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

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

     

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Regan Linton

    Colorado Theatre Person of the Year


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

    Then came the sticker shock.

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

    (Story continues after the photo gallery below.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Life changes in the ordinary instant

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

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

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

    (Story continues after the video.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Meanwhile, back on the stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sinden sides with Behrhorst.

    John Moore’s 2005 Denver Post feature on Regan Linton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

  • 'A Christmas Carol' still brings playwright to laughter, tears

    by John Moore | Dec 07, 2017
    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    Photos from the making of 'A Christmas Carol' from Friday's opening night and going back to the first rehearsal. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    'One of the things I love so much about this Denver Center production is its humanity,' the playwright says at opening.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Richard Hellesen's 1987 stage adaptation of Charles DickensA Christmas Carol has become a holiday standard for theatre companies across the country including the Denver Center, which opened its 10th seasonal staging of Hellesen’s script last Friday — with the playwright in the audience.

    Hellesen doesn't track how many productions his sweeping adaptation, with music by David de Berry, has enjoyed over the past 30 years. But the number of performances here at the Stage Theatre since 2006 is now nearing 500, with attendance topping 300,000. Hellesen said he was moved to tears by Melissa Rain Anderson’s take on the story.

    Richard Hellesen quote A Christmas Carol“I know the words, but sometimes the performances and the direction surprise me,” Hellesen said after the performance. “I was laughing tonight, I was crying — and I wrote the damn words. How does that work?”

    Well, it starts with Sam Gregory, who is playing Scrooge for a second straight season. Hellesen was taken by Gregory’s evident youth, which while uncommon for actors playing the role of the grizzled old skinflint, is actually consistent with Dickens’ novel.

    Hellesen said Gregory presents a Scrooge who has an opportunity to make a more lasting impact on his Victorian community after his conversion — and a greater emotional impact on audiences — because he still has a significant amount of time left to improve himself and his community. 

    “My favorite line from the whole play is: ‘Best of all, Scrooge knew he had the time before him to make amends — and he started that very day.'

    “One of the things I love so much about this Denver Center production is its humanity, because it's extremely easy to make Scrooge one-dimensional, or a stereotype. I think the harder challenge for the actor is to humanize him to the point where you are sitting in the audience saying to yourself, 'You know what? I kind of … sort of … actually see where he is coming from. And that moves us a little closer in his direction.

    Lisa Kennedy on why we circle back to A Christmas Carol

    “I know when the emotional parts are coming,” he said, “and yet I am just floored whenever I see an actor who is giving it something new like Sam Gregory.”

    A Christmas Carol 2017 Peyton GoosenAdded Anderson: “What I love about this adaptation and the way Sam plays it is that it works on all levels,” she said. “There's the bitter, there's the sweet, there's the political, there's dark humor and there's frivolous humor. Sam really hits every single scope that a man can hit in one night.”

    Part of the enduring power of the source story, Hellesen said, is its ever-relevant decrying of injustice in all its forms. Audiences may not realize it, he said, but Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 as a demand for societal change.

    “I think certain lines in the script will suddenly resonate anew with any present-day audience depending on what is going on in the world,” he said. “For me tonight, that was when The Ghost of Christmas Present made his speech about how some men commit acts of envy and pride and bigotry and prejudice in the name of Christmas. That's in Dickens’ book, and I put that in my adaptation for a reason. It's because I want people to hear that today. We are at an interesting time. There is want, and there is ignorance. But there is also hope for redemption.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    (Pictured above and right: Peyton Goossen, who plays Tiny Tim, at the opening party. Photo by John Moore. Below: Goossen with Brian Vaughn and Latoya Cameron. Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    A Christmas Carol 2017. Peyton Goossen Brian Vaughn and Latoya Cameron. Photo by Adams ViscomHellesen said the Denver Center’s various stagings have always ranked among his favorites for their production values and the quality of the acting. This year he was particularly impressed to see a multi-racial Cratchit family on the stage.

    “I absolutely loved that,” he said. “Yes, this is a very specific story written in 1843 London, but it's obviously a much more universal story than that. And so to expand the casting in terms of ethnicity and age just adds to the universality of the piece.”

    Hellesen took a moment after the opening performance to thank the cast and crew directly.

    “When you sit at your computer and you adapt something, you just hope that somehow it has a life,” he told those gathered. “To see all of you people who are so talented giving so much to something that I wrote  — I am incredibly humbled to be in the room with you all, watching you do this.”

    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.


    A Christmas Carol: Video


    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.


    A Christmas Carol: Ticket information
    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: 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.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Through Dec. 24
    • Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Carol 2017:
    Photos, video: Your first look at A Christmas Carol 2017
    Video: Governor, Carol cast send Colorado National Guard thanks and hope
    A Christmas Carol: A timeline to today
    DCPA's 25th A Christmas Carol brims with mistletoe and milestones
  • 'A Christmas Carol': A timeline to today

    by John Moore | Nov 22, 2017
    A 2014-ACC-gmk-1089 allen dorseyAllen Dorsey in the DCPA Theatre Company's 2014 production of 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Gabe Koskinen. 

