• BETC moves up in class with ambitious 'The Curious Incident...'

    by John Moore | Mar 20, 2018
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Broadway company of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.' Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Boulder company will be first in Colorado to stage celebrated plays The Curious Incident and The Wolves

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s 13th season will include its most ambitious undertaking ever: Staging an enormously challenging play that was once thought to be unstageable. For the first time in its history, BETC will stage a Tony Award-winning best play before anyone else in Colorado when it caps its wildly aspirational 2018-19 season with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the stage adaptation of Mark Haddon's 2003 best-selling novel.

    Stephen-Weitz- quoteIntroducing Tony-winning best plays to Colorado audiences is a distinction that for the past two decades has generally been traded between the DCPA Theatre Company (All the Way, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and Curious Theatre (Red, Clybourne Park, next year’s The Humans). No one in Colorado has had the temerity to bite on Curious Incident since it won the Tony in 2015.

    BETC steps into that company this year with the story of a socially awkward British teen who is a mathematical savant but falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. The story follows his quest to clear his name after the neighbor’s dog is speared by a garden fork in the middle of the night.

    The National Theatre’s 2012 London production was a sensation for its ingenious technological advances that somehow helped communicate to its audiences what might be going on inside the young man’s mysterious and often short-circuiting head. The staging used lighting and sound innovations that made the boy's sensory overload both harrowing and eminently understandable.

    But the groundbreaking success of the play also seemed to confirm the presumed belief that it would be impossible to produce for small theatres around the country that, like BETC, do not have multimillion-dollar budgets. “Curious Incident is one of the most fully immersive works ever to wallop Broadway,” the New York Times said. “So be prepared to have all your emotional and sensory buttons pushed, including a few you may have not known existed.”

    Gene Gillette comes home in The Curious Incident tour

    BETC co-founder Stephen Weitz was not scared off. He believes any good story is a stageable story. Somehow.

    “At its heart, Curious Incident is a powerful story about a young boy,” Weitz said. “People who encountered the play in New York or during the national tour may be expecting a particular production style. Ours will feature plenty of ‘theatre magic,’ but it will be our own BETC vision guiding the aesthetic with that story at its core.”

    Sarah BETC’s season is also notable for The Wolves, an utterly original story that takes place on the sidelines of a high-school girls soccer team's games. It is not only Sarah DeLappe’s first play, it was presented at New York’s Lincoln Center — and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

    "I'm thrilled that The Wolves has found its Colorado home at the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company,” DeLappe told the DCPA NewsCenter. The playwright, who grew up playing youth soccer in Reno, Nev., was tutored at Brown University by none other than Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive). DeLappe’s characters are listed in the script not by their names but rather their jersey numbers. They are teammates, after all.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    They play, which has surprisingly little to do with soccer, takes place in nine scenes, each while the girls are warming up for a match. “I was attracted to the idea of a stage where we were watching young women whose bodies were active throughout,” DeLappe told the Lincoln Center’s media office. She said she is hungry for narratives with strong female protagonists, and that she sees The Wolves as a story about women warriors. “I was inspired to think of these characters as a pack preparing for battle,” she said.

    Weitz calls The Wolves “possibly the most honest depiction of the lives of young women I've ever encountered,” he said. “Not only is it a profound story, but if affords an incredible opportunity for nine young women in our acting community — part of our efforts to address equity in all facets of our art form.”

    Arvada Cebter Sense and Sensibility. Mall Gale PhotographyThe 13th BETC season is also notable for two Jane Austen adaptations — Pride and Prejudice (a rollicking new adaptation by Kate Hamill, who also wrote the Arvada Center's current Sense and Sensibility) and its modern sequel, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. This makes the third straight BETC season with a title by Gunderson (Silent Sky, The Revolutionists), currently the most produced playwright in the world not named Shakespeare.

    (Pictured at right: Zachary Andrews, Jessica Robblee, Emma Messenger, Abner Genece, Geoffrey Kent, Jessica Austgen, and Emelie O'Hara in the Arvada Center's 'Sense and Sensibility', running through May 6. BETC will stage a sequel penned by the same adaptor. Matt Gale Photography.)

    2018-19 will also mark the 10th anniversary of BETC’s holiday staging of David Sedaris’ The SantaLand Diaries, the last seven in partnership with Off-Center at the DCPA’s Jones Theatre.The complete season is listed below.

