• 2017 True West Award: Kenny Moten

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


    Day 7: Kenny Moten

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

    Motones vs. Jerseys: At a glance

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


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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

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

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

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Well ... that was then.

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

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

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

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

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

    A Beth Malone 800 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

    An update on The Unsinkable Molly Brown:

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

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

    (Photo above by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

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

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

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

     Selected previous Beth Malone coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:

    Photo gallery: Beth Malone in Denver:

    Beth Malone in Denver

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 2016 True West Award: Sharon Kay White

    by John Moore | Dec 24, 2016
    True West Award Sharon Kay White

    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 24: Sharon Kay White

    Sharon Kay White is all kinds of funny – literally. Close-to-the-bone funny, rim-shot funny, vaudevillian funny. You name a style, and the dependable musical-theatre veteran knows a different way to make you laugh.

    White showed off at least three kinds of funny in three charmingly diverse performances in 2016. She nearly stole the show out from under infamous thief Frank Abagnale Jr. as the con man’s mother-in-law in the Aurora Fox’s Catch Me If You Can. She was just cheek-pinchable as the jovial cloistered nun Sister Mary Patrick in the Arvada Center’s Sister Act. And she brought the year home like the seasoned pro she is originating the role of a throwback variety-show sidekick in the Arvada Center’s world-premiere holiday musical, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. 

    True West Award. Sharon Kay White. Tim Howard. Photo by Christine Fisk. “You give that woman a song with a bit of sass and humor in it, and she’ll knock it out of the park every time. That’s her,” said actor Amy Board, her castmate in 2007’s The Great American Trailer Park Musical. “She knows how to set up a joke - and she knows how to drive it home.”

    Yes, White was every kind of funny in 2016. But there’s much more to her. White is a classic, old-school hoofer, Board said. But if you give her a chance to break your heart, then you had better grab a broom to sweep up the pieces. She brought Carol Burnett’s mother to gritty life in a memorable 2008 turn in Hollywood Arms, followed in 2011 by a riveting turn as the relentless social activist Emma Goldman in Ragtime.

    (Photo above and right: Sharon Kay White and Tim Howard in the Aurora Fox's 'Catch Me If You Can.' Photo by Christine Fisk.)

    “Sharon’s humor is well-known, but her excellence in dramatic roles is something many audience members don’t see coming,” said Arvada Center Artistic Producer Rod Lansberry. “Her work in Hollywood Arms still stands out as one of her strongest roles - as well as her Emma Goldman in Ragtime. We love her for her humor, but we admire her for her versatility.”

    Read our 'meet-the-cast' feature on Sharon Kay White

    Oddly enough, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts inadvertently changed the direction of White’s life forever in 1996. Not by hiring her to perform here, but rather by keeping her from performing here.

    Pop star Debbie Gibson’s national touring production of Funny Girl was supposed to be Broadway-bound. White, who was a member of that touring cast, had been a gainfully employed New York actor for years. She had starred as no less than Adelaide in a national touring production of Guys & Dolls, but Funny Girl was going to be her Broadway debut. Until late DCPA President Randy Weeks previewed the show in Minneapolis and was so unimpressed, he canceled the show’s upcoming Denver booking. And when Denver dropped out, the tour fizzled out.

    True West Award Sharon Kay White QuoteWhite took stock. She decided to exit the New York rat race and move to Colorado to live a more normal life. Why Colorado? “I saw picture of Colorado in a magazine on an airplane and said, ‘I am going there,’ ” she said.

    White came here intending to become a respectable Realtor – and she still is one. She has also had a reliable second career as a transcriber for all kinds of television shows – a job she can do from her home in Denver. But shortly after she arrived in Colorado, she got the acting bug again, and it has never left her since. She became a favorite of the now shuttered Country Dinner Playhouse, where she brought her Broadway-caliber Adelaide of Guys & Dolls to Arapahoe County. She also had memorable turns as a stripper in Gypsy and as Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, among many others.

    “She is a rock star,” said Paul Dwyer, who co-starred and produced many of her shows there. “She can do anything.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    White started 2016 with her surprisingly affecting turn in Catch Me If You Can, which further solidified Tim Howard as perhaps the leading leading man among the local twentysomethings. “But the night belongs to Sharon Kay White as the blusteringly sexy comic tour de force, Carol Strong, the Deep-South mother of Abignale’s fiancé,” wrote Dave Perry of the Aurora Sentinel. “White is famous for making every role seem that it was written for her, and this one is a memorable escapade that encapsulates the best part of the show.”

