• DCPA's 25th 'A Christmas Carol' brims with mistletoe and milestones

    by John Moore | Nov 06, 2017
    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    Above: Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' last week. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Favorite Sam Gregory is back as Scrooge and, for the first time in Denver, a young girl has been cast to play Tiny Tim.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When the DCPA Theatre Company presents the seasonal favorite A Christmas Carol later this month, it will be an offering filled with mistletoe and milestones. Check out the five things we learned at first rehearsal below.

    A Christmas Carol. Sam Gregory. The cast is again headed by Sam Gregory in his second season playing the miserly Scrooge. The most veteran member of the cast is Leslie O'Carroll, who has appeared in 19 of the Denver Center's 25 stagings, most as Mrs. Fezziwig.

    Back for her second year as director is Melissa Rain Anderson. She will again be staging the version adapted by Richard Hellesen, with music by the late David de Berry, as has been the DCPA tradition since 2006. "This is by far my favorite version," said Anderson, who has herself performed in this version of the story four times as an actor at theatres around the country. "I think it's the most Dickensian." Music Director Gregg Coffin has helmed this version of the show 22 times around the country.

    NUMBER 1LOOK WHO'S TWENTY-FIVE! A Christmas Carol is, no surprise, far and away the DCPA Theatre Company's most-produced show. This holiday season marks the company’s 25th presentation of the story dating to 1990 — having taken two years off along the way in favor of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. "That is a huge milestone," Anderson said. "It's a privilege to be a part of that legacy here at the Denver Center. With everything that is happening in the world, I am so happy to be in this room with all of these people and to be a part of telling this tale again as a true ensemble."

    NUMBER 2 A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim. Melissa Rain Anderson. Peyton Goosen.GOD BLESS THE GIRL. There have been 18 young Tiny Tims over the DCPA's first 24 years of A Christmas Carols. This year, for the first time, the role of the feeble boy whose death is imminent if Scrooge doesn't break down and finally offer his employee some health insurance, will be played by a girl. Anderson she credits DCPA Artistic Associate Grady Soapes with the idea to cast young Peyton Goosen. "I am always open to more females on the stage, so I was very for it," Anderson said. "Peyton is really smart, she is absolutely adorable and she is precocious. But most important, she was the best actor for the role."

    NUMBER 3KNOCK KNOCK. WHO'S THERE? A Christmas Carol has drawn 820,000 audience members since 1990, so if you live in Denver, chances are, you have seen it. But with 10,000 new residents moving into the city every month, it's become clear that thousands of audience members each year are experiencing A Christmas Carol for the first time "So many people love this production and count on it as a family tradition, but 40 percent of our A Christmas Carol audiences are new every year," said DCPA Associate Artistic Director Charlie Miller.

    NUMBER 4 SHE'S MIXING THINGS UP. Anderson introduced several changes last year, including, for example, introducing a grander sleigh for the Ghost of Christmas Present to ride in on. This year, she says audiences should keep an eye on the phantoms. "Their costumes are a little sleeker this year," Anderson said. "We are going to be able to see their bodies a little more, which I really like, because we have a really good dancers in our cast. I would like for people to see that they were once human."

    NUMBER 5WHO KNEW? Speaking of the creative vision, one of the most reliable aspects of the DCPA's production from year to year is the look of the set, originally designed by veteran Vicki Smith. We learned at first rehearsal that Smith's original inspiration was a Victorian Christmas card she came across.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Christmas Carol: Cast list

    • Hadley Brown (DCPA debut) as Belinda Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Latoya Cameron (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Cratchit/Ghost of Christmas Past
    • Kevin Curtis (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Dick Wilkins/Peter Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Michael Fitzpatrick (DCPA’s Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Mr. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Peyton Goosen (DCPA debut) as Tiny Tim/Ensemble
    • Sam Gregory (DCPA’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Hamlet, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Darrell T. Joe (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come/Ensemble
    • Chas Lederer (DCPA debut) as Swing
    • Kyra Lindsay (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Brody Lineaweaver (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Swing
    • Timothy McCracken (DCPA’s Smart People, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge understudy
    • Chris Mixon (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Old Joe/Ensemble
    • Grace Morgan (The Phantom of the Opera, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Belle/Fred’s Wife/Ensemble
    • Leslie O’Carroll (DCPA’s Benediction, A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Erik Pinnick (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Present/Ensemble
    • Daniel Plimpton (DCPA’s The Secret Garden) as Ensemble
    • Jim Poulos (Broadway’s Rent, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Fred/Young Ebenezer/Ensemble
    • Max Raabe (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA debut) as Boy Ebeneezer/ Ensemble.
    • Augie Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Helen Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Fan/Ensemble
    • Jeffrey Roark (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Jacob Marley/Ensemble
    • Marco Robinson (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Christine Rowan (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Shannan Steele (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Jackie Vanderbeck (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Charwoman/Ensemble
    • Brian Vaughn (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Bob Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Edward Cratchit/Ensemble
    A Christmas Carol. Photo by John Moore.



    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information
    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here


    The SantaLand Diaries:
    Back for Year 9

    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisComAround the corner in the Jones Theatre, Off-Center’s seasonal co-production of The SantaLand Diaries again will be staged in partnership with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. The production will be essentially unchanged for 2017, with Michael Bouchard again donning the caustic candy-striped socks for a third time in David Sedaris’ comic monologue recounting his real-life experience working as a Macy’s Department store elf.

    Bouchard is a Denver Post Ovation Award-winning actor best-known to Colorado audiences from his time at the Arvada Center, the Creede Repertory Theatre and the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Luke Sorge will again serve as "Other David."

    This will be Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's ninth annual holiday staging of The SantaLand Diaries, and the fourth since it moved to the DCPA's Jones Theatre. The director is again Stephen Weitz, who directed the DCPA Theatre Company's Tribes.

    The SantaLand Diaries: Ticket information
    The SantaLand DiariesAt a glance: David Sedaris' off-beat tales from his stint as a Macy's elf in New York City is the sure cure for the common Christmas show.

    • Presented by Boulder Ensemble Theatre with DCPA Off-Center
    • Performances Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • 'The Wild Party': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Sep 15, 2017
    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    Photos from the first rehearsal for Off-Center's upcoming off-site, immersive production of 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The audience will become, like the characters in the play,
    'a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center is preparing to present the Jazz Age musical The Wild Party as a 360-degree immersive theatregoing experience where the 208 audience members are guests at a corker of a gin-soaked Big Apple soiree, right alongside the 14 professional actors in the ensemble. It will be staged in what was once an airline hangar at the new Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood.

    And that is not at all how composer Michael John LaChiusa originally imagined his piece to be staged. Like most musicals, The Wild Party was first presented in front of an audience separated from the stage by theatre’s nearly ubiquitous, invisible “fourth wall.”

    There’s no wall here.

    “Our production is going to put our audience directly in the Jazz Age,” two-time True West Award-winning Director Amanda Berg Wilson said Tuesday at the company’s first rehearsal for the show opening Oct. 11.

    The Wild Party. Amanda Berg Wilson. Photo by John MooreThe DCPA’s adventurous Off-Center wing is known for creating original nontraditional work in nontraditional spaces, most notably last year’s sprawling Sweet & Lucky, which played out in a huge warehouse north of downtown. The Wild Party will be its first musical, and first scripted work.

    The musical is based on a scandalous, book-length poem written by Robert Frost protege Joseph Moncure March in 1926. It was described as “a kind of obscene, more destructive take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Scott Miller, Artistic Director of St. Louis’ New Line Theatre. The poem paints a vivid and decadent picture of Manhattan just before the market crash. It centers on the damaged, reckless relationship between a dancer named Queenie and a vaudeville clown named Burrs. The audience here will witness many personal dramas unfold up close and in three dimensions.

    The Wild Party. Allison Caw, Marco Robinson, Katie Drinkard and Jenna Moll Reyes. Photo by John Moore.“The audience is not going to be passive witnesses to the party,” said Wilson. “They are going to be integral components of the party – and its conspirators. So we are going to encourage them to help mix the bathtub gin; to console the coke-snorting wannabe starlet; to read love letters; to be pulled into boiler rooms for intimate moments; to see things they are not supposed to see.” In the end, the audience will become, like the characters in the play, "a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends." 

    Which helps explains why this is a 21-and-over evening. It’s a party, after all. And apparently a wild one.

    “Our goal with each audience member is that they are going to experience a kind of release that you only have when you have had a really wild night," Wilson said.

    Here are five more things we learned about 'The Wild Party' at the first rehearsal:

    NUMBER 1A Wild Party PoemThe source poem, which went virtually unread for two years because no publisher would touch it, inspired iconic beat writer William Burroughs to become a writer. “It is a witty and risqué poem about two vaudeville performers who fight, make up, throw a party and flirt with danger,” Wilson said. “It name-drops Martha Graham and Langston Hughes, and the book for the musical is by George C. Wolfe (the Public Theatre icon who first directed Angels in America). The story is set at a time when America was waking up to its identity as a wild and creative nation that was emerging into its own sense of self separate from Europe. That sense of self was really born in vaudeville and speakeasies and the avant-garde of the 1920s when jazz, arguably the most American of art forms, was being born. These are people who are not only trying to figure out who they love but who they are and who they will present as. Ambisextrous, Jewish, uptown, downtown, black and white identities are all explored in these jazz-soaked numbers.”

    NUMBER 2The audience will be encouraged (but not required) to dress up for the party. Says Costume Designer Meghan Anderson Doyle: “I think we get the best of the 1920s in this piece because we get the glitz and glamour of beaded dresses and tuxedos and dinner jackets and champagne, and then we get the soft sensuality and the vulnerability of stockings and garter belts and bathtub gin.”

    NUMBER 3The Wild Party. David Nehls. Photo by John Moore.The Music Director is David Nehls (pictured right),  who has helmed the music for most every musical at the Arvada Center for more than a decade. "I am very excited that we have an amazing, seven-piece live band," Nehls said. One of those players is Trent Hines, himself an active Music Director in the local theatre community. For this production, Hines is also being integrated into the story as an actor.

    NUMBER 4The cast is made up entirely of local actors. Wilson, also the founder of a Boulder theatre company called The Catamounts, performed in Sweet & Lucky alongside Diana Dresser, Jenna Moll Reyes and The Wild Party choreographer Patrick Mueller. “Having an all-local cast is evidence that we really do have the talent right here to pull off a show like this,” said Wilson. “And I think it is great that as the Denver Center continues to experiment with immersive theatre, we are developing a base of talent right here in Denver with an increasing set of tools and vocabulary so that we can keep making this kind of work. And we are discovering that audiences are really hungry for it.”

    NUMBER 5The man charged with turning the airplane hangar at Stanley Marketplace into a New York apartment is Jason Sherwood, who first came to the Denver Center in 2014 as an assistant on The Unsinkable Molly Brown and returned last year as the lead Scenic Designer for Frankenstein. This season, he will create the worlds for the Denver Center’s The Wild Party, Macbeth and The Who's Tommy.

    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 Wild Party: Cast list

    • Brett Ambler: Gold
    • Leonard Barrett Jr.: Oscar D’Armano
    • Allison Caw: Sally
    • Laurence Curry: Black
    • Diana Dresser: Miss Madelaine True
    • Katie Drinkard: Mae
    • Trent Hines: Phil D’Armano
    • Drew Horwitz: Burrs
    • Wayne Kennedy: Goldberg
    • Sheryl McCallum: Dolores
    • Jenna Moll Reyes: Nadine
    • Marco Robinson: Eddie Mackrel
    • Emily Van Fleet: Queenie
    • Aaron Vega: Jackie
    • Erin Willis: Kate


    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party
    :



    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    About the Stanley Marketplace
    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT
  • Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: ‘The Revolutionists’ and 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Sep 06, 2017
    For 10 days, the DCPA NewsCenter is offering not just 10 intriguing titles to watch on theatre stages throughout Colorado. This year we are expanding our preview by featuring 10 musicals AND 10 plays. Today is Day 7.

    PLAY OF THE DAY: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s The Revolutionists


    Featured actor in the video above: Jada Dixon, who is also the Assistant Director of Curious Theatre's 'Appropriate.'

