• 'The Who's Tommy': By the headbanging numbers

    by John Moore | Jun 17, 2018
    Tommy cast by the numbers John Moore

    The cast and crew for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Who's Tommy.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Here's a fun taste of what a major feat it was to make a 95-minute rock opera run like a finely tuned ... pinball machine

    Kate ColtunBy Kate Coltun (pictured at right)
    DCPA Theatre Company Production Manager

    The production process is an often-invisible machine humming away under the unforgettable storytelling we realize onstage. I’d love to pull back the curtain a little on one specific pinball-wizard project — The Who’s Tommy — and share some numbers.

    TOMMY NUMBERS HUMANS

    58 Theatre professionals who showed up every night to make our little skit happen, on stage or off. Broken down, that’s:

    • 20 Actors (including two understudies)
    • 8 Band members
    • 3 Stage managers
    • 1 Production assistant
    • 1 Light-board operator
    • 3 Spotlight operators
    • 1 Audio engineer
    • 1 Onstage audio crew member
    • 1 Video operator
    • 8 Stagehands running deck, rail, traps and automation
    • 5 Dressers 
    • 2 Wig assistants
    • 1 Child supervisor
    • 1 House manager running the front of house 

    (This does NOT include the dozens of artisans, carpenters, artists, designers, support staff, administrators, marketers, dramaturgical staff, fight directors, dialect coaches, music directors and other specialists who touched this play at some point from inception to its realization.)

    TOMMY NUMBERS JASON SHERWOOD. PHOTO BY ADAMS VISCOMTHE SET

    • Our set, designed by Jason Sherwood, was made up of 4 lifts, 2 concentric turn tables, 2 flying drops, a house that explodes, and a remarkable ballet happening in the trap room to achieve the flawless dance of lifts, turns and magical deliveries that we make look easy. We even engaged our fabulous engineering department to do regular checks on our show-stopping hydraulics system to which we are so grateful. Jason, who was just nominated for a Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award for his work, imagined an idyllic dollhouse to represent Tommy’s childhood that turned into an electrified, abstract pinball machine the moment he learned he could play. Every panel, doorknob, picture frame and detail was electrified to glow and change color as this “deaf, dumb, and blind kid” finally came to life.

    TOMMY NUMBERS 2PROPERTIES

    • Our props team realized a variety of magical pieces, including 3 highly detailed scale-model dollhouses the cast sit on, stood on, danced on, crawled in and out of, lit up, and showed projected video, along with two period-correct pinball machines that lit up, rolled around and played.

    COSTUMES AND WARDROBE

    • 113 Costume changes (in a 95-minute play)
    • 30 Wigs that needed to be switched, maintained and dressed
    • At 1 point we had 5 actors wearing 3 costumes at once to facilitate quick changes

    TOMMY LIGHTING FIXTURES. PHOTO BY ADAMS VISCOMLIGHTING

    • 1 Light-board operator
    • 2 Computers running in sync
    • 3 Spotlight operators
    • 32 Universes of DMX control
    • 36 Different types of lighting fixtures
    • 46 Color scrollers
    • 55 Discreet effects
    • 70 Radio-controlled channels
    • 500 Feet of LED tape
    • 709 Lighting fixtures
    • 831 Lighting cues
    • 16,140 Highest DMX address. (DMX stands for Digital Multiplex Protocol. It is an accepted industry method that allows a lighting console to talk to other things like lights and effects. So what does that number mean? Think of each control channel as a switch in your house. So that would be 16,000 switches in your house to control your lights!

    SOUND

    • 1 Giant, 3D-mapped special audio processor just for this production
    • 40 Microphones 
    • 64 Individual outputs from the sound console
    • 150 Fired sound cues (separate from the ongoing live mix of mic levels) 

    PROJECTIONS

    • 1 LED mapping system that talked to our lighting console
    • 1 Live camera feed
    • 6 Video outputs 
    • 7 Artists who created content
    • 140 Total number of cues
    • 101,125 minutes: The amount of time it took to render the animation we used across multiple computers — just in the opening prologue alone. That’s almost 1,700 hours. (If you don't know what rendering is, well ... it's complicated. Click here for a helpful explanation.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    TOMMY NUMBERS 6STAGE MANAGEMENT
    They are the captains of this mighty ship, and we couldn’t do a show without any one of them. 

    • 761 Called cues, which averages about 1 cue every 7 seconds (though they often came in clumps, with much less time between). 
    • 70 hours of tech time before we were ready to preview. (This is time spent in the theatre with actors, designers and technical staff. On a daily basis, our artists, support staff and crew would start at 8 a.m. to be ready for rehearsal by 11 a.m., and finish their day at around midnight throughout the tech process. This does not include the 186 rehearsal hours before we hit the stage. 

    I just wanted to give you all a taste of what a significant feat it was to make this 95-minute show run like the awesome well-oiled machine it was. To everyone involved with the production: Job well done.   

    Production photos by Adams VisCom.

    TOMMY BY THE NUMBERS 3


    Video: A 360-degree scene from 'The Who's Tommy' at the Denver Center


    Prepare to have your mind blown: We filmed a scene from 'The Who’s Tommy' using a 360-degree camera. 'The Who's Tommy.' Use the arrows to get the full effect. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Selected NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:

    Cast:

    • Andy Mientus (Broadway’s Les Misérables, Spring Awakening, NBC’s “Smash”) as Tommy
    • Joe Beauregard (Kinky Boots first national tour) as Ensemble
    • Charl Brown (Broadway’s Motown The Musical) as Captain Walker
    • Katie Drinkard (DCPA’s The Wild Party) as Swing
    • Carson Elrod (Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher, Noise’s Off) as Uncle Ernie
    • Lulu Fall (Broadway’s Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Hair) as Acid Queen/Ensemble
    • David Hess (Broadway’s Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd) as Minister/Specialist/Judge/Ensemble
    • Sara Kapner (Broadway’s Hollywood Arms) as Sally Simpson/Ensemble
    • Gareth Keegan (CBS’ Instinct) as Cousin Kevin/Lover
    • Charlie Korman (DCPA’s Frankenstein) as Young Cousin Kevin/Ensemble
    • Betsy Morgan (Broadway’s The King and I) as Mrs. Walker
    • Corbin Payne (The Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Swing
    • Terence Reddick (Broadway’s Les Miserables) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Understudy
    • Timothy John Smith (NBC’s “The Blacklist”) as Hawker/Ensemble
    • Olivia Sullivent (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Erin Willis (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Tommy.
    • Samuel Bird and Radley Wright will share the role of Young Tommy at age 4

    Creatives:

    • Music 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
    • Choreography by Katie Spelman (Oklahoma at Goodspeed Opera House)
    • Musical direction by Gregg Coffin (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd)
    • Scenic design by Jason Sherwood (DCPA’s Frankenstein, Off-Center’s The Wild Party)
    • Costume design by Kevin Copenhaver (DCPA’s Frankenstein)
    • Lighting design by David Weiner (Stephen King’s Misery on Broadway)
    • Sound design by Ken Travis (Broadway’s Aladdin)
    • Projection design by Alex Basco Koch (Broadway’s Irena's Vow)
    • Fight direction by Geoffrey Kent (DCPA’s This Is Modern Art)
    • Vocal and dialect coaching by Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D (DCPA’s The Secret Garden)
    • Stage Management by Kurt Van Raden
    • Assistant Stage Management by Corin Ferris and Michael Morales.

    The orchestra:

    • Angela Steiner: Conductor/Keyboard 1
    • Dan Graeber: Keyboard 2
    • Matthe Scheffelman: French Horn
    • Guitar 1: David DeVine
    • Guitar 2: Daniel Schwindt
    • Bass: Jason Tyler Vaughn
    • Drums/Percussion: Shawn King
    • Music Conductor: Jim Harvey

    DCPA Theatre Company Artistic team:

    • Chris Coleman: Artistic Director
    • Nataki Garrett: Associate Artistic Director
    • Charlie Miller: Associate Artistic Director
    • Douglas Langworthy: Literary Director/Director of New Play Development
    • Melissa Cashion: Artistic Producer
    • Grady Soapes: Associate Producer/Director of Casting
    • Chad Henry: Literary Associate

    Production:

    • Jeff Gifford: Director of Production
    • Kate Coltun: Production Manager
    • Matthew Campbell: Assistant Production Manager
    • Julie Brou: Production and Artistic Office Manager

    Scenic Design:

    • Lisa M. Orzolek: Director of Scenic Design
    • Kevin Nelson, Nicholas Renaud: Scenic Design Assistants

    Lighting Design:

    • Charles R. MacLeod:  Director of Lighting
    • Lily Bradford: Lighting Design Assistant
    • Reid Tennis: Production Electrician

    Multimedia:

    • Gregory W. Towle: Projection Supervisor
    • Topher Blair: Multimedia Specialist

    Sound Design:

    • Craig Breitenbach: Director of Sound
    • Alex Billman, Frank Haas, Tyler Nelson: Sound Technicians

    Stage Management:

    • Kurt Van Raden: Production Stage Manager
    • Christoper C. Ewing: Senior Stage Manager
    • Kailey Buttrick, Rachel Ducat, Heidi Echtenkamp, Corin Ferris, Rick Mireles, Kristen O’Connor, D. Lynn Reiland: Stage Managers

    Scene Shop:

    • Eric Moore: Technical Director
    • Robert L. Orzolek: Associate Technical Director
    • Albert “Stub” Allison: Assistant Technical Director
    • Louis Fernandez III: Lead Technician
    • Tyler Clark, Brian “Marco” Markiewicz, Wynn Pastor, Kyle Scoggins, Kyle Simpson, Mara Zimmerman: Scenic Technicians

    Prop Shop:

    • Robin Lu Payne: Properties Director
    • Eileen S. Garcia: Assistant Properties Director
    • Jamie Stewart Curl, David Hoth, Georgina Kayes, Katie Webster: Props Artisans

    Paint Shop:

    • Jana L. Mitchell: Charge Scenic Artist
    • Melanie Rentschler: Lead Scenic Artist
    • Kristin Hamer MacFarlane: Scenic Artist

    Costume Shop:

    • Janet S. MacLeod: Costume Director/Costume Design Associate
    • Meghan Anderson Doyle: Costume Design Associate
    • Carolyn Plemitscher, Jackie Scott: Drapers
    • Cathie Gagnon: First Hand
    • Sheila P. Morris: Tailor

    Costume Crafts:

    • Kevin Copenhaver: Costume Crafts Director
    • Chris Campbell: Costume Crafts Assistant

    Wigs:

    • Diana Ben-Kiki: Wig Master

    House Crew:

    • Doug Taylor: Supervising Stagehand
    • Jim Berman, Jennifer Guethlein, Stephen D. Mazzeno, Miles Stasica, Tyler Stauffer, Matt Wagner: Stagehands
    • Kyle Moore: Assistant Stagehand

    Wardrobe:

    • Brenda Lawson: Director of Wardrobe
    • Taylor Malott, Jessica A. Rayburn: Wig Assistants
    • Robin Appleton, Amber Donner, Anthony Mattivi, Tim Nelson, Lisa Parsons Wagner, Alan Richards: Dressers

     

  • Video: Student playwrights take audiences to brave new worlds

    by John Moore | Jun 14, 2018

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Four public performances of the student-written play Technical Difficulties will be staged this Friday, June 15

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver Center Education launched its annual, year-long Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition five years ago to celebrate the voices of teen writers in Colorado. In that time, hundreds of students have found their authentic voices, Executive Director of Education Allison Watrous says. But now, more than ever, they are discovering the courage it can take to use them.

    “We were so inspired by how brave all of the plays were this year in asking questions about family and the world,” Watrous said. “These teenagers are really facing those questions head-on through their creative writing.”

    Student playwriting Juliana Luce and Trinell SamuelStarting last fall, DCPA Education faculty taught 140 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado high schools. A record 3,002 students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state. The 153 subsequent submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic and education professionals.

    Ten 10 semifinalists were named, who covered a substantive range of important topics including sexual abuse, gender identity, suicide, homelessness, child abuse, race relations and addiction.  From that field, three plays were chosen to be presented in February by professional actors at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. That included a week of workshops, rewrites, rehearsals and mentoring from nationally acclaimed playwrights. The following three finalists also received a $250 scholarship:

    • Emmaleth Ryan, Grandview High School: In The Warrior, a young woman who is fighting her demons decides to end the battle by committing suicide. However, her course is interrupted by another young woman who reminds her of the resilience of the human spirit. “I learned more about how to grapple with life by writing a character who has fought her demons and won,” Ryan said. MEET EMMALETH
    • Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel, Vista PEAK Preparatory: Technical Difficulties is a comedy about a group of theatre students who encounter every techie's worst nightmare: Their show has been seized by vengeful understudies. Will these backstage heroes save their show? the self-described high-school techies: “When the lights, sound or even just the ambience we help create draws ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the audience, it is mystical for us,” Samuel said. “It feeds the hunger of our inner artist.” MEET JULIANNA AND TRINELL
    • Noah Jackson, Girls Athletic Leadership School: Wine Colored Lip Gloss is about a non-binary teenager named Lucca who is dealing with gender-identity issues and unaccepting parents. “I learned how to take advice on social situations from my own characters, which actually helped me through a lot of problems I've faced,” Jackson said. MEET NOAH

    Every summer, one of the finalist scripts is chosen to be staged as a full production by DCPA Education’s teen academy. On Friday, these student actors will present four public performances of Technical Difficulties, staged by two separate casts, at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Conservatory Theatre.

    Student playwriting Emmaleth RyanRyan says issues of mental illness and suicide have been at the forefront of her mind since middle school, and the Denver Center’s playwriting challenge gave her a constructive tool to explore and channel them.

    “I offer two different perspectives on the issue of suicide,” she said. “One character is mired in it, and the other is trying to help her out of it. She is what I call my ‘savior figure.’ She represents my perspective that while it may seem permanent, it's really a temporary state of mind, no matter how final it might seem.”

    There is some level of self-victimization that goes into mental illness and suicide that isn't often talked about openly, Ryan said, “because it is either completely glorified or completely vilified. I wanted to bring that out in the dialogue between my two main characters.”

    Jackson’s play made history when it became the first story to address topic of gender identity in the nearly 40-year history of the Denver Center.

    Student Playwriting Noah JacksonRose-Colored Lip Gloss is a play based on Jackson’s own experiences. “As a boy in a dress, I am obviously gender-queer in some way," said Jackson, who self-identifies using he/him pronouns while his main character uses they/them. "Lucca is very confused about their gender identity,” Jackson said. “They don't understand what the spectrum is at first, because they don't know who they are yet. My play is about Lucca trying to figure out who they are while dealing with family members who are unaccepting and have serious problems of their own. It's just very personal to me, and very close to my heart."

    These extraordinary writers, Watrous said, “are exploring the fullest potential of the art form through their use of poetry and nuanced dialogue. And we are honored to nurture and empower these emerging voices and put them out into the world, whether as part of the next generation of American theatre playwrights, or as a lawyer or a communications director. The important lesson here is that their voices are powerful.”

