,” but also “a charming and seductive performer who brings impressive precision and a smooth, lean elegance to the stage.”

    Other major credits include Swing at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse and Altar Boyz at the Clocktower Cabaret, but it wasn’t long before Moten was off to New York. He re-settled in Fort Collins a few years ago and has since been on a roll that has not only furthered his personal and professional interests, but has gainfully employed dozens of local actors and crew members on his many public and corporate projects.

    “The thing I love about Kenny is that he’s so fun, but he’s also completely no-nonsense when it comes to the work,” said Webb. “He expects the highest quality and the highest level of performance possible from his performers, and we respect that. He knows what he wants — and he goes out and gets it."

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

    Motones vs. Jerseys: At a glance

    • Dec. 10-Jan. 23
    • BDT Stage, 5501 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder
    • Performances Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings. Dinner seating begins at 6:15, with the show to follow at 7:45
    • Featuring Brian Cronan, Will Hawkins, Brian Jackson and Jacob Villareal as The Jerseys, and Christian Mark Gibbs, Anthony McGlaun, Kenny Moten and Alejandro Roldan as The Motones.
    • Call 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS: '30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS'

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards (to date)

    Video bonus: Motones vs. Jerseys at the 2017 Henry Awards

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

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


    MEET REBEKAH ORTIZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John Moore | Dec 05, 2016



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 5:
    Beth Beyer and Into the Woods

    The evocative sounds of the forest as you entered the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse signaled to all who entered that this production of Into the Woods was going to be special. Even before salad.

    Director Donald Berlin’s opulent production had it all – an elaborate scenic design, beautiful live music, colorful costumes, detailed prosthetics, delightful choreography, moody lighting and a list of accomplished actors every bit as deep as the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl roster.

    And for the first three weeks, it even had Debby Boone.

    Yes, the Debby Boone, who lit up America with the biggest-selling pop single of the 1970s, played The Witch for a limited run. And she was the first to flatly admit that Beyer was better in the role than she was.

    "I'm a pop singer," Boone said. "But these guys here at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse all have had training, and they have these huge vocal ranges. I have to say, they have assembled the most gifted, talented cast here that I could ever hope to be among.”

    True West Awards Beth BeyerInto the Woods is Sondheim – meaning it's music that wasn’t meant to be sung by mortal voices. Byers grew up in Colorado Springs and logged 15 years in New York City and around the country in national tours including The Sound Of Music with Marie Osmond and Camelot with Robert Goulet. Like many New York-caliber performers, she chose to raise her family in Colorado (in this case, Loveland), and Colorado audiences from the Country Dinner Playhouse to Lone Tree Arts Center to the Candlelight have been the beneficiaries ever since.

    (Pictured above and right: Tracy Warren, Matt LaFontaine and Beth Beyer in Candlelight's 'Into the Woods.' Photo by Rachel Graham/RDG Photography.)

    Hiring Boone to open Into the Woods was a delicious opportunity to bring unprecedented attention to Colorado’s now 8-year-old and largest remaining dinner theatre, located 40 miles north of Denver at Johnson’s Corner. The plan from the start was to have Boone guest star for three weeks, then cede the role to the gracious hometown girl.

    Read our interview with Debby Boone

    But when Beyer's turn came to take over the role, she really completed the story.

    True West Awards Beth Beyer QuoteOn the surface, that delightful story intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella. The plot is tied together by the plight of a childless baker, his wife and their infertile interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them. When done really well, however, Into the Woods should leave the audience a bit shaken by the musical’s unexpectedly deep and dark exploration of the consequences of getting what it is we think we want. And that's Beyer’s bailiwick, says Berlin.