    • Sept. 14-Oct. 8
    • Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    The Revolutionists Jada Dixon 303-440-7826 or go to betc.org
    • Playwright: Lauren Gunderson
    • Director: Allison Watrous (Denver Center's Director of Education)

    The story: The Revolutionists takes place during the Reign of Terror in 1790s France.  It tells the story of four historical women struggling to find their individual and collective voices in a time of chaos and madness. Full of wit and wisdom, this historical comedy shines a light on women's place in history, and what happens when society breaks down.

    But what is it about? As our own society breaks down into madness and chaos, how do we effect change in the face of a world in which we feel powerless? How do the disenfranchised assume a seat at the table in the conversations that will define who we are as a people? That Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company has assembled an all-female production team also speaks to its commitment to diversity and a broader array of voices in the theatre. (Provided by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company.)

    What is it about that writer? Gunderson also wrote the DCPA Theatre Company's The Book of Will. This will be the fourth Gunderson title to be presented in the metro area in the past year. The others were The Catamounts' The Taming and Boulder Ensemble's Silent Sky.

    Please note: The Revolutionists contains adult language and content, so may not be suitable for patrons under 16 years old. Parental discretion advised.

    Cast list:

    • Olympe De Gouges: Rebecca Remaly
    • Marianne Angelle: Jada Dixon
    • Charlotte Corday: Maire Higgins
    • Marie Antoinette: Adrian Egolf

    More creatives:
    • Stage Manager: Karen Horns
    • Set Designer: Tina Anderson
    • Costume Designer: Brenda King
    • Lighting Designer: Katie Gruenhagen
    • Sound Designer: Ashley Campbell
    • Properties Designer: Amy Helen Cole
    • Dramaturg: Heather Beasley

    The Revolutionists Adrian EgolfImage above of Adrian Egolf. Photography: Michael Ensminger. Graphic Design: Brian Kolodziejski. Hair and Makeup: Vintage Hairstylings. Corset by Redthreaded.



    MUSICAL OF THE DAY: Off-Center's The Wild Party


    Featured actor in the video above: Emily Van Fleet.

    • Oct. 11-31
    • The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora
    Emily Van Fleet. The Wild Party. Call 303-893-4100 or go to wildpartydenver.com
    Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Director: Amanda Berg Wilson
    • Music Director: David Nehls

    • The story:
    You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind for a decadent 360-degree party in the Roaring Twenties. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • But what is it about? Last summer, Off-Center took over a 16,000 square-foot warehouse in RiNo to bring you Sweet & Lucky. This fall, we’re breaking out the bathtub gin and heading to the Hangar at Stanley to tackle the first musical in Off-Center’s history. Much like Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party will transport audience members to a different era, where they will be immersed in the story as guests at Queenie and Burr’s party. The live band will be swinging and we’ll find out what happens when you let down your guard and give yourself over to the party.” (Provided by Off-Center curator Charlie Miller.)

    Cast list:
    Brett Ambler: Gold
    Leonard Barrett Jr.: Oscar D’Armano
    Allison Caw: Sally
    Laurence Curry: Black
    Diana Dresser: Miss Madelaine True
    Katie Drinkard: Mae
    Trent Hines: Phil D’Armano
    Drew Horwitz: Burrs
    Wayne Kennedy: Goldberg
    Sheryl McCallum: Dolores
    Jenna Moll Reyes: Nadine
    Marco Robinson: Eddie Mackrel
    Emily Van Fleet: Queenie
    Aaron Vega: Jackie
    Erin Willis: Kate

    More creatives:
    • Patrick Mueller: Choreographer
    • Jason Sherwood: Scenic Designer (DCPA Theatre Company's Frankenstein)
    • Meghan Anderson Doyle: Costume Designer
    • Jason Lynch: Lighting Designer
    • Sean Hagerty: Sound Designer
    • Erin Ramsey: Fight Coordinator

    Emily Van Fleet. The Wild Party.

    From left: 'The Wild Party' castmates Emily Van Fleet, Laurence Curry, Sheryl McCallum and Drew Horwitz. Photos by Adams VisCom.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Our complete 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview:
    Day 1: Curious Theatre's Appropriate and BDT Stage's Rock of Ages
    Day 2: The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now and Rocky Mountain Rep’s Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's General Store and Town Hall Arts Center's In the Heights
    Day 4: Avenue Theater’s My Brilliant Divorce and the Arvada Center’s A Chorus Line
    Day 5: Bas Bleu’s Elephant’s Graveyard and Evergreen Chorale’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Day 6: Firehouse Theatre’s The Mystery of Love and Sex and the Aurora Fox’s ‘Company’
    Day 7: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s The Revolutionists and Off-Center’s The Wild Party
    Day 8: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Pretty Fire and the Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie
    Day 9: Edge Theatre Company’s A Delicate Balance and Midtown Arts Center’s Once.
    Day 10:  Local Theater Company’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias and Thin Air Theatre Company’s The Toxic Avenger Musical

    This 2017 Colorado fall preview is compiled by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore as a service to the Colorado theatre community. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011 and is the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.
  • Read Suzi Q. Smith's original 'Mixed Taste' poems here

    by John Moore | Jul 20, 2017
    Suzy Q Smith
    Suzi Q. Smith at the inaugural 'Mixed Taste' in the Seawell Ballroom on July 5. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    'Know which voice to listen to
    when it’s time to fly,
    when it’s time to land.
    '

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Mixed Taste is a weekly tag-team lecture series that paired playfully unrelated topics on Wednesday nights throughout the summer in the Denver Center's Seawell Ballroom. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is now collaborating on the popular series with Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm

    Read more: Mixed Taste walks the talk to the Seawell Ballroom

    Local slam poet Suzi Q. Smith was the series emcee. As part of the fun, she created an original poem as each evening progressed to connect the dots between two featured but seemingly unrelated topics. She read them at the end of each night, and we have been publishing them here throughout the summer.

    Read our previous interview with Mixed Taste emcee Suzi Q. Smith

    On Glimmer and Flight

    Aug. 23
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture Topics: Air Traffic Control and Drag Queen Activism
    Lecturers: Bruce Goetz and Shirley Delta Blow

    There are so many ways to approach a runway.
    Fast, heavy as a skilled boxer’s glove;
    Precise as a jeweled manicure
    or a highlighted cheekbone;
    Clumsy as the first time in heels.
    It takes time, coordination, and practice
    to get it right.

    Last Suzi QWhat I love about the airport
    is the vastness of possibility:
    every terminal filled with dreams and stories,
    beginnings and long kisses goodbye,
    every face choreographed
    into magnificent ballet – and who
    serves more face
    than drag queens?
    Every wink
    and eyebrow raise
    is worth at least
    56 square miles of
    absolutely.

    We must remember that certainty
    when we find ourselves mid-flight
    in what could be chaos.
    Listen: there is a small voice lending us direction –

    stay here,
    come closer,
    not yet,
    aim higher,
    the runway is yours, darling –

    and if we listen, that voice keeps us from disaster.
    Step to the front
    while flashing lights sing
    in reverence to your every eyelash.
    Sashay when they wave you on,
    ignore the flailing arms
    that offer you no welcome.

    Know which voice to listen to
    when it’s time to fly,
    when it’s time to land,
    know who keeps you safe,
    keeps you airborne amidst roaring winds
    that would have your wings
    if you let them.

    Let your pride swell.
    When you hear the sky calling, fly.
    Stay fly
    and flying,
    let the breath of those who love you
    be your wind,
    let their voices be your beacon.

    You, brilliant shimmer,
    land on that runway
    like you mean it.


    On Perspective and Relativity

    Aug. 16
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: P.T. Barnum and Infinity
    Lecturers: Kathy Maher and Diane Davis


    I first used the term “infinity” as a means
    to compound an insult
    on some schoolyard playground, as in

                “you’re ugly”
                “your mama’s ugly”
                “you’re ugly times a million”
                “your ugly times INFINITY”

    until
    my Sunday School teacher said infinity
    was like carrying a bucket of water
    from the Atlantic Ocean
    to the Pacific Ocean,
    pouring it in, refilling the bucket
    and carrying it back,
    repeating this process until all of one ocean
    had been poured into the other entirely,
    and I stopped using it then
    as a weapon.

    It seemed a cruel use of vocabulary.
    Speaking of cruelty, I can’t help but weep
    when I consider the life of Joice Heth
    whose body, even in death, was someone else’s spectacle,
    whose suffering was no less than infinite,
    heavy as endless buckets of water colliding into a gulf
    a grand showcase of laughing waves, crashing the shore
    and winking at the grains of sand for their pretense of grandiosity.

    Maybe it is all perspective, bending with time.
    Is time a line, or a circle?
    Are we standing at zero or infinity?
    Is it ingenuity or exploitation?
    Is an elaborate hoax to be scorned or celebrated?

    Neither the sand nor the stars are infinite,
    but they offer a grand show.
    A brilliant display of possibility,
    a quantifiable image to lend this vast vocabulary
    to the dream of something greater.

    And what is greater, more infinite, than our dreams?
    Are we not the most stunning display of blue and bite?
    The most illustrious outpour of story and song?

    May we learn from our history.
    May we transform our finite breath
    into a stunning cascade of tomorrows,
    may we build a world of infinite compassion, courage and creativity –
    I believe it will be the greatest show on earth,
    to infinity

    (and beyond).



    On Bob and booze

    Aug. 9
    A Meet the Cast Bianca Mikahn 600Written by Guest Host Bianca Mikahn
    (Pictured right in May 2016)
    Lecture Topics: Prohibition and Bob Ross
    Lecturers: Jason Hanson and Doug Blandy 

    Bob was once drunk off power
    off his hands and all they could spill

    Thirty years before
    maybe his family would have been driven
    by his bust 'em up demeanor
    to the voting polls
    But then Bob got hooked on painting’s joy

    I wonder
    before he fermented his feelings into
    the nectar of inspiration
    Was his voice
    a rough and burning moonshine
    a howling across brand new highways
    while false McCoys raced in the distance
    How many distillations did it take
    to find the perfect smoky earthy pitch
    lulling so many of us to comfort
    like a perfectly aged red

    Mr Ross is famed for saying
    “there are no mistakes”
    I wonder had he witnessed to the
    dehydrated hypocrisy and
    Overreaching amendment which was the eighteenth
    Would he have maintained his floating
    and free demeanor
    Or would he revive his famed military fire
    for access to the saloon

    Mixed Taste Aug 9Maybe his only intoxication was the palette
    Most likely he would have found a
    favored speakeasy
    (which should be called Bob Rosses
    if time continuum allowed)
    A single malt
    Maybe a dear friend

    Bob Ross was my bartender
    the first to fill my cup with color
    and affirmation
    Replete with seasoned ice and
    landscapes which burned so good going down
    Temperance comes from the Latin word
    temperar which means to restrain
    Tempera is a form of paint and means
    to paint in distemper
    May we generate a toast
    to the eschewing of prohibition’s temperance
    less temperar renders us
    each of us little burgeoning Bobs
    Missing our happy little trees and forgetting
    there are no mistakes
    Just happy accidents



    On Growth and Dirt 

    Aug. 2
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Asparagus and Money Laundering
    Lecturers: Carol O'Meara and Micah Schwalb

    To grow asparagus, it must be planted deeply,
    like an oil drum full of money.
    It helps to have good real estate to bury it in.
    It takes patience and skill to get it right,
    with a nose for detail that must be studied.
    Maybe banks are the best place to begin
    the sprouts, they always have plenty
    of dirt.

    The Romans had a love
    for asparagus as well as coin,
    as both have been known
    as aphrodisiacs, both have led to
    suspicions and secrets, both traceable
    if you know where to sniff.

    I love asparagus. 
    Once, I ate marinated asparagus at a party.
    It was so magical that I decided to recreate the dish at home.
    Asparagus? Check.
    Herbs, seasonings, oil, vinegar? Check.
    I placed the ingredients in a casserole dish
    and covered, then promptly
    forgot about it.
    For days.
    Several days.
    Several long, hot, summer days.

