• 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
    • 'Human Error': Comedy won't draw a red or blue line in the sand

      by John Moore | Apr 30, 2018
      Making of 'Human Error'

      Photos from the making of 'Human Error in Denver. Above, from left: Joe Coots, Marissa McGowan, Larry Bates, Kimberly Gilbert and Wayne Kennedy at the first day of rehearsal for 'Human Error,' which has its first performance on May 18. 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. 

      Director promises the only harm that may come from watching this world-premiere comedy is a busted gut

      By John Moore
      Senor Arts Journalist

      Rehearsals have begun for the DCPA Theatre Company's season-ending, world-premiere comedy Human Error, about what happens when you put two completely opposite young couples together with only one thing in common: A bumbling fertility doctor who has mistakenly implanted a fertilized embryo from one woman into the uterus of the other.

      You know: "Another one of your standard-issue switched-fertilized-embryo farces,” Ohio playwright Eric Pfeffinger said with a laugh.

      Human Error Shelley Butler Photo by John Moore One couple are NPR-listening, latte-sipping, blue-state liberal; the other NRA-card-holding, truck-driving, red-state conservatives. The conflict between them will be recognizable to anyone presently breathing in America. Keenan and Madelyn are mixed-race liberals. Jim and Heather are affluent Christians who love God, guns and having babies. Have them share an egg, and hilarity ensues. (If the response of those audiences who first saw the play as a reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit are to be believed.)

      But in this highly polarized time in America, Director Shelley Butler and her team are determined to keep the play from becoming no more injurious to anyone watching than perhaps a busted gut.

      "You could approach this staging with a really obvious red-and-blue set design, and go hard on the red-and-blue lighting, but we really endeavored not to do that," Butler said.

      "When Eric and I met three years ago, the political and cultural divide in our country had been building for decades — but I don't think either one of us knew that in 2018, his play would be more applicable than ever. Part of what I responded to in the play then is that Eric didn't approach any of these characters as caricatures. He really embraced the humanity in all of them. This play is unapologetically a comedy, but we are not setting any of these people up for ridicule." 

      Here are five more things we learned at first rehearsal: 

      NUMBER 1Get thee to the Galleria. Human Error will be 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. This unlikely venue for a play will provide an intimate, cabaret-like atmosphere that will be new for many Theatre Company subscribers. "We put in in the Galleria Theatre because it has that inherent feel of being compact and very personal," Theatre Company Associate Producer Grady Soapes said. Added Butler: "It really feeds into our populist approach to this production."

      NUMBER 2

      Border war! The play is set in Sylvania, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo whose northern border is the southern border of Michigan. Keenan and Madelyn live in Michigan, while Jim and Heather live on Sylvania. Anyone who knows that part of the Midwest also knows the antagonism between those two states is real. A lot of it has to do with perhaps the greatest rivalry in all of college sports, between the Ohio State and the University of Michigan football teams, but tere is an ideological divide as well. Human Error Sound Designer Jason Ducat knows of this all too well, having grown up in the border town of Bowling Green, Ohio, which is probably what the coiner of the term "spitting distance" had in mind. "We don't feel too highly about that state to the north," said Ducat, who couldn't even bring himself to say "Michigan."  

      NUMBER 3

      Book of Will Kimberly Gilbert Round House TheatreKennedy is back. Local audiences will be quick to recognize Wayne Kennedy in the role of the bumbling fertility doctor. Kennedy, who was a featured performer in Off-Center's recent immersive staging of The Wild Party, has been a familiar face on the BDT Stage in Boulder for 27 years, and he won all the awards for his portrayal of Tateh in productions of Ragtime at the Arvada Center and BDT Stage. The actors playing the two couples are mostly new to Denver. Big Joe Coots, who was a meanie in the national touring production of Kinky Boots, participated in a five-part video series for the DCPA NewsCenter while he was here. It was called "Kinky Qs," and in it, Coots tackled meaningful questions like, "Have you ever been bullied?" (His answer may surprise you.) Marissa McGowan toured through Denver with Les Miserables. Kimberly Gilbert was not in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere staging of The Book of Will — however, she did play Elizabeth Condell in the Round House Theatre's recent production in Bethesda, Md. (Photo above by Kaley Etzkorn.)  Larry Bates played Martin Luther King in South Coast Repertory's All the Way.   

      Read more: Our complete interview with the playwright

      NUMBER 4

      Director's roots. You may remember Director Shelley Butler from the Theatre Company's 2013 staging of Catherine Trieschmann's The Most Deserving, a world-premiere comedy about amateur art and amateur politics in a tiny West Kansas town. Butler already has her return trip to to Denver booked: She will be directing W. Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife from Sept. 21-Oct. 21 in the Space Theatre.

      NUMBER 5 We're only human-er: Pfeffinger has continued to hone his play in the 15 months since the Colorado New Play Summit, in close consultation with 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 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.”

      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, Diretor 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' last Friday. 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

    • Photos, audio: Broadway's Alex Brightman sings praises of 'Tommy'

      by John Moore | Apr 29, 2018

      Here is a short audio excerpt from singing the beloved "My Fair Lady" ballad "On the Street Where You Live" — as a serial killer. Audio by John Moore.

