• 'Frozen' economic impact on Denver: $30 million

    by John Moore | Oct 13, 2017
    Frozen Banner. John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter

    In 20 years, the DCPA's partnership with Disney Theatrical Productions has infused $267 million into local economy

    The seven-week pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen made an estimated $30 million economic impact on the host city of Denver, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced today. In 20 years, the DCPA's partnership with Disney Theatrical Productions has infused $267 million into the local economy.

    The totals are based on a Broadway League study that that found when a Broadway show visits a city, it contributes an economic impact of roughly 3.6 times the gross ticket sales to that metropolitan area’s local economy. The formula takes into account travel, hotels, restaurants, parking and other businesses patronized by both theatergoers and production staff.

    Jelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Patti Murin (Anna) in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van MeerFrozen drew 125,900 patrons to the Denver Performing Arts Complex for 47 performances ending Oct. 1.

    In addition, the unique opportunity for the DCPA to host Frozen before it goes to Broadway provided work for an estimated 242 workers from the local Stagehand, Wardrobe/Hair and Musicians unions from May 30 through the middle of October.

    “It was a true joy to work with Disney Theatrical Productions this summer on the spectacular Broadway-bound Frozen, said John Ekeberg, Executive Director of DCPA Broadway. "Our audiences fell in love with the show and eagerly grabbed the opportunity to get a first look at this beautiful new musical.

    "Frozen will go down as one of the brightest moments in Denver theatre history, and I’m so pleased the Denver Center got to play a part in the show’s journey.”

    Jack Eldon, Vice President of Domestic Touring and Regional Engagements at Disney Theatrical Productions, said, "We are tremendously grateful to the Denver community who warmly welcomed the pre-Broadway debut of Frozen to their great city. Disney Theatrical Productions has a long history with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, including The Lion King Tour launch and world premiere of The Little Mermaid.  We thank our wonderful partners at the Denver Center for another sensational engagement." 

    Frozen soon joins Disney Theatrical hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway, beginning performances at the St. James Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 22, and opening Thursday, March 22. Tickets for Broadway performances are on sale now through August 12, 2018. Visit FrozenTheMusical.com for more information.

    Denver Center's history with Disney Theatrical Productions since 1997:

    • Engagements: 14
    • Production launches: 3 (including 2 pre-Broadway)
    • Playing weeks: 64
    • Performances: 481
    • Attendance: More than 1 million
    • Gross box office: $73 million
    • Estimated economic impact: $267 million over 20 years

    Patti Murin (Anna) and Caissie Levy (Elsa) with Jacob Smith in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van Meer
    Patti Murin (Anna) and Caissie Levy (Elsa) with Jacob Smith in 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen

    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


     

  • Video: Denver Center CEO Janice Sinden dances with the Denver stars

    by John Moore | Sep 03, 2017

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


    Community feels the rhythm of the night raising $250,000 for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance's education programs.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The 8th annual Dancing with the Denver Stars raised about $250,000 on Aug. 19 to support arts-education programs at Denver's internationally renowned Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.

     Janice Sinden Dancing with the Denver Stars Cleo Parker Robinson 600 2Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, founded by honorary DCPA Trustee Cleo Parker Robinson, provides dance and movement education in schools using the power of dance to enrich the lives of children across Colorado.

    Dancing with the Denver Stars pairs notable members of Denver's arts, municipal and business communities with Robinson's dancers, all culminating in a gala performance at the Denver Marriott City Center.

    This year one of the featured pairs was Denver Center for the Performing Arts President and CEO Janice Sinden and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance's Cedric D. Hall.

    "It is so important to support arts and culture in our community, and Cleo is a legend," said Sinden. "Having the opportunity to support her and all of the dancers and our youth as they learn about the importance of dance in their lives? How lucky am I to be here?"

    DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous was on hand to cheer Sinden on, and afterward praised Cleo Parker Robinson Dance for offering arts-education programs that closely align with the mission of DCPA Education. Robinson's programs serve 43 schools and nearly 20,000 children in metro Denver.

    Janice Sinden. Cleo Parker Robinson. Photo by John Moore"Arts education matters because it teaches the whole child," Watrous said. "Cleo Parker Robinson encourages her students to to be confident and fabulous."

    The evening included a special appearance from Dianne Reeves, a graduate of Denver's George Washington High School who won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

    In the video above, we hear from Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and First Lady Mary Louise Lee, and see highlights from Sinden and Hall's routine, set to DeBarge's 1980s hit "Rhythm of the Night." (The three are pictured above right.)

    Hancock, who accepted the same challenge from Robinson and himself danced in a previous Dancing with the Denver Stars fundraiser, had some teasing pre-show advice for Sinden, who served as his Chief of Staff for five years before joining the Denver Center.

    "You should be absolutely, bonafide terrified," Hancock told Sinden. "This is nerve-wracking." Afterward, Hancock said Sinden danced with heart and passion. "She was perfect," he said.

    Hall said his partner's greatest assets were her bubbly personality - and her pink dress. Sinden went for full-pink ballerina, complete with pink bloomers and shoes dyed to match. She credited the DCPA Theatre Company costuming department for helping the pair with their outfits from DCPA's wardrobe inventory. There are more photos in the gallery below.

    The gala raised $50,000 more than the company's initial goal. Former Denver Bronco Reggie Rivers led a live-auction segment that significantly boosted donations. Actor-comedian Shedrick Garrett (also known as Shed G) served as master of ceremonies.



