• Breakin' Convention workshop spreads message of hip-hop and hope

    by John Moore | Nov 03, 2017
    Breakin' Convention in Denver

    To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter

    Breakin' Convention's French hip-hop stars work up a sweat with local breakers at Denver's Bboy Factory

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The aptly named French hip-hop star Salah stood before two dozen breathless breakdancers on Wednesday night practicing what he preaches: Joy. Taking just a one-minute break from an aerobic 90-minute workout worthy of a gleeful boot camp, Salah smiled widely through his sweat.

    The featured performer at this weekend's Breakin' Convention international festival of hip-hop dance theatre at the Buell Theatre told the assembled dancers of widely varying ages, genders and skin colors that, yes, technique and precision are just as important in hip-hop dancing as they are in Broadway or ballet. But hip-hop not only allows for a dancer's individuality to make itself known, he said — it demands it. 

    "You know what makes you a memorable dancer is having fun moments while you are also showing your abilities," he told the dancers who flocked to Denver's Bboy Factory dance studio in Globeville for a first hand-look at the longtime French star of Moroccan and Algerian descent whose last U.S. appearance was eight years ago. His name means "Muslim prayer," but not just any prayer — Salah refers to a physical, mental and spiritual act of worship. Not unlike his dancing.

    "I am an Arab man," said Salah, who won the fourth season of a hit TV show in France literally called Arabs Got Talent. He says letting his infectious joy for dance shine through has helped him to eradicate preconceived ideas some people might have about Muslims.

    (Story continues below the photo)

    Breakin Convention. Lisa Engelken. Photo by John Moore.


    That point hit home with workshop dancer Lisa Engelken, who has been studying Saleh's dancing for many years. "Now I get it," she said. "He's goofy. And he's really being himself when he dances. From now on, when I watch him dance, I'll know exactly why he dances like that."

    Salah. Breakin Convention. Photo by John Moore. Though Engelken proudly rocked her "Ladies of Hip-Hop" T-Shirt, she grew up taking classes at Denver's internationally renowned Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, where she now teaches. And while relatively new to what she calls the world of street dance, she's part of two crews that will be featured this weekend at Breakin' Convention, the world's biggest annual festival of hip-hop dance theatre.

    She's appearing with Nasty Kidz at Saturday's 303 Jam — a full afternoon of free performances and activities in and around the Buell Theatre featuring live DJs, workshops and demonstrations. Then on Sunday, Engelken will take to the Buell Theatre mainstage with Malika — three women whose like-minded intention "is to bring good energy to the masses."

    Salah's workput was followed by another 90-minute aerobic whirlwind led by Bee D, co-founder of France's multidisciplinary dance group Yeah Yellow, another Breakin' Convention headliner along with Protocol (U.K.), Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) and Popin’ Pete (U.S). In all, five members of Yeah Yellow burned through Bee D's workout, right alongside Bboy Factory's breakers in training.

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    Teaching dance combinations to the students made Wednesday's calorie-incinerating master classes look not all that different from a Broadway rehearsal, with two key differences: The fashion — and the individuality. "The thing I really like about hip-hop is you can create your own moves," Bee D told his dancers. "It's not like classic dance. In hip-hop, it's very important that you NOT look like the person next to you. You have to be you."

    Ian Flaws has hosted many of hip-hop's greatest icons since opening  Bboy Factory in 2012 with a stated mission of preserving traditional hip-hop culture. He said other forms of dance, from Broadway to ballet to modern, could stand to take a cue from hip-hop, which is much less constricted in its rules. "Hip-hop allows for so much range of movement and expression and exploration and creativity," said Flaws, whose clientele ranges from children to adults, from beginners to high-level artists,who come from as far away as Boulder and Aurora.

    He said Breakin' Convention is a unique opportunity for the larger metro population to get a taste of what hip-hop is all about — especially if for the first time.
       
    "It will be a great introduction to hip-hop," said Flaws. "And when I say hip-hop, that usually brings an automatic assumption that we are only talking about rap music. Hip-hop is really a big, vibrant culture that includes dance, art, food and music. And this weekend, all of that is going to be represented on one of Denver's biggest stages. Hip-hop is a culture that comes from the street, and I think Breakin' Convention will be a beautiful introduction to everything that is positive in hip-hop culture."

    Engelken first saw Breakin' Convention at the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and she still can't quite believe Denver was chosen to be just the fifth North American city to host it. So she feels it is especially important for a wide swath of Denverites to come out and represent.

    "I hope people just come out and experience the true spirit of hip-hop, which is childlike play and just having fun," she said. "I think Breakin' Convention will be a good tool to demystify some stereotypes. I think people will be happily surprised. Just come and try it out."

    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.

    Breakin’ Convention 2017 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre

    Breakin' Convention: Ticket Information

    • Nov. 4-5
    • The Buell Theatre and surrounding areas
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • Special student performance at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3
    • Breakin’ Convention officially kicks off with the free 303 Jam from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov 4 at The Buell Theatre. Enjoy free activities and performances including live DJs, workshops, free demonstrations and performances by DJ Cavem, The Reminders and more. Free fun for the whole family.

    Breakin' Convention: The international lineup

    • Yeah Yellow (France) - An explosive b-boy crew from France, YY brings agility, creativity and invention to the BC stage. Bodies create orifices to dive through, and reform physical shapes with muscular alchemy. Recently performed at BOTY16.
    • Protocol (U.K.) - Lanre Malouda directs as well as performs in this duet that explores racial dynamics. Popping and tutting techniques, as well as text and physical theatre is used to present ideas that reflect the tensions in our community today.
    • Salah (France) - A living legend in the world of hip-hop dance, Salah returns to the Breakin’ Convention stage after an eight year hiatus. This consummate performer is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown and all around entertainer. Known for his amazing battle abilities, Salah will present his theatre piece The Sickness.
    • Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) - From the most notorious township on the African continent comes the Soweto Skeleton Movers. The audience highlight of Breakin’ Convention 2016 returns with a brand new show. Experts in a particular form of pantsula dance developed by Skeleton Mover pioneer Jabulani, the crew use comedic contortionism, frenetic footwork, and magical hat tricks. 
    • Popin’ Pete (U.S.) - Also known as Timothy Earl Solomon, Popin' Pete is an American dancer, choreographer, innovator, one of the originators of the "popping" dance style and member of the Electric Boogaloos. His career has spanned 30 years developing funk culture as a whole.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Breakin' Convention:

    • Breakin' Convention to bring largest festival of hip-hop dance theatre to Denver
    • Breakin' Convention promises to bring authenticity, local artists to DCPA
    • Video: Our talk with the one and only Jonzi D of Breakin' Convention
    • Denver's DJ CaveM: Saving lives one healthy beat, and bite, at a time
    • Video: Denver Arts Week is off to a hip-hop start
  • November promises to be a 'Disaster' on at least one area stage

    by John Moore | Nov 01, 2017

    From left: Peter Henry Bussian, Adeline Mann and Erik Fellenstein in Local Theater Company's 'The Rape of the Sabine Women,' playing through Nov. 19 in Boulder. Photo by George Lange.

    Curious goes to war over a photograph, monthly cabaret at the Aurora Fox, and The Edge makes a final Resolution

    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.


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Five intriguing titles for November:

    NUMBER 1November Disaster Disaster! The Musical! This silly new Broadway musical farce has adventurous fun at the expense of disaster films such as Earthquake, Jaws and The Poseidon Adventure. It's 1979, and New York's A-listers are lining up for the opening of a floating casino and discotheque. B-listers include a fading disco star, a nightclub singer with 11-year-old twins, a pair of wild and crazy guys and a nun with a gambling addiction.The score includes familiar pop tunes of the era including "Knock on Wood," "Hooked on a Feeling" and "I Am Woman." Written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick. The evening grows more giddily ridiculous with every scene. Presented Nov. 10-Dec. 2 by Equinox Theatre Company at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    NUMBER 2Body of an American. Dan O'Brien's provocative new play, presented by Curious Theatre Company, speaks to a moment in recent history when the single, stark photograph of the body of an American being dragged from the wreck of a Blackhawk through the streets of Mogadishu reshaped the course of global events. O’Brien explores the ethical and personal consequences of this lone image and how it shines a light on deeply personal issues that are relevant to our time and culture. Nov. 4-Dec. 9: at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    NUMBER 3Flowers in the Desert. And Toto Too, the only Colorado company dedicated exclusively to presenting new works by female playwrights, next presents Donna Hoke's story of a married couple who call it quits after 14 years. Cheater Joe is surprised when, three years later, Britt asks him to try again. But he goes along — until he realizes his ex-wife has a very specific agenda. Starring Libby Arnold and Michael Kennedy. Produced in partnership with the Denver Center at  The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St, 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org.

    NUMBER 4Denver DollsAurora Fox monthly cabaret series. The Aurora Fox's continuing series of monthly cabaret offerings in its smaller studio theatre continues with The Denver Dolls presenting their USO/Andrews Sisters tribute, performed in the style of The Manhattan Transfer. The Dolls are led by frequent DCPA performer Heather Lacy. Nov. 17-18 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org

    NUMBER 5Resolutions. It's the end of an era for The Edge Theatre Company, which is going into a period of hibernation after the presentation of this world-premiere holiday play by Denver playwright Josh Hartwell, described as  "unique, hilarious, edgy, and terrifying." For the past eight years, three middle-aged couples have gathered, post-Christmas, at a plush, cozy Vail cabin. They exchange white-elephant gifts, make resolutions for the upcoming year and. of course, down a few cocktails.  But this year, something has changed.  Relationships have evolved, and an unexpected guest is an all-too familiar face. Resolutions plays Dec. 1-31 at 1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com. Benchmark Theatre will continue to present programming in The Edge's boutique theatre starting in 2018.