    In Sister Act, based on the Whoopi Goldberg film about a loose-moraled singer who witnesses a mob crime and is sent into hiding in a convent, White played one of the many naive nuns whose eyes are opened to the excitement of the outside world. “She was just so freaking earnest in her joy, and it wasn’t for a joke,” Board said. “It was honest.”

    At the end of 2016, White had the rare opportunity to create a character from scratch in the Arvada Center’s just-completed new musical I’ll Be Home for Christmas. It is written by Kenn McLaughlin and longtime Arvada Center resident Music Director David Nehls, who has been developing the piece from scratch over the past several years. And from the first iteration of the show, White has been cast to play an actor in the Bright family’s 1950s televised variety show. But now it’s the Vietnam era, and the Brights’ grown-up, all-American son is coming home from war to appear in the family’s annual Christmas special. There’s tension on the set, and White is there to break it.

    Her character’s name is Carol Marie, but think Rose Marie in The Dick Van Dyke Show - with a killer voice. White is given two songs that humanize the loneliness of a single, middle-aged woman of that era at Christmas. But she's playing a character-within-a-character. Carol Marie, the actor on the show, turns out to be a happily married mother.

    To top off White's year, she was nominated in July for a Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award for her work in 2015's Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

    “In my humble opinion, Sharon Kay has some of the most sound, organic comic timing I’ve ever seen,” said Board. “And the amazing thing is, she was never taught comedy. Never once. It’s all her.”

    Sharon Kay White/At a glance

    • Hometown: Gilroy, Calif.
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: Gilroy High School
    • College: Bachelor's of Science degree in Textile Science and Polymer Chemistry from the UC-Davis (California)
    • Coming up: She will be playing Elsa Maxwell in Cherry Creek Theatre's Red, Hot and Cole from Jan. 19-Feb. 26 in the Mizel Arts and Culture Center's Pluss Theatre
    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

    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
  • Matthew Dailey walks like a man home to Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 02, 2016

    Matthew Dailey. Jersey Boys. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

    From left: Keith Hines, Aaron De Jesus, Cory Jeacoma and Denver native Matthew Dailey in the national touring production of 'Jersey Boys,' coming to Denver from Nov. 9-13. DeJesus  played Tom Sawyer in the Arvada Center's 'Big River' in 2009. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

    Matthew Dailey may be a Jersey Boy today, but he’s as Colorado as they come, having grown up in Littleton and learned the craft of theatre in Denver’s equivalent of The Mickey Mouse Club. Disney had Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Ryan Gosling, but Denver had Melissa Benoist, Annaleigh Ashford, Matthew Dailey and more.

    “When I was 9 years old, I saw a production of Guys and Dolls at the Country Dinner Playhouse,” said Dailey, who now plays Tommy DeVito in the Denver-bound national touring production of Jersey Boys. “I saw how much fun everyone was having and I told my parents right there I wanted to be up there doing that, too.

    Paul Dwyer was an actor in that production of Guys and Dolls, and a longtime friend of Dailey’s mother, Mary. “So after the show he came over and we started talking, and I started taking classes with him the next week,” Dailey said.

    Dwyer and local choreographer Alann Worley ran an after-school program called the Academy of Theatre Arts, and Dailey was a student there for the next eight years. Among his classmates were Benoist, of Glee and Supergirl fame; Ashford, who won a Tony Award for her comic turn in Kinky Boots; and Jesse JP Johnson, who will soon return to Broadway in a new musical based on SpongeBob SquarePants. “A lot of really talented kids came out of Denver, and still do,” said Dailey, including many around Denver such as Tim Howard, who recently starred in the Aurora Fox’s Catch Me If You Can and has been Dailey’s best friend for 20 years.

    Matthew Dailey QuoteDailey is now playing DeVito, who grew up the hard way in Jersey. He was youngest of nine children to Italian immigrant parents and raised in a cold-water flat. “You did anything to survive,” DeVito often has said. “You’d steal milk off of porches.” But there there is an ethical side to DeVito, Dailey said, even though, in Jersey Boys, he is shown to have been a minor crook at times.