      At the Aurora Fox, Tony-nominated star of School of Rock, says it all began at 8 watching Michael Cerveris as Tommy

      By John Moore
      Senior Arts Journalist

      Safe to say, if Alex Brightman doesn't see the Broadway production of The Who's Tommy when he was 8 years old, he does not go on to become a Broadway star, and he does not headline the Aurora Fox's annual gala last week.

      "That is literally my favorite show of all time," Brightman told the DCPA NewsCenter last Saturday before delivering a 50-minute musical set for an audience celebrating the announcement of the Aurora Fox's upcoming 34th season. And, appropriately enough, the event raised about $34,000 for the cause.

      Alex Brightman Aurora Fox. Photo by John Moore. Down the road, the DCPA Theatre Company was just beginning preview performances for a now-open staging of The Who's Tommy, and it was killing Brightman that he would not have the chance to see it.

      Brightman, 31, loved The Who growing up in California. "But then I saw Michael Cerveris blow the roof down on Broadway in 1995, and that is legitimately what started me in musical theatre," he said. "I was saying to myself, 'Wait a minute. That can be a thing? That's what I want to do.'”

      Brightman was well-aware of the new Denver Center production directed by Sam Buntrock, designed by Jason Sherwood and starring Andy Mientus. "It looks amazing,” he said. “I saw one screenshot of that set and I said, 'This is glorious.' Plus, I love Andy.”

       

      Aurora Fox ushers in new era with Caroline, Or Change

      Brightman, who was nominated for a Tony Award for originating the role of Dewey Finn in the Broadway adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock and will return to Broadway this fall starring in an as-yet unannounced new musical, knows how lucky he is. He tells a great story about how he got his first agent off a recommendation from Lin-Manuel Miranda, who dropped a dime after randomly seeing Brightman perform in a show. He is featured on two songs of a massive new, four-CD collection of Lloyd Webber songs along with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Lana Del Rey and Madonna.

      “And now I'm friends with Michael Cerveris,” he said. “We just sang together at a concert. I told him, ‘I was at the stage door for Tommy when I was 8 years old, and you shook my hand and said, “Thanks for coming to my show.” And now here we are onstage together.’ And he told me, ‘I'm not kidding you: ‘I want to be Alex Brightman when I grow up.' And I choked up. I couldn't believe it.”

      Graduating from School of Rock

      Brightman, whose Broadway credits also include Wicked, Matilda the Musical and Big Fish, has crossed paths with all sorts of Colorado-connected Broadway actors. In School of Rock, he starred opposite Sierra Boggess, who graduated from George Washington High School before the Denver-born The Little Mermaid launched her to international stardom (Love Never Dies, The Phantom of the Opera.) “I love Sierra,” Brightman said. “She is one of the coolest people of all time. And she is coming to my wedding next month.”

      The first national touring production of School of Rock visits the Buell Theatre from May 29-June 10, with Rob Colletti starring in the role Brightman originated on Broadway. “I know the dude, and he's fabulous,” Brightman said. “He’s a great amalgam of a lot of the guys who came before him.”

      (Story continues below the photo gallery.)

      Photo gallery: Aurora Fox gallery and Alex Brightman headlining concert:

      Aurora Fox Gala with Alex Brightman

      Photos from the Aurora Fox's 2018 season-announcement gala on April 21, and Alex Brightman's headlining concert. To see more, click on the photo above to be taken to our full, downloadable Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

      Based on the hit Jack Black film, School of Rock follows a wannabe rock star who turns a class of straight-A students into grade-A rockers. The show features all new songs from Lloyd Webber, and is the first on Broadway to ever feature a live kids rock band.

      School of Rock is a pure family show,” Brightman said. “That doesn't mean it’s all smiles and rainbows. But everyone who is age 8 to 80 can find something in it — and thankfully, we have good source material that everybody loves.” 

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      Brightman still calls Lloyd Webber “The Boss,” and he still laughs about the coincidence of his having the same last name as British songbird Sarah Brightman, who was Lloyd Webber's wife from 1984 to 1990. "We were in a Page 6 article!" Brightman said of the New York Post’s gossip page. "People were sniffing around thinking I might be the hidden love child of Sarah Brightman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. I do fit the timeline. I totally could be. Maybe I am!

      He's not. Not even close. Alex Brightman (no relation, repeat: no relation) was born in 1987 to an American mother also named Brightman in Saratoga, Calif., who worked at a dialysis clinic. Still, Brightman and “The Boss” have enjoyed toying with the press' fascination with the name.

      "When Andrew officially announced me for Broadway, it was a full press event the Grammercy Theatre. He said: ‘Not only am I thrilled to say that Alex Brightman will be leading our show on Broadway, I am doubly exited to say that I have no intention whatsoever of marrying him!’ I was backstage freaking out because the whole thing was just so insane." 

      From Sweeney Todd to 'Sweet Baby James'

      Brightman was asked to headline the Aurora Fox gala by new Executive Producer Helen R. Murray, who previously directed him in a one-man play called How I Paid for College at The Hub Theatre in Virginia. “Helen is a great hire for this theatre,” he said. “There is just something about her being in the room that makes everybody else want to step up and make things happen.”