    Dancing with the Denver Stars: Full photo gallery

    2017 Dancing with the Denver Stars

    Our full gallery of photos from the 2017 'Dancing with the Denver Stars.' To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    Dancing with the Denver Stars: 2017 Featured Dancers

    Jonathan Adelman. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Jonathan Adelman

    AVP, Strategic Resource and Business Planning, Xcel Energy
    Dancing with Bria Tyner



    John Bolger

    Managing Director, Aon Corporation
    Dancing with Jessica Horton



    Ivan Burwell. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Ivan Burwell

    CEO, Street Source
    Dancing with Ralaya (Rae) Goshea



    Celia Dietrich Wattles

    Founder & Principal, Dietrich & Company LLC
    Dancing with Edgar Page



    Ken Greene. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Ken Greene

    Chief Operating Officer, Denver International Airport
    Dancing with Chloe-Grant Abel



    Evan Dreyer. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Evan Dreyer

    Deputy Chief of Staff, Denver Mayor’s Office
    Dancing with Alexis Amos



    Scott Gilmore. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Scott Gilmore

    Deputy Executive Director, Denver Parks and Recreation
    Dancing with Theresa Berger



    Bruce Johnson. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Bruce Johnson

    Partner, Polsinelli Law Firm
    Dancing with YooJung Hahm



    Johnny Johnson. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Dr. Johnny Johnson

    Doctor, Western OBGYN
    Dancing with Amelia Dietz



    Britt Moreno. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Britt Moreno
    CBS4 Morning News Anchor
    Dancing with Antonio (Tony) De'Berry



    Huy Pham. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Huy Pham

    President/CEO, Innovative Retail Group, LLC
    Dancing with Chloe-Grant Abel

    Marcia Romero. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Marcia Romero
    Communications Specialist, CoBiz Financial
    Dancing with Davry Ratcliffe



    Janice Sinden. Cleo Parker Robinson. Dancing with the Denver Stars. Photo by John Moore. Janice Sinden
    President/CEO, DCPA
    Dancing with Cedric D. Hall


    More video:

    Here's a highlight reel from Cleo Parker Robinson Dance that shows more of the festivities from the 2017 'Dancing with the Denver Stars.'
  • City Council approves referendum on DCPA improvements

    by John Moore | Aug 15, 2017
    Michael B. Hancock. Photo by John Moore
    "This is a thoughtful, balanced and responsible investment package created by and for the people of Denver," said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, pictured today at the reopening of the DCPA's Space Theatre.

    Voters in November will consider wide slate of improvements including Stage and Ricketson theatres

    By John More
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver City Council on Monday unanimously referred a bond to the November ballot that if approved by voters will make funds available for 460 projects valued at $937 million, including $19 million to renovate the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Stage and Ricketson theatres. Without a tax increase.

    Roughly half of the total bond program would go toward road maintenance, sidewalk connections, intersection improvements and transit infrastructure, Denverite reported.

    The slate includes library renovations; new recreation centers and playgrounds; and upgrades to police and fire stations, cultural institutions such as the Denver Center and enhancements to Denver Health Medical Center.

    Mayor Michael B. Hancock called the initiative "a thoughtful, balanced and responsible investment package created by and for the people of Denver." He said the November vote represents an unparalleled opportunity for the city. 

    More than half of the projects on the list will fix and repair existing infrastructure, with the remainder dedicated to upgrades and new infrastructure across the city.

    There was no opposition voiced at the council meeting.
     
    The proposed improvements will be presented to voters as seven separate spending packages. The referendum including the DCPA and other cultural institutions will be known as 2B, which DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden took as a positive sign, given its proximity to Shakespeare's "To be or not to be" speech from Hamlet.

    "We're excited to work with the city on the upcoming bond campaign," DCPA Sinden said at this morning's reopening of the DCPA's Space Theatre - which benefited in part from the city's 2007 "Better Denver" bond package. "I will be plugging it shamelessly." 

    The improvements would not mean an increase in the tax rate, Denverite reported, which will likely be a taken as major selling point. Property owners would be paying more for debt service than in the past because their property generally is worth more.

    "These measures were created with the most public input of any bond proposal in Denver’s history,” Hancock said.

    The seven separate ballot questions include:

    • $431 million for transportation and mobility projects
    • $116.9 million for city-owned cultural facility improvements (including the Stage and Ricketon theatres)
    • $75 million for a new outpatient care center at Denver Health Medical Center
    • $77 million for safety facility projects
    • $69.3 million for Denver Public Library improvements
    • $151.6 million for parks and recreation
    • $16.5 million for city-owned facility improvements
    Visit 2017GObond for more information about the bond process and projects.
  • Photos, video: 'Jersey Boy' Matthew Dailey goes back to school

    by John Moore | Nov 08, 2016

    Matthew Dailey, who grew up in Littleton and was a member of Arapahoe High School's Class of 2007, returned home to his alma mater Nov. 5 to talk with theatre students. Dailey is playing Tommy DeVito in the Denver-bound national touring production of Jersey Boys, which plays at the Buell Theatre from Nov. 9-13. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Full photo gallery: Jersey Boys in Denver:
    'Jersey Boys' in Denver

    Photos include Matthew Dailey at Arapahoe High School and appearing at the DCPA's special Denver Arts Week presentation on the making of theatre magic. All photos are downloadable for free. To see more, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore.