    When I remembered,
    I excitedly removed the lid, ready to delight
    in my first attempt at marinated asparagus, and
    BEHOLD!
    The worst smell I have ever experienced –
    the kind of smell that expands the realms of imagination,
    so bad that my brain had to activate new functions
    just to accurately perceive this level of awful.

    I grabbed the dish and ran outside to throw it in the dumpster –
    the asparagus,
    the spices,
    the oils and vinegars,
    and the glass dish they’d been conspiring in.
    No amount of laundering would have saved it.
    The crime was so dreadful
    that I had to hide the evidence.

    I fled the scene, packed up my daughter,
    and stayed with family that night
    because the scene was too ghastly to remain.

    The word “asparagus” comes from a Persian word
    meaning “shoot” or “sprout.”
    I imagine I asparagussed my way out the back door
    on that fateful day.

    While it was once know for its reproductive effects,
    I have yet to reproduce the marinated asparagus since then,
    the evidence of the failed attempt left an unmistakable mark.

    Both money and asparagus involve a bit of dirt,
    a fair amount of work, but when done well
    can sustain us for generations.

    May all of our harvests be fair and clean. 


    On Ways and Words

    July 26
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Giant Flutes and Celestial Navigation
    Lecturers: Akio Lis and Jim Cook

    I’ve heard that in Australia,
    Aboriginal tribes used to navigate their land
    through music.  Each place had its own song.

    Charlie.jpg_largeI’ve heard it said that
    while any person can learn to play a note,
    it takes a true musician to know why to play a note, and when,
    how to navigate a song and draw its map.

    The earth spins at nearly 1,000 miles per hour,
    so fast it almost feels like we’ve always been still.
    Sound travels at nearly 800 miles per hour,
    so fast it feels eternal, like we’ve always known this music.

    Do you ever think about the fact that we are in space
    right now? Do you wonder why?
    Are we what happens when the momentum of
    sound and orbit collide?
    Does the weight and gravity
    of our instruments help us to know
    where our momentum means something?

    When we look at the center or
    the surface of the earth
    and move toward the distant
    celestial lights twinkling their hello
    (or goodbye, as the case may be),
    is it reasonable to still feel lost?

    Is it reasonable
    to bellow into the dark
    and hope your breath will be enough
    to carry you toward home?
    The way that wind holds a sail,
    our breath carries notes
    and we are transported.

    I’ve heard conflicting tales
    about the Pied Piper, and who he lured away
    with a hypnotizing flute.
    Music has always moved us,
    even if we don’t know where its glinting guides us,
    it is natural to follow what might still be light.



    On Science and Magic

    July 19 By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Telekinesis and Sauerkraut
    Lecturers: Professor Phelyx and Mara and Willow King

    We train our kids to wash their hands
    with potions
    made by people who want to sell us something.
    We all have a lot to unlearn.

    One kiss is an exchange
    of 8 million bacteria
    invisible, moving beings
    that could kill us
    or heal us,
    we all know kisses can go either way.

    It’s amazing, the magic
    we do with our mouths & minds,
    break down
    or be broken – I don’t think I understand
    the difference between magic and science,
    when the same botulism that can kill us
    can also stop stories
    a living face might tell,
    I suppose it’s a bit of both – wielding nature,
    being wielded by it.

    Maybe everything is cultural –
    time, science, magic, movement –
    like food, fermenting into medicine,
    breaking and becoming more whole.
    They say seeds break open to sprout.
    They say people who are married for a long time
    start to look alike.

    Maybe it is like sauerkraut –
    the more time we spend together, the better we get.
    Maybe science and magic are the same thing.
    Either theory requires a bit of faith,
    even when we see it, even when we taste it.
    Maybe it’s all in our minds,
    or maybe only the best parts of each
    survive.


    On Language and Justice

    July 12
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Esperanto and Trial by Jury
    Lecturers: Orlando Raola and Fred Bloom

    I have never served on a jury. 

    Have been left to share my opinions on stages,
    and especially on twitter, which is

    fine,
    I guess.

    Somehow, I have never been invited to the party

    no one else wants to go to.
    I mean – I’d be a good juror, I think.
    I’ve seen like every single episode of Law & Order at least twice.
    And Ally McBeal, The Practice, and pretty much every courtroom drama
    that Netflix has to offer.

    When it comes to the wisdom of crowds,
    the finders of facts, even standing in unpopular opinions,
    I feel like I’d make a strong candidate.

    My friends roll their eyes at being called for jury duty . . .

    again,
    while I raise my hand, eager and polite
    as any wallflower
    wanting to dance.

    Meanwhile, it sounds like jury duty is sometimes
    A LITERAL PARTY!

    Maybe I want it so bad
    because I believe in the weight of words,
    the intention and design of each syllable.

    How our languages shape fate,
    words as heavy as “guilty” or “not guilty”,
    of course we should speak in planned language
    when our words change lives.

    I saw an article yesterday about a family
    who was drowning in the Atlantic Ocean
    until the people on the beach formed an 80-person chain
    to bring them safely to shore.

    Imagine if we all used the power of our words
    in the same tongue.
    If we all spoke together, listened and understood.
    I imagine the harmony would make me weep,
    I imagine the volume would shake the ground,
    if we knew the weight of our words,
    imagine how heavy we could be.



    On History and Movement

    July 5
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art
    Lecturers: Adam Lerner (pictured right) and Nataki Garrett

    July 4, 1776, some of my ancestors were enslaved.
    One of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence.
    What conversations they must be having in my unexpected blood,
    emancipated and armed like Stagecoach Mary.
    How unprepared they must have been for such “mixed taste.”

    Adam Lerner Sometimes, the most essential stories are the impossible truths, born of need.
    Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention.
    Stagecoach Mary was one of the Wild West’s urgent needs:
    her shotgun,
    her six horses,
    her mule named Moses
    and if her story ain’t a burning bush
    clearing our way, maybe we are ready
    for some post-conceptual belief
    and art;
    stasis has never saved us.

    Watch how we grow wild as sagebrush,
    how we perpetuate our own movement like tumbleweed,
    how we find new ways to show the unseen
    as a means to survive.
    See how our manifestation stays migrating,
    maybe home has always been a moving target, the place
    where we are best heard.
    See how we make new language of color and moment.

    I come from a long line of wild westerners.
    Some who were enslaved and fled.
    Some who were desperately poor and fled.
    Some who’ve been here since forever ever ever ever.
    All of them finding new ways to survive.

    We are people who learn to make what we need.
    We are people who pour ourselves over horizons in unmistakable color.
    We both find, and have always been, the frontier.
    What is art if not us?
    If not the impossible conversations in my blood?
    In this room?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Off-Center's 'Wild Party' nearing its Kickstarter goal

    by John Moore | Jul 20, 2017
    Wild Party


    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    As of July 26, 321 backers have helped the DCPA's Off-Center reach 67 percent of its Kickstarter goal for its upcoming production of the immersive musical The Wild Party, which runs Oct. 11-31 at the Stanley Marketplace.

    Off-Center, which last year presented the immersive drama Sweet & Lucky in a RiNo warehouse, is the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm. The Wild Party will be Off-Center's first musical.

    "Off-Center is committed to thinking outside the box and creating exciting ways to surprise our audiences, plucking them out of reality for 360-degree theatrical experiences of all sizes," said curator Charlie Miller. "By supporting our Kickstarter, you’re giving our team of local actors, musicians and artists the chance to create a thrilling new theatrical experience for our community."

    Click here to go to The Wild Party Kickstarter campaign

    The Wild Party, written by Michael John LaChiusa, follows a mix of debauched vaudevillians in the 1920s as they attempt to drink and dance their way out of personal problems over the course of one fateful night. In the immersive staging, audiences will be smack in the middle of an art-deco apartment of yore located in the Stanley's 9,000 square-foot hangar.

    To help make the idea a reality, Off-Center has again launched a Kickstarter campaign. Last spring, Kickstarter backers helped to bring the immersive world of Sweet & Lucky to life through donor contributions. Backers were invited deeper into the experience of the critically acclaimed production by contributing photographs of loved ones that were included in the storytelling.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Wild Party Kickstarter campaign allows for contributors at varying levels to be even more involved in the action. For example, $10 will get donors early bird access to tickets; a $50 donation comes with admission to a dress rehearsal and the opportunity to provide valuable feedback that will help shape the finalized production; and $150 lets donors send in photos to be used in the set. At the highest end, $7,500 will get donors a customized costume to wear to the show designed by the production's costume designer, Meghan Anderson Doyle.

    As of Wednesday, $17,365 had been pledged toward the total goal of $25,000. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition, so this project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10.

    The Wild Party
    was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000. 

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension. That show ran throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

    You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • For more information including ticket pre-sale and other exclusive experiences, visit WildPartyDenver.com

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party:
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced
  • 'Mixed Taste' walks the talk to the Seawell Ballroom

    by John Moore | Jun 29, 2017

    Mixed Taste 

    Ready, set ... goad! Experts debate silly topics that have absolutely nothing in common. Or do they?


    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    So what’s your pleasure? Telekinesis or, say …  sauerkraut? Giant flutes or, perhaps ... celestial navigation?

    No preference, you say? That may change when those burning topics and more are lustily debated at Mixed Taste, Adam Lerner’s tag-team lecture series pairing playfully unrelated topics that enters its 14th season on Wednesday night in its new home: The DCPA’s Seawell Ballroom. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is now collaborating on the popular series with Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm.

    The comic debates will rage beginning at 6:30 p.m. for eight consecutive Wednesday nights through Aug. 23. Up first: Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art.

    Here’s how it works: Think political debate, only the politicians are respected experts in their fields of study. The first speaks on one topic for 20 minutes, followed by the other. "The audience then gets to ask questions - and that's wheAdam Lerner Mixed Tastere anything can happen,” said Off-Center Curator Charlie Miller.

    But unlike political campaigns and sporting contests, winners are not declared. This is simply a chance for curious audiences to learn more about bizarre topics and then perhaps even draw unexpected connections between the two. Think the ability to move objects through mental prowess has nothing in common with finely cut fermented cabbage? Don’t be so sure.

    Lerner, the MCA’s director and chief animator, created Mixed Taste in 2004 at The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at the Belmar Shopping Center in Lakewood. The series moved to the MCA in 2009.

    The Seawell Ballroom will be an expansion for the series, which is used to topping out at 400 people. Although the Ballroom can hold up to 1,000 people, Miller says only about 450 seats will be made available for Mixed Taste to preserve its intimacy.

    “MCA approached us a year ago and asked if we would be interested in hosting and giving Mixed Taste the next chapter of its life, and we jumped at the opportunity,” Miller said.

    After nurturing Mixed Taste from its inception, Lerner now feels “the program is ready for its next level of growth," he said, "and I believe Off-Center is the perfect partner to help us take it there.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Mixed Taste is not a theatrical production, and yet Miller feels it is an inherently theatrical adventure for its audience.

    “It’s a really engaging and fun summertime experience,” Miller said. “It’s a way to learn about things you never engage with and inject some new information and fun into a Wednesday night.”

    Mixed Taste. Charlie MillerOther wacky pairings on tap this summer include Prohibition and Bob Ross, Air Traffic Control and Drag Queen Activism, and Asparagus and Money Laundering.

    “Each lecture is 20 minutes, which is long enough to go deep but keep your attention the whole time,” Miller said. “We try to make sure the topics have nothing in common and that makes it fun because after a while you start to think, ‘Well they do have things in common.’

    So how did he come up with a roster of such non-kindred, spirited subjects?

    “I used this as an opportunity to engage friends and Denver Center staff to submit ideas for topics,” he said. “Once we got some ideas we talked with a smaller group of Off-Center collaborators and teammates to narrow it down. Then we started researching people to speak on those topics.”

    Our previous interview with Mixed Taste emcee Suzi Q. Smith

    Miller is particularly excited for the talk on Prohibition and Bob Ross, the American painter and host of The Joy of Painting, which aired on PBS from 1983-94, while his personal favorite is telekinesis and sauerkraut (July 19), simply because it’s such a bizarre combination.

    Mixed Taste. Professor Phelyx. Shirley Delta BlowLocal slam poet Suzi Q. Smith will be the series emcee.

