• 2017 True West Award: Colorado Theatre Person of the Year Regan Linton

    by John Moore | Dec 30, 2017
    2017 True West Award Regan Linton

     

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Regan Linton

    Colorado Theatre Person of the Year


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    We’ll never know whether Phamaly Theatre Company would have survived 2017 had Regan Linton not been here. She was here. And one of the nation's signature theatre companies is still here. And that's why Linton is the True West Awards' 2017 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year.

    For 28 years, one of Denver’s crown jewels has produced professional plays and musicals exclusively for actors with disabilities. But at this time a year ago, it was in catastrophic financial trouble.

    Regan Linton True West Award Quote Photo by John MooreLinton, a former core company member who went on to become a shining national example of what begets opportunity, had just been named Phamaly’s interim Artistic and Executive Director to fill a short-term leadership vacuum.

    Linton’s appointment was a cause for celebration. Not only had the Denver East High School graduate helped elevate Phamaly’s game as an actor with wrenching performances in musicals such as Side Show and Man of La Mancha, she came home with serious cred. In 2012, she became the first paralyzed student ever to be enrolled into one of the nation's top master’s conservatory programs when she was accepted at the University of California San Diego. And in 2015, Linton became the first actor in a wheelchair ever to be hired into the venerable Oregon Shakespeare Festival's year-round repertory company since it was founded in 1935.

    Today, Linton is a highly respected actor, educator and prominent voice for disability inclusion in the national theatre community. And when she accepted the one-year Phamaly assignment last year at age 34, Linton became the first person in a wheelchair ever to lead a major U.S. theatre company as Artistic Director, according to Theatre Communications Group.

    Then came the sticker shock.

    “I immediately became aware that the company was not in as healthy a financial position as I had thought,” Linton said. Phamaly's annual operating budget had more than doubled over the previous seven years, to $850,000. But revenue had not grown proportionally. Just two months into the job, Linton realized Phamaly was facing an immediate $100,000 shortfall.

    (Story continues after the photo gallery below.)

    Photo gallery: A look back at Regan Linton's year (and years) with Phamaly:

    Regan Linton: 2017 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year
    Photos from Regan Linton's first year as interim Artistic and Executive Director of Phamaly Theatre Company, followed by additional photos from years past. To see more images, just click on the image above to be taken to the full gallery. Photos by or compiled by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Linton attacked the problem swiftly, first by shaving the upcoming budget. She scrapped expensive plans to stage Peter Pan with wheelchairs flying over the DCPA’s Stage Theatre. A Shakespeare collaboration with a New York company was put off. And then, on March 28, Linton took a deep breath and released an uncommonly forthright public statement bluntly telling supporters that without an urgent cash infusion, Phamaly would be bankrupt by July 1. And that was just to make it to the summer. “We were really more like $250,000 in the hole,” she said.

    The most important thing to Linton was being open and honest about the situation. “If we were going to go down, then we were going to do it having been completely transparent with every one of our supporters,” she said.

    But, it turns out, It’s a Wonderful Life ain’t just a holiday movie.

    Phamaly’s “Sunny Tomorrow” campaign didn’t just raise $100,000. It raised $108,000, thanks to more than 325 individual donors. And that still takes Linton's breath away. “I feel like that wasn't just people saying, 'We love this theater company.’ It’s deeper than that. I feel like they were saying, ‘People with disabilities are valuable.’ And as a person who lives with a disability, that's really, powerfully meaningful to me.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Just a few weeks after the campaign ended, Phamaly netted an additional, record-obliterating $60,000 from its annual gala — up from $35,000 the year before. And then Annie, which Linton chose to present instead of Peter Pan, drew 6,700 to the Stage Theatre. That’s nearly 20 percent more than the previous Phamaly attendance record.

    Janice Sinden Regan Linton QuoteAll three of those things had to happen, Linton said, for Phamaly to fully climb out of the hole it was in. And all three did.

    But Phamaly didn’t get the backing it needed on sentiment alone. It got it because it was Linton who went out and asked for it, Denver Center President and CEO Janice Sinden said.

    “Regan is a determined, passionate woman who leads with her heart, but always with an outcome in mind,” Sinden said. “She was uniquely situated to lead this campaign because of who she is and what she means to the community. She leveraged smart relationships to drive this turnaround.”

    Boy, did she. The first call Linton made was to Sinden’s predecessor, Daniel L. Ritchie, a longtime Phamaly supporter who cut Linton a $10,000 check just 20 minutes after sitting down with her. The Harvey Family Foundation then agreed to match up to $35,000 in new donations, a goal that was reached in just 17 days.

    But Linton’s greatest fundraising achievement of 2017 came at the end of the year, after Sinden facilitated a visit with William Dean Singleton, retired chairman of The Denver Post and newly named Chairman of the Bonfils Foundation. They hit it off, Sinden said, because the two share a powerful commonality as former able-bodied persons now living with mobility challenges.

    Life changes in the ordinary instant

    Regan Linton HospitalLinton was a 20-year-old undergrad at the University of Southern California when her spine was wrecked in a fraction of an instant on a rainy Santa Monica Freeway. Linton was in the back seat of a car that was stopped for a vehicle that had been abandoned in the fast lane of the highway. The car behind Linton, filled with five sorority sisters, hit her at full speed.

    Linton no longer feels sensation below her chest. And yet, whenever she prepares to go on stage, she playfully says, “I can still feel butterflies.”

    Singleton is a newspaper magnate and cattle rancher who founded MediaNews Group, the fourth-largest newspaper company in the U.S. by circulation, with The Denver Post as its eventual flagship. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 30 years ago, which has slowly robbed him of his mobility, and today he gets around in a motorized chair.

    (Story continues after the video.)

    Video bonus: Regan Linton wins 2017 Spirit of Craig Award:

    The video above was played at the annual PUSH Gala for Craig Hospital in April with the announcement of Phamaly Theatre Company Executive and Artistic Director Regan Linton as its 2017 Dave and Gail Liniger Spirit of Craig Award winner. Video provided by Craig Hospital. To watch Linton’s acceptance speech, click here

    “They hit it off when they met,” Sinden said, "and Dean immediately saw an opportunity to help.”

    On Oct. 11, Singleton presented Linton with the Fourth Annual Dean Singleton Legacy Grant, a $50,000 gift made through the Denver Post Community Foundation. “It was very emotional for both of them,” Sinden said.

    A Regan Linton and Dean Singleton“I couldn’t be more proud of our grant recipient this year, for what Phamaly does to inspire people to re-envision disability through professional theatre,” said Singleton. “Phamaly provides such a benefit to the metro-Denver community.”

    Linton called the grant “an incredible honor for Phamaly.”

    In just six months, Linton implemented a campaign that moved Phamaly from the financial brink to something akin to stability. And that, said former Phamaly assistant stage manager Max Peterson, is an astonishing accomplishment.

    “I had both the pleasure and the anxiety of watching Regan and (Director of Production and Operations) Paul Behrhorst walk through that whole mess,” Peterson said. “It was inspiring to see their determination and persistence to bring that company all the way back. The blood, sweat and tears were real — and the stakes could not have been higher.”

    Meanwhile, back on the stage

    A Regan Linton Theatre Person of the Year Ytue West Awards Photo by John MooreLest we forget: While this was going on, Linton also had a company to run, both as Artistic and Executive Director.

    In February, Phamaly presented George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the Aurora Fox, followed by the record-breaking run of Annie at the Denver Center and, last month, Phamaly’s annual original sketch comedy called Vox Phamilia at Community College of Aurora.

    (Pictured at right: Regan Linton backstage with the cast of 'Annie' on opening night. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Linton pushed herself to her physical and mental limits in 2017, in part because she also chose to direct Annie on the largest stage in Phamaly history. Linton began to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all as preparations for Annie approached. “The stress of even thinking of Phamaly going away was emotionally taxing for me,” she said. "It all finally caught up to me. I was a mess.”

    One of Linton’s smartest moves of the year was calling on former longtime Phamaly Artistic Director Steve Wilson to co-direct Annie with her. “Wilson knows to his bones what directing disabled actors entails: The difficulties many face, the need to work without sentimentality or condescension, and to treat his actors as the artists they are,” wrote Westword’s Juliet Wittman, who called the resulting production “Ready, willing … and very able.”  

    MacGregor Arney and Regan Linton Curious Incident Mixed Blood Photo by Rich Ryan Linton kept her own acting skills sharp in 2017 by performing in two major productions for the Mixed Blood Theatre Company in Minneapolis. In February, she played the governor of California in a site-specific immigration play called Safe at Home that was set and performed at a local baseball stadium. And just last month, she returned in one of the first regional stagings of the big-buzz play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Star-Tribune theatre critic Chris Hewitt said Linton was excellent as an autistic boy’s calm, compassionate teacher.

    (Pictured at right: MacGregor Arney and Regan Linton in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' for the Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis. Photo by Rich Ryan.)

    As Linton reflects back on her year now, she won’t say she saved Phamaly Theatre Company. But Behrhorst will.

    “I say it because it is true,” Behrhorst said. “Of course Regan didn't do it single-handedly. But from the start, she gave the community, the actors, the board and the staff something to believe in. Regan didn't back away from the problem. She gave us new life."

    Sinden sides with Behrhorst.

    John Moore’s 2005 Denver Post feature on Regan Linton

    “Regan came home and she brought both thought leaders and community leaders to the table who invested in the future of this organization," Sinden said. "Regan put Phamaly on a trajectory for long-term success. And only she could have done that.”

    All of which is only part of the reason Linton has been named the 17th annual Colorado Theatre Person of the Year. She not only saved a theatre company. She not only preserved future performance opportunities for persons with disabilities that do not exist elsewhere. She saved something that is part of the city's soul.

    Regan Linton. Craig Hospital PUSH Gala Photo by John Moore“There's a lot of great theater that happens in Denver,” Linton said. “However, one-fifth of the population of the United States identifies as having a disability. So if you don't have that identity prominently represented in your local theater, then you are missing out on a whole subset of what it means to be human. And that's what I think people would have missed out on if Phamaly had gone away. They would've missed out on this unique experience that opens your eyes to something you just don’t see anywhere else.”

    Linton’s 2017 odyssey has changed her career itinerary in ways that are not yet clear, even to her. Her initial one-year appointment is now entering its 15th month. She says she is very close to hiring the company’s next Executive Director. So what does that mean for Linton, who officially lives in Montana now, while maintaining a second artistic home in Minneapolis?

    “It means I will be around for the near future, at least,” she said. “I feel committed to Phamaly, and I want to see Phamaly succeed. To me, that means following through with my commitment to make sure the company is in a good place if and when I move away. And I don't think that work is done yet.”

    Asked to assess where she is at as 2018 begins, compared to the start of the year, Linton laughs. “Well, I'm not nearly as much of a mess as I was,” she said. “But most of all, I will say I am proud to be part of Phamaly living on, and I'm proud to be part of leading Phamaly into its next chapter.”