    Jersey Boys: Ticket information

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

    Additional NewsCenter coverage of Jersey Boys:
    Andrew Russell workin' his way back to Denver
    Matthew Dailey walks like a man back to Denver
    Dailey, Russell: There's plenty of Colorado in Jersey Boys
    Video, photos: Jersey Boy sings national anthem at Broncos game

    Matthew Dailey. Jersey Boys. Arapahoe High School.  Photo by John Moore.

    Matthew Dailey of 'Jersey Boys at Arapahoe High School. Photo by John Moore. 
  • Imagine 2020 explores meaningful engagement with Millennials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photos above: Charlie Miller and Brianna Firestone make their presentation at the city's Imagine 2020 Speaker Series. Also: Two faces in the crowd. Photos by Steve Hostetler Photography, used by permission.
  • Photos: Newsies' Fansies hawk some papes around Denver

    by John Moore | Mar 21, 2016
    Disney's 'Newsies' in Denver

    Our complete photo gallery, above. To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. To download any photo for free, click on it and follow instructions. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The 'Fansies' of Disney's Newsies took to the streets of downtown Denver on March 16 to hand out collector's editions of a Denver Post 'Extra' edition that harked back to the turn of the 20th century, when newsboys hawked papers on every street corner.

    The Fansies gave out show-related prizes, and those who were following along for clues on Twitter knew where to go and where to look. At each stop, one of the Fansies was hiding the show's official stuffed bear mascot in a newsbag. Those who found a bear won tickets to the show, which opens March 23 at the Buell Theatre.


    Patricia Sigmond and Josh Schwartz of Broomfield, above right, won tickets to Disney's 'Newsies.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Winners and stops:
    • Patricia Sigmond saw the activity brewing on the Denver Center's Twitter account and headed downtown from Broomfield with her friend, Josh Schwartz. She found the Fansie with the Newsies Bear at The Denver Post building near 16th Street and Broadway.
    • The mother-son team of Lisa and Daniel Judge of Maui found the Fansie with the bear at Union Square.
    • John Hunter, who recently moved to Denver from Georgia, found the Fanise with the bear outside the Goorin Brothers Hat Shop in Larimer Square.
    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.      

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Disney's Newsies: Ticket information

  • March 23-April 9 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  •  Kids' Night on Broadway, Talkback with the Company: 7:30 p.m. March 24
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 3

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disney's Newsies:
    Extra! Read all bout Denver's real Newsies past
    Michael Gorman: The Oldsie of Newsies returns to Denver
    Stephen Hernandez: Dancer's paper trail runs from Wyoming to Newsies
    Try our Newsies crossword puzzle

  • DCPA CEO Scott Shiller: Where The Wild Thoughts Are

    by Scott Shiller | Jan 15, 2016
    Scott Shiller Denver Performing Arts Complex


    It’s a little too late to say “Happy New Year,” so I’ll just welcome you to the second half of our 2015-16 theatre season. Although the ball has dropped and we’ve all moved on, every new calendar is like a blank slate. What did I learn from the last year? Can I dream a little bigger this year? These are all probably questions we should ask ourselves more than once a year. But who’s counting?

    Scott Shiller (President and Chief Executive Officer)Our city has been dreaming bigger lately. Recently, Mayor Hancock asked for a pie-in-the-sky vision of what the Denver Performing Arts Complex could be. (Reminder: the City of Denver manages the physical Complex and we, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, present and produce the live theatre within it.) The mayor wanted to look past the current and short-term challenges the Complex faces and just dream. Not to dismiss today’s challenges but to reconsider the Complex’s place in our shared history — and in our shared future.

    So Denver’s Arts & Venues, in partnership with other city agencies and the community, launched a master planning process to generate a vision and plan for the 12-acre campus. Experts in the arts, urban planning and development have been working together ever since to imagine the “Next Stage” for the Complex. See the progress for yourself at artsandvenues.com/nextstage.
     
    Imagine a multi-level parking structure beneath the Complex and the current garage replaced with a completely new music hall. Imagine a School for the Arts on campus, where the next generation of artists and professionals can train and perform. Imagine a renewed galleria lined with stores and restaurants to make it feel as dynamic as any downtown street. Imagine a Bike House. To find out what that is, you’ll have to visit the link above.

    Along with the Mayor and the executive leadership team, I invite you to offer your ideas for the Complex. What’s important to you and your family in a cultural facility? What amenities and/or activities would you enjoy before and after a show? As the theatre organization with a lot riding on the success of the Complex, we have opinions. But you’re the reason we do what we do.

    So go wild and dream a little bigger about what’s all around you. We’re listening.

    Let us know your thoughts by commenting at the bottom of this story.



    About our Guest Columnist:
    Scott Shiller, a nationally recognized Producer, Presenter and Entertainment Executive, was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in February, 2015. As President & CEO, Shiller has overall responsibility for the DCPA’s programmatic, operating, revenue, marketing, development and administrative functions. He comes to the DCPA from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, where he served as Executive Vice President from 2007 to 2015. With direct oversight of programming and marketing initiatives, Shiller’s first season at the Center resulted in a $3.3 million turnaround, more than 100 sold-out performances, and a 76 percent increase in attendance. Shiller began his career working with Tony Award-winning producer Jon B. Platt on productions including Wicked (Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Joel Grey), Man of La Mancha (Brian Stokes Mitchell), Sly Fox (Richard Dreyfuss), The Graduate (Kathleen Turner, Alicia Silverstone, Jason Biggs), Blue Man Group: Tubes, Cabaret (Teri Hatcher, Norbert Leo Butz), Master Class (Faye Dunaway), Wait Until Dark (Quentin Tarantino, Marisa Tomei), Taller than a Dwarf (Matthew Broderick, Parker Posey), Macbeth (Kelsey Grammer), The Diary of Anne Frank (Natalie Portman), and The Vagina Monologues (Eve Ensler).


