• Breakin' Convention to kick off Denver Arts Week in November

    by John Moore | Apr 25, 2017
    Breakin' Convention

    Photos from 'Breakin' Convention.' To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    By The DCPA NewsCenter

    Breakin' Convention, Sadler’s Wells Theatre's critically acclaimed international hip-hop dance theatre festival, will take over the The Buell Theatre and the surrounding Denver Performing Arts Complex the weekend of Nov. 4-5, it was announced today. The party will kick off Denver Arts Week, which runs throughout the city from Nov 3-11. Events will include a special student matinee at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 3. Tickets are on sale now at 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org.

    Please be advised that denvercenter.org is the only authorized online ticket provider for Breakin' Convention in Denver. Ticket-buyers who purchase tickets from a broker or any third party should be aware that DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    BREAKIN CONVENTION. Jonzi D. Photo by Paul HampartsoumianSadler’s Wells Theatre, located in London, is renowned as one of the world's leading dance venues. Breakin' Convention is the world's biggest festival of hip-hop dance theatre showcasing the best from around the world and around the corner. Curated and hosted by U.K. hip-hop pioneer Jonzi D, this is weekend will be filled with exceptional performances from world champion b-boy crews to cutting-edge street-dance companies live on stage and taking over the whole building. Events will include dance workshops, graffiti, DJs and freestyle sessions. 

    (Pictured above right: Jonzi D. Photo by Paul Hampartsoumian.)

    Jonzi D is the founder and Artistic Director of Jonzi D Projects and Breakin' Convention. A dancer, spoken-word artist and director, he is the foremost advocate for hip hop who has changed the profile and influenced the development of the U.K. British hip-hop dance and theatre scene over the past two decades.

    Breakin' Convention includes four international companies*:

    • 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 round 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. 

    *International companies subject to change


    Breakin' Convention
    local artist auditions:

    Dancers, Graff Writers, DJ’s, Emcees, Rappers and Beatboxers are invited to audition from 4-10 p.m. Thursday, July 6, at the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, 1101 13th St. Audition submission forms will be accepted from June 5-18. Visit denvercenter.org/BreakinConvention for more information.

    BREAKIN CONVENTION. Project Soul. Photo by Paul Hampartsoumain.Project Soul. Photo by Paul Hampartsoumain.
  • Hurlyburly of nation's largest student Shakespeare Festival returns Friday

    by John Moore | Apr 24, 2017

    Our video report from the 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival, which was considerably sunnier than last year's event. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    In Shakespeare's world, clothes make the man. Here's how they will make (but not break) 5,000 Denver students on Friday.

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

    Friday’s 33rd annual Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival is expected to draw 5,000 students in adorable Shakespearean garb to perform more than 600 scenes and sonnets in theatres and tents and crannies all around the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Which, when you think about it, is a whole lot of Shakespearean garb. And garb ain’t cheap.

    But it can be.

    2016 DPS Shakespeare FestivalIn these tight times, some schools provide teachers with modest funding for the semester-long classroom project, culminating in the oldest and largest student Shakespeare festival in the country. And for this festival, bona fide costumes are mandatory. Over the years, some DPS teachers have been known to dip into their own pockets to help the costume cause, while others have simply had to go it alone.

    Steele Elementary School teacher Lane Miller is grateful not to be among them. He’s rallied an entire village of students, parents, school-district officials and members of the DCPA Education staff to help his students prepare for Friday’s festivities.

    “I really haven't ever raised money for the festival,” said Miller. “I think one thing DPS teachers need to know is where you can get the help you need. I have a key parent who orders T-shirts, occasionally helps with rehearsals, created our signs and helps with logistics at the festival.”

    Miller also called the DCPA for help with costume tips on a limited budget, and Costume Design Associate Meghan Anderson Doyle and At-Risk Coordinator Rachel Taylor responded by fashioning a free “Costuming on the Cheap” workshop at Steele Elementary that was attended by 160 parents and students on Feb. 23. The DCPA staffers got the children thinking about how you can spark costume creativity just by grabbing an old T-Shirt.

    “The goal of the workshop was to reinvent contemporary clothes from your closet or the thrift store as costumes that can help the students tell their stories,” said Doyle. “We wanted to make the experience kid-centered and the costumes kid-created without breaking the bank.”

    DPS Shakespeare Festival 2016
    The 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival parade from the 16th Street Mall to the Denver Performing Arts Complex.  Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Taylor and Doyle eased the potential intimidation of students and parents finding or crafting Shakespearean costumes by removing sewing from the equation altogether. “We made ruffs out of coffee filters, doublets out of T-Shirts and shoelaces, and togas for Julius Caesar out of pillow cases,” Doyle said.  

    DPS Shakespeare Festival QUOTEMiller said the workshop was amazing. He also credited Beau Augustin, the Dance and Theatre Arts Instructional Curriculum Specialist for Denver Public Schools, as well as its district-wide costume department, led by Costume Shop Specialist Jean Benson, for their assistance. DPS houses more than 5,000 costumes in different time periods and styles, all of which are available to teachers who need them for the festival, along with a vast selection of accessories. More than 70 DPS schools participate in the festival each year.

    “Jean is the most talented costumer,” Miller said. “I have ordered more then 180 costumes from her for the festival before. This year, I only ordered a measly 80. All of our third-graders will be in costumes supplied by her.

    But the responsibility for costumes, and really all things DPS Shakespeare Festival, begins with the students themselves, Miller said. 

    "Our fourth- and fifth-graders create their own costumes, research their own characters and block their own scenes,” he said. "You can do it with a lot of help or very little. But knowing and utilizing your resources is key. The help is out there.”

    DPS Shakespeare FestivalThis will be the Denver Center’s third year co-presenting the festival with Denver Public Schools. DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous, a past Grand Marshal of the pre-festival parade, thinks the entire experience is an opportunity for the students to take pride in all they have invested in the project.

    “These schools have been working really hard on their scenes for months, and so the festival becomes a day of celebration," Watrous said. "They have gone through an audition process; they have memorized their lines; they have created their costumes. And now they get to walk in the parade through downtown Denver. You can feel the excitement from the moment they come off the school bus. Then they get to perform on our stages and get adjudicated by experts who provide helpful feedback and awards.

    "It is a great day because we are celebrating as individual classes, as individual schools, as the largest school district in the state and we are celebrating as a city. That's awesome.”

    DPS Shakespeare FestivalDPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg says studying Shakespeare in the classroom is itself a rich lesson in literature, culture, language and politics. “But having the opportunity to act in a production of Shakespeare’s works at a world-class venue like the Denver Center takes those lessons a step further," he said, "giving students a chance to experience the thrill and personal rewards of creative expression, which is such a critical part of a well-rounded education."

    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.

    33rd Annual Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival

    • 10 a.m.: Opening Ceremonies will be held at 15th and Arapahoe streets
    • 10:15 a.m.: All students will join a short parade down the 16th Street Mall to the Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • 10:45 a.m. through 4:15 p.m.: Short performances of sonnets and scenes from the works of Shakespeare, as well as demonstrations of dance, music and songs from Shakespeare’s time.
    • Ages: Kindergarten through high school
    • This year’s theme play: Much Ado About Nothing
    • More information on auditioning, workshops and resources for educators: shakespeare.dpsk12.org

    Photo gallery: The 2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival:

    2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos may be downloaded and recirculated with source attribution. Click on any photo to download.

    Our 2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

  • In the Spotlife: Emily K. Harrison of 'She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange'

    by John Moore | Apr 22, 2017

    Emily K. Harrison is a lecturer in theatre for the University of Colorado Department of Theatre and Dance. She is also the founder of square product theatre.  


    MEET DR. EMILY K. HARRISON
    Amy in square product theatre's She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange

  • Hometown: Kilgore, Texas, located 70 miles west of Shreveport, La.
  • Home now: Longmont
  • College: B.A. from Emerson College (Boston); MFA from Savannah College of Art & Design (Ga.); PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Emily K. Harrison COCKROACHWhat have you done for us lately? I played The Aunt in square product theatre's This Aunt is Not a Cockroach
  • What's next? I will be playing JonBenet Ramsey in Gregory S. Moss’ House of Gold for square product theatre
  • Why is your square product theatre company spelled in lower-case? To place the focus on the work we make, rather than on any one name or personality.
  • Twitter-sized bio: I love cats. And tacos. I have a lot of anxiety about my choices. Including the choice to tell everyone I love cats and tacos. But: first thought, best thought. Or something.
  • What's your handle? @emilykharrison on Instagram and Twitter
  • What was the role that changed your life? I played Tiger in SLAB, which is a show I spent about five years developing with my friend Gleason Bauer. It changed my life in many ways. The piece was adapted from the novel by Selah Saterstrom. When one has such great source material, and when the creation process is lengthy, there’s so much more space to go deep. We weren’t working on it consistently for five years, of course, but it was incredible to live with that character for so long; to get to know her in ways I don’t usually have time for when working on a play. She lived in the back of my mind, whispering things to me for years before the show premiered. She’s a character who lives in such desperate poverty, and who still manages to have so much hope. It’s also the most challenging role I’ve ever played. I just love her. 
  • brenda withersIdeal scene partner: I’d really like to work with my friend Brenda Withers (pictured right) at some point. She’s probably best-known for co-writing the comedy Matt & Ben with Mindy Kaling, but she’s also a very good, smart actor, and I think we’d have fun together. I could use this opportunity to meet someone new, but that fills me with anxiety, and there are so many great actors I actually know that I’ve never had a chance to work with. So I’m sticking with Brenda. Maybe we could make something new together. Speaking of making something original: I just can’t get enough of Michelle Ellsworth's work. I would be so, so interested in understanding how her brain works. Her work just blows my mind. It’s like nothing I’ve seen before anywhere.
  • Emily K. Harrison quoteWhat is She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange all about? So many things. It’s about public persona vs. private reality – the masks we put on to hide our truth – and what it takes for those masks to crack. It’s about relationships. It’s about gender dynamics. It’s a commentary on patriarchal systems and privilege. It’s about personal responsibility. It’s about the Global Financial Crisis. It’s about dogs.
  • What do you love about this play? It really straddles the line between realism and absurdism, which is great fun, but is also a great challenge. Amy is in some respects a very different person than the Emily I present most of the time. Her values are very different than mine, though I do understand where she’s coming from on a lot of fronts. She’s not a facet of my personality that I show very often, and that’s been fun to play with. She’s smart, and she’s worked hard to get to where she is, but she presents a self-assuredness and a confidence that is challenging for me, especially in relationship to the other characters.