    “As a director, one of the best things you can do is work with Beth Beyer because she works on the authenticity and truth of every single moment,” said Berlin. The storybook witch is evil, to be sure. But part of what makes Into the Woods so provocative is the fact that life has wounded her, and she wreaks her havoc on others in part out of a sense of love and protection for her own daughter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “That character has experienced an incredible amount of heartbreak,” said Berlin. "She acts out of pettiness of ugliness, but there is also a loneliness about her, so the audience sympathizes with her plight. Beth made her eminently relatable, to everyone’s surprise." 

    But she didn’t do it alone. Here is a list of the primary cast and crew who made Candlelight's Into the Woods one of the most satisfying theatregoing experiences of the year in Colorado:

    INTO THE WOODS
    Director: Don Berlin
    Musical Director: Phil Forman
    Scenic Design: Michael R. Duran
    Costume Design: Laurie Klapperich, re-staged by Rae Case
    Prosthetics and FX makeup: Todd Debrecini
    Sound Design: Mark Derryberry
    Lighting Design: Shannon Johnson
    Choreography: Bob Hoppe
    Technical Director: Dave MacEachen

    The Witch: Debby Boone and Beth Beyer
    Narrator/Mysterious Man: David L. Wygant
    Cinderella: Rachel Turner
    Jack: Kalond Irlanda
    Jack’s Mother: Melissa Swift-Sawyer
    The Baker: Matt LaFontaine
    The Baker’s Wife: Tracy Warren
    Cinderella’ Stepmother: Alisha Winter-Hayes
    Florinda: Allison Hatch
    Lucinda: Katie Burke
    Cinderella’s Mother: Maggie Tisdale
    Little Red Ridinghood: Sarah Grover
    Rapunzel: Sarah DeYong
    Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf: Markus Warren
    Rapunzel’s Prince: James Francis
    The Royal Steward: Eric Heine
    Snow White: Taylor Lang
    Sleeping Beauty: Lyndsay Krausa

    Beth Beyer/At a glance

    • Born in Colorado Springs
    • Graduated from Coronado High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder
    • Lives in Loveland
    • Favorite roles have included include Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone (Broadway workshop), Pam in The Full Monty with Sally Struthers (Pittsburgh CLO), Lina in Singin' In The Rain (Walnut St. Theatre, Barrymore Nomination), Adelaide in Guys & Dolls (International Music Festival, Macua China), Audrey in Little Shop Of Horrors (Maine St. Theatre).
    • Local favorites have included Nellie in South Pacific (Country Dinner Playhouse), Ilona in She Loves Me (Candlelight Dinner Playhouse). Guys & Dolls in Concert (Lone Tree Arts Center) and Violet in 9 to 5 (Candlelight Dinner Playhouse

    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
  • Debby Boone takes a wicked turn 'Into the Woods'

    by John Moore | May 18, 2016
    Debby Boone Candlelight Dinner Playhouse Into the Woods

    Iconic 1970s pop singer Debby Boone plays The Witch in Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's 'Into the Woods' through June 5.


    Debby Boone, the singer who lit up the 1970s with the biggest-selling hit of the decade, has spent much of her adult life playing against type. She toyed with her wholesome image by playing the promiscuous Rizzo in a Broadway revival of Grease. At the height of her pop popularity, she switched over to country music. And now she's in Johnstown to play the misunderstood Witch in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.

    Debby Boone? A witch?

    “Yeah, I think this is the furthest from type I have gone so far,” Boone said with a laugh while preparing for tonight’s opening in Johnstown, located 40 miles north of Denver. “Playing Rizzo was a blast for me. And it was scary as all get-out to go out and do that on a Broadway stage. But this is so much more challenging.”

    Debby Boone Quote Into the woods CandlelightAnd she’s the first to admit: When she got the call asking her to join the company in Colorado, “My jaw hit the floor like everybody else,” she said.

    But this isn’t your typical stunt casting. While Boone is not a formally trained classical singer, she’s got training in her DNA. Her maternal grandfather is country music star Red Foley. And her father, Pat Boone, was second only to Elvis Presley in record sales in the late 1950s. Debby Boone began touring in gospel shows with her parents at age 14 along with her three sisters. The deeply religious Boones were essentially America's Von Trapps.