    Breakin Convention

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Cline and WynetteNov. 2-18: And Toto Too 's Flowers in the Desert
    At The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St, 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org

    Nov. 3-Dec. 17: Vintage Theatre Productions' Honeymoon In Vegas
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Nov. 3-18: Cline and Wynette: One More For the Road featuring Chris Whyde and Darren Bell
    At Gladys: The Nosy Neighbor, 500 Santa Fe Drive, 303-893-6112 (tickets available at the door only)

    Nov 4-5: DCPA Broadway’s Breakin’ Convention 2017
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE



    Nov. 4-Dec. 9: Curious Theatre's Body of an American (see video above)
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org 

    Nov. 9-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

    November DCPA. RentNov. 9-19: Lone Tree Arts Center's Love Letters starring Candy Brown and Mark Rubald
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000, lone tree’s home page

    Nov. 9-26: Millibo Art Theatre's The Accidental Death of an Anarchist
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321 or themat.org

    Nov. 10-Dec. 2: Equinox Theatre Company's Disaster!
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Nov. 10-19: Longmont Theatre Comany's Becky’s New Car
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Nov. 10-Dec. 30: Town Hall Arts Center's Seussical
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.com

    Nov. 11, 2017-April 22, 2018: DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Nov. 14-19: National touring production of Rent 20th Anniversary Tour
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Nov. 14-19: Fivers Inc.'s Dinner at Five
    PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org

    Candlelight Beauty Best Nov. 16-Feb. 14: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Nov. 17-Dec. 23: Arvada Center's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Nov. 17-Dec. 31: Midtown Arts Center's A Christmas Story
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Nov. 18-Dec.17: Bas Bleu Theatre's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Nov. 18-Feb. 24: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Nov. 24-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

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




    Nov. 24-Dec. 23: Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie (see video above)
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org READ MORE

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

    Nov. 24-Dec. 23: Miners Alley Playhouse's A Christmas Carol
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Nov. 24-Dec. 17: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Murder for Two
    Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Nov. 24-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

    Nov. 25-Dec. 23: Miners Alley Playhouse's The Story of the Nutcracker (children’s)
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Nov. 25, 2017-Jan. 14, 2018: Vintage Theatre Productions' Red
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Nov. 25-Dec. 23, 2017: Firehouse Theater Company’s The Miracle Worker
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com 

    Nov. 28-Dec. 3: National touring production of Chicago
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Nov. 30-Dec. 23: TheatreWorks' The SantaLand Diaries
    At the Bon Vivant Theatre, 3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

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

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Nov. 4: Coal Creek Theatre's Shining City
    At the Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    Through Nov. 4: Phamaly Theatre Company's Vox Phamilia
    At Community College of Aurora, Fine Arts Building, 16000 E. CentreTech Parkway, Aurora, 303-340-7529 or brownpapertickets.com

    Through Nov. 4: Iron Springs Chateau's Rocky Horror Picture Show
    444 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com


    Through Nov. 5: The Edge Theater Company's A Delicate Balance (see video above)
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com READ MORE

    Through Nov. 5: TheatreWorks' Wild Honey
    At the Bon Vivant Theatre, 3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Through Nov. 5: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's The Music Man
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Nov. 10: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's The Vagrant 2011 REVIEW
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.com




    John Hauser. SpotlightThrough Nov. 11: BDT Stage's Rock of Ages (see video above)
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com READ MORE

    Through Nov. 11: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre and Theatre Or's Buyer & Cellar

    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through Nov. 11: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's Medea
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.com


     

    Through Nov. 11: Midtown Arts Center's Once
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com READ MORE

    Through Nov. 12: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Birds of North America
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 12: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Bunnicula  (children's)
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Explorers ClubThrough Nov. 12: Evergreen Players' The Explorers Club
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    Through Nov. 18: Arvada Center's The Foreigner (black-box theatre)
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through Nov 18: DCPA Educaton and Theatre Company's The Snowy Day (children's) Conservatory Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 18: Buntport Theater's Edgar Allan Poe Is Dead and So Is My Cat
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Through Nov. 18: Theater Company of Lafayette’s Return to the Twilight Zone, a Parody
    At the Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org




    Through Nov. 19: Local Theater Company's The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias
    At The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 19: DCPA Theatre Company's Smart People
    Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 25: OpenStage's Monty Python's Spamalot
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through Nov. 26: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Legally Blonde, The Musical
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

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

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

    Edgar Allan Poe. Buntport
    Photo courtesy Buntport Theater.

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    AURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

    • Nov. 17-18: The Denver Dolls’ USO/Andrews Sisters tribute

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

    BRECKENRIDGE BACKSTAGE THEATRE

    • Nov. 24 and 25: Wine and Song: A Broadway Cabaret

    Breckenridge, 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    BUNTPORT THEATRE
    • Wednesday, Nov. 15: The Narrators (a monthly live storytelling show and podcast)
    • Tuesday, Nov. 21: The Great Debate (monthly)
    CHERRY CREEK THEATRE
    • Nov 17: O, Beautiful, with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra
    At the Central Presbyterian Church, 1660 Sherman St., 303-800-6578 or cherry creek theatre’s home page

    COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER AT COLORADO COLLEGE
    • Nov. 3: An Evening with Tom Papa
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    DENVER ACTORS FUND
      Gone_With_The_Wind_Anniversary-05081
    • Sunday, Nov. 19: Screening of the film Gone With the Wind, with live pre-screening entertainment from Anna Maria High, star of the Aurora Fox's upcoming  upcoming stage production of the stage musical Hi-Hat Hattie. Entertainment 5:30 p.m.; film at 6.
    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake. drafthouse.com

    LAKE DILLON THEATRE COMPANY

    • Nov. 10-11: Cabaret Series: Broadway Now and Then
      Featuring Kelly Renoux, Belen Moyano, Andrew Tebo and Jeffery Hyman. Musical Director: Drew Nichols
    Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org
       
    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, Nov. 11: On the Couch (1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org)
    Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month, Betty Hart reads from The Whole Truth, by Stephen McCauley; Jim Hunt reads from Steve Almond's Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched; Emily Paton Davies reads from Amy Bloom's Psychoanalysis.
  • 'Our Souls at Night' released today on Netflix

    by John Moore | Sep 30, 2017
    Jordan Leigh. Our Souls at Night
    'Our Souls at Night' reunites Robert Redford and Jane Fonda nearly 50 years after 'Barefoot in the Park.' Here they visit an animal-shelter adopter played by DCPA actor Jordan Leigh. Photo by Netflix.

    Gentle film caps Kent Haruf's career, reunites Fonda and Redford, and employs Colorado film and theatre artists

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The film version of Our Souls at Night, the final book by acclaimed Colorado novelist Kent Haruf, was released today on Netflix. It stars Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, and features a bevy of local actors.

    Our Souls at Night nicely bookends the Hollywood superstars' screen lives 50 years after Barefoot in the Park debuted in 1967. In the classic Neil Simon comedy, the pair starred as young newlyweds. In Our Souls at Night, they play widowed neighbors who strike up a romantic relationship, hoping to make the most of the time they have left. The New York Times' A.O. Scott calls the couple "neighbors with benefits." And he calls the new movie: "As gentle as a moth’s wing, as soft and sweet as the flesh of a marshmallow."

    Our Souls At NightThe film also features such luminaries as Bruce Dern and Judy Greer. Colorado theatre and film audiences will recognize John Ashton (Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County), Jordan Leigh (DCPA's upcoming First Date) and film actor Brock DeShane, who has a small small part as a ballroom dancer at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. 

    "My junior-high drama teacher wrote, 'To the next Robert Redford' in my yearbook at the end of 7th grade," Deshane wrote on his Facebook page. "I don't think that's going to happen, but I'd like to think that, somewhere, my drama teacher is smiling."

    (Pictured above right: Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in 'Our Souls at Night,' directed by Ritesh Batra. Photo by Kerry Brown/Netflix. Below right: Fonda and Redford in 'Barefoot in the Park' 50 years ago.)

    'Our Souls at Night' will reunite 'Barefoot in the Park' stars Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.Leigh, who is an avid animal-rights supporter in real life, plays, appropriately enough, an animal-shelter worker who is paid a visit by no less than Redford and Fonda. Eagle eyes will notice an uncredited appearance by Su Teatro Artistic Director Tony Garcia.

    The director is Ritesh Batra. The screenplay is written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who also wrote Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, (500) Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now

    READ KENT HARUF'S FINAL INTERVIEW HERE


    The film was largely filmed in Colorado Springs at the home of Colorado College professor David Hendrickson. The crew was based in Florence. The film was screened last night in Colorado Springs. Read the Westword report here.

    Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.The sale of the movie rights put the DCPA Theatre Company's plans to adapt Our Souls at Night for the stage on hold. The Theatre Company previously commissioned and presented Haruf's entire Plainsong Trilogy, which included Eventide and Benediction, in their world-premiere stagings.

    As his other novels were, Our Souls at Night is set in a fictional town on the Eastern Colorado Plains. In the final interview before his death, with the DCPA's NewsCenter, Haruf said the story is inspired by his story with his wife, Cathy Haruf.

    In 2014, Fonda told Vanity Fair's Krista Smith that of all the co-stars she’s had over her career, the one she really wants to work with again is Redford. “I just love him,” she said. “The only bad thing about Redford is that he doesn’t like to do love scenes, so the fact that he didn’t look forward to those always made me sad.

    "I thought maybe we could have gotten it on.”

    DCPA actors read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover in June. Photo by John Moore.
    DCPA actors read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover in June 2016. Above, from left: Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Cast list:
    • Jane Fonda: Addie Moore
    • Iain Armitage: Jamie
    • Robert Redford: Louis Waters
    • Judy Greer: Holly
    • Matthias Schoenaerts: Gene
    • Bruce Dern: Dorlan
    • Phyllis Somerville: Ruth
    • Leana Lewis: Actress
    • Michael Love Toliver: Actor
    • Audrey Walters: Realtor
    • Hawley Penfold: Cafe Teenager
    • Kyrannio Margaros: Actress
    • Anthoula Katsimatides: Nursery Cashier
    • Ted Maritz: Priest
    • Kathleen Timberman: Ballroom Patron / Dancer
    • Andy Hankins: Cafe Patron
    • Pam Renall: Actress
    • Sarah Novotny: Cafe Patron / Hotel Patron
    • Erick Yokomizo: Non-Surgical Doctor
    • Fred Osborne: Table Patron at The Brown Palace Hotel
    • Michelle Fish Ullmann: Mom / Driver (as Michelle Fish)
    • Jordan Leigh: Shelter Volunteer
    • Onder Asir: Ballroom dancer
    • Erin Fasano: Animal Shelter Adopter
    • Michael Douglas Miller: Street Patron
    • Amanda Kallander: Dancer
    • John C. Ashton: Rudy
    • Brock DeShane: Ballroom Dancer
    • Barbara Ellen Carpenter: Parade Goer
    • Marty Bechina: Teacher
    • Alayna Lewis: Actress
    • Michelle Penfold: Street Patron
    • Rachel Hergert: Hotel Patron / Dancer
    • Jordan Garner: Hotel Guest / Dance Table Patron
    • Jeremy Fink: Ballroom Dancer
    • Pamela Joye Miller: Street Patron / Parade Goer
    • Bruce Penfold: Stink Eye Man
    • Joshua Rotunda: Waiter
    • Scott Swaggart: friend of Louis
    • Dianne E. Butts: Cafe Patron, Parade Goer (uncredited)
    • Maetrix Fitten: Pedestrian (uncredited)
    • Lisa Kohlbrenner: Softball game spectator (uncredited)
    • Josh Outzen: Parade Goer (uncredited)
    • Randy Outzen: Parade Goer (uncredited)
    • Javana Richardson: Ballroom Patron (uncredited)
    • Antonino Garcia: Surgical Doctor (uncredited)

    Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage of Kent Haruf:
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    DCPA will adapt Haruf's final novel for the stage
    DCPA actors to read from Kent Haruf's final book
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    Benediction opens as a celebration of the 'Precious Ordinary'
    DCPA to celebrate Kent Haruf on Feb. 7
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71


  • Editorial: 2B or not 2B? There is no question

    by John Moore | Sep 25, 2017
    Sweeney Todd Opening Night. Photo by Adams Visual Communications

    Funds from 2B would help fund the renovation of the Stage Theatre, shown here hosting opening night of  the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Sweeney Todd' in 2016. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    'Our Denver' bond would help the region’s leading cultural organizations, which combined serve 6.6 million each year

    By Suzanne Yoe
    DCPA Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs

    Every 10 years, the City of Denver has the opportunity to invest in its infrastructure and enhance the facilities that are central to the fabric of our diverse communities. In 2007, voters approved the "Better Denver Bond" program, and projects were completed in neighborhoods dotting the city from new animal shelters, libraries and recreation centers to playground, road and fire-station improvements.

