• It's called 'micro-theatre,' and it's the next big thing in theatre

    by John Moore | Jan 03, 2018
    Meridith Grundei, shown performing in 'Sweet and Lucky' in 2016, will head Off-Center's new 'micro-theatre' project

    Meridith Grundei, shown performing in 'Sweet & Lucky' in 2016, will head Off-Center's new 'micro-theatre' project. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    DCPA’s Off-Center is accepting submissions of original short plays and performance pieces from Colorado artists.

    Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional line of programming, is seeking submissions of original short plays and performance pieces by Colorado artists for production. The deadline to submit is March 5.

    Charlie Miller quoteEach of the five chosen works will be awarded $1,000 and produced as part of an evening of "micro theatre" that will run for 24 performances at BookBar in October and November 2018.

    “Micro-theatre is essentially short pieces with incredibly intimate audiences of just 10 to 15 people," said Off-Center Curator Charlie Miller. "It's a unique approach to performance that is popular internationally, and we are excited to bring the format to Denver,”

    This event is conceived and will be led by newly named 2017 True West Award winner Meridith Grundei, who also was featured as one of Westword’s 2017 Colorado Creatives. Grundei recently directed Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage for The Catamounts in Boulder. That was a blood-pumping, leather-clad, sexy-weird gypsy-punk musical take on the ninth-century epic poem. She also has recently appeared in Off-Center's immersive Sweet & Lucky and the DCPA Theatre Company's Frankenstein. Last summer, she played Curtis in Colorado Shakespeare Festival's The Taming of the Shrew.

    "Meridith was inspired by the micro theatre she experienced in Mexico," Miller said. "Her passion was infectious, and it was clear that this format would be a perfect fit for Off-Center as a different kind of site-specific theatrical experience."

    Read about Meredith Grundei's 2017 True West Award

    Miller is also looking forward to the ways this project will engage the larger Denver artistic community.

    "In addition to Colorado-based playwrights and creators, Off-Center also plans to hire all performers and other collaborators locally," Miller said.

    This evening of micro theatre will feature five short original works by local artists. It will be performed environmentally at BookBar, with each piece performing in a different indoor or outdoor space simultaneously. The evening will accommodate around 70 audience members; groups of ten at a time will see each piece in different orders. During scheduled breaks between performances, audiences will drink wine, eat tapas and socialize.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Presenting these new works in a non-traditional setting also created the opportunity for a new partnership between Off-Center and BookBar, a community bookstore and wine bar that features a highly curated selection of titles for all ages.

    "BookBar is a local business we admire," Miller said. "They regularly host literary events that bring the community together over food and wine and we can’t wait to activate their spaces with new stories by Colorado creatives,” Miller said.

     

    Submission Guidelines

    Submissions must:

    • Be original, unpublished works that have not been previously produced. Writers/creators must have sole rights to all matters contained within the piece.
    • Be written/created by a Colorado resident
    • Have a run time of between 10 and 15 minutes, and be no more than 30 pages
    • Feature no more than three performers
    • Reference or relate to a work of literature
    • Take place in a location where there are books (a library, book store, living room, etc.)
    • Have simple technical and production needs
    • Be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. on March 5 at dcpa.today/micro

    Performance pieces that incorporate different art forms (dance/movement, music, visual art, etc.) are also encouraged to apply. To propose a non-scripted interdisciplinary work, please submit a written description of the work and include imagery or links to video to help convey your ideas.

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts provides equal opportunities to all applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, age, or disability. Applicants must be age 16 or older.

    Formatting Guidelines

    • Scripts must be typed in a generally accepted play-style format, with 12-point font and must be page-numbered. We will only accept PDF documents.
    • The first page/title page must contain ONLY the title of the piece. Do not put the author’s name anywhere on the manuscript.

    Other Rules

    • We will only accept one submission per person
    • Scripts/proposals not in compliance will not be considered
    • By submitting, you give DCPA Off-Center the rights to produce and perform the work in 2018. You agree (if selected) to collaborate with our team through the rehearsal and production process.
    • Winners are encouraged to make changes to their scripts through the development and rehearsal process, in collaboration with the production team.
    • The selection committee has the sole discretion over the manner in which the works are judged, and its determination of the winners will be final

    Selection Process

    Submissions will be reviewed blindly by a selection committee comprised of members of the DCPA staff and associated artists. All applicants will be notified via email in April 2018 and winners will be announced publicly at a later date.

    Questions? Email offcenter@dcpa.org

  • 2017 True West Award: Composer and Music Director David Nehls

    by John Moore | Dec 29, 2017
    2017 True West Award David Nehls

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 29: David Nehls

    Composer and Music Director
    I’ll Be Home for Christmas

    Killer Wigs from Outer Space

    The Wild Party

    Mommie Dearest

    A Midnight Clear

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Composer David Nehls had four new musicals in various stages of development over the past 12 months.

    Wait, wait. Let me repeat that:

    Composer David Nehls had FOUR NEW MUSICALS in various stages of development over the past 12 months.

    It’s nearly incomprehensible to think that one composer based here in Colorado could have that much new musical material gestating out there in the theatre world all at once. And all four of his musicals got staged and seen, in some form or other, in three states.

    And that doesn’t even include his musical direction of someone else’s musical: Nehls made his Denver Center debut in 2017 by taking on Off-Center’s full-flapper cannonball dive into immersive theatre with The Wild Party, a truth-in-title Jazz Age musical that was staged under The Hangar at Stanley in Aurora.

    Joan_CrawfordLadies and gentlemen, this is David Nehls’ moment. And his moment includes brain-eating parasites, unapologetic holiday sentiment and partnerships with none other than the daughter of Joan Crawford (pictured at right) and a star of Broadway’s Rock of Ages.

    Maybe we should go back to the beginning of the year.

    Nehls began 2017 by bravely leaving the safe embrace of his 12-year artistic home at the Arvada Center, where he supervised the music for about 45 mainstage productions. And he went out on top: His final project there was one of his own: The Arvada Center premiered Nehls’ I’ll Be Home for Christmas, a familiar holiday throwback with a little bit of bite. He ended 2017 premiering a purely joyful holiday commission called A Midnight Clear: A Musical Tale of Christmas at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, where Nehls’ writing partner, Kenn McLaughlin, is the Artistic Director.

    "The work that David is doing is really vital for the future of the American musical,” said Denver's Robert Michael Sanders, who traveled to Houston to be the assistant director A Midnight Clear. "Because without people like David continuing to take these big risks and write this new stuff, we’ll continue to just perform The Sound of Music and Beauty and the Beast into the next century."

    Here’s a quick look at Nehls' four very different new musicals in 2017:

    A David Nehls 800


    I’ll Be Home for Christmas

    • World premiere at the Arvada Center
    • Nov. 18-Dec. 23, 2016
    • Written with: Kenn McLaughlin
    • At a glance: Set in 1969, the Bright family prepares for their annual Christmas variety show, always one of the most-watched national TV events of the year. As the telecast approaches, they welcome their eldest son home from the Vietnam war. The former teen idol is now a decorated hero but deeply challenged by his return to civilian life in front of the cameras.

    Killer Wigs from Outer Space

    • Workshop staging at the University of Colorado Boulder on Dec. 5-6, 2016. Fully presented at the New York Musical Festival from July 10-16, 2017
    • Written with: Zac Miller
    • At a glance: This “hair-raising rock opera” is the story of a carnival handyman named Orville who is attacked by a galactic, brain-eating parasite. The alien transforms Orville into "a rock ’n roll prophet for peace with out-of-this-world hair." We follow Orville on his epic operatic journey to save our world. The New York cast featured Mitch Jarvis, who starred in Broadway’s Rock of Ages.

    Mommie Dearest

    • Presented as a reading on Sept. 1, 2017, at Out of the Box Theatrics in New York
    • Written with: Christina Crawford
    • At a glance: This is the musical stage adaptation of Crawford’s shocking, bestselling memoir about growing up as the adopted daughter of Joan Crawford. The focal point of the stage story, written in full collaboration with Christina Crawford, is the famous actor’s will, which disinherits her two eldest adopted children. The plot becomes the coming-of-age story of the brother-sister pair who try to remain family as various obstacles force them down different paths.

    A Midnight Clear: A Musical Tale of Christmas

    • True West Award David Nehls Megan Van De Hey A Midnight Clear HoustonNov. 8-Dec. 24, 2017
    • Stages Repertory Theatre, Houston
    • Written with: Kenn McLaughlin
    • At a glance: It’s Christmas Eve 1964, and a snowstorm threatens to cancel a concert hosted by the Sisters of the Poor Sacred Heart. But when a mysterious stranger and a stranded motorist arrive at their chapel, the nuns find that the songs of Christmas have far more power than they had imagined. The score combines traditional Christmas songs with Nehls originals including “A Joyful Christmas Noise,” “St. Christopher's Prayer” and “Eyes of a Wandering Stranger.”


    'If regular theatre takes place in three dimensions, then immersive theatre takes place in six.'

    No less impressive than creating those four new works from scratch was tackling the unique challenges Nehls was presented by Off-Center’s staging of The Wild Party, said director Amanda Berg Wilson.

    “First of all, the way the music functions in an immersive-theatre space like The Stanley is a totally different ballgame from how it works in a traditional theatre,” Berg Wilson said. “If regular theatre takes place in three dimensions, then immersive theatre takes place in six. Performing the show environmentally seriously changes how the music is going to play out in your time and space.”

    Imagine a cast of 15 actors playing characters who are attending a drunken, decadent party in a 16,000-square-foot apartment crammed with 200 guests. The live band is stationed in one far corner of the room, but the actors sing and dance and run down tiny aisleways at times more than 100 feet away from the musicians. This was a new performance challenge for actors and musicians alike.

    “David really had to be there to support the actors and to help them develop techniques for how to perform the songs in completely different corners of this massive room and still make it sound blended and lovely,” Berg Wilson said.

    A David Nehls The Wild Party Aaron Vega Jenna Moll Reyes Photo by Adams ViscomAnd Nehls had to abandon his own comfort zone to do that. “After so many years at the Arvada Center doing outstanding, but traditionally presented musical theatre, David had to be willing to go places he had never gone before —  and he was completely game for it,” Berg Wilson said.

    Perhaps no actor has more practical experience working with Nehls than the multiple award-winning Megan Van De Hey, who has performed in nearly two dozen productions under Nehls’ musical supervision since 2005. She even went on the road to Houston with Nehls last month to play the Mother Superior in A Midnight Clear.

    “The one thing that has impressed me the most about David over the years is how much that he, as a composer and lyricist, thinks about the characters and the story and the mood and the ambience — and then he puts all of that into his songs,” said Van De Hey. “He has a very clear concept for every show that he goes into.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    She cited the Arvada Center’s 2012 production of the Cold War musical Chess as an example. “He took every song that was focused on the Russians and filled it with the warmth of violin and cellos,” Van De Hey said. “And anything that had to do with the Americans had more of an electric sound to it. That’s the kind of twist that David adds to everything he does.”

    In recent years, Nehls vigorously joined the now 30-year-old grassroots movement to resurrect the dilapidated old Elitch Theatre summer playhouse that once hosted the likes of Vincent Price, Grace Kelly and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as a year-round, functioning crown-jewel of Denver theatre. As a former board member, Nehls got further than anyone else has in 2015 when the old wooden theatre in the Highlands began hosting an annual new-play festival of readings.

    Despite Nehls’ breakout year as a composer in 2017, his success in new-musical development is not actually new. Nehls first hit it big back in 2004 with The Great American Trailer Park Musical, which he developed here in Denver with Betsy Kelso before it went on to dozens of productions in New York, Australia, the U.K. and many points in-between.

    Van De Hey was asked how she reconciles the breadth of Nehls’ story subjects, ranging from the sci-fi silliness of Killer Wigs to basking in the show-biz mud to holiday stories geared for traditional theatre audiences.

    From 2014: Nehls' work to save the Historic Elitch Theatre

    “No one who has met David would ever expect him to turn out to be a sentimentalist in any way, shape or form,” said Van De Hey. “But actually, so much of his work is rooted in actual memories from his own childhood.”

    She describes working with him as "insanely collaborative."

    “It’s never been his way or the highway,” she said. "If you are the person who is going to be singing his song, he talks to you. He asks you questions. He asks for your point of view. As a composer, he works with the actor, and you discover the song together. And when David turns a song over to you, he is really turning a piece of himself over to you."

    And that works to everyone's advantage, Sanders said.

    "David is not only furthering his own craft — he’s creating work for the rest of us,” Sanders said on behalf of the hundreds of actors, musicians and other creative personnel who produce musicals in Colorado and around the country.