    Previous conversations with Scott Shiller:
    Previously, Scott Shiller posed these questions for NewsCenter readers:

    *Making Cents of Arts Funding:
     "Should the federal government allocate more funding to the National Endowment for the Arts?" To read his essay - and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

    *Declining arts coverage:
    How to respond to declining arts coverage? To read his essay - and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

    *Social media in the theatre:
    How will we, as theatre professionals and audiences, find common ground for mobile devices in theatres? To read his essay - and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

  • Video: The 'If/Then' interview series from Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 19, 2015

    David Stone, If/Then. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenterPart 7 of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' interview series with the cast and creative team from the Broadway musical "If/Then," which launched its first national tour in Denver in October 2015 and starred Broadway headliners Idina Menzel, LaChanze, Anthony Rapp and James Snyder.

    Next up: Producer David Stone, whose credits include "Wicked" and "Next to Normal," talks about what he feels is his obligation to develop challenging and risky new musicals for the American theatre. Stone said it was encouragement from late DCPA President Randy Weeks that planted the seeds for an If/Then national tour, which he had not been planning. He said his success has made developing new work for the American theatre his obligation. 

    "I think Wicked has given me a gift," he said, "and I have to repay that gift (by working) with living, breathing writers on new work.”

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

    If/Then played in Denver from Oct. 13-25.

    (Photo above right: David Stone hosted a conversation in Denver with 'Razzle Dazzle' author Michael Riedel. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter)

    Read our complete interview with David Stone


    The video series to date:
    Part 1: The cast talks about The Tour Reunion
    Part 2: Is The Butterfly Effect a real thing?
    Part 3: Favorite line or lyric
    Part 4: On writing original music for Idina Menzel
    Part 5: Mark, Maureen and Michael (Greif): The Rent reunion
    Part 6: Cast: Final thoughts from Denver
    Part 7: Final thoughts from Producer David Stone
    Bonus: Our Opening Night video from Denver

    Bonus: Our Opening Night Photo Gallery:

    To download any photo for free, in a variety of available sizes, click "View original Flickr image." All photos by Emily Lozow and John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.



    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

    SCFD
  • Circle of Life: 'The Lion King' tour returns to Denver birthplace

    by John Moore | Oct 28, 2015
    LION KING 60010Nia Holloway as Nala in Disney’s 'The Lion King.' ©Disney. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    It’s the Circle of Life: The Denver-born national touring production of Disney’s The Lion King is coming home - as a teenager.

    More than 220,000 attended the tour’s inaugural 10-week run at The Buell Theatre 13 years ago, and independent studies estimated the visit provided a $58 million jolt to the area economy.

    The Lion King Julie Taymor quoteLong before The Lion King’s 18 semi-trailers roared into downtown Denver in the weeks leading up to that historic opening night on April 26, 2002, “you could feel it everywhere you went,” said flutist Kay Ragsdale, one of four members of The Lion King tour who have been with it every step of the way.

    More than 25,000 tickets moved the day they went on sale to the public in November 2001, and every available seat was gone less than four days later. By the time the show finally opened, the city was at a fever pitch.

    “We had some jackets at the time that only had this little tiny lion’s head insignia, but everyone in the town knew what it was,” Ragsdale said. “It felt like everyone was participating in this event with us. Our opening night was an opening night for the entire city of Denver, and it could not have been more exciting.”

    Dance Captain Izell Blunt will never forget the day the cast was invited to sit in the otherwise empty Buell Theatre and watch as the technical crew previewed the show’s iconic sunrise for them.

    “This was the first time we had seen it,” said Blunt. “The sun is coming up. Pride Rock is coming out. The music is playing. Literally, we got chills just watching this phenomenon that we were about to be a part of."

    With a worldwide gross of more than $7 billion, The Lion King last year became the most successful franchise in entertainment history. That’s just the stage musical — figures do not include either proceeds from the animated film or merchandising.

    And to think, says creator Julie Taymor, The Lion King is a $7 billion fluke, considering that she was charged with turning a beloved animated children’s film into a revolutionary, magical piece of proudly experimental theatre that blends South African chants with ballet, performance art, human puppetry, masks, forced perspectives and shadow imagery.

    “I profoundly believe that people want something richer and deeper, and will aspire to it,” Taymor said. “It’s a wonderful thing that so many people have seen The Lion King because it has informed many who have never seen theatre as to what theatre can possibly be.”

    The Lion King has now played before more than 80 million audience members in 22 productions around the world. The New York production turns 18 in November and Saturday (Oct. 31), the Lion will surpass Cats as the third-longest running musical in Broadway history on October 31. The Lion King is routinely still the No. 1 show on Broadway in any given week. And it is showing no signs of slowing down.


    The Tree of Life from 'The Lion King' National Tour.  ©Disney.  Photo Credit:  Joan Marcus.

    “It’s difficult not to become emotional at the realization of the show’s impact,” said Thomas Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical Productions. “The goal back in the formative years was simply to tell the story purely and theatrically so that audiences could feel it in their heart.”

    Lion King quoteInstead, it changed theatre in every conceivable way, from creative standards to technical demands to audience expectations moving forward. And perhaps its greatest impact on the creative community has been the ongoing explosion of employment opportunities it has provided for hundreds of actors of color.

