• 2017 True West Award: Maegan Burnell

    by John Moore | Dec 14, 2017
    2017 True West Award Meagan Burnell Arvada Center

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 14: Maegan Burnell

    Arvada Center Stage Manager

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Maegan Burnell moved to Colorado to become a stage manager and fell in love with a stage manager and is soon moving to Chicago so they can both be stage managers together.

    We're talking a two-logistician family.

    “If those two ever have a kid,” Director Robert Michael Sanders said of Burnell and Jonathan D. Allsup, “he’ll be born with head-sets on and holding a spreadsheet.”  

    Today’s True West Award is a parting shot. Because Burnell is moving true east. And the Arvada Center’s Lynne Collins, for one, is “desperately sad we are losing her."

    Stage managers are the chief practitioners of what are often called the invisible arts. They are highly organized, detail-oriented, no-nonsense train conductors who are inordinately calm in the midst of chaos. And if they are doing their jobs well — you in the audience will never know they even exist.  

    “Stage managers are the unsung heroes of what we do,” said Collins, who was hired as the Arvada Center’s Artistic Director of Plays in 2016 to create a company of recurring actors to perform a four-play repertory season. It was Collins’ job to run that operation. It was Burnell’s job to help build that operation from scratch.

    “The logistics of stage-managing a repertory company are enormous,” Collins said. “In our case, it means you are running three productions at the same time. It means managing overlapping actor calendars. It means keeping track of hours and rehearsal spaces."

    A stage manager’s job description can vary from theatre to theatre and show to show. Typically, they provide practical and organizational support to the director, actors, designers, stage crew and technicians throughout the production process. And after the opening performance, when it’s time for the director to move on, the stage manager becomes the law by running the show and standing in for the director in all matters.

    And Burnell, Collins said, “is phenomenal at all of that. She is calm and cool and collected and organized and compassionate and utterly without drama.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Burnell was a grad student when she was hired in 2012 as an assistant stage manager by the acclaimed Creede Repertory Theatre, which presents up to seven productions each summer in the San Juan Mountains about 250 miles southwest of Denver. Her boss was Allsup, who is now the cause of all the distress running throughout the Colorado theatre community because he’s the one she will be starting a life with in Chicago after the Arvada Center’s second rep season ends in May with All My Sons.

    Burnell, originally from Waterford, Mich., graduated from Central Michigan University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City's graduate program before answering the call from Creede. She was lured to Denver in 2014 to become the permanent Stage Manager (losing the “Assistant” from her title forever) of the Arvada Center’s highly accomplished children’s theatre program, starting with Billie McBride’s Lyle the Crocodile.

    In the short three years since, she has helmed mainstage productions at the Aurora Fox, Cherry Creek Theatre Company, The Avenue Theater, Slingshot Theatre and Vintage Theatre, working for an impressive roster of top-notch directors including Sanders, Christy Montour-Larson, Edith Weiss, Bev Newcomb-Madden, Warren Sherrill, Jim Hunt, Piper Lindsay-Arpan, Gavin Mayer, Pat Payne and DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous.

    Notable credits include Porgy & Bess at the Aurora Fox and Tartuffe, which launched the Arvada Center’s rep company in 2016. And it can’t be underestimated, Allsup said, what it took to start that operation from nothing. Her impressive list of 2017 credits has included Bus Stop, The Drowning Girls and The Foreigner. Coming up, before she bolts: Sense and Sensibility and All My Sons.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Maegan Burnell Quote Robert Michael Sanders Miscast True West Awards


    But Allsup says what gives Burnell the most joy has been running the Arvada Center’s annual “teen intensive” — that’s a fully staged Broadway production for students, most recently no less than Les Misérables. That and volunteering to run big benefit events such as Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards and the Denver Actors Fund’s annual Miscast cabaret at the Town Hall Arts Center.

    “I love seeing the pure joy that she feels when she is working with students who are eager to learn,” Allsup said. “And I think she especially loves mentoring young theatre technicians at the Arvada Center more than anything.”

    Jonathan Allsup Maegan Burnell True West AwardsAs one of the state’s few gainfully employed, full-time stage managers, Burnell really has no free time for charity. But she makes time, Sanders said, because since the minute she landed in Creede, the Colorado theatre family has become her family. That was obvious enough last week when more than 700 packed the Arvada Center to celebrate the life of actor Daniel Langhoff. “You just don’t always see that in other cities,” Allsup said.  

    Allsup thinks Burnell can do just about anything, but he said the most difficult challenge she has ever taken on will simply be leaving the theatre community that has in short order gone from embracing her to utterly depending on her. “Colorado will always be the state that gave her the start of her career,” said Allsup, who was hired as the new Production Manager at Chicago’s Paramount Theatre seven months ago.

    “Maegan stepped into this community and she made a difference everywhere she went,” added Sanders. “She made a lot of places better while she was here.”

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

    Stage Manager Maegan Burnell 2017: 

    • Drowning Girls, Arvada Center
    • Bus Stop, Arvada Center
    • Les Misérables Teen Intensive, Arvada Center
    • The Foreigner, Arvada Center
    • Henry Awards, Colorado Theatre Guild
    • Miscast 2017, Denver Actors Fund

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards (to date)

  • 2017 True West Award: Kenny Moten

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

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 7: Kenny Moten

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

    Motones vs. Jerseys: At a glance

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


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS: '30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS'

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards (to date)

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

  • December theatre listings: Broadway abounds in Denver

    by John Moore | Dec 01, 2017
    Mannheim Steamroller. Matt Christine Photography

    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of upcoming theatre openings, spotlighting work being presented on stages statewide. Companies are encouraged to submit listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.


    December is ... well, Christmastime for Broadway fans, who have five touring titles to choose from this month.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    A serious Broadway fan will not have to go to New York to bathe in Broadway this month. Denver audiences have the unusual opportunity to see five national touring productions at the Buell Theatre over the next 32 days. Seriously. There's Chicago (through Sunday), Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, ELF The Musical, Waitress and, opening Jan. 2: Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King & I. Just pop a tent under the arches.

    Arvada Center Joseph Sarah Rex M Gale PhotographyElsewhere, there is as always a plethora of holiday-themed fare to choose from, ranging from annual offerings such as the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble's Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum and the DCPA Theatre Company's 25th staging of A Christmas Carol, to more subversive titles such as The Avenue Theatre's Santa's Big Red Sack and The SantaLand Diaries, an annual partnership between Off-Center and the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. This year also marks the return of the Arvada Center's once seasonal tradition, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

    There's also a surprising number of, you know ... plays on area stages. Here are five intriguing titles, followed by a complete list of all your Colorado theatregoing options for December:

    Five intriguing titles for December:

    NUMBER 1Colorado Gives Day is the most important day of the year for hundreds of Colorado non-profits, especially those in the arts. And the clever kids as Buntport Theater are turning "giving day" into a "show day" on Tuedsay (Dec. 5) by staging a reading of one of its early favorites: Donner: A Documentary. That's a 2001 "live documentary" about the reindeer (not the, ahem ... party). Freshly baked cookies will be available as well as, no doubt, electronic gizmos for easy internet giving. Tickets $25 at buntport.com. It's an early start time of 7 p.m. because there is a pizza party after at the Pizzeria Locale on Broadway and Sixth Avenue. The pizzeria will donate 50 percent of your purchase to anyone who mentions Buntport that day. 

    NUMBER 2 Jason Spina Phil Luna Red RDG PHOTOGRAPHYMotones vs. Jerseys. BDT Stage no doubt will be packing them in this month with the timeless family friendly musical Annie. But you know what? That adorable little red-headed munchkin is not, in fact, for everyone. So BDT is smartly also offering the "now for something completely different" audience participation 1960s pop music battle Motones vs. Jerseys on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights starting Dec. 10. It's an evening of song and dance from the Motown and Four Seasons songbooks, along with Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Beach Boys, Rick James and even Bruno Mars. At the end of each  night, the audience will vote on a winner. 5501 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    NUMBER 3Smokefall. Last month we told you The Edge Theatre is going on hiatus after  Josh Hartwell's world premiere comedy Resolutions (Dec. 1-31) in Lakewood. The new Benchmark Theatre, which will takes over The Edge's performance space next year, finishes its first season at Buntport with the world premiere of Noah Haidle’s Smokefall. It's an unusual family drama that combines everything from vaudeville to magical realism. So get ready for fetuses swapping philosophy, a daughter who eats dirt and an apple tree that grows through the walls of the house. Dec. 1-23 at 717 Lipan St., benchmarktheatre.com.

    NUMBER 4Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum. Cleo Parker Robinson Dance's nomadic, 47-year holiday tradition returns to its original home in Denver’s Historic Five Points for this year's spectacle of dance, live music, spoken word and ornate celebrations of seasonal customs from around the world. The story centers around a Granny whose memories are her gifts to those she loves. Dec. 2-17 at 119 Park Avenue West, 303-295-1759 x13 or go to cleoparkerdance.org.

    NUMBER 5The Gnome in the Room. This is not your traditional Christmas fare in Colorado Springs, where the Springs Ensemble Theatre wraps up its eighth season with a campy horror story involving decoration, death, divorce, relatives, mythological beings who can't keep their noses out of other people's business — and a Nintendo Entertainment System, Written by locals Jenny Maloney and Jessica Weaver, The Gnome in the Room follows a 10-year-old whose family has decided they will not celebrate Christmas this year, leaving the boy stuck in a cabin with no hope of getting what he wants. Enter the Weirdo and the Gnome. Dec. 7-17 at 1903 E. Cache La Poudre St. 7:30 p.m.  Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays. Call 719-357-3080, or go to  springsensembletheatre.org.

    A Christmas Carol 2017. Michael Fitzpatrick and Leslie O'Carroll. Photo by Adams Viscom


    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Dec. 1-31: Edge Theatre Company's Resolutions
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Dec. 1-23: Benchmark Theatre's Smokefall
    At Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St., benchmarktheatre.com

    Dec. 1-16: Funky Little Theatre Company's The Couple Next Door
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    DecemberSantasBigRedSack Dec. 1-24: The Avenue Theater's Santa’s Big Red Sack
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Dec. 1-9: StageDoor Theatre's Cinderella
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Dec. 1-30: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Scrooge, Bah Humbug!
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    Dec. 1-23: OpenStage's Christmas Chaos: Ralphie Gets Scrooged
    At ArtLab, 239 Linden St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or www.openstagetheatre.org

    Dec. 2-17: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre’s Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum
    119 Park Avenue West, cleoparkerdance.org or 303-295-1759 x13

    Dec. 7-24: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Every Christmas Story Ever Told

    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    A Su Teatro Juan Diego PerfilDec. 7-23: Su Teatro's The Miracle at Tepeyac
    At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org

    Dec. 7, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Annie

    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Dec. 7-17: Lone Tree Arts Center's Home for the Holidays
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000, lone tree’s home page

    Dec. 7-17: Thunder River Theatre Company's Constellations
    67 Promenade, Carbondale, 970-963-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com

    Dec. 7-17: Upstart Crow's Dear Brutus
    At the Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave., Boulder, 303-442-1415 or upstart’s home page

    Dec. 7-23: Millibo Arts Theatre's Fa-La-La

    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org

    EmoryJohnCollinsonBobMorschandCyndiParrinGNOMEINTHEROOMDec. 7-17: Springs Ensemble Theatre’s The Gnome in the Room
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 80909, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Dec. 8-17: Longmont Theatre Company's Harry Connick Jr’s The Happy Elf

    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Dec. 9-10: National touring production of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Dec. 13-17: National touring production of Elf The Musical
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Dec. 19-31: National touring production of Waitress
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Dec. 10, 2017-Jan. 23, 2018: BDT Stage's Motones vs. Jerseys
    (Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays only)
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Dec. 14-29: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s A Rocky Mountain Christmas

    121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Dec. 14-23: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's The Perfect Gift
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.co

    Dec. 17- 23: Evergreen Players’ A Christmas Carol (costumed staged readings)
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    Jan. 2: National touring production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King & I
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Dec. 2: Equinox Theatre Company's Disaster!
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Through Dec. 3: National touring production of Chicago
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through Dec. 9: Curious Theatre's Body of an American
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org  READ MORE