    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 

    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 (to date)

  • 2017 True West Awards: Six set-sational set designs

    by John Moore | Dec 23, 2017

    True West Awards 2017 Scenic Designers 800

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 22: Six set-sational set designs

    Markas Henry, Curious Theatre’s Appropriate
    Roger Hanna, Bas Bleu Theatre Company’s Elephant’s Graveyard
    Lori Rosedahl, OpenStage’s The Flick
    Robert Mark Morgan, Creede Repertory Theatre’s General Store
    Christopher M. Waller, Benchmark Theatre’s Smokefall
    Jason Sherwood, Off-Center’s The Wild Party


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The magical worlds scenic designers conjur on Colorado stages come in all scopes and budget sizes. And in 2017, the challenges thrown their way were thrillingly varied and exhilaratingly executed. Just by way of example:

    • Two Degrees. Robert Mark Morgan. Photo by John MooreRobert Mark Morgan integrated actual panes of slowly melting ice into his set for the DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere play Two Degrees (pictured right). Eagle eyes might have noticed the ice slowly dripped throughout every performance to subtly reinforce the play’s climate-change theme.
    • Jonathan Scott-McKean dug a 5-foot grave out of a stage that’s only about 20 feet wide in Miners Alley Playhouse’s A Skull in Connemara.
    • Buntport Theater’s wholly original The Crud was exactly that — A huge pile of cast-off objects, toys and appliances that represented the crud on your floor and the crud in your head and the crud in the world. You know: The crud.
    • And Brian Mallgrave, who so consistently makes magic at the Arvada Center, somehow devised a way for three actors to splash about on water in the mesmerizing The Drowning Girls even though the stage has no drainage — and the entire set had to be regularly cleared to make room for other plays being performed there in repertory.

    And those aren’t even the amazing scenic designs we are focusing on today.

    The True West Awards are not about “bests,” so singling out just one compellingly executed design this year seemed entirely inadequate. So instead, we chose to spotlight six inventions of varying scopes and budget sizes that have just two things in common: The sets are themselves essential characters in all of their stories, and each presented boggling challenges for their creators that begged for playful innovation.

    Please don’t think of these six as comprehensive. They are meant instead to be representative acknowledgements of all scenic designers bringing new worlds to life throughout the Colorado theatre community:

    Curious Theatre’s Appropriate:

    2017 True West Award  Markas Henry. Photo by Michael Ensminger

    • Scenic Designer: Markas Henry
    • Playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
    • Director: Jamil Jude
    • The challenge: It’s not every day a script’s final two pages are entirely instructions for what must happen with the set pieces, lights and sound. The traditional “last word” of the play has been taken out the mouths of actors here and given over instead to Henry, Sound Designer Jason Ducat and Lighting Designer Richard Devin. The story’s setting is an old mansion on a now abandoned, hand-me-down ex-slave plantation. And in a dance of technical synergy, we see the literal crumbling of an old way of life disintegrating into the earth.
    • Markus Henry: “The script calls for a chandelier to crash to the floor, but Jamil wanted to do something that felt a little more final than that. And so, to 'up the ante' a little bit, I came up with the idea that a beam should come down to signify that the house was falling down. It was simple stagecraft involving a rope and pulley, and it was all done manually: No motors and no techno gadgetry. It’s an old-school trick. But we thought that would be a fitting metaphor for ushering in a new sense of humanity. Sometimes it’s good that things come crashing down."
    • Jamil Jude: "Markas took on the Herculean task of making a house collapse on itself every night for six weeks. Most would run away from that challenge, but Markas ran to it and kicked its butt." 


    Bas Bleu Theatre Company’s Elephant’s Graveyard

    2017 True West Award Roger Hanna

    • Scenic Designer: Roger Hanna
    • Playwright: George Brant
    • Director: Garrett Ayers
    • The challenge: The setting of this play is a dirt floor on the grounds of a 1916 circus where witnesses tell us the true tale of the tragic collision between a struggling circus and a tiny town in Tennessee that resulted in the only ever-known lynching of an elephant. And here, that meant covering the stage with 15 metric tons of dirt.
    • Roger Hanna (who doubled as Lighting Director): “Our biggest challenge was how to make our empty space actually look like an empty space. We achieved that by adding mirrors in the windows and extending walls to make the space closed off. Our production manager naturally wondered if we couldn’t just paint the floor brown, rather than shovel in all that dirt. Fortunately, the whole creative team and cast was on board with the dirt, and Jonathan Burns found a way to make it happen. Once the dirt was down, I was concerned with how the actors would know where to stand for each light cue since there’s no way to use spike tape on dirt. But that worry proved unfounded. It was really a joyous collaboration from start to finish, thanks to the smart way Garrett, and the company, and the staff, and the volunteers all embraced the style of the show."



    OpenStage Theatre’s The Flick

    2017 True West Award Lori Rosedahl

    • Scenic Designer: Lori Rosedahl
    • Director: Sydney Parks Smith
    • Playwright: Annie Baker
    • The challenge: The Flick takes place in a dilapidated old movie palace, so it must at once reflect the grandeur of a time gone by, while still making it abundantly clear that time certainly has, in fact, gone by.
    • Sydney Smith: “Annie Baker deals in realism with everything she does, and we wanted our audiences to be able to really smell the mildew and the rancid popcorn butter. Lori started by building a truly lovely movie theatre that she then tore down and deconstructed to make look like it had existed for enough years to become run down. Then her Set Decorater, Starla Kovar, went in and put fake gum under the seats and actually glued popcorn into the seat corners. She also created old puddles of spilled soda and put stains on the rug that no one could really identify."


    Creede Repertory Theatre’s General Store

    2017 True West Award Robert Mark Morgan

    • Scenic Designer: Robert Mark Morgan
    • Director: Christy Montour-Larson
    • Playwright: Brian Watkins
    • The challenge: There’s a monster living under the floorboard of Mike’s faltering general store on the Eastern plains of Colorado. It growls. It shakes the foundation. There’s a pit, a snapping bear trap, lots of rope and tons of crazy light and sound cues. By the end, this violent confrontation between man and metaphor takes a considerable physical toll on the set. Actor Logan Ernstthal calls General Store “a beautiful beast of a play.”
    • Artistic Director Jessica Jackson: "Rob’s designs do everything at once: They tell the story, define a world, and also work beautifully within a repertory season. They embody the transformative, sophisticated, imagination-over-spectacle aspect of rep that defines the Creede Repertory Theatre. What's also great about Rob is that, despite being the smartest guy in the room, he’s also the nicest. He's not just there to design a set. He works like a true ensemble member.” 


    Benchmark Theatre’s Smokefall

    2017 True West Award  Christopher M. Waller

    • Scenic Designer: Christopher M. Waller
    • Playwright: Noah Haidle
    • Director: Rachel Rogers
    • The challenge: Haidle’s modest, magical play tells the story of one family that learns, through the course of generations, that life can change in an instant. Changes to the set at intermission must communicate to the audience in one visually visceral moment that many years have gone by in this same house. You know this because there is now an overgrown apple tree whose branches have infiltrated the house from the outside and are now growing freely throughout several rooms. And in this story, that really means something.
    • Rachel Rogers: “What I love about working with Christopher is his collaborative spirit. One of of my favorite aspects of his Smokefall design is that he gave the kitchen a half wall. That brilliantly helped delineate the house and created a metaphorical nest where the mother at the center of the story continually retreats. His solution for adding the tree into the home after intermission was also inspired, as it continued the theme of magic rather than attempting to be entirely realistic."


    DCPA Off-Center’s The Wild Party:

    2017 True West Award Jason Sherwood

    • Scenic Designer: Jason Sherwood
    • Writers: Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Director: Amanda Berg Wilson
    • The challenge: The Wild Party was performed environmentally under The Hanger at Stanley Marketplace. Audiences were first led into a vaudeville-style theatre and then invited to join the performers for a party on the other side of the curtain — which was revealed to be a sprawling Jazz Age, New York apartment. Now, the Hangar is 18,500 square feet. But once you put 15 actors, a band and 200 audience members inside the apartment (with furniture for them to sit on), Sherwood was left with mere nooks and crannies that could be used as viable playing spaces. And it was a musical, so, you know — there's dancing. And as a piece of on-site, environmental theatre: The whole thing had to be built from scratch.
    • Amanda Berg Wilson: "Any time the actors and the audience are all in the same space together, it's a huge challenge for the Scenic Designer. There was nowhere for the actors to perform that was wider than a few feet. But the way Jason did it was brilliant. He really wove these little threads throughout the room so there was never any one obvious place for them to play. Even the aisles were genius. And the way he filled the space and the walls was incredibly detailed. He absolutely ran with the idea that this was a downtown crowd of true bohemians. They were maxilamists, and that was evident in every detail of the set, which Jason saturated with color."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    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.

    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

  • Study: There's a lot of Denver in Denver Center casts this fall

    by John Moore | Dec 13, 2017

    Fall Casting 800 Photos by Adams Viscom

    Survey of DCPA cast lists shows 56 percent of all available jobs this fall have gone to actors who live in Denver area 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    There has been a lot of Denver at the Denver Center this fall. An analysis of cast lists for the eight shows presented since the start of September shows that 56 percent of all actors who have taken to a DCPA stage also call Denver home.

    That doesn’t even include the eight child actors who currently populate the Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol. And when you add in all the actors who grew up in Colorado but are now based elsewhere, the number of actors with local connections jumps to 67 percent.  

    “The Colorado acting community is such a multi-talented group, and that is evident in all the amazing work featured across the entire state and on every one of our stages at the DCPA this fall,” said DCPA Director of Casting Grady Soapes.

    The survey includes all homegrown programming offered by the DCPA, totaling 73 adult actor slots. Much of the local infusion this year can be traced to Off-Center’s immersive musical The Wild Party at the Stanley Marketplace, as well as DCPA Cabaret’s newly launched musical First Date at the Galleria Theatre, both of which cast entirely local actors.

    First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowFirst Date director Ray Roderick, who is based out of New York, is responsible for the longest-running musical in Colorado Theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, also at the Galleria, as well as The Taffetas, Five Course Love and many others. And while he is always empowered to cast actors based anywhere around the country, he almost always fills his Denver cast lists with Denver actors. Why? Because he can, he says.

    (Pictured above and right: Local actors Seth Dhonau and Adriane Leigh Robinson will be taking their 'First Date' through April 22. Photo by Emily Lozow.)

    “There is no question that there is a wealth of talent here in Denver,” Roderick said. “When I work at other regional theatre centers and I choose my cast, I’m often told, 'Well what have they done on Broadway?’ I never get that here at the Denver Center. The fact is, when you are casting a show, what matters is the story, period. And we have beautiful storytellers in Denver. That they happen to live in Denver has nothing to do with their level of talent.”

    It was the Denver Center’s Jeff Hovorka who convinced then-DCPA President Randy Weeks that the first staging of the Galleria Theatre’s Always…Patsy Cline back in 1997 could be effectively cast with local actors. Melissa Swift-Sawyer and Beth Flynn made Denver musical-theatre history when their show ran for three and a half years, only to be surpassed by I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, another all-local show that opened in 2000 and became Denver’s longest-running musical by 2004.

    “The three biggest successes in the Galleria Theatre history, including Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women, all have had local casts,” said Hovorka, now the DCPA’s Director of Sales and Marketing for Broadway and Cabaret. “Denver always has had an incredibly strong talent base, and we are always proud to celebrate the homegrown talent we have in this city.”

    Check out the all-local cast of DCPA's First Date

    The Wild Party Director Amada Berg Wilson, also the founder of a Boulder theatre company called The Catamounts, put 15 local actors to work on Off-Center’s risky plunge into immersive musical theatre, which was attended each night by 200 live party guests.

    “Having an all-local cast is evidence that we really do have the talent right here to pull off a show like this,” said Wilson. “And I think it is great that as the Denver Center continues to experiment with immersive theatre, we are developing a base of talent right here who have the tools and the vocabulary to make this specific kind of work. We are discovering that audiences are really hungry for more of it, and now we have the people here to do it.”

    michael-fitzpatrick-leslie-ocarroll-photo-credit-adamsviscom_24874516748_oThe list of local actors working for the Denver Center this fall spans beloved veterans such as Leslie O’Carroll, who is again playing Mrs. Fezziwig in the Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, to first-timers such as longtime BDT Stage favorite Wayne Kennedy and Adriane Leigh Robinson, who just played Sally Bowles for the Miners Alley Playhouse’s Cabaret.

    (Leslie O'Carroll, right with 'A Christmas Carol' castmate Michael Fitzpatrick, is now the longest-tenured actor in the DCPA Theatre Company.)

    Longtime Galleria Theatre favorites Jordan Leigh and Lauren Shealy, now appearing in First Date, have built sustainable acting careers around steady work at the DCPA, including occasional crossover roles in Theatre Company productions. Shealy, headlined the Lone Tree Arts Center’s summer production of Evita that was nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards.