    Debby made her Broadway debut in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1982 and has performed around the world in productions of The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Meet Me in St. Louis, Camelot and even Human Comedy by Galt MacDermot, the man behind Hair. At a proud 59, the pop star has more than credibly crossed over into musical theatre.

    But, c’mon. This is Sondheim.

    “Yes, and this is so much harder than anything I ever imagined,” said Boone, who deep down wanted nothing more than to bite into the juicy role of the infamous witch who is not good, not nice but rather – “I’m just right.” Still, the singer who sold 4 million singles in 1977 alone had a crisis of confidence when she was asked to take on the role The Witch.

    “Hey I know that, on many levels, it's a stretch,” she admitted. “I asked myself, ‘Can I do this?’ Because honestly - it's really scary.”

    Boone found the strength to say yes from two past experiences: One was when her famous father was turning 60 (as she will this coming September), and he starred in a production of The Will Rogers Follies, without any previous musical theatre experience. “He had to learn how to do all of those complicated rope tricks and other things that were so completely foreign to him,” Boone said. “All my life, I have watched him just fearlessly move into things he doesn't necessarily have the background for, but he just goes for the challenge.”

    The other was her own decision to play Rizzo in a 1996 Broadway revival of Grease. This wasn’t Boone’s first time on Broadway stage. After having toured Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for a year in preparation for Broadway, the show was savaged by the New York Times and closed after two weeks. Why would she open herself up to that kind of pain again?

    “Because the only reason not to do it would have been fear,” she said. “And I just don't want to live that way.”

    She ultimately said yes to Candlelight, she said, “because I really wanted to take this on as a challenge and as a growing experience. “

    Boone wasn’t nervous last month when she joined the 20-plus actors who had already been working on Into the Woods for a week before her arrival. She was terrified. Asked whether the locals geeked out just a little bit when Debby Boone first walked into the room, she said, “I think it was the other way around. I was shaking in my boots with intimidation.

    “Listen, I have had many opportunities to do musicals, but I always come in feeling like I am the odd man out, because it's true,” she said. “I don't have training. I never went to a college that has a music program. I've hardly studied voice. I'm a pop singer. But these guys here at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse all have had training, and they have these huge vocal ranges. I have to say, they have assembled the most gifted, talented cast here that I could ever hope to be among.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    She thanks the cast for welcoming her, and especially the “most wonderful” Musical Director, Phil Forman. “This is a very tiring role vocally, and he really worked with me,” said Boone. “He showed me how not to waste my voice when I don't need to -  and when I really have to bring it.”

    She’ll be bringing it, all right, starting tonight and for the next three weeks, through June 5. After that, Into the Woods continues through July 10, with Beth Beyer playing The Witch – an actor Boone says flatly is better in the role than she is.

    Boone, whose husband, Gabriel Ferrer, is an Episcopal priest and the son of legendary crooner Rosemary Clooney, is the mother of four and also a first-time grandmother. She had plenty more to say about Beyer; the song that put Boone the musical map; the single she’d rather you listened to; who the ‘You’ is in You Light Up My Life; and a juicy little story about the songwriter who induced an honest-to-goodness profanity out of that squeaky-clean mouth. Read on.




    John Moore: Take us back to 1977. It’s the height of disco. You’re 21 years old. You have never sung solo - and the songwriter Joseph Brooks asks you to record the title track to his film, You Light Up My Life.

    Debby Boone: It’s funny because the way things are now, with shows like American Idol and The Voice, 21 is like an old hag. And I felt so young. I was still living at home. Going into that studio in New York to record You Light Up My Life, for me, was the exciting beginning of what I call the long, hard climb. I had no anticipation that the song would ever be heard by anyone other than the people who were there in the studio. I did not see it as a hit record. And so no one was more shocked and surprised by what happened than I was.