    GO Bond LogoThis November, voters will have the same opportunity before them — the opportunity to approve seven ballot measures representing 460 projects that will improve and transform communities in our area. Known as “Our Denver,” voters will be asked to allow the city to assume debt to cover capital improvements, which are paid back over time from existing property taxes without raising taxes. The sum total of the package is $937 million and will appear on the ballot as measures 2A-2G.

    Among the "GO Bond" initiatives is 2B — a request for more than $112 million in funding for capital improvements for the region’s leading cultural organizations, which collectively serve more than 6.6 million guests each year. These would help fund the renovation of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Stage and Ricketson theatres to implement critical life-safety improvements, preserve the Denver Art Museum’s iconic North Building, replace a 50-year-old animal hospital at the Denver Zoo, build a new education center at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and address deferred maintenance projects at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Passage of 2B comes with a financial obligation from each of the recipient cultural organizations.

    While funding from our voter-approved Scientific and Cultural Facilities District is essential to providing access and education, enabling growth and stability, and elevating programming and artistic success, those funds are restricted and cannot be used for building maintenance and new construction projects.

    For detailed information on the projects included in “Our Denver” including the cultural initiatives outlined in measure 2B, please visit OurDenver2017.com.

    Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs Suzanne Yoe has been working for the DCPA for 23 years.

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

    by John Moore | Sep 03, 2017

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


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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    Dancing with the Denver Stars: Full photo gallery

    2017 Dancing with the Denver Stars

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

     

    Dancing with the Denver Stars: 2017 Featured Dancers

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

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



    John Bolger

    Managing Director, Aon Corporation
    Dancing with Jessica Horton



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

    CEO, Street Source
    Dancing with Ralaya (Rae) Goshea



    Celia Dietrich Wattles

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



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

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



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

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



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

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



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

    Partner, Polsinelli Law Firm
    Dancing with YooJung Hahm



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

    Doctor, Western OBGYN
    Dancing with Amelia Dietz



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



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

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

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



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


    More video:

    Here's a highlight reel from Cleo Parker Robinson Dance that shows more of the festivities from the 2017 'Dancing with the Denver Stars.'
  • Authentic voices: 2017 student playwriting winners announced

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2017
    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Two student writers will have their one-act plays
    fully staged in public performances in June.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The mission of DCPA Education’s annual year-long student playwriting competition is to help high-school writers find and cultivate their authentic voices. And this year, for the first time, it has ultimately chosen to celebrate two.

    The winning plays of the fourth annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition are Dear Boy on the Tree, written by Jasmin Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak Preparatory Academy in Aurora, and Spilt Lava, written by Ryan McCormick of Fort Collins High School. Both plays will be given full productions in June, performed by DCPA Education’s summer teen company.

    Teen Playwriting QuoteBoth plays feature young couples exploring connection in unusual places. In Spilt Lava, a boy and girl float across each other on doors in a world where the floor is made of burning lava. Dear Boy on the Tree is a gender-reversed take on Rapunzel, featuring a boy hiding in a tree who is trapped by his fear until a girl named Willow happens along.

    “At the DCPA, we know it is so important to cultivate young playwrights,” said Director of Education Allison Watrous. “That's what this program is all about.”

    Each fall, DCPA Teaching Artists go out into schools statewide, deliver playwriting workshops and encourage students to write and submit one-act plays for the competition. This year, those Teaching Artists went to 46 high schools and delivered 138 workshops for more than 2,800 students. “We really want to encourage teenagers to tell amazing stories and put their plays out in the world,” Watrous said.  

    This year, 132 one-act plays were received and judged blindly. In January, 10 were named as finalists. Of those, four were chosen to have a workshop and staged reading by DCPA actors at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February. The process mirrors exactly what happens to the four new plays featured by the DCPA Theatre Company at each Summit. “It's really the first time these students have an opportunity to hear the play on its feet with a cast of actors,” Watrous said. “That gives the playwright the opportunity to really fine-tune the play as it moves to its next stage of development.”  

    IStudent Playwriting Ryan McCormickn previous years, one play has been ultimately chosen for a full summer production. This year, competition officials chose to advance both Lozano and McCormick’s scripts to full stagings.

    Lozano, a first-generation American whose parents do not speak English, asked her brothers if she was hallucinating when she read the email telling her she had been named a finalist.

    “I started crying right then and there because it was so emotional,” said Lozano. “Then my mom heard me crying and she said, 'What's happening? What's happening?' I explained everything to her in Spanish and then we all started crying, because we're a family of criers.

    Teen Playwriting Jasmin Hernandez LozanoLozano, who wrote her play in English, was born in a neighborhood “where I had a lot of limits,” she said, “so I would never assume I could win something like this. I don't have a family that has won a lot of awards. So winning this is one step toward getting out of that stereotype that Hispanic people can’t achieve as much as other people.”

    McCormick, now a senior, also was a top-10 finalist his sophomore year. He wrote Spilt Lava in part “because there was a girl I was trying to convince to date me, and she was reluctant,” he said. He credits the DCPA and his teachers for giving him the creative confidence to set his unlikely play on a floor of lava.

    “I've been working on it for a while, so it went through different phases,” he said. “As I got to higher English classes in high school, we started learning about postmodernism and the idea that if everyone believes something, then that is its own reality - and the lava floor is a perfect example of that. I wrote a love story where the floor happens to be lava.”

    Student Playwriting Allison WatrousThe winning plays will be performed back-to-back twice at 1:30 and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 16, in the DCPA’s Conservatory Theatre. Admission is free, and the public is welcome. Both will be directed by actor and published playwright Steven Cole Hughes.

    The other finalists were Parker Bennett of Fossil Ridge High School (Counting in Clay and Jessica Wood of Denver Christian School (Chill Winds). Wood is the first student in the competition's history to advance to the Colorado New Play Summit twice.

    “It was such an amazing experience last year to be able to see my play go through the workshop process and then have a staged reading,” said Wood. “I was so excited to come back and to experience that again. Programs like this just don't exist in very many places.”

    The four finalists each received personal mentoring from a professional playwright at the Summit, culminating in public readings that were attended by their families and friends alongside theatre professionals from all around the country. Last year, Wood was mentored by Lauren Yee, whose play Manford at the Line was developed at the 2017 Summit and will be fully staged as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s next mainstage season.

    “It was so amazing to be able to meet with someone who actually makes a living from playwriting,” Wood said of Yee. “Just to hear her say, 'Your play was really good' was an incredible feeling for me.”

    Student Playwriting Allison WatrousMcCormick said advancing as far as the Summit was all he could have hoped for. “To come here and just be able to rub shoulders with professionals and just be a part of this whole Summit has been crazy,” he said.

    In addition, each teacher of the four finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. And as an added bonus, the DCPA will publish all four of the finalists’ plays.

    “We do that so we can continue to create a volume of the plays each year and to really commemorate this work,” Watrous said. “Now these writers are now all published playwrights, which is very exciting.”

    Some of the 132 participating students may become professional playwrights someday. But the greater goal, Watrous said, is to advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication, which are skills that can help them in all aspects of their adult lives.


    Photo gallery: 2016-17 Student Playwriting

    2017 Student Playwriting

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for free and may be used for personal and social purposes with credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
     

    2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:
    Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School
    Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School
    Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    Samantha Shapard, Overland High School
    Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    Daniela Villalobo, York International
    Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School
  • Martin Semple to succeed Ritchie as DCPA Chairman

    by John Moore | Mar 07, 2017

    Martin Semple


    By Suzanne Yoe

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Martin Semple will succeed Daniel L. Ritchie as only the third Chairman of the Board of Trustees in the nearly 40-year history of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, it was announced today. The appointment is effective in July.

    Semple and his wife, Jo, have been patrons and donors of the DCPA since the 1980s. Semple, a partner with the Denver law firm of Semple, Farrington & Everall, P.C., served as the DCPA’s legal counsel for more than three decades. He joined both the DCPA Board of Trustees and the Helen Bonfils Foundation Board of Trustees in July 2007.

    “Martin has been an invaluable member of the Denver Center’s Board of Trustees for a decade,” said Ritchie. “He and his wife have been staunch supporters, loyal patrons and committed donors who have contributed to the ongoing success of this organization for nearly 40 years. I can’t imagine a better successor to serve as our third Chairman of the Board.”

    Added DCPA President & CEO Janice Sinden: “As a business leader, civic partner and individual patron, Martin has been entrenched in all aspects of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I am delighted that  he will lend his expertise and friendship to the continued success of the DCPA as we develop a vision for the future that embraces our community, elevates our artists, and enhances our place as one of the city’s cultural gems.”

    Semple graduated from St. Patrick’s College in Dublin and earned doctorates in law from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the Catholic University of America. His current Board memberships include the DCPA and National Jewish Health. Past Board affiliations include Colorado Children’s Hospital Foundation (1985-1995; Chairman 1990-1992); National School Boards Association (2000-2001), Common Good Colorado (2009-2011), National Council of School Attorneys (Chairman 2000-2001) and Colorado School Attorneys Council.

    Semple has specialized in public and private sector labor and employment law and represents nonprofit organizations, school districts and cities among other client groups. Additionally, Semple has served as an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Denver College of Law and the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado at Denver.

    “I am honored that the Denver Center’s Board of Trustees has selected me to succeed Dan as its new Chairman,” said Semple. “I look forward to working with my colleagues, Janice and the exemplary staff of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to develop a vision that engrains this organization into the very fabric of our community — both locally and throughout the American theatre.”