    “I think really The Lion King ushered in a completely new era of theatre,” said Ragsdale.

    Schumacher and Technical Director David Benken (who graduated from Colorado State University) credit famed theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh with setting a new standard for traveling shows that was fully embraced by Taymor.

    “The idea was that if you are going to do a tour, you are going to give people on the road the same show that you gave them on Broadway,” said Benken. “That was fairly radical for its time. Back then, before Disney Theatrical Productions, there were some seriously reduced versions of shows going out on the road.”

    Benken began adapting the Broadway show for the road two full years before it opened in Denver. And his great challenge was not solving how to fit what was then a record $15 million Broadway juggernaut into The Buell Theatre. “Denver has a pretty good theatre from a technical standpoint,” he said. His job was to solve how to fit the show into much smaller theatres all across America.

    “The biggest change that had to be made was to Pride Rock,” he said. “In New York, Pride Rock rises up out of the deck. That wasn’t practical for the road because basements don’t exist in theatres that are deep enough to accommodate it.” So after several months and several attempts, they hit on the solution: Pride Rock, an 18-foot set piece, slithers onto the stage and slowly rises as Simba and his father climb to its top. “So it still gives you the iconic moment,” Benken said, “and it actually enhanced Julie’s vision that everything should come back to this idea of the Circle of Life. I think the solution we came up with in Denver worked out quite well, and it is used all over the world now.”

    Only after Benken got the show up and running in Denver did he get a real sense of what he and his team had accomplished here.

    “Once we got the show open,” he said, “you could definitely feel that this was something special for Denver, and something special for us.”

    Portions of this article came from interviews and research John Moore has conducted over the years since "The Lion King" national tour debuted in Denver in 2002.

    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.



    Disney’s The Lion King

  • Nov 4-29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28

  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney's 'The Lion King.'



  • Video: Our busy day busking with John Davidson of 'Wicked'

    by John Moore | Jun 24, 2015


    You know John Davidson as a prominent TV game-show host. But he also has an extensive theatrical resume and is currently playing the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the national touring production of Wicked playing in Denver through July 5.

    John DavidsonWe recently spent a day with Davidson, who is perhaps best known for hosting The New Hollywood Squares. In the video above, watch as Davidson took an afternoon to do some busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall. In the video, he also talks to fellow street performers about their craft. (Video by David Lenk for the DCPA's NewsCenter.)

    We also followed along as Davidson was interviewed by Rick Crandall of KEZW, and as he spent an hour co-hosting the Everyday show on FOX-31 with Kathie J.


    Photos by Emily Lozow.


    Listen to John Davidson's radio interview on KEZW:



    John Davidson is interviewed by Rick Crandall of Denver radio station KEZW. Push play to listen to the 15-minute interview.


    Watch John Davidson co-host Everyday on FOX-31
    :

    John Davidson of Wicked on FOX's 'Everyday' show with Kathie J.

    John Davidson co-hosted the Everyday show on KDVR FOX-31 with Kathie J. In this segment, the two talk about Denver's bike trails and the beauty of the Rocky Mountain National Forest, specifically Grand Lake. To watch, click here.


    More about John Davidson:

    Broadway: State Fair (Abel), Oklahoma! (Curly - Theater Guild Award). Off-Broadway: High Infidelity and The Fantasticks. National Tour: Wicked (The Wizard). Regional Theater: The Music Man (H. Hill), Camelot (King Arthur), Carousel (Billy), Man Of La Mancha (Cervantes). Television: Hosted "That’s Incredible," "The New Hollywood Squares," "One Hundred Thousand Dollar Pyramid," Sally Field’s husband in "The Girl With Something Extra.Film: The Walt Disney musicals The Happiest Millionaire and Family Band.

    Wicked: Ticket information in Denver:
    Through July 5
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100, 800-641-1222 or  BUY ONLINE
    Accessibility performance: 2 p.m., June 27

    Our recent NewsCenter coverage of Wicked:
    Video: Exclusive interview with Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz
    Wicked witches stirring up an evening of cabaret on June 15
    Daily Wicked lottery makes $25 tickets available to lucky winners
    Video, photos: Wicked arrives in Denver: Load-In Day
    Interview with the two stars on the show's 'Popular' appeal
    Wicked a show for the green girl in all of us
    Wicked has bonded mothers and daughters for a decade in Denver

    John Davidson busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall. Photo by Emily Lozow.

    John Davidson busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall. Photo by Emily Lozow.


    John Davidson busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall. Photo by Emily Lozow.
    John Davidson busking on Denver's 16th Street Mall, a guitar in one hand and a 'Wicked' bag in the other. Photo by Emily Lozow.

  • Video: Exclusive interview with 'Wicked' composer Stephen Schwartz

    by John Moore | Jun 11, 2015


    In this exclusive interview with Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz for the DCPA's NewsCenter, the theatre legend talks with Senior Arts Journalist John Moore about the ongoing need to empower girls and women.

    Stephen Schwartz"Turn on the TV or go online, and there is story after story of the difficulties women and girls face just trying to be on an equal level in our world," says Schwartz. "Worldwide, this is a major issue." 

    Schwartz says he relates most to the character of Elphaba in Wicked, and embraces the idea that we all have the green girl inside of us. He also tells how Wicked never happens - or at least not Schwartz's involvement in it - without a nudge from the folk singer Holly Near.

    Schwartz also addresses Denver's place in Wicked lore as the production's most visited city in the world. 

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore. 