      Passing Strange. Aurora Fox. Photo by John Moore. Brightman began his set by urging everyone in attendance to come back for the theatre’s current production of Passing Strange, running through May 13. He had seen the show the night before.

      “I loved the show on Broadway and was so thrilled to watch it re-created here in such a way that was different and interesting,” he said. “If you haven't seen it, you need to re-prioritize your entire schedule just to see it."

      (Pictured, from left: 'Passing Strange' Director Nick Sugar with actors Joseph Lamar, Shane Franklin, Katherine Paynter, Randy Chalmers and Sheryl McCallum. Not pictured: Trent Armand Kendall and Faith  Angelise Goins-Simmons. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

      Aurora Fox leaders Beau Bisson and Helen R. MurrayHe then launched into an eclectic set of mostly contemporary musical-theatre songs and pop standards that all had one thing in common. “These are songs that I like singing in the shower,” he said. “Tonight, I'm just clothed.”

      Familiar tunes included Billy Joel's “I Love You Just the Way You Are” and James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” along with Broadway standards “Johanna” from Sweeney Todd and “I Don't Care Much" from Cabaret. But mostly Brightman introduced the audience to up-and-coming young off-Broadway songwriters he likes.
      (Pictured: Aurora Fox leaders Beau Bisson and Helen R. Murray.)

      The arguable highlight of the night was Brightman singing the beloved My Fair Lady ballad "On the Street Where You Live" — as a serial killer. He credited the idea to one of his vocal students. “When you think about it, you don't even have to change any of the lyrics,” he said. (Click here to hear a short audio excerpt.)

      John Moore's original report on closing of Glory Days

      Brightman spoke of his humbling, sorta Broadway debut in the ill-fated Glory Days, which in 2008 became the first Broadway musical in decades to open and close on the same day. The cast included Denver's Jesse JP Johnson, who did make his Broadway debut by virtue of 17 previews and an opening (and closing) performance. Brightman was the swing, so he never actually got to step on the stage. But things turned out OK for both of them — they both landed in Wicked, and away they went.

      Brightman ended the evening by thanking the audience for indulging him in what he calls his compulsion to perform.

      “This is all I have ever wanted do since as I was 8 years old, so thank you,” he said.

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


      Set list: Alex Brightman performs at the Aurora Fox

      • "Scratch-Off" (about a guy who bought a lottery ticket)
      • "Johanna," from Sweeney Todd
      • "Hey Man, This Place is Beautiful"* (about a friend who moves to Alaska)
      • "Nothing New to Do in Brooklyn Anymore"*
      • "Just the Way You Are," by Billy Joel
      • "Perfect, finite," by Chris Miller, from the 2005 song cycle Songs from an Unmade Bed
      • "After All" from the Broadway musical Glory Day
      • "Lost Horizon" from the Michael Friedman musical Gone Missing
      • "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady
      • "C Major " by Adam Gwon
      • "I Don't Care Much," from Cabaret
      • "A Little Bit" from Crazy, Just Like Me, by Drew Gasparini
      • "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor

      *Unconfirmed titles

      Aurora Fox 2018-19 mainstage season at a glance

      • Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2018: Songs for a New World
      • Oct. 31, 2018: Killer Wigs from Outer Space
      • Nov. 23-Dec. 23, 2018: Twist Your Dickens
      • Jan. 18-Feb. 10, 2019: Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies
      • Feb. 22-March 17, 2019: Life Sucks
      • March 8 - March 24, 2019: The Happiest Place on Earth
      • April 5-May 12, 2019: Caroline or Change
      Aurora Fox. Photo by John Moore.

      The Aurora Fox. Photo by John Moore.

      Recent NewsCenter coverage of the Aurora Fox:
      Aurora Fox ushers in daring new era with Caroline, Or Change
      Passing Strange: Sheryl McCallum on the search for something more real than real
      April theatre openings: Don't pass on Passing Strange
      Colorado Fall Theatre Preview. Aurora Fox presents Hi-Hat Hattie
      Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Aurora Fox presents Company
      Aurora Fox amping up musicals, diversity in 2017-18
      Charles Packard leaving Aurora Fox after 19 years


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

      by John Moore | Apr 27, 2018

      Your first video look in video at the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, running though May 27 on The Stage Theatre. Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, 'Tommy' is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive. 'The Who's Tommy' is directed by Sam Buntrock and features Andy Mientus, Charl Brown and Betsy Morgan. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.  For information, call 303-893-4100 or go to denvercenter.org.

      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

      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. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our Flickr gallery. More photos will be added later this week. Scenic design by Jason Sherwood. 'The Who's Tommy' opens today.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


      The Who's Tommy
      at the DCPA: 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:
      Photos: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

      The making of 'The Who's Tommy'

      Photos from the making of 'The Who's Tommy' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our Flickr gallery. More photos will be added later this week. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    • Audiences are about to meet Cupid's misfiring brother, George

      by John Moore | Apr 27, 2018
      For The Love of George. James Hindman, Barbara Gehring, Ray Roderick and Linda Klein. Photo by John Moore.