    Semple also has served as President of the Helen G. Bonfils Foundation since 2015, an endowment fund established to support the Denver Center. Denver Post Chairman William Dean Singleton will succeed Semple as President of the Foundation. Singleton, who was co-founder of the Denver-based newspaper chain MediaNews Group (now known as Digital First Media), has been served on both the DCPA and Bonfils boards since March 2001.

    Semple joins Ritchie and founding Chairman Donald R. Seawell as DCPA board chairs. Seawell served as Chairman from 1979-2006 and worked together with Semple building the DCPA for more than 25 years. Seawell was founder of both downtown’s Denver Performing Arts Complex (the facility) and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (the largest nonprofit theatre organization in the nation). Seawell was succeeded by Ritchie, philanthropist, businessman, civic leader and education champion, in 2007. Under their leadership, the Denver Center has had many notable accomplishments through its six distinct lines of programming:

    • DCPA Theatre Company — Tony-winning company that produces an annual season of up to 10 homegrown productions, including more than 160 new works (The Book of Will, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Sense & Sensibility The Musical, Tantalus, Lydia, The Whale, Quilters, Black Elk Speaks).
    • DCPA Broadway — A preferred stop on the Broadway touring circuit including more than a dozen national tour launches (The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, If/Then, Pippin) and the pre-Broadway debuts of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Frozen (2017).
    • DCPA Cabaret — Intimate, casual entertainment featuring shows including Denver’s longest-running cabaret hit, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
    • DCPA Off-Center — A theatrical testing ground that develops innovative, participatory programming both on- and off-site (Sweet & Lucky, Travelers of the Lost Dimension).
    • DCPA Education: Statewide educational programs that serve more than 105,000 students annually through acting classes, in-school workshops, in-theatre field trips and audience engagement programs.
    • DCPA Event Services: Pemier rental venues that utilize theatrical innovation to capture the imagination of guests in lobbies, theatres, the Directors Room and the Seawell Grand Ballroom.

    As Chairman of the Board, Semple will work with fellow Trustees and CEO Janice Sinden to remain integral to Denver’s rapidly growing community, build upon the strong foundation that has enabled the DCPA to attract the nation’s top talent, and, above all else, provide the leadership, resources and partnerships that will sustain the organization’s commitment to art for years to come.

    Suzanne Yoe is Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs for the DCPA.

    Previous coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter
    DCPA Chairman Daniel Ritchie will step down in 2017
    From Mayor to Mother: Insight into new DCPA boss Janice Sinden
  • Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line

    by John Moore | Feb 23, 2017

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.


    In this daily, five-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we will introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 12 years, 27 plays introduced to the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. Next up: Lauren Yee, author of the basketball play Manford at the Line, or The Great Leap.

    Chinese-American playwright Lauren Yee
    lays it all on the free-throw line

    When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game in the post-Cultural Revolution 1980s, both countries try to tease out the politics behind this newly popular sport. Cultures clash as the Chinese coach tries to pick up moves from the Americans, and a Chinese-American player named Manford spies on his opponent.

    John Moore: What do we need to know about your play?

    Lauren Yee: My father grew up in San Francisco Chinatown. And until he had kids,
    the only thing he was good at was basketball. I know this because even today, walking around San Francisco, people stop us on the street and say, “I used to play you in basketball!” And as we're walking away, my dad will smile and say, “Yeah … and I kicked your (bleep).” In the 1980s, he and his American teammates traveled to China to play a series of exhibition games against various teams throughout the country. I asked him, “Did you win?” And he told me, “They demolished us in almost every single game.” I think the first game they played was against Beijing. It was either a high-school or a college team. And my dad was like, “No, joke, Lauren, their players were, like, 7-foot-6. My father is 6-foot-1, and he was the tallest guy on his team. He said, “We would have to tell our teammates when their guy had the ball, because if you were guarding your man, you couldn't see what he was doing.” I think they only won one game, which was in Hong Kong when the players happened to be closer to 6-feet tall than 7-feet tall. And I think they only won that game by two points.

    John Moore: But I bet they could describe the waistbands of their opponents in great detail.

    Lauren Yee: Oh yeah. Have you ever seen one of those Mickey Mouse cartoons where Mickey is being chased by a train? That's how my dad felt: Like Mickey Mouse in China.

    Lauren Yee. Photo by  John Moore

    John Moore: So how does that turn into a play?

    Lauren Yee: I always thought that idea was so interesting of a Chinese-American young man like my father going to the country of his parents for the first time, playing an opponent who looks like him - but not quite.

    John Moore: What do we need to know about the title?

    Lauren Yee: Manford at the Line begs the question of whose play this is. And it foreshadows what is going to be important further down the line. It's almost the final play of the game.

    John Moore: Your play was originally called Manford from Half Court.

    Lauren Yee: Yeah. The final play longer happens at half-court. It happens at the free-throw line, so that necessitated changing the title.

    John Moore: The game of basketball has become very global in the past decade, especially in the NBA. But your play takes place in 1989. When did basketball become such a national priority in China?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Lauren Yee: The interesting thing about that is basketball is the only Western sport that has never been banned in China. I think we Americans think of basketball as a sport that is completely ours. And that whenever go abroad, we are bringing basketball to a different part of the world. But the truth of it is, China has had basketball since the 19th century. American missionaries first brought the game there in the late 1900s. And ever since then, the Chinese have viewed basketball as a symbol of their country. If you think of all the sports out there, basketball is the one in which you can really lay the ideals of communism on top of it. Everyone gets to touch the ball. Everyone is equal in their position. Mao (Tse-tung) was a big, big fan of basketball. Prior to him coming to power in the 1930s, he used to play basketball with his colleagues. I think the shift in the game has just been the professionalization of it. In the 1990s, right after my play takes place, you begin to see the national league in China start up, the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association). That’s been really fascinating because you have players like Yao Ming coming out of the CBA and going to America, but you are also have NBA players like Stephon Marbury coming to China and playing in the CBA. Stephon Marbury is beloved in China.

    (Note: Stephon Marbury, now 40, is a two-time NBA All-Star who has played for three Chinese teams since 2010, winning three CBA championships.)

    Lauren Yee QuoteJohn Moore: How does the culture clash play out in your story? Because from a very young age, American kids are taught to shoot the ball. And your lead character at one point explains very comically how a Chinese player almost needs permission to shoot.

    Lauren Yee: My father told me that Chinese players, as opposed to his team of Americans, did not like to go inside. They didn't like to get aggressive. They loved to stand back and sink the ball from the 3-point line. I find that sport is always such a great analogy for how a country works and how two countries interact and that space where they rub up against each other and conflict in terms of strategy and styles and priorities. 

    John Moore: You have said you main character is not, specifically, your father.

    Lauren Yee: No.

    John Moore: What does he think about you writing a basketball play inspired by his experiences?

    Spotlight: Rogelio Martinez on when world leaders collide

    Lauren Yee: I feel like my father is always simultaneously a little mortified and a little delighted by the idea of there being a play about his experiences. I am sure there is a lot about the play that he will say I got wrong. I feel like the biggest difference between my main character and my father is that my father was always celebrated for the great basketball player he was.   

    John Moore: What is the tone of your play?

    Lauren Yee: My plays tend to be comedies ... until they are not. They also tend to be comedies that hopefully show you something in a way you have never seen before. This is a basketball play, but hopefully I am showing you something about the game in a delightful way that you have never seen before.

    Lauren Yee 2016 Colorado New Play SummitJohn Moore: Last year, you were a guest here at the Colorado New Play Summit as a commissioned writer for the DCPA Theatre Company. Now you are here as one of the five featured Summit playwrights. What are your thoughts on the Summit?

    Lauren Yee: I think the Colorado New Play Summit is such a wonderful playground. The Denver Center supports pieces starting from the inception of a commission and continues after the Summit. I feel like the Denver Center is really invested in telling lots of different types of stories from lots of different perspectives. I also think there is incredible freedom for playwrights to tackle the story any way they want to.

    John Moore: Let’s get perfectly real here: If you are anything other than a white male, you are probably underrepresented in the American theatre right now. And as a Chinese-American woman, you are about as under-represented as it gets. But you have broken through and really have gotten the attention of the American theatre. Do you see that as a burden or an obligation or a wide-open opportunity?

    Lauren Yee: For me, in order to spend the two or three years needed to follow a story and really see it through to its end, I think it has to be a story that feels personal and urgent and specific enough to me that I think I really am the best person to tell that story. And that I would really love to spend all those years of my life in the room with this idea. Sometimes it boils down to, "This is a story that shares something in my DNA culturally.” And other times, it has nothing to do with that. It can be a burden,  but there is also this joy in being able to tell an audience a story in a way that no one else can tell it.

    Lauren Yee QuoteJohn Moore: Obviously gender disparity has been a major topic of conversation in the American theatre for several years. What does it mean to you as a female playwright that the Denver Center is a place with the $1.2 million Women's Voices Fund?

    Lauren Yee: I think the Women's Voices Fund is such an exciting and vital venture. It makes sure that you are representing the groups that you want to be representing - and then letting them run with it. I may be sponsored by the Women's Voices Fund, but I am not being told to write a play that stars all women, or has to have some female-specific topic. My play is about a Chinese-American man playing basketball in China. I think the Women’s Voices Fund embraces the multiplicity of views that come with what your gender is, and what your ethnicity is. I am Chinese-American, but part of the joy of my work is that I get to inhabit all of these different worlds.

    John Moore: Why is your play the right play at the right time?
    Lauren Yee: I think this play is relevant now because it explores the idea that one person can make a difference in the world they live in. It's also a play about diplomacy. It's a play about relating to different people from different countries. It is a play about protest. And it is a play about realizing when it is your turn to step up.

    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.

    Manford at the Line, or The Great Leap
    Written by Lauren Yee
    Directed by Josh Brody
    Dramaturgy by Kristen Leahey
    Manford: Kevin Lin
    Saul: Brian Keane
    Wen Chang: Francis Jue
    Connie: Jo Mei
    Stage Directions: Samantha Long

    Manford. Photo by John MooreFrancis Jue, left, and Brian Keane in Lauren Yee's 'Manford at the Line, Or The Great Leap.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Selected previous coverage of the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit:
    2017 Summit welcomes dozens for opening rehearsal
    Summit Spotlight: Robert Schenkkan on the dangers of denial
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Summit Spotlight: Rogelio Martinez on when world leaders collide
    Summit Spotlight: Donnetta Lavinia Grays on the aftermath of trauma
    Summit Spotlight: Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America
    Record four student writers to have plays read at Summit
    DCPA completes field of five 2017 Summit playwrights

    The 12th Annual Colorado New Play Summit
    Launch Weekend: Feb. 18-19
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 24-26
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

  • Stanley Marketplace soon to welcome 'Travelers of the Lost Dimension'

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2017

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension


    Off-Center, the unconventional arm of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' programming, has announced that its upcoming, off-site collaboration at the new Stanley Marketplace will be called Travelers of the Lost Dimension.