    "He did steal milk off people's porches as a kid, but he never stole from his own neighborhood, because those were his people," Dailey said. "And if a house had two jugs of milk, he only took one. Or if they had three, he only took two. He always left them with some.

    "Tommy is definitely not without his good qualities. He's very determined. He sets his mind to something, and he then does everything within his power to achieve it."

    Dwyer swells with pride to see Dailey coming home in a big Broadway national touring production. But he had to chuckle a wee bit when he first heard Dailey was cast as DeVito, because, well ... "Let's just say Matthew did his character study at a young age," he said.

    Wait, what?
    "So in the show, you see Tommy DeVito and the guys do some bad things," Dwyer said, reveling in the telling of his story. "Well, when Matthew was in high school, I do remember this one time when he - without the owner's knowledge - broke into the Academy of Theatre Arts to have a party. So I'm just saying ... maybe the role isn't that much of a stretch."

    Oh, what a night!

    Here’s more with Dailey, a graduate of Arapahoe High School, on growing up in Colorado and his imminent return to Denver, where he will perform on the Buell Theatre stage for the first time.

    John Moore: What were some of your favorite performances in Denver?

    Matthew Dailey: The first show I ever did was Little Women at the Town Hall Arts Center in 1998. I loved doing shows at the old Country Dinner Playhouse. I did The Music Man, Titanic, Nuncrackers, and Annie Get Your Gun there. I also did Bye Bye Birdie and A Chorus Line at Town Hall – both with Melissa Benoist. I have done A Chorus Line three times now, but you never forget your first. I was only 16 at the time. That one was directed by Michael Gorman, and it was such an incredible experience. He was a taskmaster in the best possible way, and I think we all came out better for it.

    John Moore: This will be the fourth Jersey Boys tour stop in Denver since 2009. Why is this show still truckin' along like it is?  

    Matthew Dailey: There is something really special and magical about this show. It's the perfect storm where you have this incredible story, paired with this incredible music. If you were to take the music out of the show altogether, you would still have this incredible underdog story of these four guys going from the streets of New Jersey to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. Similarly, if you were to take away the story, and just had this music, you would be left with this incredible soundtrack that has lasted more than 50 years. And when you bring the two together, you get this incredible Broadway show that has lasted 11 years on Broadway.

    John Moore: Jersey Boys is, of course, the story of the beginnings of the Four Seasons, who combined doo-wop with astounding harmonies to make No. 1 hits like “Oh What a Night,” “Sherry” and “Walk Like a Man.” What’s your favorite?

    Matthew Dailey: It changes almost nightly, but I would say right now, my favorite is a song called Begging. It happens in the second act. It's fun choreography. It's got a great beat to it, and it launches us into one of my favorite scenes in the show.

    John Moore: Tell us about playing Tommy DeVito.

    Matthew Dailey: Tommy is this guy from the wrong side of the tracks, and he’s the ringleader of the group. Everyone brings something different to the band, whether it's Frankie Valli's voice or Bob Gaudio's songs or Nick Massi's arrangements. Tommy brings everybody together. He brings the leadership and the ability to keep everyone heading in the same direction.

    John Moore: Tommy DeVito is now 88 years old and still alive. Have you met him?

    Matthew Dailey: I have not, but I hope to one day.

    Dailey, Russell put the Colorado in Jersey Boys

    John Moore: Tell us about that Jersey Boys attitude. Because when we think of what that means - a Jersey Boy - we think of Springsteen and Sinatra on Bon Jovi. What is a Jersey Boy to you?

    Matthew Dailey: To me, a Jersey Boy is a product of his neighborhood. There is a swagger. There is an air about him that is unlike any other. I mean there is no real "Denver Boy" to speak of. We just don't say that. But these are “the Jersey Boys.” There is a kind of a cocky arrogance to them - but not in a bad way.

    John Moore: What is it going to mean to you to be performing on the Buell Theatre stage for the first time?