      'For The Love of George' co-writers, from left: James Hindman, Barbara Gehring, Ray Roderick and Linda Klein on the Conservatory Theatre stage. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

      Denver Center audiences are being given the opportunity to witness first performances of For the Love of George

      By John Moore
      Senior Arts Journalist

      Denver Center audiences are being given a rare opportunity over two weekends in May to witness the first public performances of what is being called “a developmental staged reading” of an evolving new comedy written by a team that is responsible for some of the most successful productions in DCPA Cabaret history.

      And if Cupid’s aim is true, the promising new work will come out ready to be licensed for immediate productions around the country.

      Girls OnlyFor the Love of George is written by Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein of Girls Only (pictured right), which has been seen by more than 200,000 women (and a few token dudes) around North America; along with Ray Roderick and James Hindman, who write together and run a New York licensing company called Miracle or 2 Productions. Roderick’s Denver directing credits include the just-closed musical First Date (pictured below right), as well as The Last 5 Years, The Taffetas and the longest-running production in Denver theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Hindman is a versatile New York actor who recently collaborated with Roderick on a new jukebox musical called The Bikinis.

      For the Love of George
      has been percolating for the past three years and across several states, ever since Roderick and Hindman took over worldwide bookings for Girls Only and realized Klein and Gehring are kindred comedy spirits.

      First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowTheir premise: Cupid is, of course, the God of Love. And George is, well …  Cupid’s less talented brother. While Cupid's arrows bring love, George's arrows do what normal arrows do. They hurt. “People actually feel George’s arrows,” Hindman said. So Zeus has banished George to Earth, where he must learn the true nature of love in all its joy, pain, messiness and inevitability before Zeus will allow him to come home. (By the way, George is 4,338 years old — so it’s taking him some time to get the hang of it.) 

      The comedy (with some original music) is set in a quirky, one-room mountain inn called Love Land. In the play, which takes place over several decades, we meet different  couples marching through the decades via the Love Land Inn. For example, we meet a hippie teenage couple from the 1960s, a couple that has been through a divorce, and young parents who are trying to get the romance back.

      “Over time, you start to see how love changes along with what is happening in the outside world,” Roderick said. “What do societal and cultural changes do to love and how people relate to each other? It's a little like Love, American Style  in that way."

      For those who might be intrigued to see the upcoming, first-ever performances, here are five quick things to know about For the Love of George:

      NUMBER 1Gone fishing. For the Love of George is one of those classic fish-out-of-water stories where the protagonist is outside of his natural environment. The creators say it’s right in line with movies such as Elf, Splash and, in particular, It's a Wonderful Life, where the wannabe angel Clarence is working for his wings. “We are all fans of that kind of underdog story,” Gehring said. Roderick also said Buster Keaton was an inspiration for George. “He was the silent-movie guy who is always trying to figure things out,” he said. "There is also a wonderful, childlike curiosity to George.”

      NUMBER 2

      So is this a musical or what? What. The creators are calling For the Love of George a comedy with music because, while they have written some original music for the show, “the story isn't really told through the music,” Klein said. Roderick calls the work “a wonderful hybrid: A play that has the rhythm of a musical." That’s intentional, he added, so that the piece eventually can be performed in venues that typically house either a play or a musical.

      NUMBER 3

      Who is the intended audience? From the start, the creators imagined For the Love of George to be a date-night out, and that the wide swath of both time and generations covered in the story should appeal to a variety of  audiences. "This show will have accessible, across-the-board appeal,” Roderick said. But while the show is meant to be a lighthearted escape, Hindman said, it does address universal questions about love and destiny. “Is there any such thing as love at first sight?" he said. "Is love something that you build on? Or are you predestined to be with someone? We examine all of that.” Klein said a lot of people in a relationship might think they were put together by George, not Cupid. "I think there are times when we all feel that way because relationships are never perfect," she said. "It's usually kind of messy and awkward.”  

      NUMBER 4

      You know this cast. For the Love of George is performed by three actors, all of whom just completed a six-month engagement of First Date in the Galleria Theatre. Longtime Denver Center favorite Jordan Leigh plays George, while Seth Dhonau and Lauren Shealy play all the various couples at the inn. (More on them at the bottom of this story.)

      NUMBER 5 But it’s not being staged at the Galleria Theatre? No. For the Love of George is being performed in the Conservatory Theatre located at 13th and Arapahoe streets in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education. It’s a beautiful theatre primarily used for DCPA Education projects rather than public performances.

      And this P.S.: This project has nothing to do with an independent movie called For the Love of George that was released in February starring Nadia Jordan.

      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.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


      For the Love of George
      : Ticket information

      For the Love of George

      After an unfortunate misfire, Cupid’s less talented brother George is banished to earth to learn the joy, pain, messiness and inevitability of love. Armed with only an autoharp and little pluck, he is thrown into the role of a guide to unsuspecting soulmates to prove his mastery. George hopes that in return, Zeus will allow him home once he truly becomes a God of Love.