    Colorado theatre favorite Steven J. Burge, who joined the Denver Center earlier this year to play none other than God in the long-running Galleria Theatre hit An Act of God, is back in First Date, which runs through April 22. This is a job, Burge says, “that I would not quit even if I won the lottery, because I love it so much.”

    Each May, the Denver Center holds three days of “general auditions” that are open to local actors to sign up for. This year a record 100 union and 275 non-union actors participated, directly resulting in many of the fall hirings.

    Many of the Denver Center’s current crop of actors have tentacles that reach throughout the Colorado theatre community from Creede Repertory Theatre (Diana Dresser and Emily Van Fleet) to Phamaly Theatre Company (Leonard E. Barrett), which exists to create performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    Michael Bouchard and Luke Sorge, the two actors playing David in Off-Center’s The SantaLand Diaries, are both company members with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, which was co-founded by occasional DCPA Theatre Company actor and Director Stephen Weitz.  

    The Theatre Company’s season-opening production of Macbeth included local playwright Steven Cole Hughes, also a longtime Teaching artist for DCPA Education and graduate of the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory. Robert O’Hara’s cast was a Denver Center reunion of sorts that also brought home Colorado natives Gareth Saxe, Erik Kochenberger and Skyler Gallun.

    Skyler GallunSaxe, a graduate of Colorado College and Denver East High School, played Scar for two years on Broadway in Disney’s The Lion King, but his DCPA Theatre Company roots go back to Cyrano de Bergerac in 2001. Kochenberger also graduated from East High School — but his was in Pueblo. Gallun, who previously appeared in Lord of the Flies, led a talkback with students from his alma mater, George Washington High School, after one Macbeth matinee (pictured at right by John Moore).

    DCPA Education head of acting Timothy McCracken, who has recently performed with both BETC (Outside Mullingar) and Local Theatre company (The Firestorm), landed this fall in both the Theatre Company’s Smart People and A Christmas Carol. His Smart People co-star Jason Veasey graduated from Coronado High School in Colorado Springs and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. His many past local credits include playing Jesus in Town Hall Arts Center’s Godspell.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This fall also has brought the launch of DCPA Education’s new Theatre for Young Audiences program. The three-person cast of The Snowy Day who performed Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved story for 19,000 pre-kindergarten through third-graders included longtime DCPA Teaching Artist Rachel Kae Taylor (also an NTC grad with three Theatre Company credits) and Robert Lee Hardy, who was recently seen in Vintage Theatre’s A Time to Kill In Aurora.  

    finalpdheadshots0005-web“This has been an exciting year not only for the local actors but for myself and the DCPA,” Soapes (pictured right) said of his local casting. “The dedication this organization has made to further highlighting the talent we have here in Denver has also deepened our appreciation for the artists who are working hard every day to entertain our audiences —  my hat goes off to them,” he said.

    Soapes said his top priority always will be to cast the best person for every role, regardless of ZIP code.

    “We here at the DCPA are excited to continue to tap further into the local talent pool, open our doors wider and show the entire industry why Denver is a destination for quality theatre,” Soapes said.

    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.

    Grady Soapes Quote


    Denver Center Fall 2017 Casting:

    Macbeth: 17 actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Steven Cole Hughes as Doctor of the Psychic/Ensemble)

    Actors from Colorado:

    • Skyler Gallun as Donalbain/Ensemble
    • Erik Kochenberger as Hecate Two/Ensemble
    • Gareth Saxe as Duncan/Ensemble)


    'A Snowy Day. Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy. Zak Reynolds. Photo by Adams Viscom.The Snowy Day:
    Three actor jobs

    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Rachel Kae Taylor as Archie, Amy, Mom and others
    • Robert Lee Hardy as Peter

    Smart People: Four actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Timothy McCracken
    Actors from Colorado:
    • Jason Veasey

    The Wild Party: 15 actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Brett Ambler as Gold
    • Leonard Barrett Jr. as Oscar D’Armano
    • Allison Caw as Sally
    • Laurence Curry as Black
    • Diana Dresser as Miss Madelaine True
    • Katie Drinkard as Mae
    • Trent Hines as Phil D’Armano
    • Drew Horwitz as Burrs
    • Wayne Kennedy as Goldberg
    • Sheryl McCallum as Dolores
    • Jenna Moll Reyes as Nadine
    • Marco Robinson as Eddie Mackrel
    • Emily Van Fleet as Queenie
    • Aaron Vega as Jackie
    • Erin Willis as Kate

    Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women: Three actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Barbara Gehring
    • Linda Klein
    • Amie MacKenzie

    A Christmas Carol (through Dec. 24): 21 adult actor jobs; eight youth jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Sam Gregory as Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Chas Lederer as Swing
    • Kyra Lindsay as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod as Swing
    • Timothy McCracken as Ebenezer Scrooge understudy
    • Leslie O’Carroll as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Jeffrey Roark as Jacob Marley/Ensemble
    • Shannan Steele as Ensemble
    • Marco Robinson as Ensemble

    A Michael Bouchard 800The SantaLand Diaries (through Dec. 24): Two actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Michael Bouchard as David
    • Luke Sorge as David understudy
    First Date (through April 22): Eight actor jobs

    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Adriane Leigh Robinson as Casey
    • Seth Dhonau as Aaron
    • Steven J. Burge as Man 1
    • Aaron Vega as Man 2 (Nov. 11-Dec. 3)
    • Jordan Leigh as Man 2 (Dec. 5-April 22)
    • Lauren Shealy as Woman 1
    • Barret Harper as Male Understudy
    • Cashelle Butler as Female Understudy
  • Video: Take a deeper visual dive into Off-Center's 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Nov 01, 2017

     

    We didn't want to give away too much of the visual surprise while the show was going on, but now that The Wild Party has ended, here's a closer video look at Off-Center's deep dive into immersive theatre at Stanley Marketplace.

    Much like last year's Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party transported audience members to a different era as guests at a decadent, 360-degree party set in the Roaring Twenties. There they mingled with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Amid all that, a scripted musical played out in which the debauchery turned disastrous as the alcohol set in, the evening wore on and the drama bubbled to the surface.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This unusual, jazz- and gin-soaked gathering afforded a completely new kind of experience for visitors to the former airplane hangar Stanley Marketplace, which was completely transformed by the Denver Center's creative teams.

    The Wild Party was directed by Amanda Berg Wilson. The all-local ensemble included Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis. To explore more about the show, go wildpartydenver.com.

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party:
    Meet the cast: Katie Drinkard

    First look at photos from The Wild Party
    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    The Wild Party: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    PHOTOS: THE MAKING OF THE WILD PARTY

    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    (New photos added!) Photos from the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party,' from the Opening Night party back to the first day of rehearsal. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    OFFICIAL PRODUCTION PHOTOS:

    The Wild Party
    The official production photos for 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.

  • Meet Katie Drinkard of 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Oct 22, 2017
    A katie-drinkard

    Katie Drinkard, above, attended ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    MEET KATIE DRINKARD
    Mae in The Wild Party, playing through Oct. 31 under the hanger at the Stanley Marketplace.   

    A katie-drinkard 200At the Denver Center: Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking. Recent regional credits include Million Dollar Quartet at Totem Pole Playhouse and Chasing Rainbows at Flat Rock Playhouse. Off-Broadway: Far From Canterbury at Soho Playhouse.

    • Hometown: Highlands Ranch
    • Home now: New York
    • High school: ThunderRidge
    • Training: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ithaca College in New York
    • Twitter-sized bio: Comically verbose avocado enthusiast often found in the process of dropping or spilling something.
    • What's your handle? @katiedrinkard on Twitter and Instagram
    • Web site? katiedrinkard.com
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? I am a true-crime junkie and aficionado, so perhaps something in the realm of private investigator or criminal psychologist. If only I got paid for the embarrassing number of hours I’ve already spent going down various internet rabbit holes compiling my own research and theories on countless forensic cases.
    • A Laurie Metcalf 200One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: Laurie Metcalf in A Doll’s House Part 2 on Broadway (pictured right). Oh wait, no. Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple. I am riddled with indecision. I can’t stick with one answer. I will describe both in tandem: These women changed the molecules in the air with their performances. As an audience member, you felt the room become so still and you could feel everyone listening with their entire bodies. The command, the power, the humanity and the magic harnessed and delivered from these two women was nothing short of intoxicating to witness.
    • Bucket-list role: I change my mind on this bi-weekly, but at the moment it’s Mama Rose in Gypsy. I know, I have to wait about 30 years, but one day everything’s gonna come up roses for me.
    • One time you were totally miscast: I played the elderly and racist Mrs. Dubose in To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, and I played another ancient woman in the ensemble of The Light in the Piazza at Ithaca College. What can I say? I’ve got a convincing and compelling old-lady gait.
    • What's playing on your your Spotify? Phoebe BridgersStrangers in the Alps album.
    • How should we should foster the next generation of theatregoers? We need to work harder to reach disenfranchised communities. We need to continue to foster outreach programs that bring the arts and live-theatre experiences to every young person.
    • Katie-Drinkard-with-mom-Celeste. Photo by John MooreOne thing we don't know about you: I was born in England!
    • Why does The Wild Party matter? Like all great theatrical endeavors, The Wild Party provides compelling insight into human nature. We see complex, fascinating people dealing with pain, inner turmoil, secrets and indiscretion. We see people projecting the versions of themselves they want the world and their community to see, and we also get to see people without all the glitz and glamour at their most raw and carnal. I think that matters.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? That they find pieces of themselves in these 15 characters. I hope they leave feeling like they have been truly immersed in a wild evening of fun and debauchery. I hope they leave ruminating on the masks they might wear in their own lives.
    • One thing you want to get off your chest: I have a hard time trusting anyone who enjoys the taste of Marmite.

    Pictured above right: Katie Drinkard her with her mother, Celeste, at the 'Wild Party' opening-night celebration. Photo by John Moore

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Wild Party: Ticket information
    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Through Oct. 31, only
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party:

    First look at video and photos from The Wild Party
    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    The Wild Party: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of Su Teatro's I Don't Speak English Only
    Meet Autumn Hurlbert of Something Rotten!
    Meet Zak Reynolds of DCPA Education's The Snowy Day
    Meet Rachel Kae Taylor of DCPA Education's The Snowy Day
    Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific

  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017

    VIDEO:

    Your first look inside the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party.' Just push play. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.


    The Denver Center's Off-Center programming wing is presenting the Jazz Age musical The Wild Party as a 360-degree immersive theatregoing experience where the 208 audience members are guests at a corker of a gin-soaked Big Apple soiree, right alongside the 14 professional actors in the ensemble. It is staged in what was once an airline hangar at the new Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood. The director is Amanda Berg Wilson and the all-local ensemble includes Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis. The Wild Party runs through Oct. 31 only.

    OPENING-NIGHT PHOTOS:

    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    Photos from the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party,' from the Opening Night party back to the first day of rehearsal. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    OFFICIAL PRODUCTION PHOTOS:

    The Wild Party
    The official production photos for 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.


    The Wild Party: Ticket information
    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Previous NewsCenter and other local media coverage of The Wild Party
    :



    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    The Wild Party: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    Reviews:
    Westword: This one party you should not miss
    5280 Magazine: full of fun, flappers, booze and tunes
    303 Magazine: The Wild Party delivers on the promise of its name

    About the Stanley Marketplace
    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

  • 'The Wild Party': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Sep 15, 2017
    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    Photos from the first rehearsal for Off-Center's upcoming off-site, immersive production of 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The audience will become, like the characters in the play,
    'a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center is preparing to present the Jazz Age musical The Wild Party as a 360-degree immersive theatregoing experience where the 208 audience members are guests at a corker of a gin-soaked Big Apple soiree, right alongside the 14 professional actors in the ensemble. It will be staged in what was once an airline hangar at the new Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood.

    And that is not at all how composer Michael John LaChiusa originally imagined his piece to be staged. Like most musicals, The Wild Party was first presented in front of an audience separated from the stage by theatre’s nearly ubiquitous, invisible “fourth wall.”

    There’s no wall here.

    “Our production is going to put our audience directly in the Jazz Age,” two-time True West Award-winning Director Amanda Berg Wilson said Tuesday at the company’s first rehearsal for the show opening Oct. 11.

    The Wild Party. Amanda Berg Wilson. Photo by John MooreThe DCPA’s adventurous Off-Center wing is known for creating original nontraditional work in nontraditional spaces, most notably last year’s sprawling Sweet & Lucky, which played out in a huge warehouse north of downtown. The Wild Party will be its first musical, and first scripted work.