    BEAU JESTThrough Dec. 10: Cherry Creek Theatre's Beau Jest
    At the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver, 303-800-6578 or cherry creek theatre’s home page

    Through Dec.17: Bas Bleu Theatre's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Through Dec. 17: Vintage Theatre Productions' Honeymoon In Vegas

    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Dec. 17: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Murder for Two
    Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Through Dec. 17: Anansi: The Itsy BiTSY Spider Stories
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    Through Dec. 23: Arvada Center's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org





    Through Dec. 23: Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie (see video above)
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org READ MORE

    Through Dec. 23: TheatreWorks' The SantaLand Diaries
    At the Bon Vivant Theatre, 3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Through Dec. 23: Miners Alley Playhouse's A Christmas Carol
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Through Dec. 23: Miners Alley Playhouse's The Story of the Nutcracker (children’s)
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Through Dec. 23: Firehouse Theater Company’s The Miracle Worker
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com 

    Through Dec. 24: DCPA Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Santaland Diaries Michael BouchardThrough Dec. 24: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and DCPA Off-Center's The SantaLand Diaries
    Jones Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through Dec. 29: Arvada Center's A Year With Frog and Toad (children’s) 
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through Dec. 30: Town Hall Arts Center's Seussical
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.com

    Through Dec. 30: Thin Air Theatre Company's Angel of the Christmas Mine
    Butte Theatre, 139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-3247 or thinairtheatre.com

    Dec. 30-31: Vintage Theatre's I’ll Eat You Last: A Conversation with Sue Mengers
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Dec. 31: Midtown Arts Center's A Christmas Story
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through Dec. 31: Avenue Theater's Comedy Sportz (late nights in December)
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com READ MORE

    A Josh Hartwell Jason Maxwell. Photo by Sarah Roshan 400Through Jan. 14, 2018: Vintage Theatre Productions' Red
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Feb. 14, 2018: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Feb. 24, 2018: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through April 22, 2018: DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through May 2018: Buntport Theater's Siren Song (ongoing children's series, second Saturdays of every month)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    AURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

    • Dec. 31: Central City Opera’s Winter Song, a mix of favorite tunes from jazz standards to light opera, performed by crossover classical theatre artists Jennifer DeDominici, Chad Reagan, Amanda Raddatz and Deborah Schmit-Lobis. Includes a champagne and dessert reception.

    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org

    BUNTPORT THEATRE


    DENVER ACTORS FUND
    • A RyanChrysRoughCuts 400Monday, Dec. 11: Screening of the film Elf, starring Will Ferrell, with live pre-screening entertainment from The Longmont Theatre Company's Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7.
    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com

    • Tuesday, Dec. 19: The Nightly Met Christmas Special at the D.L. Parsons Theatre in Northglenn, hosted by  Avery Anderson and Annie Dwyer, featuring Anna High, and Ryan Chrys and Rough Cuts. Tickets $8-$10. All proceeds to the Denver Actors Fund.  BUY TICKETS
    EQUINOX THEATRE COMPANY
    Sunday, Dec. 10: Equinox: The Season is Slaying (A drag benefit show)
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page
       
    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY
    • Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org 

    STORIES ON STAGE
    • Saturday, Dec. 16: Making Merry (at Dairy Arts Center, Boulder)

    • Sunday, Dec. 17: Making Merry (at the King Center, 855 Lawrence Way, Auraria campus)

    303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month, Jamie Horton reads from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, GerRee Hinshaw reads Crimble Wocky by Graham Potter (a Lewis Carroll-inspired variation on The Night Before Christmas), Anthony Adu reads from "The Goldfish” by Simon Van Booy. Music provided by award-winning composer/pianist Gary Grundei.

  • Local theatres respond to actor's death with challenges, collections, dedications

    by John Moore | Nov 16, 2017
    Daniel Langhoff Ragtime. Performance Now
    Daniel Langhoff recently starred as Tateh in Performance Now's 'Ragtime,' above. The company has unanimously voted to donate 2 percent of all net profits from every show in the 2017-18 season to the Denver Actors Fund in Langhoff's name.


    Performance Now issues an extraordinary challenge as others announce creative ways to support Langhoff family

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    This week's death of beloved local actor Daniel Langhoff has galvanized the Colorado theatre community and beyond, with targeted donations to Langhoff's wife and two infant daughters through the Denver Actors Fund already reaching $23,578 in four days. READ MORE HERE

    Daniel Langhoff NaomiPerhaps most immediate and most remarkable: Performance Now Theatre Company has not only made a substantial donation of $1,000 to the Langhoff family, the company's Board of Directors on Monday unanimously agreed to donate 2 percent of all net profits from every show in the 2017-18 season to the Denver Actors Fund to be used at its discretion.

    "We challenge all Denver-area theatre companies to do the same," Performance Now Executive Producer Ken Goodwin and Artistic Director Alisa Metcalf said in a joint statement. "Imagine how much more the DAF could help others if the companies themselves got involved and the DAF would not have to rely as heavily on individual donations."

    (Pictured above and right: Daniel Langhoff with second daughter Naomi, who was born Nov. 2, just 10 days before he died from cancer.)

    Performance Now even made the initiative retroactive, sending a separate contribution of $386 for its recent production of The Marvelous Wonderettes. Coming up next: Into the Woods opening Jan. 5 at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

    Langhoff has been a major player with Performance Now, having recently starred in both Ragtime and Man of La Mancha at the Lakewood Cultural Center. The challenge is all the more remarkable given that when Performance Now lost longtime Artistic Director Nancy Goodwin (Ken's wife) to breast cancer in 2007, it established a scholarship fund in her name to aid and reward young college students who are working toward a degree in the performing arts.

    "All performing-arts nonprofits face extraordinary funding challenges as a matter of course," said Denver Actors Fund President Will Barnette. "When nonprofits with already stretched resources still find a way to support other nonprofits, that is kind of remarkable, when you think of it." 

    Donate to the Denver Actors Fund's Langhoff collection

    Daniel


    Barnette added that The Denver Actors Fund does have a modest, ongoing giving campaign in collaboration with area companies called the Tap Shoe Initiative, in which participating companies choose one night per run of a show to collect spare change for the DAF. To date, the initiative has raised about $20,000. Companies interested in participating are encouraged to email Debbie Weinstein Minter at sk8bug77@yahoo.com.

    Elsewhere, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced that it is dedicating the opening performance and the entire run of First Date, opening Friday, as well as the entire run of A Christmas Carol, to Langhoff.

    Langhoff made his Denver Center debut in 2010 in the musical comedy Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre, followed by a stint in a revival of the longest-running musical in Denver history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. He also performed in the DCPA Theatre Company’s seasonal stagings of A Christmas Carol in 2014 and 2015.

    “Daniel was a brilliant actor and comedian who loved to laugh almost as much as he loved to hear others laugh," said First Date director Ray Roderick.

    Through curtain speeches, information in the show programs and DCPA NewsCenter, the DCPA will be directing audiences to make targeted donations to the Langhoff family.

    Immediate efforts to add to the Langhoff fund:

    Many other individuals and theatre companies have responded with creative entrepreneurial efforts to add to the total over the coming days and months. Here is a roundup:

    • A November Denver Dolls 400The Aurora Fox's new monthly cabaret series this weekend (Nov. 17-18) features The Denver Dolls presenting their USO/Andrews Sisters tribute, performed in the style of The Manhattan Transfer. The Dolls, presented by YearRound Sound, are led by frequent DCPA performer and Langhoff castmate Heather Lacy, who will lead a collection as audiences leave the studio theatre at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora. 303-739-1970 or BUY TICKETS
    • BDT Stage opens its new production of Annie this weekend and will make an audience appeal for donations to the Langhoff fund at performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 17-19). 5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com
    • Local actor, choreographer and certified fitness instructor Adrianne Hampton is holding a benefit "Broadway Boot Camp" at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19, with all proceeds and donations going to Langhoff's family. What is a Broadway Boot Camp? Well, it's a workout, with showtunes. "It’s a place where theaA Daniel Langhoff Vintage. Honemoon in Vegas RDG Photographytre people can come to hone their skills and support each other," Hampton said. "Just come, bring your dancing shoes and have fun dancing. If you don't want to be part of the class, you can come and watch or just come and make a donation." $15. Littleton Ballet Academy 1169 W. Littleton Blvd.
    • Vintage Theatre has announced that all proceeds from the industry-night performance of its new musical Honeymoon in Vegas on Monday, Nov. 27, will go to Langhoff's family, including, remarkably, box office. The DAF's Sue Leiser will lead a collection brigade. All tickets are $15 for this performance only. At 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or BUY TICKETS
    • Daniel Langhoff Community BETCThe Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company will also donate 100 percent of the proceeds from its official opening performance of Every Christmas Story Every Told on Dec. 13 to the DAF's Langhoff Fund. Langhoff was a cast member of this very same show at this time last year. "Daniel Langhoff will be deeply missed by all the artists who had the opportunity to work with him...and there were so many," said BETC Managing Director Rebecca Remaly Weitz. "He touched so many of us with his wit, optimism, persistence, kindness and humor. Our hearts go out to his family." Additional donations will be accepted at the door on Dec. 13. At the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or BUY TICKETS

    Details on a life celebration for Daniel Langhoff are expected to be announced soon.

    Pictures above, from top: The Denver Dolls; James Thompson and the cast of A Daniel Vintage Theatre's Honeymoon in Vegas (RDG Photograph and Daniel Langhoff in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Every Christmas Story Every Told (Michael Ensminger). 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Teen performers raise $13,000 for Denver Actors Fund

    by John Moore | Oct 15, 2017
    13 The Musical
    Photos from the two performances of '13 The Musical' at the Mizel Center on Oct. 8. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Officials estimate young people under 18 have now raised $35,000 for the grassroots nonprofit that serves local artists

    Watch the announcement as it happened on Facebook Live

    What do most kids do when they want to raise money for charity? Set up a lemonade stand, or organize a car wash? A group of 13 young, Denver-based performers who have grown up on professional stages throughout the Denver metro area decided to put on a show for the Denver Actors Fund.

    13 The Musical Denver Actors FundWith help from some of the local theatre community’s biggest names, the teens and their parents self-produced Jason Robert Brown's 13: The Musical, culminating in two performances at the Mizel Art and Culture Center's Wolf Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 8. Their efforts raised $13,188 for the DAF, a grassroots nonprofit that in four years has provided both financial and practical relief to members of the Colorado theatre community in situational medical need.

    That makes 13: The Musical the second-largest fundraising effort in The Denver Actors Fund's four-year history. It also puts the nonprofit over the $250,000 mark in overall funds raised. Of that total, almost $130,000 already has gone back out to individual artists to help with hospital and dental bills, or to pay for medical supplies, chemotherapy treatments, burial expenses and more. In addition, DAF volunteers have logged more than 500 hours of practical service ranging from transportation to snow-shoveling to personal company, meal preparation and delivery, and groceries. 

    Denver Actors Fund Founder and Executive Director John Moore said young people under 18 have now raised more than $35,000 for the DAF through their individual efforts, not even counting their regular participation in larger benefits such as the annual Miscast variety show. 

    13: The Musical was made possible largely because of the parents' investment of time, money and performers. The parents absorbed nearly all production costs as their own personal donations so that all proceeds from ticket sales and other revenue sources would go fully to the DAF.

    (Story continues below the photo.)


    13 The Musical Denver Actors Fund



    "The parents of these kids are a finely oiled machine of theatre moms who tackled the job of producing a full musical production like pros," said Director Robert Michael Sanders, who himself is responsible for raising more than $30,000 for The Denver Actors Fund. "They handled the marketing, ticket sales, rehearsal space, driving, coordinating, costumes, ushers, volunteers, fundraising and accounting head-on, all at great personal sacrifice and expense. That allowed me and my staff to focus on the performance."

    Donate to The Denver Actors Fund

    Erin Katz, mother of actor Hannah Katz, said there was something delightfully symmetrical about the final numbers: 13 performers appearing in 13: The Musical and raising just more than $13,000.            

    "I feel like all of the stars aligned for this project," Katz said. "That number has a magical quality to it." 