  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? The play reveals the cyclical nature of destruction wrought by American capitalism in some respects. It’s a timely play and I think it’s a warning – or a plea to break the cycles that keep driving us towards “newer,” “bigger,” “more.” So I hope people walk away thinking about how greed and oppression dominate so much of our culture – and how these cycles dehumanize us and how our prioritization of the individual over the good of the community will be our undoing. ... But also: I hope they laugh. It’s a comedy!
  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I love being at home. Like, if I could just stay at home most days, I would.
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? Feminism is good for everybody. Every. Body. I’m happy to chat with anybody who isn’t so sure. I think we should all chat more. There’s a lot of yelling. There are a lot of assumptions. We’re all guilty of that behavior. But I’m convinced that feminism is good for everybody, that we’re all doing the best we can, that we can all do better, and that two or more things can be true at once. Let’s chat.

  • From left: Michelle Moore, Jihad Milhem and Emily K. Harrison in 'She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange.'


    square product's She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange: Ticket information

    At a glance: In a “nice” New England park, on a “nice” New England street, two “nice” New England couples try very, very hard to be “nice” to each other, as the crippling Global Financial Crisis gallops into town. This new play is an absurdly funny, poignant and terrifying ride through downsized, foreclosed America.

    • Written by Amelia Roper
    • Presented by square product theatre company
    • Directed by Niki Tulk
    • April 21 through May 28
    • Performances in the Carsen at the Dairy Arts Center
    • Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    • Tickets $18-24 ($15 for students)
    • For tickets or information, call 303-440-7826 or the dairy.org

    Remaining performance schedule:
    • 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22
    • 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 28
    • 4 p.m., Saturday, April 29
    • 7:30 p.m., Monday, May 1 (all seats $15)
    • 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 3
    • 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 4
    • 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 6
    • 6 p.m., Sunday, May 7
    • 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 11
    • 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 13

    Cast list:

    • Emily K. Harrison
    • Andrew Horsford
    • Jihad Milhem
    • Michelle Moore

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Heather Lacy of the Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas

  • Search process for new DCPA Artistic Director unveiled

    by John Moore | Apr 20, 2017

    Book of Will. AdamsViscom
    'The Book of Will,' which debuted in January, is poised to become one of the most successful new plays in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    Denver Center President and CEO Janice Sinden has announced the process by which a replacement will be chosen for Kent Thompson, whose 12-year tenure as Artistic Director of the DCPA Theatre Company ended in March. 

    A 16-member team of DCPA Trustees, Theatre Company employees and DCPA staff has been created to lead the search for Thompson's successor. "This group participated in several listening sessions with Theatre Company staff to assess the characteristics and qualities that are necessary in its next leader. Their input helped establish the organization’s priorities in filling this key position," Sinden said.

    John Haynes Quote Today, Sinden announced that John Haynes, President of Bard Arts Consulting, will lead the search for the new Artistic Director. Haynes is something of a rarity in the field of performing-arts search consultants: He has actually run performing-arts organizations himself. He has been the CEO of Performing Arts Center Eastside (PACE) in Bellevue, Wash., and the California Center for the Arts in San Diego. He was also the Executive Director of the University of Notre Dame Performing Arts, and the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis. And he was President of the Western Arts Alliance for eight years.

    Haynes is a native of nearby Santa Fe, N.M. That is relevant to this assignment, he said, "because I think there is much to be said for having an organic understanding of the cultures and traditions of the region. ... I am attuned to the land and the people and the rich cultural tapestry of our cultural life."

    Haynes said he fully understands the significance of the DCPA opening. "This is a humbling process," said Haynes, whose previous careers have included a stint as an executive for CBS Television. "I am personally and fully invested in the process, and wholly accountable for the outcome."   

    Sinden said she was announcing the search process and the Haynes appointment in the interest of inclusiveness and transparency.

    "With a 25-year background as head of prominent performing-arts organizations, including a producing theatre company, John brings a keen insight into the requirements of this position," Sinden said. "He will combine the input of the search committee with additional on-site interviews to develop a position description that clearly identifies the skills, experience, education and leadership style needed to continue the Theatre Company’s success and identify exciting opportunities for its future." 

    Once Haynes completes the position description, he will disseminate it widely; recruit and interview the most highly qualified candidates, and propose a short list of finalists, Sinden said. 

    Sinden said she expects Haynes' search process to take several months, but she said there is no target date for having a new Artistic Director in place because of the likelihood that the final selection may have contractual obligations to honor.

    "We are committed to finding the right person to fulfill the qualities that our team has determined are crucial to the role," Sinden said. "Therefore, we will not rush to select a candidate if he or she does not meet our criteria.

    "We are excited to take the next step in our search and are eagerly awaiting the next act in our company’s future."
  • 'Cult Following: Rated G' brings improv to the 'mini' masses

    by John Moore | Apr 19, 2017
    Cult Following Rated GA scene from 'Cult Following: Decide Your Destiny' in 2015. Next, 'Cult Following' is offering performances geared for third- through fifth-graders. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. 

    The Cult Following actors don’t have to awaken the
    inner child of this audience. They still are their inner child.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    At its best, improv comedy is essentially game night – with a playful audience. A group of highly trained actors perform completely invented scenes driven by audience suggestions. It is unscripted theatre without a net. And when it is done well, the actors behave with the abandon of a third-grader – and their audiences snickering with the abandon of a third-grader.

    Which is what makes professional improv actors – and young audiences – the perfect match. And the Denver Center is doing some matchmaking. Better stated: The Denver Center is arranging a play date.

    Since 2011, Cult Following has been DCPA Off-Center’s signature series of unrehearsed team improv comedy evenings. They feature the fast-talking and quick-thinking talents of some of Denver’s best comic performers typically performing for a pretty cool crowd of generally younger adult audiences.

    But on April 29, and again on May 13, Off-Center and DCPA Education are joining forces for Cult Following: Rated G. Essentially the veteran Cult Following lineup of Jessica Austgen, Sarah Kirwin, Brian McManus, Nanna Sachiko Thompson and Chris Woolf will be creating improvised fairy tales with the help of (ideally) audience of third- through fifth-graders and their families.

    Cult Following Rated G Allison WatrousDCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous says the goal of improv comedy is to get audiences to think like a child, to be willing to play in a sandbox, to think on their feet and laugh at some seriously silly things. The Cult Following actors don’t have to awaken the inner child of this audience. They still are their inner child.

    Watrous emphasizes Cult Following: Rated G is an audience-involved performance, as Off-Center shows always are, but this is not a class teaching young people the basics of improv. (Those kinds of classes are separately available through DCPA Education.)

    “Improv is all about cultivating a sense of play, and all of us were more connected to our sense of play when we were in elementary school,” she said. “As we move through middle school and high school and into adulthood, we are in constant danger of losing that sense of play. Improv comedy is a good reminder for all of us how important play is, and also how productive play is.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Rated G program, developed by Watrous with Austgen, DCPA Associate Director of Education Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski and Off-Center curator Charlie Miller, will include two mid-week matinees for participating schools coming on field trips. The goal from the start was to create a program that will appeal to educators by complementing their classroom work, especially as it pertains to creative writing and effective storytelling.

    "Educators are really looking for experiences for their students that have real value," Watrous said. "We really wanted to make sure that we are connecting to what English teachers might be covering in their classrooms. We're playing within a form that really teaches the students about story structure, about character, about plot and about story climax. So if I were a teacher in an elementary school, I would be really excited about this opportunity to give their students an amazing, fun time, and yet they leave knowing their writing also just got stronger, their vocabulary also just got stronger and their understanding of literary terms also just got stronger."

    Cult Following Rated G Jessica Austgen and in a previous 'Cult Following' performance. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Cult Following: Rated G

    • 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29: Public performance in the Jones Theatre
    • 11 a.m. Sunday, May 13: Public performance in the Jones Theatre
    • Ticket price: $10
    • Run time approximately 60 minutes
    • Age recommendation: All ages. Designed with families of elementary-school children in mind. Children 4 and over are welcome.
    • Tickets: Teachers or schools. Call 303-446-4829 or email groupsales@dcpa.org. There are two student matinees currently available, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16.
    • Tickets: Public and families: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • In the Spotlife: Heather Lacy of 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'

    by John Moore | Apr 18, 2017
    Heather Lacy. Todd Peckham. John Moore Heather Lacy and Todd Peckham recently sang a song from the Aurora Fox's 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' before a benefit screening of the film for The Denver Actors Fund at Alamo Drafthouse. The stage production opens April 21. Lacy has performed at the DCPA in 'The Doyle and Debbie Show' and 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.' 