    The musical is based on a scandalous, book-length poem written by Robert Frost protege Joseph Moncure March in 1926. It was described as “a kind of obscene, more destructive take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Scott Miller, Artistic Director of St. Louis’ New Line Theatre. The poem paints a vivid and decadent picture of Manhattan just before the market crash. It centers on the damaged, reckless relationship between a dancer named Queenie and a vaudeville clown named Burrs. The audience here will witness many personal dramas unfold up close and in three dimensions.

    The Wild Party. Allison Caw, Marco Robinson, Katie Drinkard and Jenna Moll Reyes. Photo by John Moore.“The audience is not going to be passive witnesses to the party,” said Wilson. “They are going to be integral components of the party – and its conspirators. So we are going to encourage them to help mix the bathtub gin; to console the coke-snorting wannabe starlet; to read love letters; to be pulled into boiler rooms for intimate moments; to see things they are not supposed to see.” In the end, the audience will become, like the characters in the play, "a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends." 

    Which helps explains why this is a 21-and-over evening. It’s a party, after all. And apparently a wild one.

    “Our goal with each audience member is that they are going to experience a kind of release that you only have when you have had a really wild night," Wilson said.

    Here are five more things we learned about 'The Wild Party' at the first rehearsal:

    NUMBER 1A Wild Party PoemThe source poem, which went virtually unread for two years because no publisher would touch it, inspired iconic beat writer William Burroughs to become a writer. “It is a witty and risqué poem about two vaudeville performers who fight, make up, throw a party and flirt with danger,” Wilson said. “It name-drops Martha Graham and Langston Hughes, and the book for the musical is by George C. Wolfe (the Public Theatre icon who first directed Angels in America). The story is set at a time when America was waking up to its identity as a wild and creative nation that was emerging into its own sense of self separate from Europe. That sense of self was really born in vaudeville and speakeasies and the avant-garde of the 1920s when jazz, arguably the most American of art forms, was being born. These are people who are not only trying to figure out who they love but who they are and who they will present as. Ambisextrous, Jewish, uptown, downtown, black and white identities are all explored in these jazz-soaked numbers.”

    NUMBER 2The audience will be encouraged (but not required) to dress up for the party. Says Costume Designer Meghan Anderson Doyle: “I think we get the best of the 1920s in this piece because we get the glitz and glamour of beaded dresses and tuxedos and dinner jackets and champagne, and then we get the soft sensuality and the vulnerability of stockings and garter belts and bathtub gin.”

    NUMBER 3The Wild Party. David Nehls. Photo by John Moore.The Music Director is David Nehls (pictured right),  who has helmed the music for most every musical at the Arvada Center for more than a decade. "I am very excited that we have an amazing, seven-piece live band," Nehls said. One of those players is Trent Hines, himself an active Music Director in the local theatre community. For this production, Hines is also being integrated into the story as an actor.

    NUMBER 4The cast is made up entirely of local actors. Wilson, also the founder of a Boulder theatre company called The Catamounts, performed in Sweet & Lucky alongside Diana Dresser, Jenna Moll Reyes and The Wild Party choreographer Patrick Mueller. “Having an all-local cast is evidence that we really do have the talent right here to pull off a show like this,” said Wilson. “And I think it is great that as the Denver Center continues to experiment with immersive theatre, we are developing a base of talent right here in Denver with an increasing set of tools and vocabulary so that we can keep making this kind of work. And we are discovering that audiences are really hungry for it.”

    NUMBER 5The man charged with turning the airplane hangar at Stanley Marketplace into a New York apartment is Jason Sherwood, who first came to the Denver Center in 2014 as an assistant on The Unsinkable Molly Brown and returned last year as the lead Scenic Designer for Frankenstein. This season, he will create the worlds for the Denver Center’s The Wild Party, Macbeth and The Who's Tommy.

    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.



    The Wild Party: Cast list

    • Brett Ambler: Gold
    • Leonard Barrett Jr.: Oscar D’Armano
    • Allison Caw: Sally
    • Laurence Curry: Black
    • Diana Dresser: Miss Madelaine True
    • Katie Drinkard: Mae
    • Trent Hines: Phil D’Armano
    • Drew Horwitz: Burrs
    • Wayne Kennedy: Goldberg
    • Sheryl McCallum: Dolores
    • Jenna Moll Reyes: Nadine
    • Marco Robinson: Eddie Mackrel
    • Emily Van Fleet: Queenie
    • Aaron Vega: Jackie
    • Erin Willis: Kate


    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party
    :



    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    About the Stanley Marketplace
    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT
  • Read Suzi Q. Smith's original 'Mixed Taste' poems here

    by John Moore | Jul 20, 2017
    Suzy Q Smith
    Suzi Q. Smith at the inaugural 'Mixed Taste' in the Seawell Ballroom on July 5. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    'Know which voice to listen to
    when it’s time to fly,
    when it’s time to land.
    '

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Mixed Taste is a weekly tag-team lecture series that paired playfully unrelated topics on Wednesday nights throughout the summer in the Denver Center's Seawell Ballroom. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is now collaborating on the popular series with Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm

    Read more: Mixed Taste walks the talk to the Seawell Ballroom

    Local slam poet Suzi Q. Smith was the series emcee. As part of the fun, she created an original poem as each evening progressed to connect the dots between two featured but seemingly unrelated topics. She read them at the end of each night, and we have been publishing them here throughout the summer.

    Read our previous interview with Mixed Taste emcee Suzi Q. Smith

    On Glimmer and Flight

    Aug. 23
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture Topics: Air Traffic Control and Drag Queen Activism
    Lecturers: Bruce Goetz and Shirley Delta Blow

    There are so many ways to approach a runway.
    Fast, heavy as a skilled boxer’s glove;
    Precise as a jeweled manicure
    or a highlighted cheekbone;
    Clumsy as the first time in heels.
    It takes time, coordination, and practice
    to get it right.

    Last Suzi QWhat I love about the airport
    is the vastness of possibility:
    every terminal filled with dreams and stories,
    beginnings and long kisses goodbye,
    every face choreographed
    into magnificent ballet – and who
    serves more face
    than drag queens?
    Every wink
    and eyebrow raise
    is worth at least
    56 square miles of
    absolutely.

    We must remember that certainty
    when we find ourselves mid-flight
    in what could be chaos.
    Listen: there is a small voice lending us direction –

    stay here,
    come closer,
    not yet,
    aim higher,
    the runway is yours, darling –

    and if we listen, that voice keeps us from disaster.
    Step to the front
    while flashing lights sing
    in reverence to your every eyelash.
    Sashay when they wave you on,
    ignore the flailing arms
    that offer you no welcome.

    Know which voice to listen to
    when it’s time to fly,
    when it’s time to land,
    know who keeps you safe,
    keeps you airborne amidst roaring winds
    that would have your wings
    if you let them.

    Let your pride swell.
    When you hear the sky calling, fly.
    Stay fly
    and flying,
    let the breath of those who love you
    be your wind,
    let their voices be your beacon.

    You, brilliant shimmer,
    land on that runway
    like you mean it.


    On Perspective and Relativity

    Aug. 16
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: P.T. Barnum and Infinity
    Lecturers: Kathy Maher and Diane Davis


    I first used the term “infinity” as a means
    to compound an insult
    on some schoolyard playground, as in

                “you’re ugly”
                “your mama’s ugly”
                “you’re ugly times a million”
                “your ugly times INFINITY”

    until
    my Sunday School teacher said infinity
    was like carrying a bucket of water
    from the Atlantic Ocean
    to the Pacific Ocean,
    pouring it in, refilling the bucket
    and carrying it back,
    repeating this process until all of one ocean
    had been poured into the other entirely,
    and I stopped using it then
    as a weapon.

    It seemed a cruel use of vocabulary.
    Speaking of cruelty, I can’t help but weep
    when I consider the life of Joice Heth
    whose body, even in death, was someone else’s spectacle,
    whose suffering was no less than infinite,
    heavy as endless buckets of water colliding into a gulf
    a grand showcase of laughing waves, crashing the shore
    and winking at the grains of sand for their pretense of grandiosity.

    Maybe it is all perspective, bending with time.
    Is time a line, or a circle?
    Are we standing at zero or infinity?
    Is it ingenuity or exploitation?
    Is an elaborate hoax to be scorned or celebrated?

    Neither the sand nor the stars are infinite,
    but they offer a grand show.
    A brilliant display of possibility,
    a quantifiable image to lend this vast vocabulary
    to the dream of something greater.

    And what is greater, more infinite, than our dreams?
    Are we not the most stunning display of blue and bite?
    The most illustrious outpour of story and song?

    May we learn from our history.
    May we transform our finite breath
    into a stunning cascade of tomorrows,
    may we build a world of infinite compassion, courage and creativity –
    I believe it will be the greatest show on earth,
    to infinity

    (and beyond).



    On Bob and booze

    Aug. 9
    A Meet the Cast Bianca Mikahn 600Written by Guest Host Bianca Mikahn
    (Pictured right in May 2016)
    Lecture Topics: Prohibition and Bob Ross
    Lecturers: Jason Hanson and Doug Blandy 

    Bob was once drunk off power
    off his hands and all they could spill

    Thirty years before
    maybe his family would have been driven
    by his bust 'em up demeanor
    to the voting polls
    But then Bob got hooked on painting’s joy

    I wonder
    before he fermented his feelings into
    the nectar of inspiration
    Was his voice
    a rough and burning moonshine
    a howling across brand new highways
    while false McCoys raced in the distance
    How many distillations did it take
    to find the perfect smoky earthy pitch
    lulling so many of us to comfort
    like a perfectly aged red

    Mr Ross is famed for saying
    “there are no mistakes”
    I wonder had he witnessed to the
    dehydrated hypocrisy and
    Overreaching amendment which was the eighteenth
    Would he have maintained his floating
    and free demeanor
    Or would he revive his famed military fire
    for access to the saloon

    Mixed Taste Aug 9Maybe his only intoxication was the palette
    Most likely he would have found a
    favored speakeasy
    (which should be called Bob Rosses
    if time continuum allowed)
    A single malt
    Maybe a dear friend

    Bob Ross was my bartender
    the first to fill my cup with color
    and affirmation
    Replete with seasoned ice and
    landscapes which burned so good going down
    Temperance comes from the Latin word
    temperar which means to restrain
    Tempera is a form of paint and means
    to paint in distemper
    May we generate a toast
    to the eschewing of prohibition’s temperance
    less temperar renders us
    each of us little burgeoning Bobs
    Missing our happy little trees and forgetting
    there are no mistakes
    Just happy accidents



    On Growth and Dirt 

    Aug. 2
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Asparagus and Money Laundering
    Lecturers: Carol O'Meara and Micah Schwalb

    To grow asparagus, it must be planted deeply,
    like an oil drum full of money.
    It helps to have good real estate to bury it in.
    It takes patience and skill to get it right,
    with a nose for detail that must be studied.
    Maybe banks are the best place to begin
    the sprouts, they always have plenty
    of dirt.

    The Romans had a love
    for asparagus as well as coin,
    as both have been known
    as aphrodisiacs, both have led to
    suspicions and secrets, both traceable
    if you know where to sniff.

    I love asparagus. 
    Once, I ate marinated asparagus at a party.
    It was so magical that I decided to recreate the dish at home.
    Asparagus? Check.
    Herbs, seasonings, oil, vinegar? Check.
    I placed the ingredients in a casserole dish
    and covered, then promptly
    forgot about it.
    For days.
    Several days.
    Several long, hot, summer days.

    When I remembered,
    I excitedly removed the lid, ready to delight
    in my first attempt at marinated asparagus, and
    BEHOLD!
    The worst smell I have ever experienced –
    the kind of smell that expands the realms of imagination,
    so bad that my brain had to activate new functions
    just to accurately perceive this level of awful.

    I grabbed the dish and ran outside to throw it in the dumpster –
    the asparagus,
    the spices,
    the oils and vinegars,
    and the glass dish they’d been conspiring in.
    No amount of laundering would have saved it.
    The crime was so dreadful
    that I had to hide the evidence.

    I fled the scene, packed up my daughter,
    and stayed with family that night
    because the scene was too ghastly to remain.

    The word “asparagus” comes from a Persian word
    meaning “shoot” or “sprout.”
    I imagine I asparagussed my way out the back door
    on that fateful day.

    While it was once know for its reproductive effects,
    I have yet to reproduce the marinated asparagus since then,
    the evidence of the failed attempt left an unmistakable mark.

    Both money and asparagus involve a bit of dirt,
    a fair amount of work, but when done well
    can sustain us for generations.

    May all of our harvests be fair and clean. 


    On Ways and Words

    July 26
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Giant Flutes and Celestial Navigation
    Lecturers: Akio Lis and Jim Cook

    I’ve heard that in Australia,
    Aboriginal tribes used to navigate their land
    through music.  Each place had its own song.