    Technical Difficulties, by contrast, is very much a comedy, co-written by two friends who met as backstage technicians for the Vista PEAK High School theatre program. Samuel is the sound-board operator and Luce is a stage manager and lighting designer who last month won the Bobby G Award for Outstanding Lighting for her school's production on Into the Woods.

    (Story continues after the photo below.)

    Noah Jackson Juliana Luce

    Playwriting finalists Noah Jackson (middle of photo on left) and Julianna Luce have returned to the Denver Center since having their plays presented in February: Jackson participated in the Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival in April; Luce won the 2018 Bobby G Award for Outstanding Lighting in May. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    In her acceptance speech, Luce said the award was especially meaningful to her "because of all the amazing work the DCPA does to encourage the work of young people, including the playwriting program."

    She and Samuel chose to co-write Technical Difficulties as a team, which Samuel said made for a complementary fit.

    “I am the bones, and she is the flesh,” said Samuel. “I'll write out a scenario and Juliana will add flavor to the characters and make the dialogue sound more natural.”

    Look back: 2018 Colorado New Play Summit got real

    Seeing their plays presented as professional readings at the Colorado New Play Summit, which draws important theatre industry guests from across the country, was indescribable for Jackson.

    “I had someone come up to me in tears saying my play touched her so much, and I am just over the moon about that,” he said. “It makes me so excited that people are actually feeling the words that I worked so hard on.”

    A Summit Noah Jackson Quote FullJackson took his writing challenge very seriously, especially given the paucity of plays that talk about transgender people and their struggles. But he wanted much more than to write an educational, afterschool-special type of play that “taught” audiences about non-binary people.

    “I wanted it to also have an actual story with characters who had depth, and I think I finally developed it enough to get there.” Jackson said. “I want people to that there are people who struggle with gender identity, and this is an important subject that needs to show up in the media more. But I also wanted it to be a good play.”

    Ryan expected to cry like a baby when her play was first performed — “but luckily my mom did all of that for me,” she said. But she admits being nervous about turning her deeply personal words — much of it her own previously private poetry — into the hands of strangers.

    “But as soon as I walked into that room and the first rehearsal started, I was reassured because the actors they picked for my show were amazing,” she said. “I honesty could not have picked a better group of people myself.” She said watching it acted out in front of an audience gave her new perspective — and pride — in what she had written.

    (Story continues after the photo gallery below.)

    Photo gallery:  Denver Center student playwriting:

    2018 Student Playwriting

    Photos from rehearsals and performance of selected student playwriting scripts. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr photo gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Each year, the featured student playwrights are paired with a professional mentor attending the Colorado New Play Summit. Luce and Samuel were counseled by American Mariachi author José Cruz González; Ryan met with Tony Meneses; and Jackson teamed up with Aleshea Harris.

    “It was really cool to talk to Tony because he is a seasoned playwright who knows what he is doing in this field,” Ryan said. “It was really validating to hear that what I was trying to express on paper came through for him on the stage.”

    Jackson, who does not yet have a vast personal library of gender-fluid writers to study, said Harris wrote down the names of several non-binary playwrights for him to explore. “She was super-cool and helpful and gave me information that I am sure is going to be inspiring and useful to me in the future,” Jackson said.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    It is incidental but worth noting that at this time of pronounced gender disparity in the American theatre, the DCPA's statewide high-school playwriting competition has, by a blind judging draw, now produced 70 percent female finalists in its first five years (39 of 56).

    Also of note: Each teacher of the three finalists received a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    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.

    Student playwriting. Photo by John Moore.

    The featured playwrights at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Public performances of Technical Difficulties

    • Written by Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel
    • Directed by Justin Wolvoord
    • Friday, June 15
    • Performances at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the DCPA's Newman Center for Theatre Education at 1101 13th Street (at Arapahoe St.)
    • Free
    • No advance RSVP required. Just come.
    • Information on next year's program: denvercenter.org/education

    Cast lists:
    10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.:                       

    • Alice Zelenko: Maureen        
    • Isabella Rossi: Tracy            
    • Jeremiah Garcia: Seymour        
    • Nikki Trippler: Elphie            
    • Benji Dienstfrey: Collins            
    • Jori O’Grady: LeFou           
    • Breck Dahlgren: Belle            
    • Gracie Dahlgren: Beast            
    • Angela Howell: Props Master
    • Mati Rogers: Gaston
    • Sarah Scott: Wolf
    • Zoe Fonck: Wolf

    1:30 and 8 p.m.:

    • Zoe Fonck: Maureen
    • Mati Rogers: Tracy
    • Benji Dienstfrey: Seymour
    • Sarah Scott: Elphie
    • Jeremiah Garcia: Collins
    • Angela Howell: LeFou
    • Gracie Dahlgren: Belle
    • Breck Dahlgren: Beast
    • Jori O’Grady: Props Master
    • Isabella Rossi: Gaston
    • Nikki Trippler: Wolf
    • Alice Zelenko: Wolf

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:

    2018 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.
  • 'The Book of Mormon': It’s not religion … but it’s close

    by John Moore | Jun 12, 2018

    Monica L. Patton, Kevin Clay and Conner Peirson 'The Book of Mormon.' Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
    From left: Monica L. Patton, Kevin Clay and Conner Peirson from 'The Book of Mormon,' returning to Denver starting June 13. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

    You know about Colorado's Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Meet the third mad mind behind the returning Broadway hit.

    By Rob Weinert-Kendt
    For The DCPA NewsCenter

    Songwriter Robert Lopez doesn’t mind that The Book of Mormon, the Broadway juggernaut he co-authored with Matt Stone and Trey Parker, is popularly thought of as the “South Park” musical because of Stone and Parker’s involvement. He knows full well, having co-authored the puppet sensation Avenue Q, what it’s like to introduce a form-breaking original show that’s not a jukebox musical or an adaptation of a movie.

    “When we did Avenue Q, it was really hard to convey to people what it was supposed to be, and why people should go see it,” said Lopez. “So I understand why the producers used the ‘South Park’ hook to promote this show. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to see a show called The Book of Mormon if it wasn’t by them.”

    Robert Lopez Book Mormon QuoteBut Lopez isn’t shy about setting the record straight.

    “It was a show that was my idea,” he said, adding crucially, “and when we met I discovered they happened to have the same idea.”

    Indeed, the initial Lopez/Stone/Parker summit is by now the stuff of musical theatre legend. When Stone and Parker went to see Avenue Q on Broadway in 2003, they were flattered, if a little puzzled, to see themselves thanked in Lopez’s Playbill bio, since they didn’t know him. That in turn led to an informal post-show meeting and eventually to a collaboration around their shared fascination with Mormonism.

    The Playbill tribute was there, Lopez recalled, because Parker and Stone’s 1999 musical film — South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut — had been an inspiration for Lopez and his Avenue Q co-writer, Jeff Marx. 

    “Well, it was a pretty barren 10 years,” Lopez joked, before explaining his own admiration for the film. “It shows an understanding not only of how musicals are structured and how they work but of the meaning of the form.” It’s important, Lopez continued, that a musical not be simply a play with songs as garnish; form and content should harmonize.

    “When you’re writing one of these shows, you have to figure out what the music means to the story,” said Lopez. With Book of Mormon it’s a) the naïveté of the missionaries, and b) their beliefs. And music embodies those feelings.”

    The Mormon-missionaries-abroad premise that gives the musical its shape wasn’t among the initial ideas of any of the authors, said Lopez. “My idea was to read the Book of Mormon and find the epic story that, in telling it, would make fun of itself,” said Lopez. “Their idea was to do the story of Joseph Smith as a musical. Then they suggested we all do it together, which I thought was a great idea.”

    But in October of that year, that notion seemed to be moot when “South Park” aired the episode “All About Mormons,” which irreverently recounted the story of Smith, Mormonism’s founding prophet. Lopez wasn’t crestfallen, exactly, but he figured that Parker and Stone had taken the idea and run with it. So he and Marx were pleasantly surprised to get an email from the “South Park” provocateurs, revisiting the idea of their collaboration. “We were like, ‘Oh, we thought you had done that idea already,’” Lopez said.

    The writers found that not only was there much more to say about Mormons than could be conveyed in a 22-minute TV episode, but that the story of this relatively new religion was an ideal way to treat larger satirical themes.



    “We discovered that we all had the same feelings about religion and God — that God doesn’t exist and yet somehow he does,” said Lopez. “And that even though the stories are made up, the leap of faith that people make makes them better people.”

    While Lopez’s interest in Mormonism was secondhand, his own interest in religion is more personal.

    “I went through my own crisis of faith,” he said. “I went to church; I grew up Catholic-ish. I did believe when I was young.” His beliefs faded in college though not quite for the usual reasons. In fact, it was up-close exposure to religious practice that soured Lopez.

    “In college I sang in choirs and I started to see the mechanics behind the Mass,” he said. “There is quite literally a backstage, and the Mass is quite literally stagecraft. Where I went they had incense, and there was an organ that had something called a zimbalstern — a wheel that tinkles when you push the key and makes it feel like there are angels in the church. There are stories, there’s a throughline, there’s a snack. It’s everything that theatre does; it’s basically a proto-musical.” 

    He even recalled one priest saying to another, with a knowing sigh worthy of a Broadway hoofer, “Two shows today.” For a while, like many freshly minted non-believers, Lopez said, his attitude was, “Forget about that stuff. It wasn’t until later that I started to think: What is real about it? Science is a kind of religion itself; we don’t all check out every experiment for ourselves. We take a lot on faith.”

    Book of Mormon Trey Parker Matt Stone Robert Lopez CBSThough he now stops short of fully re-upping on his childhood faith, Lopez clearly feels, as The Book of Mormon demonstrates, that religion is a part of human experience and that, on balance, it may be a net good.

    “God, whether he does or doesn’t actually exist, does exist as part of the human experience,” said Lopez. “That’s undeniable.”

    (Pictured: 'The Book of Mormon' writers, from left, Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez at the 2011 Tony Awards. Photo by CBS.)

    And if his glimpses behind the curtain of the Catholic Mass first made him question the objective truth of the narrative behind the ritual, Lopez harbors no doubts about the value of stage storytelling.

    “Any kind of literature, any kind of art that tells a story is a form of religious experience — it’s a consciousness-changing endeavor,” said Lopez. 

    “It transmits spirit through it. In musical theatre, we’re lifting people up, giving them stories and arming them for experiences they encounter in life.”

    He almost makes it sound like a mission. 

    Rob Weinert-Kendt is Editor-in-Chief at American Theatre Magazine.


    Photo gallery: The Book of Mormon national touring production

    The Book of MormonProduction photos for the national touring production of 'The Book of Mormon' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to the full photo gallery. Photos by Julieta Cervantes.


    The Book of Mormon
    :
    Ticket informationBook of Mormon
    Back by popular demand, The Book of Mormon, the nine-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical returns to Denver. This outrageous musical comedy follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word.

    • National touring production
    • Performances June 13-July 7
    • Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    • Visit the official The Book of Mormon website at BookofMormonTheMusical.com
    • Follow The Book of Mormon on Twitter and on Facebook
    • Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for The Book of Mormon in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party run the risk of overpaying, purchasing illegitimate tickets and should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance. Patrons found in violation of the DCPA Ticket Purchase and Sale Terms and Policies  may have all of their tickets canceled.

      Recent NewsCenter coverage of The Book of Mormon:

      The Book of Mormon lottery details announced for Denver
      More, more Mormon: The Book of Mormon extended through July 7
      From 2015: A Q&A with the show's creators

    • Capital campaign envisions 'A Grander Opening' for DCPA

      by John Moore | Jun 05, 2018


      The Stage Theatre will be renamed The Marvin and Judi Wolf Theatre upon its reopening in November 2020. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

       

      Stage Theatre will be renamed Marvin and Judi Wolf Theatre upon its reopening in 2020; effort already 75 percent to goal

      For the first time in its 40-year history, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts is mounting a public capital campaign to fund the renovation of the Stage and Ricketson theatres, the overhaul of backstage and support areas, and the redesign of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby.

      DCPA Chairman Martin Semple today announced 100 percent participation from the Board of Trustees in the campaign, called “A Grander Opening,” including an undisclosed lead gift from long-time DCPA supporters Marvin and Judi Wolf. The Stage Theatre will be renamed The Marvin and Judi Wolf Theatre upon its reopening in November 2020.

      Christmas Carol SMAT 12-2016 - Photo by Amanda Tipton (3)Semple also named Hassan Salem, Regional President of U.S. Bank, as Chair of the effort. He will be joined by Judi Wolf and retired Denver Post Chairman Dean Singleton as Honorary Campaign Co-Chairs. The two have served on the DCPA’s Board of Trustees for a combined 30 years.

      Salem said the campaign already is 75 percent of the way toward its $36 million goal. He said $19 million will come from voter-approved General Obligation bonds, $8 million from DCPA Trustees and $9 million from future contributions.

      “The Denver Center is overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Semple. “First, to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, the Denver City Council and our voters for their support of the General Obligation Bond initiative. Second, to our trustees who have collectively pledged $8 million toward our goal. And last, but by no means least, to Marvin and Judi Wolf, whose signature gift reflects their commitment to the DCPA, to theatre and to our community.”

      (Pictured at right: A student enjoys the snowy finale of 'A Christmas Carol' in the Stage Theatre in 2016. Photo by Amanda Tipton.)

      Judi Wolf, who was named Colorado’s Citizen of the Arts in 2012, said the naming gift is an elaborate Valentine’s Day gift from her husband of 30 years, an oil-and-gas man who came to the theatre when he met his wife. “Judi is so engrossed with it, and does so much for it that I had no option other than to go along with her.”  

      It has been Marvin’s “tough problem,” as he describes it, “to come up with a gift for Judi that I thought she deserved.” But, his wife said, he nailed this one.

      “How many women get a stage for Valentine's Day?” she said. “This is a gift that he gave me from the heart, and the idea that there will be people who will enjoy long after we are gone gives me goosebumps.”

      Funds from the capital campaign will be used to:

      • Rebuild the Stage and Ricketson theatres and back-of-house areas
      • Install new seating, improved sightlines and state-of-the-art technology
      • Connect The Ricketson Theatre to the main lobby and add an elevator to improve accessibility
      • Increase energy efficiency of lighting and mechanical systems
      • Update critical fire detection and suppression systems
      • Provide new levels of physical accessibility to all seating and backstage areas
      • Improve assistive listening systems and audio description capabilities

      “We are so fortunate to have a community that supports the performing arts, and we look forward to engaging donors far and wide to ensure we meet our fundraising goal,” said DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. “We look forward celebrating the culmination of A Grander Opening with the reopening of the Ricketson Theatre in 2021.”

      A Grander Opening is a continuation of the DCPA’s facility master plan, which most recently included the renovation of The Space Theatre. The Denver Center manages the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex (including its four theatres, Seawell Ballroom, Directors Room, lobby and office areas), the Garner Galleria Theatre, and the Newman Center for Theatre Education (including its administrative offices, education classrooms, and theatre design and production shops). Over the past 10 years, the DCPA has invested $32.5 million in capital improvements.