    Jersey BoysMatthew Dailey: It is a dream come true. I can't wait. I have been looking forward to it since I joined the tour, hoping that we would eventually get to go to Denver. Last year, we went to Colorado Springs, which is the closest I thought we were ever going to get to Denver. When they announced we are actually going to the Buell, it was an unbelievable feeling. I didn't think it was even going to be possible. I grew up seeing shows on that stage. The Buell is where I would go and see all of these people living out the dream that I hoped to achieve one day. So it's really going to be meaningful and exciting for me to go back and hopefully bring that same feeling to a new generation of kids who are out there in the audience and want to be up performing on that stage someday, too.

    (Photo above right: Matthew Dailey, far right, with Matt LaFontaine, Ben Dicke, Lauren Shealy and Shannan Steele in the Arvada Center's 'The 1940s Radio Hour' in 2011. Photo by P. Switzer.)

    John Moore: You have dedicated your performance in this tour to your father, Phil Gottlieb, who was a good friend to the Colorado theatre at large. Tell us a little about him.

    Matthew Dailey QuoteMatthew Dailey: My dad passed away in 2009 from a series of heart attacks. But he was a performer his whole life. He was born in New York, grew up in Wyoming and then moved back to New York after high school and a little bit of college. He started dancing and performing, he and achieved his dream to dance on Broadway. So he did that for a while, and then he danced in Vegas and L.A. Eventually, he came to Denver and had a family and became a Realtor. But eventually he got back into performing and choreographing for theatre companies all around Denver. For a number of years we got to do that together, which was amazing. Then he passed very suddenly in 2009. And so every night when I go out there, I always think about him.

    How Matthew Dailey's family responded to loss

    John Moore: You mentioned your mother, who is a busy and beloved Music Director for theatre companies all over town. What is it going to mean to Mary and your brother, Chris, to see you at the Buell?

    Matthew Dailey: They're excited just to have me home for a little bit. I rarely make it back to Denver, and when I do, it is always very rushed. They both have traveled all over the country to see me in the show, which has been fun. But they are looking forward to seeing it in Denver. I know they are both excited to bring friends and get to experience it all together.

    John Moore: I have a feeling you are going to sell a few tickets in Denver.

    Matthew Dailey: I hope I didn’t use it all up last year. I had a whole party bus of people come down to Colorado Springs, led by (local choreographer) Piper Arpan. Hopefully there are still a few people there who want to see me at the Buell.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: So for those who haven't seen Jersey Boys, what are they in for?

    Matthew Dailey: They are in for a night unlike any other. There are in for flashy costumes, great music, a great story, live instruments, good-looking girls and good-looking guys. It's got something for everybody. It's not a typical night at the theatre. The theatre stereotype is that women have to drag their husbands and boyfriends to the theatre. For this show, it’s the other way around. This is the show that boyfriends and husbands drag their girlfriends and wives to. It’s like a Hollywood blockbuster – only it’s live.”

    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.

    Jersey Boys: Photo gallery

    Jersey Boys

    Jersey Boys: Ticket information

    • Nov. 9-13
    • Buell Theatre
    • Talkback with the cast following Thursday, Nov. 10 performance
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Additional NewsCenter coverage of Jersey Boys:
    Dailey, Russell: There's plenty of Colorado in Jersey Boys
    Video, photos: Jersey Boy sings national anthem at Broncos game

  • Meet the Cast video series: Beth Malone

    by John Moore | Sep 24, 2014

    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 64: Meet Beth Malone, a Castle Rock native and Douglas County High School alumna who is returning to the DCPA for the first time since performing here in Bon Voyage in 1993. Malone, who is playing the title role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, will return to Broadway next year in Fun Home. Here, she talks about her love of Snowmass and Holly Hunter, how it felt to sing the national anthem at a recent Denver Broncos game, what we need to know about Molly Brown and more. Molly Brown plays through Oct. 26 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

    And, hey: Check out our new media outlet at MyDenverCenter.Org

    Check out our full photo shoot featuring Beth Malone in Leadville:


    Photos of Beth Malone by John Moore. All rights reserved. To see the entire photo gallery, click here.