    “Off-Center collaborated with Suzi Q. last summer in our poetry show How I Got Over: Journeys and Verse that she was the lead collaborator on,” Miller said. “She will be the host and poet laureate, so we will be fusing poetry and spoken word into the evening. She will be creating an original poem to connect the two topics to conclude every Mixed Taste.”

    Off-Center is bringing back other past collaborator the series as debaters. Professor Phelyx, the mentalist magician who last worked with Off-Center on Perception, will speak on behalf of telekinesis, while Shirley Delta Blow, recently seen in DragOn at the Galleria Theatre, will be rally on behalf of drag-queen activism. (Photos above right by Adams Viscom.)

    Before every lecture, audiences can attend a Mixed Taste Garden Party starting at 4:30 p.m. just outside of the Galleria Theatre with live music curated by Swallow Hill Music.

    Mixed Taste: Ticket information
    • 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday from July 5 through Aug. 28
    • Seawell Ballroom, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets: $20
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Avery-Anderson Avery Anderson is interning with the DCPA NewsCenter for the summer. He is the General Manager and producer of Met TV at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He was won two Heartland Student Emmy Awards for his work on The Met Report. He has a passion for local arts and culture and enjoys covering theatres across the Denver area and the state. Follow him on Twitter and @a_anderson64.

  • 'Cult Following: Rated G' brings improv to the 'mini' masses

    by John Moore | Apr 19, 2017
    Cult Following Rated GA scene from 'Cult Following: Decide Your Destiny' in 2015. Next, 'Cult Following' is offering performances geared for third- through fifth-graders. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. 

    The Cult Following actors don’t have to awaken the
    inner child of this audience. They still are their inner child.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    At its best, improv comedy is essentially game night – with a playful audience. A group of highly trained actors perform completely invented scenes driven by audience suggestions. It is unscripted theatre without a net. And when it is done well, the actors behave with the abandon of a third-grader – and their audiences snickering with the abandon of a third-grader.

    Which is what makes professional improv actors – and young audiences – the perfect match. And the Denver Center is doing some matchmaking. Better stated: The Denver Center is arranging a play date.

    Since 2011, Cult Following has been DCPA Off-Center’s signature series of unrehearsed team improv comedy evenings. They feature the fast-talking and quick-thinking talents of some of Denver’s best comic performers typically performing for a pretty cool crowd of generally younger adult audiences.

    But on April 29, and again on May 13, Off-Center and DCPA Education are joining forces for Cult Following: Rated G. Essentially the veteran Cult Following lineup of Jessica Austgen, Sarah Kirwin, Brian McManus, Nanna Sachiko Thompson and Chris Woolf will be creating improvised fairy tales with the help of (ideally) audience of third- through fifth-graders and their families.

    Cult Following Rated G Allison WatrousDCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous says the goal of improv comedy is to get audiences to think like a child, to be willing to play in a sandbox, to think on their feet and laugh at some seriously silly things. The Cult Following actors don’t have to awaken the inner child of this audience. They still are their inner child.

    Watrous emphasizes Cult Following: Rated G is an audience-involved performance, as Off-Center shows always are, but this is not a class teaching young people the basics of improv. (Those kinds of classes are separately available through DCPA Education.)

    “Improv is all about cultivating a sense of play, and all of us were more connected to our sense of play when we were in elementary school,” she said. “As we move through middle school and high school and into adulthood, we are in constant danger of losing that sense of play. Improv comedy is a good reminder for all of us how important play is, and also how productive play is.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Rated G program, developed by Watrous with Austgen, DCPA Associate Director of Education Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski and Off-Center curator Charlie Miller, will include two mid-week matinees for participating schools coming on field trips. The goal from the start was to create a program that will appeal to educators by complementing their classroom work, especially as it pertains to creative writing and effective storytelling.

    "Educators are really looking for experiences for their students that have real value," Watrous said. "We really wanted to make sure that we are connecting to what English teachers might be covering in their classrooms. We're playing within a form that really teaches the students about story structure, about character, about plot and about story climax. So if I were a teacher in an elementary school, I would be really excited about this opportunity to give their students an amazing, fun time, and yet they leave knowing their writing also just got stronger, their vocabulary also just got stronger and their understanding of literary terms also just got stronger."

    Cult Following Rated G Jessica Austgen and in a previous 'Cult Following' performance. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Cult Following: Rated G

    • 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29: Public performance in the Jones Theatre
    • 11 a.m. Sunday, May 13: Public performance in the Jones Theatre
    • Ticket price: $10
    • Run time approximately 60 minutes
    • Age recommendation: All ages. Designed with families of elementary-school children in mind. Children 4 and over are welcome.
    • Tickets: Teachers or schools. Call 303-446-4829 or email groupsales@dcpa.org. There are two student matinees currently available, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16.
    • Tickets: Public and families: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons

    by John Moore | Apr 03, 2017

     

    Macbeth, The Who's Tommy, four world premieres and
    "a deep dive into some truly exciting collaborations"

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s 39th season will include vast and visceral reimaginings of two distinct cutting-edge classics, a record-tying four world premieres and the company's 25th staging of perennial favorite A Christmas Carol.

    The season begins in September with visionary director Robert O'Hara’s Macbeth to reopen the newly renovated Space Theatre, and builds to The Who’s rock musical Tommy, directed by Sam Buntrock (Frankenstein). And both directors promise ambitious stagings unlike anything audiences have seen before.

    Nataki Garrett QuoteThe DCPA has worked its way to the forefront of new-play development in the American theatre, and next season’s slate will include the comedy Zoey’s Perfect Wedding by former Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez; José Cruz González’s American Mariachi, the musical tale of an all-female 1970s mariachi band; Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, about an American college basketball team that travels to Beijing in 1989; and Eric Pfeffinger’s timely comedy Human Error, which raucously explores the great American ideological divide through two vastly different couples - and one wrongly implanted embryo.

    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding will reunite Lopez and Mike Donahue, writer and director from the DCPA’s endearing world premiere The Legend of Georgia McBride (which makes its West Coast debut tomorrow at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.)

    American Mariachi
    was a favorite from the Theatre Company's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. "Women of course had many challenges trying to play in such a male-dominated musical form," González said. "We interviewed a number of amazing women who were able to help us enter into that world, and we found an amazing group of artists who will play and sing in the piece."

    The Great Leap and Human Error emerged from the recent 2017 Summit in February.  In The Great Leap, Yee explores sport as a metaphor for how countries rub up against each other in terms of strategy, styles and priorities. "If you think of all the sports out there, basketball is the one in which you can really lay the ideals of communism on top of it. Everyone gets to touch the ball. Everyone is equal in their position,” she says.

    Human Error will set a precedent as the first Theatre Company offering ever to be staged in the cabaret-style Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    “The 2017-18 DCPA Theatre Company season represents the microcosm at the heart of the American experiment,” said Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. “These writers, spanning across generations, cultures, and genders, are exploring the ways in which our commonalities are more meaningful than our differences."

    2017-18 Broadway season brings Hamilton to Denver

    For the first time, the DCPA simultaneously announced the upcoming year of its adventurous and ambitious Off-Center line of programming. Off-Center is known for creating experiences that challenge conventions and expand on the traditional definition of theatre. Next season will be the largest yet for Off-Center. It includes Mixed Taste, a summer-long partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver; a 360-degree immersive staging of The Wild Party musical at the Stanley Marketplace. Also of great intrigue: Remote Denver, a  guided audio tour of the secret city; and This Is Modern Art, a controversial play by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval that explores graffiti as modern art ...  or urban terrorism.

    “The expansion of Off-Center is a result of the incredible response of the Denver community,” said Off-Center Curator (and Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director) Charlie Miller. “We have seen that audiences are hungry for a broad range of experiences, and are eager for the unexpected.”

    Miller calls the upcoming year "a deep dive into some truly exciting collaborations." A continuing one will be the return of The SantaLand Diaries, in partnership with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and again starring Michael Bouchard

    Combined, the DCPA today announced 14 upcoming new productions that will be presented across eight different venues at the Denver Performing Arts Complex and beyond.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Theater has the opportunity and the ability to help bridge our differences by offering performances that inspire us to seek deeper connections with one another,” said Garrett, who will make her DCPA debut directing Lydia Diamond's acclaimed race comedy Smart People. “We are honored to provide a space for conversations and connections to the Denver community this year through this season's offerings.”

    Lisa Portes Robert O'HaraMacbeth will be directed by Robert O'Hara, a rising playwright, director and screenwriter who won the 2010 NAACP Best Director Award and the 2010 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. He was a young prodigy of original Angels in America Director George C. Wolfe and is perhaps best-known as a writer for Insurrection, a time-traveling play exploring racial and sexual identity. 

    The Who's Tommy, the rock musical based on the classic 1969 concept album about the pinball prodigy, will reunite acclaimed British Frankenstein director Sam Buntrock and Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood (who also will create the world of Macbeth). Native Gardens will mark the DCPA return of playwright Karen Zacarias, who wrote Just Like Us in 2014. Zacarias has penned a very close-to-home border-war story: One that plays out between two neighboring couples in D.C. who have a dispute over their property line. The director is Chicago's Lisa Portes, who recently won the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation's 2016 Zelda Fichandler Award, which recognizes an artist who is "transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in the theatre." She is head of the masters program in directing at DePaul University.

    Next year's A Christmas Carol will be the 25th season staging of Dickens' classic by the DCPA since 1990. Melissa Rain Anderson will return for her second turn at directing, and popular longtime DCPA actor Sam Gregory again will play Scrooge.

    DCPA THEATRE COMPANY SEASON AT A GLANCE:

    • Sept. 15-Oct. 29: Robert O’Hara’s Macbeth (Space Theatre Grand Reopening)
    • Oct. 13-Nov. 19: Smart People (Ricketson Theatre)
    • Nov. 24-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre)
    • Jan. 19-Feb. 25, 2018: Zoey’s Perfect Wedding (Space Theatre)
    • Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018: American Mariachi (Stage Theatre)
    • Feb. 2-March 11, 2018: The Great Leap (Ricketson Theatre)
    • April 6-May 6, 2018: Native Gardens (Space Theatre)
    • April 20-May 27, 2018: The Who's Tommy (Stage Theatre)
    • May 18-June 24, 2018: Human Error (Garner Galleria Theatre)

    DCPA OFF-CENTER 2017-18 SEASON AT A GLANCE:

    • July 5-Aug. 23 Mixed Taste, with MCA Denver (Seawell Grand Ballroom)
    • Oct. 12-31: The Wild Party (The Hangar at Stanley)
    • Nov. 24-Dec. 24: The SantaLand Diaries, with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Jones Theatre)
    • March 22-April 15, 2018: This Is Modern Art (Jones Theatre)
    • Spring/Summer 2018: Remote Denver (on the streets of Denver)

    TC 2017-18 800

    And here is a more detailed look at all 14 newly announced productions, in chronological order:

    MIXED TASTE (Off-Center)
    mixed-tasteTag team lectures on unrelated topic
    Presented by Off-Center with MCA Denver
    Wednesdays from July 5 through Aug 23
    Seawell Grand Ballroom
    Even mismatched subjects will find common ground in a lecture series that can go pretty much anywhere. Two speakers get twenty minutes each to enlighten you on unrelated topics, but can’t make any connections to each other. Ideas start to blend afterward when audience members ask questions to both speakers and anything goes. READ MORE ABOUT IT



    MACBETH
    macbethBy William Shakespeare
    Directed by Robert O’Hara
    Sept. 15-Oct. 29
    Space Theatre (Grand Reopening)
    To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others, the people of Scotland or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. Shakespeare’s compact, brutal tragedy kicks off the grand reopening of our theatre-in-the-round in a visceral re-imagining from visionary director Robert O’Hara, who is “shaking up the world, one audience at a time” (The New York Times). This ambitious reinvention of the classic tale reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses the dagger must suffer the consequences. 



    THE WILD PARTY
    (Off-Center)
    the-wild-partyMusic and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    Directed by Amanda Berg Wilson
    Oct. 12-31
    The Hangar at Stanley
    You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind for a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and booze-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees. Dress up in your finest pearls, suits and sequins – encouraged but not required.