    Hannah Katz, a sophomore at Cherry Creek High School, has been raising money for The Denver Actors Fund through both group and self-initiated efforts for more than three years. Katz and castmate Darrow Klein each raised money for the DAF as part of their Bat Mitzvah service projects, among other efforts.

    13 The Musical Denver Actors Fund"We wanted the proceeds from 13 to go to The Denver Actors Fund because the DAF gives back to the people who have helped us become who we are," said Klein. "We have been raised by the people of this theater community, and we want to help them when they need it most. It is a great cause that supports great people."

    Erin Katz said many of the young cast members have been performing in shows all along the Front Range since they were as young as 9. "Many of us parents have this sense that the larger theatre community has helped raise our kids," she said. "They are developing into the young adults they are because of the people in the larger, local theatre community. So, doing something the kids could really own and do themselves and would give back to the community was a really important value for us as parents to teach our kids." 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    13 is an original musical by Brown, who is best known for The Last Five Years and The Bridges of Madison County. Brown heard about the effort and sent the cast his recorded well-wishes before Sunday's two performances. So, too, did a Colorado member of the Broadway cast of Hamilton

    The book is by Dan Elish and Robert Horn. 13 premiered on Broadway in 2008 and is the only Broadway musical ever presented with a cast made up entirely of teenagers. It's a coming-of-age story about a pre-teen boy who is plucked from his life in New York City and plopped into a sleepy Indiana town following his parents' divorce.

    This all comes right on the heels of the return of "The Killer Kids of Miscast," who were given that name after a remarkable performance at last year in which at Miscast, they performed a twisted variation of "The Cell-Block Tango" from Chicago. A video of that performance has been viewed nearly 500,000 times on YouTube and Facebook. 

    This time, six of the 13 cast members  performed a more Denver-centric parody of "Hey Officer Krupke" from West Side Story, in which they comically lament not yet being seriously considered by area directors for adult roles.

    "These are not only our next generation of actors," Sanders said, but a group of young people I believe possess the skills as people to grow up and show the world how to be a better place again."

    13 The Musical Denver Actors Fund
    The cast with parents and other crew members. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Cast
    Actors (moms in parentheses)
    Joshua Cellar (Emily Cellar)
    Conrad Eck (Kristin Eck)
    Macy Friday (Megan Friday)
    Evan Gibley (Michelle Gibley)
    Lorenzo Giovanetti (Carmela Giovanetti)
    Kaden Hinkle (Shannon Gaydos-Hinkle)
    Hannah Katz (Erin Katz)
    Darrow Klein (Jennifer Klein)
    Michelle Lee (Huwon Lee)
    Gabe Legg (Angela Legg)
    Carter Novinger (Jennifer Novinger)
    Rylee Vogel (Kristi Vogel)
    Hannah Meg Weinraub (Michelle Weinraub)

    Creative
    Robert Michael Sanders: Producer and director
    Paul Dwyer: Assistant director
    Anna Smith: Assistant director
    Jayln Courtenay Webb: Music director
    Lauren Hergenreter: Stage manager
    Sydney Eck: Assistant stage manager
    Tom Quinn: Sound
    Jennifer Orf: Lighting
    Stephanie Hess: Choreographer
    Shannan Steele: Choreographer
    Matthew D. Peters: Choreographer
    Jessica Hindsley: Choreographer
    Abigail Kochevar: Choreographer

    Band

    Jason Tyler Vaughn: Guitar
    Heather Holt Hall: Keyboards
    S. Parker Goubert: Bass
    Evan Jones: Drums

    For more information on the Denver Actors Fund and its services, or to donate, go to DenverActorsFund.Org.

    Video bonus: The Killer Kids at Miscast 2017:

    Performing here are Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Rylee Vogel and Hannah Meg Weinraub. Accompanied by Donna Debreceni on keyboards. Choreography by Piper Arpan. Directed by Robert Michael Sanders. Video by John Moore. Song written by the performers and their parents.

  • 'Cancer Warriors' bring powerful inspiration to 'Miscast 2017'

    by John Moore | Oct 01, 2017
    Miscast 2017
    Photos from 'Miscast 2017,' which raised nearly $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund on Sept. 25 at the Town Hall Arts Center. To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are directly downloadable and may be freely used on social media. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Three actors battling cancer help Denver Actors Fund raise almost $7,000 with help from dozens of local theatre artists

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Last year, Miscast 2016 gave birth to the Killer Kids. This year unleashed the Cancer Warriors.

    Miscast, a popular annual community-wide benefit held Sept. 25 at the Town Hall Arts Center, raised $6,842 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief when members of the Colorado theatre community find themselves in situational medical need.

    In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $128,000 in direct aid to help local artists.

    More than 30 local actors performed in roles they would never normally be cast to perform. The event was hosted by Steven J. Burge and Eric Mather, and directed by Robert Michael Sanders, who has produced and presented Miscast in its entirety for four years as his personal contribution to the Denver Actors Fund. Since 2014, Sanders' efforts have now raised $20,011 for the grassroots nonprofit. 

    The most inspiring moment of this and perhaps any other Miscast took place when actors Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles, performed an original variation of the song "Tonight," from West Side Story. The number was put together by Langhoff and his (pregnant) wife, Rebecca Joseph.

    Miscast 2017. Photo by John Moore.

    The evening included the return of "The Killer Kids of Miscast," who were given that name after a remarkable performance at last year in which they performed a twisted variation of "The Cell-Block Tango" from Chicago, accompanied by Donna Debreceni. Most of the kids played a traditional storybook characters such as Little Orphan Annie and Peter Pan. In the year since the performance, a video of that performance has been viewed nearly 500,000 times on YouTube and Facebook. 

    A Miscast. Killer Kids. Photo by John MooreThis time, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel performed a more Denver-centric parody of "Hey Officer Krupke" from West Side Story, in which the same storybook characters sing of getting older and lament not yet being seriously considered for adult roles. (Photo at right by John Moore. Video to come.)

    Those same six kids - and seven others - are also preparing to present a fully stage, self-produced staging of Jason Robert Brown's 13 the Musical, entirely as a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund. Brown also wrote The Last Five Years. Performances are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 8, at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. Information.

    The hosts also engaged audiences in participatory games including Match Game and The Dating Game (with Guest Host Avery Anderson, a college journalist from The Met Report). As guests entered the Town Hall lobby, they were asked if they wanted to be entered into a drawing to play in several on-stage games. Those who did paid $5 - sparing audience members with no desire to leave their seats.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Abner Genece, an actor from the Arvada Center, delivered remarks on behalf of The Denver Actors Fund. In June, Genece was in a life-threatening car accident that resulted in many surgeries and left his 12-year-old son with a broken neck. The Denver Actors Fund has provided more than $6,000 to the Genece family, and volunteers have helped him with groceries and household chores as he recovers.

    Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the nearby Melting Pot restaurant and iN-TEA shop in Littleton, contributed more than $1,000 in prizes for the event. Participating theatre companies included included the Denver Center,  Arvada Center, Aurora Fox, Benchmark Theatre, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre, Cherry Creek Theatre Company, Creede Repertory Theatre, Miners Alley Playhouse, Midtown Arts Center and Performance Now.

    For more information on the Denver Actors Fund and its services, or to donate, go to DenverActorsFund.Org.

    MISCAST 2017:

    Hosts:
    Steven J. Burge
    Eric Mather
    Shannan Steele

    Program:

    • Steven J. Burge, Eric Mather, Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van De Hey, “The Circle of Life,” from The Lion King
    • Jackson Garske, "Waiving Through a Window," from Dear Evan Hansen, as a Starbucks barista
    • Destiny Walsh, “Whatever Happened to My Part,” from Spamalot
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb and Rylee Vogel, "I Know Him So Well,” from Chess, as a (surprise) love song to Denver Actors Fund founder John Moore
    • Jeremy Rill, “Everybody’s Girl,” from Steel Pier
    • Reace Daniel, “Out Tonight,” from Rent
    • Jose David Reynoza and Randy Chalmers competing for the lead role in Funny Girl
    • Hope Grandon, Kenny Moten and Margie Lamb as the three Fionas singing “I Know It’s Today,” from Shrek the Musical
    • Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, singing a variation of “Tonight" from West Side Story as a battle cry against cancer, altered lyrics written by Daniel Langhoff and Rebecca Joseph. Directed and choreographed by Rebecca Joseph.
    • Killer Kids of Miscast: Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel singing a variation of “Hey Officer Krupke,” from West Side Story, about coming of age in the local theatre community. Choreography by Piper Arpan
    • Group finale, “I Will Survive”

    Video: The Cancer Warriors at Miscast 2017:

    Performing here are Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles. Video by John Moore.

  • Colorado's connection to Harry Dean Stanton's final film

    by John Moore | Sep 16, 2017
    Harry Dean Stanton 800Photo from 'Lucky,' starring Harry Dean Stanton, which will be released in Denver on Oct. 20 at the Chez Artiste.

     

    Director John Carroll Lynch allows actor Harry Dean Stanton, who died Friday, to go out fully seen and heard

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Harry Dean Stanton does not go gentle into that good night. Rather, he goes thoughtfully, spiritually and with unflinching honesty, thanks to a triumphant capstone film called Lucky directed by Colorado native John Carroll Lynch.

    Stanton, who died Friday of natural causes at age 91, was nothing if not lucky, said Lynch, who also considers himself among the charmed for having had the opportunity to direct the iconic American actor in his final leading role. Stanton plays an ornery 90-year-atheist who drifts toward terms with his mortality in an off-the-grid desert town. The supporting cast includes Ron Livingston, Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant, James Darren, David Lynch — no relation but yes, that David Lynch — and Ed Begley Jr. "There went a great one," David Lynch wrote in a statement earlier today.

    Harry Dean Stanton 400Lucky is a film, John Carroll Lynch says, that allows the indelibly gaunt character actor whose face “was etched with loneliness,” one critic wrote, to go out fully seen and heard.

    “This is a performance you can only get to when you get there,” Lynch told the DCPA NewsCenter today. “And I think the role successfully encapsulates his particular world view.”

    Stanton’s breakthrough came decades into his film career in Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas. He was also known for Twin Peaks, Pretty in Pink, Repo Man and most recently a high-profile role as a manipulative cult leader in the HBO polygamy drama Big Love.

    This morning, Denver’s Alamo Drafthouse announced it will screen Repo Man in Stanton's honor on Saturday, Sept. 23, and donate a portion of the proceeds to the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief to members of the Colorado theatre community facing situational medical need. Last year, Lynch made an appearance at his hometown Alamo to discuss his role in Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation.

    Lynch, a graduate of Regis Jesuit High School and a former member of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, is himself a veteran actor of more than 100 films and TV shows, most recently The Founder, Jackie and The Architect. He makes his directing debut with Lucky, which was rapturously received at the recent South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The film, written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja, will be showcased on Art House Theatre Day on Sept. 24 on the University of Colorado Boulder campus, and will be released in Denver on Oct. 20 at Landmark’s Chez Artiste movie theatre.

    “How lucky, no pun intended, we have this charming — with an edge — movie that has a terrific and humane performance from Harry Dean Stanton but is also infused with his view of the world, including his atheism,” contributing Denver Post film critic Lisa Kennedy told the NewsCenter today.  “It’s a gift, melancholy and affirming. It was that before news of his passing and even more so now.”

    Stanton’s character is the core of Lucky. He’s described as a lifelong smoker who is shaken by accident into tackling his inevitable death head-on. He searches for enlightenment against the backdrop of the desolate desert town, interacting and learning from those he encounters. Lynch said the character in the film was as much Stanton himself wrestling with his impending fate.

    “When you get older, you know you have fewer days, so you have no time to waste,” Lynch said. “Harry did not waste his days."

    Lynch said Stanton’s performance is no less than “(bleeping) awesome — and it is so vulnerably and humanly him. I hope people give it its due.”

    One of the producers of Lucky is familiar to DCPA Theatre Company audiences: It's actor Jason Delane Lee, who appeared in One Night in Miami and Two Degrees.

    Harry Dean Stanton: In theatres

    • Alamo Drafthouse will screen Repo Man in Stanton's honor at 7:20 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. BUY TICKETS
    • Lucky will be showcased on Art House Theatre Day at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24, in the Muenzinger Auditorium on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. BUY TICKETS
    • Lucky opens in full release Oct. 20 at Denver’s Chez Artiste movie theatre.