      (Story continues below the photo gallery.)

      Photo gallery: The Stage Theatre through the years

      The Stage Theatre through the years
      Photos from productions at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Stage Theatre. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of downloadable photos.

      “From its Broadway tours to its original plays, the DCPA has provided world-class theatre that has helped make Denver a world-class city,” said Salem. “Now we need to ensure that its venues match the quality of the productions on its stages so that we continue to attract top talent, book first-run shows and deliver entertainment options that are second to none.”

      Stage Theatre. Sweeney Todd. Photo by Adams Viscom. The Stage Theatre will be closed following the spring production of Anna Karenina (Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019) and reopen in November 2020 in time for the return of A Christmas Carol. The Ricketson Theatre will be closed in April 2020 and reopen in Spring 2021. Work on backstage support areas, offices and the lobby will occur concurrently with the theatre renovations.

      The DCPA is working with Semple Brown Design on plans for the project, which will honor the vision of the original design team: Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kevin Roche of Roche Dinkeloo and Associates, theatrical scenic and lighting designer Jo Melziener; Gordon Davidson, Artistic Director of L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum, and DCPA founder Donald Seawell. Additionally, the construction contract is expected to be awarded in mid-June.

      "We’re going to replace seats, improve sightlines, enhance acoustics and improve the state-of-the-art technology for productions in the theatre,” said Chris Wineman of Semple Brown Design.

      The major structural change to the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex will be a new staircase and elevator bank that will provide access to the Ricketson Theatre directly from the main lobby that already connects the Stage and Space theatres.

      “We think this is going to make the whole building work together and make it much easier for patrons to navigate their arrivals whether they are coming to the Bonfils Theatre Complex for first time, or the thousandth time,” Wineman said.

      “Beyond the physical improvements,” said Sinden, “this renovation also will allow our spaces to accommodate artists’ imaginations, inspire students’ creativity and welcome guests to stories that reflect their lives. By preserving these facilities, exceeding accessibility standards and equipping the spaces with new technological advances, we will continue to provide world-class theatre experiences in world-class facilities.”

      (Story continues after the video below).

      Watch as Chris Wineman, principal at Semple Brown Design, gave those who attended today's press conference an animated video tour that shows many of the improvements to both The Stage and Ricketson theatres and their lobbies.

      For Judi Wolf, the reopening of The Stage Theatre in 2020 will have special significance because she was in attendance when the Denver Center opened on New Year’s Eve 1979. “Time magazine called the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex ‘the Crown Jewel of the Rockies,’ ” Wolf said.  “It gives us such great pleasure not only to renovate a space, but also to reinvigorate its possibilities, unleash artistic potential and set the stage for memories that will last another 40 years and beyond.”

      Judi Wolf has been a staunch supporter of the DCPA since its beginning, and she has taken a particularly keen interest in the craft of costuming, often attending opening nights in attire that reflects the accompanying story.  For example, she wore a toga to the opening of the 10-hour epic Greek cycle Tantalus in 2000. She arrived at The Little Mermaid in 2007 dressed as Ariel’s mother where she held fish-shaped balloons while her household manager blew bubbles in her wake.

      She is just sorry, Wolf said, that Seawell is not still here to see this next chapter in DCPA history.

      “Donald Seawell had a vision, which was to create a theatre for the community where dreams were realized and imaginations soared,” she said. “We are proud to continue his legacy and ensure that this crown jewel is enjoyed for generations to come.”

      How to contribute to A Grander Opening
      To contribute to A Grander Opening, please contact Janice Sinden at GranderOpening@dcpa.org or 303-893-4000. For ongoing updates and opportunities, please visit denvercenter.org/GranderOpening and follow #GranderOpening on social media.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      Photo gallery: From today's press announcement

      2018 DCPA Capital Campaign Photos from productions at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Stage Theatre. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of downloadable photos..

      Stage Theatre 800 3

      Stage Theatre

      Stage Theatre 8002Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

       

    • Video, photos: Your first look at 'Human Error'

      by John Moore | Jun 05, 2018

      Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Compay's world-premiere comedy Human Error, by Eric Pfeffinger. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships. Featuring Marissa McGowan, Larry Bates, Joe Coots, Kimberly Gilbert and Wayne Kennedy. Directed by Shelley Butler. Runs through June 24 in the Garner Galleria Theatre. Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Photos below by Adams VisCom.

      Photo gallery: The production photos


      Human Error


      Human Error: Cast list

      Human Error: Creatives

      • Directed by Shelley Butler
      • Scenic Design by Lisa M. Orzolek
      • Costume Design by Sara Ryung Clement
      • Lighting Design by Charles R. MacLeod
      • Sound Design by Jason Ducat
      • Dramaturgy by Sarah Lunnie
      • Stage management by Christopher C. Ewing
      • Assistant Stage Management by D. Lynn Reiland
      • Casting by Elissa Myers Casting

      Human Error: Ticket information

      HumanError_show_thumbnail_160x160After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.
      • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
      • Performances through June 24
      • Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
      • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

      Previous NewsCenter coverage of Human Error:
      Human Error:
      In comedy, your pain is our punchline
      Playwright on using comedy as a way of confronting our problems
      Five fun things we learned at first rehearsal
      Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America

      Video: Our interview with Eric Pfeffinger at the Colorado New Play Summit: 

      Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • If only you would listen ... to this 'School of Rock' acoustic song in Denver

      by John Moore | May 31, 2018

      The young actors of School of Rock performed an acoustic rendition of “If Only You Would Listen” this morning (May 30) at the Buell Theatre, offering this exclusive inside look at musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band. The young actors sing and play their instruments live on stage at every performance. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


      Photos from the event:

      'School of Rock' in Denver

      Photos from Wednesday's acoustic song. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to more photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


      School of Rock: Ticket information
      school-of-rockBased on the hit film, this new musical comedy follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. This high-octane score features 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber, all the original songs from the movie and musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage.

      • National touring production
      • Sponsored in Denver by Hard Rock Cafe
      • Performances through June 10
      • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
      • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


      Previous NewsCenter coverage of School of Rock:
      School of Rock is true to Andrew Lloyd Webber's rocking roots

    • 'Human Error' playwright on comedy as a way of confronting our problems

      by John Moore | May 29, 2018
      Making of 'Human Error'

      Photos from opening night of 'Human Error' in Denver. Above, from left: Larry Bates, Joe Coots, Marissa McGowan, Kimberly Gilbert and Wayne Kennedy. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

      (Note: Perspectives is a series of free public panel discussions held just before the first preview performance of each DCPA Theatre Company offering. Next up: Vietgone: 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, in the Jones Theatre.)

      Five things we learned at Perspectives: Right now is a pretty good time for all of us to sit back and have a laugh together

      By John Moore
      Senor Arts Journalist

      It’s not exactly breaking news that discourse in America is broken. But with ideological lines now drawn through the middle of American living rooms as definitively as borders, Human Error playwright Eric Pfeffinger and Director Shelley Butler think now might be a pretty good time for all of us to have a laugh together.

      Human Error Shelley Butler Eric Pfeffinger“I think we have to be realistic about the challenges we are facing as a nation, and we can't minimize the gravity of them, but there is something to be said for approaching the world with a sense of humanity and even optimism in terms of our capacity to deal with those problems,” Pfeffinger said before the first preview performance of his world-premiere play, now in performance at the Garner-Galleria Theatre through June 24.

      Human Error is Pfeffinger's comedy about two very different couples: One NPR-listening, latte-sipping, blue-state liberals; the other NRA-cardholding, truck-driving, red-state conservatives. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, the conservative wife is impregnated with the liberal wife’s fertilized embryo. Which sounds like an emotionally wrenching indie film that might inspire Oscar-worthy performances from the likes of, say, dramatic actors Tilda Swinton and Amy Adams.

      Yeah, not so much.

      “Most people would say: 'Oh, what a terrible tragedy for everybody involved.' And my reaction was: 'That could be a funny comedy,' Pfeffinger told audience members who gathered before the first preview performance of Human Error. “That's a strategy that I employ a lot as a writer: I take this thing that is not at all comedic for anybody involved and try to make it funny.”

      But something not so funny happened as Pfeffinger continued to develop his script after it was featured at the Denver Center’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit and then chosen for full production to close out the 2017-18 season. “I thought I was writing a fun comedy about reproductive technology — because who doesn’t love those?" he said. "But as I started getting into the world of the play, I realized it was increasingly about these two couples and the echo chambers they have chosen to isolate themselves within. Now that they are forced to spend nine months together working this thing out, they can no longer demonize and caricature these other people who don't think like they do. Because they learn to actually like each other in some fun and enlightening and surprising ways.

      “I went into the writing of this play thinking it was going to be a dark illustration of how impossible it is for us to understand one another — and how we are doomed as a people. But it turns out my play had a more human outlook on America than I do.”

      Here are five more things we learned at Perspectives:

      NUMBER 1

      Foot in mouth. Butler says Pfeffinger’s comedy-writing style is akin to situational comedy. Pfeffinger even provides a wink to the sit-com form by having his liberal dad-to-be — a black man named Keenan — work at a think-tank on the study of comedy, where he recently presented the topic: “Tumbling Over the Populist Footstool: Anti-Intellectualism in The Dick Van Dyke Show.” The kids may not know why that is so funny. But one of the most beloved opening sequences in TV history had Van Dyke (as Rob Petrie) come home from work and sometimes trip over his ottoman — and sometimes not. For six years, Americans never knew (and reportedly heavily bet on) whether Van Dyke would trip from week to week. The bit was dreamed up as a tribute to silent clowns from days of yore. Here’s the whole story.

      NUMBER 2

      Wet blanket. OK, a quick reality check: In-vitro fertilization is a $3 billion industry in the U.S., responsible for more than 1 million babies. And mistaken embryo implantation is a real thing, too. There is no concrete data on its incidence, but here’s one couple’s particularly harrowing account. More often than not, these cases tend to go under the radar. Failure can be especially devastating, as a single round of IVF can cost a couple up to $20,000.

      NUMBER 3

      The Doctor is off. After reading the above item above, you can imagine that the fertility doctor in Pfeffinger’s play must be a bumbling, mumbling idiot to make that kind of mistake. And he is, thanks in large part to the comedic stylings of BDT Stage veteran Wayne Kennedy. “It's possibly not the most flattering portrayal of a doctor in the American theatre,” Pfeffinger said. “I don't know that the play is going to be endorsed by the American Medical Association. But Wayne Kennedy does a fantastic job of creating this guy who's usually really good at this one very narrow, technologically specific branch of medicine — and then this thing goes wrong and suddenly he has to be good at working with people. ... And he's not good at working with people.” 

      Read more: Our complete interview with the playwright

      NUMBER 4

      The space case. Human Error is the first DCPA Theatre Company season offering ever presented in the Garner Galleria Theatre, more commonly home to ensemble musicals such as The Taffetas and First Date. And Butler says the space has presented several logistical challenges. Galleria shows typically offer wait service throughout the show, but that is not the case for Human Error because, well: A play is going on. “We're really happy for people to buy drinks in the bar and bring them with them into the theatre,” Butler said, “but this isn't a cabaret show.” The Galleria is also an intimate space but it does seat 200 in narrow rows that go back a long way. Careful not to lose any of the subtlety of the comedy, Butler has chosen to mic her actors in an inconspicuous way. “You may not even notice they are there, but the mics allow the actors to play the comedy the way the comedy wants to be played — and still reach the back of the house,” she said. "Eric has so many great throwaway lines (spoken as an aside, often no more loudly than a whisper), and with mics the actors don’t have to change their delivery in order for those lines to be heard.”

      NUMBER 5 Working for a living. As playwrights go, Pfeffinger is a big deal, having had his works performed at the Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky., the Geva Theatre Center in New York, the Denver Center and more. He’s also a librarian at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in Ohio — and didn’t get to attend Friday’s official opening performance because he had to work his shift. “Yes, playwriting is very lucrative,” Pfeffinger said with a laugh. “The day job is just for fun.” Actually, even successful playwrights juggle writing with all sorts of outside jobs to pay the bills. “Even Tony Kushner will say, 'If I'm weren't writing these screenplays, you wouldn't be getting these plays,’” Pfeffinger said. “That definitely influences the rhythm of my work. And when I have a great opportunity like this one in Denver, I have to take vacation time to do it. But I love working at the library. It keeps me in constant contact with a huge range of people — including the kinds of people who are in this play. I think working at the library informs my work as a playwright in an invaluable way.” But still, Butler added: “Every time Eric has to go back to the library, we get depressed.”

      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.

      Chris Coleman Human Error. Photo by John Moore
      Chris Coleman delivers his first opening-night curtain speech as the new Artistic Director of the DCPA Theatre Company, at 'Human Error.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

      Human Error: Cast list

      Human Error: Creatives

      • Directed by Shelley Butler
      • Scenic Design by Lisa M. Orzolek
      • Costume Design by Sara Ryung Clement
      • Lighting Design by Charles R. MacLeod
      • Sound Design by Jason Ducat
      • Dramaturgy by Sarah Lunnie
      • Stage management by Christopher C. Ewing
      • Assistant Stage Management by D. Lynn Reiland
      • Casting by Elissa Myers Casting
      Video: Our interview with Eric Pfeffinger at the Colorado New Play Summit: 

      Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


      Human Error: Ticket information

      HumanError_show_thumbnail_160x160After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.
      • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
      • Performances through June 24
      • Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
      • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

      Previous NewsCenter coverage of Human Error:
      Human Error:
      In comedy, your pain is our punchline
      Playwright on using comedy as a way of confronting our problems
      Five fun things we learned at first rehearsal
      Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • To bee or to beetle? For Tristan C. Regini, that is the question

      by John Moore | May 25, 2018
      Tristan C. Regini Tommy. Photo by Bamboo Booth
      Tristan C. Regini, center, on opening night of 'The Who's Tommy' with castmates, from left, Radley Wright, Olivia Sullivent, Samuel Bird and Owen Zitek. Photo by Bamboo Booth.

      Sixth grader in The Who's Tommy has raised $13,000 to thank cancer doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado for saving friend

      Tristan C Regini QUOTEMEET TRISTAN C. REGINI
      Young Tristan C. Regini, known to Denver Center audiences as Boy Ebenezer in the Theatre Company's most recent A Christmas Carol, is now playing the Youth understudy in The Who’s Tommy. Elsewhere, Tristan performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London with West End Stage, and in Billy Elliot (as Small Boy) at the Vintage Theatre.  

      • Hometown: Denver
      • School: Sixth-grade majoring in Theatre at Denver School of the Arts
      • Twitter-sized bio: Likes to have fun and make new friends any opportunity he can. Entrepreneur who earns money through odd jobs such as shoveling snow and gardening work. Has a passion for live theatre and entertaining people. Desire to be on stage is infinite.
      • Website? tristansworkshop.com
      • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would be a chef, because I like to cook.
      • Bucket-list role: Alexander Hamilton or King George in Hamilton
      • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: Hamilton was a great show, and it makes me want to do lots more theatre. Every song inspired me.
      • One role where you were completely miscast: I played a Boll weevil beetle in Bugs. ... I’m more of a Yellow Jacket!
      • One thing we might not  know about you: I’ve raised more than $13,000 for Children’s Hospital Colorado. I’m still raising money to help thank the doctors for saving my friend's life from brain cancer. ... Also, I wrote and edited a kids newspaper last summer called “The Wash Park Kid Times.” You can check out these things on my website.