    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 

    Regan Linton: 2017
    •  Artistic and Executive Director for Phamaly Theatre Company
    •  Winner, 2017 Spirit of Craig Award READ MORE
    •  Played the Governor of California in Mixed Blood Theatre's Safe at Home in Minneapolis
    •  Co-Directed Phamaly's mainstage production of Annie at the DCPA's Stage Theatre
    •  Played Siobhan in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nght-Time for Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis


    The True West Awards' Theatre Person of the Year / A look back

    • 2016: Billie McBride: Actor and director
    • 2015: Donald R. Seawell: Denver Center for the Performing Arts founder
    • 2014: Steve Wilson: Phamaly Theatre Company and Mizel Center for Arts and Culture
    • 2013: Shelly Bordas: Actor, teacher, director and cancer warrior
    • 2012: Stephen Weitz: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company co-founder
    • 2011: Maurice LaMee: Creede Repertory Theatre artistic director
    • 2010: Anthony Garcia: Su Teatro artistic director
    • 2009: Kathleen M. Brady: DCPA Theatre Company actor
    • 2008: Wendy Ishii: Bas Bleu Theatre co-founder
    • 2007: Ed Baierlein: Germinal Stage-Denver founder
    • 2006: Bonnie Metzgar: Curious Theatre associate artistic director
    • 2005: Chip Walton, Curious Theatre founder
    • 2004: Michael R. Duran: Actor, set designer, director and playwright
    • 2003: Nagle Jackson, DCPA Theatre Company director and playwright
    • 2002: Chris Tabb: Actor and director

    Phamaly Theatre Company: Coming in 2018
    • April 14-22: Romeo & Juliet, at the Dairy Arts Center
    • July 12-Aug. 5: Into the Woods, at the DCPA's Space Theatre
    • Oct. 18-Nov. 11: Harvey, at the The Olin Hotel Apartment, in partnership with Senior Housing Options
    Information: 303-575-0005 or phamaly.org

    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of Phamaly:
    Photos: Phamaly Theatre Company's amazing opening-night tradition
    The triumph of Phamaly's not-so-horrible Hannigan
    Pop-culture Annie, from comics to Broadway to Jay-Z
    Phamaly gala, campaign raise $200K, ‘save the company’
    Phamaly launches emergency $100,000 fundraising campaign
    Regan Linton accepts Spirit of Craig Award
    Regan Linton returns to lead Phamaly in landmark appointment

    About The True West Awards: '30 Days, 30 Bouquets'

    The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore's daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

  • 'RENT' and more: No day like Tuesday at the Denver Center

    by John Moore | Nov 15, 2017
    Rent Cast Denver Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore
    Original 'RENT' cast member Rodney Hicks, front, joins the ensemble performing the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour playing at the Buell Theatre through Tuesday, Nov. 21. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Original cast member meets the newest crop of stage squatters, capping a Tuesday that's one to remember

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    “No day but today,” the cast sings at the finale of RENT, which opened in Denver on Tuesday night. But there was no day quite like Tuesday at the Denver Center in recent memory.

    The day began early with the morning introduction to employees of Chris Coleman as the DCPA Theatre Company’s fourth Artistic Director. Coleman, who has led Portland Center Stage for 17 years, was accompanied by husband Rodney Hicks, who originated the role of Paul and others when RENT debuted on Broadway in 1996.

    Tuesday was a homecoming for Hicks, who played Edmund in the DCPA Theatre Company’s King Lear in 2007. Coleman said Hicks was encouraging about the potential new job in Denver based on his brief experience here. "He told me, ‘What’s possible in that performing-arts complex is very unique in the American theatre,’ ” said Coleman.

    Chris Coleman Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore. Coleman also told the gathered company members a personal story that elucidates why storytelling means so much to him. It happened when his sister died quickly and unexpectedly, he said, from a burst clot that stopped her heart.

    “What that solidified for me is that we know not the hour or the day,” Coleman said. “We do know that the universe calls to each of us to carve out meaning in the time that we have together on this planet.”

    (Pictured right: Chris Coleman and his husband, Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    At the same time Coleman was being introduced, DCPA Education was staging a morning performance of its inaugural Theatre for Young Audiences offering, The Snowy Day, in the Conservatory Theatre.

    That evening, as RENT was opening its 20th Anniversary touring production to screaming fans in the Buell Theatre, the the Garner Galleria Theatre was hosting a preview performance of the homegrown musical First Date, featuring a cast of all-local actors. Over in the Ricketson Theatre, the Theatre Company's smart comedy Smart People was playing out. It's the story of four young Harvard intellectuals who collide over race and sexual politics.

    Breaking: Coleman DCPA Theatre Company's new leader 

    Following RENT, Hicks and Coleman were taken backstage along with DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden and Broadway Division Executive Director John Ekeberg. The cast and crew gathered in the green room to meet Hicks, trade some stories and take a group photo.  

    Hicks told the newest RENT squatters their performance transported him right back into his 21-year-old shoes, and that at intermission, he texted superstar Anthony Rapp (the original Mark Cohen) to tell him all about it. Hicks, who has several other Broadway credits, most recently Come from Away, returned to the RENT family in 2007 to play Benny, the conformed ex-roommate who is now evicting his penniless old bohemian friends “for their own good.” Hick spoke to the cast of the ongoing influence the late RENT composer Jonathan Larson has on his life.

    Back in the Buell, four cast members regaled a few hundred audience members who stayed for a post-show Q&A — and some in the crowd returned the favor. One woman told the story of having been in attendance at RENT’s first pre-Broadway performance (and that this touring cast compared quite favorably). Another thanked the cast for bringing the show back to life with this touring production, and revealed a RENT shoulder tattoo that takes its inspiration from the show.

    A Rent Lyndie Moe 400The audience was also delighted to learn that actor Lyndie Moe, who plays the demonstrative performance artist Maureen in RENT, is a Colorado native and granddaughter of beloved former Denver Nuggets coach Doug Moe. She was asked how the loveable, legendary old coach liked seeing her perform the evocative role created by Idina Menzel. “I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about that — but he actually really liked it, thank God,” said Lyndie, whose sport of choice was volleyball through high school and college.

    (Here is a video of Lyndie Moe performing the national anthem at a Nuggets game at McNichols Sports Arena in 2006. Photo at right.)
     

    One young audience member asked what advice the cast has for aspiring performers such as herself.

    “Well, RENT was my first audition in New York — and I got it,” said Moe. “So my advice is to just go for everything, because you can never know what you are going to get.”  

    All in all, “today” was one very full day at the Denver Center, one that was unique in many ways but at the same time representative of the non-stop activity that both surrounds and fuels the Denver Performing Arts Complexon a daily basis. 

    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.

    RENT: 20th Anniversary Tour: Ticket information200x200-rent
    At a glance: This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Nov. 14-21
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more CLICK HERE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of RENT:
    Two decades later, RENT still comes in on time
    RENT announces daily Denver lottery for $20 orchestra seats
  • Chris Coleman promises a DCPA Theatre Company that's robust and resonant

    by John Moore | Nov 14, 2017
    Chris Coleman named A.D.
    Photos from today's announcement of Chris Coleman as just the fourth Artistic Director in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The longtime Portland leader champions a range of voices from George Bernard Shaw to Lauren Gunderson, who says: 'Denver is so lucky to get him.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Chris ColemanWhen the Managing Director at Portland Center Stage learned that longtime Artistic Director Chris Coleman was being hired away by the DCPA Theatre Company, she shook her head and said, “Denver, I hope you know you just won the lottery.”

    “Chris Coleman is not only a gifted theater artist, he's one of the best community connectors I've ever worked with,” a resigned Cynthia Fuhrman added from Portland. “That is a rare combination.”

    Coleman was introduced this morning as only the fourth Artistic Director in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company. For the past 17 years, the Atlanta native has led a company with many of the same sensibilities as his new one. Portland Center Stage offers up to 12 offerings each season ranging from classics to contemporary works to homegrown musicals on two stages while also hosting an annual new-play festival, education programs and an array of community events. All of which sounds a lot like the mission of the DCPA Theatre Company. With one big difference: Twice as many performance spaces, and more financial resources. 

    “There is not another theatre in the country with the same administrative and physical infrastructure inside one organization,” said Coleman, who also will oversee the company’s burgeoning line of Off-Center programming — the kind that takes place in non-traditional performance spaces ranging fro the Stanley Marketplace to the streets of Denver.

    Asked to name one dream offering that might help elucidate his artistic sensibilities, Coleman mulled the possibilities before offering this tantalizing prospect: “One of my fantasies would be to go back to the beginnings of the company and remount The Caucasian Chalk Circle and engage DeVotchKa to write a score for it,” he said. “I just think that would be so cool.”

    Coleman clearly has studied up on his Denver Center history. The Theatre Company launched on New Year’s Eve 1979 with Bertolt Brecht’s modernist masterpiece, starring Tyne Daly. And just last year, Colorado’s own Grammy-nominated gypsy-punk band DeVotchKa not only experimented with Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Sweeney Todd score, but the band members got their necks at every performance.

    Shawn King Devotchke Sweeney Todd. Photo by John MooreColeman lists Brecht as among his favorite playwrights — and it is a wildly eclectic list that includes William Shakespeare, Luis Alfaro, Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel and the playwright Coleman has directed more than any other: George Bernard Shaw. Under Coleman, 52 of the new plays Center Stage helped in their gestation have been performed at 115 theatres around the country. One he is most proud of is Dan O’Brien’s Body of an American, about how a photograph of an American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu haunted the photographer who took it. (It is currently being presented by Denver’s Curious Theatre).

    Among the many rising playwrights Coleman has nurtured along their paths are Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee, whose latest plays Zoey’s Perfect Wedding and The Great Leap, respectively, are coming up soon on the Theatre Company’s current season.

    (Pictured above and right: Shawn King of DeVotchka in 'Sweeney Todd' in 2016. Photo by John Moore.)

    In announcing the appointment, DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden cited Coleman’s “commitment to artistic excellence, community engagement, new-play development, crowd-pleasing musicals and discovery of new voices” — all of which she said will resonate throughout the region, and will further the DCPA’s efforts to diversify its audience. Coleman said his priorities also include local storytelling, giving voice to underserved communities and building a robust collaboration with the DCPA’s Education division.

    Chris Coleman and husband Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore.  “I am super-interested in figuring out how we put the most resonant work on stage we can,” Coleman said. “And by that I don’t necessarily think every play has to be topical to be resonant. I mean work that really lands emotionally for people. So much so that audiences feel compelled to reach out and let us know that we affected them, and that the work has stayed with them.”

    (Pictured at right: New Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman with his husband, Rodney Hicks, at today's announcement. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Coleman says he is not only a fan of the Theatre Company's annual Colorado New Play Summit, one of the signature programs launched by his predecessor, Kent Thompson, he sees it as the company’s greatest drawing card, along with the $1.4 million Women’s Voices Fund, which supports plays written and directed by women. “I am eager to connect great artists with the larger conversation Denver is having about its future right now,” he said. “I am interested in telling big stories — both from cultures that haven’t found their way onto our stages yet, and those that are waiting to burst out of the mind of the young playwright down the street.

    “I don't think there is any reason we shouldn't be one of the top institutions for producing new work in the country.”

    ‘He sure can pick em’

    At Portland Center Stage’s 2002 equivalent of the Colorado New Play Summit, Coleman had a hunch about a submission from a budding 18-year-old playwright. So he took the extraordinary step of giving the young woman a featured slot in the festival alongside, among others, a comparatively grizzled 25-year-old named Itamar Moses. His latest play, The Band’s Visit, opened on Broadway just this past Thursday.

    Chris Coleman quote 8 LAUREN GUNDERSONThe teenager’s play was called Parts They Call Deep, about three Southern women in a Winnebago. Now for the kicker: The playwright was Lauren Gunderson, who, fast-forward 14 years, wrote the Denver Center’s red-hot world-premiere The Book of Will and is now the most-produced playwright in America for the second year running. “It has been amazing to watch her rise,” Coleman said. 

    “Yeah, he sure can pick ’em,” Gunderson said with a laugh.

    Gunderson calls Coleman a mentor who helped her to visualize a possible life in the theatre for herself – when she was 12. Her hometown is also Atlanta, where in 1988 Coleman founded Actor’s Express, dubbed Atlanta's "gutsiest and most vital theatre."

    In those tender years, Gunderson fancied herself an actor, and she was cast as the kid in two mainstage productions there — The Philadelphia Story and Approaching Zanzibar — and she absorbed everything. “That’s the first time I realized that people actually sit down and write plays,” Gunderson said. “By just watching Chris, I started to see all of these other avenues for a life in the theatre for me.”