    A Stanley Aviation 800Written by and featuring the Denver-based comedy trio A.C.E., Travelers of the Lost Dimension will be a 360-degree experience where audience members make their way through various public spaces throughout Stanley Marketplace and touch objects, play games and find themselves inches away from the story's participating characters.

    “We are really looking forward to a new type of audience immersion with this show,” said Charlie Miller, Curator of Off-Center. “With our recent production of Sweet & Lucky, we occupied a 16,000 square-foot warehouse and built an immersive world for the audience to explore. With Travelers of the Lost Dimension, we are excited to be working throughout public spaces at Stanley Marketplace, creating a story that will change how audiences perceive the world around them.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A.C.E. is a Denver-based comedy trio made up of an American, a Canadian and an Englishman (get it?) otherwise known as actors Linda Klein, Barbara Gehring and Matthew Taylor. A.C.E. has created more than 50 unique theatrical productions around the world since 1998. Gehring and Klein created the raucous comedy phenom Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women, which has celebrated the truth and silliness of being a woman for more than 110,000 (mostly female) audiences since 2008.

    The Travelers of the Lost Dimension story, according to its makers:

    "Take a ride that’s quicker than light ... faster than time … to a world that’s just like ours … but not. There’s a dimension that exists a breath away from our own, undetected by those who live parallel to it. The mysteries of this strangely similar world have been lost for eons, until now. With wit, wonderment and some dubious technology, a ragtag group of explorers will brave an inter-dimensional journey to discover the fantastical realm in the beyond. Open your eyes a little wider, step out a little further and leap into an adventure comedy of your imagination."

    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development.

    Off-Center announces Stanley Marketplace partnership

    The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent.

    “We're big fans of collaboration, and we leaped at the chance to work with the team from Off-Center,” said Bryant Palmer, Chief Storyteller at Stanley Marketplace. “They excel at producing one-of-a-kind theatrical experiences, and we're building a marketplace in an old aviation manufacturing facility with a rich history. That sounds like a perfect combination to us.”

    Miller said each performance will be limited to 45 audience members. Tickets start at $30.

    This production is supported by The Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative.

    Off-Center also will be presenting two nights of Cult Following: Secrets and Confessions hosted by Fox-31 TV personality Chris Parente and its resident team of improv comedians at The Clocktower Cabaret on Feb. 10-11. Click here for information.

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension: Company
    Diana Dresser (Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky, DCPA Theatre Company's All the Way)
    Adrian Egolf (DCPA Theatre Company's Benediction)
    Barbara Gehring (Member of A.C.E.)
    Linda Klein (Member of A.C.E.)
    Leigh Miller (Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky)
    Bruce Montgomery Evergreen Players' Epic Improv Company
    Matthew Taylor (Member of A.C.E.)
    Nanna Thompson (Off-Center's Cult Following)

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension: Ticket information
    Travelers of the Lost DimensionMarch 16-April 23
    • 2501 Dallas St, Aurora, CO 80010 MAP IT
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Please note that each performance is limited to 45 audience members and some performances already are sold out.
  • Mitchell and Trask: The two halves of Hedwig's whole

    by John Moore | Nov 15, 2016

    Hedwig John Cameron Mitchell Stephen Trask



    Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    is a 90-minute rock narrative that tells the story of an East Berlin boy who dreams of finding his other half. But while the biographical details of this extraordinary tale are shockingly unique — the desperate boy submits to a brutal (and botched) sex-change operation to marry a soldier who takes her to Kansas and abandons her there — this underdog and largely underground phenomenon has made a profound impact on a generation of audiences seeking their own kinds of individual wholeness. For Hedwig, it was the dream of connecting with her believed soulmate, a pimply boy named Tommy Gnosis who instead grows up to steal her music — and her fame.

    “The most common positive effect I hear from people is that our story creates a space in their lives for them to find themselves,” said writer John Cameron Mitchell. “Everybody is fighting a battle. Everyone is a misfit and a loser. Or has felt that way. Hedwig’s road is particularly hard, but she laughs at it. And that’s what makes her story a communal thing.”

    John Moore's 2005 interview with John Cameron Mitchell's parents

    Speaking of two sides of a whole, the fictional Hedwig is very much the two halves of her own two creators — Mitchell and composer Stephen Trask.

    “The person looking for their other half is John,” said Trask. “And the internationally ignored song stylist is me. We just mashed her together into one.”

    Hedwig Stephen Trask QuoteHedwig — both the character and the theatrical rock concert — were born after New York was gripped by AIDS, but not yet by terror. Trask was the bandleader at a new gay nightclub called Squeezebox, which fully embraced punk, new-wave and glam-rock at a time when, he said, “There really wasn’t much space in the rock world for gay people, and there really wasn’t a space for rock music in the gay world. But it turned out there were a lot of people who wanted it.”

    Squeezebox was a hit from the moment it opened its doors. Gone were the days of drag queens lip-syncing to Streisand. In their place was a full-throated Hedwig and her band.

    Mitchell and Trask first began working on a show about a rock-star character loosely based on Mitchell — the now unseen Tommy Gnosis. “Frankly, and no offense to John,” Trask said, “but he really wasn’t that interesting.” So they focused instead on inventing a female character Mitchell could play. Hedwig was inspired by a babysitter Mitchell remembered having.

    Trask said to Mitchell: “Why don’t we take her and make her into a failed singer who used to have a relationship with our rock-star character? Now he’s famous, and she’s singing in dives, is bitter about it and is telling us about it.”

    Hedwig went from the club to the theatrical stage in 1998 with an off-Broadway run that led to a cult-favorite 2001 independent film. But another dozen years would pass before the theatrical gods aligned and Hedwig finally bowed on Broadway — sort of.

    In the film, Hedwig performs in a bowling alley, among other places. Around the country, the musical is typically presented in seedy nightclubs. A classy Broadway theatre was no place for Hedwig’s act, so this would require an anachronistic wink. When Hedwig opened on Broadway, the gag was that the host Belasco Theatre had just housed a disastrous run of The Hurt Locker, the Musical, which closed after one performance. Hedwig and Company are now essentially squatting in the abandoned theatre as Tommy performs on a legit stage across the alley.

    Hedwig John Cameron Mitchell Quote“The whole idea of a Broadway musical based on The Hurt Locker is just so wrong, and that’s why it’s so much fun,” Trask said. “There is no end to how much you can tell that joke.”

    But the joke doesn’t work on the road, so the team has adopted a slight alteration for its first national tour: When Hedwig plays road houses such as Denver’s Buell Theatre, it’s a disastrous pre-Broadway run of The Hurt Locker that just tanked.

    It took Hedwig so long to make it to Broadway, Mitchell believes, because Broadway wasn’t ready for Hedwig. “We didn’t change. The world changed,” said Mitchell. “The idea of rock ’n’ roll on the stage, the idea of drag, the idea of this unusual story — they all became less frightening. It was just time. And we wanted to make sure we had the right person to play Hedwig.”

    And at age 51, the right person was no longer Mitchell, who instead happily handed the wig over to the man he calls “America’s sweetheart,” Neil Patrick Harris. He was followed  by a steady stream of bankable stars including Michael C. Hall, Darren Criss, Taye Diggs, Andrew Rannells and, for three months, John Cameron Mitchell.

    Yes, after rave reviews and nearly a year on Broadway, Mitchell decided to step back into Hedwig’s heels and bring his personal journey full circle.

    “It was just like the old days, but somehow better because there was less at stake,” said Mitchell, who said he took on the challenge as a way to shake him from the complacency he felt stuck in following the deaths of his longtime partner, Hedwig band member Jack Steeb, and father, Army Major General John H. Mitchell. The general was in charge of all U.S. military forces in West Germany in 1987 and stood behind Ronald Reagan when the president famously implored, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Mitchell’s father, who retired to Colorado Springs and died in 2013, profoundly influenced his son’s writing of Hedwig.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    From Broadway, Mitchell learned he was not too old to play Hedwig — nor will he ever be.

     “This is a story that can be told at any time, and a role you can do at any age,” Mitchell said. “The character can age. I am sure I will do it one more time when I am in my 70s, sitting in a chair. I’m just sure the keys will be very low.”

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

    More to come from John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask
    Look for John Moore’s expanded individual interviews with John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask coming soon to the DCPA NewsCenter

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch in Denver: Ticket information
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation, with a pulsing score and electrifying performances, that tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage.
    • Dec 6-11
    • Buell Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: Dec. 10
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829 

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Casting: Euan Morton to don Hedwig's wig on national tour
    Hedwig named to Denver Center's 2016-17 Broadway season
    Hedwig creator’s parents are tearing down a wall
  • Video Playlist: Our 2016 Henry Awards coverage

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2016


    The fifth in our series of videos from the 2016 Henry Awards brings you the names of every winner being called out, and highlights from their acceptance speeches.

    The Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards were held on July 18, 2016, at the PACE Center in Parker. More videos will be added to this special YouTube playlist.

    Videos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Watch our montage of performance highlights

    Watch Deborah Persoff accept the Lifetime Achievement Award

    Watch Melody Duggan accept the Theatre Educator Award

    Watch our 2016 Memoriam video


    Recent NewsCenter coverage of the Henry Awards:

    2016 Henry Awards a triumph for Theatre Aspen, Rabbit Hole
    Preview: Henry Awards welcome Theatre Aspen to the party
    DCPA leads hugely expanded pool of 2016 Henry Award nominees
    Paige Price: From Broadway to Sex With Strangers
    DCPA leads way with 11 2015 Henry Awards

    Our complete photo gallery from the Henry Awards:

    2016 Henry Awards

    Photos by Brian Landis Folkins and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the forward arrow above.

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zaXig4EKD8I?list=PLexX4Wflzocm3436-lTxQoy5ppYZSH9Px" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>Kevin Copenhaver accepts his Henry Award for Outstanding Ciostume Design for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Sweeney Todd.' Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.
  • Photos: Opening night of 'Sweet & Lucky'

    by John Moore | May 24, 2016
    Making of 'Sweet & Lucky'

    Our complete photo gallery of the making of 'Sweet & Lucky' in Denver. To see more, just hit the forward arrow on the image above. Then click on any photo and follow instructions to download it for free. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Sweet And Lucky Opening. The photos above are from the May 20 opening celebration of Sweet & Lucky, a collaboration between the DCPA's Off-Center with New York's Third Rail Projects. Sweet & Lucky is the largest physical undertaking in the Denver Center’s nearly 40-year history. This immersive exploration of the vagaries of memory is playing out in a 16,000-square-foot converted warehouse at 4120 E. Brighton Boulevard. Westword calls Sweet & Lucky "a brave, lovely, original adventure." It plays through June 25.