      • What's playing on your Spotify? Imagine Dragons
      • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? Have shows where kids can come up on stage if they are chosen, and want to.
      • Tristan C Regini Sam Gregory A Christmas Carol Photo by Adams VisComWhat is The Who's Tommy about? It's a musical by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff based on The Who's classic 1969 rock opera. Tommy retreats from the world after a traumatic incident, but a newfound talent for pinball introduces him to fame and fortune.
      • Why does The Who's Tommy matter? Because it tells people that even if you have disabilities, you can thrive in life.
      • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing The Who's Tommy? To appreciate life and everything in it.
      • What do you want to get off your chest? I wish I had political power, because there are horrible things happening in the world, and I wish I could stop them.

      (Pictured above and right: Tristan C Regini as Young Ebenezer with Sam Gregory in 2017's 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


      The Who's Tommy:
      Ticket information

      Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based 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.
      • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
      • Performances through May 27
      • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
      • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
      Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
      Photo gallery: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

      The making of 'The Who's Tommy'
      The photos above are from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, spanning the first day of rehearsal on March 13 to the Opening Night performance on April 27. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos.

      • Corbin Payne of 'The Who's Tommy' on the future state of your eardrums

        by John Moore | May 23, 2018
        corbin_payne The Who's Tommy


        'Theatre is a place to stand up for what’s right, and change what’s wrong,' says Colorado native making DCPA debut.

        Corbin Payne Dogfight Ignite TheatreMEET CORBIN PAYNE
        Colorado Springs native Corbin Payne is making his DCPA Theatre Company debut as a male swing in The Who’s Tommy. In musical theatre, a swing is a member of the company who understudies several roles. Regional credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Arvada Center, Baby in Little Theatre of the Rockies in Greeley, Fun Home for the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins, and Dogfight for Denver's former Ignite Theatre (pictured at right)

        • Hometown: Colorado Springs
        • Home now: Greeley
        • Training: I have a B.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley (Go, Bears!)
        • What's your handle? @pint_0_corbin on Instagram
        • Corbin Payne. DCPA The Who's Tommy Photo by Bamboo BoothTwitter-sized bio: Singer, actor, Colorado native. Lover of craft beer, '80s guitar riffs and "Star Wars." Currently living in Greeley, and yes, it does smell like cows 90 percent of the time. Second passion is writing music. Lost without guitar and piano. Vegetarian and avid couch potato. Addicted to french fries. Loves hiking. (I grew up a few miles from Garden of the Gods how could I not?
        • Website: corbinpayne.com
        • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would be a choir teacher. I grew up singing, became addicted to choir, and spent the majority of my high-school days in rehearsal for concerts. I was really quite torn between teaching and performing while I was auditioning for colleges across the country. I love teaching, enjoy kids for the most part, and celebrate the idea of spreading music to all corners of the globe. (Photo above: Opening night of The Who's Tommy by Bamboo Booth.)
        • Bucket-list role: Roger in Rent
        • What's playing on your Spotify? Logic. He is an incredible lyricist and has such an incredible message to share with the world. He can rhyme, his flow is insane and he just sounds like a cool dude.
        • DEH-Mike-Faist-Ben-Platt-0104-Photo-Credit-Matthew-MurphyOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: Watching Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway (pictured right). It was the most phenomenal performance I have ever seen. Every second I watched was a lesson to be learned and it was truly beautiful.
        • One thing most people don't know about you: I hate throwing things away. Secretly I’m a hoarder. I keep every note, card and gift I am given. I love holding onto memories. But I’m neat about it. Everything has its place, and everything has a purpose. Reflecting on the past is one of my past times.
        • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? The next generation of theatregoers needs constant examples of inclusivity and diversity. No one should ever be left out, feel alone or be alienated because of race, gender or disability. Theatre is a place to stand up for what’s right, and change what’s wrong. The more we spread that message, the more success the next generation will have.
        • What is The Who's Tommy about? It's a musical by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff based on The Who's classic 1969 rock opera. Tommy retreats from the world after a traumatic incident, but a newfound talent for pinball introduces him to fame and fortune.
        • Why does The Who's Tommy matter? Because it is a story of reflection. It’s dissecting the past by journeying into it, and seeing how such small events can define or change who you are. All too often, we as humans forget about where we came from and focus on tomorrow, instead of living in the now by remembering where we came from, and using that to see the miracles of today.
        • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing The Who's Tommy? I hope audiences just get to rock out. No one should leave with both eardrums intact. If this cast doesn’t send you out the door ready to re-live the days of rock 'n roll, you need to check your heartbeat.
        • What do you want to get off your chest? Stop eating meat. Invest in public transportation, clean energy and education. Preserve this planet for generations to come instead of being selfish!

        Corbin Payne in Spring Awakening for the University of Northern ColoradoCorbin Payne in 'Spring Awakening' for the University of Northern Colorado.

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


        The Who's Tommy:
        Ticket information

        Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based 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.
        • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
        • Performances through May 27
        • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
        • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
        Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
        Photo gallery: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

        The making of 'The Who's Tommy'
        The photos above are from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, spanning the first day of rehearsal on March 13 to the Opening Night performance on April 27. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos.

      • Meet 2018 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress nominee Daelyn Nace

        by John Moore | May 17, 2018
        Daelyn Nace Bobby G Awards

        The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

        Today we continue our rollout of the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actress. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA).

        Daelyn Nace QuoteDAELYN NACE

        The Lady of the Lake in Spamalot
        Fort Collins High School
        Class of 2019

        • Twitter bio: Just a weird girl in a big world who tries not to freak out every time she sees a dog. Has a Husky named Sokka who with bad eyes so he sports dog goggles. Loves love camping and swimming and hanging out with absolutely insane friends. Movie and theatre nerd.
        • College plans: Not sure yet since I have an entire year until that scary stuff starts, but I’ve always dreamed of going to New York University for music theatre, or heading to California for film production and acting.
        • What's your handle? @daelynnace on Instagram
        • First role: I played Penelope Anne in Bye Bye Birdie at Midtown Arts Center. I was probably 8 years old and way too excited and awkward.
        • Why do you perform? Because being on stage surrounded by friends and being cheered on by an audience is an adrenaline high unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s almost like flying. I also found a family in the people I perform with that create bonds I couldn’t ever have imagined. But more than anything, performing  is something I can do to be creative. Stepping into another story and becoming another person who can do amazing things and act however they want is surreal and inexplicably freeing. I get to dress up and act like someone I’m not — and I don’t get called crazy. What’s better than that?
        • G.I.s and Saigon Bar Girls Keegan Flaugh Carousel Midtown Arts CenterOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: My dad, Keegan Flaugh, is an amazing performer and inspiration, One of the most surreal experiences I have ever had was when I went to see him play John in a 2004 production of Miss Saigon at the Carousel Dinner Theatre in Fort Collins, which is now the Midtown Arts Center. (Pictured top left.) When he walked out on the stage and sang the song "Bui Doi," about the children of Vietnam, I sat there so captivated by his voice and the story he was conveying that I didn’t even notice I had started crying. I don’t mean just a few tears. I was full-on ugly crying, almost to the point of shaking. It was like a sucker-punch to the gut. I had never been so moved before and as cheeseball as it sounds, it really did change my life.
        • Ideal scene partner: Ever since I saw the late Heath Ledger play The Joker in The Dark Knightand his absolutely phenomenal performance, I dreamed of even just meeting the guy, let alone actually doing a scene with him. I was heartbroken when I found out about his passing, but I’ll always remember the amazing things he did.

        • What's playing on your Spotify right now? I’ve recently become way too obsessed with the band AJR. They’re a little weird and a little racy but the music is a really cool style. But honestly, you can almost always find me listening to the original Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack.
        • Favorite moment from your show: I remember our last performance so vividly because of a hilarious little prank one of our best cast members pulled. There is a song in Spamalot where a boy named Herbert is helping the knight Lancelot come out as gay. All of the male cast members were in this number and one of them, during our last show, decided to bring an obscene amount of glitter on stage with him —  hidden in his shorts. The number ends very dramatically with all of the men striking very “vibrant” poses, and as the music struck its final chord, this guy yanked an entire handful of glitter out of his pants and threw it into the air before ripping his shirt open. I was backstage with all the other girls at the time and I tried so hard not to laugh that I choked on my own spit. I swear, I almost died.
        • How does it feel to be nominated? Absolutely surreal. It’s a dream come true. I can’t believe that it’s happening still. It hasn’t entirely sunk in, and on the night of the awards, I’m going to spontaneously freak out and scare all my friends and family.

        Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

        • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? It has made me realize how much of a family it’s become to me. Theatre is a place where we can all escape from real life and do things we’re so passionate about for a while. We all lean on each other and laugh together and are just always there for each other. Arts education is so important. I think the arts need to be appreciated more by schools.

        Our featured nominated actors and actresses to date:

        Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      • Owen Zitek on standing up for those who are thought of as lesser

        by John Moore | May 16, 2018
        Charl Brown as Captain Walker and Owen Zitek as Young in the DCPA Theatre Company's The Who's Tommy. Photo by Adams VisCom.
        Charl Brown as Captain Walker and Owen Zitek as Young Tommy in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Who's Tommy.' Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

        After three seasons of A Christmas Carol, the kid comes into his own as young Pinball Wizard in The Who's Tommy 

        Owen Zitek QuoteMEET OWEN ZITEK
        Owen Zitek, a 6th-grader at Falcon Creek Middle School in Aurora, plays Youth Tommy (age 10) in The Who’s Tommy. He has been in the Theatre Company's past three stagings of A Christmas Carol, Other Theatres: The Hobbit (Aurora Fox Theatre), Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan (Classic Acts). Film: Deal, 12th, Halves & Quarter. Training: DCPA Education, Colorado School of Acting.

        • Hometown: Aurora
        • School: Falcon Creek Middle School
        • What's your handle? @OwenZitek on Twitter
        • Twitter-sized bio: 6th-grader who loves acting, reading, running, singing, drawing, playing games with family, camping, climbing 14ers and snowboarding
        • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would probably be a singer or an Olympic track runner.
        • Bucket-list role: Any role in Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago or Hamilton.
        • One role you were completely miscast for: In January of 2017 I was cast as Michael Darling in Peter Pan, which I was really excited for except the people who were cast as Wendy and John were only 2 or 3 inches taller than me. So after the play, people came up to me and said, “Are you and John supposed to be twins?” or, “You’re his older brother, right?”
        • elphabaWhat's playing on your Spotify? I am currently listening to the Black Panther soundtrack, SZA, The Greatest Showman soundtrack and, of course, Beyoncé
        • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: The first time I saw Wicked in Denver and Elphaba flew up into the sky during Defying Gravity. Her cape began to enlarge, and it appeared as if she were floating. That moment was inspirational and one of the main reasons I wanted to be an actor.
        • One thing most people don't know about you: I was born in Ethiopia, and I am adopted.
        • Owen Zitek A Christmas Carol 2016. Photo by John MooreOne thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? We, as a cast, should make sure we are making a difference. If we do a stellar job, then audience members might even want to pursue theatre, too.
        • What is The Who's Tommy about? It's a musical by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff based on The Who's classic 1969 rock opera. Tommy retreats from the world after a traumatic incident, but a newfound talent for pinball introduces him to fame and fortune.
        • Why does The Who's Tommy matter? It shows that everyone is amazing in their own special way no matter what obstacles you face.
        • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing The Who's Tommy? I hope the audience leaves feeling they are special and that they should stand up for those who are seen as lesser in society’s eyes.
        • What do you want to get off your chest? Sometimes I forget left from right.

        Pictured at right: Owen Zitek on opening night of 'A Christmas Carol' 2016. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


        Owen Zitek Photo by John MooreOur Pinball Wizard, Owen Zitek, backstage before the opening performance of the DCPA Theatre's Company's 'The Who's Tommy.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. See more here.


        The Who's Tommy:
        Ticket information

        Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based 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.
        • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
        • Performances through May 27
        • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
        • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
        Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
        Photo gallery: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

        The making of 'The Who's Tommy'
        The photos above are from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, spanning the first day of rehearsal on March 13 to the Opening Night performance on April 27. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos.

      • Lulu Fall of 'The Who's Tommy' sings national anthem for Colorado Rockies

        by John Moore | May 14, 2018

        Video above provided by Colorado Rockies.

        Watch as 'The Acid Queen' hits a home run at Coors Field singing anthem before a recent Colorado Rockies game 

        Lulu Fall, who plays The Acid Queen in The Who's Tommy, the DCPA Theatre Company’s star-studded stage adaptation of The Who’s 1969 concept album, sang the national anthem at a recent Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field.

        The Who's Tommy is about a boy who retreats into a world of silence after witnessing a traumatic incident and later emerges as a revered pinball wizard celebrity.    Performances continue through May 27 in the Stage Theatre. Video provided by the Colorado Rockies for the DCPA NewsCenter.

        Lulu Fall Colorado Rockies The Who's Tommy. Photo by Hope Grandon

        Sound check for Lulu Fall's national anthem for the Colorado Rockies. Photo by Hope Grandon.

        The Who's Tommy:
        Ticket information

        Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based 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.
        • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
        • Performances through May 27
        • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
        • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
        Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:

        Video bonus: Lulu Fall sings for The Denver Actors Fund:


        Video of Lulu Fall by Avery Anderson and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

        Lulu Fall Colorado Rockies Dinger The Who's Tommy Photo by Hope Grandon Lulu Fall with Colorado Rockies mascot Dinger. Photo by Hope Grandon.
      • 'Human Error': In comedy, your pain is our punchline

        by John Moore | May 12, 2018
        HUMAN ERROR ERIC PFEFFINGER QUOTE. Photo by John Moore


        With this new comedy about a botched embryo implant, playwright posits: To err is human ... to laugh divine

        By John Moore
        Senior Arts Journalist

        In the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere comedy Human Error, a young couple goes to what they think is a routine appointment at a fertility clinic only to discover that their fertilized embryo has been mistakenly implanted into somebody else. 

        So, obviously … it’s a comedy. 

        “You know: Another one of your standard-issue switched-fertilized-embryo farces,” jocular Midwestern playwright Eric Pfeffinger says with a laugh. 

        It’s a funny premise … but you haven’t even gotten to the punchline yet. 

        “So one couple are blue-state, latte-sipping, NPR-listening liberals,” Pfeffinger said. “And the other are NRA-cardholding, pickup-truck-driving, red-state conservatives.” 

        Human Error rehearsal. Photo by John MooreThat’s the punchline: Two couples who, under normal circumstances, would never choose to be in the same room with each other, now will have to spend nine months building some kind of a family — and hopefully not killing each other along the way. 

        As they say in comedy, your pain is another guy’s pleasure. 