    Coleman, whose family's Atlanta roots go back to 1804 ("But we were poor dirt farmers," he says), was a bit of a star of the stage himself in those days. How big of a fan was Gunderson of his work? “My 14th birthday party was taking my girlfriends to see Chris Coleman play Hamlet,” she said. “I loved it, and I will never forget it.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    While at Portland, Coleman also produced or directed plays by Sophocles, Molière, Anton Chekhov, Edward Albee, August Wilson, Tennessee Williams, Ntozake Shange, Dael Orlandersmith, David Henry Hwang, John Patrick Shanley, Naomi Wallace, Sam Shepard, Douglas Carter Beane, Martin McDonaugh and Amy Freed — among others.

    “He just has such a knack for championing a remarkably wide variety of voices in the new-play world,” Gunderson said. “I think that’s because he has such a variety of experiences himself as a director, playwright, actor and artistic leader. What makes him a genius is that he knows every aspect of the creation of art first-hand. He has nonstop incredible ideas.” 

    Chris Coleman Introduction PhotoColeman is something of a renaissance man. Before he leaves Portland, he will direct a two-part epic he adapted himself called Astoria, featuring a cast of 16. Based on the best-selling book by Peter Stark, it tells of the harrowing but little-known journeys west undertaken by President Thomas Jefferson and millionaire John Jacob Astor that served as turning points in the conquest of the North American continent. It’s a story Coleman imagines might be of interest to Denver Center audiences because it taps directly into the spirit of the west.

    (Pictured at above and right: Chris Coleman with husband Rodney Hickst o his right and, to his left: DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden, and Chairman Martin Semple. Photo by Brittany Gutierrez for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    But his acting days are likely behind him, he says. These days, he is far more interested in ballot measures and fundraising and other administrative duties (he swears). He led the design and construction of Portland Center Stage’s new home in the 122-year-old Historic Portland Armory. That experience will be critical as the DCPA prepares to renovate both its Stage and Ricketson theatres within the next four years.

    Under Coleman, who earned his BFA from Baylor University and his MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, annual attendance at Portland Center Stage increased from 77,000 to 139,000. The average age of the audience dropped from 64 to 48. The company brings in about 7,600 students a year to see its plays.

    Coleman will direct his two-part adaptation of Astoria, followed by Major Barbara at Portland Center Stage before moving to Denver with his husband, Rodney Hicks, in May. In the meantime, he will work with DCPA Managing Director Charles Varin and Associate Artistic Directors Nataki Garrett and Charlie Miller to finalize the 2018-19 season selection.

    “I just think he is a great voice for the American theatre as a whole, and I can’t wait to see what he does to continue Kent’s legacy," Gunderson, said. “Oh my God, Denver is so lucky to get him.”  

    Video above: A 2015 interview with Portland Center Stage Artistic Director Chris Coleman.

    7 QUICK QUESTIONS WITH CHRIS COLEMAN:

    NUMBER 1Rodney Hicks King Lear Terry ShapiroHey, we already know your husband here in Denver: Rodney Hicks played bad-boy Edmund here in Kent Thompson’s 2007 production of King Lear. He was in the original Broadway cast of Rent and Come from Away. Is it safe to say he will be an active member of our acting community? It is not safe to say that. Rodney is totally excited about coming to Denver, and he wants to figure out what engaging with the artistic community here might look like for him. But his focus right now is primarily on film and television and his budding writing career. Rodney had a big career before we met, and there’s every reason to believe he will have a big career for the rest of his life. So while I think you will see him around Denver a lot, I am not sure you are ever going to see him onstage at the Denver Center.

    Pictured above right: Rodney Hicks as Edmund and Markus Potter as Edgar in the DCPA Theatre Company's 2007 production of 'King Lear.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.)


    NUMBER 2What was your introduction to theatre as a kid? It was my mom, who was trained as an actor. She started a drama ministry at our Southern Baptist church in the 1970s. So literally from the time I can remember, I was dragging angel wings around or operating a dimmer board or giving the actors their lines. So it's always been a part of my life. During my senior year in high school, it became clear that's what I wanted to pursue. And when I got to Baylor University I very quickly realized, 'This is what I want to do. This is the room I want to be in. This is my tribe of people.' 

    NUMBER 3How do you plan to move the dial when it comes to the national problem of equity, diversity and inclusion in the American theatre? As a gay man, I am on the bandwagon. I absolutely agree with the movement, and I believe it is high time for there to be opportunities for lots of different kinds of people in leadership roles. And I think there is a lot that any artistic leader can do to make positive changes, no matter that leader's gender and skin color. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is more passionate and committed to move us forward on that front. That certainly was the case in Portland, and I expect that only to increase in Denver.

    NUMBER 4You may have heard that Denver Center audiences are passionate about their Shakespeare. Will there be a continuing commitment to Shakespeare? And if so — what kind of Shakespeare? There absolutely will be a continuing commitment to Shakespeare. Now, over the years, I have done every kind of radical Shakespeare reinvention you can possibly imagine. But then about four years ago, I thought: 'You know what would be really radical? To do a Shakespeare play in the period when it was actually written. That would be radical.’ I expect that I am probably more of a centrist when it comes to Shakespeare at this point in my life. What I value most is truthfulness, authenticity and the ability for an audience to engage emotionally. I just want audiences to take the whole ride and not sit back.

    NUMBER 5Should the DCPA Theatre Company be actively responding to the political polarization of the country right now? I think if you are doing interesting new plays, then that happens, whether you want it to or not. Politics tends to show up whenever you are talking about the things that are happening in our world. For example, when we programmed a new play we are staging right now called Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, we already knew of course that immigration is a big issue in this country. But we had no idea how searingly hot it was going to be by the time we opened the play. It is delightful that Luis Alfaro’s play engages with the issues of the current moment, but that’s not why we did it. We did it because we liked the play. But the issue allowed us to build community partnerships around the play that are absolutely conscious of engaging with the conversation of the moment. For example, we have two symposiums in partnership with Catholic Charities that will include our attorney general, a leading immigration attorney, the deputy director of I.C.E. and two Dreamers. That kind of thing is totally in our zone. It’s not just pushing one point of view. It’s bringing together many sides and deepening the conversation you just experienced on the stage.

    NUMBER 6george-bernard-shaw-9480925-1-402So what’s with your love for George Bernard Shaw? I will tell you: The play we are doing this season that most directly engages the executive leadership of this country is Major Barbara — which of course never refers to America or our current president because it was written in 1907. But the themes are uncannily resonant.

    NUMBER 7Is there a place for current DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett on your team? I have actually known Nataki Garrett for 20 years because she stage-managed a show I acted in back in Atlanta. I have enormous respect and fondness for her, and I was delighted when she was hired to be the Associate Artistic Director here. I anticipate that she will continue in that role until she decides she doesn’t want it anymore. I also know there are a lot of people around the country who have noted Nataki's leadership capabilities, so I suspect there are people knocking at her door.

    NUMBER 8DCPA Education just launched its Theatre for Young Audiences program with a production of The Snowy Day that is directed at pre-kindergarten through third graders, and it was made in full collaboration with the Theatre Company's design staff. How important is it for the Theatre Company to have a strong relationship with the Education division? It's critical to me. One, because we have to prepare future audiences. It is so easy today to walk through life without any real cultural participation of some kind. So I think it's critical that we create, invent and provide as many on-ramps as we can. So education, outreach, and using every opportunity we can to build community relationships with people is just huge.

    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.

  • Voters say emphatically improvements to DCPA and elsewhere are 2B

    by John Moore | Nov 07, 2017

    Denver Election 2017. Photo by John MooreCultural partners who will benefit from the passage of 2B gathered with Mayor Michael B. Hancock tonight in celebration. From left: Tamra Ward (Denver Zoo), Kristy Bassuener (Denver Art Museum), Andrew Rowan (Denver Zoo), Marie Revenew (Denver Zoo), Andrea Kalivas Fulton (Denver Art Museum) and Janice Sinden (Denver Center for the Performing Arts). Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Results mean renovations to Stage and Ricketson theatres, but will benefit an array of area cultural institutions as well

    By John More
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver residents overwhelmingly approved a bond initiative tonight that will make funds available for 460 projects valued at $937 million, including $19 million to renovate the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Stage and Ricketson theatres — without a tax increase.

    The proposed improvements were presented to voters as seven separate spending packages. The referendum that includes the DCPA and other cultural institutions, designated as 2B, passed with 71 percent approval. Votes in favor of 2B numbered 98,640, with 40,536 against. All seven ballot measures passed by similar margins.

    Denver Election 2017 Mayor Hancock. Photo by John MooreMayor Michael B. Hancock called the initiative "a thoughtful, balanced and responsible investment package created by and for the people of Denver." He credited the relatively easy victory to the voters themselves.

    "This is the people's bond," Hancock told the DCPA NewsCenter at a gathering in the Seawell Ballroom. "You led us to these investments. We heard you loud and clear. Tonight, the voters responded appropriately and now, because of you, we are able to go forward."

    DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden said improvements to the Stage and Ricketson theatres are now 40 years in coming. In full, 2B represents about $116 million that will benefit six other are facilities as well: The Denver Zoo, Buell Theatre, Red Rocks, Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

    "If voters had not supported 2B tonight, I think our arts and cultural institutions would have needed a lot more time to really engage the community to make these substantial improvements," Sinden said. "It would have taken an extraordinary effort to raise more than $100 million without 2B."

    Hancock, similarly, said what the city would have lost most tonight without these victories is time.

    "It would have taken a lot more time to get where we need to go as a city," he said.  Instead, the outcome represents an unparalleled opportunity for the city. 

    Roughly half of the total bond program will go toward road maintenance, sidewalk connections, intersection improvements and transit infrastructure. The slate includes library renovations; new recreation centers and playgrounds; and upgrades to police and fire stations, cultural institutions and enhancements to Denver Health Medical Center.

    The seven separate ballot questions included:

    • $431 million for transportation and mobility projects
    • $116.9 million for city-owned cultural facility improvements (including the Stage and Ricketon theatres)
    • $75 million for a new outpatient care center at Denver Health Medical Center
    • $77 million for safety facility projects
    • $69.3 million for Denver Public Library improvements
    • $151.6 million for parks and recreation
    • $16.5 million for city-owned facility improvements
  • Video: Denver Arts Week is off to a hip-hop start

    by John Moore | Nov 02, 2017

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    The annual nine-day celebration of Denver’s creative community begins with the mayor getting hip-hop happy

    French hip-hop dancer Salah, who is in town for Breakin' Convention this weekend at the Buell Theatre, appeared with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden today to launch the city's 11th annual Denver Arts Week, which will celebrate the Mile High City’s vibrant arts scene this year from Nov. 3-11.

    Breakin Convention Salah Photo by Btrent AndeckSalah (pictured at right), who is considered a living legend in the world of hip-hop dance, taught the dignitaries a few dance moves as part of the fun. Salah is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown and all-around entertainer who is returning to the Breakin’ Convention stage after an eight-year hiatus.

    Breakin' Convention is the world’s largest festival of hip-hop dance theatre, and Denver is only the fifth North American city to host it. Salah will perform at the Buell Theatre along with international acts Yeah Yellow (France), Protocol (U.K.), Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) and Popin’ Pete (U.S.), as well as a number of Denver hip-hop crews.

    Click here for more coverage of the Colorado theatre community

    For more than a decade, Denver Arts Week has been a nine-day citywide celebration of  Denver’s creative community. It consists of hundreds of events that involve thousands of people each year. Signature events this year will include the 40th annual Denver Film Festival; Breakin' Convention; Know Your Arts First Friday; free nights at area museums, and more than 400 events at galleries, museums and arts districts throughout the city. Denver Arts Week is presented by Visit Denver and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    Breakin’ Convention officially kicks off with the free "303 Jam" from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at The Buell Theatre. Enjoy free activities and performances including live DJs, workshops, free demonstrations and performances by DJ CaveM, The Reminders and more.