    MEET HEATHER LACY
    Heather Lacy plays Bernadette (the Terence Stamp role) in the Aurora Fox's regional premiere stage adaptation of the 1994 cult classic Australian film Priscilla Queen of the Desert. 
  • Hometown: Las Cruces N.M.
  • Home now: Denver ... and loving it
  • College: B.A. In Theater and Music from Colorado State University in Fort Collins
  • What have you done for us lately? Last month I had the joy of playing Rose in Enchanted April at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
  • Twitter-sized bio: Actor, singer, sister, friend, lover of bacon, climber of mountains (because of the bacon), herder of teenagers, owner of YearRound Sound, listener.
  • What's your handle? @heatherlacy35 on Instagram, @yearroundsound on Twitter
  • Heather Lacy. Priscilla Queen of the DesertWhat was the role that changed your life? In my third year of college, I was cast as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, and it was a revelation to me. She is such a complicated character. It was such a journey to discover her motivations, and to really truly embrace the idea that every character believes, in the moment, that the choices they are making are the right choices.  
  • Ideal scene partner: I can think of so many but one that comes to mind today is Liev Schreiber. I think he is such a smart, present, genuine actor, with great range.
  • What is Priscilla Queen of the Desert all about? It's about two drag queens and a transgender woman who are contracted to perform a drag show at a resort in a remote town in the Australian desert. They head west, into adventure, on their lavender bus called Priscilla. It is a high-energy romp with lots of glitz and lively music. In the midst of all of this fluff there are touching stories about redemption and second chances.
  • What is the gender identity of your character? Bernadette is a transgender woman -  defined as a person born biologically male, but who identifies as a female. In the past, this role always has been played by a male. In fact, I think we are the first production anywhere to feature a cisgender woman in this role. Cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. There was one production in Chicago where Bernadette was played by a transgender woman.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing Bernadette: My challenge is to play Bernadette sincerely, and to give the character both the honesty and wit the role deserves. It is a new challenge, but there is so much to relate to in this lovely woman. Here are just a few relatable thoughts: 1. We all cast off parts of our younger selves - our beliefs, our boundaries, our choices in appearance, etc. - as we discover and become more fully who we each are. We evolve throughout our lives and make changes through the years to, hopefully, become even more genuinely ourselves. Bernadette is no different. 2. We all have experienced moments in our lives when someone has made us feel inferior, not good enough, or even judged. Bernadette is no different. 3. We all want to be loved. Bernadette is no different.
  • What can your casting as Bernadette teach us about gender identity? Perhaps this is a step forward in terms of how we think about all the members of our community. Perhaps in 10 years casting transgender and cisgender women in these roles will be the norm. I think about Jeffrey Tambor's Emmy Award speech, when he urged the TV industry execs to give transgender actors more opportunities, and I wonder what the future will bring. I hope it brings more of us together instead of finding ways for us to judge each other. I know we need each other. I know that much.

  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? I hope the audience walks away with a smile on their faces, a song stuck in their heads, and a greater appreciation for the journey each of us takes throughout our lives. 
  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I have an identical twin sister. Oh, and when I am home alone, I have full conversations with my dogs.
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? "A lot" is two words. It just is. 😊. No, but seriously: People who are good at what they do are kind. People who are confident in what they do are happy. People who are competent at what they do are pleasant to be around. If you come across a person who is mean, rude, controlling or self-important, run away quickly. Don't waste your life on those people. I have had experience with this, and it has taught me so much about who I want to work with and be surrounded by in my life. Life is too short. Be kind, and surround yourself with kind people!

  • Heather 800 2Part of the cast from the Aurora Fox's 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' before a benefit screening of the film for The Denver Actors Fund at Alamo Drafthouse. Heather Lacy is back and second from the left.  

    Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert: Ticket information

    • Written by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott
    • Presented by the Aurora Fox
    • Directed by Eden Lane
    • April 21 through May 28
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays beginning April 30
    • 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora
    • Tickets $26-37 ($16 for 12 and under)
    • For tickets or information, call 303-739-1970 or go to aurorafox.org

    Cast list:

    • Todd Peckham as Tick/Mitzi
    • Heather Lacy as Bernadette
    • Rob Riney as Adam/Felicia
    • McKayla Marso as Marion/Ensemble
    • Harrison Lyles-Smith as Benji
    • Mark Rubald as Bob
    • Tashara May as Diva
    • Seles VanHuss as Diva
    • Krisangela Washington as Diva
    • Sharon Kay White as Shirley/Ensemble
    • Jenna Moll Reyes as Cynthia/Ensemble
    • Ammon Swofford as Miss Understanding/Ensemble
    • Ensemble: Melissa Morris, Jordan Manchego, Thomas Ilalaole, Michael Barlow,  Jonathan Sharp

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas

  • Principal casting for 'Frozen': Caissie Levy to star as Elsa

    by John Moore | Apr 17, 2017


    Top row, from left: Caissie Levy, Patti Murin and Jelani Alladin.
    Bottom row, from left: Greg Hildreth, John Riddle and Robert Creighton.

     

    Single tickets to the pre-Broadway engagement in Denver opening in August go on sale May 1.

    Caissie Levy will star as Elsa and Patti Murin will star as Anna in Disney’s new Broadway musical Frozen, opening at the St. James Theatre in spring 2018. Also joining the principal cast are Jelani Alladin as Kristoff, Greg Hildreth as Olaf, John Riddle as Hans and Robert Creighton as Duke of Weselton.

    Frozen plays its out-of-town tryout at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Aug. 17-Oct. 1. Single tickets for performances in Denver go on sale at 10 a.m. May 1. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account. To sign up for email alerts about the Denver engagement, go to Denvercenter.org/Frozen.

    Tickets for Broadway performances will go on sale later this year. Visit FrozenTheMusical.com to sign up for Broadway ticket announcements and other news.

    Levy, who has starred on Broadway in Ghost, Wicked and the 2014 revival of Les Misérables, will create the role of Elsa, a young woman wrestling with powers beyond her comprehension or control. Murin, seen in the original Broadway productions of Lysistrata Jones and Xanadu, will star as her younger sister Anna, trying to reconnect with the person once closest to her. The two women are joined by Jelani Alladin in his Broadway debut as Kristoff, Greg Hildreth (Peter and the Starcatcher, Cinderella, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) as Olaf, John Riddle (The Visit’s Young Anton) as Hans and Robert Creighton (The Little Mermaid, Anything Goes, Off-Broadway’s Cagney) as Duke of Weselton.

    Additional principal and ensemble casting will be announced soon.

    Tony Award winner Rob Ashford has joined Frozen’s creative team as choreographer. One of the busiest director-choreographers on Broadway and in London, Ashford is a Tony winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie and a Tony nominee for the Daniel Radcliffe revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Curtains, among his eight nominations. In London, Ashford and Frozen director Michael Grandage have enjoyed more than a decade of illustrious collaboration: Ashford helmed Parade (receiving Olivier nominations as director and choreographer), A Streetcar Named Desire and Anna Christie (Olivier Award, Best Revival) at The Donmar Warehouse under Grandage’s artistic leadership, and he received Olivier nominations for choreographing Grandage’s West End productions of Evita and Guys and Dolls. Ashford also has a history with Disney, having choreographed Kenneth Branagh’s smash film Cinderella.

    Christopher Gattelli, previously announced as choreographer, has chosen to leave the show ahead of rehearsals in June.

    Based on the 2014 film written by a trio of Oscar® winners, Frozen features music and lyrics by the creators of the film score Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Up Here, Winnie the Pooh, In Transit) and EGOT-winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Up Here) and a book by Jennifer Lee (Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph), the film’s screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck).  Frozen won 2014 Oscars for Best Song (“Let It Go”) and Best Animated Feature. 

     Frozen’s director is Michael Grandage, a Tony Award winner (Red) and director of three Olivier Award-winning Outstanding Musicals (Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel and Guys and Dolls).

     The design team for Frozen includes scenic and costume design by Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita), lighting design by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Aladdin; Hello Dolly!; An American in Paris) and sound design by four-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski (The Scottsboro Boys, Motown, After Midnight).

    Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus (Avenue Q, Wicked, The Book of Mormon) is music supervisor and creates vocal and incidental arrangements. 

    Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

     CAISSIE LEVY (Elsa). On Broadway, Ms. Levy created the roles of Fantine in the 2014 revival of Les Misérables, Molly in Ghost (also West End & cast album), and Sheila in the 2009 revival of Hair (also West End & cast album), and played Elphaba in Wicked (also Los Angeles) and Penny in Hairspray (also 1st national tour & Toronto). Off-Broadway, she starred as Julie Nixon and Patti Davis in First Daughter Suite (The Public Theater), Sara in Murder Ballad and Maureen in the national tour of Rent. She has played solo to sold-out audiences throughout the US, UK & Canada, was a guest soloist with The United States Military Academy at West Point, backed up Sir Rod Stewart in Las Vegas and most recently made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops. Her debut solo album, With You, is available on iTunes.

    PATTI MURIN (Anna). Broadway/national tour: Lysistrata Jones (Lysistrata), Wicked (Glinda), Xanadu (Euterpe). Off-Broadway: Love's Labour's Lost (Shakespeare in the Park); Fly By Night (Playwrights Horizons); Lady Be Good! (Encores!). Almost Broadway: Nerds (Sally). Can currently be seen as Dr. Nina Shore on NBC's "Chicago Med."