    Over the past 25 years, more than 820,000 people have watched the the timeless story play out here in Denver.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    It seems A Christmas Carol and its seasonal message of redemption and empathy for all is a perennial need in this country. Charles Dickens’ classic tale of the miser Scrooge’s spiritual redemption remains the DCPA Theatre Company’s most popular and most-produced show. This holiday season marks the company’s 25th musical presentation of the story dating to 1990 — with two years off along the way. (Pictured below in 2003.)

    DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' 2003. In that time, there have been 18 young Tiny Tims but only two versions of the script. From 1990-2004, the DCPA staged an adaptation written by Laird Williamson and Dennis Powers. Since 2005, the company has presented the adaptation by Richard Hellesen and David de Berry. 

    Dickens wrote his opus in just six weeks, motivated in part by his own financial problems and in part by his anger seeing children working in appalling conditions in the tin mines and barely living in streets overrun with half-starved, illiterate urchins and orphans.

    Here’s a brief look at how the story has played out from London to Denver:

    1843 Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol as a novel on Dec. 19. By Christmas Eve, more than 6,000 copies are sold. 

    1844 The first stage presentation of A Christmas Carol is held, running for 40 nights. Within a year, eight rival A Christmas Carol theatrical productions are playing around London.

    1845 By now 13 editions of the A Christmas Carol novella have been released.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    1852 Charles Dickens gives the first of 127 public readings in London.

    1870 Charles Dickens’ death.

    Philip Pleasants Sam Gregory Scrooge A Christmas Carol1901 Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost is produced as a silent black-and-white British film. Since then, there have been at least 18 film variations featuring everyone from Albert Finney to Bill Murray to The Muppets to Mr. Magoo to Scrooge McDuck. Other actors to portray Scrooge on screen or stage include F. Murray Abraham, George C. Scott, Kelsey Grammer, Tony Randall, Hal Linden, Tim Curry and even The Who frontman Roger Daltrey. 

    1990 The DCPA Theatre Company presents A Christmas Carol for the first time, an adaptation by Laird Williamson and Dennis Powers. Laird Williamson also directs, which he continues through 2004. 

    2005 The company switches to an adaptation by Richard Hellesen and David de Berry directed by Bruce K. Sevy. Philip Pleasants plays Scrooge and continues as the primary Scrooge through 2015.

    2007 The DCPA gives A Christmas Carol a year off in favor of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and will do so again in 2012.

    A MayorHickenlooperTinyTim Charlie Korman2009 Charlie Korman (pictured at right with then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper) is cast as Tiny Tim at age 5. He would play the role for the next four years before aging up to play Young Scrooge in 2014. Korman would later play featured roles in the Theatre Company’s Lord of the Flies and Frankenstein

    2015 Elias Harger, the Theatre Company’s Tiny Tim the year before at age 7, is cast in Netflix’s Fuller House, the sequel to the long-running hit family sitcom Full House.

    2016 Sam Gregory becomes the eighth actor to play the Theatre Company’s Scrooge. Additionally, Melissa Rain Anderson takes the reins as director.A peyton_headshot_102017

    2017 For the first time, a young female actor, Peyton Goossen, plays the role of Tiny Tim. 

    2017 The Man Who Invented Christmas is released, a film that tells the story of how Charles Dickens brought the Scrooge story to life, starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer (as an animated Scrooge).

     DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' 2016. DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' 2016.


    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information
    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: 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.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: The making of A Christmas Carol 2017

    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    Above: Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol.' To see more, click in the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

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

    by John Moore | Nov 07, 2017

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

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

    By John More
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The seven separate ballot questions included:

    • $431 million for transportation and mobility projects
    • $116.9 million for city-owned cultural facility improvements (including the Stage and Ricketon theatres)
    • $75 million for a new outpatient care center at Denver Health Medical Center
    • $77 million for safety facility projects
    • $69.3 million for Denver Public Library improvements
    • $151.6 million for parks and recreation
    • $16.5 million for city-owned facility improvements
  • DCPA's 25th 'A Christmas Carol' brims with mistletoe and milestones

    by John Moore | Nov 06, 2017
    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    Above: Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' last week. 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.

    Favorite Sam Gregory is back as Scrooge and, for the first time in Denver, a young girl has been cast to play Tiny Tim.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When the DCPA Theatre Company presents the seasonal favorite A Christmas Carol later this month, it will be an offering filled with mistletoe and milestones. Check out the five things we learned at first rehearsal below.

    A Christmas Carol. Sam Gregory. The cast is again headed by Sam Gregory in his second season playing the miserly Scrooge. The most veteran member of the cast is Leslie O'Carroll, who has appeared in 19 of the Denver Center's 25 stagings, most as Mrs. Fezziwig.

    Back for her second year as director is Melissa Rain Anderson. She will again be staging the version adapted by Richard Hellesen, with music by the late David de Berry, as has been the DCPA tradition since 2006. "This is by far my favorite version," said Anderson, who has herself performed in this version of the story four times as an actor at theatres around the country. "I think it's the most Dickensian." Music Director Gregg Coffin has helmed this version of the show 22 times around the country.