    Lucky: The official film trailer

    Video above: The trailer for 'Lucky,' starring Harry Dean Stanton, which will be released in Denver on Oct. 6 at the Chez Artiste.

    Lucky: What RogerEbert.Com had to say:
    "Let’s start at the top of the pile with the fantastic directorial debut of John Carroll Lynch, an actor who always struck me as someone who cared about who he worked with and clearly was paying attention to former collaborators like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and Joel Coen. Lynch knows how to frame a shot and tell a story that actually feels like the recent work of a filmmaker with whom he has yet to work, Jim Jarmusch. There’s a similar, shambling, everyday poetry to Lynch’s Lucky, a beautiful showcase for the 90-year-old Harry Dean Stanton, giving one of the best performances of his remarkable career. With supporting work from other icons as diverse as David Lynch and Tom Skerritt (Alien reunion!), Lucky is a film about both not much at all and, well, pretty much everything." — Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

     

  • Performer lineup for 'Miscast 2017' is announced

    by John Moore | Sep 06, 2017
    Miscast 2016

    Photos from 'Miscast 2016,' which raised more than $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund.  To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and press the forward arrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Many of those appearing are giving back to the local nonprofit that was there for them in their time of need

    Miscast 2017, the fourth annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, returns Sept. 25 to the Town Hall Arts Center with funnymen Eric Mather and Steven J. Burge as this year's hosts, it was announced today.

    Mather is the host of the Clocktower Cabaret's weekly BLUSH: A Burlesque Fantasy, while Burge just played God in the DCPA's extended hit comedy An Act of God and soon will return to the Galleria Theatre in the new relationship musical First Date.

    Miscast 2017 hosts Eric Mather and Steven J. BurgeMiscast is an opportunity for some of the local theatre community’s top performers to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever … get cast to perform on a legitimate stage. The program includes audience-participation games and general silliness.

    Last year's Miscast
    raised $7,067 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief for members of the Colorado theatre community facing situational medical need. In just four years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $120,000 in direct aid to help local artists, along with neighborly assistance from a group of 60 volunteers.

    One of the more than 70 artists who have been helped by The Denver Actors Fund is Mather, who received financial and other volunteer support when his son was born last year at just 1 pound, 9 ounces.

    "We are thankful to the Denver Actors Fund and the local theatre community for helping us in our time of financial need," Mather said. "It really does take a village.”

    Actors from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs submitted proposed songs along with their  "Miscast concepts" for judges to consider, and once again, Miscast Director Robert Michael Sanders said he received far more submissions than he had performance slots.

    "This year's turnout was completely overwhelming," said Sanders. All applications were considered by a special selection committee based on variety and cleverness, among other factors. A premium, Sanders said, is placed on submissions that extend beyond simple race- or gender-swapping.

    "We made the choices we think best suit this year's show," said Sanders, who called the resulting list "the best cross-section of talent from many different theaters, types and styles of performances."

    2017 Miscast


    Sanders has announced the following lineup of actors who will either perform or appear at this year's Miscast. But he's keeping their planned songs secret until their performances. The list includes Hope Grandon, PR and Events Manager for the DCPA Theatre Company (and former Chicago performer). Several of those listed have received prior assistance from The Denver Actors Fund, most recently Norrell Moore of the Arvada Center's upcoming A Chorus Line. Moore was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 and has received $3,900 from The Denver Actors Fund to help her through it. The full list (in alphabetical order) is subject to change:

    • Jona Alonzo
    • Avery Anderson
    • Miscast 2016. Photo by John Moore. Randy Chalmers
    • Reace Daniel
    • Jackson Garske
    • Abner Genece
    • Hope Grandon
    • Nick Johnson
    • Margie Lamb
    • Daniel Langhoff
    • Norrell Moore
    • Kenny Moten
    • Jose David Reynoza
    • Jeremy Rill
    • Andrew Uhlenhopp
    • Destiny Walsh
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb

    And featuring the return of the Killer Kids of Miscast:

    • Kaden Hinkle
    • Hannah Katz
    • Darrow Klein
    • Evan Gibley
    • Rylee Vogel
    • Hannah Meg Weinraub

    Creative team:

    • Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    • Musical Director: Donna Debreceni
    • Stage Manager: Maegan Burnell
    • Assistant to the Director: Jessica Swanson

    (Pictured above right: Anna High, Suzanne Connors Nepi, Tim Howard and Barret Harper in 'Miscast 2016.')

    This year's event will include several special performance twists, such as a series of games a la Jimmy Fallon and other late night TV hosts. Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the Denver Center, are contributing more than $1,000 in prizes for the event.

    Miscast 2017: Ticket information

    • Monday, Sept. 25
    • Doors open at 6 p.m.; show starts at 7 p.m.
    • At the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, CO, 80120
    • $20 (plus fees if ordered online)
    • Call 303-794-2787 or order online at townhallartscenter.org
    • Cash bar available

    Learn more about DAF at www.denveractorsfund.org. Follow DAF at Denver Actors Fund on Facebook or on Twitter at @DenverActorsFun.


    Video: The Killer Kids of Miscast 2016

    Watch the video that has been viewed nearly half a million times on social media since last September's 'Miscast 2016.' The so-called 'Killer Kids of Miscast' will be back this year with a new number. The 2016 lineup was Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • After 16 years, meet Dixie's maker: Kris Andersson

    by John Moore | Aug 02, 2017

    Kris Andersson. Photo by John Moore or the DCPA.
    Playwright Kris Andersson, creator of fast-talking Tupperware saleswoman Dixie Longate, has now sold 170,000 tickets around the world and grossed $6 million in revenue. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    How a playwright turned a Tupperware Party into an enduring and cathartic theatrical franchise

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When Dixie Longate first encouraged an 85-year-old woman named Dolly to shout out the words “F Off,” she blushed. This genteel older lady from Huntsville, Ala., had never said those words out loud in her life, she told Dixie, and she wasn’t about to start now, in front of 300 people.

    But something changed as that evening’s performance of Dixie’s Tupperware Party progressed. Dixie, the creation of playwright Kris Andersson, wasn’t trying to goad this proper lady into saying a dirty word.

    “Dixie was trying to get her to revel in her own strength,” he says. 

    Dixie is a fictional stage character, but a very real Tupperware salesperson. In fact, Dixie has sold $1.5 million of the durable plastic wares over the past 16 years, twice ranking as the nation’s leading Tupperware seller.

    But the party is also a wildly successful play that has drawn capacity crowds in small towns and major cities alike ranging from New York, Los Angeles, Des Moines, Edinburgh, Nashville, Sydney, Fort Worth, and right now Denver, where Dixie’s record sixth engagement at the Garner Galleria Theatre continues through Sunday (Aug. 6).

    Dixie Longate is a hot Hazard County incarnation of Australia’s Dame Edna. Part Mary Poppins and part Oprah Winfrey. She’s a tall drink of water with fiery red hair and a tasteful polyester rodeo dress adorned with half-naked cowboys. As the story goes, Dixie packed up her catalogues, left her three children back in an Alabama trailer park and is now traveling the country gathering all of you lovely ladies and handsome gents together to talk all about your food storage options. And if you’re lucky, she might take you out back behind the dumpster and, you know … do some stuff.

    Dixie’s Tupperware Party, Andersson is first to say, isn’t changing the world. But since 2001, it has changed the lives of countless women who have seen it.

    Women like Dolly in Hunstville, Ala.

    Brownie_WiseIn the show, Dixie draws upon the example of Brownie Wise (pictured at right), a pioneering Georgia divorcee who was largely responsible for the success of Tupperware through her ingenious idea to sell plastic bowls and cups at home parties. In 1954, Wise became the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week magazine – and a role model for generations of women to come.

    “Brownie was told her idea was dumb and that she had no business being in a male-dominated world,” Andersson said. “And do you know what she said? ‘F You.’ ”

    Only she spelled out the F.

    Dixie tells that story in her play, which has now sold 170,000 tickets around the world and grossed $6 million in revenue. Andersson has now surpassed 1,100 performances – “a milestone that any show would be proud to have reached,” he said. Women come in groups to giggle at Dixie’s obliviously sweet style of naughty humor with no idea how unexpectedly cathartic the story can be.

    Dixie to perform standup benefit for Denver Actors Fund on Aug. 6

    “Dixie is not far off from the Brownie Wise model,” Andersson says. “She’s been talked down to by society. She’s been told she’s good for nothing. She has been on the losing end of a lot of moments in her life. Just like a lot of women who come to see our show.”

    The message they hear from Dixie, Andersson says, “is that you are not beholden to anyone else’s idea of who you are supposed to be. You, too, can pick yourself up by the bootstraps and make a better life for yourself. People want Dixie in their lives because she represents a kind of strength they maybe don't have or see in themselves.”

    Later in that Alabama performance of Dixie’s Tupperware Party, that message had become clear. Dixie again approached Dolly and asked if she would like to say the words “F You” out loud.

    Dolly not only said it, loud and proud, she got a raucous standing ovation for it.

    And then Dolly asked with released glee: “Can I say it again?”


    Kris Andersson. Photo by John Moore.
    Photo of Dixie Longate by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    The man behind the C (and Sippy) Cups

    While you can’t miss Dixie in her high heels and big hair, you’d never know Kris Andersson walking past you on the street. Seeing Dixie onstage in no way prepares you to encounter this surprisingly slight and soft-spoken playwright with the short-cropped blonde hair who gets immersed each night in the persona of Dixie.

    But after 16 years, Andersson has decided this is the right time to step out from behind Dixie’s shadow and give the world a small peek at the man behind the woman. Or more accurately, the playwright behind the play.

    He thinks.

    “I do feel a little skittish about that, I will admit,” he said, “because people love to play in the world of Dixie. And that is a great world. I mean, she’s kind of a fun broad. But this show is also a real call to action that if you want a different life or to be a different person, you can do it. And we think now after the success we have had, that maybe now is the perfect time to take that message to a larger platform.”

    So, who is this Kris Andersson? Just an average kid from Pittsburgh, of all places, who got his degree in acting at the University of Southern California. He was a film and TV actor living in L.A. in 2001 when his roommate hosted an actual Tupperware party, only to discover that Tupperware pays better than waiting tables. The idea for Dixie was born out of that party.

    Donna Reed "At first, I created her as this 1950s Donna Reed housewife who pops too many pills,” Andersson said. Dixie started with “a completely horrible, haphazard look.” He compares Dixie’s initial hairstyle to roadkill. 

    “But I refined her over time,” he added with a laugh, eventually deciding that Dixie would get a better response if she were more a contemporary redneck American woman.

    Andersson created Dixie as a kind of performance art – she started hosting real Tupperware parties that were held in people’s homes in Southern California. And when The Orange County Register covered one such party in 2003, interest in Dixie exploded. Soon she was hosting 25 parties a month. Still, there were no plans for the stunt to become anything bigger until a friend suggested he develop his material into a live theatre piece.

    Andersson entered Dixie’s Tupperware Party in the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival on a lark … and got in. Problem was, he had not yet written a word of the play. 

    “I remember getting a thick envelope in the mail a couple of months later, and I was like, ‘Oh, crap. That’s an acceptance letter – and we don’t have a show.”

    But by the time the festival closed, Andersson not only had a show, he had an instant and sustainable hit. Andersson further honed his script over the next three years before finally debuting Dixie’s Tupperware Party off-Broadway in 2007 under the direction of Alex Timbers, who later came into fame for creating Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Peter and the Starcatcher. Andersson reworked the show a bit further with director Patrick Richwood, took the show on the road the next year and hasn’t stopped touring since. 

    The secret to Dixie’s success

    Andersson discovered almost immediately the uncanny resonance his character was having on his audiences. A half hour before any show is to start, Dixie comes out to the theatre lobby and mingles with arriving theatregoers. She also lingers with them for up to an hour after the show because, Andersson said, “people just want more Dixie.” And that is when the connection becomes an unshakeable bond.

    “You don’t have Idina Menzel coming out after Wicked and hanging out with people as the witch,” Andersson said. “There is something unique about this that really connects with the fan base.”