    Charlie.jpg_largeI’ve heard it said that
    while any person can learn to play a note,
    it takes a true musician to know why to play a note, and when,
    how to navigate a song and draw its map.

    The earth spins at nearly 1,000 miles per hour,
    so fast it almost feels like we’ve always been still.
    Sound travels at nearly 800 miles per hour,
    so fast it feels eternal, like we’ve always known this music.

    Do you ever think about the fact that we are in space
    right now? Do you wonder why?
    Are we what happens when the momentum of
    sound and orbit collide?
    Does the weight and gravity
    of our instruments help us to know
    where our momentum means something?

    When we look at the center or
    the surface of the earth
    and move toward the distant
    celestial lights twinkling their hello
    (or goodbye, as the case may be),
    is it reasonable to still feel lost?

    Is it reasonable
    to bellow into the dark
    and hope your breath will be enough
    to carry you toward home?
    The way that wind holds a sail,
    our breath carries notes
    and we are transported.

    I’ve heard conflicting tales
    about the Pied Piper, and who he lured away
    with a hypnotizing flute.
    Music has always moved us,
    even if we don’t know where its glinting guides us,
    it is natural to follow what might still be light.



    On Science and Magic

    July 19 By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Telekinesis and Sauerkraut
    Lecturers: Professor Phelyx and Mara and Willow King

    We train our kids to wash their hands
    with potions
    made by people who want to sell us something.
    We all have a lot to unlearn.

    One kiss is an exchange
    of 8 million bacteria
    invisible, moving beings
    that could kill us
    or heal us,
    we all know kisses can go either way.

    It’s amazing, the magic
    we do with our mouths & minds,
    break down
    or be broken – I don’t think I understand
    the difference between magic and science,
    when the same botulism that can kill us
    can also stop stories
    a living face might tell,
    I suppose it’s a bit of both – wielding nature,
    being wielded by it.

    Maybe everything is cultural –
    time, science, magic, movement –
    like food, fermenting into medicine,
    breaking and becoming more whole.
    They say seeds break open to sprout.
    They say people who are married for a long time
    start to look alike.

    Maybe it is like sauerkraut –
    the more time we spend together, the better we get.
    Maybe science and magic are the same thing.
    Either theory requires a bit of faith,
    even when we see it, even when we taste it.
    Maybe it’s all in our minds,
    or maybe only the best parts of each
    survive.


    On Language and Justice

    July 12
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Esperanto and Trial by Jury
    Lecturers: Orlando Raola and Fred Bloom

    I have never served on a jury. 

    Have been left to share my opinions on stages,
    and especially on twitter, which is

    fine,
    I guess.

    Somehow, I have never been invited to the party

    no one else wants to go to.
    I mean – I’d be a good juror, I think.
    I’ve seen like every single episode of Law & Order at least twice.
    And Ally McBeal, The Practice, and pretty much every courtroom drama
    that Netflix has to offer.

    When it comes to the wisdom of crowds,
    the finders of facts, even standing in unpopular opinions,
    I feel like I’d make a strong candidate.

    My friends roll their eyes at being called for jury duty . . .

    again,
    while I raise my hand, eager and polite
    as any wallflower
    wanting to dance.

    Meanwhile, it sounds like jury duty is sometimes
    A LITERAL PARTY!

    Maybe I want it so bad
    because I believe in the weight of words,
    the intention and design of each syllable.

    How our languages shape fate,
    words as heavy as “guilty” or “not guilty”,
    of course we should speak in planned language
    when our words change lives.

    I saw an article yesterday about a family
    who was drowning in the Atlantic Ocean
    until the people on the beach formed an 80-person chain
    to bring them safely to shore.

    Imagine if we all used the power of our words
    in the same tongue.
    If we all spoke together, listened and understood.
    I imagine the harmony would make me weep,
    I imagine the volume would shake the ground,
    if we knew the weight of our words,
    imagine how heavy we could be.



    On History and Movement

    July 5
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art
    Lecturers: Adam Lerner (pictured right) and Nataki Garrett

    July 4, 1776, some of my ancestors were enslaved.
    One of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence.
    What conversations they must be having in my unexpected blood,
    emancipated and armed like Stagecoach Mary.
    How unprepared they must have been for such “mixed taste.”

    Adam Lerner Sometimes, the most essential stories are the impossible truths, born of need.
    Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention.
    Stagecoach Mary was one of the Wild West’s urgent needs:
    her shotgun,
    her six horses,
    her mule named Moses
    and if her story ain’t a burning bush
    clearing our way, maybe we are ready
    for some post-conceptual belief
    and art;
    stasis has never saved us.

    Watch how we grow wild as sagebrush,
    how we perpetuate our own movement like tumbleweed,
    how we find new ways to show the unseen
    as a means to survive.
    See how our manifestation stays migrating,
    maybe home has always been a moving target, the place
    where we are best heard.
    See how we make new language of color and moment.

    I come from a long line of wild westerners.
    Some who were enslaved and fled.
    Some who were desperately poor and fled.
    Some who’ve been here since forever ever ever ever.
    All of them finding new ways to survive.

    We are people who learn to make what we need.
    We are people who pour ourselves over horizons in unmistakable color.
    We both find, and have always been, the frontier.
    What is art if not us?
    If not the impossible conversations in my blood?
    In this room?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Off-Center's 'Wild Party' nearing its Kickstarter goal

    by John Moore | Jul 20, 2017
    Wild Party


    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    As of July 26, 321 backers have helped the DCPA's Off-Center reach 67 percent of its Kickstarter goal for its upcoming production of the immersive musical The Wild Party, which runs Oct. 11-31 at the Stanley Marketplace.

    Off-Center, which last year presented the immersive drama Sweet & Lucky in a RiNo warehouse, is the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm. The Wild Party will be Off-Center's first musical.

    "Off-Center is committed to thinking outside the box and creating exciting ways to surprise our audiences, plucking them out of reality for 360-degree theatrical experiences of all sizes," said curator Charlie Miller. "By supporting our Kickstarter, you’re giving our team of local actors, musicians and artists the chance to create a thrilling new theatrical experience for our community."

    Click here to go to The Wild Party Kickstarter campaign

    The Wild Party, written by Michael John LaChiusa, follows a mix of debauched vaudevillians in the 1920s as they attempt to drink and dance their way out of personal problems over the course of one fateful night. In the immersive staging, audiences will be smack in the middle of an art-deco apartment of yore located in the Stanley's 9,000 square-foot hangar.

    To help make the idea a reality, Off-Center has again launched a Kickstarter campaign. Last spring, Kickstarter backers helped to bring the immersive world of Sweet & Lucky to life through donor contributions. Backers were invited deeper into the experience of the critically acclaimed production by contributing photographs of loved ones that were included in the storytelling.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Wild Party Kickstarter campaign allows for contributors at varying levels to be even more involved in the action. For example, $10 will get donors early bird access to tickets; a $50 donation comes with admission to a dress rehearsal and the opportunity to provide valuable feedback that will help shape the finalized production; and $150 lets donors send in photos to be used in the set. At the highest end, $7,500 will get donors a customized costume to wear to the show designed by the production's costume designer, Meghan Anderson Doyle.

    As of Wednesday, $17,365 had been pledged toward the total goal of $25,000. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition, so this project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10.

    The Wild Party
    was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000. 

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension. That show ran throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

    You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • For more information including ticket pre-sale and other exclusive experiences, visit WildPartyDenver.com

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party:
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced
  • Cast list: Look who's been invited to 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Jul 06, 2017
    Wild Party
    From left: Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Diana Dresser and Erin Willis.


    Off-Center, the unconventional and most adventurous wing of Denver Center programming, has announced casting for its next off-site collaboration and first full-scale musical production: An immersive, 360-degree staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s jazz musical The Wild Party to run Oct. 11-31 at Stanley Marketplace.

    The Wild Party, which was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000, will feature Denver favorites Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis.

    Barrett is set to star as Daddy Warbucks in Phamaly Theatre Company's Annie, opening Saturday at the Denver Center's Stage Theatre. Dresser recently appeared in Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky and the Theatre Company's All the Way. Curry appeared in the Theatre Company's All the Way; Willis in The Secret Garden; and Horwitz in As You Like It. Jenna Moll Reyes is a DCPA Teaching Artist who performs in the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot schools program. Reyes (Bus Stop) and Van Fleet (The Drowning Girls) were members of the Arvada Center's inaugural Black Box Repertory Ensemble. Drinkard returns to the Denver Center after having appeared in the Galleria Theatre's Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking.

    Kennedy is a 30-year veteran of Boulder's BDT Stage, where he is currently playing Jacob in the critically acclaimed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Ambler just appeared in the Arvada Center's Jesus Christ Superstar. Caw just worked with Ethelyn Friend on an improvised opera called “_____”, An Opera, in Lafayette. McCallum, a Denver native, was in the Broadway company of The Lion King. Robinson is an actor and professional photographer whose stage credits include playing the Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Assassins. Vega is a new Denver resident who most recently worked with the Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, Ohio.

    The previously announced director of this fully immersive staging is Amanda Berg Wilson, who is the artistic director of the Boulder-based company The Catamounts. She was a cast member for Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky last year and is a 2016 True West Award winner.

    The music will be directed by David Nehls, the Arvada Center's former longtime resident music director. Nehls and Hines are currently sharing the music direction for Phamaly, which creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    The choreographer is Patrick Mueller. The production will feature designs by Jason Sherwood (Scenic Designer), Meghan Anderson Doyle (Costume Designer), Jason Lynch (Lighting Designer), Sean Hagerty (Sound Designer), and Erin Ramsey (Fight Coordinator).

    “Last summer, Off-Center took over a 16,000-square foot warehouse in RiNo to bring you Sweet & Lucky. This fall, we’re breaking out the bathtub gin and heading to the Hangar at Stanley to tackle the first musical in Off-Center’s history,” said Off-Center curator Charlie Miller.

    “Much like Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party will transport audience members to a different era where they will be immersed in the story as guests at Queenie and Burr’s party. The live band will be swinging, and we’ll find out what happens when you let down your guard and give yourself over to the party. I am so excited to dive into this piece with our incredible team of collaborators.”

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension. That show ran throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21.

    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

    (Note: The Michael John LaChiusa adaptation of 'The Wild Party' is very different from the Andrew Lippa version that was presented by Ignite Theatre at the Aurora Fox.)

    The Wild Party: Cast list

    • Brett Ambler: Gold
    • Leonard Barrett Jr.: Oscar D’Armano
    • Allison Caw: Sally
    • Laurence Curry: Black
    • Diana Dresser: Miss Madelaine True
    • Katie Drinkard: Mae
    • Trent Hines: Phil D’Armano
    • Drew Horwitz: Burrs
    • Wayne Kennedy: Goldberg
    • Sheryl McCallum: Dolores
    • Jenna Moll Reyes: Nadine
    • Marco Robinson: Eddie Mackrel
    • Emily Van Fleet: Queenie
    • Aaron Vega: Jackie
    • Erin Willis: Kate


    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

    The Wild PartyOfficial show description: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • For more information including ticket pre-sale and other exclusive experiences, visit WildPartyDenver.com

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Laurence Curry
    File photo of Laurence Curry from his days as a teacher and choreographer for the Denver Center Theater Academy and the National Theatre Conservatory.
  • 'Mixed Taste' walks the talk to the Seawell Ballroom

    by John Moore | Jun 29, 2017

    Mixed Taste 

    Ready, set ... goad! Experts debate silly topics that have absolutely nothing in common. Or do they?


    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    So what’s your pleasure? Telekinesis or, say …  sauerkraut? Giant flutes or, perhaps ... celestial navigation?

    No preference, you say? That may change when those burning topics and more are lustily debated at Mixed Taste, Adam Lerner’s tag-team lecture series pairing playfully unrelated topics that enters its 14th season on Wednesday night in its new home: The DCPA’s Seawell Ballroom. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is now collaborating on the popular series with Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm.

    The comic debates will rage beginning at 6:30 p.m. for eight consecutive Wednesday nights through Aug. 23. Up first: Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art.

    Here’s how it works: Think political debate, only the politicians are respected experts in their fields of study. The first speaks on one topic for 20 minutes, followed by the other. "The audience then gets to ask questions - and that's wheAdam Lerner Mixed Tastere anything can happen,” said Off-Center Curator Charlie Miller.

    But unlike political campaigns and sporting contests, winners are not declared. This is simply a chance for curious audiences to learn more about bizarre topics and then perhaps even draw unexpected connections between the two. Think the ability to move objects through mental prowess has nothing in common with finely cut fermented cabbage? Don’t be so sure.