    NUMBER 1LOOK WHO'S TWENTY-FIVE! A Christmas Carol is, no surprise, far and away the DCPA Theatre Company's most-produced show. This holiday season marks the company’s 25th presentation of the story dating to 1990 — having taken two years off along the way in favor of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. "That is a huge milestone," Anderson said. "It's a privilege to be a part of that legacy here at the Denver Center. With everything that is happening in the world, I am so happy to be in this room with all of these people and to be a part of telling this tale again as a true ensemble."

    NUMBER 2 A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim. Melissa Rain Anderson. Peyton Goosen.GOD BLESS THE GIRL. There have been 18 young Tiny Tims over the DCPA's first 24 years of A Christmas Carols. This year, for the first time, the role of the feeble boy whose death is imminent if Scrooge doesn't break down and finally offer his employee some health insurance, will be played by a girl. Anderson she credits DCPA Artistic Associate Grady Soapes with the idea to cast young Peyton Goosen. "I am always open to more females on the stage, so I was very for it," Anderson said. "Peyton is really smart, she is absolutely adorable and she is precocious. But most important, she was the best actor for the role."

    NUMBER 3KNOCK KNOCK. WHO'S THERE? A Christmas Carol has drawn 820,000 audience members since 1990, so if you live in Denver, chances are, you have seen it. But with 10,000 new residents moving into the city every month, it's become clear that thousands of audience members each year are experiencing A Christmas Carol for the first time "So many people love this production and count on it as a family tradition, but 40 percent of our A Christmas Carol audiences are new every year," said DCPA Associate Artistic Director Charlie Miller.

    NUMBER 4 SHE'S MIXING THINGS UP. Anderson introduced several changes last year, including, for example, introducing a grander sleigh for the Ghost of Christmas Present to ride in on. This year, she says audiences should keep an eye on the phantoms. "Their costumes are a little sleeker this year," Anderson said. "We are going to be able to see their bodies a little more, which I really like, because we have a really good dancers in our cast. I would like for people to see that they were once human."

    NUMBER 5WHO KNEW? Speaking of the creative vision, one of the most reliable aspects of the DCPA's production from year to year is the look of the set, originally designed by veteran Vicki Smith. We learned at first rehearsal that Smith's original inspiration was a Victorian Christmas card she came across.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Christmas Carol: Cast list

    • Hadley Brown (DCPA debut) as Belinda Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Latoya Cameron (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Cratchit/Ghost of Christmas Past
    • Kevin Curtis (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Dick Wilkins/Peter Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Michael Fitzpatrick (DCPA’s Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Mr. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Peyton Goosen (DCPA debut) as Tiny Tim/Ensemble
    • Sam Gregory (DCPA’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Hamlet, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Darrell T. Joe (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come/Ensemble
    • Chas Lederer (DCPA debut) as Swing
    • Kyra Lindsay (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Brody Lineaweaver (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Swing
    • Timothy McCracken (DCPA’s Smart People, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge understudy
    • Chris Mixon (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Old Joe/Ensemble
    • Grace Morgan (The Phantom of the Opera, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Belle/Fred’s Wife/Ensemble
    • Leslie O’Carroll (DCPA’s Benediction, A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Erik Pinnick (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Present/Ensemble
    • Daniel Plimpton (DCPA’s The Secret Garden) as Ensemble
    • Jim Poulos (Broadway’s Rent, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Fred/Young Ebenezer/Ensemble
    • Max Raabe (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA debut) as Boy Ebeneezer/ Ensemble.
    • Augie Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Helen Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Fan/Ensemble
    • Jeffrey Roark (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Jacob Marley/Ensemble
    • Marco Robinson (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Christine Rowan (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Shannan Steele (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Jackie Vanderbeck (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Charwoman/Ensemble
    • Brian Vaughn (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Bob Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Edward Cratchit/Ensemble
    A Christmas Carol. Photo by John Moore.



    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information
    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: 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.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here


    The SantaLand Diaries:
    Back for Year 9

    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisComAround the corner in the Jones Theatre, Off-Center’s seasonal co-production of The SantaLand Diaries again will be staged in partnership with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. The production will be essentially unchanged for 2017, with Michael Bouchard again donning the caustic candy-striped socks for a third time in David Sedaris’ comic monologue recounting his real-life experience working as a Macy’s Department store elf.

    Bouchard is a Denver Post Ovation Award-winning actor best-known to Colorado audiences from his time at the Arvada Center, the Creede Repertory Theatre and the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Luke Sorge will again serve as "Other David."

    This will be Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's ninth annual holiday staging of The SantaLand Diaries, and the fourth since it moved to the DCPA's Jones Theatre. The director is again Stephen Weitz, who directed the DCPA Theatre Company's Tribes.

    The SantaLand Diaries: Ticket information
    The SantaLand DiariesAt a glance: David Sedaris' off-beat tales from his stint as a Macy's elf in New York City is the sure cure for the common Christmas show.