    Audience members, especially women, love to sit down with Dixie and chat with her one-on-one about her ridiculous fictional Alabama trailer-park world and her latch-key children Wynonna, Dwayne and 3-year-old Absorbine Jr. He’s got the shakes, that poor kid – but he smells good. Wynona is 16 and works nights at the local Hooters. The place closes at midnight, but the weird thing, Dixie tells us, is that she’s always getting home at 5 a.m., and her hair’s all screwed up.

    Dixie can fire off an improvised quip about as easily as setting a match to a sparkler. Mothers snicker, but they relate to Dixie’s tall family tales in profound ways. And she always makes a point to ask these women to tell her their stories, too. One thing Andersson quickly picked up on when creating the show is that women – and especially mothers – almost always talk about themselves through the other people in their lives. They identify themselves through their husband’s profession, or their kids’ school activities.

    “They never talk about themselves,” Andersson said. “Their lives don’t seem to be framed through their own eyes. It’s as if their self-worth is being completely determined by the things around them.”

    People tend to trust Dixie with personal information she should really never have. “In the past, people have told her they are very unhappy, or that they are trying to figure out how to get out of a bad marriage situation,” Andersson said. “They turn to Dixie as though she were a therapist. They feel safe with her, and she feels honored and privileged to have their trust. I think they recognize in Dixie this garish, outlandish, strong character, and she’s got something in her that they want to find in themselves. They want to figure out how to be as strong as Dixie.”

    But while the show is ultimately an empowering tale of self-worth, it’s also funny. Often extraordinarily, inappropriately funny.

    At one party, Dixie produced a Barbie kid set complete with four mini-Tupperware cups, plates and a pitcher. Dixie called it her “Mini-Alcoholic Starter Kit,” and an elderly woman immediately bent over and started choking. The show stopped. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, she is having a heart attack,’ and everybody rushed to her side,” he said. Turns out, the woman laughed so hard she coughed her fake teeth out of her mouth and into her hand. “When she recovered herself and saw that she no teeth, she just shoved them back in,” Andersson said.

    The thing that makes Dixie such a refreshingly original character for the American theatre, Andersson says, is that she's no better than you, and she knows it. “She is broken, damaged, and shattered,” he said. “So when she says things that are so ridiculous and inappropriate and she tells people they are stupid to their face, there is no malice in it. That’s what makes it so funny. This is not some weird, subversive off-the-beaten path piece. This is a mainstream piece in a non-mainstream package.”
     

    Kris Andersson. Photo by John Moore.

    Kris Andersson has now performed as Dixie Longate at the Denver Center's Galleria Theatre for more than 40 weeks over six stops. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Dixie does Denver, again and again

    Despite the ongoing success of Dixie’s Tupperware Party across the United States and in five countries, Dixie has made a home in Denver like no other place. Three years ago, the Denver Center commissioned Andersson to write and perform his exhaustively titled sequel,Dixie’s Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull (And 16 Other Things I Learned While I Was Drinking Last Thursday). Combined, Andersson has now played Dixie for more than 40 weeks at the Denver Center’s Garner Galleria Theatre.

    “There are people in Denver who are giddy whenever we come back,” he said. "People leave the show and say, ‘See you next year,’ and that gives me great pride.” There are returning audiences who see Dixie so often, he said, they think she actually lives in Denver.

    “There is a buzz whenever Dixie Longate comes back to the Denver Center,” said DCPA CEO Janice Sinden. “This character and this playwright are part of the DNA of this place, and we are proud to have played our small part in helping to establish Dixie and Kris as the authentic artists they are.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    But now having toured as Dixie nonstop for more than a decade, Andersson is taking stock of the franchise he has built from scratch as a writer, actor and self-producer, as well as the best way to take Dixie into the future. The one thing he knows is that he is in no way done with Dixie.

    A Kris Andersson QUOTE“The opportunity to work with one character and get to know one soul so well is such a unique opportunity that few people ever get,” he said. “So I don’t know when the heels will come off for the last time. I want her to be remembered as this great cougar you want to have sex with and go to the bar with for as long as I can make that happen, hopefully on bigger and bigger platforms. I don't think she has an expiration date yet. I think there are a lot more milestones to reach.”

    One of those milestones, of course, would be television. Andersson could continue to bring Dixie before live audiences that range from a few hundred to several thousand at any given performance. But if Dixie were to land a sit-com platform, several million people could potentially see her in one night. That’s a lot of new lives that could be touched.

    “I feel incredible joy and pride in what I have been able to accomplish personally as a writer, actor and as a producer,” Andersson said. “This show has moved people. It has inspired people to change things in their own lives. That’s why I want to bring it to more people. We have only scratched the surface.”

    TV is a big dream, he admits. But then again, so was Brownie Wise’s. “To me, that is the universal message of our show – that you can still be positive and happy having achieved close to your goal,” he said. “But never lose sight of the big prize – because that prize is what keeps you getting out of that bed in the morning.”


    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 bonus: Dixie's Denver Dialogues


    Dixie's Tupperware Party:
    Ticket information
    Dixie’s Tupperware PartyAt a glance: Dixie Longate, the fast-talking Tupperware Lady, packed up her catalogues, left her children in an Alabama trailer park and took Off-Broadway by storm. Now, join Dixie as she travels the country throwing good ol’ fashioned Tupperware parties filled with outrageously funny tales, heartfelt accounts, giveaways, audience participation and the most fabulous assortment of Tupperware ever sold on a stage.
  • Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts
  • Through Aug. 6
  • At the Garner Galleria Theatre
  • Tickets start at $39
  • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


  • No Instructions: A Denver Actors Fund benefit

    Dixie_No_Instructions_homepage_slider_960x430Dixie Longate is also presenting No Instructions, a one-night-only standup benefit for The Denver Actors Fund, at the Galleria on the evening of Aug. 6. INFO
  • Dixie Longate comedy benefit for Denver Actors Fund on Aug. 6

    by John Moore | Jul 24, 2017

     

    Dixie brings her unique brand of standup comedy to the Denver Center in support of a great local cause.

    Dixie Longate will perform No Instructions, a one-night-only benefit for The Denver Actors Fund, at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, at the Garner Galleria Theatre.

    Like Momma always says, "You can take the girl out of the trailer, but you can't have sex with a stranger if you already know their first name." It's this kind of learning that made Dixie Longate one of Denver's favorite gals. 

    Join Dixie as the famous, fast-talking Tupperware Lady puts the bowls on the shelf and lets down her hair in support of a great cause. She's seen a lot of places, met a lot of people and has a hell of a lot more stories to tell. FroDixiem her first date to the Last Supper, Dixie ain't holding nothing back. The taller the glass of sweet tea, the looser her lips get.

    You don't want to miss Dixie as she brings her unique standup comedy to Denver. No one under 21 admitted.

    The Denver Actors Fund is a grassroots nonprofit that serves as a modest source of financial and situational relief when members of the local theatre community find themselves in medical need. To date, The Denver Actors Fund has distributed almost $110,000 in direct financial assistance and provided about 400 hours of volunteer service to help local artists.

    Dixie Longate: No Instructions
  • Dixie No InstructionsPresented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts
  • 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6
  • At the Garner Galleria Theatre
  • All seats $25
  • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • Video, photos: Denver Actors Fund's 'United in Love' concert

    by John Moore | May 04, 2017
    United in Love: Video highlights

    Video highlights from the 'United in Love' concert featuring, from left, Beth Malone, Annaleigh Ashford, Mara Davi and dozens more. Video edited by John Moore from footage provided courtesy of Eden Lane and Sleeping Dog Media.

     


    Ashford, Malone, Davi help raise $40,000 for nonprofit
    that helps local theatre artists in situational medical need


    Tony Award-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford (You Can't Take it With You) joined fellow Broadway veterans from Colorado Beth Malone (Fun Home) and Mara Davi (Dames at Sea) for United in Love, a sold-out concert event that raised $40,000 for the Denver Actors Fund on April 30 at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

    Denver Actors FundThe three headliners were "back to give back." They were joined by powerhouse singer, actor and First Lady of Denver Mary Louise Lee; Broadway’s Jodie Langel (Les Misérables); composer Denise Gentilini (I Am Alive) and Denver performers Jimmy Bruenger, Eugene Ebner, Becca Fletcher, Clarissa Fugazzotto, Robert Johnson, Daniel Langhoff, Susannah McLeod, Chloe McLeod, Sarah Rex, Jeremy Rill, Kristen Samu, Willow Samu and Thaddeus Valdez.

    Also joining the lineup were the casts of both The Jerseys (Klint Rudolph, Brian Smith, Paul Dwyer and Randy St. Pierre), and the upcoming all-student 13 the Musical (Rylee Vogel, Josh Cellar,  Hannah Meg Weinraub, Hannah Katz, Lorenzo Giovannetti, Maddie Kee, Kaden Hinkle, Darrow Klein, Evan Gibley, Conrad Eck and Macy Friday).

    (Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Annaleigh Ashford, Beth Malone, Mary Louise Lee and Mara Davi.)

    The purpose of the evening was to spread a message of love and hope while raising funds for the Denver Actors Fund, which has made $90,000 available to local theatre artists facing situational medical need. The concert was presented by Ebner-Page Productions.

    (Story continues below the photo gallery)

    United in Love: Complete photo gallery

    Denver Actors Fund United in Love Concert

    Photos by RDG Photography, Gary Duff and John Moore. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos may be downloaded and redistributed with credit.


    One of the most poignant moments of the evening came when actor Daniel Langhoff addressed the crowd, telling the story of his continuing fight against cancer, with assistance from The Denver Actors Fund. Langhoff was first diagnosed weeks after the birth of his first daughter. His recent recurrence coincides with news that his wife will give birth to their second child in the fall. (How you can help Daniel Langhoff.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The emcees were local TV arts journalist Eden Lane (also director of the Aurora Fox's current Priscilla Queen of the Desert), and actor Steven J. Burge, who recently starred in the Denver Center's An Act of God at the Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    The Music Director was Mitch Samu. The band included Tag Worley, Steve Klein, Andy Sexton, Scott Handler and Jeremy Wendelin.


    The photos above were provided by RDG Photography, Gary Duff and DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore, who is also the founder of the Denver Actors Fund. That is a 501c3 nonprofit, and all donations are tax-deductible. For more information, or to apply for aid, go to www.denveractorsfund.org.

    The Presenting Sponsor of United in Love was Delta Dental of Colorado, which matched audience contributions at the end of the evening, turning about $2,200 in donations into more than $4,400. The Gold Sponsor was Kaiser-Permanente. Silver Sponsors were Billings Investments and the Alliance Insurance Group.

  • Tony nominee Beth Malone joins Denver Actors Fund concert lineup

    by John Moore | Apr 16, 2017



    Beth Malone, who starred in the DCPA Theatre Company's reimagining of The Unsinkable Molly Brown and then was nominated for her work in Broadway's Fun Home, has joined the homegrown lineup for United in Love, a special concert event presented by Ebner-Page Productions and benefiting the Denver Actors Fund on Sunday, April 30, at the Lone Tree Arts Center. TICKETS HERE

    "It is important for me to be there with my friends because the Denver Actors Fund is an outreach program that helps people I love," Malone said. "I am connected to almost everybody in the Denver theatre community in a Kevin Bacon sort of way. And if any of those people ever needs anything, I know that the Denver Actors Fund is there for them. So when you get the opportunity to be a part of something so incredible, you have to just be grateful that you are the one who was chosen to be part of it." 

    Malone joins previously announced co-headliners Annaleigh Ashford, Andy Kelso and Mara Davi - all Colorado-born and raised performers who have gone on to Broadway success. Ashford won the Tony Award for her work opposite James Earl Jones in You Can’t Take it with You and is currently receiving rave reviews with Jake Gyllenhaal in a limited Broadway engagement of Sunday in the Park with George. She previously co-starred with Kelso in Kinky Boots. Davi (Dames at Sea, Smash, A Chorus Line) grew up in Highlands Ranch.

    Beth Malone QUOTEThese four powerhouse Broadway performers are coming home to unite with local performers and spread a message of love and hope while raising funds for the Denver Actors Fund, which in three years has made $82,000 available to local theatre artists facing situational medical need. 