    JELANI ALLADIN (Kristoff). Broadway debut. Off-Broadway: Sweetee (Signature Theatre  - upcoming), Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope (York Theatre). Regional: I and You (TheatreSquared), Choir Boy (Studio Theatre DC, Marin Theatre Company), The History Boys (PalmBeach Dramaworks), Violet (Clarence Brown), Josephine (Asolo Rep – world premiere). Graduate of the NYU Tisch New Studio on Broadway.

    GREG HILDRETH (Olaf). Broadway: Cinderella, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher. Off-Broadway: The Robber Bridegroom. TV: “The Good Wife” (recurring), “Royal Pains.” Film: Radium Girls, Wall Street II.

     JOHN RIDDLE (Hans) was last seen on Broadway in Kander and Ebb's The Visit starring Chita Rivera. His other stage credits include Tony in West Side Story (Casa Manana), Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid (St. Louis MUNY), Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees (PCLO), Evita (1st national tour), Little Dancer (Kennedy Center) and My Paris (Long Wharf). Other: The Secret Garden in concert at Lincoln Center, Cincinnati Pops. Last year, John debuted his solo show, Keep It Simple at Feinstein's/54 Below. He can be heard on John Kander's Hidden Treasures from Harbinger Records. CCM grad.

    ROBERT CREIGHTON (Duke of Weselton). Recently conceived, co-authored and starred as James Cagney in Cagney Off-Broadway. Broadway credits include The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Durdles), Anything Goes (Purser), Chicago (Amos), The Little Mermaid (Chef Louis), The Lion King (Timon) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. TV: “The Family,” “Elementary,” “Law & Order,” “Life on Mars.”

    ROB ASHFORD (Choreographer) is a Tony Award, Olivier Award, Emmy Award®, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning director/choreographer. Rob was most recently Kenneth Branagh's associate on the film Murder on the Orient Express. Theatre credits on Broadway include Cat On A Hot Tin Roof; Evita (Tony Award nomination); How to Succeed (Tony Award nominations for direction and choreography); Promises, Promises (Tony Award nomination); Thoroughly Modern Millie (Tony Award Best Choreography); Shrek; John Water's Cry Baby (Tony Award nomination, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Fred Astaire Awards); Curtains (Tony Award nomination) and Wedding Singer (Tony Award nomination). Other credits include The Entertainer (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company), Romeo and Juliet (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company), The Winter’s Tale (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, Olivier nomination Best Director), Harlequinade (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company), Macbeth (Park Avenue Armory, New York and Manchester International Festival), and at the Donmar Warehouse, the Olivier Award-winning productions of Anna Christie, A Streetcar Named Desire (Olivier nomination for Best Revival) and Parade (Olivier nominations for director and choreography). Directed and choreographed “Peter Pan Live!” and “The Sound of Music Live!” (NBC - DGA Award nominations for both). Directed The Barber of Seville and Carousel (Lyric Opera Chicago). He choreographed and staged the 2015 Academy Awards with Neil Patrick Harris, the 2014 Academy Awards with Ellen DeGeneres and the 2013 Academy Awards with Seth MacFarlane. For the Academy Awards 2009, won the Emmy Award for Best Choreography for his work on Baz Luhrmann's production number featuring Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé. He has also choreographed the opening number for Neil Patrick Harris for 4 years and James Corden last year for The Tony Awards, and staged tributes at the Kennedy Center Honors for Barbra Streisand, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jerry Herman, Barbara Cook, Tom Hanks, Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep. Films include choreography for Beyond the Sea, Disney’s Cinderella, A Million Ways to Die in the West and Ted 2. Rob is an Artistic Associate for The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company and is a Trustee of The Joyce Theatre in New York City

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

     

    Frozen: At a glance
    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut.

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017
    Buell Theatre
    Sales to groups of 10 or more here

    MORE INFO

    Ticket information for Denver:
    Single tickets for the pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, May 1. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account.

    Please be advised that the DCPA’s web site – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Frozen in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.

    Written by a trio of Oscar-winners, Frozen features music and lyrics by the creators of the film score Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit, Up Here) and EGOT-winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Up Here) and a book by Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph), the film’s screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck). Frozen won 2014 Oscars for Best Song (“Let It Go”) and Best Animated Feature.


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Breaking: Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • Meet the cast: Vandit Bhatt of 'Disgraced'

    by John Moore | Apr 17, 2017
    Vandit Bhatt. Adams VisCom. Disgraced


    MEET VANDIT BHATT
    Bhatt plays Abe in Disgraced, playing through May 7 at the Ricketson Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play is about a successful Muslim-American attorney named Amir Kapoor, who has turned his back on his faith and is now thriving in post-9/11 Manhattan. Amir's American nephew, born Hussein Malik, is now assimilated and called Abe. He brings to Amir his concerns over the arrest of a local imam accused of terroristic acts.

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. Select New York credits: Indian Ink (Roundabout Theatre Company); Harper Regan (Atlantic Theater Company); Other Farmers’ Fields (The Public), Skin, Asking for Trouble, and The Unusual Life of Bed Bugs and Other Creatures (all at The Ensemble Studio Theatre); Bike America (Ma-Yi Theater Company); and The Great Recession (The Flea Theater). Select regional credits: The Hard Problem (American Conservatory Theater) and Disgraced (Arizona Theater Company). Film: "Ripped," "42 Seconds Of Happiness." TV: "Younger," "The Michael J. Fox Show," "Mercy," "One Life To Live."

    • Vandit Bhatt, Disgraced. Photo by Adams ViscomHometown: A blend of Fort Myers, Fla. and Hyderabad, India
    • Training: Graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.
    • Twitter handle: @thevanditbhatt
    • Website: vanditbhatt.com
    • What was the role that changed your life? Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing. It was the first play I ever did. I had just moved from India, so I didn't know anything about acting, much less Shakespeare. I auditioned and, for some reason, Mrs. Goff cast me as Claudio. I had a lot of firsts with that play: First lead, first Shakespeare play, my first friends in America, my first girlfriend and my first kiss. I firmly believe doing that play set me on a path to become an actor. I always wanted to be an actor but I probably wouldn't have gone for it if it hadn't been for that production.
    • Why are you an actor? If I were to put it simply, it's all I have ever known. Sometimes, when I take a step back and look at my life, I feel like it was really meant to be. 
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I honestly don't know.
    • deniroIdeal scene partner: Robert DeNiro. There are numerous reasons, but the most obvious one is that it would be a tremendous learning experience.
    • Why does Disgraced matter? It's one of the most relevant plays of our time. It matters because it is incredibly complicated, much like life.  
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I want them to leave with questions. Lots of them.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      At the risk of sounding silly: "All I want is to share my work with the world."

    Fron left: Vandit Bhatt, Olivia Gilliatt and Dorien Makhloghi. Photo by adamsviscom'Disgraced' actors, from left, Vandit Bhatt, Olivia Gilliatt and Dorien Makhloghi. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Disgraced
    : Ticket information
    DisgracedIn this raw new play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear.

    Through May 7
    Ricketson Theatre
    ASL and audio-described performance: 1:30 p.m. April 30

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disgraced:
    Perspectives: Disgraced is about starting, not finishing, conversations
    Video, photos: Your first look at Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Video: A talk with Disgraced Costume Designer Lex Liang
    Disgraced
    has been known to leave audiences gasping
    Disgraced Director promises to push your (empathy) button
    TED Talk: On the danger of a 'single story'

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Dorien Makhloghi, Disgraced
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Cajardo Lindsey, The Christians
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Robert Montano, Two Degrees
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Benjamin Pelteson, Disgraced
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Kim Staunton, Two Degrees

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Tony nominee Beth Malone joins Denver Actors Fund concert lineup

    by John Moore | Apr 16, 2017



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

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

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

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

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

    Click here to choose your April 30 concert seats now

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read our full, new interview with Beth Malone here

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

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

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

    The lineup is subject to change.

    United in Love Lineup

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

     

  • In the Spotlife: Lauren Shealy of 'Evita'

    by John Moore | Apr 15, 2017
    Lauren Shealy. Photo by Danny Lam. EvitaJesse Sharp and Lauren Shealy in Lone Tree Arts Center's 'Evita.' Photo by Danny Lam.