    (Pictured above: At the end of the experience, audiences are treated to a cocktail from nationally recognized Williams & Graham mixologist Sean Kenyon. Photo by John Moore.)


    Sweet & Lucky: Ticket information:

    Sweet & Lucky plays through June 25 at 4120 E. Brighton Boulevard, with newly added performances. Only 72 audience members per performance. Wear comfortable shoes. Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Sweet & Lucky has its own web site. You should check it out here. 


    Sweet And Lucky Opening.

    'Sweet & Lucky' cast photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Sweet & Lucky:
    5 things we learned about Sweet & Lucky
    Zach Morris is home to seize the cultural moment
    Casting announced; tickets onsale
    DCPA to create new immersive theatre piece with Third Rail Projects
    Kickstarter campaign allows audience to dive deeper

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter
  • Video: The 'If/Then' interview series from Denver

    by John Moore | Nov 19, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read our complete interview with David Stone


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

    Bonus: Our Opening Night Photo Gallery:

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



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

    SCFD
  • Gareth Saxe's 'Lion King' homecoming

    by John Moore | Nov 13, 2015

    Gareth Saxe, who has long played Scar in Disney's The Lion King on Broadway, has temporarily joined the national touring production so that he can play the deliciously evil role in his hometown of Denver, where this touring production began in 2001.

    Saxe, a graduate of Denver East High School and Colorado College, has performed with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the DCPA Theatre Company. He grew up watching plays at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, and said doing so while idolizing actors such as Kathleen M. Brady, John Hutton and Jacqueline Antaramian was “close to 95 percent” of the reason he became a professional actor.

    Saxe fulfilled a lifelong goal in 2001 when he was cast to play Valvert in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Cyrano de Bergerac. His co-stars included Bill Christ, Ryan Shively, Randy Moore, Tony Church, Christopher Leo, Gabriella Cavalerro, Louis Schaefer, January LaVoy, Tracy Shaffer, Erik Tieze, Jason Henning and Chad Henry. (Photo: Gareth Saxe as Scar in Disney's 'The Lion King.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Saxe remembers performing in Boulder in 1998 with Colorado Shakes as a seminal summer. “To be able to work on that language in that space in Boulder in the summer is magic,” said Saxe, who was cast to understudy Richard II while also playing Costard in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

    “The guy who was playing Richard was also playing Don Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost, which we opened the night before we opened Richard II,” he said. "I was onstage with this actor as he was doing a little jig, and I heard his knee go … snap!

    “I realized at that moment I was not going to sleep for the next 48 hours because that meant that I would be going on as Richard the next night. It was the single most terrifying moment of my young adult life - and also the most thrilling. That’s like one of those nightmares you wake up from in chills. But then it happens and you don’t die and you think, ‘Well, maybe I can do this.’ ”

    Saxe went on to perform in The Homecoming, Heartbreak House and The Lion King on Broadway. He credits in part two of his Colorado College professors for his success. “Tom Lindblade and Jim Malcolm were instrumental in the kind of program that CC has,” said Saxe of teachers who also helped launch the acclaimed Buntport Theater ensemble and Thaddeus Phillips, who has debuted several of his inventive, experimental works at theatres in Denver and Colorado Springs under his company name, Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental.

    "It was an extraordinary experience, and I can’t thank them enough,” Saxe said of his time in Colorado Springs. 

    The Lion King is playing in Denver through Nov. 29. Call 303-893-4100.

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


    More of Gareth Saxe's performance credits:

    Broadway: The Homecoming, Heartbreak House. Off-Broadway: Richard III, The Winter’s Tale (Public); Echoes of the War (Mint Theater). Regional: A Moon to Dance By (George Street Playhouse); Hamlet, Dangerous Liaisons (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ); Sexual Perversity in Chicago (American Conservatory Theater); iWitness (Mark Taper Forum). Film and TV: Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, “Law & Order,” “SVU.” MFA: NYU.

    Disney’s The Lion King: Ticket information

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

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Lion King:
    For South Africans, Pride Lands are the land of opportunity 
    Circle of Life: The Lion King tour returns to Denver birthplace
    Technical director David Bencken on hanging 12 tons of equipment
    Original The Lion King orchestra member plays 15 different flutes
    Official show page


    Gareth Saxe poses in the lobby of the Buell Theatre last week in Denver. Photo by John Moore. Gareth Saxe poses in the lobby of the Buell Theatre last week in Denver. Photo by John Moore.

    Gareth Cyrano 600
    Gareth Saxe as the Spanish officer Valvert in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Cyrano de Bergerac.'




    Gareth Saxe's program bio from 2001 when he made his DCPA Theatre Company debut in 'Cyrano de Bergerac,' directed by Nagle Jackson and starring Bill Christ.
  • Video, photos: Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament raises $45,000

    by John Moore | Jul 02, 2015


    The DCPA's 12th annual fundraising golf tournament, held June 29 at the Lakewood Country Club, was renamed this year in honor of the late DCPA President Randy Weeks.

    The 2015 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament raised $45,000 for the Bobby G Awards, an annual celebration of achievement in Colorado high-school theatre founded by Weeks in 2013.

    Over 12 years, the annual tournament, previously called the Swing Time Tournament, has raised $1 million for DCPA programming.

    Students from Westminster High School sing from 'Rent' before the Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by John Moore. The year-long Bobby G Awards program includes personal workshops at all 30 participating schools hosted by DCPA Education Teaching Artists. A field of several dozen professional adjudicators then fan out across the state and attend those schools'  musicals, then provide constructive feedback.

    Their scores serve as the basis for a Tony Awards-style celebration at the end of each schoolyear held at the Buell Theatre. The two students named Outstanding Actor and Actress advance to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City.

    In the video above, DCPA Broadway executive Director John Ekeberg welcomes the field of 68 participating golfers and explains the value of the Bobby G Awards.

    Just before the shotgun start, students from Westminster High School's Rent (pictured above) serenaded the golfers with that show's signature song, "Seasons of Love." Rent was one of five nominated outstanding musicals at the most recent Bobby G Awards ceremony held May 28 at the Buell Theatre. They are introduced by Andre' Rodriguez, who won the Bobby G Award for Outstanding Direction.

    "Regardless of whether or not they pursue theatre as a career," Rodriguez said, "they are getting skills that are truly preparing them for the 21st century."

    Finally, new DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller thanked the golfers for supporting both Weeks' dream, and the DCPA's mission.

    "Randy really wanted to celebrate the craft of theatre for high-school students, and to celebrate the arts and culture in schools in the same way that sports are celebrated," Shiller said.

    Weeks was a lifelong fan of golf and theatre. Twelve years ago, he and former Development Director Dorothy Denny started the DCA's annual golf tournament at Lakewood Country Club, where Weeks was a member.

    The golfers were afforded several fun opportunities to win show-related prizes. One hole dedicated to the Theatre Company's upcoming production of As You Like It had golfers aim their tee shots at a life-sized fairway cutout of William Shakespeare. A closest-to-the-pin par-3 hole was designated the Sweeney Todd "Closest Shave" hole.

    At another tee stop, golfers posed for photographs as their favorite Wizard of Oz characters. And in honor of DCPA Broadway's upcoming launch of the If/Then national tour, golfers on one hole had to designate one player to pull a random fortune card from a dealer. It either contained good news (such as, "Subtract one shot from your score") or bad news (such as, "Proceed to the nearest bunker.")

    Most golfers played in a best-ball team competition, while the elite players in the field played a straight, stroke-play format.
     
    Photos and video by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    For more information on the Bobby G Awards, click here.

    A panorama showing golfers participating in the pre-golf putting contest.  Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by John Moore.
    A panorama showing golfers participating in the pre-golf putting contest at the Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by John Moore.

    Our photo gallery from the 2015 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament:


    All photos by John Moore. Click on "Go to original image" and download any image for free.

    2015 Tournament Sponsors:
    Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management
    Comcast Spotlight
    Fineline Graphics
    Sprint Press
    CBS4
    Wilks Broadcasting
    MKK Consulting Engineers, Inc.
    Centerre Construction
    Shawn and Elisa Fowler
    Max and Kea Bull

    Golfers pose as their favorite 'Wizard of Oz' characters. The beloved musical returns to Denver next year. Photo by Chelley Canales.
    Golfers pose as their favorite "Wizard of Oz" characters. The beloved musical returns to Denver next year. Photo by Chelley Canales.

    Our 2014-15 Bobby G Awards coverage to date:
    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    Break a Leg video: Cheering on Bobby G Awards winners in New York
    Bobby G Awards winners' daily video blogs
    Video: Outstanding Musical nominees perform
    Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances
    Video: Bobby G Award winners sing National Anthem at Rockies game
    Video: The Acceptance Speeches
    Video: A look at Durango's Outstanding Musical, Les Misérables
    Photos: The 2015 Bobby G Awards. (Download for free)
    Video: The 2015 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    Andre' Rodriguez's stirring Bobby G Awards speech
    Video: See how we introduced all 30 participating schools
    Video: Page to Stage highlights with Bobby G Awards winners
    Meet your Bobby G Awards nominees, in their own words Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'
    2014-15 Bobby G Awards: Complete list of nominations 
    2015 Bobby G Awards announces list of participating schools
    Annaleigh Ashford raises $735 for new Bobby G Awards memorial fund
    Denver Center establishes Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for The Bobby G Awards

    2015 Tournament field:

    John

    Reid

    Zach

    Wolfel

    Nick

    Gardner

    Michael

    Hupf

    Wanda

    Colburn

    Dick

    Havey

    Bob

    Loeb

    Kent

    Nossaman

    Paul

    Stastny

    Kyle

    Quincey

    Drew

    Shore

    Andrew

    Caldwell

    Aaron

    Inman

    Debbee

    CdeBaca

    Brad

    Axberg


    Terry

    Koch

    Dave

    Hirtz

    Steve

    Hirtz

    Art

    Cudworth

    Mark

    Etchason

    Kurt

    Kennedy

    Katie

    Monahan

    Carolyn

    Petersen

    Jon

    Bitrolff

    Murphy

    Huston

    Rob

    Mengelson

    Matthew

    Walton

    Calrissa

    Gliksman

    Stevie

    Johnson

    Scott

    Shreeve

    Ken

    Von Wold

    Kevin

    Baldwin

    Betty

    Lewis

    John

    Roble

    Eric

    Rosales

    John

    Ekeberg

    Mike

    Mills

    Julie

    Mills

    Brian

    Sells

    Sean

    Sjodin

    John

    St. Martin

    Craig

    Watts

    Matthew

    Campbell

    Shawn

    Fowler

    Gus

    Gardner

    Travis

    Mulvihill

    Margo

    Black

    Rich

    Ehrman

    Tamera

    Ehrman

    Craig

    Reinwald

    Kent

    Zwingelberg

    Andrew

    Brodie

    Bruce

    Montgomery

    Bryan

    Smith

    Carlos

    Vannoni

    Brook

    Nichols

    Joe

    Ghiglia

    John

    Marshall

    Jim

    Steinberg

    Andrew

    Bell

    Rich

    Kline

    Josh

    Lembrich

    Mary Ann

    Neidert

    Ken

    Blasi

    Brenda

    Egger

    Cindi

    Routh

    Nicole

    Williams

  • Video: Bobby G Awards' best-musical nominees perform

    by John Moore | Jul 01, 2015


    Here is the last of our five videos from this year's recent Bobby G Awards​ honoring achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. This one shows excerpts from all five best-musical nominees performing at the Buell Theatre on May 28:

    • Rent, Westminster High School
    • The Addams Family, Cherokee Trail High School
    • Aida, Mountain View High School
    • Les Misérables, Durango High School
    • Anything Goes, Fairview High School
    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Fiarview High School performs from 'Anything Goes' at the Bobby G Awards on Mya 28. Photo by John Moore.
    Fairview High School performs from "Anything Goes" at the Bobby G Awards on May 28. Photo by John Moore.