    Ashford is a graduate of Wheat Ridge High School and also appeared on Broadway in Sylvia, Hair, Wicked and Legally Blonde. Next she will star as Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream this summer in New York's Central Park. Kelso, a graduate of Eaglecrest High School in Aurora, starred in Kinky Boots after a three-year run in Mamma Mia.

    Click here to choose your April 30 concert seats now

    Malone, Kelso and Ashford all regularly appeared the Country Dinner Playhouse (among many others) on their roads to New York. But Malone has never performed in a show with Ashford. They met when Ashford and her husband approached her outside of a theatre in New York.

    Beth Malone. Photo by John Moore"She walked up to me and said, 'Are you Beth Malone from Denver?'" said Malone, who was star-struck herself. "I was like, 'Yes, girl from Masters of Sex who I am obsessed with. I am Beth Malone from Denver. Why?' I had no idea of our Country Dinner Playhouse connection because she was much younger than me. When I was coming up, I was obsessed with Kristie Welborn. Those years sitting next to Kristie and Maureen McHale and Alann Worley in the dressing room were the best years of my life." 

    Ashford and Malone soon got to know each other during the 2015 Tony Awards season, when they were both nominated for awards and frequently appeared together.   

    Photo above and right: Beth Malone last night at her DCPA concert with Steven J. Burge ('An Act of God') who is co-hosting the April 30 United in Love' concert with Eden Lane.)

    Malone's appearance at the United in Love concert is all the more remarkable because she is also committed to appearing in New York at an all-star tribute to Broadway's original Molly Brown, Tammy Grimes, on the day before the Denver concert. Grimes died in October.

    Malone presented two sold-out concerts yesterday at the Denver Center's Garner-Galleria Theatre. Next she will return to the role she re-created for the DCPA Theatre Company when The Unsinkable Molly Brown plays The Muny from July 21-27 in St. Louis. The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre. After that, Malone said, the goal is Broadway.

    Read our full, new interview with Beth Malone here

    The United in Love concert also will feature longtime performer (and Denver First Lady) Mary Louise Lee, Broadway’s Jodie Langel (Les Misérables) and Denise Gentilini, composer of the Armenia genocide musical I Am Alive.

    Incidentally, Malone's first professional job was understudy to Lee when both performed in Beehive as teenagers at what is now the Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    Additional appearances are scheduled from Denver favorites Jimmy Bruenger, Eugene Ebner, Becca Fletcher, Clarissa Fugazzotto, Robert Johnson, Daniel Langhoff, Susannah McLeod, Chloe McLeod, Sarah Rex, Jeremy Rill, Kristen Samu, Willow Samu, Thaddeus Valdez, and the casts of both The Jerseys (Brian Smith, Paul Dwyer, Klint Rudolph and Randy St. Pierre) and the upcoming 13 the Musical (featuring an all-student cast including Joshua Cellar, Conrad Eck, Macy Friday, Evan Gibley, Lorenzo Giovanetti, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Rylee Vogel and Hannah Meg Weinraub).

    The lineup is subject to change.

    United in Love Lineup

    The emcees of the event will be performer and local TV arts journalist Eden Lane, also the director of the Aurora Fox's upcoming regional premiere of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and actor Steven J. Burge, who just starred in the Denver Center's An Act of God at the Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    The Denver Actors Fund was founded in 2013 by former Denver Post Theatre Critic John Moore and actor/attorney Christopher Boeckx. The Denver Actors Fund offers both financial assistance with medical bills, insurance, co-payments, supplies and more, as well as volunteer assistance ranging from meals to transportation to snow-shoveling. Recently the Denver Actors Fund has helped a young father undergoing chemotherapy, a director who had triple-bypass surgery, and the parents of a child who died with medical and burial expenses. An team of more than 60 volunteers have provided more than 250 hours of service.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Denver Actors Fund is a 501c3 nonprofit, and all donations are tax-deductible. For more information, or to apply for aid, go to denveractorsfund.org.

    The Presenting Sponsor of United in Love is Delta Dental of Colorado. The Gold Sponsor is Kaiser Permanente.  Silver Sponsors are Billings Investments and the Alliance Insurance Group.

     

  • Broadway's Ashford, Kelso and more in Denver benefit concert April 30

    by John Moore | Mar 13, 2017



    Tony Award-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford will reunite with her Kinky Boots co-star (and fellow Colorado native) Andy Kelso for United in Love, a special concert event presented by Ebner-Page Productions and benefiting the Denver Actors Fund on Sunday night, April 30, at the Lone Tree Arts Center. TICKETS HERE

    Joining the headliners will be Mara Davi (Dames at Sea, Smash, A Chorus Line), who grew up in Highlands Ranch. These three powerhouse Broadway performers are coming home to unite with local performers and spread a message of love and hope while raising funds for the Denver Actors Fund, which in three years has made $82,000 available to local theatre artists facing situational medical need. 

    Ashford, a graduate of Wheat Ridge High School, won the Tony Award for her work in You Can’t Take it with You and is currently receiving rave reviews with Jake Gyllenhaal in a limited Broadway engagement of Sunday in the Park with George. She also has appeared on Broadway in Sylvia, Hair, Wicked and Legally Blonde. Kelso, a graduate of Eaglecrest High School in Aurora, starred in Kinky Boots after a three-year run in Mamma Mia.

    Click here to choose your April 30 concert seats now

    The concert also will feature longtime Denver performer (and Denver First Lady) Mary Louise Lee, Broadway’s Jodie Langel (Les Misérables) and Denise Gentilini, composer of the Armenia genocide musical I Am Alive.

    “These stars are returning to their roots to support the theatre community they came from,” said Ebner, who conceived the United in Love concert with Paul Page. “They are examples to all of us for fulfilling their dreams while inspiring and encouraging others.”

    Additional appearances are scheduled from Denver favorites Jimmy Bruenger, Eugene Ebner, Becca Fletcher, Clarissa Fugazzotto, Robert Johnson, Daniel Langhoff, Susannah McLeod, Chloe McLeod, Sarah Rex, Jeremy Rill, Kristen Samu, Willow Samu, Thaddeus Valdez, and the casts of both The Jerseys and the upcoming 13 the Musical (featuring an all-student casts).

    The lineup is subject to change, and additional stars may be added.

    The emcees of the event will be performer and local TV arts journalist Eden Lane with actor Steven J. Burge, currently starring in the Denver Center's An Act of God at the Garner-Galleria Theatre.


    United in Love

    The Denver Actors Fund was founded in 2013 by former Denver Post Theatre Critic John Moore and actor/attorney Christopher Boeckx. The Denver Actors Fund  offers both financial assistance with medical bills, insurance, co-payments, supplies and more, as well as volunteer assistance ranging from meals to transportation to snow-shoveling. Recently the Denver Actors Fund has helped a young father undergoing chemotherapy, a director who had triple-bypass surgery, and the parents of a child who died with medical and burial expenses. An team of more than 60 volunteers have provided more than 250 hours of service.

    “We are a grassroots organization to the core, and we depend on the kindness of people like Eugene Ebner and Paul Page to organize events like United in Love on our behalf, and the incredible generosity of the performing community for pull nights like this off,” said Moore, the DAF’s Executive Director. “United in Love will be the biggest night in our history, and we are united in gratitude to everyone who is helping to make it possible.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Denver Actors Fund is a 501c3 nonprofit, and all donations are tax-deductible. For more information, or to apply for aid, go to denveractorsfund.org.

    The audience is invited to mingle with the performers at a post-show reception for additional $25. (There are only 100 full show/reception tickets available.)

    The Presenting Sponsor of United in Love is Delta Dental of Colorado. Silver Sponsors are Skyline Property Management and the Alliance Insurance Group.


    DAF Contest Lone Tree


    Front-row student social-media contest:
    The 14 front-row seats for the United in Love concert will be made available for $25 to seven students (high school seniors or younger) who make a 15-second video promoting the April 30 contest by professing their fandom for one of the performers on the lineup. Make a video and send it by Google Drive to denveractordfund@gmail.com. Deadline to submit: April 1. You will be notified if you are a winner. Two $25 tickets (face value $84 each) will be made available to the seven winners, along with free access to the post-concert reception. Questions, email denveractorsfund@gmail.com.

    Video bonus: Our 2014 interview with Ashford and Kelso at Kinky Boots:

    Look back on our backstage visit with Tony nominee Annaleigh Ashford and Andy Kelso, Denver-area natives with leading roles in 'Kinky Boots' on Broadway. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • NewsCenter: Our 10 most popular articles of 2016

    by John Moore | Jan 08, 2017

    Hamilton in Denver. Broadway Nothing got readers more excited last year than the news that the hit Broadway musical 'Hamilton' will be coming to Denver as part of the 2017-18 Broadway season.


    The DCPA NewsCenter was launched in October 2014 as an unprecedented new media outlet covering theatre at the Denver Center and throughout the state and nation telling stories with words, videos, podcasts and photos. It is a service made possible by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts as a shared resource for the Colorado theatre community as a whole. Here are the 10 most-clicked stories on the NewsCenter in 2016 from among the nearly 430 posted. Thanks to our readers for making it a record-breaking year:

    NUMBER 1HamiltonBroadway’s Hamilton is heading to Denver: The national tour of the Broadway musical Hamilton will play the Buell Theatre as part of the Denver Center's 2017-18 Broadway subscription series. Information regarding engagement dates and how to purchase single tickets will be announced at a later time. READ IT

    NUMBER 2Brenda Billings 1Brenda Billings: 'A warrior of acceptance':  Brenda Billings died while doing what she loves most – conducting auditions for an upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors. She was the co-Artistic Director of Miners Alley Playhouse and  President of the Denver Actors Fund, and she was only 57. “Her passion for storytelling and art is carried on through all of us who were lucky enough to call her friend,” said Tony Award-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford. READ IT

    NUMBER 3Fun Home. Joan Marcus2016-17 Broadway season: Frozen, Fun Home, Finding Neverland and more: The DCPA announced a landmark 2016-17 season lineup that includes both of the most recent Tony Award-winners as well as the pre-Broadway debut of the highly anticipated stage adaptation of Disney’s record-breaking hit Frozen, the highest-grossing animated film in history. It was later announced that the Denver dates for Frozen will be Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017. READ IT 

    NUMBER 4Terry DoddTerry Dodd: a playwright, director who bled empathy: Terry Dodd will be remembered as one of the most prolific local directors in the Colorado theatre community, as well as an accomplished playwright and screenwriter who was known for exploring deeply personal family issues. Dodd died of a heart attack at age 64. READ IT 

    NUMBER 5osg-christiana-clark2In Ashland, converting rage into action: In many ways Ashland, home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, seems to be an insular, harmonious bubble immune to outside social realities. But on June 24, the bubble burst when an African-American company member had an ugly encounter with a white supremacist. Now the local and national theatre communities are asking difficult questions about race. READ IT

    NUMBER 6Finalists for the 2015-16 Bobby G Awards announced: The annual Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in high-school musical theatre in Colorado. The year-long program culminates in a Tony Awards-style ceremony at the Buell Theatre. Here’s who was nominated from among the 40 participating schools. READ IT

    NUMBER 7Tom SutherlandFormer hostage Thomas Sutherland is freed a second time: Former Colorado State University professor Thomas Sutherland was held hostage in Beirut for more than six years - or 2,353 agonizing days. The genial Scotsman made his first foray into acting at age 72, and later donated $500,000 to Bas Bleu Theatre Company’s new performance space. He drew it from the $35 million he was awarded in frozen Iranian assets. Sutherland died July 23 at age 85. READ IT http://dcpa.today/EX6aBY

    NUMBER 8David Bowie Elephant ManDavid Bowie's acting career began in Denver: David Bowie’s death had the world mourning the loss of one of rock’s most chameleonic performers. But he was also a versatile stage and screen actor whose legit theatre career began in Denver starring as the ultimate “Broken Man,” John Merrick, in a 1980 touring production of The Elephant Man. "Judging from his sensitive projection of this part, Bowie has the chance to achieve legit stardom,” one critic wrote. READ IT 

    NUMBER 9Buell TheatrePhantom return will mark Buell Theatre’s 25th anniversary: The Buell Theatre was built, in large part, to host the national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera in 1991. It was, Denver Post critic Jeff Bradley wrote at the time, “the most successful theatrical event in Denver history.” We take a look back at the Buell’s first 25 years. READ IT 

    NUMBER 10Theresa Rebeck quoteRebeck's The Nest flies in face of national gender trends: Theresa Rebeck, author of the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere play The Nest, says the need to level the gender playing field in the American theatre is urgent. “Women's voices have been marginalized in the theatre, and in film and television,” said Rebeck. But the Denver Center, she said, is bucking the trend. “Kent Thompson and everyone at the Denver Center have always been way ahead of the curve on this issue.” READ IT


    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist.
  • 2016 True West Award: The Killer Kids of 'Miscast'

    by John Moore | Dec 09, 2016

    NEW 800 Miscast full-size True West



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 9:
    The Killer Kids of Miscast 2016

                       Presented by Denver actor Clint Heyn

     
    It was just … so wrong. Even for Miscast, where every performance is supposed to be, by definition, just … so wrong.