        (Rehearsal photo, from left, Kimberly Gilbert, Marissa McGowan and Wayne Kennedy. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 

        Human Error is a comedy about the state of the nation currently and the political polarization we are all grappling with,” Pfeffinger said of his play, which was featured at the Denver Center’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit only a month after Donald Trump’s inauguration. And, well, there’s been a bit more rancor since then.  

        “If anything, Americans’ inclination to isolate ourselves within comfortable ideological silos has only increased,” Pfeffinger said back on an April day when the national headlines were dominated by the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress. 

        The bad news is: Political, social and cultural polarization is just a given in America right now.

        “But the good news is: The worse things get, the better it is for my play,” Pfeffinger said with a smile. “So … yay?”

        Geography, technology and social status have made it easy for Americans to isolate themselves from anyone who doesn’t already think the same way they do, Pfeffinger said. That means we are only rarely confronted with contradictory or challenging points of view. But Pfeffinger has the power of the playwright in his fingers: He can put any two people he wants face-to-face on a stage. Or, in this case, he can put any two couples he wants face-to-face in the same bumbling fertility doctor’s office.

        “None of the people in my play know anybody else like the other couple,” Pfeffinger said. “They don’t have to confront the reality of someone who thinks differently until they are thrown together by this clerical mix-up at the clinic.” The play is not so much about the ethics of fertility technology, Pfeffinger says — as dramatic as that can be. “It’s more about the echo chambers we Americans often find ourselves in, and the defense mechanisms we adopt when we are forced to step outside our comfort zones and acknowledge that there are other people in the world who are not just like us.”

        But remember, Pfeffinger said his play is not a Lifetime movie event. He said it was funny. And not nasty, David Mamet kind of funny. “It’s BIG funny,” he said. “When I first heard about this kind of thing actually happening at fertility clinics, my first response was, ‘Oh that sounds like an episode of Three’s Company: “Wait, that’s not your embryo — that’s my embryo!” And … cut to commercial.’

        Human Error draws explicit connections to various kinds of classic comedy, particularly the TV sitcom, which is what I grew up mainlining.”  

        So really, Pfeffinger had no choice but to take a comic approach to the subject. It’s all he knows. 

        Human Error: Five funs things we learned at first rehearsal

        “Everyithing I write is a comedy. That’s how I function,” said Pfeffinger, who has past lives as both an improv comedian and a newspaper cartoonist. “Let’s take this thing that does not seem particularly funny to the people it is happening to and find the humor n it.”

        And after all that prolonged division and unrest in the country, he said, now might be a really good time for us to laugh. 

        “A lot of people embrace comedy as an opportunity to escape from what is stressful about the world,” Pfeffinger said. “I happen to believe that comedy is one of the best ways to confront difficult ideas and to examine and articulate those ideas. Comedy lowers your defenses by making you laugh.” 

        Human Error castPfeffinger has continued to hone the play in the 15 months since the Colorado New Play Summit, in close consultation with director Shelley Butler and dramaturg Sarah Lunnie. But not with the intent of either making the play more overtly funny or politically relevant.

        “Tonally, structurally and thematically, the play is pretty much the same now as it was at the Summit,” he said. “It’s more a matter of helping the play to become more of what it’s already wanting to be. That includes making the funny stuff funnier and the human stuff, uh, human-er.”

        Human Error will become the first Theatre Company season offering ever staged in the Garner Galleria Theatre, which will provide an intimate, cabaret-like atmosphere that will be new for many Theatre Company audiences. 

        “This is a play where the comedy comes from the audience connecting with these very different, very recognizable people,” Pfeffinger said. “I think where the audience and the performers are palpably sharing the same space and breathing the same air, that’s where comedy thrives.”

        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.


        Human Error at Tommy Photo by John Moore
        From left: Kimberly Gilbert, Director Shelley Butler, Playwright Eric Pfeffinger, Joe Coots, and Marissa McGowan of 'Human Error,' at the opening of DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Who's Tommy.' Not pictured: Larry Bates and Wayne Kennedy. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


        Human Error: Cast

        Human Error: Creatives

        • Directed by Shelley Butler
        • Scenic Design by Lisa M. Orzolek
        • Costume Design by Sara Ryung Clement
        • Lighting Design by Charles R. MacLeod
        • Sound Design by Jason Ducat
        • Dramaturgy by Sarah Lunnie
        • Stage management by Christopher C. Ewing
        • Assistant Stage Management by D. Lynn Reiland
        • Casting by Elissa Myers Casting
        Video: Our interview with Eric Pfeffinger at the Colorado New Play Summit: 

        Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


        Human Error: Ticket information

        HumanError_show_thumbnail_160x160After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.
        • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
        • Performances May 18 through June 24
        • Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
        • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      • Andy Mientus: That deaf, dumb and blind kid is anyone who's been marginalized

        by John Moore | May 10, 2018

        Video excerpts from Andy Mientus' conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore about playing the title role in 'The Who's Tommy' for the DCPA Theatre Company through May 27.  

        Stage and TV star sees Tommy as a traumatized boy who is 'looking at his life through the wrong end of the telescope'

        By John Moore
        Senior Arts Journalist

        The Who’s Tommy is a rock opera that tells the sad story of a traumatized little boy who's beaten, exploited and molested — and comes out of it a madly adored pop star. But while to some Tommy's operatic ordeal might sound a tad close to a tilt (to use pinball parlance), it all feels very real to actor Andy Mientus.  

        “I think Tommy becomes a stand-in for anybody who feels marginalized in any way — anyone who isn't seen or heard or felt or touched,” said Mientus, who plays the adored and idolized and ultimately discarded Tommy in the DCPA Theatre Company’s acclaimed new production playing through May 27 in The Stage Theatre.

        Sam Buntrock quote. Andy Mientus“When we get to see how that kind of upbringing affects him into adulthood, I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to,” said Mientus, who has starred on Broadway in Spring Awakening and Les Misérables, and had a featured role on NBC’s “Smash.”

        “It's definitely something I can relate to: That feeling of being an ‘other’ in your own community. Feeling you're the one who doesn't quite fit in, or you’re the one people don't see. That definitely speaks to me.”

        Director Sam Buntrock said Mientus fundamentally understands the fame aspect of Tommy’s story from his own experiences with celebrity.

        “I think what Andy brings — and I mean this as the utmost compliment —  is a simplicity and an innocence, but without being childlike,” Buntrock said. “His Tommy is very clear and very charismatic. But also, when Tommy has experienced the effects of being famous, Andy is playing that with an honesty and a brutality that's really, really arresting. And it's real.”

        Mientus has had a remarkable but indirect ascent in his performing career, having risen from a Spring Awakening groupie in Michigan to having a featured role on "Smash."

        “My story really goes to show that there is no set path,” he said with a laugh. (More on that path below.)    

        “As somebody who has been trying to make a living in performing arts for almost 10 years now, yes, it is very true that people are quick to lift an artist up, and quick to forget them and drop them,” he said. “That’s the fickle nature of fame. When finally you are heard and seen by masses of people, it becomes an addiction. It becomes a drug. And it can lead to some really destructive behavior. And then what happens when those people go away? That’s definitely something that I continue to feel.”

        Here are more excerpts from Andy Mientus’ conversation with Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:    

        John Moore: I'm guessing you have one of the most mispronounced names in show business.

        Andy Mientus: I do. Mee-en-tas. It's weird because it's not an actual name from an actual cultural heritage. There are a lot of consonants in our family name, and when my ancestors got to Ellis Island they kind of hacked it in half. So no one knows where to place its origin.

        John Moore: And where does it actually come from?

        Andy Mientus: It’s Polish. So it had lots of Cs, and Zs and other excitement in there. And now … it doesn't.

        John Moore: Tell us when we have seen you before in Denver.

        Andy Mientus: I was here in 2009 doing the first national tour of Spring Awakening at the Buell Theatre. I remember that it was the dead of winter, so I didn't get to see much of Denver. I'm very happy to be back and able to explore.

        Our deeper dive with Director Sam Buntrock

        John Moore: What was it about this show, this production and this director that made you want to come to Denver to do this?

        Andy Mientus: Tommy is definitely a bucket-list show and role for me. I really didn't grow up in a household where we listened to a lot of musicals. But our house was filled with music. There were always classic rock albums playing, soul records, country. So I grew up with “Tommy,” the album. I loved the tunes, and my family loved the tunes. It’s one of the things that bonded us. That’s one reason I’ve always wanted to play the role. But also because this genre of music is more my actual wheelhouse than some of the things I've done in my musical-theatre career. This is the kind of music I like to sing in the shower. So just to get to do the role is really exciting to me. And then, when I saw that Sam Buntrock was directing, I said, ‘Absolutely.’ Being aware of his other work, I just knew this was going to be unlike any production of Tommy I had ever seen before. When you think of Tommy on stage, you think of that iconic Des McAnuff Broadway production: Tommy, the wig, the white costume, the geometric shapes — just the sheer scale of that production. I just  knew that Sam was going to do something completely different. He is, and it's really thrilling.

        (Story continues below the photo.)

        Andy mientus quote. Photo by John Moore.

        John Moore: Recount for us how you went from a Spring Awakening groupie to being on national TV in Smash?

        Andy Mientus:  When I was a theater student, I fell in love with Spring Awakening, and I made a Facebook fan group for the show — back in the days when you could do that. A bunch of my friends had seen it over the summer and we were just buzzing about it, and making that page was just something I did one Saturday. And then a bunch of people started following it. And then one of the producers reached out and said they were exploring using social media, which was a very new concept for a Broadway show at the time. I already had all these Spring Awakening followers, so they said: 'Why don't we just make your page the show page?' And so I became one of the first-ever Social Media Managers for a Broadway show.

        John Moore: Did they know then that you could sing?

        Andy Mientus: They knew that I was a performer. So when (auditions) were coming up for the first national tour, they said, ‘Oh, you should go audition.' There's one in Chicago, and you're in Michigan. It's not that far.’ It actually is kind of far, but I drove there. I waited in line at 5 o’clock in the morning. I still know the guys who stood on either side of me in line — and we are all still in the business. Many callbacks later, and after many more twists and turns, I was cast in the national tour.

        John Moore: That's storybook.

        Video bonus: Andy Mientus sings acoustic 'Sensation'

        Andy Mientus: It was a really big, auspicious first gig to have. And so naturally I thought, ‘OK, you're in the national tour of a Broadway show — so, next you'll be in a Broadway show. And it will just sort of continue from there. And ... that's not how it works. I had some very quiet years when that was done. I was really hitting the pavement, doing little gigs, getting my name out there, playing any concert, working for free, seeing casting directors. But I just could not get cast in a Broadway show. But then I did get cast by NBC for "Smash" — which oddly enough was a show about Broadway. It took being on a TV show about Broadway to get cast, finally, in a Broadway show. That was Les Misérables in 2014. And it's just gotten weirder since then. I mean, there really is no linear path.

        John Moore: It’s crazy to think that one episode of Smash was seen by more people than could probably ever see you perform live on a stage over your whole lifetime.

        Andy Mientus: That’s true.

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

        John Moore: Can you relate any of the lessons learned through all of that to your performance now in Tommy?

        Andy Mientus: Oh, gosh, yes. I really relate to the part about Tommy growing up feeling isolated, feeling unseen, feeling unheard — and then suddenly, because of this one weird little talent he possesses, all these people want to be around him. I was so young during the Spring Awakening tour. I was away from home for the first time, and I was going through a really crazy time in my personal life. And suddenly there are all these people looking at you, and you think it's genuine. They've seen you on stage being vulnerable in front of an audience, and they are following what you're doing, and so they think that they know you. But they don't actually know you at all. There's this moment in Tommy where he brings all these people into his home and he thinks, ‘Oh, now I've filled the gap. I have this family.’ And then based on something Sally Simpson says, he quickly realizes that he had it all wrong. They don't really want to be around him — They want to be around the idea of him. That’s something I have encountered, that hunger for attention because of deep personal struggle. Yeah.

        John Moore: So here’s a practical actor question: How does one actually rehearse playing deaf, dumb and blind? Do you put on a blindfold and go, or do you go full-on Daniel Day-Lewis?

        (Story continues below the photo.)

        Tommy. Photo by Adams VisCom
        Andy Mientus and the cast of 'The Who's Tommy' for the DCPA Theatre Company, playing through May 27. Scenic Design by Jason Sherwood. Photo by Adams VisCom.


        Andy Mientus: I really just try to lock into Tommy's inner life. I can relate to what it feels like to be marginalized, so that's what I try to feel when I'm doing all of that. But there is one practical way: I actually have terrible vision if I take my contacts out. So I rehearsed without them for the first few days —  just to really get into that ‘Tommy Stare.’ In my head, I'm thinking that I'm in one of those horror stories where the anesthesia has kicked in just enough for you to be paralyzed and numb, but not enough to be unconscious. Tommy's in there watching it all. It's a bit like the movie Get Out when they go to the Sunken Place. Tommy’s looking at his life through the wrong end of the telescope. He's seeing it all. He’s taking it all in — but he has no control over it. I just try to think about the terror of that and the isolation of that and the sadness of that. And that's a lot to think about — so then it's easy to just go numb and catatonic.

        John Moore: What do you want to say to those people who already are familiar with Tommy, either the album or from seeing a local stage production of The Who's Tommy, and think they may already may know what they are in for when they come to see this show?

        (Pictured below and right: Andy Mientus with the other three actors who portray Tommy for the Denver Center: Samuel Bird, left, and Radley Wright play Tommy at age 4; Owen Zitek, front, plays Tommy at age 10. Photo by Bamboo Booth.)

        Andy Mientus Tommy. Bamboo Booth.Andy Mientus: I think that no matter what experience you bring into our production — whether you're a huge fan of the album or a huge fan of the Des McAnuff Broadway production — I think you are going to be incredibly surprised and, I hope, pleasantly surprised. I think the album fans will be surprised because we are telling a fully realized visual story based on this music that you already know and love. And the film fans will see it all in a way that's different from the movie, which is very much ‘of its time.’ Our version tells a more human story and a more relatable story and a much more realistic story. For all of its fantastical elements, we really have found a way, I think, to make the story feel plausible and realistic. If you were a big fan of the Broadway production, you think scale. You think of a large cast, the dancing, the lights. This is not like that. I feel audiences today are hungry for a more chamber, intimate, authentic experience like Next to Normal or Dear Evan Hansen — shows that really strip everything away and focus on storytelling. Our production's feels a lot more like that. And I think that’s going to let you hear a lot of these lyrics, in a new way.

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

        Bonus coverage: Andy Mientus, author of 'The Backstagers and the Ghost Light'

        John Moore: Tell us about your book.

        Andy Mientus: I have been tasked with writing a series of books based on this incredible comic series called The Backstagers and the Ghost Light. The publisher was looking to expand the original eight-comic arc into a series of books for 10- to 14-year-olds. And they hired me to do so. I've never written a novel before, but I've just turned in the first installment, which is called The Backstagers, and it comes out on Sept. 25 from Chronicle Books, which is an imprint of Abrams Books. It's available for pre-order now. And I'm already working on the second one, which am writing while I'm here in Denver. So I think it's going to be influenced by my experiences here, definitely.