    • Presented by Boulder Ensemble Theatre with DCPA Off-Center
    • Performances Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • Editorial: 2B or not 2B? There is no question

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

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

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

    By Suzanne Yoe
    DCPA Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • City Council approves referendum on DCPA improvements

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

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

    By John More
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The seven separate ballot questions include:

    • $431 million for transportation and mobility projects
    • $116.9 million for city-owned cultural facility improvements (including the Stage and Ricketon theatres)
    • $75 million for a new outpatient care center at Denver Health Medical Center
    • $77 million for safety facility projects
    • $69.3 million for Denver Public Library improvements
    • $151.6 million for parks and recreation
    • $16.5 million for city-owned facility improvements
    Visit 2017GObond for more information about the bond process and projects.
  • The triumph of Phamaly's not-so-horrible Hannigan

    by John Moore | Jul 14, 2017
    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by Michael Ensminger


    Despite physical challenges, Phamaly's Ashley Kelashian says the girls of Annie just wanna have sun.

    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    It was the first day of rehearsal for a highly anticipated new production of Annie, and one overwhelmed young actor in a wheelchair began to panic. The girl was one of the many novices who will play orphans in Phamaly Theatre Company’s upcoming staging on the DCPA Theatre Company’s biggest stage.

    For 28 years, Phamaly has made performance opportunities available for actors with disabilities, culminating in a big Broadway musical every summer at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For actors with mental and physical challenges, adjusting to the move from the rehearsal room to the vaunted stage with dozens of fast-moving cast and crew swirling about can be too much.

    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by John MooreBut veteran Phamaly actor Ashley Kelashian spotted the girl and took action. Within seconds, she managed to maneuver her own wheelchair to the girl’s side and comforted her, despite the enormous pain she was in herself. That’s the way it goes at Phamaly, where there is always an army of special people standing by to help those with special needs.

    At Phamaly, everyone is different - which is what makes everyone the same.

    “We are aptly named Phamaly because it is a family too,” said Kelashian, who, ironically, will be scaring the bejeebers out of the orphans in the iconic role of the mean Mrs. Hannigan when Annie opens on Saturday.

    Kelashian and the girl she helped have more in common than wheelchairs: She has been acting since she was old enough to play an orphan herself. She knew performing was her calling when she was 13 and a teacher told her forcefully, ‘That is what you are supposed to do with your life.’ ”

    Kelashian grew up in Texas and attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where she received the R.L. Frasier Scholarship for Artistic Excellence. It was there, while playing a witch in Macbeth, she discovered something was going wrong with her body.

    “There was a point in the play when we had to run up over this hill because it was an outdoor theatre,” she said. “But I had a breakdown and all these lumps popped up over me. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.” When she admitted to her director that she could no longer accommodate the physical demands of the blocking because she was in such pain - she was cut from the show.

    Phamaly campaign raises $200K, 'saves the company'

    “Everyone was like, ‘You need to handle this. You shouldn't be on stage if you aren’t in shape to run down the hill,’ ” Kelashian said. “Instead of just changing things around so I wouldn’t have to run down the hill, they let me go.”

    A life-changing diagnosis

    Kelashian was diagnosed with Dercum’s disease, a rare condition that caused tumors to grow over her body and under her skin. The result is extreme and constant pain.

    Her peers just didn’t get it, and Kelashian dropped out of college. She says the next couple of years were a dark time. She was depressed because she could no longer act out her passion for theatre - and scared because of the uncertainty this little-known disease brought.

    “That was a rough experience,” she said. “I really don’t talk to anyone from that time of my life, just because it was such a strange thing to go through at a young age.”

    Kelashian enrolled at a local community college where she studied Speech and Debate - “or what I call ‘Competitive Theatre,’ she quipped. It was during a competition she met the man she would marry and start a family with.

    The couple moved to Denver with son Edric, she said, because of the city’s reputation for providing services that allow the disability community to live full and independent lives. “Denver is the the disability mecca,” she said with a laugh. The subsequent legalization of medical marijuana has been a godsend, she says, because it eases her chronic pain.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by John Moore


    The only thing that was missing from her life here was theatre. That changed in 2012. One day while scanning the audition notices in The Denver Post, one upcoming production caught Kelashian’s eye: Phamaly was looking for disabled actors to perform in Little Shop of Horrors.

    “I fell to pieces,” Kelashian said. “I didn't know anything except that whatever this was, it was for me. I just cried and cried. I auditioned, I got in - and that is what I have been doing ever since.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Kelashian instantly felt she could be herself again in the company of Phamaly. Subsequent roles with the company have included Yente in Fiddler on the Roof and Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. Her son, Edric Kelashian, joined his mother in the ensemble of Fiddler.

    Ashley Kelashian_Quote 2Through it all, Kelashian has tried not to let her disease change her instinct to always put others first.

    “You have to be humble,” she said. “You have to be patient through your own pain, so you have to be patient with other people's pain. Any opportunity you have to make someone feel good is a good chance for me.”