    Imagine precious children not just singing the signature song from the Broadway musical Chicago – the one where the sexy gangster girls brag about how they ended up in jail for killing men who, as the song goes, “had it coming.”

    No, imagine precious, foul-mouthed children playing beloved storybook characters singing about how they ended up in jail for killing archrivals who also had it coming. Sorry, Mrs. Hannigan, but you made Little Orphan Annie scrub your floor once too often. Mrs. Trunchbull? You ought not to have called Matilda a maggot. And Javert? Perhaps you should have paid attention when sweet Gavroche gave full and fair warning that little people have got some bite.

    Then there’s Peter Pan, Dorothy and Little Red Riding Hood. Oh, Red. Let’s just have her tell her story in her own words:

    “So I’m standing in the kitchen carving some lunch meat for Granny’s dinner, and in walks the wolf in a jealous rage. ‘You’ve been (bleeping) Jack!’ He was crazy, and he kept on saying, ‘You’ve been (bleeping) Jack!’ … And then he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife 10 times.”

    The occasion for all this naughty merriment was Miscast, an annual fundraising musical revue for the Denver Actors Fund at the Town Hall Arts Center featuring performers in roles they would never … ever be cast to perform in real life. Another song that night, for example, featured veteran actor John Ashton singing "Memories," from Cats.

    Miscast. True West AwardsBut the mini-murderer’s row of Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub totally stole the show with their version of "Cell Block Tango."

    The Killer Kids of Miscast, as they have come to be known, not only conceived and wrote the song themselves – with help and full approval of their parents – they rehearsed it for six weeks solid. They enlisted not only eminent local musical director Donna Debreceni for her help, but also Broadway veteran Candy Brown for her assistance with choreography. Brown, you should know, performed “Cell Block Tango” in the original Broadway cast. Really. She played June, whose jealous, raging, milkman husband ran into her knife ...10 times.    

    These kids were not messing around.

    “When they first came to me with their idea, I said, ‘That is just so wrong and over the top - and brilliant,” said Miscast director Robert Michael Sanders. The result went viral. A 7-minute video of song has been viewed nearly 100,000 times on Facebook alone (see it below).

    “The lightning in the bottle was these kids were playing characters we all know and love and think of as wholesome, and they brought out the dark side by actually doing what we have always wanted them to do,” Sanders said. “It was wrong to have kids singing that song in the first place. It was wrong that they had all committed murder. It was wrong that they used profanity. But they played it as true professionals in the theatre, and it was magical.”

    Watch the performance for yourself:

     

    The gang of six are among the busiest younger actors in the theatre community. Many of them are currently appearing in the Town Hall Arts Center’s A Christmas Story. Hinkle performed with the national touring company of that same show last winter at the Buell Theatre. Next, he will star in Vintage Theatre’s Billy Elliot.

    What makes them all so exceptional, says actor Clint Heyn, who nominated the Killer Kids for their True West Award, is not only their talent, but their ongoing commitment to service. Katz, Klein and Hinkle each have given to the Denver Actors Fund through individual donations or by organizing collections through their shows or schools.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    True West Awards Kaden Hinkle MiscastThe Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and neighborly assistance to artists in situational medical need, estimates that young people under 18 have contributed more than $16,000 to the organization since it was started in 2013, including ongoing efforts by schools such as Denver School of the Arts and Cherry Creek High School, and theatre companies like CenterStage in Louisville.

    "The performance at Miscast was amazing, but the overall spirit of philanthropy from all the youth of our community to the Denver Actors Fund is what should be celebrated,” Heyn said.

    So it got a tad bloody  … and blue. Let's call it a murder … but not a crime.

    Miscast True West Awards Killer Kids

    After performing in Miscast 2016 (shown with their mothers), teen performers Darrow Klein and Hannah Katz their own, combined donation of $800 to The Denver Actors Fund. Klein raised $700 as part of her bat mitzvah service project. Katz was making her third donation to the DAF so far.

     

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS:
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride
  • 2016 True West Award: Robert Michael Sanders

    by John Moore | Dec 02, 2016
    True West Awards. Robert Michael Sanders


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 2:
    Robert Michael Sanders

    Robert Michael Sanders has been one one of the busiest members of the Colorado theatre community for years, and not even a botched shoulder surgery that left his hands partially paralyzed in 2014 has even slightly slowed him down. In 2016, his haberdashery included acting, direction, properties and public relations. He is also an accomplished singer who just completed his second solo album under the name Robert Michael for release on iTunes later this month. (His 2007 cover of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" has more than a million plays on Spotify, and he released three previous albums with his band Silence.)

    True West Awards. Robert Michael SandersSanders is nothing if not versatile - and adaptable. Here's a quick rundown of his theatre year:

    • Directed Tell Me on a Sunday for The Avenue Theater; The Last Romance for Cherry Creek Theatre; Guys on Ice for Town Hall Arts Center; and the children's shows Jumping Jiving Juliette and Seussical Jr. for Town Hall
    • Performed in the Edge Theatre's Getting Out and Murder Ballad 
    • Assisted the properties master on The Avenue Theater's Wait Until Dark
    • Directed publicity efforts for Aurora Fox's Little Women, Black Elk Speaks and Catch Me If You Can, as well as The Avenue's Bakersfield Mist

    Onstage, good-guy Sanders is often called upon to play the bad guy - his "resume of racists" is longer than other actors' entire CV's. He has had particularly hiss-worthy turns over the years in the Arvada Center's Ragtime, Memphis and A Man of No Importance, and he owned that persona again this year in the Edge Theatre's Getting Out, playing a former prison guard who takes a shine to a woman just out of prison - with lecherous strings attached. "Sanders'  dual personality turns on Arlene in the worst possible way," wrote reviewer Bill Wheeler. "Sanders delivers his schizophrenic character beautifully, going from the nicest guy on stage to the nastiest in the blink of an eye."

    But what made 2016 a singular year for Sanders was the range he showed in The Edge's Murder Ballad, one of those unctuous contemporary rock musicals that dares you not to like it. But Sanders managed to emerge from a veritable menagerie of pool-hall damage by showing a full and effective range of emotion from gentle to, well, murderous, thanks to a score uniquely suited to his rock background.

    But for all the good Sanders does on and around the stage, perhaps his most impressive trait is his ongoing commitment to the fellow artists in the Colorado theatre community. Sanders organizes and directs Miscast as an annual fundraiser for the Denver Actors Fund - a silly night of games and songs where actors get to play roles they would never get cast to perform in otherwise. It is a logistical nightmare and a dream-come-true for the fund that makes money and personal services available to artists in situational medical need. Sanders' three Miscast-directed events have now raised more than $13,000 for the Denver Actors Fund - a record $7,067 in 2016 alone.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Sanders was chosen to be the recipient of today's True West Award by former Phamaly Theatre Company Artistic Director Bryce Alexander, who relied on Sanders as both an actor and general liaison during his tenure running the acclaimed local theatre company that creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    "I am constantly amazed at Robert's overall commitment to every single level of Colorado theatre," said Alexander. "Robert is always there to support you. This amazing artist and person (and his wife) should be celebrated."

    That amazing wife would be Megan Van De Hey. Yes, Sanders capped his exceptional year with a personal coup by marrying one of the most consistently honored actors in the Colorado theatre community. Not bad for a nice guy.

     

    Robert Michael Sanders/At a glance:

    • High School: Broomfield
    • Denver Center tie: He was in the cast of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at the Garner Galleria Theatre
    • Album: “Feel It Coming,” under the name of Robert Michael
    • Next project: Directing Almost Maine for the Avenue Theater, Jan. 13-Feb. 12


    Robert Michael Sanders. Miscast. Photo by John Moore. Robert Michael Sanders addresses the crowd at 'Miscast 2016,' which he directed on behalf of the Denver Actors Fund. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS
    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride
  • Colorado Gives Day: Links to all 40 participating theatre nonprofits

    by John Moore | Nov 28, 2016
    DCPA Education Teen Playwriting
    Every year the DCPA introduces more than 84,000 students of all ages to the theatre arts, including a statewide playwriting competition. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is just one of 1,800 worthy nonprofits that greatly benefit from Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide effort to increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. The 7-year-old program is administered through Community First Foundation and FirstBank. The mantra: "Give Where You Live."

    CGD logo 600Colorado Gives Day raised $28.4 million in 2015. Since its inception in 2010, the event has raised more than $111 million for Colorado nonprofits.

    This year, Colorado Gives Day falls on Tuesday, Dec. 6 - but donors can schedule donations for their favorite nonprofits in advance.

    Because it can be a bit overwhelming for givers to sort through 1,800 worthy organizations, we have compiled a list that should be handy for givers with a particular interest in live theatre: Direct links to the giving pages for all 40 local theatre organizations that are eligible to participate in this year's Colorado Gives Day.

    Like what you see? Click and give. (Look for the CO GIVES DAY button.) You also can choose to set up monthly donations of any amount if you feel so compelled.

    To sweeten the pot (literally), Colorado Gives Day features a $1 Million Incentive Fund. Every nonprofit receiving a donation on Colorado Gives Day receives a portion of this fund, which increases the value of every dollar donated. Questions? Click here

    (Pictured above right: The DCPA is joining other local theatre companies for a theatre-specific Colorado Gives Day Kickoff Happy Hour hosted by the Denver Actors Fund from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29. The public is encouraged to attend. (This is a party, not a giving event.



    THEATRE ORGANIZATIONS PARTICIPATING IN COLORADO GIVES DAY

    Arvada Center

    Audience of 1 Youth Theatre

    Augustana Arts

    Backdoor Theatre

    Backstage Breckenridge

    Bas Bleu Theatre

    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    Boulder Fringe

    Buntport Theater

    Buntport Theater for All Ages

    The Catamounts

    CenterStage Theatre Company (Louisville)

    Cherry Creek Theatre

    Colorado Acts

    Creede Repertory Theatre

    Curious Theatre Company

    CYT Denver

    Debut Theatre Company

    Denver Actors Fund

    Denver Center for the Performing Arts

    Denver School of the Arts Friends Foundation

    The Edge Theatre

    The Evergreen Chorale

    Evergreen Players

    Fort Collins Children’s Theatre

    Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation

    Ignite Theatre

    Lake Dillon Theatre Company

    Local Theater Company

    Longmont Theatre Company

    Magic Moments

    Miners Alley Playhouse

    Motus Theater

    Northglenn Arts

    OpenStage Theatre Company

    Performance Now Theatre Company

    Phamaly Theatre Company

    Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

    StageDoor Theatre

    Stories On Stage

    Su Teatro

    Thingamajig Theatre Company

    Thunder River Theatre Company

    Town Hall Arts Center

     The Venue Theatre Company

  • Photos: 'Miscast' raises $7,000 for Denver Actors Fund

    by John Moore | Oct 04, 2016
    Miscast 2016

    Photos from 'Miscast 2016,' which raised more than $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund.  To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are directly downloadable and may be freely used on social media. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Miscast, a popular annual community-wide benefit held Sept. 26 at the Town Hall Arts Center, raised $7,067 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief when members of the Colorado theatre community find themselves in situational medical need. In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $50,000 in direct aid to help local artists.