    Debby Boone Quote Into the woods CandlelightJohn Moore: Did that song ever come to feel like a burden or a curse?

    Debby Boone: Oh yeah. Especially early on. When you are young and you have a big start like that, you are kind of naive. I had been part of The Boone Family Show. I had never been out there on a stage by myself. So I felt very unprepared for what was coming my way. It was really kind of scary. And after that song came out, it was the only song anyone wanted to hear. Everywhere I went, that song had to be done. Of course, you get sort of sick of singing the same thing over and over and over - and you want people to know there is more to you. But I got over that really quickly as I became a little more seasoned. I realized there was no reason to be anything but grateful for people wanting to hear you sing. The kind of emotion that song brings up for people, and the stories they have told me over the years of what that song has meant in their lives personally, has made me realize what a gift and a blessing it is. When I begin to sing that song, it's palpable in the room, and that is a tremendous feeling to experience.

    John Moore: So Joseph Brooks wrote the song. But to you, who is 'You' in You Light Up My Life?

    Debby Boone: When I first decided how that lyric struck me, I never thought anybody was ever going to ask me that question. It really took me off-guard the first time. I couldn't do anything but tell the truth, even though sometimes in print it looks like I had an agenda, which I certainly did not. But, for me, those words really lent themselves to becoming a prayer. I always think of my relationship with God in terms of love and light - of being alone, and God filling that place. Now, the guy who wrote the song was not a very nice man. Somebody asked him in an interview about how Debby Boone said she sang his song to God, and his eloquent response was, 'Bull(bleep!).'

    John Moore: Now I wish this were a podcast so people could have heard you say that word. So tell me this then: For those people who have never heard you sing another song, what’s another single I can point them to that you consider a favorite?

    Debby Boone: When I sang I'm So Lonesome by Hank Williams, I discovered a place in me I had never known was there. It brought together all of the musical influences of my life. My grandfather, Red Foley, was a big Country and Western gospel singer from the Grand Ole Opry and a contemporary of Hank Williams. It was on an album dedicated to Rosemary Clooney, who had also recorded that song. When we were putting the song together, I felt this country depth, as well as a kind of jazz fusion happen in the moment. It was magical. So that was a favorite for a really long time.     

    John Moore: Who do you love among today's country stars?

    Debby Boone: I am a huge fan of Alison Krauss.

    John Moore: You went from pop music to Broadway in 1982. Today, it has become common for performers from shows like American Idol to be cast in shows like Chicago and Rock of Ages. Is that good for Broadway?

    Debby Boone: I really feel for the people who have worked so hard to have a well-formed craft - like the very people I am working with at Candlelight right now. When they see somebody come in who has none of that kind of training or experience, they might see it as taking jobs from them – and I completely empathize with that. I really do. But I also think there are no jobs for those people if theatre continues to dwindle. So there is something to be gained when you have someone in your show who people will come to see – and wouldn't necessarily come if one of their favorite performers were not in it. And if they come, then you have introduced new people to musical theatre. And they may come back because you exposed them to something they didn't ever really notice before. And then there are shows like Hamilton that are not star-driven but they are so original that they draw new people in, too. So I say: Whatever works.

    John Moore: How's your dad?

    Debby Boone: He's great. He is inspirational in that he is 82 years old. He stays busy, and he's always wanting to learn and be involved and vibrant - and he can't stand the thought that he's 82. He still loves to get up on a stage and perform and meet people. There's a chance he may come out to Colorado to see this, but he just signed on to do another movie, so it's not looking like he might be able to get here. But he would love this.

    debby boone into the woodsJohn Moore: So, you … in Johnstown … performing Into the Woods: How did this happen

    Debby Boone: I was brought in about five years ago when they started to do personal-appearance concerts at Candlelight. I did a Christmas show. I was so impressed with the theatre and the quality of the sound. The whole environment was just lovely. It was my ex-manager who suggested to them that maybe they should ask known recording artists to come in and do some of the actual theatrical performances.