        John Moore: What’s it about?

        Andy Mientus: It's about a group of kids who come together and make magic behind the scenes. And I think that's a really important story to tell.

        John Moore: Who is your target audience?

        Andy Mientus: I think the readers for this book are theater kids. It's a book I wish that I had growing up as a theater nerd. Because not only is it about theater and what makes theater cool and fun and exciting, it's about friendship and inclusivity.

        John Moore: What about theatre nerds who are older than 14 … like me?

        Andy Mientus: I've written it to be appropriate and clear for 10- to 14-year-olds. But if you're into any kind of whimsical, sci-fi magic stories that also have jokes about Hello, Dolly! in it, you'll love this. So middle-aged theater nerds shouldn't feel embarrassed to read it.

        Pre-order 'Backstagers and the Ghost Light' now


        The Who's Tommy:
        Ticket information

        Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based 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.
        • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
        • Performances through May 27
        • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
        • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
        Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:

        Video: Your first look at The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center

        Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk,

      • Denver Center's 'Hattitude' another feather in the cap for gender equity

        by John Moore | May 08, 2018
        Hattitude. Photo by Libby Nederman 2018

        The 2018 individual 'Hattitude' winners. Pictured above include Deborah Mueller Hruza, Regan Linton, Nathalia Fairbault, Cyndy Marsh, Toni Glynon, Ruby Houston and Diane Foster. Photo by Libby Neder.

        Annual multicultural celebration raises nearly $60,000 in support of raising women's voices in American theatre

        By John Moore
        Senior Arts Journalist

        The DCPA's 13th annual 'Women with Hattitude' luncheon was held Thursday (May 3), in support of the DCPA Theatre Company's ongoing mission to level the playing field for women playwrights and directors.

        The Women’s Voices Fund is a national model that enables the Theatre Company to commission, workshop and produce new plays by women. Now valued at more than $1.5 million, the Women’s Voices Fund is one of the largest funds of any kind devoted to creating new works for the American theatre. Thursday's luncheon was attended by 650 and raised nearly $60,000 for the cause.

        "The Denver Center is promoting women’s voices all across the country and beyond," said DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. "Gender equality in the American theatre is so important, and what a wonderful opportunity the DCPA has to shine such a bright light on it."

        With more than 130 individual donors, the Women's Voices Fund has become a national model for female-centric theatre fundraising.

        Story continues below the photo gallery:

        Our 2018 'Women with Hattitude' photo gallery:

        2018 HattitudePhotos from the 2018 'Women with Hattitude' luncheon. To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. All photos can be downloaded for free. Photos by Libby Neder and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. More photos will be added to this gallery later this week.


        This season, the DCPA Theatre Company presented the world premiere of Lauren Yee's The Great Leap; four of its nine directors were women. DCPA Education's  annual statewide youth playwriting competition produced 10 semifinalist plays this year - and for the second straight year, eight of them were written or co-written women. In July, Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel of Vista Peak Prep will get a full production of their play Technical Difficulties in the Conservatory Theatre.

        Studies have shown that while women make up nearly 60 percent of all live theatregoing audiences nationwide, only about 25 percent of all plays and musicals staged in America are written by women. In its first 13 years, the Women’s Voices Fund made it possible for the DCPA Theatre Company to produce 33 plays by women, commission 20 female playwrights and hire 31 female directors. Further, the Fund also has contributed to 13 world-premiere plays by women.

        Charlotte Movizzo Hattitude. Photo by John Moore"Today, much of the most exciting, innovative and imaginative writing for the theatre is being created by women," said Christy Montour-Larson, who in 2017 directed the world premiere of Tira Palmquist's Two Degrees. "We believe the Women’s Voices Fund both creates opportunities for some of America’s most exciting artists and leads to the creation of the theatrical classics of tomorrow."

        The 'Hattitude' party always culminates with a whimsical fashion show – each of the 58 tables nominates one woman (or man!) to walk down a runway and show off their hats. This year, University of Northern Colorado musical-theatre student Charlotte Movizzo led the parade while singing “On Your Feet!" from the upcoming touring musical of the same name, which visits Denver from Aug 8-19.

        The DCPA also hosts the annual Bobby G Awards, which celebrate achievements in Colorado high-school theatre. Movizzo is a recent winner of the Bobby G Awards' Outstanding Actress competition.

         

        (Photo continues below the photo.)

        LuLu Fall Hattitude. Photo by John Moore
        Lulu Fall from the DCPA Theatre Company's production of 'The Who's Tommy' at 'Hattitude.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


        Broadway actor Lulu Fall, who plays The Acid Queen in the DCPA Theatre Company's crrent production of The Who's Tommy, performed her signature song from the show that continues in the Stage Theatre through May 27.

        "So many people talk about the importance of diversity in theatre and the arts," Fall said, "but a lot of people tend to exclude women when it comes to diversity. Diversity is not just about your skin color or your creed. It's also about gender.

        "I am happy to say that I am slowly starting to see more women on creative teams, and that absolutely, directly influences the work that you are seeing on on stage, on TV,  in film — everywhere.  

        The 'Hattitude' tradition began in 2005. It grew out of the Theatre Company’s presentation of Regina Taylor's Crowns. Her musical play explores black history and identity, using an exquisite variety of hats to tell the shared history and rituals of African-American women, ranging in era from slavery to current fashion.

        Crowns deals with what it meant for a woman to have her head covered, and the statement that it makes,” international dance legend Cleo Parker Robinson said in a previous interview. “In the African tradition, when we wear head wraps, it’s almost a regal thing.”

        More information on the Women’s Voices Fund

        Fall was not surprised to hear the 'Hattitude' tradition grew out of a local production of Crowns. She was in that show herself in 2009.

        "Black women celebrate the importance of wearing hats, especially in the church. We also celebrate individuality and uplifting each other. I mean, look at me: I am a woman, I am African-American, and I embrace my individuality. I love jazz. I love musical theatre. I have red hair. I think us embracing how different we all are, as well as lifting other women up in this male-centric business, is very important."

        Robinson was part of the DCPA's African-American Task Force that created 'Hattitude' in 2005.  “It was very important for us to include all multicultural communities,” said Robinson. The annual 'Hattitude' luncheon, she added, was the perfect opportunity for women of all backgrounds to come together, share lunch and tell stories, while also raising money for the Women’s Voices Fund.

        “This was one way to get out the African-American community. And you know - we sisters love to wear hats,” Robinson said. “Our hats make a cultural statement, and they make an age statement. It about her attitude — and her hattitude.”

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

        'Hattitude' was hosted this year by Denise Plante, a mid-day personality on KOSI 101.1 and host of TV's Colorado and Company on 9News. The Event Chairs were Murri Bishop and Terri Fisher.

        The Platinum Sponsors of 'Hattitude' were Denver Center Alliance; Macy's; and Jack and Adrienne Ruston Fitzgibbons.

        The Gold Sponsors were Mariel, Ray and Denise Bellucci; Margot and Allan Frank; and Mariel Boutique. The Media Sponsor was Reign Magazine.

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

        Video highlights: Denver Center's 2018 'Women with Hattitude' luncheon

        Video coverage of the 2018 'Women with Hattitude' luncheon by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Just push play.


        Individual hat winners:
        Deborah Mueller Hruza: Vintage Beauty
        Nathalia Fairbault: I Made it Myself
        Cyndy Marsh: Fabulous Fascinator
        Toni Glynon: High Society
        Regan Linton: Wildly Whimsical
        Ruby Houston: Exquisitely Elegant
        Diane Foster: Best Derby Hat
        Note: This year, all hat-wearers were awarded "Best in Show" by judge Judi Wolf

      • Video: 'Native Gardens' asks: 'How do we live together?'

        by John Moore | May 05, 2018

        In the video above, 'Native Gardens’ playwright Karen Zacarías and Director Lisa Portes about the DCPA Theatre Company’s current staging of Zacarías' celebrated comedy Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


        How playwright Karen Zacarías' disarming comedy turns a conversation ender into a surprising conversation starter

        By John Moore
        Senior Arts Journalist

        Native Gardens is a play about neighbors. And “it's a border dispute,” as Director Lisa Portes mischievously puts it.

        On one side of the fence, we have Pablo and Tania Del Valle. He is a rich and rising hotshot attorney from Chile. She is a pregnant Chicana doctoral candidate. They have just moved to Washington D.C. and bought a messy fixer-upper. On the other side of the fence, we have Frank and Virginia Butley, an older, established Anglo couple with a pristine home and yard. Virginia is a conservative defense contractor, and Frank is a semi-retired GSA agent who now tends passionately to his pristine English garden.

        The couples are happy to be neighbors — until the young interlopers discover they actually own 2 more feet of backyard land than previously thought. Putting a new fence along the actual property line would mean smashing through Frank's cherished hydrangeas and peonies.

        800 Karen Zacarias. Photo by John MooreAnd from there, “shenanigans ensue,” said Portes.

        “All sorts of shenanigans,” playwright Karen Zacarías echoed.

        Like when the white couple decides their best legal defense in this property dispute is to argue that they have squatters’ rights. Which is funny, but might lead a reader to believe the play is either a serious political metaphor for the current ideological divide in America, or that it is a needling polemic. It is neither, said Zacarías, whose Native Gardens is presently among the 10 most produced plays in the country, with 15 professional stagings staged or scheduled. The DCPA Theatre Company’s production runs through Sunday (May 6).

        “The great joy in writing this play for me was that I wanted to look at the poetry and absurdity of conflict,” Zacarías said. “To do that, I had to take a comedic angle.

        “And I wrote all four of my characters from a place of love and respect.”

        Lisa Portes. Photo by John MooreBecause of that, Portes added, “Not only do you love each of these characters, you love them all the more because you see their foibles. None of them is perfect, and none of them are evil. They're all just like us: Flawed and funny.”

        But in this highly charged, politically divisive time, Portes admits that when you hear words like fence and borders and Latinos, “naturally you think this must be an immigration play,” she said. But it’s not. “I think this play touches on differences. There's class differences, gender differences, differences across ethnicity, differences in philosophy, differences between Republicans and Democrats. There are all kinds of borders in this play that ultimately, by the end of the play, are transcended.

        And from transcendence … comedy blooms.

        mariana-fernandez-john-ahlin-ryan-garbayo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26525867837_oAside: It’s almost impossible to talk about Native Gardens without invoking shovelfuls of gardening puns, but Zacarías could not be more on point when she says, “Nobody comes out smelling like a rose.” And: “Even though the play does dig in the dirt with some thorny issues, it does it in a disarming way. I think it's kind of this cathartic experience for people to sit and laugh — not at them, but at ourselves. People leave the theater feeling buoyant and hopeful.”  

        (Pictured: Mariana Fernandez and John Ahlin in the Denver Center's 'Native Gardens.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

        In the end, Portes said, “The play is really asking: ‘How do we live together?’ And I think there's no more important question to be asked at this time. And I think comedy is an invitation. When our souls are opened by laughter, I think we make room to expand ourselves.”

        Native Gardens is Zacarías’ third play at the Denver Center, following world premieres of Mariela in the Desert in 2010 and Just Like Us in 2013.

        Here are more highlighted excerpts from Senior Arts Journalist John Moore’s conversations with Karen Zacarías and Lisa Portes:

        John Moore: Karen, tell us how a dinner party changed the course of your playwriting career.

        Karen Zacarías: Ah, yes. I was at a dinner party, and I was saying to some friends, “Gosh, I don't know what to write about (next).” And so a friend tells me: “Oh, I know what you should write about. I had this fight with my neighbor” — and he went on to describe it in great detail. Then someone else says, “Oh, that's nothing. My parents have been in a seven-year legal battle with their neighbors over a tree.” And then someone else says, "Oh, yeah? Well, someone paved over our driveway!” And we were all just laughing and laughing. But then I realized all of these neighbor stories were a metaphor for human behavior — not just in our country, but all over the world. And I thought maybe I could take an absurdist look at that and have a little fun with the idea.

        Jordan Baker: 'Hard to listen when the message is a brick'

        John Moore: Lisa, tell us how your playwright managed to write a conversation starter as opposed to a conversation ender.

        Lisa Portes: Karen and I believe in theater as a live space in which many different kinds of people can come together and wrestle with the issues of our time. And I think that if you want people to come together, you can't shut anybody out. This play asks these characters to expand their circle, expand their borders and expand their sense of what's possible in the world.

        800 2 Lisa Portes. Photo by John MooreJohn Moore: Talk about the double entendre of the word “Native” in the title.

        Karen Zacarías: There is a movement called “native gardening,” and it's actually pretty strong here in Colorado. The idea is to plant only plants that are original to the landscape of a given area. Native plants take up less water, they're easier to take care of, and they feed bees and bugs in that area. So native planting is lower-maintenance and better for the environment. But some people would say native plants are not as attractive as some of the more European-style gardens like Frank’s, where you might see Japanese Azaleas or plants from all over the world. And so by using the word “Native” in the title, there are a lot of things to unpack: Who was here originally? Who is a transplant? Where is it acceptable for a hybrid garden to exist? It’s a great metaphor for a lot of things that are in the news today.”

        (Pictured: Lisa Portes addressing the opening-night celebration at the Denver Center. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

        John Moore: How do the Gomez Family Landscape Technicians fit into the story?

        Lisa Portes: They are the folks who are actually doing the work while everybody else is arguing over their first-world problems. They are literally changing the landscape as the play unfolds. Karen was telling me that there have been theaters around the country that have wanted to cut those characters, but you can't make this play without them. I think the way all three families come together at the end — the Del Valles, the Butleys and the Gomezes — is Karen’s way of creating the world we want to live in.

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

        John Moore: How great is it that actor Gustavo Marquez, who plays a member of the Gomez family, has a day job working in the Denver Center ticket office?

        Lisa Portes: I think it's going to be such a treat for the audience who may have actually bought their ticket from Gustavo to then see him in the play because he brings such beautiful life to the stage. And I'll tell you a little secret: For the pre-show, we wanted music in Spanish having to do with gardens. So, Gustavo sent me three or four lists of songs, and we used them. I owe him special thanks for that.

        John Moore: Karen, I think the most surprising part of your play may be that it has a happy ending.

        Karen: I think everybody is happy that there's a happy ending. The first draft I wrote, the ending was quite different. It was kind of gritty and ended with a gut-punch. But then I sat back and thought, ‘Do I need another gut punch right now?’ And when I asked myself, ‘What does it take to make a happy ending?’ And it’s not that hard. It takes a little understanding, a little compromise, and a lot of listening. And so I decided to go full-throttle and get the happy ending I think we all deserve.

        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.