    Previous "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    From The Unsinkable Molly Brown:
    Patty Goble
    Paolo Montalban
    Linda Mugleston
    Donna English
    Burke Moses
    Beth Malone (today)

    From previous shows:
    Death of a Salesman
    Just Like Us
    Jackie & Me
    The Most Deserving
    A Christmas Carol
    black odyssey
    The Legend of Georgia McBride
    Animal Crackers

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown: Ticket information
    Performances run through Oct. 26
    Stage Theatre
    303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our Previous Molly Brown coverage on Denver CenterStage:
  • Meet the Cast video series: Patty Goble

    by John Moore | Sep 12, 2014

    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 60: Meet Patty Goble, a Wyoming native and graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Goble, who is playing the snooty Mrs. Sneed-Hill and the maid Miss Lydia in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, performed at both Boulder's Dinner Theatre and the Country Dinner Playhouse - including a notable production of Baby co-starring Molly Brown herself, Beth Malone. She now has seven Broadway credits. The Unsinkable Molly Brown plays from Sept. 12-Oct. 26 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

    Check back here for more profiles of Molly Brown cast members.

    And, hey: Check out our new media outlet at DenverCenter.Org

    Previous "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Kristen Adele

    John Arp

    Richard Azurdia

    Leonard E. Barrett Jr.

    Cynthia Bastidas

    Mary Bacon

    Anthony Bianco

    Kathleen M. Brady

    Gabriella Cavallero

    Aaron M. Davidson

    Stephanie Cozart

    Aubrey Deeker

    Diana Dresser

    Adrian Egolf

    Liza Fernandez

    Adriana Gaviria

    Michael Fitzpatrick

    Kate Gleason

    Fidel Gomez

    Sam Gregory

    Douglas Harmsen

    Mike Hartman

    Judith Hawking

    John Patrick Hayden

    Rebecca Hirota

    Steven Cole Hughes

    John Hutton

    John Jurcheck

    Michael Keyloun

    Lauren Klein

    Jacob H. Knoll

    Charlie Korman

    Kyra Lindsay

    Cajardo Lindsey

    Ruth Livier

    Eric Lockley

    Alma Martinez

    Timothy McCracken

    M Scott McLean

    Leigh Miller

    James O'Hagan-Murphy

    Yunuen Pardo

    Jeanne Paulsen

    Jonathan Earl Peck

    Amelia Pedlow

    Philip Pleasants

    Casey Predrovic

    Jamie Ann Romero

    Christine Rowan

    Michael Santo

    Brian Shea

    Jonathan Randell Silver

    Felix Solis

    Kim Staunton

    Tony Todd

    Justin Walvoord

    William Oliver Watkins

    Allison Watrous

    Ryan Wuestewald

  • 'Wild': 'Molly Brown' will reunite local favorites Beth Malone, Patty Goble

    by John Moore | Jul 24, 2014

    Clockwise, from left: Doug Carfrae, Jan Waterman, Director Bill McHale, Patty Goble, Marcus Waterman, Beth Malone and Brian Smith of Country Dinner Playhouse’s late-1980s “Baby.”

     The Denver Center Theatre Company today announced the remaining cast and creative team for its highly anticipated new adaptation of Meredith Willson’s classic musical, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. The production opens for previews on Sept.12 in The Stage Theatre and will be directed and choreographed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes).

    Among those joining the previously announced Beth Malone and Burke Moses in the lead roles of Molly and Leadville Johnny Brown will be University of Northern Colorado graduate Patty Goble as Mrs. Sneed-Hill/Miss Lydia and Denver Center Theatre Company alumna Linda Mugleston as Mary Nevin.

    Mugleston performed in the Denver Center’s Quilters in 2009 and as Mrs. Fezziwig and Mrs. Cratchit in 2010’s A Christmas Carol. Her Broadway credits include Young Frankenstein and Wonderful Town.

    Goble grew up in Wyoming and has logged seven Broadway credits, most recently playing the mayor’s wife in Bye Bye Birdie. Others include Curtains, The Woman in White, La Cage Aux Folles, Kiss Me Kate, Ragtime and Phantom of the Opera.

    Goble and Molly Brown star Beth Malone both have extensive histories performing at the now closed Country Dinner Playhouse in Englewood. They starred together as the wives, along with Jan Waterman, in a fondly remembered, late-1980s production of Baby.

    “That is wild. There is no other word for it,” Goble said of her impending reunion with Malone. Goble performed extensively at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre and at Country Dinner Theatre from 1984-89 before embarking on what has become an international career that culminated recently with the earning of her masters degree in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston.