    (The photo at right comes from Debby Boone's Instagram account with the caption: "Got to wear my prosthetics for 'Into The Woods' today. We are making some color corrections, but the transformation begins!)

    John Moore: So tell us about The Witch.

    Debby Boone: I find her to be very identifiable. She's acting out of woundedness and insecurities, She has this daughter she loves and wants to protect. But she is in dreaded fear of losing her, and so she acts badly. I have four kids, and I know some of the worst mistakes I have ever made have been out of love and fear of them making their own mistakes.

    John Moore: Essentially she’s just a woman who has had a curse put on her, and she wants it to be lifted. And as we have seen from Beauty and the Beast to Wicked, there really is a human underneath the curse.

    Debby Boone: Yes, and when people hurt people, the circles keep growing and manifesting. Out of her own hurt she creates the same kind of imprisonment on her daughter that was also placed on her. That’s life. That is so much life.

    John Moore: When Meryl Streep played the role in the movie, she said Into the Woods is just a metaphor for how can we all just get along. 

    Debby Boone: I think so, too. And even broader than that, for everybody in this story, it's moving from fear to love.

    John Moore: So tell people why they should come see Into the Woods.

    Debby Boone: It is a magical night of theatre with the most talented cast that I could ever hope to be among. And I think it will be such a surprise to people who aren't familiar with this show. This is a beautiful piece. We are going to take audiences on a ride, and they are going to feel something.

    John Moore: You are performing through June 5, but the show goes on after that. Why should people still come even after you have left the building?

    Debby Boone: The woman who will also play this role is named Beth Beyer, and she is just fantastic. I certainly hope that no one who can't make it in the first three weeks might think they are going to see something ‘less than’ - because it really is quite the opposite.   

    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.

    Into the Woods: Ticket information

    • Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    • 4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, CO 80534 MAP IT

      (I-25 at Exit 254, just south of Historic Johnson's Corner)

    • Performances through July 10 (Debby Boone appears through June 5)
    • Showtimes:

      Thursday through Saturdays: Dinner at 6 p.m., Show at 7:30 p.m.

      Saturday Matinees: Dinner noon, show at 1:30 p.m.

      Sunday Matinees: Dinner 12:30 p.m., show at 2 p.m.

    • Call 970-744-3747 or go to at www.ColoradoCandlelight.com

     




  • May: Colorado theatre openings

    by John Moore | Apr 28, 2016
    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of all upcoming Colorado theatre openings. Companies are encouraged to submit future listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.

    DCPA May Openings

    Sam Cieri and Mackenzie Lesser-Roy from the ONCE tour company. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    photo of Sam GregoryIn addition to the DCPA offerings above, highlights for May include DCPA favorite Sam Gregory (right) starring in Curious Theatre's incendiary White Guy on the Bus; 1970's pop star Debby Boone headlining Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Into the Woods; and the opening of Creede Repertorty Theatre's summer season with The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence
    directed by Christy Montour-Larson (DCPA Theatre Company's Shadowlands).

    There are also many special one-night only events in May, including a fundraiser for the Matthew Shepard Foundation at Lannies Clocktower Cabaret, and the return of the developing musical I Am Alive, about the Armenian massacre. It's Friday, April 29, at the Mile Hi Church in Lakewood. It, too, is directed by Christy Montour-Larson.