    As Phamaly's official Literary Manager, Kelashian maintains a script library to help her fellow actors prepare for auditions. She has resisted the frequent suggestion that she should charge for the service.

    “My motto is, ‘Kind is the most important thing you can be,’ ” Kelashian said. “I hope people would say I am kind and helpful whenever I can be.”

    She seems by all accounts, completely miscast to play the role Carol Burnett made famous on film. Mrs. Hannigan is the booze-sodden, kid-hating caretaker of the ratty New York orphanage where she makes her girls scrub the floor till it shines like the Chrysler Building. But while Kelashian might not be wicked, she is known for her wicked sense of humor.

    “Sometimes she just channels Hannigan," said castmate Jenna Bainbridge, who plays good-girl Grace. “Last night one of the kids were driving us crazy and she said, ‘Oh, God, I feel like Hannigan today. I need a drink, you guys.' "

    The sun will come out in Texas

    The Kelashian family moved back to Texas a year ago so Edric could attend his freshman year of high school with his friends there. Ashley has been traveling to and from Denver for the past year to continue her work for Phamaly.  

    For this run of Annie, Kelashian is living in an apartment with a roommate, and she admitted there are times when she needs to ask for help.

    “I don't want to say I overestimated myself before I came back here for this - but I did,” Kelashian said. “I have gotten to the point where when I do the dishes, the repetitive motion tears the tissue in my arm. And at rehearsal, I need to wave the kids all about, and that is more painful than normal.”

    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by Avery AndersonBut all Kelashian had to do was say the word, and "within 30 minutes," she said, help was on the way. The Denver Center, which not only makes its theatres available for Phamaly productions but also assists with production, marketing and logistical support, had made one of the apartments it owns in nearby Brooks Tower building available to another out-of-town Annie performer. And that convenience has made her available to help Kelashian at a moment's notice.

    "I got a phone call saying she could come over and help me with things and take me to the emergency room if I ever needed it,” Kelashian said. “I was just crying. Nowhere else in the world would I get this kind of accommodation to do what I love doing.”

    And when Edric graduates from high school in 2020, Kelashian and her husband plan to come home to Colorado for good.

    “Phamaly is the end-game of my life,” Kelashian said. 

    Phamaly Theatre Company's Annie: Ticket information
    • July 15 through Aug. 6
    • Stage Theatre Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Directed by Regan Linton and Steve Wilson. Musical Direction by Trent Hines
    • Tickets: $20-$37
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Accessible performances: July 23, Aug. 3

    Video: View Phamaly's official Annie trailer


    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of Phamaly:

    Pop-culture Annie, from comics to Broadway to Jay-Z
    Phamaly gala, campaign raise $200K, ‘save the company’
    Phamaly launches emergency $100,000 fundraising campaign
    Regan Linton accepts Spirit of Craig Award
    Regan Linton returns to lead Phamaly in landmark appointment

    About the 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 at @a_anderson64.

  • Photos: Phamaly gala, campaign raise $200K, ‘save the company’

    by John Moore | Jun 12, 2017
    Phamaly 2017 gala
    Photos from Phamaly Theatre Company's annual gala on June 3 hosted by Kyle Dyer of Channel 9 and former Denver Bronco Reggie Rivers (pictured below and right with Phamaly's Regan Linton). To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewCenter.

    Phamaly's mission to transform the public perception of disability will continue with Annie at the Denver Center

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Phamaly Theatre Company's emergency "Sunny Tomorrow" fundraising campaign has reached its $100,000 goal, and the company's subsequent annual company gala at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum on June 3 raised a record $101,000 in addition, company officials announced. 

    "We are still blown away by the overwhelming energy that we felt in the room," said Phamaly Development and Marketing Manager Tamara Arrenado. "Phamaly has so much momentum and enthusiasm moving forward."

    Annie gala PhamalyPhamaly, a rare and internationally acclaimed theatre company that exclusively provides performance opportunities for actors with disabilities, faced the real prospect of bankruptcy before the fundraising initiatives were launched by Acting Executive Director Regan Linton. The company had undergone unprecedented recent expansion, "and this level of operation has unpredictably strained our organization," Linton wrote in an open letter to Phamaly supporters.

    At the gala, a moment was taken to thank Linton for her efforts. "You saved the company," Production Manager Paul Behrhorst said bluntly. 

    For 27 years, Phamaly's mission has been to produce professional plays and musicals that empower its performers and transforms the public's perception of disability.

    Phamaly's annual summer Broadway musical presentation will be Annie, opening July 15 at the Denver Center's Stage Theatre. Members of the cast performed at the gala. See the photos above.

    Annie: Ticket information
    annieAt a glance: You may know the story of Annie, but Phamaly's approach to this familiar story will be more raw and humanistic. "These are hardened orphans who have faced a lot of adversity in their lives, just like the actual young actors in our cast who are going to be playing these roles,” said co-director co-Director Regan Linton.