    More than 30 local actors performed in roles they would never – ever – normally be cast to perform. The event was hosted by Eric Mather and Damon Guerrasio, and directed by Robert Michael Sanders. Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the Denver Center, contributed more than $1,200 in prizes for the event.

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. For more information on the Denver Actors Fund and its services, go to DenverActorsFund.Org.

    Video excerpt:


    The criminal kids in the video above deserve to be in jail, because they stole the show at 'Miscast 2016.' Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub performed a storybook version of 'Cell-Block Tango' from 'Chicago,' accompanied by Donna Debreceni and Larry Ziehl. In the week since the performance, this video has been viewed nearly 30,000 times and shared more than 370 times on Facebook.


    MISCAST 2016:

    Hosts:
    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather

    Program:

    • Heather Lacy, Leslie O'Carroll and Shannan Steele, inspired by "Fugue for Tin Horns," from Guys and Dolls
    • Shane Delevan, Lindsey Falduto and Rob Riney, parody inspired by Rent
    • Donovan Arterburn III, Brock Benson, John Greene, Clint Heyn, T.J. Hogle, and Wade Livingston, inspired by "At the Ballet," from A Chorus Line
    • Steven J. Burge, Carter Novinger and Preston Novinger: "I Know It's Today" from Shrek
    • Kevin Ahl, Jacob Elledge, Stewart Caswell, Jill Leslie, Amber Marsh, Gregg Vigil and Lucy Roucis (Phamaly Theatre Company), what a  Wild West duel would be like between two disabled people.
    • Colby Dunn: Inspired by an audition for Dream Girls
    • Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub, inspired by "Cell-Block Tango," from Chicago
    • Barret Harper, Anna High, Tim Howard and Suzanne Nepi, inspired by "I Will Never Leave You," from Side Show
    • Rebecca Joseph, Chelley Canales, Daniel Langhoff and Arlene Rapal, inspired by "My Shot," from Hamilton
    • John Ashton, inspired by "Memories," from Cats
    • Emma C. Martin, Napoleon M. Douglas and company: "You Can't Stop the Beat," from Hairspray

    The hosts also engaged audiences in participatory games such as a "Family Feud" parody ("Name a Bad Boy of the Colorado Theatre Community") and "Carpool Karaoke."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Lineup announced: Guerrasio, Mather to host 'Miscast 2016'

    by John Moore | Aug 26, 2016
    Eden Lane performs from 'Kinky Boots' at 'Miscast 2015.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Eden Lane performs from 'Kinky Boots' at 'Miscast 2015.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The lineup for "Miscast 2016," a popular annual community-wide benefit for the Denver Actors Fund to be held Sept. 26 at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, has just been announced - and it's enough to make any director envious.

    Miscast 2016 "Miscast 2016" is an opportunity for members of the local theatre community to sing songs and act out scenes they would never … ever! … get cast to perform on any legitimate stage. Tickets are $20 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available at 303-794-2787 or online at townhallartscenter.org.

    This year, funnyman Eric Mather (The Drunken Bachelor Talk Show) will join third-year co-host Damon Guerrasio (Curious Theatre's Water by the Spoonful) in leading the silliness. 

    Among the more than 30 scheduled performers are Shannan Steele, Leslie O’Carroll, Heather Lacy, Steven J. Burge, Tim Howard, John Ashton, and members of Phamaly Theatre Company, which provides performance opportunities for actors with disabilities. (Pictured above clockwise: Damon Guerrassio, Shannan Steele, Eric Mather, Barret Harper, Tim Howard and Heather Lacy.)

    This year's event will include many fun twists, such as a series of games a la Jimmy Fallon and other late-night TV hosts. Many area merchants and theatres have contributed prizes. To read about last year's event, or to see photos, click here.

    Miscast is the major annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical services to members of the local theatre community who find themselves in situational medical need. In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has raised $120,000 to help local artists.

    Each Miscast applicant submitted a proposed song and a 'Miscast concept' for judges to consider. All applications were considered by a special selection committee based on variety, cleverness and uniqueness, among other factors.

    Miscast 2015Now in its third year as a Denver Actors Fund benefit event, Director Robert Michael Sanders again received far more submissions than he had performance slots.

    "This year's turnout was completely overwhelming," said Sanders. As thanks, everyone who applied will be invited to attend Miscast 2016 as a guest of the Denver Actors Fund and Town Hall Arts Center. (Pictured right: Leslie O'Carroll and Megan Van De Hey performing from 'The Book of Mormon' last year.)

    "We made the choices we think best suit this year's show," said Sanders, who called the resulting list "the best cross-section of talent from many different theaters, types and styles of performances."

    While the list of scheduled performers has been announced, their actual Miscast musical numbers will remain a secret until the night of the show on Sept. 26. Last year featured an aging (and male) Annie, a pair of female The Book of Mormon Elders, a hot-potato national anthem, and a high-heeled local TV personality who brought the house down with her Kinky Boots. For starters.

    "It may be all wrong ... but it feels so right," said Sanders.

    Miscast 2015Photos from 'Miscast 2015.' To see more, click on the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    MISCAST 2016:

    Hosts:
    Damon Guerrasio
    Eric Mather

    Performers (in alphabetical order; subject to change):
    John Ashton
    Donovan Arterburn III
    Brock Benson
    Steven J. Burge
    Chelley Canales
    Colby Dunn
    Sydney Fairbairn
    Evan Gibley
    John Greene
    Barret Harper
    Clint Heyn
    Anna High
    Kaden Hinkle
    Tim Howard
    Rebecca Joseph
    Hannah Katz
    Darrow Klein
    Heather Lacy
    Wade Livingston
    Emma C. Martin
    Suzanne Nepi
    Carter Novinger
    Preston Novinger
    Leslie O'Carroll
    Arlene Rapal
    Shannan Steele
    Regina Steffen
    Hannah Meg Weintrau

    Crew
    Director: Robert Michael Sanders
    Stage Manager: Jonathan Allsup
    Assistant Stage Manager: Meagan Burnell
    Event Coordinator: Ronni Gallup
    Assistant to the Director: Jessica Swanson
    Technical Director: Mike Haas
    Lighting: Alexis Bond
    Sound: Meagan Holdeman

    Band
    Keyboards and Musical Direction: Donna Debreceni
    Drums: Larry Ziehl

    Special Thanks
    Leslie Rutherford, Denise Kato and Cheryl McNab, Town Hall Arts Center

    MISCAST 2016:
    7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 26
    Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St.
    A benefit for the Denver Actors Fund
    Tickets are $20 (plus fees if ordered online) and are available at 303-794-2781 or BUY ONLINE

    To read more about last year's Miscast, and see photos and video, click here.
    Watch the video highlights below.

  • Cancer 'the only thing' that could have beat Amy Malmgren

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016

    amy-malmgren-denver-actors-fund-800
    Amy Malmgren at the very first Denver Actors Fund seed-gathering fundraiser on June 1, 2013. Photo by John Moore.


    Amy Malmgren of Highlands Ranch beat Stage 4 cancer in 2014. So when doctors delivered a new and unrelated Stage 4 diagnosis less than a year later, she took on the challenge with her typical quiet and confident determination.

    “I beat the highest stage of cancer in just four months,” she said at the time, “and I will beat it again.”

    This would just be the newest Herculean obstacle in Malmgren’s path, and the most recent she would take on with good cheer and a ferocious faith.

    “God and I are tight,” she wrote on her Facebook profile to summarize her religious views.

    amy-malmgren-quoteMalmgren, one of three inaugural board members of the Denver Actors Fund, died Wednesday night. She was also founder and CEO of Loops Media and a cheerful performer in the massive annual Magic Moments music revues in Denver.  She was 41.

    “Words don't do justice to the level of human being she was,” friend Jamie Spicer Anderson wrote on her Facebook page.

    Malmgren, a 1993 graduate of Arvada High School and in 2007 from Metro State University, was a single mother of three – from a wheelchair. She was paralyzed in a near-death car accident 24 years ago.

    Since then, Malmgren has battled infection, illness and worked tirelessly to help overcome the public stigma of living with a disability. All while raising three young men, including two now 17-year-old twins, Dev and Dominic Elliott. Her eldest son is 25-year-old Joseph Lewton.

    “Cancer is the only thing to ever beat Amy,” said Malmgren’s sister-in-law, Heather Gregg Spillman. “She was the strongest person I've ever known.”

    In July 2014, Malmgren was diagnosed with bladder cancer. After a strict regimen of chemotherapy and radical surgery, doctors miraculously declared her cancer-free by October. But cancer returned eight months later, again as Stage 4. It metastasized from her lymph nodes and spread into her small intestines and bones.

    “Life is crazy sometimes,” she said at the time. “We don’t get to choose all our paths, or I certainly wouldn’t have chosen cancer. But here I am again.”

    amy-malmgren-denver-actors-fund-familyMagic Moments is an annual revue of Broadway and pop songs that provides up to 150 physically or mentally challenged actors the opportunity to perform alongside able-bodied castmates. It is performed each year in the spirit of inclusion and equality.

    “My son Dom was doing Magic Moments, and he talked me into getting in,” Malmgren said. “That’s what really brought me back into the theatre. I loved it. Magic Moments is a fabulous community to stumble across.”

    (Pictured right: Amy Malmgren with her sons Joseph Lewton, Dev Elliott and Dominic Elliott.)

    Magic Moments Director KQ Quintana said he had been planning to design the 2017  revue around Malmgren until her cancer returned.

    "She was a delight to work with because she was always prepared, and she made rehearsals go better with her positive attitude," Quintana said. "And she was good. She could sing and act."

    Malmgren, born Feb. 8, 1975, sat on several boards, preferring to concentrate on issues that impact the health, independence and quality of life of individuals living with spinal-cord injury or disease. It was a passion for advocacy that took her from Washington D.C. to Italy.

    When she attended the Denver Actors Fund’s inaugural karaoke fundraiser three years ago, she rolled right up to founder John Moore and offered her financial and accounting services. Malmgren was named Treasurer of the Board of Directors. In the three years since, the non-profit organization has raised $117,000 to help members of the local theatre community in situational medical need. In April, Denver Actors Fund President Brenda Billings died of a sudden brain aneurysm.

    “You just can’t measure the toll of losing two incredible life forces like Amy and Brenda back-to-back,” said Moore. “At a time when this little non-profit was nothing more than an idea, this very small group of people stepped up to the plate and willed it into being.”

    Although in Malmgren’s case, it was more like she rolled up to the plate.

    “She came straight up to me and said, ‘I want in,'" Moore said. "Without that kind of can-do spirit, we never would have gotten off the ground.”

    amy-malmgren-denver-actors-fund-8002Family, Spillman said, meant the world to Malmgren.

    “I'll miss performing with her and cheering our kids on together,” she wrote this morning. “I'll miss our annual giggle-fest on Christmas night. I'll miss going dancing with her. That was our favorite thing to do. I'll miss our two-hour phone conversations where we'd cover everything from our kids to a TV show we both liked to politics. I'll miss going shopping with her. I'll miss traveling to Cabo with her. I'll miss celebrating our birthdays together. I'll miss preparing a family meal together. I'll miss her being late to everything. I'll miss putting her wheelchair in the back of my car. I'll miss her shining example of how to be the best kind of person. I'll miss Amy.”

    (Pictured above right: Amy Malmgren, front left, appeared on 'In Focus with Eden Lane' (back right) on behalf of the Denver Actors Fund at the Town Hall Arts Center in 2014.)

    Spillman said Malmgren was a natural at disarming some people’s discomfort with disability. “I'll miss watching the ease she had with kids when they were curious about her chair,” she said.

    Malmgren is also survived by her brothers, Jason and Mike Spillman; parents Scott Malmgren and Janet Benson; stepfather Mike Benson; stepmother Stacy Malmgren; and many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

    "This world has lost a shining light today," Jason Spillman wrote on his Facebook page today. "My heart is heavy but I am glad that my beloved sister Amy is out of pain. She told me a few days ago, 'I will save you a good seat.' "

    A celebration of Malmgren's life will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 4, at First Plymouth Congregational Church, 3501 S. Colorado Blvd, Cherry Hills Village, CO, 80113. Attendees are asked to wear purple. MAP IT


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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.