    Here is the complete list of more than 55 new and continuing theatregoing options for May, including 30 openings: 

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    April 28-May 7: square product theatre's This Aunt is Not a Cockroach
    In collaboration with Hoarded Stuff Performance
    At the Wesley Chapel, Boulder, squareproducttheatre.org

    April 28-May 14: And Toto Too's The English Bride
    Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org

    April 28-May 15: TheatreWorks' Girl of the Golden West  
    3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    April 28-May 8: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s Ivy & Bean: The Musical
    30 W. Dale St, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    April 29-30: Off-Center's Cult Following
    At The Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    April 29-May 29: Vintage Theatre's Sunset Boulevard
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    May 3-22: The Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek
    At the Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ OUR STORY

    May 12-June 5: Thingamajig Theatre Company's A Few Good Men
    Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.or

    May 6-21, 2016: Longmont Theatre Company's Cabaret
    513 Main St., 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    May 6-22: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Velocity of Autumn
    At the Outlets at Silverthorne, 246-X Rainbow Drive, Silverthorne, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    May 6-21: Coal Creek Theatre of Louisville's Dancing at Lughnasa

    Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    May Opens Boys Next DoorMay 7-June 5, 2016: Theatre Esprit Asia's Animals Out of Paper
    At ACAD Galery, 1400 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-492-9479, or theatre-esprit-asia.org

    May 9-June 12: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s 9 to 5: The Musical
    30 W. Dale St, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    May 12-22, 2016:  Lost and Found Productions’ The Blue Room
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., lostandfoundproductions.net

    May 13-June 4: Buntport’s Greetings From Camp Katabasis
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.org

    May 13-June 12: Gerimal Stage-Denver's Echoes
    73rd Avenue Playhouse, 7287 Lowell Blvd., 303-455-7108 or www.germinalstage.com

    May 13-28: Springs Ensemble Theatre's Clown Bar

    The Zodiac Venue, 230 Pueblo Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    May 13-July 24: Jesters Dinner Theatre's The Music Man
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    May 14-June 24, 2016: White Guy on the Bus
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    May 14-June 11, 2016: Fire house Theatre Company's The Boys Next Door
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehouse’s home page
    Photo Credit above: Soular Radiant Photography ​

    May 14-June 4: Theater Company of Lafayette’s Time of My Life
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson St., 720-209-2154 or www.tclstage.org

    Candlelight Dinner Theatre Debby BooneMay 19-July 10, 2016: Into the Woods
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    May 19-June 4: 5th Wall Productions’ Measure for Measure
    At the Three Leaches (formerly Spark) Theater,  985 Santa Fe Dr., 5th-wall-productions.com

    May 20-June 25: Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky
    4120 Brighton Boulevard, 303-893-4100 or sweetandluckydenver.com READ OUR STORY

    May 20-June 19, 2016: Town Hall Arts Center's Legally Blonde
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    May 20-June 26: Miners Alley Playhouse's Biloxi Blues
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or map’s home page

    May 20-29: Lone Tree Arts Center's Motones vs. Jerseys
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000, lone tree’s home page

    May 21-Sept. 3: BDT Stage's Footloose
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    May 21-June 5: Misfits Theater Company's Elemeno Pea
    At Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, 1260 22nd St, misfitstheater.com

    May 21-June 26: BiTSY Stage’s The Stone Coat Woman: An Iroquois Tale
    1137 S. Huron St. Denver, bitsystage.com

    May 24-29, 2016: National touring production of ONCE
    At The Ellie, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    May 27-Aug. 14: The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence 
    124 Main St., Creede, 81130, 719-658-2540 or go to creederep.org

     by Aaron Posner
    Sort of adapted from Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull"
    Directed by Christian O'Shaughnessy 

    May 27-June 12: Star Bar Players' Stupid F#©king Bird
    Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave., 719-3575-ACT or email tickets@starbarplayers.org

    May 28-June 6: Bas Bleu Theatre's Good People
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    May openings Lafayette Photo by Ian Gerber.