      • Presented by DCPA Cabaret
      • Performances May 3-11
      • Showtimes 7:30 p.m. May 3-4 and 10-11
      • Conservatory Theatre, located at 13th and Arapahoe streets in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education
      • Recommended for audiences age 18 and over
      • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

      Meet the cast:

      Seth DhonauSETH DHONAU. Since moving to Denver last year, Seth has been seen in several productions including First Date (DCPA Cabaret), Red Hot and Cole (Cherry Creek Theater and Evita (Lone Tree Arts Center). Previously he lived in New York and sang with some of the top choirs in the area, appearing at both St. Patrick's Cathedral and Carnegie Hall. Seth studied opera, theater and economics at Northwestern University where he appeared in Bernstein’s Mass, The Waa-Mu Show and multiple productions with the American Music Theatre Project. 

      • Hometown: Fond du Lac, Wis.
      • College: Bachelor of Music (Voice and Opera) from Northwestern University
      • What's your handle? @Deathsono on Instagram
      • Twitter-sized bio: Connoisseur of film, literature, music, wine and cowboy boots.



      Jordan LeighJORDAN LEIGH
      couldn’t be happier to be back on the Garner Galleria stage for a sixth time after his record-setting run in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (1,731 performances), Five Course Love, The Doyle and Debbie Show, Forbidden Broadway and First Date. A proud Denver native, he has appeared on stages across the city for 20 years, including his co-starring role with the DCPA Theatre Company as the Apostle, Matt in 2015’s The 12 (pictured below right) and in front of capacity crowds at The Buell while co-starring in the DCPA Theatre Company’s, White Christmas. An award-winning film actor as well, (three-time Best Actor-48 Hour Filmmaking Project/Special Screening Cannes), he recently appeared alongside Hollywood legends, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, in the Netflix feature Our Souls at Night. Proud 17-year member of Actors Equity Association. Much love to Hannah.

      • Hometown: Denver. I am a third-generation Coloradan!
      • College: BA in Theatre and Masters Acting Intensive from UCLA School of Theatre (magna cum laude)
      • What's your handle? @JordanLeighActs on Twitter; @ThatActorGuyJordan on Instagram
      • Twitter-sized bio: Buddhist Jew who loves Jesus. And Science. And South Park. And Animals. Hopes we can find a way to cut through all this worldly Mishegas (Yiddish for “insanity”).



      Lauren ShealyLAUREN SHEALY:
      DCPA Cabaret: First Date; Forbidden Broadway; The Doyle and Debbie Show; I Love You, You’re Perfect…. DCPA Theatre Company: Sweeney Todd (Swing), A Christmas Carol (Ensemble). Off Broadway: Lingoland (Lauren), How to Succeed In Business... (Rosemary). The Arvada Center: White Christmas (Betty), A Man Of No Importance (Mrs. Patrick), Curtains (Georgia), Miracle On 34th Street (Doris), 1940’s Radio Hour (Anne). Lone Tree Arts Center: Evita (Eva, pictured below right), South Pacific (Nellie). National Tour: South Pacific (Nellie). Other Theaters: Jekyll and Hyde (Lucy), Tick, Tick…Boom (Susan), Phantom (Christine). Awards: 2017 True West Award for season of Evita, Company and First Date; 2015 CTG Henry nomination for Best Actress in a Musical; Westword’s Best Actress in a Musical for 2013. 

      • Hometown:
      Littleton
      • College: BFA Drama from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts
      • What's your handle? I am not that cool.
      • Twitter-sized bio: Lover of life, stories, music, family, heavy weights, hikes, hugs and cake pops. Habitual bath taker, banana bread maker and horror movie watcher.

       

    • Shakespeare keeps on truckin' in high-school parking lots

      by John Moore | Apr 25, 2018

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

      Education program paves 400 years of distance between The Bard and issues of relevance to contemporary teens

      By John Moore

      Senior Arts Journalist

      William Shakespeare’s most popular play centers around a magic potion that makes you fall madly in love with the first person — or, say, donkey — you come across. A Midsummer Night’s Dream audiences have never taken the actual implications of that comic premise too terribly seriously. After all, by end of the beloved forest romp, all of the characters pretty much end up with their true loves.

      But when you think about it from today’s perspective … that’s kind of messed up. A magic potion that robs you of your free will? That manufactures intense and unnatural romantic desire? That very idea is, at the very least, ethically specious.

      SITPL Kevin Quinn Marchman. Photo by John Moore. Eric Minton, founder of a Bard fan site called Shakespeareances, once theorized that Midsummer remains Shakespeare’s most produced play because it is probably also his most accessible play. "It appeals to people who aren’t familiar with Shakespeare,” Minton said. “You are going to get the comedy even if you’re not proficient at speaking in verse.”

      That’s exactly what makes A Midsummer Night’s Dream the perfect vehicle for DCPA Education’s wildly successful “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot" program, which for four years has presented abridged versions of Midsummer at Romeo and Juliet at high schools throughout the state, followed by creative and compelling classroom workshops that bridge Shakespeare’s themes from 400 years ago with contemporary issues that are relevant to today’s teenagers.