    SMART PEOPLE

    smart-peopleBy Lydia R. Diamond
    Directed by Nataki Garrett
    Oct. 13-Nov. 19
    Ricketson Theatre
    Intelligence can only get you so far when it comes to navigating love, success and identity in the modern age. This biting comedy follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. But no matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life. Fiercely clever dialogue and energetic vignettes keep the laughs coming in a story that Variety calls “Sexy, serious and very, very funny.”



    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    christmas-carolBy Charles Dickens
    Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    Stage Theatre
    Essential to the holiday season in Denver, A Christmas Carol promises to “warm your heart and renew your holiday spirit” according to the Examiner. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. Denver favorite Sam Gregory returns as Scrooge. READ MORE ABOUT IT

    (Note: 'A Christmas Carol' is an added attraction, not part of the Theatre Company subscription season.)



    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisCom
    'The SantaLand Diaries,' 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    THE SANTALAND DIARIES
    (Off-Center)
    By David Sedaris
    Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
    Presented by Off-Center with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    Directed by Stephen Weitz
    Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    The Jones Theatre
    This disgruntled Macy's elf has the cure for the common Christmas show. Looking for a little more snark in your stocking? Crumpet the Elf returns for more hilarious hijinks in this acclaimed one-man show based on stories by David Sedaris. Crumpet’s twisted tales from his stint in Macy’s SantaLand are the cure for the common Christmas show. Release your holiday stress, get all of those obnoxious carols out of your head and check out even more late night options this year. READ MORE ABOUT IT



    ZOEY'S PERFECT WEDDING

    zoeys-perfect-wedding2By Matthew Lopez
    Directed by Mike Donahue
    Jan. 19-Feb. 25, 2018
    Space Theatre
    The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. From the team that brought you, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Matthew Lopez’s wildly funny fiasco destroys expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up. READ OUR 2015 INTERVIEW WITH MATTHEW LOPEZ



    AMERICAN MARIACHI

    american-mariachi2By José Cruz González
    Director to be announced
    Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018
    The Stage Theatre
    Lucha and Bolie are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in the 1970s. The only things standing in their way are a male-dominated music genre, patriarchal pressure from inside their families and finding the right women to fill out their sound. As they practice, perform and strive to earn the respect of their community, their music sparks a transformation in the lives of those around them – especially Lucha’s parents. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music played on stage. González writes a passionate story about families and friendships that you should share with yours. READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH JOSÉ CRUZ GONZÁLEZ


     

    THE GREAT LEAP
    the-great-leap2By Lauren Yee
    Director to be announced
    Feb. 2-March 11, 2018
    Ricketson Theatre
    When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly-changing country and Chinese American player Manford seeks a lost connection. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action in the stadium. Yee’s “acute ear for contemporary speech” and a “devilishly keen satiric eye” (San Francisco Chronicle) creates an unexpected and touching story inspired by events in her own father’s life. READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN YEE


     

    THIS IS MODERN ART
    this-is-modern-artBy Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin
    Directed by Idris Goodwin
    March 22-April 15, 2018
    The Jones Theatre
    Graffiti crews are willing to risk anything for their art. Called vandals, criminals, even creative terrorists, Chicago graffiti artists set out night after night to make their voices heard and alter the way people view the world. But when one crew finishes the biggest graffiti bomb of their careers, the consequences get serious and spark a public debate asking, where does art belong? This Is Modern Art gives a glimpse into the lives of anonymous graffiti artists and asks us to question the true purpose of art. READ MORE ABOUT IT


    NATIVE GARDENS
    native-gardensBy Karen Zacarias
    Directed by Lisa Portes
    April 6-May 6, 2018
    Space Theatre
    Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virginia have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt comedy about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.



    Sam Buntock

    THE WHO'S TOMMY
    the-whos-tommyMusic and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
    Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
    Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
    Directed by Sam Buntrock
    April 20-May 27, 2018
    Stage Theatre
    Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive. This production reunites director Sam Buntrock and scenic designer Jason Sherwood, the team behind last season’s audience favorite, Frankenstein.



    HUMAN ERROR

    human-error2By Eric Pfeffinger
    Director to be announced
    May 18-June 24, 2018
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Madelyn and Keenan are NPR-listening, latte-sipping, blue-state liberals, while Heather and Jim are NRA-cardholding, truck-driving, red-state conservatives. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now the two couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month’s odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships. “Up-and-coming scribe Eric Pfeffinger has the vital nerve to explore the gaping communication gap between red America and blue America, liberal humanists and the conservative right” (Chicago Tribune). READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH ERIC PFEFFINGER


    REMOTE DENVER
    remote-denverBy Rimini Protokoll
    Concept, Script and Direction: Stefan Kaegi
    Research, Script and Direction Denver: Jörg Karrenbauer
    Spring/Summer 2018
    On the streets of Denver
    Join a group of 50 people swarming Denver on a guided audio tour that seems to follow you as much as you are following it. Experience a soundtrack to the streets, sights, and rooftops of The Mile High City as a computer-generated voice guides your group’s movements in real time. Discover a "secret Denver," exploring places like gathering spaces, back alleyways, dark hallways and public areas through a new lens. You’re not just audience members — you’re actors and spectators, observers and observed, individuals and hordes, all at the same time.

     

    TICKET INFORMATION:

    • Theatre Company: New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are available online at denvercenter.org/nextseason or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. Note: Plans for the new season are subject to change and benefit restrictions may apply.
    • Off-Center: The single-ticket on-sale date for all Off-Center productions will be announced at a later time. Subscriptions are not available for Off-Center shows.

     

     

  • Off-Center throwing a 'Wild Party' at Stanley Marketplace this fall

    by John Moore | Mar 21, 2017
    Charlie Miller


    By Hope Grandon
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Off-Center, the unconventional and most adventurous wing of Denver Center programming, has announced its next off-site collaboration and first full-scale musical production: An immersive, 360-degree staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s jazz musical The Wild Party to run Oct. 12-31 at Stanley Marketplace.

     

    Amanda Berg Wilson “Last summer, Off-Center took over a 16,000-square foot warehouse in RiNo to bring you Sweet & Lucky. This fall, we’re breaking out the bathtub gin and heading to the Hangar at Stanley to tackle the first musical in Off-Center’s history,” said Off-Center curator Charlie Miller.

    “Much like Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party will transport audience members to a different era where they will be immersed in the story as guests at Queenie and Burr’s party. The live band will be swinging, and we’ll find out what happens when you let down your guard and give yourself over to the party. I am so excited to dive into this piece with our incredible team of collaborators.”

    The Wild Party, which was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000, will be directed by Sweet & Lucky cast member Amanda Berg Wilson (pictured above), also the artistic director of the Boulder-based company The Catamounts and a 2016 True West Award winner.

    Stanley Marketplace home to Travelers of the Lost Dimension

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension, currently running throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21. 

    Full details including cast and creative team will be announced at a later date.

    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

    (Note: The Michael John LaChiusa adaptation of 'The Wild Party' is very different from the Andrew Lippa version that was presented last year by Ignite Theatre at the Aurora Fox.)

    The Wild Party
    Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    Oct. 12-31, 2017
    At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • MCA Denver, Off-Center bringing 'Mixed Taste' to Denver Center

    by John Moore | Feb 27, 2017

    Mixed Taste
    Last year, Mixed Taste espoused the virtues of Merle Haggard and "The History of Dinner." The popular summer series moves to the Seawell ballroom in July. 


    The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts are officially a mixed match. 

    MCA Denver and the DCPA's adventurous Off-Center wing have formed a partnership to present Mixed Taste: Tag Team Lectures on Unrelated Topics throughout the summer at the Denver Center's Seawell Ballroom.

    Adam Lerner Mixed TasteMixed Taste, conceived by MCA Denver’s Adam Lerner, pairs two speakers addressing  completely unrelated subjects, followed by questions from the audience. During the first part of the program, no connections are allowed between the topics. But during the Q&A, anything can happen.

    The partnership begins on July 5 and will continue on Wednesday nights through Aug. 23.

    “Having nurtured Mixed Taste for over 10 years, the program is ready for its next level of growth, and I believe Off-Center is the perfect partner to help us take it there,” said Lerner, MCA Denver’s Director and Chief Animator. "Off-Center produces the kind of smart and quirky programming in the theater world that we strive to create in the art world. We’re excited to see what happens when we work together.”

    Charlie Miller, curator of Off-Center, is a fan of Mixed Tape because, he said, "it is an inherently theatrical format that is always engaging, surprising and fun - everything we strive for in an Off-Center experience. We are excited to partner with MCA Denver to give Mixed Taste its next life at the Denver Center.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Lerner originated Mixed Taste in 2004 in an empty storefront in the Belmar shopping center in Lakewood. In 2009, when he took the helm at MCA Denver he moved the program to downtown Denver. The program has been imitated from Boston to Mexico City. It has been discussed in various museum studies books and is regarded by many as the forefront of innovative cultural education programming.

    Past Mixed Taste lecture topics have included:

    • Walt Whitman and Whole Hog Cooking
    • Existentialism and Giant Vegetables
    • Parkour and Bollywood
    • Gospel Music and Zebra Sharks
    • Tequila and Dark Matter in the Universe

    The full lineup for the summer series will be announced at a later date.

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension coming to Stanley Marketplace

  • Stanley Marketplace soon to welcome 'Travelers of the Lost Dimension'

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2017

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension


    Off-Center, the unconventional arm of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' programming, has announced that its upcoming, off-site collaboration at the new Stanley Marketplace will be called Travelers of the Lost Dimension.

    A Stanley Aviation 800Written by and featuring the Denver-based comedy trio A.C.E., Travelers of the Lost Dimension will be a 360-degree experience where audience members make their way through various public spaces throughout Stanley Marketplace and touch objects, play games and find themselves inches away from the story's participating characters.

    “We are really looking forward to a new type of audience immersion with this show,” said Charlie Miller, Curator of Off-Center. “With our recent production of Sweet & Lucky, we occupied a 16,000 square-foot warehouse and built an immersive world for the audience to explore. With Travelers of the Lost Dimension, we are excited to be working throughout public spaces at Stanley Marketplace, creating a story that will change how audiences perceive the world around them.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A.C.E. is a Denver-based comedy trio made up of an American, a Canadian and an Englishman (get it?) otherwise known as actors Linda Klein, Barbara Gehring and Matthew Taylor. A.C.E. has created more than 50 unique theatrical productions around the world since 1998. Gehring and Klein created the raucous comedy phenom Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women, which has celebrated the truth and silliness of being a woman for more than 110,000 (mostly female) audiences since 2008.

    The Travelers of the Lost Dimension story, according to its makers:

    "Take a ride that’s quicker than light ... faster than time … to a world that’s just like ours … but not. There’s a dimension that exists a breath away from our own, undetected by those who live parallel to it. The mysteries of this strangely similar world have been lost for eons, until now. With wit, wonderment and some dubious technology, a ragtag group of explorers will brave an inter-dimensional journey to discover the fantastical realm in the beyond. Open your eyes a little wider, step out a little further and leap into an adventure comedy of your imagination."

    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development.

    Off-Center announces Stanley Marketplace partnership

    The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent.

    “We're big fans of collaboration, and we leaped at the chance to work with the team from Off-Center,” said Bryant Palmer, Chief Storyteller at Stanley Marketplace. “They excel at producing one-of-a-kind theatrical experiences, and we're building a marketplace in an old aviation manufacturing facility with a rich history. That sounds like a perfect combination to us.”

    Miller said each performance will be limited to 45 audience members. Tickets start at $30.

    This production is supported by The Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative.

    Off-Center also will be presenting two nights of Cult Following: Secrets and Confessions hosted by Fox-31 TV personality Chris Parente and its resident team of improv comedians at The Clocktower Cabaret on Feb. 10-11. Click here for information.