    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:


    Through April 30: Buntport Theater's The Rembrandt Room
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Through April 30: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Cyrano At the Lone Tree Arts Center, 10075 Commons St., 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org

    Through April 30: Wonderbound and Curious Theatre's Dust
    At the Wonderbound Studio, 1075 Park Avenue West, 303-292-4700 or wonderbound.com

    Through April 30: OpenStage's Orphans
    Lincoln Center 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through April 30: Equinox Theatre's SILENCE! The Musical: The Unauthorized Parody of The Silence of the Lambs
    At The Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or bugtheatre.org

    Through May 1: Miners Alley Playhouse's You Can’t Take It With You
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or map’s home page

    Through May 1: Bas Bleu Theatre's Love, Loss and What I Wore
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Through May 1: Town Hall Arts Center's Smokey Joe’s Café
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Through May 1: Germinal Stage-Denver's The Glass Menagerie
    73rd Avenue Playhouse, 7287 Lowell Blvd., 303-455-7108 or germinalstage.com

    Through May 1: Denver Children's Theatre's Art Dog (Sundays only)
    Elaine Wolf Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-316-6360 www.maccjcc.org

    Through May 7: Spotlight Theatre's Steel Magnolias
    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through May 7: Upstart Crow's Our Town
    At the Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave., Boulder, theupstartcrow.org

    Through May 8, 2016: Ignite Theatre's The Wild Party
    At the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 720-362-2697 or ignitetheatre.com

    Through May 8: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Little Women
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    Through May 8: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s South Pacific
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through May 14: BDT Stage's Peter and the Starcatcher
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through May 15: Arvada Center's Death Takes a Holiday
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through May 15: Aurora Fox's Catch Me If You Can
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-739-1970 or aurorafoxartscenter.org

    Through May 15: DCPA Theatre Company's Sweeney Todd, featuring DeVotchKa
    Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through May 21: Avenue Theater's November
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Through May 22: Edge Theatre's Casa Valentina
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com​

    Through May 22: Midtown Arts Center's Lost in Yonkers
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through May 29: Midtown Arts Center's The Fantasticks
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

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

    BUNTPORT THEATRE
    May 17: The Great Debate: Arguing dumb topics
    May 18: The Narrators: True stories centered on a monthly theme
    May 27: untitled (at the Denver Art Museum)
    April 30, May 28: Duck Duck ... DUPE (all-ages family theatre, season finale)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.org

    DENVER ACTORS FUND PRESENTS ... FILM SERIES
    May 23: Screening of Legally Blonde (the film)
    Pre-screening entertainment by the Town Hall Arts Center
    Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 7301 S Santa Fe Drive, Littleton. TICKETS

    Brenda Billings HARD ROCK CAFE DENVER
    May 10: Be Brave! An Evening of Songs Honoring Brenda Billings
    Proceeds benefit the Denver Actors Fund and Miners Alley Playhouse
    16th Street Mall at Glenarm Place TICKETS INFO

    LANNIE'S CLOCKTOWER CABARET
    May 8: Mother's Day Concert to benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation
    D&F Clock Tower, 16th and Arapahoe streets, 303-293-0075 or lannies.com

    MILE HIGH CHURCH
    April 29: I Am Alive
    9077 W Alameda Ave, Lakewood. TICKETS

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPAN

    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

    May 1: Welcome To Austenland
    1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, Denver. 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org
    Performers: Jessica Austgen, Allison Watrous, John Jurcheck
    Authors: Jane Austen, Deborah Yaffe, Jane Rubino and Caitlin Rubino-Bradway

    SU TEATRO
    Through May 1: WordFest
    Through May 1 Lakou Mizik
    Through May 1: desktop
    May 8: Serenata Madrelinda Brunch and Concert
    721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org

  • Directors talk tough with local actors: Get to class!

    by John Moore | Jan 19, 2016
    Continuing Classes Forum

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more: Audition advice from the experts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 2015 True West Award: Shauna Johnson

    by John Moore | Dec 11, 2015
    Shauna Johnson True West Awards Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    Photo by Rachel D. Graham of RDGPhotography.


    2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    ​Today’s recipient: Shauna Johnson
    Technical Manager, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse


    Today’s presenter: Jalyn Courtenay Webb
    Managing Director, Midtown Arts Center


    In a field dominated by men, Shauna Johnson manages all the moving parts at Colorado’s largest dinner theatre. This year, that included making rain fall and a car fly at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown, located about 45 miles north of Denver.