      “Often we just look at Midsummer as magic and fairies and fun,” said actor and DCPA Teaching Artist Kevin Quinn Marchman. “But we wanted to apply that concept to a real-world situation that involves real stakes, and then have a conversation about it.” And at a time when full-on genetic manipulation is becoming closer and closer to a reality, the power to control emotional responses in humans seems like fairly real stakes.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      So a day after presenting a 45-minute version of Midsummer in the parking lot at Strive Prep Excel School in north Denver last week, Marchman and his five fellow DCPA Teaching Artists rejoined the students in their classrooms and presented them this what-if:

      SITPL Kevin Quinn Marchman. Chloe McLeod. Photo by John Moore. What if you were a mother of a teenage girl who isn’t recovering from her first crushed heart? A year has gone by, and she’s only getting worse. She’s withdrawing, and her grades are falling. She’s descending into drugs and alcohol, and starting to display signs of suicidal tendencies. Now imagine being told that doctors are conducting trials on a new drug they believe can selectively zap your daughter’s entire memory of the relationship. If she can’t remember the breakup, the theory goes, then there is no more pain to feel, which means she might be able to resume a normal life. But scientists are unsure of the long-term consequences. It’s your call … would you let your daughter take that pill?

      “Is it ethical to use medicine to change our life experiences and our memories?” Marchman asked the students. “And if that is the case, what effect might that have on destiny?”

      That sparked a spirited debate among the Strive students. After all, there is something undeniably appealing about the opportunity to surgically excise emotional pain from our lives — without the surgery. But most of the Strive students gravitated toward the belief that this drug would be taking science too far. “Mistakes are necessary for growth,” said one student. “Breakups are hard,” added another, “but kids have to learn how to handle painful experiences in their adolescence now, because that prepares us for the far greater difficulties to come in the future.” And another said: “You can’t erase pain. Our pain is what makes us who we are.”

      Then the Teaching Artists connected the dots: This not-so-far-out medical scenario actually poses some of the same underlying questions Shakespeare asks in A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

      • “What is love?”
      • “What causes us to fall in (and out of) love?”
      • “How does love relate to the world of law and reason?”

      The goal of “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot,” conceived and directed by DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous, is to make Shakespeare more accessible and less intimidating to students who are decreasingly exposed to the man generally considered to be the greatest playwright in the history of the English language.

      (Story continues after the photo gallery below.)

      Photo gallery: 2018 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

      2018 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
      Photos from recent performances of 'Shakespeare in the Parking' lot at the central branch of the Denver Public Library and Strive Prep Excel school in north Denver. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


      “Reading the play is just one thing,” Watrous said. “But we know that Shakespeare really comes alive when it is spoken. It is meant to be performed.”

      Presenting shortened, live versions of Midsummer and Romeo and Juliet with a young and multi-ethnic cast helps connect those dots. So does performing the story in and around and on top of a beat-up old pickup truck that actor John Hauser likens to “a theatrical jungle gym.” If students are welcomed into the storytelling despite their unfamiliarity with Shakespeare’s language, "then the longer they will stay with the story,” Watrous said.

      SITPL. Strive Prep. Photo by John Moore. “My students were talking about the play all the way back from the parking lot,” Strive Prep teacher Allison Body. “I think it was very engaging for them to see the play in a quick and fast-paced way. And then to be able to talk more about the themes the next day was really great. It’s not the same as just reading an annotated version of Romeo and Juliet in class.”

      At a recent outing to Fort Morgan High School, located 80 miles northeast of Denver, the Denver Center ensemble performed for 400 students throughout a single day. "This outreach program is just amazing," Fort Morgan drama teacher Morgan Larsen told the Fort Morgan Times. "A lot of our students never have a chance to see live theatre, let alone Shakespeare. So this outreach that Denver Center does is just a great opportunity."

      Watrous’ cast, comprised of Marchman, Hauser, Kristina Fountaine, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord, are both experienced stage actors and educators trained in drawing sometimes reticent students out of their shells. They get them up and moving, and make sure everyone has a chance to be heard.

      "These actors are stellar on the stage and stellar in the classroom — and that is a hard, beautiful combination to find," Watrous said. 

      SITPL Kevin Quinn Marchman. Photo by John Moore. And it can be quite an endurance test. The creative team, including Technical Director Stuart Barr and sound operator Erik Thurston, are often on the road by 5 a.m. and sometimes perform their plays as many four times a day, both in cold rain and on steamy-hot asphalt.

      This spring, “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” will visit 52 Colorado schools and public parks — including upcoming free, public performances of both Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer at 1 and 3 p.m. this Saturday (April 28) at 1610 Little Raven Street across from Commons Park in lower downtown Denver.

      In four years, “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” has now served about 45,000 Colorado students, including 20,000 this school year alone. By the time the current tour ends on May 11, the ensemble will have performed 132 shows (sometimes four on a day) at 52 schools in eight Colorado counties. They will have delivered 66 workshops and engaged more than 20,000 students.

      The No-Fear Factor
      Strive Prep is a public college-prep charter school whose enrollment is 97 percent persons of color, and where 49 percent of students are learning English as a second language.