    Wicked: Show information
    June 3-July 5
    Buell Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100, 800-641-1222 or  BUY ONLINE
    Accessibility performance: 2 p.m., June 27

    Our recent NewsCenter coverage of Wicked:
    Wicked witches stirring up an evening of cabaret on June 15
    Daily Wicked lottery makes $25 tickets available to lucky winners
    Video, photos: Wicked arrives in Denver: Load-In Day
    Interview with the two stars on the show's 'Popular' appeal
    Wicked a show for the green girl in all of us
    Wicked has bonded mothers and daughters for a decade in Denver
       
    Stephen Schwartz
  • Video: Andy Kelso's National Anthem Day in Denver

    by John Moore | Oct 28, 2014


    Aurora native Andy Kelso, a graduate of Eaglecrest High School and the University of Northern Colorado, hit it big on Broadway in "Mamma Mia," and is now starring as Charlie in the 2013 Tony-winning Best Musical, "Kinky Boots." That feel-good musical written by Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper is now a national touring production that will play in Denver from Oct. 29-Nov. 9.

    To celebrate its upcoming Denver opening, "Kinky Boots" sent Kelso home to sing the national anthem before the Denver Broncos' nationally televised victory over the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 24.

    We followed Kelso on his whirlwind day in Denver and talked with him and his family about growing up as a Broncos fan, what it meant to him to sing in front of 80,000 fans (including sports idols John Elway and Joe Sakic) and he offers a disarmingly accurate prediction on the outcome of the game.

    The video culminates with Kelso's stellar rendition of the anthem, after which he is congratulated by none other than Broncos coach John Fox. See it all on this fun video by John Moore and David Lenk.

    Check this out: Here is a link to our full gallery of downloadable photos from Andy Kelso's visit to Denver.

    For information on "Kinky Boots," call 303-894-4100 or go to www.DenverCenter.Org. And hey, check out our new media outlet covering Colorado theatre at www.MyDenverCenter.Org.


    Kinky Boots: Ticket information
    Oct 29-Nov 9
    Buell Theatre
    Accessible Performances: Nov 9, 2 p.m.
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 | www.denvercenter.org
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

    Kinky_Boots_Andy_Kelso_800_Anthem_Broncos
    Andy Kelso. Photo by John Moore. Here is a link to our full gallery of downloadable photos from Kelso's visit to Denver.


    Our Previous Kinky Boots coverage on Denver CenterStage:

  • Podcast: Listen to our interview with Cyndi Lauper
  • Video: Exclusive interview with Andy Kelso and Annaleigh Ashford of Kinky Boots
  • Cher and Cyndi Lauper put the "sex" in "sexagenarian”
  • Cyndi Lauper on 'Kinky Boots' ... and how to save Broadway
  • Denver Center's full 2014-15 season announcement
  • Kinky Boots Study Guide
  • Denver Sonnets Project this week features Academy married couple

    by John Moore | Aug 17, 2014


    CultureWest.Org, a web site founded by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore, is endeavoring to make short films out of all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets, each featuring actors with Colorado connections.

    Denver_Sonnets_Project_820For a very special Sonnet 31, married actors Sean Scrutchins and Devon James, on the eve of the birth of their first child, take a moment to honor their many departed family members who will be immortalized in their son, Liam. "Thou art the grave where buried love doth live ..."

    Scrutchins is a Henry Award (Curious' "Nine Circles") and True West Award winner (Colorado Shakespeare Festival's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"); while James is a True West Award winner herself (Curious' "Time Stands Still"). Both are also teaching Artists with the Denver Center Theatre Academy.

     Here's a link to the YouTube playlist that hosts the entire series to date.

    The Denver Sonnets Project is an ongoing public art project, open to a variety of actors and filmmakers. Another new short sonnet film is posted here every Monday. Please support the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org. Video by John Moore.

    The Denver Sonnets Project is a volunteer collaboration, with limited eligibility requirements for participation. For information on how to register, email your interest to John Moore at culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

    Completed episodes to date (in numeric order):

    Sonnet 1: Cast of "Cult Following": "From fairest creatures we desire increase ..."
    Sonnet 2: Josh Robinson, "See thy blood warm ..."
    Sonnet 6, Joe Von Bokern: "Make worms thine heir!"
    Sonnet 10, Augustus Truhn: "Thou art so possessed with murd'rous hate ..."
    Sonnet 17: Anne Sandoe: "If I could write the beauty of your eyes ..."
    Sonnet 23: Gabra Zackman, "As an unperfect actor on a stage ..."
    Sonnet 31: Sean Scrutchins and Devon James: "Thou art the grave where buried love doth live ..."
    Sonnet 36: Rachel Fowler, "I may not evermore acknowledge thee ..."
    Sonnet 44: John Carroll Lynch, "Thought kills me that I am not thought ..."
    Sonnet 47: Adrian Egolf, "Thyself away are present still with me ..."
    Sonnet 73: Jim Hunt: "Love that well which thou must leave ere long ..."
    Sonnet 74: Lowry Elementary School: "Thou hast but lost the dregs of life ..."
    Sonnet 90: Adam Stone: "If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last ..."
    Sonnet 94: James O'Hagan-Murphy: Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds ..."
    Sonnet 124: Cast of Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'The Tempest'
    Sonnet 131: Josh Nelson, "In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds ..."
    Sonnet 136: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer, "Make but my name thy love ..."
    Sonnet 144: Cailin Doran, "Two loves I have, of comfort and despair ..."