    Presented by Phamaly Theatre Company
    July 15-Aug. 6
    Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    Directed by Regan Linton and Steve Wilson
    Call 303-575-0005 or go to the Denver Center's web page

    Phamaly, Denver Actors Fund benefit screening of Annie film
    Glance: The Denver Actors Fund hosts a monthly film series at Alamo Drafthouse Denver showing a movie both inspired by a Broadway musical and is also currently  being presented by a local theatre company somewhere in the area. This month:  Get a sneak peek at Phamaly's upcoming production of Annie with a live performance by members of the cast before the classic 1982 Carol Burnett film is shown in TWO Alamo theatres simultaneously. All tickets $10. 

    Presented at Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake
    4255 W. Colfax Ave.
    6:30 p.m. live entertainment, 7 p.m. film
    Choose your preferred seating here.

    Note: Choose 6:30 start time to be in a fully accessible Theatre 4: The Phamaly performance will be interpreted, and the movie will be captioned on screen. This performance is also designated as public singalong. Choose the 6:35 p.m. screening if you want listen to the movie in quiet adulation in Theater 5. You won't miss the live performance by Phamaly. We will livestream the performance next door right onto the screen in Theater 5. This will be the screen with NO captions.

    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of Phamaly:
    Phamaly launches emergency $100,000 fundraising campaign
    Regan Linton accepts Spirit of Craig Award
    Regan Linton returns to lead Phamaly in landmark appointment
  • Meet the cast: Zoe Manarel of 'The Secret Garden'

    by John Moore | May 03, 2017
    zoe-manarel-photo-credit-adamsviscom_34145860262_o

    Zoe Manarel, a sixth-grader who plays Mary Lennox in 'The Secret Garden,' makes her upcoming Amazon film debut as Suzie “Z” Yang in a new 'American Girl Story' special that begins streaming on June 9. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    MEET ZOE MANAREL
    Zoe Manarel plays Mary Lennox  in The Secret Garden, the classic story of the 10-year-old orphan girl doomed to a life of isolation with her uncle in England - until she uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden.  It plays through May 28 in the Stage Theatre.

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. Broadway: Matilda the Musical (Lavender). Off-Broadway: The Little Princess (Ann). Broadway Lab Productions and Workshops: Amelie The Musical (Young Amelie), Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen (Little Orchid),  Unbound Musical reading (Young Zhong-Mei). T.V.: “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Unforgettable,” “Jimmy Fallon,” “Riding the D with Dr. Seeds.”

    • Hometown: Katonah Westchester, N.Y. 
    • School: Sixth grade
    • When did you know you wanted to be an actor?  I think I always wanted to be an actor and singer - especially in kindergarten. There was a bathroom in the classroom and I would sing whenever I was in there. When I would come out, the teacher and all the kids said they loved my singing. I loved the feeling of making people happy.
    • DespereauxIf you could play any role, what would it be? I would love to play Desperaux, the mouse in The Tale of Despereaux. I love his determination, and the fact that he never gives up, and that he would strive for things like marrying a human princess, even though it was unlikely it would happen. (He did get a kiss from her.) Also, he was quirky. He did not really have any friends, but he didn’t care. He stayed true to what he thought was right, and did not let other people sway him. He was a leader, even if it was only to himself.
    • Why are you an actor? Because It makes me feel complete inside.
    • What do you want to be when you grow up, if not an actor? If i don’t grow up to be an actor, I’d like to be either a food critic or a comedian doctor. I’d like to be a food critic because I love eating. I love all sorts of foods and seeing how different people can cook. I'd like to be a comedian doctor because I love people, and I hate seeing them sick or sad. If I am a doctor, I figure I should learn a lot of amazing jokes to help my patients laugh and feel good as I gave them a shot, or when they feel scared. Laughter is a great medicine.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope they see that no matter how bad things look, there is always a little piece of goodness or hope to grab on to. If you can do that, even though you’re really sad, that little piece of goodness or hope can grow into something much bigger and better. In the end, while you may still be sad, your life will be a little bit better.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ... for people to see that we are really not that different, and we all want the same thing: To be happy and to get along."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Secret Garden: Ticket information
    The Secret GardenThe beloved classic blossoms anew in this enchanting musical full of beautiful melodies. When young Mary uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden, she becomes determined to revive the beauty that once flourished.
    Book and lyrics by Marsha Norman; music by Lucy Simon;
    based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

    Through May 28
    Stage Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Previous coverage of The Secret Garden:
    Denver Post review: A worthy, family-friendly and satisfying theatrical experience
    Video: How does our Secret Garden grow?
    Photos, video: Your first look at The Secret Garden
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Five things we learned at Perspectives
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    zoe-manarel-photo-credit-adamsviscom_34145860262_oPhoto by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


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

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'The Christians': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Jan 01, 2017
    'The Christians' in Denver
    Photos from the first rehearsal of Lucas Hnath's play 'The Christians' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Click again to download. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Director Kent Thompson greeted all those gathered for the first rehearsal of the DCPA Theatre Company’s upcoming staging of The Christians like a pastor with a message for his own flock: That playwright Lucas Hnath’s motivation for writing his thoughtful story about a crisis within a large community church comes from a genuine place.