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension: Company
    Diana Dresser (Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky, DCPA Theatre Company's All the Way)
    Adrian Egolf (DCPA Theatre Company's Benediction)
    Barbara Gehring (Member of A.C.E.)
    Linda Klein (Member of A.C.E.)
    Leigh Miller (Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky)
    Bruce Montgomery Evergreen Players' Epic Improv Company
    Matthew Taylor (Member of A.C.E.)
    Nanna Thompson (Off-Center's Cult Following)

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension: Ticket information
    Travelers of the Lost DimensionMarch 16-April 23
    • 2501 Dallas St, Aurora, CO 80010 MAP IT
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Please note that each performance is limited to 45 audience members and some performances already are sold out.
  • Thanks pour in for DCPA Theatre Company's Kent Thompson

    by John Moore | Jan 06, 2017

    Sense and Sensibility
    Marcia Milgrom Dodge‎, Director of Sense & Sensibility The Musical (above) was among the many offering Kent Thompson their well wishes today. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen


    Kent Thompson, only the third Producing Artistic Director in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company, announced his resignation Thursday, effective March 3. Here is a sampling of the well-wishes that have been sent in or posted on social media since the news broke:

    Kent Thompson QuoteOn the morning Kent Thompson announced the creation of the Women’s Voices Fund for the DCPA Theatre Company, I remember thinking that this man just counted up all the shows before his arrival in Denver and figured out fewer than 10 were written or directed by women in all those years. And he said, "Enough is enough. Let's change that." Kent was the first leader I met who worked on gender inequities in the field. Also, while we're at it, he said, “Let's launch a huge new-play program.” The Denver Center has been a major artistic home for me. Many shows. Many workshops. Many birthdays. Many problems with altitude. Many, many years of great theatremaking. I feel privileged to have been part of the Thompson years, and I have so much respect for the work he has done.
    Wendy C. Goldberg, Director (Two Things You Don’t Talk About at Dinner), Artistic Director of the National Playwrights Conference at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.

    I've worked with Kent Thompson off and on for almost 20 years. Nothing I can say will begin to describe what that has meant to me. He already knows I'm grateful. I've told him many times. I wish him all the best in whatever new adventures come his way.
    Sam Gregory, Actor (A Christmas Carol)

    Robert Petkoff Sweeney ToddI will forever be grateful for the opportunity you gave me to play one of my dream roles. Robert Petkoff, Actor (Sweeney Todd)

    Kent Thompson is a damn fine human being. Kent's work for the theatre company and Denver at large will be felt for years to come.
    Geoffrey Kent, Fight Director and Actor

    220px-Marcia_Milgrom_DodgeBest of luck to you, dear Kent. I am grateful for the spectacular Sense & Sensibility The Musical experience with the DCPA Theatre Company. Here's hoping your next chapter brings you great success and much happiness.
    Marcia Milgrom Dodge‎, Director (Sense & Sensibility The Musical)

    I so enjoyed working with you and getting to know you, and was looking forward to much more of that. I hope our paths cross again soon in the world. Many congrats on your huge accomplishments at the DCPA.
    Melissa Rain Anderson, Director (A Christmas Carol)

    I have admired your leadership not only in Denver, but the ambition many of your ideas have fueled the national conversations about important issues and initiatives we ignore at our peril.
    Edgar Dobie

    A Kent Thompson Matt ZambranoI owe so much to Kent Thompson. He took a chance on me while I was still in school and cast me in The Liar, which was my first show at the Denver Center. As a kid growing up in Denver theater, that was a big deal. It's also because of him that I got to play Sylvester in Scapin at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where I met friends I will cherish for the rest of my life. He did so much for the DCPA and for the Denver theater community, and I wish him the best in all his new endeavors.
    Matt Zambrano, Actor (The Liar)

    Kent Thompson is a true visionary. I admire him so.
    Elaine Romero, Playwright

    Kent Thompson will be missed ... and that's an understatement.
    Tina Walls, DCPA Trustee

    A Midsummer Night's DreamKent Thompson, thanks to you, I played a sassy wench from Cyprus with epic red hair and an ethereal green-haired lady and her feisty granddaughter. But best of all, I had the privilege of running around an Athenian forest with these wonderful people and a gaggle of mechanicals and fairies, to boot. I am so grateful to you, sir, for taking a chance on an overzealous grad student. I would dunk myself in a freezing pool of water in Denver in February for you anytime.
    Allison Pistorius, Actor (A Midsummer Nights Dream)

    Thompson's legacy: Giving sound to unheard voices

    It was a great honor and pleasure working with you. I wish you all the best as you transition into the next chapter of your life. I know beautiful experiences and adventures await you.
    Lauren Shealy, actor (A Christmas Carol)

    Kent is a kind and wonderful human being and a generous collaborator who is leaving very large shoes to be filled.
    David M. Barber, Scenic Designer (The Most Deserving)

    I am so grateful for the opportunities I've had under Kent’s leadership and proud of the work we have created together. He leaves behind an incredible legacy, and I'm excited to see what artistic adventures await him.
    Charlie Miller, DCPA Associate Artistic Director for Strategy and Innovation

    Kent, I so value our artistic collaboration and friendship. Thank you for everything.
    Karen Zacarias, Playwright (Just Like Us)

    Thank you for your talent and creativity.  It has been wonderful to see your productions,  and your footprint is apparent. Best wishes for you next endeavors. We will be watching.
    Karen Garcia

    I've had the honor of working on two shows with Kent Thompson, and he will be missed greatly in the Denver theatre community. Kent's work with the DCPA has impacted my life so much, which is why I think of Denver as a second home.
    Erik Daniells. Conductor (Sweeney Todd)

    Kent Thompson’s groundbreaking achievements here are not likely to be matched in the near future.
    Alan Gass

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Fred Vaugeois and I of the Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre in Trinidad want you to know how pleased we've been with the many new programs and quality productions you brought to us as theatregoers and the increased focus on live theatre you generated for all of us in Colorado. We met briefly one day in your office when you were kind enough to share insights and suggestions for our work in southern Colorado.  You also facilitated a playwriting workshop for our youth interns, which was a great success for our kids.
    Harriet Vaugeois, Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre

    Your creativity, drive and excellent spirit made each story the best quality in storyline, character development and being able to pull it all together with grace. Judith Babcock

    Many thanks for your leadership of the Denver Center. My spouse and I have admired your work and your loyalty to the Denver Center.
    Ed and Patty McAuliffe, ushers and patrons

    I have enjoyed your tenure at the DCPA. You have helped keep things relevant while pushing boundaries and preserving excellence.
    Andy Frazier

    You have brought excitement and joy to me with the wonderful plays you've produced in Denver. We have been blessed with your creativity, vision, sensitivity and so many more of your talents to our theater here in Denver.  I'm grateful I was able to participate in the experience.
    Kathleen Anderson

    We followed you from Alabama Shakespeare Festival and were feeling a bit isolated until we got to our first play at the Denver Center. When we first realized that you and several "friends" from Alabama were here in Denver, we began to feel at home in Denver. Thank you.
    Samera and Bill Baird

    We have been season-ticket holders since the DCPA was formed, and you have been such a marvelous addition to the organization.  We think the plays get better each year and we credit you with the many wonderful experiences you have given us.
    Ann and Gary Polumbus

    We have been subscribers since 1990 and have missed only one production during that time.  Kent Thompson’s contribution and leadership have been felt and appreciated. Richard and Christine Hall, Colorado Springs

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage:
    The Thompson legacy: Giving sound to unheard voices
    The Christians
    : Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Where the blade meets the band: Kent Thompson on Sweeney Todd
    Kent Thompson on The Bard, The Creature and the soul of his audience
    2016-17 season: Two world premieres and a return to classics
    Westminster High School tackles immigration with DCPA's Just Like Us
    How Thompson turned questions into exclamation points

    Photo gallery: A retrospective of Kent Thompson's years in Denver

    Kent Thompson: A retrospectiveTo see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above.

  • 2016 True West Award: Matthew Campbell

    by John Moore | Dec 23, 2016
    True West Awards Matthew Campbell

     



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 23: Matthew Campbell

    August Wilson wrote Two Trains Running. Pshaw, two. As Production Stage Manager for Sweet and Lucky, the DCPA’s first deep dive into off-site adventure theatre, Matthew Campbell kept 20 trains running at once as the massive, elliptical story played out in all corners of a 16,000-square-foot warehouse north of downtown Denver.

    Sweet and Lucky was essentially performed by three sets of actors separately and simultaneously. That meant Campbell had to manage 13 performers, six crew members and 72 audience members spread out in 20 smaller performing spaces. It was Campbell’s job to make sure all that constantly moving action never collided on the tracks.

    Check that. Campbell was the tracks.

    True West Awards Matthew Campbell Quote“When we were just beginning Sweet and Lucky, we knew that finding the right Stage Manager would be critical for the show’s success, because we have never attempted anything like this before,” said Charlie Miller, the DCPA’s Associate Artistic Director for Strategy and Innovation. In fact, this was the biggest physical undertaking in the DCPA’s nearly 40-year history.

    The original story, developed in partnership with New York's Third Rail Projects, is a mysterious exploration of memory that begins in a strange antique store where nothing is for sale. The audience is split into smaller groups and led into several different environments – a graveyard, a drive-in, a swimming hole and more – as they witness the relationship between one couple as it plays over several generations. But different audience members saw different actors tell that story, and in different orders. Thanks to the man behind the curtain, the audience never knew the other performances were even happening.

    True West Awards Matthew Campbell. Sweet and Lucky.“Not only did Matthew have to know where everyone was at any given moment, he had to know instantly what to do in any situation where something could go wrong,” Miller said. “If Matthew did not keep everything moving, the whole show might fall apart.”

    It never did. Not that there weren’t some close calls: Late-arriving patrons threw the entire machinery out of whack. Patrons gone rogue. Inevitable technical difficulties including overheating projectors and having to build emergency light cues in the makeshift performance space of a warehouse. Because the run was almost completely sold out and eventually extended several months, new cast members had to be rotated in. The job of any Production Stage Manager is to take cues from any given situation and react. What distinguishes Campbell is that he reacts quickly, kindly and decisively.

    “He is calm under pressure,” Miller said. “He was never fazed by the many unexpected challenges we faced throughout the process. He also made for such an incredibly positive and welcoming environment for all of the artists involved. We heard from so many cast members about how integral he was to the success of the show.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    One of those cast members was Meridith C. Grundei, who said Campbell was “beyond amazing” throughout the run. “He has a great temperament and a great sense of humor balanced with a professionalism in tense situations that put everyone at ease,” she said.

    Campbell was always the first to arrive and last to leave, and he rolled with every unexpected punch that came his way.  After the show’s first two-show Saturday, for example, Campbell waited with a member of the bar staff who was stuck at the warehouse past midnight waiting for an Uber car ride that never arrived. Eventually, Campbell gave her a ride himself. That meant Campbell didn’t get home to his wife and children until after 2 a.m. And yet, he was back at the warehouse at 9:15 the next morning to unlock the building and start another day. On schedule, as always.

    True West Awards Matthew Campbell Believe it or not, Sweet and Lucky has been made into a graphic novel. (Or at least the cover.) And if you look closely at the illustration to your right created by crew member Lauren LaCasse, who's the nerve center of Sweet and Lucky? It's the otherwise unseen Campbell.

    At one time, Campbell was a performer. While still a lad of Littleton High School, he was in the the ensemble of a production of Story Theatre that christened the Dorie Theatre at what is now the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center.

    But over time, his passion took him backstage. One of his early career highlights was serving as Production Coordinator at the 2007 Colorado Festival of World Theatre, an international event that drew Stephen Sondheim, Patti Lupone, Marin Mazzie, Donna McKechnie and other greats to Colorado Springs.

    Campbell has now been a Production Stage Manager with the DCPA Theatre Company for seven seasons. Recent credits include As You Like It, Lord of the Flies and Other Desert Cities.

    But DCPA Associate Production Manager Melissa Cashion says hiring Campbell to be the Stage Manager for Sweet & Lucky “was about the best hire I have ever made in my career.”

    And like many of those who serve in the always invisible and often thankless job of Stage Manager, Cashion said Campbell is an unspoken hero of the DCPA. 