    A new short sonnet film is posted every Monday. For more information on The Denver Sonnets Project, and how to sign up, please email culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

    Please consider supporting the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org
  • Denver Center celebrates Molly Brown's 147th birthday

    by John Moore | Jul 19, 2014

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    Maggie Brown herself, left, showed up last night at her 147th birthday party on Friday at the Molly Brown House Museum in Capital Hill. She was joined by another force of nature, Denver Center trustee Judi Wolf, right, and about 100 other guests.

    The Denver Center Theatre Company will present The Unsinkable Molly Brown” with new songs and a refreshed book, opening Sept. 12 and running through Oct. 26 at the Stage Theatre.

    "The vision of the Theatre Company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts is about reflecting the stories and the issues of the day, not only in our local community of Denver, but also Colorado, the Rocky Mountains and nationally," Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson told the gathering. "The Unsinkable Molly Brown has a deep Colorado connection, but this is also one of the iconic women in American history." 

    Photo by John Moore. Ticket info: 303-893-4100 or click here.

    Previous Molly Brown coverage on MyDenverCenter.Org:

     

     

  • Photos: 'Once' opening night in Denver

    by John Moore | May 07, 2014

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    'Once' stars Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal, who play Guy and Girl, meet 102-year-old Denver Center founder Donald R. Seawell, who was the first to bring the Royal Shakespeare Company to America in 1962, at Tuesday's opening performance in Denver. Photo by John Moore. 

    The Tony Award-winning best musical once tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together. Once opened in Denver on Tuesday, May, 6 and plays through May 18 in the Buell Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Photos by John Moore.

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    Opening night was a homecoming for 'once' Associate Company Manager Aaron Quintana (center), who worked at the Denver Center for several years and performed in many shows in the Denver area. After the opening performance, the cast posed with Aaron. More Aaron photos below. 

     

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    The scene outside the Buell Theatre on Opening Night.

     

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  • 'Animal Crackers' and the art of costume quackery

    by John Moore | Apr 19, 2014

    In this expanded podcast, we use photos, video and interviews to show how designer Kevin Copenhaver and the entire Denver Center costume team has transformed actor Christine Rowan into a socialite, a flapper ... and a boat on heels for the Denver Center Theatre Company's production of the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers. This is a rare and extended look into the fine art of costuming at the Denver Center, which built more than 30 "Animal Crackers" costumes ... from scratch. Video by John Moore. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen (on stage) and John Moore Off stage).

    Animal Crackers is performed every day but Monday through May 11. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org

    Please share this video with your friends. And visit www.MyDenverCenter.Org daily for more Denver Center coverage.

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    The foam core that is the basis for Christine Rowan's Madame DuBarry costume designed by Kevin Copenhaver. Photo by John Moore.

     

  • 'Animal Crackers' opening offers blast from Colorado's theatre past

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2014

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    By John Moore

    You won't believe the gem of a photo Colorado Rockies historian Paul T. Parker shared with us at Thursday's opening-night performance of Animal Crackers. The photo you see above shows the cast of the equally famous Groucho Marx film The Cocoanuts in 1927 as they gathered outside the Broadway Theatre ... in Denver. Yes, in Denver, at 17th and Broadway.

    The Broadway (New York) stage production of The Cocoanuts opened in 1925, and the film -- like Animal Crackers, a filmed performances of the stage production -- was released in 1928.

    In 1927 (one year before Animal Crackers opened as a stage play in New York, the cast of Animal Crackers visited Denver for performances here, at the Broadway Theatre. So they agreed to a cast photo.

    And here's where the good gets even better:

    If you look closely at the front row, you'll notice a couple of things. There's Groucho next to the empty chair, before he grew his famous mustache (or between mustache periods).

    Why, you may ask, is that prime chair space in front left empty? For the answer, you have to be able to read the typeset caption that goes with the photo. It says:

    The entire cast of "The Cocoanuts" turned out for this photograph including Al Shean, who wasn't involved with the show. The empty chair was for Chico, "who was too busy (copulating) or playing pool."

    (Only the caption does not really say "copulating." ... Al Shean, by the way, was the Marx Brothers' uncle.)

    Thanks, Paul Parker, for the photo .. and the laugh.

    For more on the Broadway Theatre in Denver, check out this excerpt from From the web site CinemaTreasures.Com:

    One of Denver’s most respected theaters was the Broadway Theater, part of the nine-story Metropole Hotel, which was built on the block originally owned by Henry C. Brown, builder of the adjacent Brown Palace Hotel. Brown built his fashionable residence on the block, which he later sold to silver king Horace Tabor and his wife, Augusta. The house became the Commercial Club after Augusta’s death in 1895, and was demolished in 1903 to make way for new commercial structures.

    The brilliant opening night, August 19, 1890, saw many of the city’s most prominent citizens, occupying the hundreds of seats and the 25 boxes, which were onion-domed and partially enclosed with intricate metal grillwork. The main curtain was painted with an East Indian scene, and the overall decoration of the interior space was so exotic as to raise more than a few eyebrows among the well-traveled patrons. The stage was forty feet in depth and seventy five feet high. Behind the stage were three lofts, a scenery dock and even a portable porcelain bathtub, used for the star’s dressing rooms. The theater played host to everything from grand opera to musicals and high drama, lectures, concerts, vaudeville, benefits and school pageants.

    Leasing of the Broadway Theater to the newly formed Metropolitan Amusement Corporation took place in 1932, with plans to remodel the theater space for motion pictures and expanded stage shows. The theater was closed in 1935 for extensive remodeling, and was reopened as a movie theater that same year. After a few years as a first run movie house, both the theater and hotel were acquired by Trader Vic’s, and were again updated. Trader Vic’s, one of the city’s popular taverns, occupied a space that housed the long corridor lobby of the Broadway Theater.