        Photo gallery: The making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens'

        Making of 'Native Gardens'Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


        Native Gardens: Ticket information
        NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing 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 Virgina 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 play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

        • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
        • Performances through May 6
        • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
        • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
        Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:

        Native Gardens cast. Photo by John MooreThe cast of the Denver Center's 'Native Gardens' on opening night. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

        Native Gardens:
        Cast and creatives

        • Written by Karen Zacarías 
        • Directed by Lisa Portes
        • Scenic Designer: Lisa M. Orzolek
        • Costume Designer: Raquel Barreto
        • Lighting Designer: Charles R. MacLeod
        • Sound Designer: Rick Sims
        • Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
        • Stage manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
        • Kailey Buttrick: Assistant Stage Manager  

        Cast:

        • John Ahlin (Broadway’s Tony-Award winning revival of Journey’s End) as Frank Butley
        • Jordan Baker (Broadway’s Suddenly, Last Summer, The Normal Heart) as Virginia Butley
        • Mariana Fernández (DCPA’s FADE) as Tania Del Valle
        • Ryan Garbayo (Red Bull Theater’s The Government Inspector Off-Broadway) as Pablo Del Valle.
        • Anthony V. Haro (University of Northern Colorado Opera’s La Cenerentola), Ensemble
        • Brandon Lopez (Lucent Performing Arts’ American Idiot), Ensemble
        • Gustavo Marquez (Colorado Shakespeare Education’s Comedy of Errors), Ensemble
        • Gia Valverde (Su Teatro’s Enrique’s Journey), Ensemble
      • Director Sam Buntrock on 'Tommy' and riding the rock 'n roller coaster

        by John Moore | May 04, 2018


        Our video takes you behind-the-scenes with the making of the DCPA Theatre Company’s 'The Who's Tommy, Interviews include Director Sam Buntrock, star Andy Mientus and choreographer Katie Spelman. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

         

        A deeper drive with the director: What happens when we discover our fallen gods are merely human beings? 

        By John Moore
        Senior Arts Journalist

        The Who’s seminal rock opera Tommy is Pete Townshend's semi-autobiographical story of a kid who was molested, abused, exploited and grows up to be internationally celebrated. And then it becomes a commentary on the fickle nature of pop idolatry, which could be seen as two very different things.

        “Well, it is two different things, but it's the same thing,” said Sam Buntrock, who is directing the DCPA Theatre Company’s vibrant new look at the 1994 Broadway stage adaptation through May 27.  

        “That’s the Amy Winehouse story. We’ve seen it a thousand times, and we’ve seen it end tragically a thousand times. The notion of somebody whose stardom is made through their past, whose unique abilities and charisma and enigma is their past, and the idea of them becoming a star and then falling from grace — it's all the same thing. It’s the vicious cycle of stardom.”   

        In his story, Townshend turns a deaf, dumb and blind kid named Tommy into an iconic — and ironic — hero of a sport that no one actually fan-follows. And just as quickly, he’s yesterday's news.

        “That is why this is such a surprisingly rich piece,” Buntrock said. "He’s talking about how we love to lift up in order to tear down. You see it happen again and again in the British tabloids, almost on a daily basis: A star is either on their way up or being pulled back down again. It's this idea that because we have made their lives news, then every intimate thing about them must be known. And then we find out that they're just people. We find out that they're not gods. We find out that they're just human beings. And then they disappoint us. And that disappointment is the moment the elevator stops to go back down again.”

        Buntrock first came to Denver for the 2012 Colorado New Play Summit that would lead to his direction of Michael Mitnick’s world premiere Ed, Downloaded. He returned in 2016 for an innovative staging of the National Theatre’s Frankenstein, in which the actors playing both God and Monster switched each performance.

        Ed, Downloaded introduced me to the capacity and the ability of the Denver Center as a house for making sensational and world-class theater,” Buntrock said. “And then Frankenstein was essentially making a movie on stage.”

        Here is more of Buntrock’s conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:   

        Sam Buntrock The Who's Tommy. Photo by John Moore.


        John Moore: How did the idea to take a fresh look at The Who's Tommy come about?

        Sam Buntrock: When I was invited to come back and direct Frankenstein, I remember sitting on the steps of The Stage Theater with (former DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director) Kent Thompson when he asked me what I wanted to do next. I said “Tommy,” because it was a piece I'd always dreamed of having a chance to do. And I realized that the only place I could do a version with my vision and of this ambition is at a place with the multi-departmental excellence of the Denver Center.

        John Moore: Your cast is smaller than the original Broadway production by half — but I have a feeling your vision is no less grand.

        Sam Buntrock: This one is gargantuan in its own way, but also tiny. I mean, that's the challenge — making an intimate version that's also huge.

        John Moore: You have said that as a theatregoer, you don't particularly like musicals. So is this then a musical for people who don't like musicals?

        Sam Buntrock: I, by default, don't like musicals because musical theater at its worst is a series of conventions unchecked. I've learned over decades of working in the development of musical theater that so much of the conversation is about how we have to do certain things because that's the way it is always done. It's almost like a factory. A production line. I'm drawn to musicals that don't do that. The work of Stephen Sondheim has been incredibly influential on me because he reinvents the form each time he does a show. He looks at what the story needs and he reinvents.

        Our interview with The Who's Tommy star Andy Mientus

        John Moore: How is Tommy an exception to the rule?

        Sam Buntrock: Tommy isn't a musical; it's a collage. It's a song cycle. It's an album written by a man in his early 20s that is a form of self-expression about his childhood. And he is talking about the childhoods of a whole generation of people who experienced the second World War and its repercussions as children. And therefore, it's about the birth of the '60s because those people went on to make the '60s. Pete Townshend is writing about his own personal experience through the filter of a grand metaphor, and somehow that manages to be about all of us. Our childhoods make us the people we are, for good or ill. Every single one of us. Tommy is about how these incredibly damaging things made him who he is — and also happened to make him a star. There's this line when his fan, Sally Simpson, says she wants to be more like him. But all he wants to be is more like them. He just wants not to have had his past. Not to have had those things that made him who he is. But if he doesn't have those things, he stops being the star.

        John Moore: The film version of Tommy was released the same year as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. In some ways, they seem to be the same story.

        Sam Buntrock: Well, Jesus's biggest crime was that he was just a man. That's what made his downfall. People aren't interested in any nuance. I mean, you look at that in the world we live in right now: People would rather just be told the simplified version of the truth and not deal with the fact that things aren't simple. And the moment you start to find out the reality of any human being — that they are contradictory, and that they are flawed, you start to lose sight of the mythology.

        Tommy-home-slide
        Scenic design by Jason Sherwood. Photo by Adams VisCom.

        John Moore: In what ways are you changing the framing of the storytelling in your version of Tommy?

        Sam Buntrock: We present the beginning of the story as Tommy's mythology, as what he understands the story of his parents to be. So his father is a god. His father is this entity who created him and left, and never came back. And so when his father does arrive back home, the first thing he does is commit a brutal act of violence. And so the man is flawed and scared and human. And that’s the biggest crime of all — to be human.

        John Moore: What can we know about what Jason Sherwood is up to with the scenic design for this production?

        Sam Buntrock: Well, what isn’t Jason Sherwood up to in this production? This is the most ambitious thing we've ever done together, and we went through more iterations on this than any of our other shows combined because we knew we had to get it just right. It's not a literal space, it is a beautifully conceived abstract space that helps, I hope, the audience to see the whole show through an expressionist lens. This space is fragments and memory. I think he's done something extraordinary. But then again, he always does.

        andy-mientus-as-tommy-photo-by-adamsviscom_26827050207_oJohn Moore: You created some of your own animations for this production.

        Sam Buntrock: Yes, I have a history and an interest in combining projection and animation with live performance. And that was a lot of fun.

        John Moore: What do you want to say about the pedigree of your cast?

        Sam Buntrock: Well, casting for this show was a white-knuckle-ride, but we have collected a cast the caliber of which I couldn't have dreamed of across the board. They do extraordinary things on a vocal level, but they're also really good actors. It's been so rewarding with these actors to unearth all of the emotion and pain and truth inside of what Pete was playing with.

        John Moore: For fans of the film, will there be baked beans?

        Sam Buntrock: Ann-Margret's not here, but there will be baked beans on that stage at some point in the show, yes.

        John Moore: Let’s talk specifically about what Andy Mientus brings to the role of Tommy.

        Sam Buntrock: Andy fundamentally understands what fame is about from his own experiences. All of us in the Broadway community watch people get launched into the stratosphere. We see how people handle it, and some do it better than others. I think what Andy brings — and I mean this as the utmost compliment —  is a simplicity and an innocence, but without being childlike. He's very straightforward in the way he performs. His Tommy is very clear and very, very charismatic. Which he has to be, because he's the person who takes you on the journey. But also, when he’s experienced the effects of being famous, Andy is playing that with an honesty and a brutality that's really, really arresting. And it's real.

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

        John Moore: You show more of young Tommy throughout than any previous staging of the show.

        Sam Buntrock: In this production, we meet the 4-year old at the very beginning of the show, and he takes us through his understanding of who he is and how he came to be. It's his story. The parents are incredibly important, but it's not their story; it's his story. Their story is only there because it makes his story.

        John Moore: What made you think you could take two 4-year-old kids off the street to share the role and know they could handle so much responsibility?

        Sam Buntrock. Photo by John MooreSam Buntrock: It was hairy initially, because first we had to find these kids who could really carry the show. And that was important to me because I think there's nothing like seeing a real 4-year old on stage to understand who Tommy was when all of this happened to him. To connect that frailty and vulnerability. Having any child on the stage is inherently fragile because you don't know what's going to happen next. And when Samuel Bird and Radley Wright are on the stage, it's incredibly fragile. As an audience member, you see a child on the stage and you wonder, ‘Well, how is it going to run?’ For me, the most unsatisfying part of seeing this show in the past has been that we only meet the 4-year old Tommy for about 90 seconds before the moment of violence that changes the course of his life. Everything that is his childhood gets internalized, and he goes into his stasis. And he’s gone. Now, if we've only seen that for 90 seconds, it's impactful, but it's not profound. If we see the whole story through his eyes, through his imagination, through his exuberance and innocence and hope, then the moment it gets internalized, I think that's a stomach punch.

        John Moore: What do you want to say to people who might be on the fence about coming to see a rock opera about a traumatized and exploited pinball wizard?

        Sam Buntrock: I've been approaching this show like Shakespeare. My goal is presenting a story that is clear on a visual level. This is a piece that has required every skill set; every part of what I can do and want to do. I believe that we are presenting this in a fresh way, in a very authentic way, that I hope has strong emotional resonance. But it also is really bloody entertaining, you know? This is rock and roll — and it goes up to 11.

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



        Video: Your first look at The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

        Your first video look in video at scenes from the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of 'The Who's Tommy.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


        The Who's Tommy
        : Ticket information

        Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based 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.
        • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
        • Performances through May 27
        • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
        • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
        Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
        Photo gallery: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

        The making of 'The Who's Tommy'
        The photos above are from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, spanning the first day of rehearsal on March 13 to the Opening Night performance on April 27.To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos.
      • The Who's Tommy: Opening night photos and celebration

        by John Moore | May 02, 2018
        Photo gallery: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

        The making of 'The Who's Tommy'

        The photos above are from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, spanning the first day of rehearsal on March 13 to the Opening Night performance on April 27, including behind-the-scenes photos backstage and the celebration afterward in the Seawell Ballroom.

        To see more images, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of downloadable photos. All photos may be downloaded and shared with credit: Photo booth images by Bamboo Booth. All other opening-night photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

        The Who's Tommy, based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, runs through May 27 in The Stage Theatre.

        Tommy Opening. Photo by John Moore
        That’s Radley Wright, who plays 4-year-old Tommy, off playing pinball while the openong-night party was going on in the Seawell Ballroom upstairs. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 
         
        Cast list:
        • Andy Mientus (Broadway’s Les Misérables, Spring Awakening, NBC’s “Smash”) as Tommy
        • Joe Beauregard (Kinky Boots first national tour) as Ensemble
        • Charl Brown (Broadway’s Motown The Musical) as Captain Walker
        • Katie Drinkard (DCPA’s The Wild Party) as Swing
        • Carson Elrod (Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher, Noise’s Off) as Uncle Ernie
        • Lulu Fall (Broadway’s Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Hair) as Acid Queen/EnsembleDCPA_TheWhosTommy-800 Bamboo Booth
        • David Hess (Broadway’s Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd) as Minister/Specialist/Judge/Ensemble
        • Sara Kapner (Broadway’s Hollywood Arms) as Sally Simpson/Ensemble
        • Gareth Keegan (CBS’ Instinct) as Cousin Kevin/Lover
        • Charlie Korman (DCPA’s Frankenstein) as Young Cousin Kevin/Ensemble
        • Betsy Morgan (Broadway’s The King and I) as Mrs. Walker
        • Corbin Payne (The Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Swing
        • Terence Reddick (Broadway’s Les Miserables) as Ensemble
        • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Understudy
        • Timothy John Smith (NBC’s “The Blacklist”) as Hawker/Ensemble
        • Olivia Sullivent (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
        • Erin Willis (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
        • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Tommy.
        • Samuel Bird and Radley Wright share the role of Young Tommy at age 4

        (Pictured above and right, our four Tommys: Andy Mientus holding Radley Wright (left) and Samuel Bird. Owen Zitek in front. Photo by Bamboo Booth.) 

        Creatives:

        • Music 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
        • Choreography by Katie Spelman (Oklahoma at Goodspeed Opera House)
        • Musical direction by Gregg Coffin (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd)
        • Scenic design by Jason Sherwood (DCPA’s Frankenstein, Off-Center’s The Wild Party)
        • Costume design by Kevin Copenhaver (DCPA’s Frankenstein)
        • Lighting design by David Weiner (Stephen King’s Misery on Broadway)
        • Sound design by Ken Travis (Broadway’s Aladdin)
        • Projection design by Alex Basco Koch (Broadway’s Irena's Vow)
        • Fight direction by Geoffrey Kent (DCPA’s This Is Modern Art)
        • Vocal and dialect coaching by Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D (DCPA’s The Secret Garden)
        • Stage Management by Kurt Van Raden
        • Assistant Stage Management by Corin Ferris and Michael Morales

        Video: Your first look at The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

        Your first video look in video at the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of 'The Who's Tommy.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


        Photos: Your first look at the production photos:

        The Who's Tommy The first production photos for 'The Who's Tommy' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our Flickr gallery. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


        The Who's Tommy
        : Ticket information

        Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based 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.
        • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
        • Performances through May 27
        • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
        • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
        Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
      • Breaking: 2017-18 Bobby G Awards finalists are announced

        by John Moore | May 01, 2018
        Video recap: Kinship and camaraderie at the 2017 Bobby G Awards:

        Video highlights from the 2016-17 Bobby G Awards ceremony. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

        Brighton High School leads way with eight nominations;    all 43 Colorado high schools will perform opening together

        By John Moore
        Senior Arts Journalist

        Finalists for the sixth annual Bobby G Awards were announced today by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The Bobby G's are the Colorado regional-awards program for the larger The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA).

        Bobby G Awards. Austin Hand.The Bobby G Awards honor outstanding achievements by students and educators in the areas of performance, design, direction, choreography, orchestration, technical production and overall production excellence. The evening is an opportunity for students from all over Colorado to commune and mutually support one another’s work.

        The awards ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 24 in the Buell Theatre. The program will include performances from the shows nominated for Outstanding Overall Production, and a medley featuring the nominees for Outstanding Performance by an Actor or Actress in a Leading Role.