    Photo gallery: Sweet and Lucky

    Sweet & Lucky

    Photos from Off-Center's production of 'Sweet and Lucky' in a RiNo warehouse north of downtown. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. Photos by Adams VisCom.


    Matthew Campbell/At a glance

    • High school: Littleton
    • College: Graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with an emphasis in Technical Theatre, Directing and Acting
    • College: Masters degree in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Stage Management from the University of Iowa
    • Stage Manager or Assistant Stage Manager for the DCPA Theatre Company since 2010
    • Other local experience: Colorado Shakespeare Festival (2013-15); Arvada Center (2007-13); Candlelight Dinner Playhouse (2008-10); Country Diner Playhouse (2003-07)


    Video bonus: An introduction to Sweet and Lucky:



    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
  • 2016 True West Award: Jason Sherwood

    by John Moore | Dec 10, 2016

    True West Award. The Coffin. Frankenstein. Jason Sherwood



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 10:
    Jason Sherwood

         Scenic Designer, DCPA Theatre Company's Frankenstein

     
    When the audience walked into the Stage Theatre before Frankenstein even began, they could see it: An enormous mud floor with a big, open grave dug into the middle of it. And in the epic opening moment of the play, a massive wooden coffin as big as a house is hoisted out from the ground and rises slowly to reveal the mad scientist’s newly animated Creature standing underneath it, dazed from the first stages of embryonic consciousness.

    “It said to the audience from the very beginning that is an unnatural act to pull this thing out of the ground,” said Frankenstein Director Sam Buntrock.

    This “thing” - a monster of its own kind created from the imagination of groundbreaking Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood - would serve as Ground Zero for the alchemy of life, death and re-birth in Mary Shelley’s decidedly unnatural world where the roles of God and man, creator and creature are blended into a kind of operatic chaos.

    Frankenstein video: The coffin in the scene shop:

     

    This monstrous coffin, a wooden amalgam of many disparate parts, was playfully hyperbolized not only to toy with the audience’s perspective, but more literally because it represented 10 coffins – one for each of the corpses from whom The Creature was assembled.  

    Frankenstein Coffin. True West AwardsAnd it never left the audience’s sight. When the action moved, the coffin morphed with it, serving as an ingenious projection screen with complimentary effects designed by Charlie I. Miller and lighting designer Brian Tovar.

    Breathing life into the Frankenstein set: 'It's alive!'

    “So when The Creature goes into the woods, the coffin grows greenery, and moss attaches to it,” Buntrock said. “When he sets fire to the cabin, it burns, too. And when we go to the Alps, which is where the central scene in the play takes place, the coffin becomes the Alps." In a stunning transformation, the coffin comes down from above and the climactic fight between the two men occurs on top of it. “And in the end, it engulfs them," Buntrock said.

    “This served not only as a constant reminder of Victor's act of obscene creation, but also of the death dance that it locked the two main characters into.”

    Frankenstein video: The coffin on the stage:

     

    It was breathtaking – a set piece worthy of its own curtain bow. And it was just one innovative way Sherwood played with perspective. For example, when The Creature murders Frankenstein's 6-year-old brother and leaves him in a small boat, Sherwood did not just have the boat float up to the doctor with a little body inside that an audience would not have been able to see. Sherwood instead had the boat shoot up vertically from below like a tectonic plate, allowing us to fully see the wee corpse at the same time Frankenstein does.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Jason’s scenic design for Frankenstein was audacious in its simplicity, eschewing naturalism to allow a continuous and uninterrupted flow of action,” said Buntrock. Sherwood created fire, rain and snow. He was not safe, timid or even slightly subtle. “No, this was life and death. Big and bold,” said Buntrock.

    Just like Shelley’s gothic masterpiece.

    Jason

    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

    Frankenstein. Jason Sherwood. Mark Junek. Adams VisCom'Frankenstein,' designed by Jason Sherwood and featuring Mark Junek, above, who alternated with Sullivan Jones playing Frankenstein and The Creature. Photo by  Adams VisCom.
  • Imagine 2020 explores meaningful engagement with Millennials

    by John Moore | Oct 23, 2016
    Imagine 2020 Speaker SeriesPhotos from the DCPA's presentation at the city's Imagine 2020 Speaker Series. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by
    Steve Hostetler Photography, used by permission.

    At the city’s recent Imagine 2020 Speaker Series, two of the Denver Center’s most accomplished Millennials were invited to talk about ways of meaningfully engaging with, well … other Millennial audiences.

    A Millennial is generally considered anyone ages 18-34. And as a generation, they are as maligned as they are coveted. In a sensational 2013 cover story, Time Magazine labeled Millennials as “The Me-Me-Me Generation,” calling them “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents,” before conceding one all-important truth: “And they will save us all.”

    Imagine 2020. Charlie Miller and Brianna Firestone. Photo by Steve Hostetler. At a time of rapid cultural and technological change, the future of nearly every existing industry from newspapers to the performing arts depends to varying degrees on capturing the imaginations - and the economy - of Millennials. All you have to do is look at a census. Nationally, Millennials just became the largest generation in America at 75 million, having just surpassed boomers at 74.9 million.

    Millennials are a particularly important demographic in the Denver metro area, which now has the fifth-largest Millennial population per capita of any major U.S. city at about 900,000. (No. 1 is Austin, Texas, followed by Salt Lake City).

    Imagine 2020 is the city’s first effort to produce a strategic blueprint for the future and priority of arts and culture in nearly 20 years. As part of its Oct. 12 Speaker Series, the DCPA’s Charlie Miller and Brianna Firestone were asked to present some of the conclusions the DCPA has gleaned from ongoing research into the local Millennial population it has been conducting as part of a four-year grant from the Wallace Foundation.

    “We’re all about learning how we can continue to build audiences and sustain our art form in the future," Firestone said at the all-day forum held at the McNichols Civic Center Building.  

    She and Miller offered an intriguing window into what Millennials might want as cultural consumers. And busted a few enduring myths.

    Miller, whose official title is Associate Artistic Director for Strategy and Innovation, is the Harvard-trained curator of Off-Center, the DCPA’s signature line of nontraditional programming that is geared toward younger and more adventurous audiences. Firestone is the Theatre Company’s Marketing Director. Both were key players in Off-Center’s recent first foray into immersive theatre. The groundbreaking Sweet & Lucky, which was staged in a 16,000 square-foot warehouse in the RiNo neighborhood, became the largest physical undertaking in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA.

    Much of Tuesday’s presentation was based on lessons learned from bringing Sweet & Lucky to life. That was an original piece created in partnership with Third Rail Projects of New York, which specializes in off-site, interactive theatre. DCPA crews crafted more than 20 unique playing environments ranging from a graveyard to a drive-in to a swimming hole. The story began in a speakeasy antique store. Audiences were broken into smaller groups that each followed one of three couples through key moments in their life's journey. Eventually, they were all led into a secret bar that was run by mixologist Sean Kenyon of Williams & Graham, where audiences could talk with one another about their necessarily different experiences.

    Sweet & Lucky was a rousing success for Off-Center, with more than 6,000 attending, at just 72 at a time, to make for an even more intimate experience. The run was extended by six weeks and in the end, 89 performances sold out.  That show drew a much younger average demographic than most DCPA programming.

    Now Off-Center’s challenge is to keep the momentum going with its next off-site venture - a just-announced partnership with the Denver-based comedy trio A.C.E. on a new production to be created at the Stanley Marketplace in the spring of 2017. “The goal is to create a show that gives the audience a lens to view this story that is happening in and around all these restaurants and shops,” Miller said.

    Detailed takeaways from the DCPA’s ongoing research will be released upon completion.

    Photos above: Charlie Miller and Brianna Firestone make their presentation at the city's Imagine 2020 Speaker Series. Also: Two faces in the crowd. Photos by Steve Hostetler Photography, used by permission.
  • Off-Center to partner with A.C.E comedy trio, Stanley Marketplace

    by John Moore | Sep 29, 2016




    Off-Center
    , the most unconventional arm of Denver Center programming, has announced a new partnership with the Denver-based international comedy trio A.C.E. to create an off-site production at Stanley Marketplace in the spring of 2017.

    Off-Center recently presented its original production of Sweet & Lucky, which created an  immersive world for the audience to explore in a 16,000-square foot warehouse in the RiNo neighborhood.

    Off-Center Curator Charlie Miller said this new project will be "a hilarious new theatrical experience" presented at the 22-acre Stanley Marketplace, a community of like-minded, sustainable businesses located southeast of the Stapleton neighborhood at what was once the Stanley Aviation headquarters near East 25th Avenue and Dallas Street. 

    “We are really looking forward to taking on new artistic challenges with this new show,” said Miller. “We are excited to be working in public spaces, creating a story that will change how audiences perceive the world around them."

    Girls OnlyA.C.E. was was formed by actors Linda Klein, Barbara Gehring and Matthew Taylor in 1998 (an American, a Canadian and an Englishman, hence the acronym). A.C.E. has written and performed more than 50 unique theatrical productions, including the long-running comedy franchise, Girls Only (pictured at the DCPA, right). That show ran continuously for nearly two years at the Garner Galleria Theatre, playing to 96,000 women (and a few men), and grossing nearly $2.5 million. Additional productions have taken place in the United States and Canada. A.C.E. has been inducted into the Colorado Improv Hall of Fame. 

    Bryant Palmer, Chief Storyteller at Stanley Marketplace, said he leaped at the chance to work with A.C.E. and the team from Off-Center. 

    “We're big fans of collaboration," Palmer said. “Off-Center excels at producing one-of-a-kind theatrical experiences, and we're building a marketplace in an old aviation manufacturing facility with a rich history. That sounds like a perfect combination to us.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Additional details, including the title, will be announced at a later date.

    This production is supported by The Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative.

    Off-Center will be presenting two nights of Cult Following by its resident team of improv comedians at the Jones Theatre on Oct. 7-8. Click here for information.

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

  • Emily Tarquin accepts position with Actors Theatre of Louisville

    by John Moore | Sep 12, 2016

    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Artistic Producer Emily Tarquin will be leaving the Denver Center for the Performing Arts after seven years to take the same position with Actors Theatre of Louisville, which is home to the acclaimed Humana Festival of New Plays.

    Emily TarquinTarquin and Charlie Miller created and developed Off-Center, the DCPA Theatre Company's testing ground, building it from a small, experimental program through last season’s Sweet & Lucky. That was the company's head-long dive into the emerging world of immersive theatre that became the largest physical undertaking in the nearly 40-year history of the Denver Center. Almost every available audience slot was filled throughout the extended run of the play, held in a 16,000-square-foot warehouse north of downtown. It was also Tarquin's idea to pair the Theatre Company's critically hailed production of Sweeney Todd with Denver's beloved underground band DeVotchKa reimagining Stephen Sondheim's classic score.

    "Emily has been an incredibly productive, talented and collaborative coordinator, curator and then leader within the Theatre Company, as well as the entire Denver Center," said Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. "It’s no surprise she would be sought out by another major theatre in the U.S. She will be sorely missed."

    Kent Thompson Emily TarquinTarquin started at the Denver Center in 2009 as a seasonal coordinator of the Colorado New Play Summit, casting assistant and assistant company manager - but quickly earned more and more responsibility.

    For Off-Center, Tarquin devised the original concept for the long-form improv show Cult Following, which starts its sixth year Oct. 7-8 at the Jones Theatre. She wrote the Lord of the Flies parody Lord of the Butterflies and co-created Drag Machine with Stuart Sanks. For their work programming the Off-Center series, Tarquin and Miller were honored with a 2015 True West Award.

    "I went to a school where almost all theater was non-traditional," said Tarquin, who grew up in upstate New York and graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in Media and Performing Arts. "I got to experiment a lot. It was amazing to find a regional theater that was welcoming of that kind of experimental work. If I had graduated 10 years earlier, that wouldn’t have even been an option."