    “To come back to Colorado after all these years and to perform with such a prestigious regional theatre is a gift,” Goble said. “I have so many friends and family to reconnect with. I am sure it will be a little overwhelming. But, mostly, I am just so happy that Beth is coming back to Denver with me. I am so, so happy for her.”

    Brian Smith performed opposite Goble in that production of Baby. “Along with Beth and Jan, those were three phenomenally talented women in that show,” Smith said. “And as the middle wife, Patty really made the relationship between them stick.”

    That Malone and Goble once shared the Country Dinner stage, CDP  Paul Dwyer said, is amazing. “It’s a real reflection of the talent that (Director) Bill McHale put on that stage,” he said.

    While Goble grew up in Wyoming and got her professional start at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre in a 1984 production of Oliver, she considers McHale a theatrical father figure. “He set the bar for how to be a professional in this business,” said Goble, whom Smith remembers most for her sweetness and “rich, operatic voice.”

    The Molly Brown cast also features:

    David Abeles (Erich) 
    Cameron Adams (Maureen) 
    Whitney Bashor (Julia) 
    Karl Josef Co (Kenneth B. Chapman) 
    Jesmille Darbouze (Maude) 
    Donna English (Baby Doe) 
    Alex Finke (Kit) 
    Jason Lee Garrett (Swing) 
    Constantine Germancos (Vincenzo) 
    Gregg Goodbrod (Hitchens) 
    Michael Halling (Doc Morris, Fred) 
    John Hickok (Tabor) 
    Kristie Kerwin (Swing) 
    Omar Lopez-Cepero (Larry) 
    Stephanie Martigentti (Ensemble) 
    Paolo Montalban (Arthur) 
    Keven Quillon (William) 
    John Scherer (Ensemble)

    That group has amassed many Broadway credits. English has three, among themNice Work if You Can Get It, in 2013.

    Malone, a native of Castle Rock, recently starred in the award-winning Off-Broadway production of Fun Home directed by Sam Gold and has appeared on Broadway in Ring of Fire. Malone made her Denver Center Theatre Company debut in 1993 in the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Bon Voyage, a musical adaptation of Noel Coward’s Sail Away directed by Bruce K. Sevy. Read our interview with Malone here.

    Burke Moses returns to the Denver Center Theatre Company after having played Billy Bigelow in Carousel and Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. On Broadway, he debuted as Sky Masterson in the 1993 revival of Guys and Dolls and he created the role of Gaston in the original New York, Los Angeles and London productions of Disney’s Beauty and the BeastRead our interview with Moses here.

    This revitalized The Unsinkable Molly Brown features a new book and additional lyrics by three-time Tony Award nominee Dick Scanlan (Thoroughly Modern Millie) and showcases never-before-heard songs from Willson’s prolific canon. The musical adaptation is being supervised by Michael Rafter (Violet).

    More from the press release:

    Rooted in extensive research of the turbulent Gold Rush era, Colorado’s most treasured rags-to-riches romance traces Molly’s rise from a small-town tomboy to a member of Denver’s high society. The core of this musical comedy is the tempestuous can’t-live-with him/can’t-live-without him love story that survives the Silver Boom, the Gold Rush, and the R.M.S. Titanic. First immortalized in the 1960 Broadway musical, Molly Brown was also at the heart of the very successful movie musical adaptation starring Debbie Reynolds and among the dramatic highlights of James Cameron’s box office movie hit, Titanic.  The production features the iconic songs, “I Ain’t Down Yet,” “Belly Up To The Bar Boys,” and “Colorado, My Home,” and “I’ll Never Say No.”

    “The vision of the Theatre Company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts is about reflecting the stories and the issues of the day, not only in our local community of Denver, but also Colorado, the Rocky Mountains and nationally,” said Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson in the announcement. “The Unsinkable Molly Brown has a deep Colorado connection, but this is also a story about one of the most iconic women in American history. We have a first class Broadway creative team and an exceptional cast of actors that are going to bring this production to life like it has never been seen before. I couldn’t imagine the show premiering elsewhere.”