    MEET LAUREN SHEALY

    forbidden_broadway_group_JOHN_MOORELauren Shealy plays the fated First Lady of Argentina Eva Peron in Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita through April 29. She is known to Denver Center audiences for Sweeney Todd; Forbidden Broadway; A Christmas Carol; The Doyle and Debbie Show; and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. She has also appeared locally at the Arvada Center (White Christmas, A Man Of No Importance, Curtains, Miracle On 34th Street, 1940s Radio Hour); and as Nellie in the Lone Tree Arts Center's South Pacific. (She also played that role on a national tour.) Off-Broadway credits include Lingoland and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

  • Lauren Shealy QuoteHometown: Denver
  • Home now: Lakewood
  • High School: Arapahoe
  • College: BFA in Drama from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Betty Haynes in the Arvada Center’s White Christmas
  • Twitter-sized bio: Lover of life, stories, music, family, heavy weights, hikes, hugs and cake pops. Habitual bath-taker, banana-bread maker and horror-movie watcher.
  • What was the role that changed your life? My role as a mother changed me as a performer. My heart underwent profound renovations. The current model has no walls, many doors – and seriously leaky faucets. Every day I wrestle with a delightful and terrifying mix of fear, love and humility. I am often raw, I doubt my goodness and question my strength. But I am strangely more brave. Encountering my best and worst self also has invited me to look at my stage characters differently. I have more empathy for them, and less judgment. When I look at Eva, for instance, I don’t see a power-hungry manipulator of men. I see a passionate woman who wants to matter, wants to be loved. I see a fighter who uses street sense, wiles and alliances to gain the mobility she needs to realize her dreams.   
  • Ideal scene partner: Emma Thompson (pictured below and right). I want to follow her around for a week and peek in her freezer. She’s so yummy to watch – fully present, strong and beautifully vulnerable. And she is so smart! She adapted the script for the Ang Lee version of Sense and Sensibility – and it’s perfection.
  • What is Evita all about? This is Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterful musical take on the  illegitimateEmma Thompson, dirt-poor 15-year-old Argentinian girl who, driven by ambition and blessed with charisma, was a starlet at 22, the president's mistress at 24, the First Lady at 27 and dead at 33. In short: It's about love and power.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing your part: I think the biggest challenge is burning voice, body and soul at an absolute fever pitch for two hours. Holding on to that intensity and maintaining the highest stakes possible as each scene tumbles forth is wildly challenging.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? Connection – to me, to the person next to them, to the memory of an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life. 
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I love, love ... love horror movies. I need them on a steady drip.
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? There are no perfect circumstances, there is no perfect time and life is so very short. If you know what you are meant to do – do it. If you love someone – tell them. If you can make the world kinder, safer and more honest – start … now.

  • The iconic balcony scene from Lone Tree Arts Center's 'Evita.' Scenic Design by Michael R. Duran. Photo by Danny Lam. 

    Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita: Ticket information

    • Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics by Tim Rice
    • Directed by Gina Rattan and Max Mamon (music)
    • Through April 29
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. Sundays. Also 1:30 p.m. Saturdays, April 15 and 22; Wednesday, April 19
    • Lone Tree Arts Center, just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue
    • Tickets $35-$70
    • For tickets or information, call 720-509-1000 or go to lonetreeartscenter.org

    Cast list:
    •  Lauren Shealy as Eva Peron
    •  Miles Jacoby as Che
    •  Jesse Sharp as Peron
    •  Seth Dhonau as Magaldi
    •  Katherine Jackson as the Mistress
    •  Natalie Beaumont as Young Girl
    •  Ensemble: Rob Costigan, Maggie Davenport, Andrea Forsythe, Eric Anthony Johnson, Thadd Krueger, Michayla Lupien, Angela Mendez, Matthew D. Peters, Alejandro Roldan, Shannan Steele
    •  Children: Natalie Beaumont, Sophia Dotson, Isabella Fabiani, Grace Klusacek, Heidi Rogers, Rebecca Ruth, Ross Smallwood, Callie Jean Tysdal, Ryley Weinstein

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas

    Lauren Shealy. Photo by Danny Lam. Evita
  • Phamaly Theatre Company faces immediate $100,000 shortfall

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2017

    Phamaly. Regan Linton

     

    Rapid expansion has put the acclaimed company that creates opportunities for actors with disabilities in danger.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The posters for Phamaly Theatre Company’s upcoming production of Annie don’t say “The sun will come out tomorrow,” as you might expect. Instead, they ask a far more ominous question: “Will tomorrow ever come?” It’s a reference to the original comic-book source. And that's the very question hanging over the internationally acclaimed Denver theatre company that has been providing performance opportunities for actors with disabilities for 27 years.

    Phamaly has launched an emergency $100,000 fundraising campaign to stay in operation past the summer. The deadline is July 1.  

    Phamaly quote“Phamaly is in a rough spot right now – maybe rougher than it has ever been in before,” said Artistic Director and actor Regan Linton, who rejoined Phamaly last August only to discover that the company was facing a potentially catastrophic revenue shortfall. The culprit: Too much expansion, much too fast.

    Phamaly now performs a full year-round season, offers a statewide children’s tour and stages a big Broadway musical each summer at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

    The first public sign of possible trouble at Phamaly was the successive departures of both new Artistic Director Bryce Alexander and new Executive Director Maureen Ediger within four months last year. In January, the previously announced upcoming staging of Peter Pan was scratched because of rising costs associated with flying special-needs actors. Annie took its place. But the full extent of the problem only became known when the company released an uncommonly transparent public statement on March 28.

    "We need your support like we never have before," it reads.

    Phamaly’s annual operating budget has more than doubled in seven years, from $350,000 in 2008-09 to $850,000 last year. This year’s budget was cut to $750,000, but still - without an immediate cash infusion, “bankruptcy is a scary possibility,” Linton told the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Read the full Phamaly letter to its supporters

    “I'm an optimist, but Phamaly is facing that possibility more realistically right now than it ever has before,” said Linton. “I'm hesitant to use that word, bankruptcy, but yeah, it is important to give people a sense of the stakes.”

    The Phamaly statement that also announced the launch of “The Campaign for a Sunny Tomorrow” was posted both to its website and sent out to the company’s full email list.

    Phamaly-Pygmalion“Phamaly significantly expanded programming a couple of years ago with the best intentions of serving more members of our community and making a greater impact,” it read. “This expansion included increasing the number of mainstage shows, offering educational classes, increasing outreach, moving into a new office with rehearsal space, and growing our staff. We expanded too much, too quickly." Added Linton: "I think at some point you have to be able to say, ‘No. There are certain things we can’t do,’ and be OK with that."

    (Pictured right: Phamaly's recent production of 'Pygmalion.') 

    Expansion also brought unexpected expenses, missed projections an overextended staff. And, Linton bluntly admits, that has had an inevitable impact on the quality of the company's productions over the past year.

    “Phamaly has not necessarily been producing the kind of theatre that I think we are capable of,” Linton said. “Our productions have not been optimally supported, and our ability to keep patrons fully engaged has been affected.”

    Phamaly’s closest supporters immediately responded to the company’s distress signal with $30,000 in pledges in the first 17 days of the drive.  The Harvey Family Foundation has agreed to match up to $35,000 of new donations for this campaign, although Linton said that money will not count against the overall goal "to raise $100,000 in new and different money from other fundraising activities,” Linton said, including the annual Phamaly gala, which is expected to raise a separate $35,000 on June 3.

    Click here to support the Phamaly fundraising campaign

    Hundreds of local theatre companies have come and gone since a group of disabled student actors, frustrated by the lack of opportunity to perform, began staging shows in 1989 in the basement of the Boettcher School. But there is much more at stake when the endangered company is the one and only company that presents professional plays and musicals cast entirely with performers who have physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities.

     “Phamaly is a unique company. There’s no other like it in Colorado, and really no other company exactly like it in the entire United States,” Linton said.

    Phamaly Gala 2016 Phamaly has built its reputation for creating performances that transform the lives of both the actors onstage and the audiences watching. The company has produced a treasure trove of indelible stage memories, including a production about circus freaks called Side Show, and a Man of La Mancha starring Linton as an Aldonza who is beaten and tossed from her wheelchair, forcing Linton to sing her guttural battle song while crawling across the stage by her elbows. These and dozens of other moments sear themselves into the consciousness of anyone watching.

    “I think a good theatrical experience is about so much more than how high your chorus kicks. It's about: Are you moved by what you see? Does it transform your way of seeing the world?” said Linton, the only Artistic Director leading a major U.S. theatre company from a wheelchair, according to the Theatre Communications Group.

    “I think that is something Phamaly does unlike any theatre company, and it’s because you have these extraordinary human beings doing these shows that make you think about the human condition and the human experience in a completely different way.”

    (Pictured above and right: Rob Costigan and Hannah Balmer dance at the 2016 Phamaly gala, which is coming up again on June 3.)

    But in recent years, Linton said, “I feel like some of our productions have been trying to fit into a mold that other theatre companies already fit. I don't think that's what we should be doing. I think we should be creating our own mold.”

    That starts with Annie, which Linton is co-directing with Steve Wilson, the longtime Phamaly Artistic Director who resigned in 2014 to focus on his full-time job as Executive Director of the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. Because the Space Theatre is undergoing a year-long renovation, Annie, opening July 13, will be Phamaly’s first-ever production in the Stage Theatre, which is nearly twice as big as The Space Theatre. That creates both  artistic opportunities and the chance to introduce Phamaly to new audiences, and Linton plans to take full advantage of both. “This will be unlike any production of Annie you've ever seen," she promises.

    “I don't want to do the same old Annie,” she said. “I don't even want the red wig. I don't want any of the little girls in dresses. These are hardened orphans who have faced a lot of adversity in their lives, just like the actual young actors in our cast who are going to be playing these roles. We want to give the audience characters who are grounded in something real. And one thing our actors do better than anybody is present something authentic and real onstage.”

    So what happens if Phamaly does not raise $100,000 in new money by July 1?

    “Phamaly is definitely in danger of not being able to do our programming, at least for the near future,” Linton said. “But I'm an optimist, so I feel like even if Phamaly gets to the worst possible state where we would have to close our doors, Phamaly will continue to exist in some form because it is such an important part of the community.

    “My hope is that we would always find a way to make it work, especially in keeping with the Phamaly spirit. We find ways to make things work. That’s what we do.”