    For the Theatre Company, Tarquin was the Assistant Director for Sweeney Todd, The Most Deserving and the world premiere of Sense & Sensibility The Musical. She eventually became the Theatre Company's in-house casting director, which led to dozens of local actors getting their first opportunities to perform for the Denver Center - 16 through Sweet & Lucky alone. "It's been a passion of mine to connect with the local artistic community, whether that is working with local actors or bringing in non-traditional artists," she said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    For 13 years, Tarquin has been producer of the Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival in Steamboat Springs, where many national theatre companies including the DCPA come each summer to workshop emerging works. She also was director of the theatre program there the past two summers.

    "I’ve been most inspired by new work and new plays and seeing the creative team in the room," Tarquin said. "Getting to see the creative process happening in front of you is part of what I get the most excited about. That can be in any form."

    Outside of the Denver Center, Tarquin last year directed Fuddy Meers for the Phamaly Theatre Company, which creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.


    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.


    Emily Tarquin: DCPA photo gallery

    Emily Tarquin
    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above.


    Read more about Emily Tarquin in the NewsCenter:
    Tarquin directs Phamaly Theatre's comedy, Fuddy Meers
    2015 True West Awards: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
    Off-Center's exploration of online dating debuts at Avenue Theater
    10 Ways Georgia McBride is Going to Blow Your Theatregoing Mind
  • Photos: Cult Following's 'Decide Your Destiny'

    by John Moore | May 19, 2016
    Cult Following 2016Photos from Off-Center's most recent performance of 'Cult Following: Decide Your Destiny' on April 29. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. 


    Off-Center is the DCPA Theatre Company's theatrical testing ground. Cult Following, Off-Center’s signature nights of unrehearsed, unscripted theatre, features the fast-talking and quick-thinking talents of some of Denver’s best improv performers. 

    For Karaoke Broadway Musical, returning Friday, June 3, Off-Center goes Off-Broadway to create an improvised musical highlighting sing-along starlets and crooners from the crowd. The audience chooses the songs, and the performers weave them into the story.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    For Decide Your Destiny, returning Saturday, June 4, the audience holds the future of the storytelling in its hands as they vote on what happens next.

    The performers are Jessica Austgen, Chris Woolf, Nanna Sachiko Thompson and Sarah Kirwin, with Bruce Montgomery as the guest emcee. Off-Center shows are curated by Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin.

    Cult Following, Jessica Austgen, Chris Woolf
    Jessica Austgen and Chris Woolf in Cult Following's 'Decide Your Destiny' on April 29. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Cult Following: Ticket information

    Friday, June 3: Karaoke Broadway Musical
    Saturday, June 4: Decide Your Destiny
    Ticket Price: $15, includes one free beer sponsored by Great Divide
    Bar opens 7:30 p.m. | Show starts 8 p.m. | Run time approximately 90 minutes
    Age Recommendation: 18+
    Advisory: Unpredictable adult themes and language
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • 'All the Way' Opening Night: Drama on and off-stage

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2016
    All the Way in Denver This photo shows C. David Johnson in his dressing room just minutes before making his DCPA Theatre Company debut in the massive role of President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 'All the Way." To see our full gallery of Opening Night photos, including one of Johnson with his daughter after the performance, click the forward arrow on the photo above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Opening Night of the DCPA Theatre Company's All the Way had more than its share of drama on Friday, and not only on the The Stage Theatre. Just 40 minutes before the opening curtain, word came down that understudy Josh Robinson would be needed to perform that night. Without having had a rehearsal.

     All the Way Josh RobinsonTo give you some perspective, consider that Robinson understudies four different actors in the All the Way cast - and all of them play multiple roles. And because the show was not even officially open yet, the schedule had not allowed for the understudies to have what is called "put-in rehearsal." That's when attention shifts from the principal actors to their replacements, should they ever be called upon during the course of a run. The put-in rehearsal is typically scheduled for the Sunday morning following the opening performance.

    Josh Robinson quoteJosh Robinson is an award-winning and Harvard-trained actor who made his debut with the DCPA Theatre Company in Picnic back in 2003. He was driving to the Denver Performing Arts Complex with his 14-year-old daughter, Fiona, on Friday night (pictured above after the show) so they could watch the opening performance along with the rest of the audience. That's when he got "The Call." Stage Manager Rachel Ducat informed Robinson he would go on playing the central role of Walter Jenkins (LBJ's personal assistant), as well as Mississippi Rep. William Colmer.

    And Robinson was stuck in traffic.

    Oh, let's let Robinson tell the story of what he now calls "one of the five greatest nights of my life": 

    "As an understudy, I had been dutifully going to rehearsals to watch, and using the Line Learner app for the first time. (Line Learner allows you to record scenes from plays. It leaves leave gaps in the recording so you can speak your lines aloud.) I understudy for four actors in All the Way. But I had never walked the routes, used the props or spoken to any of the actors on stage.

    "I was driving with my daughter, Fiona, to watch the opening perfromance when I got the call. I listened to my lines in the car on the way there. There was an accident on Speer Boulevard, so we didn’t arrive at the theater until 7:10 - that's 20 minutes before curtain. I got my suit on right away, went to wigs to have my hair combed, got my picture taken by digital artist Charlie Miller for projections that are essential to the plot, and then went backstage with 5 minutes to spare. I checked my props, and my run sheet. They announced I was going on and (actor) John Jurcheck started a round of applause in the audience.

    "I have never had such a sense of community. Rachel Ducat and (Assistant Stage Manager) Matt Campbell were so supportive. (Fellow actors) Paul DeBoy and Todd Cerveris and the guys in the dressing room were excited and focused. (Assistant Director) Geoff Kent gave me a big hug. Erik Sandvold shadowed me backstage, always there with my script when I came off. Alan Richards and the other dressers had me in and out of the right costumes in a flash. Tyler Stauffer from the run crew  added moving some of my furniture to his list to give me a chance to breathe. I felt buoyed all night."


    Robinson and his castmates drew an opening-night standing ovation, and went on again for both performances on Saturday. At the cast party afterward, actor after actor came by and congratulated Robinson.

    Summarizing his experience, Robinson said: "I know there is no company that could have been more supportive, and no job I would rather have."

    All the Way. John Moore
    Opening night celebration, from left: Charles E. Wallace, Terence Archie, Cajardo Lindsey and Jordan Barbour. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    All the Way
    : Ticket information

  • By Robert Schenkkan
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 28 at the Stage Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.

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

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

    Meet the Cast Profiles (to date)
    Meet Todd Cerveris
    Meet Paul DeBoy
    Meet Mike Hartman

    All the Way. James Newcomb. John MooreActor James Newcomb (Sen. Hubert Humphrey) was joined by his sister, Claudia Carson (a longtime DCPA employee), and mother Bev Newcomb-Madden, who has directed more plays and musicals than any other woman in Colorado theatre history. James Newcomb also appeared in last year''s 'Benediction.' John Moore
  • 2015 True West Awards: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin

    by John Moore | Dec 21, 2015

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    ​Today’s recipients:
    Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
    DCPA's Off-Center


    Today’s award presenter: Mare Trevathan
    Local Theater Company Associate Artistic Director


    Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin have all the fun. As curators of the Denver Center's alternative programming series called Off-Center, they get to explore the DCPA’s wild side. And if you were not aware that the DCPA has one of those, then you haven’t yet checked out Off-Center. It’s truth in advertising.

    Every theatre company in America is chasing that elusive “younger audience,” and in May, new CEO Scott Shiller announced he is using a $410,000 grant from the Wallace Foundation to target millennials. Off-Center is a major way to do that. Now in its fifth season, Off-Center creates adventurous theatrical experiences through surprising creative collaborations with a variety of local artists. Off-Center is attempting to make theatre relevant to nontraditional audiences with immersive and entertaining outings that could be described as more “theatrical” than pure “theatre.”

    Halloween was a perfect example. “Carpe Nocte” – Latin for “Seize the Night” – was an intentional mystery outing. Ticket-buyers were told only where and when to report. "Your trials will take you on buses to the uncharted, to domains large and small, through a bedlam of loud music and bright lights," they were teased. And that’s it. Nearly 150 adventure-seekers were taken through an immersive journey in the National Western Complex that culminated in a live concert by the mesmerizing local avant-garde marching band called Itchy-O. It was an evening of pulsating percussion and visual spectacle - with a climactic twist.



    Here are a few more examples of recent or ongoing Off-Center programming:

    • Cult Following: Off-Center’s signature evenings of unrehearsed, unscripted theatre led by four of Denver’s best improv actor/comedians: Jessica Austgen, Sarah Kirwin, Nanna Thompson and Chris Woolf. (Next performances: Feb. 12-13.)
    • Off-Center quoteThe SantaLand Diaries: Off-Center does theatre, too: For the third straight holiday season, David Sedaris’ comic monologue recounting his experiences working as an elf in a Macy’s department store is being offered (through Dec. 27) in The Jones Theatre by Off-Center in collaboration with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company.
    • Perception: This massive interactive theatrical undertaking took audiences though several transformed studios in DCPA Education's Newman Building, led by illusionist Professor Phelyx. "It sent the audience on a journey to gain awareness around perception,” Miller said, using abstract concepts and evocative performance techniques such as trapeze. “It was almost like living in a video game.”
    • Kick-Off Cabaret: Off-Center has a social conscience, too. These evenings celebrate innovative do-gooder entrepreneurs who are using Kickstarter to fund their projects. Off-Center invites selected Kickstarters to strut their stuff and enlist the audience’s financial support.
    • Audio Kicks: Here photography meets audio meets dance: Ten original photographs inspired 10 different audio recordings that became the soundtrack for a live dance performance.
    • Drag Machine: Drag Queen Shirley Delta Blow took the audience on a journey through the history of drag and the gay-rights movement.
    • Lived/Relived: In partnership with local comedians who regularly host a program called The Narrators, three ordinary Denverites are chosen to tell their stories on stage with music, video, puppets and even aerial dance.

    If all that sounds like a ton of fun to put together, it is. But Mare Trevathan, today’s True West Awards Guest Picker, said she thinks Miller and Tarquin's jobs come with significant expectations – and no small pressure.

    “Charlie and Emily bring a sense of innovation and risk to the Denver Center,” said Trevathan, a founding member of Boulder’s LOCAL Theater Company. “But it’s one thing to take on risk and innovation from the periphery. When you do it at the most visible theatre in the region, I think that is real risk.”

    Trevathan is something of a hero to the DCPA Theatre Company. In 2007, she came to the rescue by taking over for an actor who was called away from The Sweetest Swing in Baseball by a family emergency. Trevathan was not an understudy. She took over the actor's two roles on just 24 hours notice, and continued on for the next 12 performances.

    She was excited to be asked by Miller and Tarquin to collaborate on a social experiment last May called Sweat. This was a fully improvised indoor biking adventure led by two performers and a musician who made up songs on the spot to accompany the action - on a tricked-out musical tricycle. BikeDenver provided a free bike valet for everyone who rode to the show – and audiences were the beneficiaries of a bike margarita blender.

    And yet Trevathan, who directed, would be the first to say, with all humility and discretion, “I don’t feel like the project we made was an entire artistic success.”

    And that was OK. Because Off-Center is a testing ground. 

    “Charlie and Emily still applauded the effort and the spirit of invention,” Trevathan said, "and that was really appreciated by all of us. They embrace the recipe that is Off-Center, and they stand by it.”

    So what if Sweat did not hit the absolute center of the bulls-eye? It is called “Off-Center,” after all.

    Miller, also the DCPA's full-time Multimedia Specialist, is a graduate of Colorado Academy who has been working at the DCPA since graduating from Harvard in 2008. Throughout high school, he was a member of the Phamaly family. That is the acclaimed local theatre company that provides performance opportunities for actors with disabilities. Tarquin, from Cazenovia, N.Y., is also the DCPA Theatre Company's Artistic Associate. She attended Point Park University in Pittsburgh and studied Media and Performing Arts at Savannah College of Art and Design.

    For more information on upcoming Off-Center programming, click 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.



    A scene from Off-Center's Season 5 Launch Party. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.


    Our most recent Off-Center coverage in the DCPA NewsCenter:
    Photos: Off-Center's 2015-16 season launch party
    Meet launch party host Micah White
    Bar Choir brings songs with shameless heart to Off-Center season launch
    Perception promises to bend your mind and move your feet

    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.