      SITPL Chloe McLeod and John Hauser. Photo by John MooreBut two of Body’s advanced A.P. literature students said they were neither bored nor afraid of Shakespeare when they heard the Denver Center crew was coming to their school. “We already read Othello and Hamlet in class, and last year we went to see Macbeth at the Denver Center, which I loved,” said Strive Excel student Cesar Robledo. “So I already think of myself as a pretty big fan of Shakespeare.”

      In the DCPA Theatre Company’s controversial and nontraditional take on Macbeth, the story was told in the future by warlocks and set against a backdrop of driving techno music and dance breaks.


      “I always enjoy seeing new interpretations of Shakespeare,” Strive student Connor Ellertson said of seeing both Macbeth in a future glam world — and Midsummer on a pickup truck.

      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.

      “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot”: Upcoming public performances

      Friday, April 27

      • Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival
      • 1 p.m.: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
      • Just outside of the Bonfils Theatre Complex at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

      Saturday, April 28

      • 1 p.m.: Romeo and Juliet
      • 3 p.m.: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
      • At 1610 Little Raven St., just north of 15th Street and across from Commons Park in lower downtown Denver
      • More information: Call 303-446-4892, email education@dcpa.org or go to denvercenter.org/education

      The cast of DCPA Teaching Artists includes Kristina Fountaine, John Hauser, Kevin Quinn Marchman, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord

      Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot”

      SITPL 2018 cast. Strive Prep. Photo by John MooreThe 2018 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot ensemble at Strive Prep, from left: Joelle Montoya, Justin Walvoord, Chloe McLeod, John Hauser, Kristina Fountaine and Kevin Quinn Marchman. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

      Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is supported by a multi-year grant from Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
    • Photos: Your first look at 'The Who's Tommy' at the Denver Center

      by John Moore | Apr 25, 2018
      The Who's Tommy Production photos for 'The Who's Tommy' by the DCPA Theatre Company. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our Flickr gallery. Scenic design by Jason Sherwood. 'The Who's Tommy' opens Friday.

      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.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


      The Who's Tommy
      at the DCPA: 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:
    • Jed Feder: A lad in Boulder is now bowing in 'Aladdin' in Denver

      by John Moore | Apr 24, 2018
      JED FEDER QUOTE. Photo by John MooreJed Feder's earliest theatrical memory is attending a 1997 national touring production of 'Annie' at the Buell Theatre. Tonight, he officially joins the cast of Disney's 'Aladdin' on the very same stage. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.  

      Boulder High graduate's wish came true to debut in Denver, just five days earlier than he or Disney originally planned

      By John Moore
      Senior Arts Journalist

      Jed Feder’s magic carpet arrived in Denver about five days early.

      The Boulder native had been sitting for weeks on the happy news that he would be making his debut as Kassim in Disney’s Aladdin tonight (April 24) while the national touring production is visiting the same Buell Theatre where Feder grew up watching Broadway shows. Hometown stories don’t get any better.

      Only his does.

      Last Thursday, as Feder was on his way to the Buell for a regularly scheduled, five-hour rehearsal, he got a text telling him to stop by and see the production stage manager when he arrived. “So … do you want to go on tonight?" Michael McGoff asked Feder. Keep in mind, this was a full five days before Feder’s planned debut — and only eight hours before that night’s performance would begin in front of 2,800 people. Of course, Feder said yes. “And Michael was like, ‘Cool, let’s go do the rehearsal,’ ” Feder said with a laugh.

      There would be just enough time to summon Feder’s parents, Rob and Andrea, from Boulder, and his only sister Rachel, an English professor at the University of Denver. But not enough time for Feder’s girlfriend, who already had made plans to fly into Denver from Seattle for tonight’s show. “She was disappointed that she didn’t get to see what turned out to be my first performance — but she somehow got flowers sent to the stage door in less than an hour,” Feder said.

      Making Feder’s challenge all the greater was the fact that he wasn’t being promoted from within a show he already knows well. He is a newbie joining a cast that has been together on the road performing in front of nearly a million people over the past year. This would be Feder’s first time playing Kassim on any stage anywhere. And not just any stage. The stage where one of his earliest memories is seeing the touring production of Annie in 1997.

      But in the end, the evening was a thrilling, surreal success.

      “I was expecting to walk out on that stage and see nearly 3,000 people, but the most shocking part about it was that it was like walking into a black hole. You can't see anything,” Feder said. “But as soon as they started reacting and laughing, I could hear them. And then I could feel them. I could feel them breathing.”

      Feder credits the support he got from castmates Zach Bencal and Philippe Arroyo, who play Kassim’s layabout pals, Babkak and Omar. In the Broadway musical, these three characters replace Aladdin’s animated sidekick, Abu the monkey. “We basically serve as Aladdin's little street family,” Feder said. “Luckily, I am never on stage without those other two guys, and they totally got me through it. Toward the end I was just holding onto them. But we did it.”

      Broadway begins in Boulder

      TJed Feder family. he Feder family moved from Manhattan to north Boulder when Rachel was 4 years old and Jed was 6 months. Rob Feder is a real-estate land-conservation lawyer who specializes in open space, while Andrea’s background is in social work. “When I was born, my parents had this realization that they did not want the city life for us,” Jed said. Instead they raised their children on the go and out of doors: Backpacking, camping, canoeing. Anything under the sun. “Being outdoors was a big family value,” said Feder.