    A note on Phamaly Theatre Company funding

    Ticket sales account for only about 20 percent of Phamaly’s funding. About 60 percent comes from a combination of foundations, government support and individual contributions. The company received $150,00 this year from the metro-Denver taxing district known as the SCFD, and it has applied for $70,000 in the coming year from the National Endowment for the Arts. That the agency is imperiled by President Trump’s announced intention to de-fund the NEA only creates further financial uncertainty for Phamaly.

    “When you cut back government funding, then you are putting more pressure on communities and individual donors to support the organizations they care about,” Linton said. “If the NEA is eliminated, that would put more strain on individual contributors to support Phamaly.”


    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.

    annie phamaly

    Phamaly Theatre Company's upcoming offerings

    Staged reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream
    May 6-7
    At the Lone Tree Arts Center TICKETS

    Annie
    July 14-Aug. 6, 2017
    Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex TICKETS


    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Regan Linton and Phamaly:



    Regan Linton returns to lead Phamaly in landmark appointment
    NEA Chair champions Colorado, and arts therapies for veterans
    Phamaly will send wheelchairs flying in Peter Pan
    February 2015: Phamaly names Bryce Alexander to replace Steve Wilson
    Wilson resigns from Phamaly after 14 years
    Regan Linton works her magic in San Diego
    PBS podcast: Denver theater featuring disabled cast gains popularity
    Phamaly's historic goodwill tour to Japan
    Regan Linton: Performing for those who cannot
  • Video: Mamma Mia's Cashelle Butler returns to Cherry Creek High School

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2017


    Cashelle Butler, who attended Cherry Creek High School and graduated from Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, is home playing Tanya in the farewell tour of Mamma Mia! at the Buell Theatre through April 16.

    Cashelle Butler. Mamma MiaButler spent an afternoon with the Cherry Creek High School choir and theatre students.

    She answered their questions, taught them some choreography from the show, and toured backstage at her old stomping grounds, where she performed in many school productions including Thoroughly Modern Millie.

    In the video above, Butler talks with Cherry Creek High School Theatre teacher Jimmy Miller about her day, as well as taking classes as a teenager from DCPA Education.

    Chashelle Butler. Town Hall Arts Center. "When I was 14, I took my first class with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts," she said. "I did their high-school theatre intensive. I took classes in singing; acting; dance; speech and dialects; so I got flavor of what it would look like if I went into this as a career. I was so hooked."

    After graduating from UNC, Butler performed in several musicals at the Town Hall Arts Center, including Young Frankenstein, Anything Goes, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Marvelous Wonderettes (pictured right with, from left, Taylor Nicole Young, Butler, Cara Lippitt and Colby Dunn).

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


    Photo gallery: Cashelle Butler at Cherry Creek High School


    Mamma Mia in Denver 2017

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Mamma Mia! Farewell Tour
    : Ticket information
    MAMMA MIA! This hit musical that combines ABBA’s greatest hits, including Dancing Queen, S.O.S., Super Trouper, Take A Chance on Me and The Winner Takes It All, with a romantic tale  of love, laughter and friendship.

    Through April 16
    Buell Theatre
    ASL and audio-described performance: 2 p.m. April 15
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Mamma Mia in Denver:
    Guest column: Judy Craymer on the origins of Mamma Mia!

    Cashelle Butler. Mamma Mia.

    Cashelle Butler with teacher Jimmy Miller and his Cherry Creek High School students. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Below, Chashelle Butler with the male ensemble in the 'Mamma Mia' farewell tour. Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia.

    Chashelle Butler. Mamma Mia. Kevin Thomas Garcia.

  • EM Lewis would like you to meet her monsters

    by John Moore | Apr 13, 2017
    Mark Collins in 'The Gun Show.' Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.
    Mark Collins in 'The Gun Show.' Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.


    By EM Lewis
    Playwright, The Gun Show
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    We have a tendency, us humans, to keep the ugliest parts of ourselves well-hidden. All our monsters locked in boxes, all our beasts closed up in castles.

    When we consider that something is ugly, we shut it away. And shutting it away makes us feel like it is something to be ashamed of. Even if it's not.

    EM Lewis QuoteDoes this sound familiar? Do you know this story?

    My play The Gun Show, which will be presented by And Toto Too starting April 13 at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, is about guns in America. More broadly, it is about the great political divide we find ourselves in today. But it's also about my deepest and most personal demon, which I carefully shut up in a box inside me for a decade. I taped it shut with strong, imaginary duct tape, and pushed it down deep, and carried it around inside me like a stone.

    Don't worry. The play is full of jokes and funny bits. I believe the darker you go, the funnier you better get. the play is about vulnerability ... and is there anything funnier than that? But it's also about taking that box of darkness out and opening it up and sharing it with strangers.

    The first time it was performed, three years ago in Chicago, I thought I was going to throw up. Vulnerability is terrifying, you know? And this is some pretty radical vulnerability I'm practicing here. Everything I am - even the ugly bits - everything I'm trying desperately to figure out - is on the page and on the stage.

    I've learned something between that first performance of The Gun Show, though, and this 14th production going up in Denver. I've learned that I'm not alone, with my closed-up beasts and monsters. I've realized that closing them up inside made me a very lonely person. And I've discovered that being brave enough to share my own story allows other people to share theirs, and makes us all feel less alone.

    Don't you love theater?

    It's not easy, this sort of sharing. This isn't an easy show. It is a messy wrestling with difficult subjects, both personal and political. But if we're brave enough to open up some of these boxes inside us, maybe there is understanding to be had on the other side. Maybe there is empathy. Maybe there is healing.

    Maybe.

    Come and see.

    Editor's Note: The DCPA NewsCenter offers guest columns from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of issues. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and proposed topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    In the Spotlife: Our previous look at actor Mark Collins

    About our Guest Columnist: EM Lewis
    EM Lewis is an award-winning playwright and librettist. Recipient of the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the Steinberg Award (Song of Extinction) and Primus Prize (Heads) from the American Theater Critics Association, the Ted Schmitt Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, a fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the 2016 Oregon Literary Fellowship in Drama. She was recently commissioned by the Kennedy Center to write a play for college students, called You Can See All the Stars. Her epic play Magellanica, which is set in Antarctica, will premiere at Artists Rep in Portland, and her intimate play Apple Season will premiere at New Jersey Rep next season. And she is taking the Portland production of The Gun Show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.  Lewis is published by Samuel French, and is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.  She lives in Oregon. 

    The Gun Show: Tickets and information
    From a farming community in rural Oregon to the big cities of Los Angeles and New York, The Gun Show features one actor (Mark Collins) sharing playwright EM Lewis' unique, middle-ground perspective on the issue with her true stories about America’s favorite and perhaps most dangerous pastime.

    • Presented by And Toto Too Theatre Company
    • Directed by Susan Lyles
    • April 13-29
    • At the The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St.
    • Performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays
    • Call 720-583-3975 or go to andtototoo.org

    About Next Stage NOW
    The Commons on Champa is a newly available performing space at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The Next Stage NOW is a public initiative with a mission to enliven, diversify and sustain the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Denver Arts & Venues has made $100,000 available to support public performances, programming and place making initiatives at the Denver Performing Arts Complex in 2017.

    About And Toto Too Theatre Company

    And Toto Too, founded by Susan Lyles, is Colorado's only theatre company dedicated exclusively to women's voices. The Gun Show marks its 12th season-opener. For information, email susanlyles@andtototoo.org

    Selected previous Guest Columns:
    Janice Sinden Eliminating the NEA would be bad for our economy
    Judy Craymer on the origins of Mamma Mia!
    Douglas Langworthy on 'translating' Shakespeare: First, do no harm
    David Nehls: Live theatre returns to Elitch Gardens after 24 years
    Gillian McNally: Colorado's oldest theatre celebrates Artistic Director Tom McNally
    Margie Lamb on the Henry Awards: Something doesn't add up
    Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
    Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Susan Lyles on 10 years of staging plays for women in Denver

    More Colorade theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    EM Lewis. The Gun Show
    Playwright EM Lewis and her husband.

  • Meet the cast: Benjamin Pelteson of 'Disgraced'

    by John Moore | Apr 12, 2017
    Disgraced Benjamin Pelteson-photo-credit-adamsviscom
    Benjamin Pelteson plays Isaac, a curator at the Whitney Museum, in 'Disgraced,' playing through May 7. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    MEET BENJAMIN PELTESON
    Isaac in Disgraced

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. Other Theatres: Ensemble Studio Theatre, City Opera, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Baltimore Centerstage, Wilma Theater, Williamstown, Capital Repertory, McCarter (tour), Pittsburgh Public and others. TV: "The Americans," "Homeland," "Law & Order," "Unforgettable," "Silly Little Game" (ESPN). Barrymore Nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actor for Angels in America (Philadelphia).

    • Disgraced Benjamin PeltesonHometown: Orlando
    • Training: BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh
    • What was the role that changed your life? When I was 17, my high-school drama teacher handed me The Merchant of Venice and asked me to play Shylock. Not a good idea. One rehearsal I found myself weeping and spitting on people and grabbing them by their collars. The language did something to me that was very unplanned and very surprising and addictive. Those poor kids who had to act with me ... I am so sorry. But that show 900 years ago is why I decided to do this for a living.
    • Why are you an actor? I learn more by being other people than by being myself. Also: Affordable health insurance. 
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I would be a writer or a civil-rights lawyer. I like words. I like clarity and argument. I like changing people’s minds.
    • A Mark RylanceIdeal scene partner: Mark Rylance. He never stops inventing. He always listens.
    • Why does Disgraced matter? To me, this is a play about the problem of tribes. Can we get past our ancient group hatreds, or are we - no matter how hard we struggle - going to be beholden to them forever? That seems like a pretty pressing question for all of us right now.  
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I want the funny stuff to be funny, the sad stuff to be sad and the surprising stuff to be surprising.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... public institutions and politicians we can put our faith in. A general restoration of belief in empiricism. The National Endowment for the Arts to be well-funded into perpetuity, so that the Denver Center and others like it can keep bringing you great work. ... That, and a really nice cup of coffee."