    Photo gallery: Denver Arts Week launches

    Denver Arts Week 2017

    To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. All photos © Brent Andeck Photography, LLC.

    Breakin’ Convention 2017 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre

    Breakin' Convention: Ticket Information

    • Nov. 4-5
    • The Buell Theatre and surrounding areas
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • Special student performance at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Breakin' Convention:

    Breakin' Convention to bring largest festival of hip-hop dance theatre to Denver
    Breakin' Convention
    promises to bring authenticity, local artists to DCPA
    Video: Our talk with the one and only Jonzi D of Breakin' Convention
    Denver's DJ CaveM: Saving lives one healthy beat, and bite, at a time

     

  • 5 things you don't know about Nataki Garrett

    by John Moore | Oct 26, 2017
    Nataki Garrett

     

    She's smart, in demand and making her Denver directorial debut with the Denver Center's Smart People.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    What you might not know about new Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett, who makes her Denver — and Denver Center — directing debut with Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People, playing through Nov. 19 in the Ricketson Theatre:

    NUMBER 1Macbeth. Nataki Garrett SHE'S SMART PEOPLE. Garrett attended California Institute of the Arts to study theatre and went on to become the associate dean and the co-head of the undergraduate acting program at CalArts’ School of Theater. She became the DCPA Theatre Company’s Associate Artistic Director in January. (She's pictured right at the recent opening of the DCPA's reimagined 'Macbeth.')

    NUMBER 2 SHE'S IN DEMAND. Garrett directed Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ celebrated antebellum melodrama An Octoroon last year for the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, a run that was so celebrated it was remounted in August. After her DCPA Theatre Company directorial debut, she will helm Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre’s staging of Aziza Barnes’ BLKS followed by Jefferson’s Garden at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. “These gigs confirm her status and the Denver Center’s place in the national conversation about theater’s future,” wrote Lisa Kennedy of The Denver Post.  

    NUMBER 3SHE'S ADMIRED. “She’s a breath of fresh air. I think she’s a strong, visionary artist and director,” DCPA CEO Janice Sinden told The Denver Post in February. “I think she’s going to inspire us. I think she has a great eye for how we can engage new and different audiences at the DCPA as well. I’m beyond excited.”

    NUMBER 4 SHE'S MIXING THINGS UP. Garrett has established close artistic relationship ties with some of the boldest new voices in the American theatre, including Jacobs-Jenkins (a MacArthur Fellow and Obie winner), Katori Hall (The Mountaintop), Timberlake Wertenbaker (Jefferson’s Garden), and Sigrid Gilmer. Who is Sigrid Gilmer? According to her own website, “she makes black comedies that are historically bent, totally perverse, joyfully irreverent and are concerned with issues of identity, pop culture and contemporary American society.”

    NUMBER 5SHE'S ON THE RISE. Garrett was highlighted in the November issue of American Theatre’s “Role Call: People To Watch.” In that feature, she was quoted as saying she’s attracted to “plays that seem impossible to stage, and to those which impact us in tremendous ways, chasing us out of our comfort zones. My mandate in the theatre is to give voice to the voiceless, and I am inspired by stories that expose the dark and discarded in the corners of our existence.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Smart People: Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    In Smart People, the race is on from the start
    Perspectives: Could racism be filtered out through genetics?
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
    Photos, story: Smart People opens rehearsals in full swing




  • Breaking: 2018 Saturday Night Alive guests will attend 'Hamilton'

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017

     

    Guests of the Denver Center's signature fundraiser for arts education will experience the Broadway show first-hand

    Guests of the DCPA's 38th annual signature fundraiser, Saturday Night Alive, next March 3, will attend that evening’s performance of Hamilton at The Buell Theatre, it was  announced tonight at a kickoff party at Le Méridian Denver Downtown

    Every year, Saturday Night Alive helps DCPA education programs give more than 106,000 students the opportunity to take their first step toward changing their lives and transforming the world around them.

    Chris De'Sean Lee, Jose Ramos, Wallace Smith, Miguel Cervantes - HAMILTON - (c) Joan Marcus 2016“At the DCPA, we believe that the arts are a fundamental part of a well-rounded education,” said DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. “Being able to celebrate that with Hamilton, a show that is equally passionate about arts education, is an exciting opportunity for our  Saturday Night Alive donors.”

    (Pictured right: Chris De, Sean Lee, Jose Ramos, Wallace Smith, Miguel Cervantes from the original Broadway company of 'Hamilton.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Individual tickets for Saturday Night Alive start at $1,000 and will go on sale at the end of November. Tables of 10 start at $10,000. Prices include a donation to the DCPA, the events of the evening, and tickets to Hamilton that evening. Visit denvercenter.org/SNA  for more information.

    SNA_Social_AnnouncementPlease Note: Tickets to the Denver engagement of Hamilton are currently not on sale. Tickets to Hamilton will go on sale after the first of the year. Information regarding the specific date and details of the public on-sale will be announced at the end of 2017. Please be aware that if one sees tickets for sale from a third party, there is a very good chance these are not legitimate tickets. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for Hamilton in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that the 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.

    To receive alerts related to Hamilton in Denver, click here

    SNAAt Saturday Night Alive, which is a regular sell-out on the Denver social calendar, guests will enjoy not only that evening’s performance of Hamilton, but also elements that have made this event an eagerly anticipated highlight of the social scene for nearly four decades:

    • Surprise Box Sale: A Saturday Night Alive original. Bidders purchase a box without knowing what is inside.
    • Computerized Luxury Silent Auction featuring nearly 100 items including artwork, jewelry and fabulous trips both domestic and worldwide courtesy of United Airlines and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
    • Dinner provided by Epicurean Culinary Group in the elegant Seawell Grand Ballroom.
    • Post-show desserts and dancing, to which members of the Hamilton company have been invited.

    (Pictured above and right: Broadway stars Kelli O'Hara and Brian d'Arcy James headlined the 2016 Saturday Night Alive.)

    Last year, Saturday Night Alive grossed more than $1.2 million to support the Denver Center’s extensive educational programs. Over the past three decades, an estimated $21 million has helped the DCPA provide theatre programs to more than 1.9 million students — a testament to the volunteers, donors, sponsors and attendees who have made this event a success.

    Video Bonus: Savion Glover at the DCPA's 2017 Saturday Night Alive

    Tap-dancer and choreographer Savion Glover's headlining performance helped raised a record $1 million for DCPA Education programs last year at the Denver Center's annual Saturday Night Alive benefit. In addition, he taught a master class for a wide range of Denver dance students. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interview by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Related NewsCenter coverage
    :
    Hamilton dates, 2017-18 Broadway season titles announced
    Broadway's Hamilton is heading to Denver
    Lin-Manuel Miranda on the power of theatre to eliminate distance
    Why Lin-Manuel Miranda's father is obsessed with The Unsinkable Molly Brown



    Note:
    The 2018 Saturday Night Alive Event Chairs are Susan and Steve Struna. Corporate Chairs are Lisa and Norm Franke/Alpine Bank. Auction Co-Chairs include Keri Christiansen and Jane Netzorg. Patron Chairs are Lyn and Dr. Michael Schaffer. sponsors are United Airlines, The Westin Denver Downtown, Epicurean Culinary Group, Kathie and Keith Finger, HealthONE and the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry.

  • Rachel Kae Taylor of 'The Snowy Day' on the magic of being a kid

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2017
    RachelKaeTaylor


    MEET RACHEL KAE TAYLOR
    Actor, Teaching Artist and Puppet Designer Rachel Kae Taylor is one of three ensemble members in DCPA Education's The Snowy Day and Other Stories, by Ezra Jack Keats, playing through Nov. 18 in the Conservatory Theatre. She plays Archie, Amy, Mom and other roles.

    At the Denver Center: The Servant of Two Masters, One Foot on the Floor and A Christmas Carol. Other theatres: Touch the Names (Ensemble Studio Theatre N.Y., Cleveland Play House); The Good Woman of Setzuan, 5th of July (National Theatre Conservatory).

    • Hometown: Denver
    • Training: University of Colorado, MFA from the Denver Center's National Theatre Conservatory (pictured below right with Patrick Goss in 'The Fifth of July'.)
    • Rachel Kae Taylor and Patrick Goss in The Fifth of JulyTwitter-sized bio: Mom of the coolest 14-year-old on the planet. Visual artist. Zombie fanatic. Ghost-story addict. Baseball lover. Doing my part to keep 80s alternative music alive. Undefeated at Tetris.
    • Web site? rkaetaylor.com and CupOfTwigs on ETSY
    • What was the role that changed your life? This is a tough one because I think every role changes your life in some way, and it should.
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I actually have my dream career as a Teaching Artist and At-Risk Coordinator for DCPA Education. I have the privilege of teaching and developing theater arts programing for underserved communities and Title One schools across Colorado. If I hadn’t gone into the arts, I would have been an anthropologist or forensic sculptor. I am the biggest geek for all things science. Humans are endlessly fascinating.
    • RachelKaeTaylor Larry Hecht 160Ideal scene partner? Larry Hecht (pictured right), the former head of adult acting at the DCPA. He could literally wizard things out of you. Things you had no idea you could do or be.
    • Why does The Snowy Day matter? Ezra Jack Keats was such a groundbreaker in terms of social awareness in children’s literature, in a quiet and beautiful way.  For a child to be able to read a story and say “Hey, they look like me!’ is a very powerful thing. I remember the first time it happened to me to this day.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope that for adults it is a reminder of how truly beautiful the simple things in a life are. Whether it is the wonder of a new snowfall, or having your heart flutter for the first time, or little acts of bravery, it’s easy to forget sometimes in our adult lives how magical these moments are. I hope that the kids find themselves within the characters and their discoveries about the world around them. If it is their first time at the theater, I hope they fall madly in love with it, like I did.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ... to live my favorite quote, which I saw spray-painted on a door in Queens: “Art changes people, and people change the world.’ "

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Rachel Kae Taylor. AdamsVisCom. The Smowy DayThe cast of 'The Snowy Day Other Stories,' from left: Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy and Zak Reynolds. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day and Other Stories

    First rehearsal photos: Forecast calls for a Snowy Day at DCPA
    DCPA Education to launch Theatre for Young Audiences
    Meet Zak Reynolds of The Snowy Day, 'a fan of being happy'

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories: Ticket information
    Snowy DayFrom the joys of a first snowfall and learning how to whistle to thrilling encounters delivering a precious invitation, the delightful moments of childhood are perfectly captured in this medley of simple, sweet stories.

    • Written by Ezra Jack Keats; adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
    • Performances through Nov. 18
    • School performances: Weekdays 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. (except Thursdays are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
    • Public performances: 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, 1101 13th St.
    • Tickets $10 (discounts and scholarships available)
    • Best suited for: Pre-K through third grade
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Teachers: Inquire by clicking here or calling 303-446-4829
  • First rehearsal: Forecast calls for 'A Snowy Day' at DCPA

    by John Moore | Sep 08, 2017
    Making of 'The Snowy Day'

    Photos from the first day of rehearsal for 'The Snowy Day Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats‬‬‬‬‬,' featuring a cast of, from left: Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor and Robert Lee Hardy. To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Up to 20,000 area children will experience what Director Allison
    Watrous calls 'the largest pop-up book ever.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    DCPA Education is fully launching its new Theatre for Young Audiences program on Sept. 21 with the opening of The Snowy Day and Other Stories in the Conservatory Theatre. It is estimated that 20,000 children from around the metro area will see the fully interactive production sometime this fall. 

    The Snowy Day, written in 1962 by Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, tells the simple story of a boy named Peter and the wonder of his first encounter with snow. The stage production also will include Keats' Whistle for Willie, Goggles and A Letter to Amy, each representing one season of the year.