    Kent Thompson quote“This is a rare play for today's theatre because it actually talks about its subject in an honest and non-judgmental way,” Thompson said. "He doesn't try to make fun or dehumanize anybody. There is no agenda. These are people who are all striving for understanding and vision and to know what is the right thing to do.”

    In The Christians, Pastor Paul is the founder of a huge evangelical megachurch who creates a deep schism among his congregation when he announces a ground-shaking change in his personal opinion regarding eternal salvation. And the theological fallout will be enormous.

    Thompson read a message from Hnath explaining why he wrote the play. Here is an excerpt, along with four other things we learned about The Christians at the first rehearsal:

    NUMBER 1 From Lucas Hnath: “I can feel that rush to understand when people ask me, with respect to The Christians, what I personally believe. I refuse to answer the question. I'm not necessarily cagey about my beliefs — although I do sort of think that the attempt to put those beliefs into words will always result in a misrepresentation of said beliefs. But I suspect that answering the question will somehow diminish the effect of the play. In these kinds of questions, I detect the desire to explain away something. I detect the desire to locate a single, visible point. And while the plot of The Christians is far from ambiguous, the play is a series of contradictory arguments. No single argument “wins.” There’s no resolution. That lack of obvious resolution can be uncomfortable, even agitating. But with a lot of practice, we can also learn to take pleasure in the agitation. And maybe something more complex and true becomes visible within the agitation. A church is a place where people go to see something that is very difficult to see. A place where the invisible is — at least for a moment — made visible. The theater can be that too.”  

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for 'The Book of Will'

    NUMBER 2Several members of the creative team have deep personal ties to churches like the one depicted in the play. Hnath’s mother is an evangelical minister – he even thought he might follow in her footsteps until playwriting lured him away. Thompson’s father was an influential Southern Baptist preacher. Costume Designer Kevin Copenhaver’s father is a retired Nazarene minister, and Composer Gary Grundei has been a church musician all his life. They all said their experiences will help to ensure that the story will be presented in Denver with credibility, authenticity and respect. “This is not a stereotypical evangelical church you might see on a TV sit-com,” Thompson said.

    Video bonus: Lucas Hnath talks about writing The Christians:


    NUMBER 3The setting of the play is an actual megachurch sermon, so those in the audience for the play are essentially part of the congregation witnessing it. But while the Denver Center's Stage Theatre holds “only” 680 people, in Hnath's story there are many thousands in attendance. “So we want to imply that the church we are in is much, much larger than the theatre,” Thompson said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 4The creative team has been researching local megachurches for inspiration, specifically the Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette. Projection Designer Topher Blair and Lighting Designer Richard Devin were specifically interested in studying how these churches integrate multimedia and visual effects into their sermons. “What we learned is that these presentations are not cheesy in any way,” Blair said. “They are very slick and highly professional.” It struck Devin that the grand use of fog, colored lights and other technical effects in church sermons is not unlike the effects artists employ in their live theatrical presentations. “They have immense amounts of equipment at their disposal,” Devin said of the churches, “but I think it’s important we not overdo the spectacle because that’s really not what it’s all about. It’s about the message and the music and the spiritual experience.”

    Coming this week: Gary Grundei on the live music in The Christians

    NUMBER 5The Christians. Kevin Kilner. Photo by John Moore. The enormous role of Pastor Paul will be played at the Denver Center by veteran TV, film and stage actor Kevin Kilner, who is perhaps best known for playing the protagonist in the first season of the Canadian sci-fi series Earth: Final Conflict, and Officer Dean in The Stoned Age. In 1995-96, he starred in Almost Perfect as the romantic interest of Nancy Travis, who played a TV screenwriter. Kilner graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he was a member of the school's NCAA champion lacrosse team. He has appeared in the hit TV series House of Cards (Michael Kern in the first two seasons), Damages and Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. His extensive theatre credits include work for the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, L.A. Theatre Works and the Skirball Cultural Center. He has been married since 1998 to actor Jordan Baker (Another Earth, Escape from L.A.). (Photo above: Robert Manning Jr., left, and Kevin Kilner. Photo by John Moore for 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.


    The Christians. Caitlin Wise, Krystel Lucas, Kim Staunton. Photo by John Moore.  From left: Caitlin Wise and Krystel Lucas of 'The Christians', with Kim Staunton of 'Two Degrees.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    The Christians: Cast list
    Written by Lucas Hnath
    Directed by Kent Thompson

    • Steve Brady (All The Way) as Elder Jay
    • Kevin Kilner (DCPA debut) as Pastor Paul
    • Cajardo Lindsey (All The Way) Associate Pastor Joshua understudy
    • Krystel Lucas (DCPA debut) as Elizabeth
    • Robert Manning Jr. (DCPA debut) as Associate Pastor Joshua
    • Timothy McCracken (The Giver) Pastor Paul understudy/ Elder Jay understudy
    • Erin Willis (The 12) Elizabeth / Jenny understudy
    • Caitlin Wise (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Jenny


    The Christians
    : Ticket information
    The ChristiansA new play about the mystery of faith and what happens when a doctrinal controversy shakes the foundation of a large community church.
    Jan. 27-Feb. 26
    Stage Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of The Christians:
    The Christians is 'a pathway to empathy
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics




  • Helping 'Alice' find just the right fit in Denver

    by NewsCenter Staff | Sep 21, 2015

    In the video above, DCPA President and CEO Scott Shiller offers a behind-the-scenes look into the whimsical world of "Lookingglass Alice" and the rigging that makes the magic happen.