    This production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown was first read at the 2009 Colorado New Play Summit where it was work-shopped under Marshall’s direction. The all-star creative team includes:

    Scenic Design by Derek McLane (Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, The Heiress)

    Costume Design by Paul Tazewell (A Streetcar Named Desire, Memphis)

    Lighting Design by Donald Holder (The Bridges of Madison County, Golden Boy)

    Sound Design by Craig Breitenbach (Just Like Us, Sense & Sensibility the Musical)

    Music Director and Vocal and Incidental Arrangements by Michael Rafter (Violet, Sweet Charity Broadway Revival)

    Casting by Jim Carnahan, CSA (Cabaret, Violet) and Stephen Kopel, CSA (Violet, Beautiful: The Carol King Musical)

    Production Stage Manager Stephen R. Gruse (Bullets Over Broadway, Pippin).

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown opens Sept.19) in the Stage Theatre and runs through Oct. 26. For tickets, call 303-893-4100 or go to www.DenverCenter.Org

    Previous Molly Brown coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

  • Mickey Rooney on why retiring was never an option

    by John Moore | Apr 07, 2014



    By John Moore

    As the theatre reporter for The Denver Post, I had the opportunity to interview Mickey Rooney in 2001 before what may have been his final Colorado appearance. Rooney was 81 when he took to the stage at the Country Dinner Playhouse to perform with his eighth wife, Jan Chamberlin, in "Two for the Show." Rooney was a hoot to interview. He passionate and obstinate and charming at once. Rooney was from the Tony Curtis and Ann-Margret generation of film stars who were trained to charm the socks off of the press. In advance of the national touring production of "Some Like it Hot," I recall, Tony Curtis kept calling me "Johnny Boy" throughout our interview.

    Later on the CDP stage, Rooney exuded every bit of charisma that made him a star. Still, the Playhouse took precautions for his age by lining the square, in-the-round stage with teleprompters (using huge point sizes) to help Rooney with his words if his memory became an issue.

    The quote from our interview that will remain with me forever came when I asked Rooney about retiring. He was 81, after all. "What are you supposed to do?" he said back, "just drop over?"

    He and Chamberlin continued to tour "Two for the Show" for another seven years.

    Rooney died Sunday at age 93 after an astonishing 84-year career in show business. Here is a brief excerpt from my story with Rooney in 2001, first published in The Denver Post:


    Mickey Rooney is in no laughing mood. The recent terrorist attacks have
    left him feeling both stoic and patriotic. But Rooney, who has spent 80
    of his 81 years in show business, knows his part in the recovery

    "The people need entertainment now that our country is in such trouble," said Rooney, who performs "Two for the Show," a musical comedy revue with wife Jan Chamberlin, Monday and Tuesday in the opener of the Country Dinner Playhouse's first concert series.

    "It's a little bit of a walk down memory lane," Chamberlin said. "We sing a lot of old standards, and Mickey has some magnificent original compositions. He does some fantastic impersonations like Humphrey Bogart and Clark Cable. I do Patsy Cline and Judy Garland songs, and then we sing together. We hope we lift America's spirits a little bit."

    The two have toured "Two" for four years, and it has changed only in that "God Bless America," has been added since Sept. 11.

    "It was very important that we add that song," Rooney said. "I'm an American. I was in the Second World War. People have loved it, thank God."

    Chamberlin, a former country singer, has fun with the fact she is Rooney's eighth wife, a list that began with Ava Gardner in 1942 and ended with Chamberlin in 1978. During the revue, they scrap a bit before singing "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."

    "It's really cute," Chamberlin said. "We've been together almost 30 years, and people always ask, how on Earth does anybody in the business stay together that long? Well I always say, "It takes a lot of love, and a tremendous amount of patience, but the biggest secret would be separate bathrooms.'"

    Denver is the first stop in what will be a three-week tour, but Rooney does not believe in retiring.

    "What are you supposed to do," he said, "just drop over?"

  • Terry Rhoads, 'Denver's leading man,' dies at 61

    by John Moore | Oct 12, 2013


    By John Moore

    Terry Rhoads may have moved on from Denver years ago, but his impact on Colorado theater was enduring. Rhoads was the undisputed star of  Country Dinner Playhouse shows for much of the 1980s before having a significant career in TV, music, film and commercials in California. Rhoads died yesterday of amyloidosis, a rare disease of unknown cause. He was 61.

    Read my full tribute here on CultureWest.Org


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

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