    The Denver Center production, staged in full partnership with the design team from the DCPA Theatre Company, will include multimedia, puppets, projections and, of course ... lots of snow. "We are approaching this as the largest pop-up book ever," said Allison Watrous, both the DCPA's Director of Education and the Director of The Snowy Day. Added Scenic Designer Lisa M. Orzolek: "We're excited for this opportunity to bring the same quality of theatre to little people that we regularly offer on our main stages."

    The cast, which gathered for the first time Tuesday, will feature Robert Lee Hardy as Peter, along with Zak Reynolds and Rachel Kae Taylor in ensemble roles. Hardy played Carl Lee Hailey in Vintage Theatre's recent production of A Time to Kill. Taylor, who also will assist in designing shadow puppets for the play, is a DCPA Teaching Artist and At-Risk Coordinator.

    "I am excited for students to walk into the Conservatory Theatre and say to themselves, 'I can see myself as the hero of a story. I can see myself inside a story. And I can create my own story,' " Watrous said. "What Ezra Jack Keats is saying to them is, 'Yes, you absolutely can create a story.' And we want to help them to discover their authentic voice in that process."

    Story continues after the photo:

    The Snowy Day. Photo by John Moore.


    Watrous promises a brightly colored world that will depict the simple beauty of discovery in singular childhood moments such as learning how to whistle, discovering snow and the art of the first jump-rope. Keats' series was considered revolutionary for its time because he chose to make a black child his protagonist. Keats' stories also address the challenges of growing up, from social interactions to bullying to how to properly ask a girl to a second-grader's birthday party.

    School groups will be invited to stay after each performance and participate in complementary (and complimentary!) 45-minute workshops presented by DCPA Teaching Artists. "That will give them the opportunity to really dive into the tactile world of the show inside our studio classrooms," Watrous said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The creative team includes many family connections, including Stage Manager Rachel Ducat and her husband, award-winning Sound Designer Jason Ducat. "We have 3-year-old twins and we are excited to expose them to theatre," said Rachel Ducat.

    The goal of the Theatre for Young Audiences program is not only to expose children to theatre at a young age, but to give them an boost in their overall childhood development as well. According to the Denver Great Kids Head Start Community Assessment 2016, early exposure to the arts reduces dropout rates, improves standardized test scores, increases graduation rates and increases the likelihood of a student receiving a college degree (the latter by 165 percent).

    The Snowy Day. Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski, Photo by John Moore. “If you cultivate the wonder of the arts at an early age, then that becomes part of the fabric of the learner - and the human being,” Watrous said. “Theatre makes you a stronger reader. Theatre makes you more collaborative. Theatre makes connections in your mind that can change how you look at a book, how you look at a painting, how you look at a sculpture and how you look at difficult issues in our world. Of all the beautiful transferable skills you can develop through live theatre, perhaps the most important is that it can make you more empathetic in how you view the world."

    (Pictured right: The DCPA's Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski has developed the classroom curriculum that accompanies the 'Snowy Day' experience. Photo by John Moore.)

    Most of the 100 performances will be held on weekdays for schools taking field trips to the Denver Center. Saturday performances will be open to the public. Tickets are $10, but the DCPA will make 9,000 “scholarships” (free tickets) available to teachers whose students need financial assistance to attend.

    "I am just beyond excited for our community," said Denver Center President and CEO Janice Sinden. "This is why we are here. It's all about the children. This is our future." 


    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.

    Cast and creative team:

    • Actors: Robert Lee Hardy, Zak Reynolds and Rachel Kae Taylor
    • Director: Allison Watrous
    • Music Direction: Robyn Yamada
    • Scenic Design: Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume and Puppet Design: Kevin Copenhaver
    • Projection Design: Matthew Plamp
    • Composer: Victor Zupanc
    • Lighting Design: Shannon McKinney
    • Stage Manager: Rachel Ducat
    • Sound Design: Jason Ducat

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories: Ticket information

    • Written by Ezra Jack Keats; adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
    • Sept. 21-Nov. 18
    • School performances: Weekdays 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. (except Thursdays are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
    • Public performances: 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, 1101 13th St.,
    • Tickets $10 (discounts and scholarships available)
    • Best suited for: Pre-K through third grade
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Teachers: Inquire by clicking here or calling 303-446-4829
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day

    DCPA Education to launch Theatre for Young Audiences

    The Snowy Day. Allsion Watrous. Photo by John Moore. Director Allison Watrous, with her cast behind her, at the first rehearsal for 'The Snowy Day.' Photo by John Moore.
  • Video: Denver Center CEO Janice Sinden dances with the Denver stars

    by John Moore | Sep 03, 2017

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


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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    Dancing with the Denver Stars: Full photo gallery

    2017 Dancing with the Denver Stars

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

     

    Dancing with the Denver Stars: 2017 Featured Dancers

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

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



    John Bolger

    Managing Director, Aon Corporation
    Dancing with Jessica Horton



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

    CEO, Street Source
    Dancing with Ralaya (Rae) Goshea



    Celia Dietrich Wattles

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



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

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



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

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



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

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



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

    Partner, Polsinelli Law Firm
    Dancing with YooJung Hahm



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

    Doctor, Western OBGYN
    Dancing with Amelia Dietz



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



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

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

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



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


    More video:

    Here's a highlight reel from Cleo Parker Robinson Dance that shows more of the festivities from the 2017 'Dancing with the Denver Stars.'
  • Mayor cuts the ribbon on a new era for the Space Theatre

    by John Moore | Aug 15, 2017
    Space Theatre Renovation Photo gallery: To see more photos from the reopening of the Space Theatre, along with early construction photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Most photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'The arts are the engine that drives people to our city and sets Denver apart,' Hancock says at reopening ceremony

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist 


    Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock helped cut the ribbon on the newly rebuilt Space Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Tuesday morning, telling the gathered crowd it is the arts that distinguish Denver from other metropolitan cities.

    “We are absolutely giddy to be here as part of this auspicious occasion,” Hancock said at the reopening ceremony, held in The Space Theatre’s fully reconceived new lobby. "We can talk about airports - they help us connect to the world. Everybody has streets. Everybody has parks. But the arts are the engine that drives people to our city and sets Denver apart.”

    The new Space Theatre officially reopens Sept. 22 with Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

    The project was made possible by a $10 million grant from the Better Denver Bond Program, which was part of the largest bond issue in Denver history when it was approved by voters in 2007.

    The nearly 40-year-old Space Theatre was completely gutted and rebuilt from top to bottom. It remains the five-sided “in-the-round” performance space familiar to Denver theatregoers, only it has been fully modernized and features flexible seating configurations that can change from play to play.

    DCPA Chairman Martin Semple called Tuesday “a momentous day in our history.” DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden said: “This has been 30 months of incredible planning and construction. The team at the DCPA and our partners have done a beautiful job.”

    The ceremony took place just hours after the Denver City Council unanimously referred a $937 million bond to the November ballot that, if approved by voters, will make $19 million available for further renovations to the Denver Center’s Stage and Ricketson theatres, also located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. “We as a city are willing to put our money behind the renovation, upkeep and sustainability of these great venues so that people can continue to enjoy what makes Denver so special,” Hancock said. “These investments are very strategic. They are important in keeping us a world-class city going forward.”  

    Space Theatre. John Moore photo.  The Space Theatre effort also was boosted by a $1 million donation from The Joan and Phill Berger Charitable Fund, represented Tuesday by Phil and Marcie Munishor. An additional unveiling was held christening the new performance space the Joan and Phill Berger Auditorium (pictured right).

    The Space opened in 1979. While it has enjoyed some cosmetic updates over the years, this was is the first overhaul of both audience amenities and backstage support.

    Because the layout of the theatre remains essentially unchanged, lead architect Chris Wineman of Semple Brown Design predicted that, once inside, returning theatregoers might not even notice that much has changed. But their experience getting to their seats will be dramatically different.

    The original design of the Bonfils Complex featured one main lobby with multiple entrances into both the Space Theatre and the larger Stage Theatre next to it. The Space Theatre now has its own enlarged lobby with one central doorway into the theatre. Before, patrons descended a winding staircase and then climbed back up to their seats from stage level.

    Space Theatre. John Moore photo.  That entire staircase is gone. Audiences will now walk directly into the theatre and down to their seats. That will not only be much more convenient for patrons, Wineman said, audiences for the first time will be fully separated from the cast and creative teams running the show below.

    DCPA Technical Director Jeff Gifford said the new theatre boasts state-of-the-art acoustics, lighting and sound; improved sightlines and is now in full ADA compliance - both for audience members and crews working the shows.

    Overall capacity has been reduced from 420 to 380. But because the seating is now flexible, certain configurations will be able to accommodate up to 416, Gifford said.

    Among all the many improvements, audiences no doubt will cheer the construction of new bathrooms, doubling previous the capacity. But there are others, including:  

    • Modern acoustic treatments specifically meant to accentuate and evenly distribute the spoken word throughout the entire theatre.
    • The old Space Theatre was divided into four levels. The new theatre has just two. There are now more seats on the main floor, closer to the action. That will maintain the intimacy of the original theatre and greatly improve sightlines for many.
    • More wheelchair and companion seating.
    • State-of-the art lighting and all new wiring.
    • An elevator inside the theatre will allow patrons to easily access the main seating level.

    A Space Theatre 800 3
    From left: DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and DCPA Chairman Martin Semple. Photo by John Moore.


    For those artisans who work behind the scenes, Gifford is most excited by the presence of five control booths, one in each section of the theatre. “That means our sound and light operators working the shows now will actually be able to see the shows with their own eyes,” Gifford said. “I don't know if people realize this, but they used to be kept behind a wall, and the only way they saw the show was on a video monitor - as long as that monitor was actually working.”

    Now there will be a home for additional specialists, such as a projections operator, if necessary. Now there is a discreet place where the director or understudy actors can watch a performance without sitting among the crowd. Before, understudies would be sent all the way up to the catwalks to watch a show from overhead. That’s the highest point in the theatre, above the rafters and lights.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The renovation has been supervised by the DCPA Vice President of Facilities and Event Services Clay Courter. “Clay really spearheaded this project from blueprint to completion,” Sinden said.

    “This new and improved Space Theatre keeps the intimate theatre-in-the-round style that brought audiences to an island of lost boys in Lord of The Flies and into the world of August Wilson's Fences,” Courter said. “This new theatre is going to represent a new way of heightening the energy of the audience and the performers in creating that sense of intimacy and connection that has always been the hallmark of seeing a show in the Space Theatre.”

    Several city leaders were present at Tuesday’s ceremony, including Arts and Venues Executive Director Kent Rice and Deputy Director Ginger White Brunetti; Interim Director of Public Works George Delaney, and Deputy City Attorney Shawn Sullivan.


    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.


    Space Theatre tour facts.


    The Space Theatre/Fun facts:

    • The Space Theatre opened on Dec. 31, 1979, with Moby Dick Rehearsed. It reopens Sept. 22 with Robert O’Hara’s reimagined, all-male production of Macbeth.
    • The DCPA Theatre Company has entertained 4.5 million patrons in its four performance venues in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, including the Space Theatre, over the past 38 years.
    • 11,500 worker hours went into the electrical work alone.
    • Turner Construction Company hauled away more than 350 tons of concrete, which is equal to 700 grand pianos, 53 elephants or nearly 5,300 people. Crews then re-poured 550 tons of concrete.