    Our 2014-15 Bobby G Awards coverage to date:

    Bobby G Awards a triumph for Durango High School
    Break a Leg video: Cheering on Bobby G Awards winners in New York
    Bobby G Awards winners' daily video blogs
    Video: Outstanding Musical nominees perform
    Video: Outstanding Actor Nominee Performances
    Video: Bobby G Award winners sing National Anthem at Rockies game
    Video: The Acceptance Speeches
    Video: A look at Durango's Outstanding Musical, Les Misérables
    Photos: The 2015 Bobby G Awards. (Download for free)
    Video: The 2015 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    Andre' Rodriguez's stirring Bobby G Awards speech
    Video: See how we introduced all 30 participating schools
    Video: Page to Stage highlights with Bobby G Awards winners
    Meet your Bobby G Awards nominees, in their own words Video: Coloradans on Broadway to high-schoolers: 'Be relentlessly yourself'
    2014-15 Bobby G Awards: Complete list of nominations 
    2015 Bobby G Awards announces list of participating schools
    Annaleigh Ashford raises $735 for new Bobby G Awards memorial fund
    Denver Center establishes Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for The Bobby G Awards


    For more information on the Bobby G Awards, which honor excellence in Colorado high-school theatre, click here.
  • Largest metro arts organizations offer major concession for good of SCFD

    by John Moore | Apr 23, 2015

    Daniel Ritchie presents proposed changes reducing the percentage of Tier I revenues. Photo by John Moore.
    Daniel L. Ritchie presents proposed changes to the way SCFD funding would be allocated at a meeting on Thursday. Photo by John Moore. 


    A wide-ranging task force has recommended major changes to the way metro-area arts organizations are funded through the 27-year-old Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, which goes before voters for reauthorization in 2016. 

    The SCFD is a penny-per-$10 sales tax that is expected to generate $56 million for 278 metro arts organizations this year alone. The unique, voter-approved taxing district is structured into three tiers, with the metro area’s five largest institutions constituting Tier I: The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Art Museum, Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Denver Zoo. There are 27 arts groups in in Tier II, and 246 in Tier III.

    If the task force’s recommendations are approved by the full board, the region’s largest cultural institutions would voluntarily give up about 5.78 percent of their share of the annual pie. That would make an additional estimated $2.2 million a year available to be shared by the area’s smaller metro arts organizations.

    The new funding formula would most benefit those organizations after the first $38 million in revenues is collected. At that threshold, Tier I's share would drop from 64 percent to 57, Tier II‘s would grow from 22 to 26 and Tier III’s would grow from 14 to 17.

    SCFD Chart 1

    Task force member Jim Harrington, citing unity and community, said all five of the Tier I organizations have agreed to the proposed changes. “I think it’s fair and I think it’s responsible - and I think it allows the district to be accountable and transparent to the taxpayers,” said Harrington who added that the process leading up to these recommendations has been four years in the making. 

    “It’s the right thing to do,” added DCPA Chairman Daniel L. Ritchie, who recently resigned his title as the DCPA’s chief executive officer to dedicate himself full-time to a successful SCFD reauthorization. He said anything less than a favorable vote in November 2016 would be “a catastrophe for Colorado.”

    It is estimated that the SCFD has been responsible for $1.85 billion in economic activity. And the NEA recently reported Colorado has the highest rate of citizen participation among all states in cultural activities. 

    “Our organizations are grateful for the region’s citizens for these dollars as they enable us to serve the public with world-class programming and provide access to our institutions and collections,” Ritchie said. 

    By law, the SCFD taxing district that began in 1988 expires if it is not brought before the voters for reauthorization every 12 years. Voters have twice renewed the tax by wide margins, but the metro arts landscape changes greatly in a dozen years. That requires a reconsideration of the complicated formula that dictates how funds are distributed. SCFD member organizations have grown from 171 to 278 since 1990. Tier II has grown by 271 percent by number of organizations, and Tier III’s are up 83 percent. Ritchie said it is only fair, then, that more funds be made available to those groups, citing the “greater good.” 

    “Honestly we all could use more money, but this is the right plan for SCFD’s future,” Ritchie added. "I am proud of the plan we put forth to the board.”

    The SCFD board will issue a ruling on Thursday’s recommendations in May or June, Harrington said. If adopted, the DCPA would accept an 8.43 percent drop in its potential SCFD revenues, or about $570,000 in the first year. But because growth projections predict that the SCFD should be generating $57.8 million a year by 2017, the loss to Tier I organizations would come from future growth – not actual current dollars.

    In fact, the SCFD task force forecasts that, if implemented, the Tier I’s would still see an increase of about $618,000 a year in 2017, while Tier II’s would see a $1.5 million increase and the Tier III pie would grow by $1 million. 

    “So everybody wins,” Harrington said.

    The task force’s recommendations were presented at a public gathering at Hudson Gardens in Littleton. It was attended by representative from dozens of metro arts groups. Most took the opportunity to publicly praise the thoroughness of the task force’s work.

    “The SCFD is a miracle of our state that no one else has,” said Brian Vogt of the Denver Botanic Gardens. He called the task force’s approach “reasonable, rational and fair.”

    Deborah Malden, Chair of the Boulder County Cultural Council, thanked the task force for acknowledging that the statute needed refreshing, and thanked the Tier I’s for their concessions.

    There was some dissent. Jane Potts, Program Administrator for SCFD’s Tier III’s, advocated for an even greater redistribution for the smallest arts organizations. Tier III’s represent 83 percent of SCFD membership and Potts said they account for 30 percent of all attendance. “The SCFD is the best thing that has ever happened to Denver,” she said, “but if they have a third of the audience, I think they deserve more than 17 percent of the pie.” 

    Tony Garcia, founder of the Denver’s 43-year-old Su Teatro, was a member of the task force and has long been the loudest critic of the current funding formula. But he did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

    Erin Rollman and Brian Colonna, members of Denver’s Tier III Buntport Theater, were pleasantly surprised by the scope of the recommendations.

    “Would we like to see Tier III’s get a bigger piece of the pie? Sure,” said Rollman. “But could we reasonably have expected any more concessions from the Tier I’s than this? Probably not.”

    She also acknowledged that it is largely the reputation and resources of the Tier I organizations that account for the tax’s existence and continued life. “They do all the heavy lifting on reauthorization,” she said. “Do people go into the ballot box and vote to give money to Buntport Theater? Of course not. They vote yes because they like free days at the museum or the Denver Zoo. And we all benefit from that.”

    Deborah Jordy, Executive Director the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts pointed out that the SCFD’s $56 million in revenues are the equivalent to about a third of the NEA’s entire budget. “And that goes to just 278 organizations right here in Colorado,” she said.

    More than 330 individuals participated over the course of the task force’s four years, accounting for more than 3,200 volunteered hours of study. All tiers and all counties were represented.

    Daniel Ritchie presents proposed changes reducing the percentage of Tier I revenues. Photo by John Moore.

    Some of the other proposed changes:

    The task force also recommended that the Tier I organizations change how their pie is distributed among themselves. If approved, the big winner would be the Denver Botanic Gardens, which would see its share rise from 11.75 percent to 13.25 percent. The DCPA’s share would drop from 18.18 percent to 17.68.

    *The SCFD would add some flexibility to considering literary arts – specifically spoken word - for funding eligibility.

    *New Tier III organizations would have to show an annual operating income of at least $25,000 or have been in existence for 10 years for eligibility.

    *Organizations would be allowed to add free attendance for consideration in their applications (in addition to current paid attendance and revenue). 

    MORE INFO: GO TO THE SCFD'S REAUTHORIZATION WEB SITE

    SCFD Chart 1


    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.
  • Scott Shiller becomes second CEO in DCPA's history: 'Theatre is in my bones'

    by John Moore | Feb 26, 2015
    Scott Shiller Quote

    Scott ShillerScott Shiller fell in love with theatre from the very back row. Not the cheap seats … the free seats.

    The Shiller family turned day trips from their small farming community in rural Missouri into theatre outings at St. Louis’ massive, 4,500-seat Fox Theatre, where the seats in the very back row are always free.

    “Both of my parents were college professors, on college professors’ salaries,” said Shiller. “But they wanted me and my brother to grow up with arts and culture as part of our lives. So mom and dad would pack the family in the car with a picnic lunch and we would drive to downtown St. Louis. We would sit on the sidewalk and wait for the box office to open to get access to the free tickets.”

    Young Scott Shiller saw incredible stories unfold through high-powered opera glasses. Stories like Big River, about the adventures Huckleberry Finn. “To see these stories that I grew up imagining in my mind’s eye unfold onstage changed my life,” Shiller said. “I was hooked. I was reeled-in. Theatre was in my bones. Theatre has the power to transform lives. It did for me.”

    Shiller will soon be moving his theatre bones to Colorado as President and only the second CEO in the 43-year history of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Shiller has served as Executive Vice President of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami since 2007. Daniel Ritchie, who has served as both CEO and Chairman of the Board of Trustees since 2007, will continue as Chairman. Shiller starts May 1.