        This year, adjudicators considered 42 musical productions, and topping today's list of nominees is Brighton High School with eight nominations for its staging of Once on This Island. The Weld County high school was nominated for Outstanding Musical for the first time. 

        2018 Bobby G Awards Brighton Once on This IslandJoining Brighton in that category are Denver School of the Arts' In The Heights, Colorado Springs Liberty High School's Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Mountain View High School of Loveland's Crazy for You and Vista PEAK Preparatory (Arapahoe County)'s Into the Woods. 

        In all, 29 schools received at least one nomination. Vista PEAK and Denver School of the Arts received six each; and Mountain View, Boulder Fairview and Legend High School in Parker had five.

        With today's announcement, tickets are now on sale for the 2017-18 Bobby G Awards ceremony. Tickets are $10. Click here to purchase tickets.

        New this year: The Bobby G Awards ceremony will feature “You Will Be Found” from the six-time 2017 Tony Award® and 2018 Grammy®-Winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen launching the North American Tour in Denver this September, as the opening number performed by representatives from all 43 participating schools (with 2018 nominations in parentheses) :

        • Arvada West High School
        • Boulder High School (1)
        • Brighton High School (8)
        • Broomfield High School
        • Castle View High School (3)
        • 2018 Bobby G Awards In the Heights Denver School of the Arts MarcusKwanChaparral High School (4)
        • Cherry Creek High School (2)
        • Doherty High School
        • Denver School of the Arts (6)
        • Durango High School
        • Eaglecrest High School (2)
        • Erie High School
        • Fairview High School (5)
        • Fort Collins High School (1)
        • Fossil Ridge High School (4)
        • George Washington High School (2)
        • Glenwood Springs High School (4)
        • Greeley West High School (2)
        • Heritage High School
        • Lakewood High School (2)
        • Legend High School (5)
        • Lewis-Palmer High School
        • Liberty High School (4)
        • Loveland High School (1)
        • Lutheran High School
        • Monarch High School
        • Montezuma-Cortez High School (1)
        • Mountain View High School (5)
        • North High School and STRIVE Prep Excel High School
        • Palisade High School (1)
        • Palmer Ridge High School (1)
        • Pomona High School
        • Ponderosa High School (2)
        • Poudre High School
        • Ralston Valley High School (1)
        • Regis Jesuit High School (1)
        • Resurrection Christian School (1)
        • Steamboat Springs High School (1)
        • ThunderRidge High School (1)
        • Valor Christian High School
        • Vista PEAK Preparatory (6)
        • Wheat Ridge High School (1)
        The winners of Colorado's Outstanding Actor and Actress awards not only will be invited to attend the NHSMTA in June at the Minskoff Theatre in New York, but to participate in a week-long series of intensive classes and workshops with Broadway actors, directors and designers. The national awards ceremony, which is presented by The Broadway League Foundation, will be hosted by Laura Benanti on June 25.


        (Pictured above right: Mountain Vista's Anything Goes wins Outstanding Musical at the 2016 Bobby G. Awards. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

        Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

        (Story continues after the following list of nominations.)

        2017-18 Bobby G Awards Finalists:

        Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Make-Up Design

        Jana Datteri, Jacelyn Hays and Bryana Martinez
        The Little Mermaid
        Greeley West High School

        Lauren Lewis and Ailani Paramo
        Into the Woods
        Legend High School

        Amanda Moore and Katie Taylor
        Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
        Liberty High School

        Arianna Mahan-Higgins
        Little Women
        Montezuma-Cortez High School

        Rhiatta Gleghorn, Brynn Ledermann, Kacey Lowe and Olivia VanHattam
        James and the Giant Peach
        Resurrection Christian School

        Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
        Jane Archuleta and Carson Charles
        Once on This Island
        Brighton High School

        2018 Bobby G Awards Vista PEAK Preparatory. Into the Woods Photo by Heather AndersenKatelynn Brusco and Julie Snow
        Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
        Chaparral High School

        Nikky Haabestad
        Big Fish
        Fossil Ridge High School

        Kim Christensen and Katie Gorsline
        The Little Mermaid
        Greeley West High School

        Ana Alonzo, Nicole Lucier and Joan Stewart
        Into the Woods
        Legend High School

        Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design

        Jane Archuleta and Julia Snyder
        Once on This Island
        Brighton High School

        Drew Meier and Thomas Woolner
        Big Fish
        Fossil Ridge High School

        Justin Fiscus, Kawak Miranda, Andrew Stott and Alexander Tucker
        Crazy for You
        Glenwood Springs High School

        Riley Dixon
        Bye Bye Birdie
        Cherry Creek High School

        Julianna Luce
        Into the Woods
        Vista PEAK Preparatory

        Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design

        Alyea Caldwell, Iz Nyghe and Megan Tunnell
        Bye Bye Birdie
        Cherry Creek High School

        Brogan Croom, Rylee Carlson and Rob Scott
        Les Misérables
        Castle View High School

        Steven Davis and Danny de Paz
        Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
        Chaparral High School

        Jackie Carreras, Jon Ducat, Amanda Penke, Thomas Ray and Red Schweitzer
        Into the Woods
        Legend High School

        Josh Belk and Emily Hartlaub
        Little Women
        Palmer Ridge High School

        Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra
        Side Show
        Boulder High School

        Once on This Island
        Brighton High School

        Annie
        George Washington High School

        Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
        Loveland High School

        Into the Woods
        Vista PEAK Preparatory

        Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction

        Alan Davis
        Once on This Island
        Brighton High School

        2018 Bobby G Awards LIBERTY CINDERELLAJay McGuffin, Heath Walter and Rochelle Walter
        Les Misérables
        Castle View High School

        Gretta Hambrook, Dave Hammond, Ray Hootman and Robert Styron
        In the Heights
        Denver School of the Arts

        Travis Keller, Zachary Strand and Janice Vlachos
        Bring it On: The Musical
        Fairview High School

        Randal Hoepker and John Richard
        Into the Woods
        Vista PEAK Preparatory

        Outstanding Performance by a Chorus

        Once on This Island
        Brighton High School

        Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
        Chaparral High School

        Bring it On: The Musical
        Fairview High School

        Fiddler on the Roof
        Regis Jesuit High School

        Once Upon a Mattress
        Thunder Ridge High School

        Outstanding Achievement in Choreography

        Heather Westenskow
        Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
        Chaparral High School

        Brandon Becker and Mara Osterburg
        In the Heights
        Denver School of the Arts

        Karen Cassel and Andrew Cassel
        Bring it on: The Musical
        Fairview High School

        Sophie Carnoali and Cadie Harrison
        Crazy for You
        Glenwood Springs High School

        Tammy Johnson and Rachel Miller
        Crazy for You
        Mountain View High School

        Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

        Ryker Chavez
        Papa Ge
        Once on This Island
        Brighton High School

        Ethan Leland
        La Cienega
        Bring it on: The Musical
        Fairview High School

        Eli Pettit
        Bella Zangler
        Crazy for You
        Glenwood Springs High School

        Kyle Husted
        Jean-Michel
        Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
        Liberty High School

        Matthew Sewell
        Benny Southstreet
        Guys and Dolls
        Wheat Ridge High School

        Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
        Vanesa Gomez
        Abuela Claudia
        In the Heights
        Denver School of the Arts

        Gabi Meyer
        Bridget
        Bring it On: The Musical
        Fairview High School

        Megan Bean
        Jenny Hill
        Big Fish
        Fossil Ridge High School

        Rachel Miller
        Tess
        Crazy for You
        Mountain View High School

        Frankie Spiller
        Aunt Eller
        Oklahoma!
        Palisade High School

        Rising Star (Outstanding Underclassman)

        Spencer Gordon
        Drake
        Annie
        George Washington High School

        Johnathan Webster
        Wyatt
        Crazy for You
        Glenwood Springs High School

        2018 Bobby G Awards Crazy For You Mountain View High SchoolAbe Soto
        Ticket Agent
        Honeymoon in Vegas
        Lakewood High School

        Mackenzie Mackin
        Patsy
        Crazy for You
        Mountain View High School

        DJ Bashford
        Rudolph Reisenweber
        Hello, Dolly!
        Ralston Valley High School

        Outstanding Achievement in Direction
        Jane Archuleta, Gabby Doyle and Ayaka Hayashi
        Once on This Island
        Brighton High School

        Brandon Becker and Aleksandra Kay
        In The Heights
        Denver School of the Arts

        Michelle Leisy and Bennie Palko
        Into the Woods
        Legend High School

        Katie Marshall
        Crazy for You
        Mountain View High School

        Jesse Collett and Taylor Hulett
        Legally Blonde
        Pomona High School

        Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

        Coco Justino
        Camila Rosario
        In the Heights
        Denver School of the Arts

        Abby Lehrer
        Eponine
        Les Misérables
        Castle View High School

        Daelyn Nace
        Lady of the Lake
        Spamalot
        Fort Collins High School

        Dominique Smith-Lopez
        Baker’s Wife
        Into the Woods
        Vista PEAK Preparatory

        Isabella McArdle
        Ella
        Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
        Liberty High School

        Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

        Anton Karabushin
        Frederic
        The Pirates of Penzance
        Eaglecrest High School

        Travis Turner
        Edward Bloom
        Big Fish
        Fossil Ridge High School

        Will Warner
        Tommy Korman
        Honeymoon in Vegas
        Lakewood High School

        Jeremiah Garcia
        Emmett Forrest
        Legally Blonde
        Pomona High School

        Elisha Horne
        Baker
        Into the Woods
        Vista PEAK Preparatory

        Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical

        Once on This Island
        Brighton High School

        In The Heights
        Denver School of the Arts

        Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
        Liberty High School

        Crazy for You
        Mountain View High School

        Into the Woods
        Vista PEAK Preparatory

        2018 Outstanding Special Achievement Award Winners:


        In addition to the nominations, this year’s three Special Achievement winners also were announced today: 

        Outstanding Special Achievement in Prop Management
        Cody Charlton, Scott Kull and Rachel Ross
        The Pirates of Penzance
        Eaglecrest High School

        Outstanding Special Achievement in Sound Design
        Jocelyn Baker and Kate Holeman
        Into the Woods
        Legend High School

        Outstanding Special Achievement in Projections
        Addison Sandvik
        Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
        Steamboat Springs High School

        Nominees of note

        Today’s announcement produced several nominees of note, including Julianna Luce in lighting design for Vista PEAK Preparatory's Into the Woods. In February, Luce was named one of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' finalists for its fifth annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition. Luce and co-write Trinell Samuel wrote a comedy called Technical Difficulties, about a high-school theatre production that has been seized by vengeful understudies. The play is a salute to theatre techies, and was chosen to be fully presented this summer by DCPA education summer academy students. Which makes it all the more triumphant that she is now nominated for a Bobby G Award in a technical category.

        Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards celebration!

        Abby Lehrer, who was nominated two years ago as a Rising Star (outstanding underclassman) was nominated this year as a leading actress for her work as Eponine
        in Castle View High School's Les Misérables.

        Will Warner, nominated last year as a supporting actor, is nominated this year as a leading actor for his portrayal of Tommy Korman in Honeymoon in Vegas for Lakewood High School.

        Last year’s Bobby G Awards winner for Outstanding Actor was Austin Hand of Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins. Elleon Dobias of Valor Christian High School, twice previously nominated as a 2015 Rising Star and again the next year as a supporting actress, won the biggest award of all her third time around, for playing Catherine in Pippin.

        This year's first-time schools include Greeley West; Palisade; Broomfield; Eaglecrest in Aurora, and Doherty and Liberty in Colorado Springs.

        Photo gallery: All of our best photos from the 2016-17 Bobby G Awards

        2017 Bobby G Awards

        A look back at the 2017 Bobby G Awards in photos. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. This year's ceremony will be May 24 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.


        Adjudicators made up of professional working theatre artists attended the participating high schools’ musical theatre productions. Using the standards set by The Bobby G Awards training and criteria, as well as their own professional experience, these adjudicators complete extensive evaluation forms offering detailed feedback on all of the various elements involved with staging a musical production. Participating schools receive a copy of the forms complete with each adjudicator’s comments, praise, and constructive criticism designed to motivate growth and recognize success. These evaluations serve as a foundation for the nominations.


        Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of the Bobby G Awards:
        2017 Bobby G Awards: Persistence pays off at Valor Christian
        Video: The 2017 Bobby Awards welcoming montage
        Videos: Complete coverage of the 2017 Bobby G Awards
        2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced
        Mamma Mia's Cashelle Butler returns to Cherry Creek High School
        Authentic voices: 2017 student playwriting winners announced
        North High School gets real with In the Heights
        Video: Colorado's Bobby G Awards reps win scholarships in New York 
        Bobby G Award winners' Road to the Jimmy Awards
        Video, story: Kinship and camaraderie at 2016 Bobby G Awards
        Video: 2016 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
        Video: Outstanding Musical nominee performances
        Photos: 2016 Bobby G Awards (Download for free)
        Mountain View scales Bobby G Awards' 2016 peak
        Meet your 2015 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Finalists
        Meet your 2016 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Finalists
        2015-16 Bobby G Award nominations: The complete list


      • Look back: 'First Date' actors serenade patients on Valentine's Day

        by John Moore | May 01, 2018

        Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter

        The actors spread music and joy on what might have been a lonelier holiday for some patients at UCHealth

        We wanted to wait until DCPA Cabaret's recent extended hit musical First Date closed before we took you behind-the-scenes for a very special day of community outreach back on Valentine's Day.

        UC Health First Date Five cast members visited University of Colorado Hospital and performed excerpts from the show for patients, family members and staff in the UCHealth auditorium, followed by a Q&A with the audience and an autograph-signing.

        The actors then visited several patient rooms to spread cheer for those who were either isolated or not well enough to leave their rooms. When one respiratory patient mentioned her faith, cast member Cashelle Butler sang her an impromptu, a capella version of “How Great Thou Art.” For another patient, she sang Brandi Carlile’s “That Wasn’t Me.”  

        UCHealth 800 First Date John MooreThe other participating actors were Adriane Leigh Robinson, Seth Dhonau, Steven J. Burge and Jordan Leigh.

        "I think all of the cultural arts are a great way of healing and treating," said Heather Hogoboom, UCHealth's Manager of Corporate Partnerships. "We here at the hospital can help with the physical aspects, but music, art and performance bring a lot of joy, and we know that's part of the whole process to get better." 

        First Date, directed by Ray Roderick, closed on April 22 at the Garner Galleria Theatre. He has another new project, For the Love of George, that will play four performances in the Conservatory Theatre from May 3-11. (Call 303-893-4100.)


        Photo gallery: The making of First Date in Denver:


        The making of 'First Date' in Denver
        To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

        More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

        Previous NewsCenter coverage of First Date:
        For the Love of George: Meet Cupid's misfiring brother, George
        Video: Your 'First Date' with Director Ray Roderick
        Understudies talk about their unique role in First Date
        Video: Photos: Your first look at First Date
        Meet the all-local cast: More fun to read than any dating profile!
        Cashelle Butler visits Cherry Creek High School
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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.