    Macbeth
    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.
    • Presented bythe DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    A Space Theatre 800 4The original Space Theatre.
  • City Council approves referendum on DCPA improvements

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

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

    By John More
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The seven separate ballot questions include:

    • $431 million for transportation and mobility projects
    • $116.9 million for city-owned cultural facility improvements (including the Stage and Ricketon theatres)
    • $75 million for a new outpatient care center at Denver Health Medical Center
    • $77 million for safety facility projects
    • $69.3 million for Denver Public Library improvements
    • $151.6 million for parks and recreation
    • $16.5 million for city-owned facility improvements
    Visit 2017GObond for more information about the bond process and projects.
  • After 16 years, meet Dixie's maker: Kris Andersson

    by John Moore | Aug 02, 2017

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Women like Dolly in Hunstville, Ala.

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

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

    Only she spelled out the F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


    The man behind the C (and Sippy) Cups

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

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

    He thinks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The secret to Dixie’s success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kris Andersson. Photo by John Moore.

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


    Dixie does Denver, again and again

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Video bonus: Dixie's Denver Dialogues


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


  • No Instructions: A Denver Actors Fund benefit

    Dixie_No_Instructions_homepage_slider_960x430Dixie Longate is also presenting No Instructions, a one-night-only standup benefit for The Denver Actors Fund, at the Galleria on the evening of Aug. 6. INFO
  • Henry Awards spreads love from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins

    by John Moore | Jul 17, 2017
    29 Outstanding Season



    Openstage, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, TheatreWorks and The Book of Will leave indelible marks

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Colorado Theatre Guild’s 2017 Henry Awards was a night of open arms and poignant remembrance, culminating with OpenStage Theatre and Company winning the Guild’s highest honor for the first time, for Outstanding Season. The 44-year-old Fort Collins tradition also swept both outstanding actor and actress awards: Sydney Parks Smith for August: Osage County and Steven P. Sickles for Le Bête,

    Henry Awards by YearUntil 2013, theatre companies outside the metro area were not eligible for Henry Awards, but on Monday night at the PACE Center in Parker, the Henrys rolled out the welcome mat for statewide companies.

    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ The Game of Love and Chance was named Outstanding Play. That was the final play directed by company founder Murray Ross, who died in January. Drew Martorella, Executive Director of UCCS Presents, dedicated the award to Ross' considerable legacy.

    The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, in its final year before merging with Colorado College, tied with the DCPA Theatre Company for most wins for the evening with five, all for The Man of La Mancha. The DCPA won Outstanding New Play and four other awards for its world premiere of The Book of Will. DCPA CEO Janice Sinden announced to the crowd that the play, written by Lauren Gunderson about the creation of Shakespeare's First Folio, already has four major stagings scheduled around the country. "Lauren Gunderson will be the first female playwright with an original play on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Elizabethan Stage in its 83-year history," Sinden said to raucous cheers.

    Thunder River Theatre Company of Carbondale won the first two Henrys in its history, both for four-time 2017 nominee Sean Jeffries. Carbondale is a mountain hamlet of 5,200 residents located between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Jeffries won for both sound (The Tempest) and scenic (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) awards among Tier II companies.

    Just in: Check out all of our photos from the awards

    The Lone Tree Arts Center, which won its first Henry Award just last year, broke through with three wins on Monday for its production of Evita. The show, which re-cast the guerilla Che as more of a tormenting artist, was the surprise winner of the Outstanding Musical award. Even the Backstage Breckenridge Theatre got in on the act with its irreverent Toxic Avenger musical winning both the Outstanding Actress (Colby Dunn) and Supporting Actress (Megan Van De Hey) awards.

    Perhaps the emotional highlight of the evening was Tad Baierlein presenting the Life Achievement Award to his parents, Germinal Stage co-founders Ed Bairelein and Sallie Diamond Baierlein.

     

    2017 Henry Award nominations make way for the new

    While the annual Henry Awards often turn into landslides, 2017 will go down as the most widely spread in the 12-year history of the awards. The 25 competitive awards were distributed among 10 member companies.

    That still left a number of the metro area's most prestigious companies on the sidelines this year, including Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Buntport Theater, Phamaly Theatre Company and the Town Hall Arts Center.

    The Catamounts, which earned nine nominations for its punk musical take on Beowulf, won none. The Aurora Fox, despite five nominations for a Porgy and Bess that in performance Monday brought the capacity crowd to its screaming feet, also went away empty-handed. Last year the Henry Awards' darlings were Theatre Aspen and Vintage Theatre, winners of 12 awards. This year? None.

    Despite 16 nominations, the Arvada Center, a perennial Henrys favorite, won only one award - and it was perhaps the most surprising of the night. Matt LaFontaine, who took on the role of Judas in the Arvada Center's Jesus Christ Superstar just days before opening, was named Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical. A grateful and humble LaFontaine dedicated the award to actor Napoleon Kaufman, who was originally cast as Judas but had to drop out due to illness, and Daniel Langhoff, who is continuing to battle cancer.

    "I shouldn’t be up here," LaFontaine told the crowd. 

    Curious Theatre Company, second only to the DCPA and Arvada Center in total Henry Awards received since 2006, pulled out of consideration last July after the company was shut out of the Henry Awards for the second straight year. Managing Director Katie Maltais cited what she called the judges' “limited knowledge of the theatre craft, especially with regard to technical design,” as well as the lack of diversity among last year’s winners. That complaint only stands to grow louder after last night, which produced only three apparent winners of color.

    Given the political climate, the evening was  remarkably civil in tone. Hosts Steven J.  Burge and GerRee Hinshaw teased the crowd at the top of the show to expect no holds barred political commentary throughout the evening, but it was all a ruse for keeping things light. The only variance came when Stephen Day accepted the Henry Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. Day, who plays the delusionally hopeful knight Cervantes in The Man of LaMancha, said, "I want to thank the current administration in Washington for giving me my subtext every night."  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Henry Awards honor outstanding achievements by member companies, and the event serves as the Colorado Theatre Guild’s annual fundraiser. The awards are named for longtime local theatre producer Henry Lowenstein. Nominations are determined through a judging process conducted by more than 45 theatre journalists, blogger critics and adjudicators from the community.

    The Henry Awards split the four design categories into two tiers determined by member companies' annual overall operating budgets. Only six companies have annual budgets above the $1.2 million threshold and therefore are considered Tier I: The DCPA, Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Theatre Aspen, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Colorado Springs TheatreWorks. The rest all compete in Tier II.

    The Guild made great strides in expanding the eligible pool this year to a record 190 productions. But it also reduced the number of judges required to make each show eligible from six to five, which likely accounts for some of the pronounced clustering of nominations around certain shows.

    It was announced at the show that Gloria Shanstrom, who has served the Colorado Theatre Guild for more than 20 years and has administered the Henry Awards since their inception, is retiring at the end of the month. Monday's ceremony, which has been directed for the past 11 years by Jim Hunt, were led this year by Jonathan D. Allsup.

    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.



    2017 Henry Awards video:


    Video by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.

    2016-17 HENRY AWARDS

    Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company

    • OpenStage Theatre and Company, Fort Collins

    Also nominated:

    • Arvada Center
    • OpenStage Theatre and Company
    • Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
    • DCPA Theatre Company
    • Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Thunder River Theatre Company


    Outstanding Production of a Play

    16 GameLoveChanceGame of Love and Chance
    TheatreWorks
    Murray Ross, Director

    Also nominated:

    • "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company, Dulcie Willis, Director
    • "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company, Davis McCallum, Director
    • "Constellations," TheatreWorks, Joye Cook-Levy, Director
    • "Don’t Dress for Dinner," OpenStage Theatre & Company, Wendy S. Moore, Director"
    • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Thunder River Theatre Company, Corey Simpson, Director
    • "Tartuffe," Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director


    Outstanding Musical

    28 EVITA BM at the Lone Tree Arts Center credit Danny LamEvita

    Lone Tree Arts Center
    Gina Rattan, Director; Max Mamon, Musical Director

    Also nominated:

    • "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts, Meridith C. Grundei, Director; Gary Grundei, Musical Direction                         
    • "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company, Scott RC Levy, Director; Sharon Skidgel, Musical Direction
    • "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative, Kelly McAllister, Director; Tanner Kelly, Musical Direction                                
    • "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center, Kenny Moten, Director; Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Musical Direction
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center, Randal Myler, Director; Dan Wheetman, Musical Direction
    • "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center, donnie l. betts, Director; Jodel Charles, Musical Direction


    Outstanding New Play

    10 New Play or Musical DCPA Theatre Company The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson Directed by Davis McCallum The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company
    Written by Lauren Gunderson
    Directed by Davis McCallum

    Also nominated:

    • “The Firestorm,” by Meridith Friedman
    • "Full Code," by David Valdes Greenwood
    • "The History Room," by Charlie Thurston           
    • "I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Music and Lyrics by David Nehls, Book by Kenn McLaughlin
    • "Lost Creatures," by Melissa Lucero McCarl
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There,” by Randal Myler

    Direction of a Play
    23 Direction - Dulcie  Willis - August Osage CountyDulcie Willis
    August: Osage County

    OpenStage Theatre & Company

    Also nominated:

    • Lynne Collins, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Joye Cook-Levy, "Constellations," TheatreWorks
    • Davis McCallum, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Matt Radcliffe, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Murray Ross, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Corey Simpson, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Thunder River Theatre Company

    Direction of a Musical
    27 Direction - Man of La ManchaScott RC Levy
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • donnie l. betts, "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Meridith C. Grundei, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Kelly McAllister, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • Randal Myler, “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Gina Rattan, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Nick Sugar, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company

    Outstanding Musical Direction
    25 Musical Direction EVITA at the Lone Tree Arts Center credit Danny LamMax Mamon
    Evita

    Lone Tree Arts Center

    Also nominated:

    • Neal Dunfee, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
    • Gary Grundei, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Sharon Skidgel, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Jason Tyler Vaughn, “Murder Ballad,” The Edge Theater Company
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb, "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center
    • Dan Wheetman, “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center


    Outstanding Actress in a Musical
    20 Toxic Avenger Colby DunnColby Dunn
    The Toxic Avenger

    Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

    Also nominated:

    • Jacquie Jo Billings, "Little Shop of Horrors," Miners Alley Playhouse
    • Sarah Groeke, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Cecilia Iole, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Marissa Rudd, "Sister Act," Midtown Arts Center
    • Tracy Warren, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
    • Danielle Hermon Wood, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative




    Outstanding Actor in a Musical

    21 Actor - Man of La ManchaStephen Day
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company 

    Also nominated:

    • Leonard E. Barrett Jr. , "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Joshua Blanchard, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Miles Jacoby, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • August Stoten, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative
    • Colin Summers, "Million Dollar Quartet," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Joe Von Bokern, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts

    Outstanding Actress in a Play
    14 Actress - Sydney Parks Smith - August Osage CountySydney Parks Smith
    August: Osage County

    OpenStage Theatre & Company

    Also nominated:   

    • LuAnn Buckstein, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • Carley Cornelius, "Constellations," TheatreWorks
    • Denise Burson Freestone, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company      
    • Kathleen McCall, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Emma Messenger, "Misery," The Edge Theater Company
    • Caitlin Wise, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks

    Outstanding Actor in a Play
    15 Actor - Steven P. Sickles - La BeteSteven P. Sickles
    Le Bête

    OpenStage Theatre & Company

    Also nominated:

    • William Hahn, "Burn This," The Edge Theater Company 
    • Kevin Hart, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • Sammie Joe Kinnett, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Micah Speirs, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company               
    • Dan Tschirhart, "The Flick," OpenStage Theatre & Company        
    • Adam Verner, "Don’t Dress for Dinner," OpenStage Theatre & Company                                                                                                         


    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play

    03 Supporting Actress in a Play Miriam A. LaubeMiriam A. Laube
    The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Miriam A. Laube, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Carolyn Lohr, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre              
    • Leslie O’Carroll, "Silent Sky," Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Amelia Pedlow, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Christina Sajous, "Disgraced," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Linda Suttle, "A Time to Kill," Vintage Theatre Productions
    • Edith Weiss, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre



    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play

    04 Supporting Actor in a Play Triney SandovalTriney Sandoval
    The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Nathan Cox, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Rodney Lizcano, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Wesley Mann, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Owen O’Farrell, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Hunter Ringsmith, "Equivocaton," Colorado Shakespeare Festival            
    • Corey Simpson, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company



    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

    07 Toxic Avenger MEGAN VAN DE HEYMegan Van De Hay
    The Toxic Avenger

    Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

    Also nominated:

    • Jenna Bainbridge, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Joan Bruemmer-Holden, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Charlotte Campbell, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
    • Anna High, “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Rebecca Hoodwin, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Carol Rose, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre


    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

    08 Supporting Actor in a Musical - Matt LaFontaine - Jesus Christ Superstar - Arvada CenterMatt LaFontaine
    Jesus Christ Superstar

    Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities

    Also nominated:

    • Brandon Bill, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative
    • Ben Hilzer, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • John Jankow, "A Christmas Story," Midtown Arts Center
    • Bob Moore, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Nicholas Park, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Kyle Ashe Wilkinson, "Titanic," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre



    09 EnsembleOutstanding Ensemble Performance

    The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director
    • "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center



    Outstanding Choreography

    24 josephMatthew D. Peters
    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    BDT Stage

    Also nominated:

    • Mary Ripper Baker, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Joan Bruemmer-Holden & Amanda Berg Wilson, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Jeff Duke and Stephanie Hansen, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Kelly Kates, “The Robber Bridegroom,” Town Hall Arts Center
    • Michael Lasris, "A Christmas Story," Midtown Arts Center
    • Kate Vallee, "42nd Street," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse  


    DESIGN AWARDS

    Outstanding Sound Design Tier 1
    01 Sound Design - Man of La ManchaBenjamin Heston
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Jason Ducat, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
    • Jason Ducat, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Morgan McCauley, "Tartuffe," Arvada Center
    • Stowe Nelson, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • David Thomas, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Zach Williamson, “The Secret Garden, “ DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Sound Design Tier 2
    02 Sound-Tier2-Tempest-TRTCSean Jeffries
    The Tempest

    Thunder River Theatre Company 

    Also nominated:

    • Travis Duncan and Jeremiah Walter, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Carlos Flores, "Misery," The Edge Theater Company
    • Allen Noftall, “Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Allen Noftall, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You Theatre," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Jon Northridge, "Million Dollar Quartet," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Tom Quinn and Kenny Storms, "Murder Ballad," The Edge Theater Company

    Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 1
    05 LightingDesign-Man of La ManchaHolly Anne Rawls
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Charles R. MacLeod, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company  
    • Shannon McKinney, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Jon Olson, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
    • Paul Toben, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Brian Tovar, "Frankenstein," DCPA Theatre Company   
    • Mike Wood, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks


    Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 2

    06 Lighting Evita Danny LamJen Kiser
    Evita

    Lone Tree Arts Center

    Also nominated 

  • Seth Alison, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Brandon Ingold, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Mallary, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
  • Brett Maughan, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," BDT Stage

  •  

    Outstanding Costume Design Tier 1
    12 Camille_AssafCamille Assaf
    The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Stephanie Bradley, "Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Janson J. Fangio, "Enchanted April," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Sydney Gallas, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Clare Henkel, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Clare Henkel, "Tartuffe," Arvada Center
    • Lex Liang, “Shrek,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company



    Outstanding Costume Design Tier 2

    13 Little Mermaid- RMRTJesus Perez
    The Little Mermaid

    Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

    Also nominated:

    • Kari Armstrong, "The Snow Queen," Bas Bleu Theatre Company
    • Buntport Theater, "The Crud," Buntport Theater
    • Pamela Clifton, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre         
    • Judith Ernst, "The Wizard of Oz," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    • Tricia Music, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • Annabel Reader, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts


    Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 1

    18 Scenic Design - Man of La ManchaChristopher L. Sheley
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Lisa Orzolek, "Disgraced," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Brian Mallgrave, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Brian Mallgrave, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Sandra Goldmark, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Paul Black, "Mamma Mia," Theatre Aspen
    • Jason Sherwood, "Frankenstein," DCPA Theatre Company


    Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 2

    19 Scenic-Tier2-Jekyll-and-Hyde-TRTCSean Jeffries
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    Thunder River Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Shaun Albrechtson, "Steel Magnolias," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • James Brookman, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • M. Curtis Grittner, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Lori Rosedahl, "The Flick," OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • Kyle Scoggins, "Little Shop of Horrors," Miners Alley Playhouse


    SPECIAL AWARDS:

    Specials collage


    LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THEATRE
    Ed Baierlein and Sallie Diamond Baierlein, Germinal Stage Denver

    EXCELLENCE IN SPECIAL MAKEUP EFFECTS
    Todd Debreceni

    OUTSTANDING IMPROVISATIONAL THEATRE
    ScriptProv

    OUTSTANDING THEATRE BENEFACTORS
    Les Crispelle
    Glenn Tiedt

  • Video: Tournament raises $110,000 for DCPA Education programs

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2017

    The Denver Center’s annual Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament, held June 16 at Legacy Ridge Golf Course in Westminster, raised a record $110,954 to support the DCPA’s arts in education programs.

    More than 106,000 students of all ages participated in DCPA Education programs around the state last year. Proceeds from the golf tournament help underwrite these important efforts, including:

    • Nearly 22,000 youth benefited from free and reduced-price tickets, matinees for their schools, and special Student Nights.
    • Shakespeare in the Parking Lot toured to 60 schools in 10 different counties, providing more than 9,000 unique interactions with students.
    • DCPA Teaching Artists offered workshops for all 189 schools participating in the annual DPS Shakespeare Festival, which attracted nearly 5,000 to the Denver Performing Arts Complex last month.
    • The Bobby G Awards celebrates achievements in Colorado high-school musical theatre. Trained judges adjudicate more than 40 local high-school musicals, culminating in a Tony Awards-style celebration that advances two local students to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (The Jimmys) in New York City.
    • DCPA Education administers a year-round one-act playwriting competition to nurture high-school writers. This year, four finalists had their plays presented at the DCPA’s annual Colorado New Play Summit. And earlier this month, two plays were selected for fully staged performances in the Conservatory Theatre.
    • DCPA Education also contributes to workforce development through multiple industry courses, a Career Readiness program and Job Shadow Days.

    Randy Weeks worked from the ground up to become President of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He started in the box office as a college student and was named Executive Director of the DCPA’s Broadway division in 1991. He was promoted to president in 2004. As President, welcomed more than 11.6 million guests to the Denver Center until his death in 2014.

    Guests on the video above include DCPA CEO Janice Sinden, President John Ekeberg, Bobby G Awards winner Austin Hand, and golf-tournament event co-chairs Shawn Fowler and Maxwell Bull. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and intern Avery Anderson.


    Photo gallery: 2017 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament:

    Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament

    DCPA CEO Janice Sinden gets a lift at the 2017 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Amanda Tipton. Photos may be downloaded and shared with proper photo credit. 


    Our 2017 Bobby G Awards Video Playlist (so far):
    Road to the Jimmy Awards: Austin Hand performs at the DCPA golf tournament
    Road to the Jimmy Awards: Bobby G Awards winners perform for DCPA Board
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: The full video recap
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: Nominated actors medley
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: Performance Highlights
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards welcome to all participating schools

    More of our 2017 Bobby G Awards coverage:
    Our complete photo gallery
    Our full Bobby G Awards report: Persistence pays off at Valor Christian
    Video, photos and top quotes from the 2017 Bobby G Awards
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress finalists
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor finalists
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • DCPA CEO welcomes new arts leaders to Denver

    by John Moore | Jun 05, 2017
    Welcome Nataki Garrett and Kendra Ingram
    Kendra Whitlock Ingram, left, and Nataki Garrett. To see more photos, press the forward arrow in the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    With major new voices coming to the forefront of the Colorado artistic community, Denver Center for the Performing Arts President and CEO Janice Sinden called a social gathering last week to officially welcome new arts leaders Nataki Garrett and Kendra Whitlock Ingram to Denver.

    Garrett, colloquially referred to as the DCPA's "change artist," is the new Associate Artistic Director for the DCPA Theatre Company. She had been Associate Artistic Director of CalArts Center for New Performance, as well as Associate Dean and Co-Head of Undergraduate Acting for CalArts School of Theater. READ MORE ABOUT HER

    Ingram is the University of Denver’s new executive director of Newman Center Presents at the Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts, succeeding Stephen Seifert. She was most recently vice president of programming and education for Omaha Performing Arts. READ MORE ABOUT HER

    Sinden, Ingram and Garrett all have been appointed to their new roles since August. Sinden hosted the reception on June 1 at the Limelight Supper Club, drawing a variety of local arts and civic leaders including Denver Arts and Venues Executive Director Kent Rice; Denver Post Chairman and Bonfils Foundation President Dean Singleton; Curious Theatre co-founder Chip Walton; Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company founders Stephen and Rebecca Weitz; and prominent director (and original DCPA Theatre Company member) donnie l. betts.

  • DCPA's upcoming 'Macbeth' gets $25K boost from NEA

    by John Moore | Jun 04, 2017

    The Denver Center's most recent Shakespeare-related production was January's world premiere of the hit drama 'The Book of Will,' by Lauren Gunderson. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    By Suzanne Yoe
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Students in Colorado just took a giant step toward a close encounter with William Shakespeare. Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts will welcome more than 4,500 students to its fall production of Macbeth.

    In an announcement made this week, Arts Midwest distributed $1 million in grants to 40 nonprofit theater companies nationwide. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival also received a $25,000 grant for its upcoming production of Julius Caesar. To see the complete list of 40 selected companies, click here

    NEA QUOTEThe grants mark the 15th year of Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program that has introduced 2.5 million middle and high school students to the power of live theater and the works of Shakespeare.

    “We are honored to have once again been selected to participate in this remarkable program,” said DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. “This year alone, we will be able to welcome 4,500 students to Macbeth, of which nearly 1,000 will attend on scholarship thanks to this generous gift. The Arts Midwest/NEA award is a significant contributor that enables the DCPA to reach its goal of serving more than 33,000 students at 10 different productions in the coming season as part of our larger Student Matinee program.”

    CEO Janice Sinden: Eliminating NEA would be bad for economy

    In its most recently completed fiscal year, the DCPA served more than 84,000 youth, nearly 14,000 of whom attended as part of the Student Matinee program. With the recent launch of Theatre for Young Audiences (ages 3-9) combined with significant support of individuals, businesses, foundations and the NEA, the DCPA will more than double the Student Matinee attendance in one season.

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200“The importance of Arts Education is vital to academic achievement,” said Allison Watrous, Director of DCPA Education. “In study after study, student exposure to the arts elevates test scores, improves graduation rates and fosters creativity — the number one skill sought by employers today. Plus, it’s fun.”

    Students who participate in the Shakespeare in American Communities-funded Student Matinee program will attend the professionally-produced DCPA Theatre Company production of Macbeth (Sept. 15-Oct. 29), enjoy a post-show discussion with the cast and receive an in-school workshop that directly ties the themes of the play to Colorado Academic Standards.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Shakespeare’s plays teach creativity, history, complex and intriguing themes, and rich language,” said Susan Chandler, Arts Midwest’s Vice President. “Students — especially those in school that lack financial resources — across the U.S deserve to be introduced to live performances of his timeless works.”

    “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support opportunities for youth in communities across the country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Partnerships like this one with Arts Midwest help the NEA to achieve its mission of giving people across America access to the arts.”

    And along with this incredible opportunity comes an equally important cautionary tale. Macbeth is a bit like “He Who Shall Not be Named” in Harry Potter. Dare to say his name in the theatre and you are sure to be doomed. (Insert evil laugh here.)