    Lerner, the MCA’s director and chief animator, created Mixed Taste in 2004 at The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at the Belmar Shopping Center in Lakewood. The series moved to the MCA in 2009.

    The Seawell Ballroom will be an expansion for the series, which is used to topping out at 400 people. Although the Ballroom can hold up to 1,000 people, Miller says only about 450 seats will be made available for Mixed Taste to preserve its intimacy.

    “MCA approached us a year ago and asked if we would be interested in hosting and giving Mixed Taste the next chapter of its life, and we jumped at the opportunity,” Miller said.

    After nurturing Mixed Taste from its inception, Lerner now feels “the program is ready for its next level of growth," he said, "and I believe Off-Center is the perfect partner to help us take it there.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Mixed Taste is not a theatrical production, and yet Miller feels it is an inherently theatrical adventure for its audience.

    “It’s a really engaging and fun summertime experience,” Miller said. “It’s a way to learn about things you never engage with and inject some new information and fun into a Wednesday night.”

    Mixed Taste. Charlie MillerOther wacky pairings on tap this summer include Prohibition and Bob Ross, Air Traffic Control and Drag Queen Activism, and Asparagus and Money Laundering.

    “Each lecture is 20 minutes, which is long enough to go deep but keep your attention the whole time,” Miller said. “We try to make sure the topics have nothing in common and that makes it fun because after a while you start to think, ‘Well they do have things in common.’

    So how did he come up with a roster of such non-kindred, spirited subjects?

    “I used this as an opportunity to engage friends and Denver Center staff to submit ideas for topics,” he said. “Once we got some ideas we talked with a smaller group of Off-Center collaborators and teammates to narrow it down. Then we started researching people to speak on those topics.”

    Our previous interview with Mixed Taste emcee Suzi Q. Smith

    Miller is particularly excited for the talk on Prohibition and Bob Ross, the American painter and host of The Joy of Painting, which aired on PBS from 1983-94, while his personal favorite is telekinesis and sauerkraut (July 19), simply because it’s such a bizarre combination.

    Mixed Taste. Professor Phelyx. Shirley Delta BlowLocal slam poet Suzi Q. Smith will be the series emcee.

    “Off-Center collaborated with Suzi Q. last summer in our poetry show How I Got Over: Journeys and Verse that she was the lead collaborator on,” Miller said. “She will be the host and poet laureate, so we will be fusing poetry and spoken word into the evening. She will be creating an original poem to connect the two topics to conclude every Mixed Taste.”

    Off-Center is bringing back other past collaborator the series as debaters. Professor Phelyx, the mentalist magician who last worked with Off-Center on Perception, will speak on behalf of telekinesis, while Shirley Delta Blow, recently seen in DragOn at the Galleria Theatre, will be rally on behalf of drag-queen activism. (Photos above right by Adams Viscom.)

    Before every lecture, audiences can attend a Mixed Taste Garden Party starting at 4:30 p.m. just outside of the Galleria Theatre with live music curated by Swallow Hill Music.

    Mixed Taste: Ticket information
    • 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday from July 5 through Aug. 28
    • Seawell Ballroom, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets: $20
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Avery-Anderson Avery Anderson is interning with the DCPA NewsCenter for the summer. He is the General Manager and producer of Met TV at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He was won two Heartland Student Emmy Awards for his work on The Met Report. He has a passion for local arts and culture and enjoys covering theatres across the Denver area and the state. Follow him on Twitter and @a_anderson64.

  • 'Cult Following: Rated G' brings improv to the 'mini' masses

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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


    Cult Following: Rated G

    • 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29: Public performance in the Jones Theatre
    • 11 a.m. Sunday, May 13: Public performance in the Jones Theatre
    • Ticket price: $10
    • Run time approximately 60 minutes
    • Age recommendation: All ages. Designed with families of elementary-school children in mind. Children 4 and over are welcome.
    • Tickets: Teachers or schools. Call 303-446-4829 or email groupsales@dcpa.org. There are two student matinees currently available, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16.
    • Tickets: Public and families: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons

    by John Moore | Apr 03, 2017

     

    Macbeth, The Who's Tommy, four world premieres and
    "a deep dive into some truly exciting collaborations"

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s 39th season will include vast and visceral reimaginings of two distinct cutting-edge classics, a record-tying four world premieres and the company's 25th staging of perennial favorite A Christmas Carol.

    The season begins in September with visionary director Robert O'Hara’s Macbeth to reopen the newly renovated Space Theatre, and builds to The Who’s rock musical Tommy, directed by Sam Buntrock (Frankenstein). And both directors promise ambitious stagings unlike anything audiences have seen before.

    Nataki Garrett QuoteThe DCPA has worked its way to the forefront of new-play development in the American theatre, and next season’s slate will include the comedy Zoey’s Perfect Wedding by former Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez; José Cruz González’s American Mariachi, the musical tale of an all-female 1970s mariachi band; Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, about an American college basketball team that travels to Beijing in 1989; and Eric Pfeffinger’s timely comedy Human Error, which raucously explores the great American ideological divide through two vastly different couples - and one wrongly implanted embryo.

    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding will reunite Lopez and Mike Donahue, writer and director from the DCPA’s endearing world premiere The Legend of Georgia McBride (which makes its West Coast debut tomorrow at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.)

    American Mariachi
    was a favorite from the Theatre Company's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. "Women of course had many challenges trying to play in such a male-dominated musical form," González said. "We interviewed a number of amazing women who were able to help us enter into that world, and we found an amazing group of artists who will play and sing in the piece."

    The Great Leap and Human Error emerged from the recent 2017 Summit in February.  In The Great Leap, Yee explores sport as a metaphor for how countries rub up against each other in terms of strategy, styles and priorities. "If you think of all the sports out there, basketball is the one in which you can really lay the ideals of communism on top of it. Everyone gets to touch the ball. Everyone is equal in their position,” she says.

    Human Error will set a precedent as the first Theatre Company offering ever to be staged in the cabaret-style Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    “The 2017-18 DCPA Theatre Company season represents the microcosm at the heart of the American experiment,” said Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. “These writers, spanning across generations, cultures, and genders, are exploring the ways in which our commonalities are more meaningful than our differences."

    2017-18 Broadway season brings Hamilton to Denver

    For the first time, the DCPA simultaneously announced the upcoming year of its adventurous and ambitious Off-Center line of programming. Off-Center is known for creating experiences that challenge conventions and expand on the traditional definition of theatre. Next season will be the largest yet for Off-Center. It includes Mixed Taste, a summer-long partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver; a 360-degree immersive staging of The Wild Party musical at the Stanley Marketplace. Also of great intrigue: Remote Denver, a  guided audio tour of the secret city; and This Is Modern Art, a controversial play by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval that explores graffiti as modern art ...  or urban terrorism.

    “The expansion of Off-Center is a result of the incredible response of the Denver community,” said Off-Center Curator (and Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director) Charlie Miller. “We have seen that audiences are hungry for a broad range of experiences, and are eager for the unexpected.”

    Miller calls the upcoming year "a deep dive into some truly exciting collaborations." A continuing one will be the return of The SantaLand Diaries, in partnership with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and again starring Michael Bouchard

    Combined, the DCPA today announced 14 upcoming new productions that will be presented across eight different venues at the Denver Performing Arts Complex and beyond.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Theater has the opportunity and the ability to help bridge our differences by offering performances that inspire us to seek deeper connections with one another,” said Garrett, who will make her DCPA debut directing Lydia Diamond's acclaimed race comedy Smart People. “We are honored to provide a space for conversations and connections to the Denver community this year through this season's offerings.”

    Lisa Portes Robert O'HaraMacbeth will be directed by Robert O'Hara, a rising playwright, director and screenwriter who won the 2010 NAACP Best Director Award and the 2010 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. He was a young prodigy of original Angels in America Director George C. Wolfe and is perhaps best-known as a writer for Insurrection, a time-traveling play exploring racial and sexual identity. 

    The Who's Tommy, the rock musical based on the classic 1969 concept album about the pinball prodigy, will reunite acclaimed British Frankenstein director Sam Buntrock and Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood (who also will create the world of Macbeth). Native Gardens will mark the DCPA return of playwright Karen Zacarias, who wrote Just Like Us in 2014. Zacarias has penned a very close-to-home border-war story: One that plays out between two neighboring couples in D.C. who have a dispute over their property line. The director is Chicago's Lisa Portes, who recently won the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation's 2016 Zelda Fichandler Award, which recognizes an artist who is "transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in the theatre." She is head of the masters program in directing at DePaul University.

    Next year's A Christmas Carol will be the 25th season staging of Dickens' classic by the DCPA since 1990. Melissa Rain Anderson will return for her second turn at directing, and popular longtime DCPA actor Sam Gregory again will play Scrooge.

    DCPA THEATRE COMPANY SEASON AT A GLANCE:

    • Sept. 15-Oct. 29: Robert O’Hara’s Macbeth (Space Theatre Grand Reopening)
    • Oct. 13-Nov. 19: Smart People (Ricketson Theatre)
    • Nov. 24-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre)
    • Jan. 19-Feb. 25, 2018: Zoey’s Perfect Wedding (Space Theatre)
    • Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018: American Mariachi (Stage Theatre)
    • Feb. 2-March 11, 2018: The Great Leap (Ricketson Theatre)
    • April 6-May 6, 2018: Native Gardens (Space Theatre)
    • April 20-May 27, 2018: The Who's Tommy (Stage Theatre)
    • May 18-June 24, 2018: Human Error (Garner Galleria Theatre)

    DCPA OFF-CENTER 2017-18 SEASON AT A GLANCE:

    • July 5-Aug. 23 Mixed Taste, with MCA Denver (Seawell Grand Ballroom)
    • Oct. 12-31: The Wild Party (The Hangar at Stanley)
    • Nov. 24-Dec. 24: The SantaLand Diaries, with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Jones Theatre)
    • March 22-April 15, 2018: This Is Modern Art (Jones Theatre)
    • Spring/Summer 2018: Remote Denver (on the streets of Denver)

    TC 2017-18 800

    And here is a more detailed look at all 14 newly announced productions, in chronological order:

    MIXED TASTE (Off-Center)
    mixed-tasteTag team lectures on unrelated topic
    Presented by Off-Center with MCA Denver
    Wednesdays from July 5 through Aug 23
    Seawell Grand Ballroom
    Even mismatched subjects will find common ground in a lecture series that can go pretty much anywhere. Two speakers get twenty minutes each to enlighten you on unrelated topics, but can’t make any connections to each other. Ideas start to blend afterward when audience members ask questions to both speakers and anything goes. READ MORE ABOUT IT



    MACBETH
    macbethBy William Shakespeare
    Directed by Robert O’Hara
    Sept. 15-Oct. 29
    Space Theatre (Grand Reopening)
    To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others, the people of Scotland or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. Shakespeare’s compact, brutal tragedy kicks off the grand reopening of our theatre-in-the-round in a visceral re-imagining from visionary director Robert O’Hara, who is “shaking up the world, one audience at a time” (The New York Times). This ambitious reinvention of the classic tale reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses the dagger must suffer the consequences. 



    THE WILD PARTY
    (Off-Center)
    the-wild-partyMusic and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    Directed by Amanda Berg Wilson
    Oct. 12-31
    The Hangar at Stanley
    You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind for a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and booze-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees. Dress up in your finest pearls, suits and sequins – encouraged but not required.



    SMART PEOPLE

    smart-peopleBy Lydia R. Diamond
    Directed by Nataki Garrett
    Oct. 13-Nov. 19
    Ricketson Theatre
    Intelligence can only get you so far when it comes to navigating love, success and identity in the modern age. This biting comedy 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. But 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. Fiercely clever dialogue and energetic vignettes keep the laughs coming in a story that Variety calls “Sexy, serious and very, very funny.”



    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    christmas-carolBy Charles Dickens
    Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    Stage Theatre
    Essential to the holiday season in Denver, A Christmas Carol promises to “warm your heart and renew your holiday spirit” according to the Examiner. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. Denver favorite Sam Gregory returns as Scrooge. READ MORE ABOUT IT

    (Note: 'A Christmas Carol' is an added attraction, not part of the Theatre Company subscription season.)