    By Carolyn Michaels

    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    While there weren’t any magical mushrooms like in the classic Lewis Carroll story, Lookingglass Alice found a way to fit into The Stage Theatre for the newly opened Theatre Company season. This innovative play from Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre has been adapted for the DCPA through the ingenuity of the Theatre Company production team and the cooperation of the entire Lookingglass company.

    When Lookingglass Alice was first adapted and directed by Lookingglass Theatre ensemble member David Catlin, the staging was perfected for the Water Tower Water Works Theatre’s unique space in Chicago. There, theatregoers were seated around both sides of the tennis court-style stage, allowing the actors to play to the front and back of the audience. With its wild acrobatics and larger-than-life characters, the show came to life in a way that a conventional stage normally wouldn’t allow. But when the time came to take the show on tour, the production team had to learn how to adapt to new spaces across the country.

    Lookingglass Alice requited stage modifications in Denver for its magic to fly here. Lookingglass Theatre spent almost an entire year coordinating with the DCPA to customize the show for Denver audiences. Catlin and his production team visited last year to brainstorm how seating and staging could reinvent the theatre.

    “A great amount of trust was placed on the Denver production team to transform the space, and it was agreed that The Stage Theatre could embody the experience needed to properly represent the spectacle,” said the DCPA’s Director of Production, Jeff Gifford.

    One of the greatest challenges of the transition was creating a tennis-court style audience experience. The show needs the actors to be able to play from front to back and from side to side. After some experimentation, the DCPA production team landed on the solution: seating some audience members on the stage.

    It might seem like a simple fix, but adding seats on stage meant would require other modifications. To make sure theatergoers on stage and off view the show at the same level, the entire stage was dropped down to the height of Row AA seating — almost 2 feet lower than usual. Special risers were built to safely fit the new seats and still offer the same level of comfort as the traditional seating. Those sitting on stage will take a new entrance into the theatre and ushers will be trained to help ease the learning process.

    Lookingglass Alice features action that literally rises above the stage through aerial acrobatics, stilt jumpers and larger-than-life characters. “To ensure the actors can perform their tricks in a safe environment, a specialized rigging system has been suspended above the stage to attach all of the trapeze-like elements,” said scenic design assistant Nicholas Renaud. “New trusses have been added to the setup to support different attachments at different positions on the stage, like Alice’s aerial silk and hoops.”

    In Lookingglass Alice's previous tour stops, the rigging was attached as-is underneath the current stage setup. But since the modifications for the Denver production would change the positioning of the actors on stage for the entire show, the DCPA created a customized system.

    These seating and staging hurdles posed less of a problem for touring stops like the Arsht Center in Miami. For its performance in the Ziff Ballet Opera House, the Lookingglass team was able to transfer its entire staging setup and place it atop the accommodatingly large stage. Though the horseshoe-shaped theatre wasn’t as intimate as the original setup at Water Tower Water Works, the large, 2,400-seat space offered a variety of views from different heights and angles.

    When the Lookingglass  team arrived at the DCPA, members skipped working in a rehearsal space and moved directly into The Stage Theatre itself. This is rare but was necessary to make sure that the space and show worked smoothly. The DCPA production and tech teams spent their time tweaking all elements of the show as actors rehearsed their new choreography in the theatre. From moving around trap doors to making sure the new on-stage seating has the same sound and lighting experience as the rest of the theatre, the weeks leading up opening night were busy indeed.

    Lookingglass Alice requited stage modifications in Denver for its magic to fly here.
    'Lookingglass Alice' required stage modifications in Denver for its magic to fly here. Photo by John Moore.

    Lookingglass Alice: Ticket information
    Performances through Oct 11
    Stage Theatre
    ASL interpreted & Audio described performance: 1:30 p.m. Oct 3
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
    Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at Denvercenter.org.

    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for the Denver engagement of 'Lookingglass Alice.'

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Lookingglass Alice:
    Photos: Opening night of Lookingglass Alice in Denver
    Lookingglass Alice: A tumble through time, childhood in tow
    Perspectives: 5 things we learned about Lookingglass Alice
    Casting announced for Theatre Company's fall shows
    DCPA Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    Win the Cadillac Treatment on Opening Night of Lookingglass Alice
    Official show page

    More 'Meet the Cast' profiles (more to come):
    Molly Brennan, the Red Queen and others
    Samuel Taylor, the White Knight
    Adeoye, the Cheshire Cat and others


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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.