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

    To learn more about the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Student Matinee program, please visit www.denvercenter.org/student-matinees or call 303-446-4829.

  • Shakespeare Fest: Students put spirit of youth in everything

    by John Moore | Apr 29, 2017

    Above: Video coverage from the 2017 The Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival on April 28. Our guests include Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock; DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden; DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg; teacher Tim Boyle (John F. Kennedy High School); students Amelia Corrada (Denver School for the Arts), Vincent Haney (Denver North High School) and Alexis Ayala (J.F.K). Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

     

    'Today, we keep the arts alive. Today we triumph
    over hatred, over grief and over despair.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Surely no one will compare Friday to a summer’s day. But compared to the bone-chilling festivities of a year ago, the 33rd Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival was, in the Bard’s own words, a comfort like sunshine after rain.

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalDespite a gloomy forecast, the mild weather cooperated just long enough for 5,000 students from kindergarten through high school to perform more than 640 short scenes, dances, soliloquies and sonnets on stages in and around the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The celebration is the largest and oldest student Shakespeare Festival in the country.

    Performing in 14 tents, theatres and stairway landings spread out over four acres, students from an estimated 80 schools soliloquized, sang, fenced, danced, played musical instruments, raged and gently wooed – but did not kiss. (Festival rule: High-fives – not smooches!)

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalDressed in authentic period garb, Mayor Michael B. Hancock told the wee throng that the DPS Shakespeare Festival has become part of the fabric of Denver. “We believe wholeheartedly in arts education,” said Hancock, a graduate of DPS’ Manual High School. “We believe in connecting to our history. We believe in upholding our culture. You are making Denver proud today.”

    Most participating DPS teachers have spent the past two months introducing Shakespeare to their students and creating live performances through auditioning, rehearsals, text analysis and costume-building. Studies have shown that studying Shakespeare improves students’ literacy and literary skills, especially in a district like DPS, where more than 50 percent speak English as a second language.

    “This experience gives them the opportunity to really dig into Shakespeare’s words and find emotions and character motivations and storylines,” said Jacqueline Smilack, a journalist and fourth-year English teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School. And for those who speak English as a second language, she said, “Shakespeare is the great equalizer. Everyone comes into it on the same page.” A team from Denver School of the Arts presented a scene from Romeo and Juliet with two students performing in English and two others in Spanish.

    (Story continues under the photo gallery)

    Full photo gallery: 2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. Photos may be downloaded and shared with credit to the DCPA NewsCenter. 



    Alix Gonzalez, 15-year-old sophomore from North High School, performed Friday in her third festival, dating back to middle school. “I love it because it gets me out of my comfort zone,” she said. “Speaking in old English stretches your confidence as an actor because of how big you have to go to do Shakespeare.”

    Watch our Facebook Live stream from the parade

    Each year, DPS students submit essays for the privilege to play William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I in the welcoming ceremonies, and ride at the head of a short parade from the 16th Street Mall to the Denver Performing Arts Complex. This year’s honorees were Denver North High School Senior Vincent Haney and Denver School of the Arts senior Amelia Corrada, who has been accepted into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Haney said he was speechless and euphoric when he learned he had been selected to speak as The Bard.

    Story: Where do those 5,000 costumes come from?

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festival“Theatre is the voice of our people,” Haney said as Shakespeare. “And today, our message is as strong as ever. Today, we keep the arts alive. Today we triumph over hatred, over grief and over despair. Today we sing, today we dance, today we act.”

    Corrada said Shakespeare remains timely because “the themes of Shakespeare’s plays are the same themes we are living through in our country right now. Through his verse, he exposes us to the very truth and nature of friendship, magic, betrayal, war and even love in all its forms. It's totally relevant.”

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalSmilack admitted that Shakespeare can be intimidating for first-time students, and they are not alone. “It can be intimidating for teachers, too,” she said. Because many teachers are not specifically trained in teaching or interpreting the Shakespeare canon, she said, “This exercise gives teachers good perspective on what our students are going through.”

    Now in its fourth decade, the DPS Shakespeare Festival’s bloodlines go back for generations. Acclaimed singer and actor Mary Louise Lee (Hancock’s wife), performed in the festival as a student at Thomas Jefferson High School. The First Lady has made restoring arts-education programs in schools her top priority since founding her nonprofit, Bringing Back the Arts. John F. Kennedy High School Drama Director Tim Boyles, who brought a fresh group of festival participants this year, performed in the festival when he himself was a student at JFK.

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalNot all of the performances on Friday were by students. A team of DCPA Education Teaching Artists presented a 45-minute version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that they perform at schools statewide in and around a beat-up old pickup truck as part of the “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” program. All costumes and props come from the back of the truck – so, for example, floor mats are used as a wall, and an ice-scraper is used as a sword to depict a suicide.

    This is the DCPA’s third year partnering with Denver Public Schools and the DPS Foundation to present the festival. “We provided workshops, we judged auditions, we opened our doors and we offer financial support to 4,000 students from across Denver to participate in this event,” said President and CEO Janice Sinden. “We do that because the DCPA knows arts education improves academic success, produces leaders and cultivates creativity. Plus, it’s fun.”

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalDance Legend Cleo Parker Robinson, a graduate of the Denver Public Schools who created Cleo Parker Robinson Dance 47 years ago, brought two of her company members to perform a short excerpt from their current offering, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet layered with scenes from George Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess (through May 7 at 119 Park Avenue West.)

    “It's thrilling to see students of all backgrounds and ages be introduced to the magic of theatre in this way,” said Robinson. “Our presence here today is meant to show these young students that Shakespeare can be expressed through the word, through music – and also through the ballet of Prokofiev.”

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalThe Grand Marshal of this year’s parade was Deputy Director of Denver Arts and Venues Ginger White Brunetti, who heads the city’s Imagine 2020 arts program.

    While students were free to perform from any of Shakespeare’s works, this year’s featured title was Much Ado About Nothing. But in the words of DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg, “Today there is going to be much ado about something.” 

    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. This is his 16th year covering the DPS Shakespeare Festival.


    2017-dps-shakespeare-festival

    Our 2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festival
    TO SEE MORE PHOTOS, CLICK ON THE GALLERY AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.
  • 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."

    Applications are now being accepted for the DCPA Artistic Director. Interested applicants should review the full job description and submit their materials to info@BardArtsConsulting.com.

  • Janice Sinden: Eliminating NEA would be bad for our economy

    by John Moore | Apr 05, 2017

    Janice Sinden. Photo by Adams VisCom



    When it passed The National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, Congress declared that the arts belong to all people of the United States. That the encouragement of scholarship and progress in the arts is an appropriate matter of concern to the federal government. That an advanced civilization must not limit its efforts to science and technology alone, but must give full value and support to the other great branches of scholarly and cultural activity in order to achieve a better understanding of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future.

    That was a noble American statement. A devout but perhaps expendable wish now that, 52 years later, the federal government faces an $18 trillion deficit.

    But a federal budget is more than a ledger of dollars and cents. It is an emphatic statement of a nation’s collective values and priorities. And the value President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society embraced in 1965 was the vital importance of the arts to the lifeblood of a healthy democracy.

    Janice Sinden Quote NEAThe arts are certainly a shared value in Colorado, which ranks No. 1 in the country in the percentage of adults who perform, attend or create artwork. The creative industries are the fifth-largest employment sector in Colorado. 

    But on March 16, the White House released a budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018 that would eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  And that would be a value statement of its own. A chilling one that would be bad not only for our heads and hearts, but for our economy. These threatened organizations account for a negligible sliver of the federal budget, and yet they play a vital role in our national cultural economy. The NEA’s $148 million budget funds programming in more than 16,000 communities in every Congressional district in the United States. And it’s merely seed money. The NEA generates another 600 million in public and private matching funds each year that are invested in local communities, helping to shape a $730 billion arts and culture industry that represents 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP and supports 4.8 million jobs, according to Americans for the Arts.

    Denver metro arts, cultural and scientific organizations generated  $1.8 billion in annual economic activity in 2015, according to a biennial study conducted by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.

    The arts are not a subsidy. They are an economic engine.

    The elimination of federal funding would impact Colorado's cultural assets, our prosperity and our state identity.  Creative jobs in our state numbered 139,096 in 2015 and accounted for $7.2 billion in earnings, according to the Colorado Creative Industries, which operates largely on NEA funding. Our music industry alone creates more than 16,000 jobs and $658 million in earnings.

    If the NEA is eliminated, thousands of programs will be endangered in communities across the country:  A community orchestra performance, a new work from an emerging playwright, art therapy for returning war veterans, local library classes in Braille, free standardized-test preparation … not to mention Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.

    The NEA has awarded 147,000 grants and $5 billion in its history.

    Dragon Boat Visit DenverColorado Creative Industries received about $1.5 million in NEA funding last year. It matches those funds and then sends them out all over the state. Last year, NEA funding supported 237 creative nonprofits, creative districts, individuals and businesses in Colorado. Recipients included Phamaly Theatre Company, which makes performance opportunities for actors with disabilities; Youth on Record, which exists to address the national dropout crisis (pictured below); ArtCorps, which provides art mentoring to homeless teens through RedLine in Five Points; Su Teatro, Denver’s only Chicano theatre company; the Denver Indigenous Film & Arts Festival; the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (pictured above courtesy of Visit Denver), and the Crested Butte Music Festival.

    YOR NEA funding also provides general operating support for mountain and rural groups ranging from the Pueblo Symphony Association to Ridgway’s Sherbino Theater to the Crow Luther Cultural Events Center in Eads to the Creede Repertory Theatre to the M12 artist collective in Byers.

    The arts not only change lives. They repair them.

    Denver is blessed and unique among metropolitan centers because of the newly reauthorized, citizen-activated Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, which generates $56.6 million a year for local arts and science organizations. But while programming supports residents statewide, it only is directly appropriated among organizations based in the seven-country metro area. If this budget is enacted, rural areas, low-income communities and schools would disproportionately suffer. In Colorado, 44 percent of NEA awards went to rural and small communities across the state and approximately 38 percent of the funds supplemented arts education programs in low-income areas.

    Right now in Washington, a significant and understandable movement is underway to reduce the federal government's role in American life. Even some who champion the arts also applaud the reduction of federal arts funding in the naïve belief that the gap will surely be made up through individual giving. That hope is a bit far-fetched because the proposed budget will leave many other worthy federal departments and agencies also fighting for their share. That will undoubtedly put increased strain on philanthropic funding for a large range of social services, including health care and education. Everyone will have a hand out.

    Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has said the NEA “allows an organization or an individual to do something that otherwise would be impossible.” We encourage residents of Colorado to tell members of Congress not to make art impossible again.


    Editor's Note: A shorter version of this editorial ran in The Denver Post on April 2. The DCPA NewsCenter offers a regular guest column from a variety of local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.


    What can you do to help?
    If you would like to voice your support for retaining the National Endowment for the Arts, visit the Americans for the Arts web site where you can sign a petition, contact your legislators and track legislation.

    National Endowment for the Arts: Colorado impact


    In collaboration with Colorado Creative Industries, the National Endowment for the Arts looks at the arts and culture of Colorado.


    About our Guest Columnist: Janice Sinden

    Janice Sinden. Photo by Adams VisComJanice Sinden is the President and CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation. She is a fourth-generation Coloradan who was born and raised in Fort Collins. She graduated from Rocky Mountain High School, and then the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, after which, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work for then U.S. Senator Wayne Allard. Before coming to the DCPA, she served as Chief of Staff for Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock for five years. Before that, she served as the Executive Director of Colorado Concern; co-founded Pinnacle Public Affairs; served as the Manager of Community Relations, Corporate Communications for Sharp HealthCare; co-founded EPIC (Executives Partnering to Invest in Children); and co-led the effort to establish the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline. 

    Selected previous Guest Columns:

    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
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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.