    Scott Shiller QuoteShiller is a proud, admitted theatre geek. Anyone who works at a place like the Denver Center, he said, should be. He talks with childlike wonder of the time he got to sit in the orchestra pit during a touring performance of Evita, feeling the music as the horns blared in his ears and the drums rumbled right through his core. “I looked up and just behind the conductor, you could see just the noses and eyes of the people in the front row, and the glow of the stage lights off of their faces,” he said. “That was a phenomenal, transformative moment for me.” 

    The DCPA is the largest not-for profit theatre organization in the country, one that produces and presents Broadway, cabaret and homegrown theatre while supporting an Education Division that engages more than 68,000 students of all ages every year. And leading that organization into the next generation will be one of the nation’s youngest CEOs. At only age 39, Shiller is less than half the age of the man he is replacing.

    Shiller, who was named to the prestigious "40 Under 40" by the South Florida Business Journal, never wants to forget the magic that happens to a child who sees Big River for the first time. Or a slightly more adolescent Shiller seeing The Blue Man Group for the first time - a performance that reached its crescendo with the entire theatre covered in toilet paper. 

    “I had never seen anything so immediate and so loud and so interesting,” he said. “By the end of this whirlwind grand finale, I found myself standing on my seat yelling at the top of my lungs. That was the visceral, immediate reaction I had to the art that was on the stage. I thought that was great, and I want everyone to be able experience that feeling.”

    And he can’t wait to do it in Denver.

    “What makes theatre incredibly powerful, and what makes me thrilled to be a part of creating and contributing to the national landscape of theatre, is the magic that happens when an audience comes into a space together to have a shared experience,” Shiller said. “The electricity that happens at a good night of theatre where the artists on stage are having a real communication with the audience is like lightning in a bottle. And the Denver Center gets it right more than almost anywhere else in the country.”

    In his first year at the Arsht Center, Shiller led a $3.3 million turnaround with a growth in average ticket sales from 43 to 70 percent, and recorded a 76 percent increase in attendance.

    How did he do it?

    “It was really about tapping into the community,” he said. “It was about doing all the things that the Denver Center already does day in and day out. All the things that are baked into their DNA here.”

    To turn things around in Miami, Shiller focused on tearing down any perceived barriers to entry. “For example, if language is a barrier to entry, we need to find ways to create great theatre where language is not a barrier,” he said. “If price is a barrier to entry, we need to find ways to be open to the community and to provide free and reduced-price admissions like I had available to me as a child.”

    Ritchie, 83, said Shiller “joins us at a pivotal time in the DCPA’s history. “Following an extensive analysis of our priorities, our emphasis will be on deepening and enriching relationships with our entire community. And Scott’s leadership will enable me to focus on board matters and reauthorization of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District in 2016.” 

    A2 Scott Shiller QuoteShiller thinks the SCFD – a voter-approved, penny per $10 tax that funds arts organization throughout the metro area with about $50 million a year – is "forward-thinking, unprecedented and essential."

    He also said of Ritchie: “He has an incredible reputation across the country. And I have a tremendous respect for the work he has done in driving the organization forward.”

    Under Shiller, the Arsht Center’s programming continued to experience broad growth and now includes more than 500 public performances, nearly 900 ancillary events and more than 500,000 guests each year. In 2007, he bucked the national trend by launching the equivalent of the DCPA Theatre Company for the presentation and performance of homegrown theatre. He has presented 12 world premiere plays and musicals at the Arsht Center in the past eight years.

    “That was both an incredible joy and a labor of love,” he said, “to be working with incredible local playwrights, national playwrights and amazing artists with the goal of creating work that is really tied to the community.”

    Shiller is somewhat in awe to be taking the reins of the Denver Center, which is not only the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation by size, it’s No. 1 in audience engagement: Last season, the Denver Center, which does $52 million in annual business, entertained nearly 800,000 visitors through 43 productions, 816 performances and 138 events.

    “I am amazed at how the Denver Center stacks up against the leading organizations in this category,” Shiller said. “Think of that number: 800,000 visitors is more than the total number people who are living in Denver.” (And by more than 150,000.)

    “When I look at places like Center Theatre Group (in Los Angeles), which did 19 productions last year, or the Kennedy Center (in Washington D.C.), which did 18 theatre productions - and then you see that the Denver Center did 43? That’s pretty impressive. There are very few no-for-profit arts organizations that present both Broadway and produce original theatre. I think it's sometimes easy to forget what an incredible gem you have in your community.”

    Scott Shiller QuoteAs a whole, the cultural industry had a $520.8 million economic impact on Colorado in 2013. Last month, the National Endowment for the Arts released a study that put Colorado No. 1 in per-capita trips to theaters, concert halls and museums. Nearly 52 percent of all Colorado adults reported attendance at one or more live performing-arts events in 2012, far above the national average of 37.4 percent. Attendance at nonmusical plays in Colorado is roughly twice the rate of the country as a whole. 

    “I think that shows the audiences in Denver are incredibly sophisticated,” Shiller added. “You have an incredibly diverse audience that has clearly demonstrated with these attendance figures that they are willing to go along for the ride.” 

    Prior to the Arsht Center, Shiller presented and produced shows in major cities across the U.S., serving as Vice President of Programming at The Chicago Theatre and L.A.’s Kodak Theatre; Director of Programming and Engagement Manager at Boston’s On the Line Company; and as Theatre and Marketing Manager for Broadway in Boston. His Broadway credits include working on Wicked, The Graduate, Cabaret and The Diary of Anne Frank (Natalie Portman), and The Vagina Monologues (Eve Ensler). Click here to read his complete bio.

    Under Shiller, the multidisciplinary Arsht Center designed programs to welcome new patrons of all ages and backgrounds — family performances, gospel Sundays and extensive partnerships through the Miami-Dade County Public School District.

    Shiller is particularly proud of his Learning Through the Arts program, which has made performances of the Rock Odyssey available free to middle-school students. That is an innovative, rock opera approach to Homer’s The Odyssey that was written developed at the Walden Family Playhouse in Lakewood.

    Scott Shiller Quote“Through Rock Odyssey, we have introduced 300,000 students to the magic of live theatre,” said Shiller, who received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emerson College in 1997 and has served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University in Chicago.

    “There are so many studies that have proven that students who are introduced to the arts at a young age become lifelong learners in the arts.”

    Shiller believes his lifetime of producing shows on Broadway, of bringing national tours to the cities where he has worked, and launching his new regional theatre company in Miami have all prepared him to lead the Denver Center. Shiller says his top priorities will include education, access and diversity. But he says it is too soon for him to know yet how he can best impact the organization right away.

    “I am coming into an extremely healthy organization that is at the top of its game,” said Shiller, who is married to wife, Kerry. “The staff and the team members there have accomplished so much. And I think the community is really behind continuing the trend of the Denver Center becoming great. My goal will be to listen, learn, collaborate and challenge both (DCPA Broadway Director John Ekeberg and DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson) to create work that is at the top of their game.”

    Asked what he hopes will be said of him a year from today, Shiller said: “That we were able to really muster our resources, and boy are we moving in the right direction with a full tank of gas and a lot of excitement."




    Scott Shiller is featured in this short documentary on the making of "Rock Odyssey" at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.The children's musical, first developed at the Walden Family Playhouse in Lakewood, introduced 300,000 students to the magic of live theatre in Miami.


    Previous coverage
    :
    Ritchie shifting focus to SCFD 'because we can't afford to fail'


    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.
  • Meet the cast video series: Lenne Klingaman

    by John Moore | Jan 26, 2015


    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 80: Meet Lenne Klingaman, a favorite of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival who is back with the DCPA after having starred in 'Romeo and Juliet' in 2013. She's now playing Sylvie and Young Helen in the Theatre Company's world premiere staging of Appoggiatura. Just wait till you hear here first name - pronounced 'Lenna' - comes from. Appoggiatura plays through Feb. 22 in the Ricketson Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

    Appoggiatura: Ticket information
    Performances run through Feb. 22
    Ricketson Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our Appoggiatura "Meet the cast" video series (to date):
    Meet Darrie Lawrence
    Meet Nick Mills
    More to come  

    Coming up:

    Join 'Appoggiatura' cast members Darrie Lawrence, Mehry Eslaminia and Julian Remulla at noon Tuesday, Jan. 27, for Page to Stage, a lunchtime panel conversation with DCPA Arts Journalist John Moore at the Colfax Tattered Cover. Free.

    Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Leslie Alexander, A Christmas Carol
    Allen Dorsey, A Christmas Carol
    Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies

    Patty Goble,The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Sam Gregory, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies
    Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Eddie Lopez, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Leslie O'Carroll,A Christmas Carol
    Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
    James Michael Reilly, A Christmas Carol
    Socorro Santiago, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Lesley Shires, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies

      Darrie Lawrence and  Lenne Klingaman in 'Appoggoatura.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen
      Darrie Lawrence, left, with Lenne Klingaman in the DCPA's staging of "Appoggiatura." Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. 
    • Meet the cast video series: Leslie O'Carroll

      by John Moore | Dec 20, 2014



      Meet_The_Cast_Leslie_O'Carroll_300In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 76: Meet company veteran Leslie O'Carroll, who is back to play Mrs. Fezziwig in the DCPA Theatre Company's holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. O'Carroll, who will also appear next month in Benediction, is one of only three actors to play the role of Mrs. Fezziwig at the DCPA over the past 22 years. O'Carroll talks about appearing on Breaking Bad, how Angela Lansbury changed her life, and being married to Steve Wilson, retiring artistic director of the local Phamaly handicapped theatre company. A Christmas Carol plays through Dec. 28  in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 2 minutes, 40 seconds.


      A Christmas Carol
      : Ticket information
      Performances run through Dec. 28
      Stage Theatre
      Performances daily except Mondays
      Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

      Our previous coverage of this year's A Christmas Carol:
      Actor Scott McLean is now also a published children's author
      Video: The Christmas Carol Coast to Coast Challenge. No. 1: Denver
      By the numbers: A Christmas Carol over 22 years at the DCPA
      First day of 2014 rehearsal: Interviews, cast list and photos
      Meet the cast video: James Michael Reilly
      Meet the cast video: Leslie Alexander

      Bonus video: Watch Leslie O'Carroll perform A Christmas Carol solo ... and in 5 minutes



      Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

      Leslie Alexander, A Christmas Carol
      Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies

      Patty Goble,The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Sam Gregory, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies
      Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Eddie Lopez, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
      Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
      James Michael Reilly, A Christmas Carol
      Socorro Santiago, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Lesley Shires, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
      Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies

      Click here for "meet the cast" episodes from the 2013-14 A Christmas Carol
        Meet_The_Cast_Leslie_O'Carroll_800Leslie O'Carroll, as Mrs. Fezziwig, with Allen Dorsey, left, and Michael Fitzpatrick, in the DCPA's 2014 staging of "A Christmas Carol." Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
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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.