    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisCom
    'The SantaLand Diaries,' 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    THE SANTALAND DIARIES
    (Off-Center)
    By David Sedaris
    Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
    Presented by Off-Center with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    Directed by Stephen Weitz
    Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    The Jones Theatre
    This disgruntled Macy's elf has the cure for the common Christmas show. Looking for a little more snark in your stocking? Crumpet the Elf returns for more hilarious hijinks in this acclaimed one-man show based on stories by David Sedaris. Crumpet’s twisted tales from his stint in Macy’s SantaLand are the cure for the common Christmas show. Release your holiday stress, get all of those obnoxious carols out of your head and check out even more late night options this year. READ MORE ABOUT IT



    ZOEY'S PERFECT WEDDING

    zoeys-perfect-wedding2By Matthew Lopez
    Directed by Mike Donahue
    Jan. 19-Feb. 25, 2018
    Space Theatre
    The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. From the team that brought you, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Matthew Lopez’s wildly funny fiasco destroys expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up. READ OUR 2015 INTERVIEW WITH MATTHEW LOPEZ



    AMERICAN MARIACHI

    american-mariachi2By José Cruz González
    Director to be announced
    Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018
    The Stage Theatre
    Lucha and Bolie are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in the 1970s. The only things standing in their way are a male-dominated music genre, patriarchal pressure from inside their families and finding the right women to fill out their sound. As they practice, perform and strive to earn the respect of their community, their music sparks a transformation in the lives of those around them – especially Lucha’s parents. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music played on stage. González writes a passionate story about families and friendships that you should share with yours. READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH JOSÉ CRUZ GONZÁLEZ


     

    THE GREAT LEAP
    the-great-leap2By Lauren Yee
    Director to be announced
    Feb. 2-March 11, 2018
    Ricketson Theatre
    When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly-changing country and Chinese American player Manford seeks a lost connection. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action in the stadium. Yee’s “acute ear for contemporary speech” and a “devilishly keen satiric eye” (San Francisco Chronicle) creates an unexpected and touching story inspired by events in her own father’s life. READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN YEE


     

    THIS IS MODERN ART
    this-is-modern-artBy Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin
    Directed by Idris Goodwin
    March 22-April 15, 2018
    The Jones Theatre
    Graffiti crews are willing to risk anything for their art. Called vandals, criminals, even creative terrorists, Chicago graffiti artists set out night after night to make their voices heard and alter the way people view the world. But when one crew finishes the biggest graffiti bomb of their careers, the consequences get serious and spark a public debate asking, where does art belong? This Is Modern Art gives a glimpse into the lives of anonymous graffiti artists and asks us to question the true purpose of art. READ MORE ABOUT IT


    NATIVE GARDENS
    native-gardensBy Karen Zacarias
    Directed by Lisa Portes
    April 6-May 6, 2018
    Space Theatre
    Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virginia have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt comedy about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.



    Sam Buntock

    THE WHO'S TOMMY
    the-whos-tommyMusic and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
    Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
    Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
    Directed by Sam Buntrock
    April 20-May 27, 2018
    Stage Theatre
    Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive. This production reunites director Sam Buntrock and scenic designer Jason Sherwood, the team behind last season’s audience favorite, Frankenstein.



    HUMAN ERROR

    human-error2By Eric Pfeffinger
    Director to be announced
    May 18-June 24, 2018
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Madelyn and Keenan are NPR-listening, latte-sipping, blue-state liberals, while Heather and Jim are NRA-cardholding, truck-driving, red-state conservatives. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now the two couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month’s odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships. “Up-and-coming scribe Eric Pfeffinger has the vital nerve to explore the gaping communication gap between red America and blue America, liberal humanists and the conservative right” (Chicago Tribune). READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH ERIC PFEFFINGER


    REMOTE DENVER
    remote-denverBy Rimini Protokoll
    Concept, Script and Direction: Stefan Kaegi
    Research, Script and Direction Denver: Jörg Karrenbauer
    Spring/Summer 2018
    On the streets of Denver
    Join a group of 50 people swarming Denver on a guided audio tour that seems to follow you as much as you are following it. Experience a soundtrack to the streets, sights, and rooftops of The Mile High City as a computer-generated voice guides your group’s movements in real time. Discover a "secret Denver," exploring places like gathering spaces, back alleyways, dark hallways and public areas through a new lens. You’re not just audience members — you’re actors and spectators, observers and observed, individuals and hordes, all at the same time.

     

    TICKET INFORMATION:

    • Theatre Company: New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are available online at denvercenter.org/nextseason or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. Note: Plans for the new season are subject to change and benefit restrictions may apply.
    • Off-Center: The single-ticket on-sale date for all Off-Center productions will be announced at a later time. Subscriptions are not available for Off-Center shows.

     

     

  • Off-Center throwing a 'Wild Party' at Stanley Marketplace this fall

    by John Moore | Mar 21, 2017
    Charlie Miller


    By Hope Grandon
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Off-Center, the unconventional and most adventurous wing of Denver Center programming, has announced its next off-site collaboration and first full-scale musical production: An immersive, 360-degree staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s jazz musical The Wild Party to run Oct. 12-31 at Stanley Marketplace.

     

    Amanda Berg Wilson “Last summer, Off-Center took over a 16,000-square foot warehouse in RiNo to bring you Sweet & Lucky. This fall, we’re breaking out the bathtub gin and heading to the Hangar at Stanley to tackle the first musical in Off-Center’s history,” said Off-Center curator Charlie Miller.

    “Much like Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party will transport audience members to a different era where they will be immersed in the story as guests at Queenie and Burr’s party. The live band will be swinging, and we’ll find out what happens when you let down your guard and give yourself over to the party. I am so excited to dive into this piece with our incredible team of collaborators.”

    The Wild Party, which was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000, will be directed by Sweet & Lucky cast member Amanda Berg Wilson (pictured above), also the artistic director of the Boulder-based company The Catamounts and a 2016 True West Award winner.

    Stanley Marketplace home to Travelers of the Lost Dimension

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension, currently running throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21. 

    Full details including cast and creative team will be announced at a later date.

    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

    (Note: The Michael John LaChiusa adaptation of 'The Wild Party' is very different from the Andrew Lippa version that was presented last year by Ignite Theatre at the Aurora Fox.)

    The Wild Party
    Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    Oct. 12-31, 2017
    At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • MCA Denver, Off-Center bringing 'Mixed Taste' to Denver Center

    by John Moore | Feb 27, 2017

    Mixed Taste
    Last year, Mixed Taste espoused the virtues of Merle Haggard and "The History of Dinner." The popular summer series moves to the Seawell ballroom in July. 


    The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts are officially a mixed match. 

    MCA Denver and the DCPA's adventurous Off-Center wing have formed a partnership to present Mixed Taste: Tag Team Lectures on Unrelated Topics throughout the summer at the Denver Center's Seawell Ballroom.

    Adam Lerner Mixed TasteMixed Taste, conceived by MCA Denver’s Adam Lerner, pairs two speakers addressing  completely unrelated subjects, followed by questions from the audience. During the first part of the program, no connections are allowed between the topics. But during the Q&A, anything can happen.

    The partnership begins on July 5 and will continue on Wednesday nights through Aug. 23.

    “Having nurtured Mixed Taste for over 10 years, the program is ready for its next level of growth, and I believe Off-Center is the perfect partner to help us take it there,” said Lerner, MCA Denver’s Director and Chief Animator. "Off-Center produces the kind of smart and quirky programming in the theater world that we strive to create in the art world. We’re excited to see what happens when we work together.”

    Charlie Miller, curator of Off-Center, is a fan of Mixed Tape because, he said, "it is an inherently theatrical format that is always engaging, surprising and fun - everything we strive for in an Off-Center experience. We are excited to partner with MCA Denver to give Mixed Taste its next life at the Denver Center.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Lerner originated Mixed Taste in 2004 in an empty storefront in the Belmar shopping center in Lakewood. In 2009, when he took the helm at MCA Denver he moved the program to downtown Denver. The program has been imitated from Boston to Mexico City. It has been discussed in various museum studies books and is regarded by many as the forefront of innovative cultural education programming.

    Past Mixed Taste lecture topics have included:

    • Walt Whitman and Whole Hog Cooking
    • Existentialism and Giant Vegetables
    • Parkour and Bollywood
    • Gospel Music and Zebra Sharks
    • Tequila and Dark Matter in the Universe

    The full lineup for the summer series will be announced at a later date.

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension coming to Stanley Marketplace

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

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2017

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension


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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

    Off-Center announces Stanley Marketplace partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Please note that each performance is limited to 45 audience members and some performances already are sold out.
  • 2016 True West Award: The women running theatre in Boulder

    by John Moore | Dec 30, 2016

    True West Awards Boulder women

    (Clockwise from top left: Rebecca Remaly Weitz, Emily K. Harrison, Amanda Berg Wilson and Pesha Rudnick. Inset right: Joan Kuder Bell as Mrs. Millamount in Upstart Crow's 'The Way of the World.')



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 30: The women running theatre in Boulder

    First off: Yes, there is something inherently wrong with singling out a group of successful women for their accomplishments based in part on their gender.

    Then again, when you have been systematically singled out for exclusion over decades in large part based of your gender, then perhaps the occasional exception to the unjust rule is something to celebrate.

    You may have seen the damning national stats: While women make up about 68 percent of all theatregoing audiences, fewer than 25 percent of the stories they see performed on American stages are written or directed by women. Further, 73 percent of all Artistic Directors and 62 percent of Executive Directors at leading U.S. theatres are white men. But did you know 65 percent of those working in jobs just below those leadership positions are women or persons of color? That means women and minorities do most of the work – and white men get promoted.

    True West Award Quote Boulder womenIt’s no wonder any self-starting woman with aspirations of running a theatre company would bypass the rat race and instead start her own.

    Call it an anomaly, a coincidence or a hopeful trend, but at a time when rectifying longstanding gender disparity is a major priority in the American theatre, one need only look to Boulder to find four distinctive theatre companies that were started or co-founded by creatively adventurous, collaborative women:

    (Photos above and right, clockwise from top left: Emily K. Harrison, Pesha Rudnick, Amanda Berg Wilson and Rebecca Remaly Weitz.) 

    The city of Boulder’s theatre roots run deep through the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, which turns 60 this summer; through Joan and Richard Bell’s Upstart Crow, which has presented classical theatre since 1980; and through BDT Stage, which has been staging Broadway-caliber musicals for nearly 40 years.

    But it is these four upstart women of the Boulder theatre community who have revived the city’s reputation as a culturally active and relevant hot spot. And for that, Duran says, Boulder is most grateful.

    “I am honestly blown away by all four them,” said Duran, who has been the Producing Artistic Director at BDT Stage for 13 years. “They are all so educated, and they have such amazing backgrounds in theatre and academia. These women are bringing brave new voices to the theatre and bringing different kinds of theatregoing experiences to Boulder audiences, and that benefits all of us.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The question is: Are these companies significant because they exist – or rather, is it significant that women brought them into existence? To Rudnick, it matters that women started all four companies because female theatre administrators are a collective rarity in the American theatre. “It matters because there is diversity in the female perspective, and feminism is rooted in humanism,” she said. “At Local Theater Company, we are interested in making theater that supports artists, our families and in telling stories that are inclusive and diverse.”

    Wilson knows one thing for sure: The question intself wouldn’t matter a bit if all four companies were not doing good and progressive work. “To boot: All four companies are dedicated almost exclusively to producing work that is new to Colorado,” she said. “All four companies are actively wrestling with how to address the emerging mandate that issues of equity and diversity must be addressed in the work and organizational structure of every theatre company. And all four are significant in this town and state because nationally, significant organizations that are also female-led are few and far between.”