      So was the arts. The Feders exposed their children to every form, from fine arts to music to theatre. Jed picked up a guitar when he was 6. The family took regular culture trips to New York. “Everywhere we went, we were going to museums and seeing theatre,” said Jed, who got hooked on any art that moved. “My dad loved the museums most, but I'm color-blind, so I never really took to art as much. I was rewarded for my patience in the museums by seeing the shows later that night.”

      Disney names a new Aladdin for Denver: Clinton Greenspan

      Back home, Jed attended many stage shows with his grandmother at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre (now BDT Stage). She took Rachel and Jed on separate special trips to see classics like The Music Man and Camelot. “I remember it was all about the Bosco Sticks,” Feder said with a laugh. “That, and I was really into their souvenir glasses.”

      Jed’s first show as an actor was a family affair. The Feders joined a community theater production of Fiddler on the Roof that was performed in the outdoor pavilion at Chautauqua Park.

      JED FEDER 800 BACK“It was really my sister who wanted to do the show, and my dad told me, ‘Well, then, you're going to do it, too.’ I was 7 at the time, and I remember my dad pushing me to all the places where I was supposed to stand on the stage. I also remember getting my cheek pinched by Yente.”

      Feder attended Boulder High School, where he performed in West Side Story, Chicago and Jesus Christ Superstar. “My big breakthrough was playing Mary Sunshine in Chicago,” Feder said of a female reporter who eventually reveals herself to be a man. Feder went to Northwestern as a math and film major, though he eventually dropped the math for music composition. His unusual path since has evolved into what he calls “half as an actor, half as a drummer.” His resume lists among his special talents: “Extreme finger-snapping and body percussionist.”  

      But for a young man who has never followed a beeline toward one specific field of performance, the live theatre has done a good deal of steering for him. He was cast in a big-time production of Mother Courage and Her Children at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C. that was directed by one legend (Molly Smith) and starred another (Kathleen Turner). He also has performed for the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

      The family that dances together

      He landed his role in the dance-heavy Disney’s Aladdin tour simply by showing up at a Chicago audition. And he got it, despite not having any actual dance training. Unless you count the innumerable bar mitzvahs and weddings the Feder family has attended in Boulder over the past few decades. “I come from a family of good movers. I mean we are not shy people,” Feder said. “Whenever there was a party, my family hit the dance floor.”

      Jed Feder guitar But still, Disney’s Aladdin is a show with big, aerobic musical numbers that last eight and 12 minutes at a time.

      “Well, the dancing has certainly been the hardest part for me to get into my body,” he said. “But I did grow up doing some swing dancing just for fun. And at Northwestern, I was in this group called Boom Shaka. It's a rhythm-and-dance ensemble that was sort of like Stomp. It was half drummers and half dancers. Those dance majors at Northwestern upped my game, for sure.”

      And now Feder is appearing in Aladdin, based on a film he grew up watching at home until the VHS tape wore out. Appropriately witnessed by the family who encoded the story into his DNA.

      “It is an ongoing joke in my family for my dad to say, ‘Who disturbs my slumber?’ ” Feder said of the famously terrifying threat issued to Aladdin by the tiger in the Cave of Wonders. But it’s been going on so many years now, even his parents had forgotten where exactly it came from — until they saw Feder’s first performance as Kassim last week.

      Celina Nightengale is doing her happy dance in Denver

      “After the show, my mom was like, ‘Did you remember that that was from Aladdin?’ ”

      Feder says it’s especially fun for him to watch Aladdin on stage through adult eyes and compare it to the kid-friendly animated film he grew up on.

      “I actually saw the show really soon after it opened on Broadway, just because I wanted to,” Feder said. “I think it very much honors the original film while also honoring the tradition of a big Broadway musical at the same. There's really something for everyone. I mean, you've got these big, Broadway production numbers. You've got Disney magic going on all over the stage. And when I first saw the magic carpet, my jaw literally dropped. It really sucks you in. It's a good family night. It's a good date night. It's just incredible.”

      JED FEDER. Photo by John Moore. Feder’s quirky, multidisciplinary career includes a college band that has been compared to Tenacious D. “We call it comedic contemporary rock,” he said with a laugh. He also has scored two musicals, including one that premiered at North Carolina State University last October. “It's called Beowulf: Lord of the Bros,” he said with another laugh. “It's a modern bromantic comedy adaptation of Beowulf.”

      With so many different directions to follow, Feder was asked when he realized that his immediate future is in the live theatre. In Aladdin.

      “I don't really know,” he said. “I guess when I got cast in this show.”

      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: Jed Feder in Boulder

      Jed Feder in Disney's 'Aladdin'
      Boulder native Jed Feder he has provided some photos of his early life in Colorado with his family. Also photos of Feder on the Buell Theatre stage by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos.


      Disney's Aladdin: Ticket information
      Disney’s AladdinFrom the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of Aladdin, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite.
      • National touring production
      • Performances through April 28
      • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
      • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

      Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disney's Aladdin:

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      Aladdin Photo by Deen van Meer 'Aladdin.' Photo by Deen van Meer.
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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.