    Disgraced Benjamin Pelteson-photo-credit-adamsviscom'Disgraced' actors, from left, Dorien Makhloghi, Christina Sajous and Benjamin Pelteson. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Disgraced
    : Ticket information
    DisgracedIn this raw new play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear.

    Through May 7
    Ricketson Theatre
    ASL and audio-described performance: 1:30 p.m. April 30

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disgraced:
    Perspectives: Disgraced is about starting, not finishing, conversations
    Video, photos: Your first look at Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Video: A talk with Disgraced Costume Designer Lex Liang
    Disgraced
    has been known to leave audiences gasping
    Disgraced Director promises to push your (empathy) button
    TED Talk: On the danger of a 'single story'

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Dorien Makhloghi, Disgraced
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Cajardo Lindsey, The Christians
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Robert Montano, Two Degrees
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Kim Staunton, Two Degrees

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Disgraced' and The Denver Muslim Women's Art Collection

    by John Moore | Apr 12, 2017
    Photo gallery: The Denver Muslim Women's Art Collection:

    Muslim Women's Arts Collection

    To see more photos from the exhibit and learn more about the individual artists, click the forward arrow on the image above.


    The Denver Muslim Women's Art Collection is on display in the lobby of the Ricketson Theatre throughout the run of the DCPA Theatre Company's Disgraced, playing through May 7. Here is how the exhibit is described:

     

    American Muslims, with around 3.3 million citizens in the United States, have the most diverse community in the world in terms of ethnicity, sect and variations in practice. To reduce the breadth of their experiences, insight and expression to a single identity is impossible.

    The play Disgraced represents one voice and one perspective. Amir struggles to balance and understand the two worlds that shape the identity of all American Muslims. But his crisis should not stand for everyone.
     
    This exhibit is meant to provide a visual representation of actual American Muslims and to illustrate the fact that some individuals have found strength and beauty in the dichotomy of their backgrounds.
     
    March For Humanity is honored to present to you the Denver Muslim Women's Art Collection: To take you on an inside tour of the creative Muslim community, to provide education and to build understanding between people of all kinds.

    American Muslims, with around 3.3 million citizens in the United States, have the most diverse community in the world in terms of ethnicity, sect and variations in practice. To reduce the breadth of their experiences, insight and expression to a single identity is impossible. 

    The play Disgraced represents one voice and one perspective. Amir struggles to balance and understand the two worlds that shape the identity of all American Muslims. But his crisis should not stand for everyone.
     
    This exhibit is meant to provide a visual representation of actual American Muslims and to illustrate the fact that some individuals have found strength and beauty in the dichotomy of their backgrounds.
     
    March For Humanity is honored to present to you the Denver Muslim Women's Art Collection: To take you on an inside tour of the creative Muslim community, to provide education and to build understanding between people of all kinds.




    Disgraced
    : Ticket information
    DisgracedIn this raw new play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear.

    Through May 7
    Ricketson Theatre

    ASL and audio-described performance: 1:30 p.m. April 30

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disgraced:
    Photos: Opening night of Disgraced in Denver
    Perspectives: Disgraced is about starting, not finishing, conversations
    Video, photos: Your first look at Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Video: A talk with Disgraced Costume Designer Lex Liang
    Disgraced
    has been known to leave audiences gasping
    Disgraced Director promises to push your (empathy) button
    TED Talk: On the danger of a 'single story'
    Meet the cast: Dorien Makhloghi, who plays Amir

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 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
  • Photos: Opening night of 'Disgraced' in Denver

    by John Moore | Apr 10, 2017
    'Disgraced' in Denver

    Photos from opening night of the DCPA Theatre's Company's production of Ayad Akhtar’s celebrated play Disgraced. To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Scroll through and you will find pictures from throughout the creation of the play here in Denver, dating to the first rehearsal. All photos are directly downlodable from the Denver Center's Flickr account.

    Disgraced is the story of an American-born, Muslim-raised New York corporate attorney and his struggle with assimilation and his conflicted identity. Amir Kapoor has has turned his back on his faith, but is now thriving in post-9/11 Manhattan. The play bluntly asks whether Americans must renounce their “other” cultural identities to gain mainstream acceptance.

    Disgraced. John Moore photo. Our photos include activities before the performance, including a pre-show (non-alcoholic!) cider toast, as well as the post-show discussion from the stage of the Ricketson Theatre (pictured right) with members of the local Muslim community, and the cast celebration afterward in Club Denver.

    The director of Disgraced is Carl Cofield, and the cast includes Benjamin Pelteson, Olivia Gilliatt, Dorien Makhloghi, Christina Sajous and Vandit Bhatt.

    Cofield made an inspirational pre-show speech expressing his admiration for his actors' courage to act. He referenced results of scientific studies that showed the number of people who suffer from the fear of speaking in public is nearly twice as great as the number of people who number who fear death or serious illness.

    He quoted William Ball, from A Sense of Direction: Some Observations on the Art of Directing:

    An actor is a hero. All acting is praiseworthy if for no other reason than that the actor has the courage to walk from the wings to the center of the stage. For his entrance alone, he should be praised. Speaking takes more courage; and speaking in the person of another individual, with a commitment to a belief in that individual's emotional life, is not only praiseworthy; it is awesome. Those of us who have the opportunity to assist the actor, by making his path more smooth, are honored to aid him; and we are grateful for the great gifts he bestows upon us - his creativity, his wit, his humanity, his suffering, his imagination, his energy, and his complete and perfect self."

    Disgraced plays through May 7.

    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Disgraced. Olivia Gilliatt. Photo by John Moore

    Vandit Bhatt, left, and Olivia Gilliatt after the opening performance of 'Disgraced.' Photo by John Moore.

    Disgraced
    : Ticket information
    DisgracedIn this raw new play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear.

    Through May 7
    Ricketson Theatre
    ASL and audio-described performance: 1:30 p.m. April 30

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disgraced:
    Perspectives: Disgraced is about starting, not finishing, conversations
    Video, photos: Your first look at Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Video: A talk with Disgraced Costume Designer Lex Liang
    Disgraced
    has been known to leave audiences gasping
    Disgraced Director promises to push your (empathy) button
    TED Talk: On the danger of a 'single story'
    Meet the cast: Dorien Makhloghi, who plays Amir

    Disgraced. Christina Sajous. John Moore photo. Disgraced actor Christina Sajous was surrounded by loving family after the opening performance. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Meet the cast: Dorien Makhloghi of 'Disgraced'

    by John Moore | Apr 10, 2017
    800 dorien-makhloghi-photo-credit-adamsviscom_33706705842_o
    Dorien Makhloghi plays Amir Kapoor, a brilliant, successful Muslim-American attorney who has turned his back on his faith and is now thriving in post-9/11 Manhattan in 'Disgraced,' playing through May 7. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    MEET DORIEN MAKHLOGHI
    Amir in Disgraced

    Makhloghi-DorienAt the Theatre Company: Debut. He previously played Amir in Asolo Repertory Theatre's production of Disgraced last year in Sarasota, Fla. On and Off-Broadway, he has appeared in The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night (Public Theater/NYSF), The Oedipus Cycle, Nathan the Wise (Pearl Theatre), and Around the World in 80 Days (New Theater on 45th). Regional theater credits include Scorched (Syracuse Stage), The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing (Saratoga Shakespeare) and world premieres of Love/Stories, The Great Recession (Flea Theater) and Another Life (Theater Three Collaborative). Film: I, Origins and Starving.

    • Disgraced. Dorien Makhloghi. Adams VisComHometown:  Putney, Vermont
    • Training: Bachelor of science from Skidmore College in Sarasota Springs, N.Y.
    • What was the role that changed your life? In my case, it was not a role that I played but rather on that I saw: Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. I knew then what I wanted to be: A cool and hilarious scientist.
    • Why are you an actor? It's more fun than a real job. 
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I'd be a gardener ... because we'd all better learn those skills, and soon. It's the way of the future.
    • Ideal scene partner: Joseph Gordon Levitt ... because I would walk all over him.
    • Why does Disgraced matter? Because it asks pertinent questions and offers no easy solutions to a complex socio-political issue that is still playing out today.  
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? A reason to reflect.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... a compound in the mountains with my herbs and my pets and my guns. Also, enlightenment."

    dorien-makhloghi-photo-credit-adamsviscom'Disgraced' actors Olivia Gilliatt and Dorien Makhloghi. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Disgraced
    : Ticket information
    DisgracedIn this raw new play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear.

    Through May 7
    Ricketson Theatre
    ASL and audio-described performance: 1:30 p.m. April 30

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disgraced:
    Perspectives: Disgraced is about starting, not finishing, conversations
    Video, photos: Your first look at Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Video: A talk with Disgraced Costume Designer Lex Liang
    Disgraced
    has been known to leave audiences gasping
    Disgraced Director promises to push your (empathy) button
    TED Talk: On the danger of a 'single story'

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Cajardo Lindsey, The Christians
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Robert Montano, Two Degrees
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Kim Staunton, Two Degrees

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Flavia Florezell: 'She was an integral part of our community'

    by John Moore | Apr 09, 2017

    Flavia Florezell. Bas Bleu. Speed-The-Plow
    Flavia Florezell, left, in a gender-bent production of the Hollywood satire 'Speed-The-Plow' at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins.