    Our report from the 2016 Statera conference on gender parity

    And all four companies truly were firing on all cylinders in 2016. We asked each leader for a brief rundown of their accomplishments this year:

    BETC Vera Rubin. Michael Ensminger BOULDER ENSEMBLE THEATRE COMPANY, Rebecca Remaly Weitz: “We produced two word premieres (Vera Rubin: Bringing the Dark to Light and Full Code) and three regional premieres (Cyrano, Ripcord and Every Xmas Story Ever Told). We also workshopped a new play (The Madres) that has been selected as a finalist by the National New Play Network. We continued our successful annual co-production of The SantaLand Diaries with Off-Center at the Denver Center's Jones Theatre. Our support from the Shubert Foundation was increased by 50 percent, and I was the grateful recipient of the 2016 Emerging Professional Artist Award from the National Theatre Conference. We now have two full-time and three part-time employees. And our ensemble has grown to 23 fabulous people. (Photo: Mackenzie Sherburne and Chip Persons in 'Vera Rubin: 'Bringing the Dark to Light.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    Catamounts The Taming. Michael EnsmingerTHE CATAMOUNTS, Amanda Berg Wilson: We produced two adventurous regional premieres by rising American playwrights (Jordan Harrison’s Futura and Lauren Gunderson’s The Taming). We served up three weekends of theatre, food and community though our original FEED series. We led young artists through the process of creating and performing their own work at Flatirons and Heatherwood Elementary schools. We received a three-year organizational grant from the Boulder Arts Commission, and our funding from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District increased by 58 percent. We hired our first employee (me!), and we moved our administrative headquarters from my damn couch to a sexy new co-working space. But what I am most proud of in 2016 is that we made a public commitment to increase the diversity in our programming and artists. (Photo: McPherson Horle in 'The Taming.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    Local The Firestorm. Michael Ensminger. LOCAL THEATER COMPANY, Pesha Rudnick: As Local moves into our fifth season, we've renewed our fierce commitment to developing new American plays that address issues that are urgently “of the moment.” The Firestorm was a perfect example of that — it’s a new play by Meridith Friedman that addresses white privilege, racism and marriage during a heated election season. We added facilitated audience conversations that offer a platform for true, genuine dialogue. The Creede Repertory Theatre presented The History Room, which we first introduced during our 2016 Local Lab New Play Festival. Our new literacy program, Literature Live, will launch in February with a world premiere production of A Home in the Heart, an adaptation of Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street. It’s a stunning novel that explores immigration, coming-of-age and self-expression, and we will be presenting it for students, teachers and families in partnership with the Boulder Public Library. (Photo: Jada Suzanne Dixon in 'The Firestorm.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    Square Product Cockroach. J Akiyama Kinisissquare product theatre company: We collaborated with Hoarded Stuff Performance on the world premiere of an awkward existential comedy called This Aunt is Not a Cockroach. We collaborated with Chicago’s The New Colony to produce two staged readings: Evan Linder's Byhalia, Mississippi, which we read as part of a simultaneous world-premiere Conversation here in Boulder, and our own original work called SLAB (about Hurricane Katrina), which we read at The Den Theatre in Chicago. We collaborated with Quake Theater on Ham & Millicent’s Boulder Arts Week Art Walk. And in the fall, we collaborated with the University of Colorado on a production of the Neo-Futurists' 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, which we originally staged in 2012. (Photo: Laura Ann Samuelson in 'This Aunt is Not a Cockroach.' Photo by J. Akiyama, Kinisis Photography.)

    Coming Saturday: The 2016 Colorado Theatre Person of the Year

    True West Awards. Boulder women. Amanda Berg Wilson. In October, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts hosted a national conference that addressed gender disparity in the American theatre. Much attention was paid to the particular challenge mothers face maintaining administrative careers while raising children. Berg said it is significant that most of the women who run theatre companies in Boulder are also mothers.

    “We lose too many excellent theatre artists to the necessities of family life because your child-bearing years unfortunately often overlap with some of your best creative and career-development years,” Wilson said. “And the low pay and long hours aren't terribly conducive to hiring babysitters who are sometimes paid more to watch your kid while you make your art than you are to make it. So to stick with it once you have kids takes a certain amount of ingenuity and grit and dedication to a vision — and hopefully a supportive partner. Women still labor under so many double standards when it comes to balancing work and family life. I'd like to think our community benefits from those of us who are willing to try to walk that tightrope.”

    (Photo above and right: Amanda Berg Wilson is not above mopping the floor after performances by The Catamounts. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

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

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

    by John Moore | Dec 25, 2016
    True West Awards John Hauser


    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 25: John Hauser

    If you were to call him Doogie Hauser, you would only be the latest. But given how well former child TV star Neil Patrick Harris’ career has turned out, John Hauser would surely take the compliment.

    We’re not saying Hauser is a kid. But his Biloxi Blues director Kate Gleason is saying that “as soon as John is potty-trained … he's gonna make a great actor.”

    True West Awards John Hauser QuoteSo he’s young. But there was nothing embryonic about his fully formed year on local stages: He starred in Biloxi Blues at Miners Alley Playhouse, and in Hand to God for Curious Theatre. He made a key appearance in Vintage Theatre's Rabbit Hole, and he performed as Romeo before 10,000 high-school students for DCPA Education.

    That’s a U.S. Army private who comes of age at Basic Training in Neil Simon’s 1943 Mississippi. A grieving, God-fearing teen in possession of (or possessed by) a devilish hand puppet. A guilt-wracked teen who plowed his car into a 4-year-old. And only the most famous lover in all of literature. Plus, he joined the cast of Off-Center’s immersive freakout Sweet and Lucky, and later understudied several roles in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Frankenstein.

    John Hauser may not be old. But as an actor, he grew up in 2016.

    “He’s so good, you forget how young he is,” said  Gleason, herself a 2014 True West Award winner. “I mean, he's barely teething, and yet he manages to find humanity in all his roles.”

    When DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous launched a new pilot program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot in May 2015, she turned to Hauser first. A team from DCPA Education perform an abridged version of Romeo and Juliet on and around a beat-up old truck in school parking lots - sometimes four times a day. Meaning four times a day, students who otherwise might never be exposed to Shakespeare (or live theatre) crush on the Bard, crush on live performance and, invariably for some, crush on the actor who could win Prom King at just about every school he visits.

    “John is stunning as Romeo,” Watrous said. “He connects to the hearts and minds of the students through authenticity, vulnerability, humor, kindness and depth.” (Pictured below and right: John Hauser as Romeo. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Read our recent profile on John Hauser

    Hauser and his castmates, all skilled DCPA Education Teaching Artists, return to each school the next day for classroom workshops and ask students tough, ethically ambiguous questions that revolve around teenagers, their parents and issues of privacy and personal responsibility. The point is to help them better understand the issues at the heart of Romeo and Juliet. Because being a teen hasn't changed as much as you might think.

    True West Awards John Hauser Shakespeare in the Parking Lot"I am so grateful for John's energy and impact,” Watrous said. “He is a true talent.”

    Next semester, the team will tackle A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

    Hauser did not just turn a finger up at his squeaky-clean image, but his entire right hand with Hand to God, Robert Askins’ profanely dark comedy about a troubled teen who is forced to join his mother’s church-led puppet group after his father dies. But when his foul-mouthed sock puppet Tyrone takes on a life of its own and begins to encourage all those around him to give in to their carnal desires, the teen starts to question everything he's been taught. 

    “John brings a true lightness to the room,” said Hand to God Director Dee Covington. “He is generous, reflective and tireless in his determination to not only conquer but totally devour the creative task at hand. He knew the mountain was steep and arduous, but I was so impressed by his ability to temper that slightly self-effacing inner critic with humor and fearlessness. His grit and heart are inspiring.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Westword theatre critic Juliet Wittman wrote: “Hauser does brilliantly in the schizophrenic role of Jason, fully inhabiting both the teen’s innocence and Tyrone’s savagery, skillfully manipulating the intransigent puppet.”

    True West Awards John Hauser Rabbit Hole In July, Hauser and his Rabbit Hole cast were honored with the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Outstanding Ensemble Henry Award (with Haley Johnson, Marc Stith, Maggy Stacy and Deborah Persoff). As the accidental grim reaper who devastates a family when their son runs in front of his car, “John Hauser manages to deliver a handful of wallops in his limited scenes,” wrote the Aurora Sentinel’s Quincy Snowdon.

    But perhaps the most impressive evidence of Hauser’s stellar year is simply his dream team of directors: Kate Gleason, Allison Watrous, Dee Covington, Bernie Cardell  (Rabbit Hole), Zach Morris (Sweet and Lucky) and Sam Buntrock (Frankenstein).

    “He is a lovely human being,” Covington said, “and he makes the world a more artful place.”

    And he's not slowing down in 2017. In January, Hauser will be playing Ken in John Logan’s acclaimed Red, the story of the temperamental genius artist Mark Rothko and his apprentice, at the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre.

    (Pictured above and right: Haley Johnson and John Hauser in Vintage Theatre's 'Rabbit Hole.' Photo by Denver Mind Media.)

    John Hauser/At a glance

    • Hometown: Cocoa, Fla.
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs
    • College: Adams State University in Alamosa
    • Selected additional credits: The Few and Ambition Facing West for Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company; Jerusalem for The Edge Theatre Company
    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

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

    by John Moore | Dec 23, 2016
    True West Awards Matthew Campbell

     



    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 23: Matthew Campbell

    August Wilson wrote Two Trains Running. Pshaw, two. As Production Stage Manager for Sweet and Lucky, the DCPA’s first deep dive into off-site adventure theatre, Matthew Campbell kept 20 trains running at once as the massive, elliptical story played out in all corners of a 16,000-square-foot warehouse north of downtown Denver.

    Sweet and Lucky was essentially performed by three sets of actors separately and simultaneously. That meant Campbell had to manage 13 performers, six crew members and 72 audience members spread out in 20 smaller performing spaces. It was Campbell’s job to make sure all that constantly moving action never collided on the tracks.

    Check that. Campbell was the tracks.

    True West Awards Matthew Campbell Quote“When we were just beginning Sweet and Lucky, we knew that finding the right Stage Manager would be critical for the show’s success, because we have never attempted anything like this before,” said Charlie Miller, the DCPA’s Associate Artistic Director for Strategy and Innovation. In fact, this was the biggest physical undertaking in the DCPA’s nearly 40-year history.

    The original story, developed in partnership with New York's Third Rail Projects, is a mysterious exploration of memory that begins in a strange antique store where nothing is for sale. The audience is split into smaller groups and led into several different environments – a graveyard, a drive-in, a swimming hole and more – as they witness the relationship between one couple as it plays over several generations. But different audience members saw different actors tell that story, and in different orders. Thanks to the man behind the curtain, the audience never knew the other performances were even happening.

    True West Awards Matthew Campbell. Sweet and Lucky.“Not only did Matthew have to know where everyone was at any given moment, he had to know instantly what to do in any situation where something could go wrong,” Miller said. “If Matthew did not keep everything moving, the whole show might fall apart.”

    It never did. Not that there weren’t some close calls: Late-arriving patrons threw the entire machinery out of whack. Patrons gone rogue. Inevitable technical difficulties including overheating projectors and having to build emergency light cues in the makeshift performance space of a warehouse. Because the run was almost completely sold out and eventually extended several months, new cast members had to be rotated in. The job of any Production Stage Manager is to take cues from any given situation and react. What distinguishes Campbell is that he reacts quickly, kindly and decisively.

    “He is calm under pressure,” Miller said. “He was never fazed by the many unexpected challenges we faced throughout the process. He also made for such an incredibly positive and welcoming environment for all of the artists involved. We heard from so many cast members about how integral he was to the success of the show.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    One of those cast members was Meridith C. Grundei, who said Campbell was “beyond amazing” throughout the run. “He has a great temperament and a great sense of humor balanced with a professionalism in tense situations that put everyone at ease,” she said.

    Campbell was always the first to arrive and last to leave, and he rolled with every unexpected punch that came his way.  After the show’s first two-show Saturday, for example, Campbell waited with a member of the bar staff who was stuck at the warehouse past midnight waiting for an Uber car ride that never arrived. Eventually, Campbell gave her a ride himself. That meant Campbell didn’t get home to his wife and children until after 2 a.m. And yet, he was back at the warehouse at 9:15 the next morning to unlock the building and start another day. On schedule, as always.

    True West Awards Matthew Campbell Believe it or not, Sweet and Lucky has been made into a graphic novel. (Or at least the cover.) And if you look closely at the illustration to your right created by crew member Lauren LaCasse, who's the nerve center of Sweet and Lucky? It's the otherwise unseen Campbell.

    At one time, Campbell was a performer. While still a lad of Littleton High School, he was in the the ensemble of a production of Story Theatre that christened the Dorie Theatre at what is now the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center.

    But over time, his passion took him backstage. One of his early career highlights was serving as Production Coordinator at the 2007 Colorado Festival of World Theatre, an international event that drew Stephen Sondheim, Patti Lupone, Marin Mazzie, Donna McKechnie and other greats to Colorado Springs.

    Campbell has now been a Production Stage Manager with the DCPA Theatre Company for seven seasons. Recent credits include As You Like It, Lord of the Flies and Other Desert Cities.

    But DCPA Associate Production Manager Melissa Cashion says hiring Campbell to be the Stage Manager for Sweet & Lucky “was about the best hire I have ever made in my career.”

    And like many of those who serve in the always invisible and often thankless job of Stage Manager, Cashion said Campbell is an unspoken hero of the DCPA. 

    Photo gallery: Sweet and Lucky

    Sweet & Lucky

    Photos from Off-Center's production of 'Sweet and Lucky' in a RiNo warehouse north of downtown. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. Photos by Adams VisCom.


    Matthew Campbell/At a glance

    • High school: Littleton
    • College: Graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with an emphasis in Technical Theatre, Directing and Acting
    • College: Masters degree in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Stage Management from the University of Iowa
    • Stage Manager or Assistant Stage Manager for the DCPA Theatre Company since 2010
    • Other local experience: Colorado Shakespeare Festival (2013-15); Arvada Center (2007-13); Candlelight Dinner Playhouse (2008-10); Country Diner Playhouse (2003-07)


    Video bonus: An introduction to Sweet and Lucky:



    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS

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

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