    The Broadway Theater, Metropole Hotel and other structures were razed in 1956 to make way for the much-touted Mile High Center, a high-rise office building designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, at 1700 Broadway, and for the Wells Fargo branch building, at 1740 Broadway.

    Animal Crackers plays at the Denver Center through May 11 in the Stage Theatre. Cal 303-893-4100 or go to the Denver Center's web page.

     

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  • Bianca Marroquin talks to her 'Chicago' fans in English and Spanish from Denver

    by John Moore | Mar 19, 2014

    Bianca Marroquin, star of the national touring production of "Chicago," addresses her fans in both Spanish and English for her web page this morning (March 19), just before meeting students from Denver's La Academia. That's a private, inner-city school committed to providing the highest level of education to 7th-12th graders who have been under-served by the schools they have previously attended, and to provide a safe and structured learning environment for students of all ethnicities, economic backgrounds and sexual orientations. Check back tomorrow for footage of her talk with students. "Chicago" plays through Sunday, March 23. Call 303-893-4100 or go to the Denver Center's web page.

  • Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee to jam with 'Million Dollar Quartet' cast

    by John Moore | Feb 22, 2014

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    Mary Louise Lee returns to the Denver Center on Tuesday night to sing with the cast of "Million Dollar Quartet."

    Mary Louise Lee regularly blew Denver Center audiences away 20 years ago. Tomorrow night, she will return to her professional roots when she joins the cast of Million Dollar Quartet onstage for a special encore jam session.

    The national touring production of the Broadway musical opens in Denver on Tuesday (Feb. 25). Afterward, Lee will join the cast on The Buell Theatre stage as part of a regular series of Million Dollar Quartet jam sessions.[[MORE]]

    Following select performances (usually only in New York and Chicago), a guest musician is invited to join the cast for an encore jam session. Previous invited guests have included Jerry Lee Lewis, Melissa Etheridge, Lee Rocker and Darlene Love, among others. The 1950s-style song is always chosen by the guest, and the entire cast joins in, hootenany style. This will be the only “Sittin’ in with the Band” session during the Denver engagement, which runs through March 9. The song Lee has chosen to perform will remain a surprise until she sings it.

    Lee has been a staple throughout Denver’s music and performing-arts landscape since long before husband Michael Hancock was elected mayor. Her lengthy theater resume includes work at the Denver Center, Arvada Center, Country Dinner Playhouse and theaters around the country. And her own top-40 blues band has been knocking out covers like "Chain of Fools" from military bases worldwide to the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

    Lee has been working professionally since she was hired to perform at the Denver Center while still a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School. In 1988, at just 18 years old, Lee auditioned for the popular 1960s musical revue Beehive, staged at what is now the Garner-Galleria Theatre. Lee was hired to understudy three meaty roles that Lee would go on to perform all over the country for much of the next eight years.

    At Hancock's mayoral victory party, Lee serenaded him with the song "If You Believe" from the Broadway musical The Wiz. Lee then ended a self-imposed five-year theater hiatus to perform the role of Glinda the Good Witch in that same show for the Afterthought Theater Company in Aurora.

    But most important to Lee were the 15 years she's worked at helping kids who made bad choices get back on track, including a five-year stint working in the city's youth-diversion office. Lee often arranged for first-time juvenile offenders to visit the Denver County Jail. Her focus as first lady remains getting music and theater back into the public schools. 

    In her new role, Lee  furthers her passion for the arts through her Bringing Back the Arts Foundation. From students to senior citizens, Lee is a committed ambassador for the arts whose mission is to expose and expand access to Denver’s vibrant arts and cultural community.

    On Thursday, Lee will host a "Bringing Back the Arts" fundraiser to benefit her foundation from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Helikon Gallery & Studios at 3675 Wynkoop St., in Denver. Guests will include her husband; former First Lady Wilma Webb; Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt; Denver Center chairman Daniel L. Ritchie and Denver Center Education Director Tam Frye.

    Million Dollar Quartet is the Broadway musical that tells the true story of the one and only recording session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. It features timeless hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Ring of Fire,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “See Ya Later, Alligator,” “Fever,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more.

    Portraying these icons (and slated to join Lee onstage), are John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis, Lee Ferris as Carl Perkins, Scott Moreau as Johnny Cash and Cody Ray Slaughter as Elvis Presley.

     Single tickets for Million Dollar Quartet start at $20. To charge by phone, call 303-893-4100 or go to the Denver Center's web site. For more information on the show, visit: MillionDollarQuartetLive.com

     

    Video:Video:  Let's all play "Million Dollar QuarTrivia"!

     

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    "Million Dollar Quartet" revisits the night some of music's greats met for a recording session. Photo by Paul Natkin.

     

    Heidi Bosk contributed to this report.

  • Video: 'Jackie & Me' cast field trip to batting cages, Coors Field

    by John Moore | Nov 07, 2013

    The cast of the Denver Center's upcoming baseball play 'Jackie & Me' took a field trip to the Slammers batting cages in Lakewood before getting a personal tour of Coors Field, hone of the Colorado Rockies. 'Jackie & Me,'  the family friendly story of a boy who goes back in time to meet Jackie Robinson, plays Nov. 15-Dec. 22 in the Space Theatre,. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore.

    To see photos from the cast outing, click here.

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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.