    Floria Florezell, an active member for the Colorado theatre community who performed on stages across Fort Collins and Denver for three decades, died on March 23 of breast cancer. She was 61.

    Flavia FlorezellFlorezell most recently appeared in Reader's Theatre productions of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Wonder of the World at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins. Favorite roles included playing Regan in OpenStage’s King Lear, Karen in Germinal Stage-Denver’s Reverse Psychology and Bobby Gould in a gender-bent take on David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow at Bas Bleu.

    Writing for The Denver Post, critic Bob Bows called Florezell's performance in Reverse Psychology "empowered, smart and sexy." 

    Speed-The-Plow is a meanspirited satire of Hollywood culture in which two privileged studio execs wager whether one can seduce the attractive female office temp. Only in this production, Florezell played one of the misanthropes, Bobby Gould.

    "Flavia was one of those special souls on this planet who grabbed the world by the (throat) and constantly reminded me to live every day as if it were a precious gift - and to and enjoy and respect the hell out of it," said Lisa Rosenhagen, her castmate in Speed-The-Plow. "I will miss her talent, her light and her guidance."

    At OpenStage, Florezell also appeared in Macbeth, Fuddy Meers and The Tempest. At Bas Bleu, her credits included in Tongue of a Bird, The Swan and The Scarlet Letter. She performed in Miners Alley Playhouse’s Prelude to a Kiss and in the Aurora Fox’s Mr. Marmalade.

    Peter Anthony Flavia Florezell"She was an integral part of our company for three decades, and an integral part of the theatre community all along the Front Range," said OpenStage co-founder Denise Freestone. "She was always very dedicated, and worked extremely hard." 

    One of her most unique theatrical experiences was performing in The Festival of the Delphic Games presented by the Isadora Duncan International Institute in the ruins of the theatre of the ancient Greeks at Delphi.

    Florezell was born Dec. 20, 1955, graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Theatre and lived in Boulder. She worked perhaps most closely with area Director Peter Anthony dating back to the 1970s. (They are pictured above.)

    "Flavia brought everyone and everything in her life immense joy and passion and a deep spiritual understanding of what it is to be human," Anthony said.

    Flavia Florezell Reverse PsychologyBy day, she was the General Manager of FIG, short for the Fresh Ideas Group - a mission-driven marketing and P.R. firm. She previously worked for April Greiman Inc., and the award-winning Kim Baer Design studio in Los Angeles. In Colorado, she was also the Business Manager for Volan Design, Stratecom and SHiFT.

    (Pictured above right: Flavia Florezell, center, with Casey Jones and Deborah Persoff in 'Reverse Psychology' for Germinal Stage-Denver.)

    Flavia Florezell The Dead MonkeyAs an actor — and as a human  — Florezell was known for her upbeat, collaborative and ever-friendly nature. I found her to be uncommonly decent and always armed with a healthy sense of humor. My first encounter with Florezell was as a theatre critic watching her in a 2002 production of The Dead Monkey at Bas Bleu (pictured right). I gave the production just 1½ stars out of four, but Florezell was never unkind in response. On the contrary, she said the company enjoyed the pan so much they performed dramatic readings of the review for years.

    On her company bio, Florezell revealed a few little-known facts about herself:

    • Bet you didn’t know — I was cast in a couple of Rodney Yee Gaiam yoga videos a few years ago. The audition consisted of doing a downward facing dog. Easiest job I ever got.
    • Biggest adventure this year was going to Flinders Island, Australia. You get on a tiny little plane in Melbourne and 45 minutes later you are in an incredibly wild and pristine environment.
    • One of the best meals of my life was in Sydney at Tetsuya’s. French-Asian tasting menu and the most artistic meal I’ve ever had.

    In tribute, her friend Robert Reid posted to Facebook the following poem written by Florezell herself: 

    "The wind has caught my sailing ship
    A'sailing out to sea,
    My nets aglow with rainbows and starfish
    Dancing free,
    I ride a seahorse till the moon
    Brings the tide in with a sight
    The wind has caught my sailing ship,
    Now with the wind go I.”


    Flavia-Florezell Speed-The-Plow Bas-Blue

    Lisa Rosenhagen, left, and Flavia Florezell in a gender-bent production of 'Speed-The-Plow' at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Perspectives: 'Disgraced' is about starting, not finishing, conversations

    by John Moore | Apr 07, 2017
    Photo gallery: The making of Disgraced in Denver:

    'Disgraced' in Denver

    Perspectives is a series of public panel discussions held just before the first public performance of each DCPA Theatre Company staging. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Disgraced opens tonight, but
    the conversation is only just beginning.


    By John Moore

    Senior Arts Journalist

    Disgraced
    is the most-produced play in America right now for one very good reason, says actor Vandit Bhatt: “It's a really good play.” If it were not, he surmises, “the DCPA and all those other theatres around the country probably wouldn’t be doing it.”

    But playwright Ayad Akhtar’s provocative, Pulitzer Prize-winning story is one that ultimately - and perhaps intentionally - leaves audiences uncomfortable. And that’s OK, says DCPA Theatre Company Director Carl Cofield. Because he believes a fundamental responsibility of the theatre is to stage plays that sometimes upset us.

    A Disgraced Perspectives 800“Theatre is supposed to lay important questions on the table,” said Cofield, whose production of Disgraced opens tonight in the Ricketson Theatre and runs through May 7. “There is no better place to ask tough questions than in a theatre. “If we're not, then why even bother?”

    As long as the most compelling question audiences walk away asking is not something so banal as: “Do they validate parking?”

    "The Greeks asked big questions about how you deal with love, grief and treachery,” Cofield said at Perspectives, a series of public panel discussions held just before the first public performance of each Theatre Company offering. “Shakespeare asked big questions that we continue to grapple with to this day. So did August Wilson. Theatres are a safe space where we can all come together and devote our attention to one story for 90 minutes and hopefully leave asking questions about ourselves, and about what we just experienced together.”

    Disgraced is the story of an American-born, Muslim-raised New York corporate lawyer and his struggle with his conflicted identity. Amir has rejected Islam and wholly embraced capitalism while his white wife — an up-and-coming New York artist — sees the beauty and wisdom in the Islamic tradition. The play bluntly asks whether Americans must renounce their “other” cultural identities to gain mainstream acceptance.

    A Disgraced Perspectives QuoteBut Akhtar’s play comes along at a highly charged and polarizing time in America, especially given the President’s pledge to ban some foreign Muslims from entering the United States.

    “We are spending more and more time on our telephones and devices these days,” Cofield said. “We get into our vehicles and we drive to our subdivisions where everybody looks just like us and talks just like us. We don't have conversations with people who think differently from us. We just yell and scream over one another.”

    Most important, said Dramaturg Heidi Schmidt: “This play is about starting a conversation. It's not about finishing one.”

    Toward that end, and for the first time in the nearly 40-year history of the Theatre Company, there will be moderated talkbacks following every performance of Disgraced led by rotating members of the local academic community.

    “Some of these conversations might be uncomfortable,” Cofield said. “But important conversations are sometimes uncomfortable. And when we get to the other side of them, we're better for having them than pretending the question does not exist.”

    For Cofield and Schmidt, the conversation began months before the play even began rehearsals. “When I signed on to do this piece, it was explicitly important to me that we actively seek out members of the local Muslim and Islamic faith and culture, invite them into our theatre and how we can start a dialogue,” Cofield said. “How can we talk about this play and this experience together?” 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Disgraced Lighting Designer Richard Devin, who was the longtime Artistic Director for the famed Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder, said he thinks it is important for the Denver Center to stick its neck out and offer audiences stories that will challenge them. “This is a play audiences want to stick around afterward and talk about,” Devin said. “They want to work through some things.”

    Disgraced Perspectives Vandit BhattWhile the playwright wrote Disgraced through the veil of Islam, "he could have told it through many other veils," said Bhatt. "A lot of times it is looked at as a Muslim play, but the genius of it is that it's really about a fractured person, and that's what makes it universal and relatable."

    At the end of the very first talkback, following the first public preview performance of the play on March 30, a Muslim man made the point that the protagonist of the play was but one man and not a representative of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims. As this same man was exiting the theatre, another audience member stopped him and asked if he wished they Denver Center were not presenting the play at all.

    "I am not at all against the play,” he responded, “because it will spark a conversation like the one we had it tonight after the play. And we need that."

    Actor Christina Sajous said the play is really much more than one man’s story. It addresses larger universal issues of humanity, violence and our common humanity – for starters.

    “One of the biggest diseases in our world is racism,” Sajous said, “and if we don't address it head-on, then we can never fix it. So why not address it through the story of Disgraced? We want things to be different but it has to start with us.”

    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.


    Disgraced
    : Ticket information
    DisgracedIn this raw new play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear.
    Through May 7
    Ricketson Theatre

    ASL and audio-described performance: 1:30 p.m. April 30

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disgraced:
    Perspectives: Disgraced is about starting, not finishing, conversations
    Video, photos: Your first look at Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Video: A talk with Disgraced Costume Designer Lex Liang
    Disgraced has been known to leave audiences gasping
    Disgraced Director promises to push your (empathy) button
    TED Talk: On the danger of a 'single story'
    Meet the cast: Dorien Makhloghi, who plays Amir

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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.