    Johnson has the unusual title of “Technical Manager,” which at Candlelight means overseeing all technical elements and all backstage personnel including crew, electricians, carpenters, set builders and painters.

    “She is pretty much the unsung hero at one of the largest theatres in Colorado,” said Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Managing Director of the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins and today’s True West Awards guest picker. “It’s especially impressive that she has succeeded as a female in such a typically male field. It is so cool to see a woman doing technical theatre with such passion and integrity. She does beautiful work. And she is really able to command a great deal of respect from anyone who walks into that building.”

    Shauna Johnson quoteJohnson has been with Candlelight since Loveland construction magnate Dave Clark opened the 380-seat, $6.2 million dinner theatre in 2008.

    Every technical challenge at Candlelight becomes a Johnson opportunity, Webb said. And this year, Candlelight scheduled two Herculean opportunities in the form of stage adaptations of Singin’ in the Rain and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She and her team made it safely pour on stage and not on patrons’ desserts as Bob Hoppe reanimated the famous Gene Kelley dance sequence where he sings, spins an umbrella, splashes and gets soaked to the skin. Then Johnson solved how to elevate a 1920s-era racing car and move it up, down, left and right. The year also has included stagings of West Side Story and A Christmas Carol, which plays through Dec. 31.

    Johnson is known as a tenacious problem-solver. Tasked years ago with building the set for a Front Range Music Theatre production of Beauty and the Beast without a place to, you know, build it, she simply took over her parents’ front lawn.

    a Shauna Johnson 300Johnson, who graduated from Loveland High School and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, comes from a performing family. Mother Judy is a piano teacher, brother Craig is a singer and brother Neal is the Technical Director at the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley.

    The Colorado theatre community mourned with the Johnson family in February 2013 when Shauna’s sister Angela, a well-loved Northern Colorado stage performer, died in her sleep at age 34.

    Webb says everything Shauna does in theatre is a way of remembering and honoring her older sister. Starting with running her own theatre operations with integrity. In her spare time, Johnson does volunteer work for various nonprofits like A Dream is a Wish. Johnson offers her technical skills at fundraising event so the foundation can make it possible for children with life-threatening illnesses to participate in live theatre.

    “As someone who has spent my whole life in the theatre, to get to the point where you know you are going to be safe when you walk in the door is no small thing," Webb said. "The team at Candlelight is in good hands with Shauna. I would trust her with anything.”

    (Photo above and right: Shauna Johnson led the team that had Bob Hoppe 'Singin' in  the Rain' at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse earlier this year. Photo by Rachel D. Graham of RDGPhotography.)

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

    THE 2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS
    Day 1: Rachel D. Graham
    Day 2: BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Day 4: Laurence Curry
    Day 5: Bernie Cardell
    Day 6: Susan Lyles
    Day 7: John Jurcheck​
    Day 8: Christopher L. Sheley
    Day 9: DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
    Day 10: Man and Monster: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle
    Day 11: Shauna Johnson
    Day 12: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant
    Day 13: Sesugh Solomon Tor-Agbidye
    Day 14: Keith Ewer
    Day 15: Allison Watrous
    Day 16: Jonathan Farwell
    Day 17: Bob, Wendy and Missy Moore
    Day 18: Emma Messenger
    Day 19: Shannon McKinney
    Day 20: Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter
    Day 21: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
    Day 22: Scott Beyette
    Day 23: Augustus Truhn
    Day 24: Jimmy Bruenger
    Day 25: The Masters of Props: Rob Costigan, Peki Pineda and Becky Toma
    Day 26: Jalyn Courtenay Webb
    Day 27: Andre Rodriguez
    Day 28: Rebecca Remaly
    Day 29: Mark Collins
    Day 30: Phamaly Theatre Company's Cabaret
    Bonus: Donald R. Seawell
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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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