    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.

    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company 2018-19 at a glance

    • Sept. 13-Oct. 7, 2018: Pride and Prejudice
    • Oct. 25-Nov. 18, 2018: The Wolves
    • Dec. 8-24, 2018: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 24, 2018: The SantaLand Diaries
    • Feb. 7-March 3, 2019: The Rembrandt
    • April 25-May 19, 2019: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    A closer look at each play:

    (Descriptions provided by BETC)

    Pride and Prejudice
    Sept. 13-Oct. 7, 2018
    By Jane Austen, adapted by Kate Hamill
    This is a playful and unconventional update Jane Austen's classic romance set in Regency, England, where marriage is a must for women. This clever comedy offers a decidedly progressive take on the trials of Lizzie, Mr. Darcy and the Bennet family — with a few dance breaks thrown in for good measure. 

    The Wolves
    Oct. 25-Nov. 18, 2018
    By Sarah DeLappe
    In each scene of this stunning first play by Sarah DeLappe, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, nine girls warm up for their upcoming soccer game. But they must also tackle coming of age and all the confusion, awkwardness, joy and sorrow that comes with it.  Along the way, these unforgettable young women make fierce choices, face their own fragility and ultimately grow into a team. The New York Times said: “The scary, exhilarating brightness of raw adolescence emanates from every scene of The Wolves.”

    Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
    Dec. 8-24, 2018
    By Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon
    In this sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the bookish middle child of the Bennett family is constantly overshadowed by her four sisters and longs for a large life.' As Mary searches for her identity, she unexpectedly discovers the possibility of true love.

    The SantaLand Diaries
    Nov. 23-Dec. 24, 2018
    By David Sedaris, adapted by Joe Mantello
    For the 10th consecutive year, BETC returns to the Macys department store for this delightfully devilish holiday hit, produced in partnership with Off-Center at the Denver Center’s Jones Theatre. Michael Bouchard and Luke Sorge will again alternate as David, the desperate New Yorker who takes a job as a SantaLand elf named Crumpet.

    The Rembrandt
    Feb. 7-March 3, 2019
    By Jessica Dickey
    Inside a modern-day museum, two security guards and a painter find themselves compelled to touch a masterpiece.  But soon, we are skipping through time; watching Rembrandt at work and listening to Homer discuss the nature of art. Dickey’s play asks us to consider the longevity of art, and the brevity of life.  

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    Gene Gillete. Curious Joan MarcusApril 25-May 19, 2019
    By Simon Stephens, adapted by Mark Haddon
    Christopher Boone, a sweet 15-year-old Brit, has an extraordinary mind but is ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of everyday life.  When falsely accused of killing his neighbor's dog, he sets out to find the true culprit. His journey across London leads to an earth-shattering discovery that will change his life forever. Winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play.

    Pictured above and right: Colorado native Gene Gillette in the recent national touring production of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

  • 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
  • 2017 True West Award: Sammie Joe Kinnett

    by John Moore | Dec 10, 2017
    True West Award Sammie Joe Kinnett
    Photo at right by Zachary Andrews.


    Day 10: Sammie Joe Kinnett

    Arvada Center
    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Sammie Joe Kinnett is one of the hundreds who started 2017 adrift in grief over the death of Murray Ross.

    Ross founded TheatreWorks as part of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1975 and for the next 42 years, he built it into a fertile incubator of young hearts and minds. Some of them were not even his students. Kinnett, for one, was a teenage community-college dropout who, through Ross, found a mentor — and a home — on a campus he didn’t even attend.

    "Ross was a divining rod of talent," said frequent Colorado Springs Director Geoffrey Kent. When Ross met Kinnett, he didn’t see a dropout. He saw his next Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He saw his future co-writer and the co-star of an original piece they developed together called I Am Nikola Tesla.

    sammie joe-15-m242x323“Murray was able to see when there was something special in someone,” said Kinnett, "and he was able to bring it out in them just by sheer belief.” Ross certainly brought it out in Kinnett, who developed into one of the most intelligent and consistently working comic actors in theatres across Colorado Springs.

    And so when Ross died in January, Kinnett confronted his own profound sadness and honored his mentor by going out and making people laugh. First in a revelatory take on the title character in the warhorse comedy The Foreigner at the Arvada Center. Then by putting a more humane spin on The SantaLand Diaries, David Sedaris’ comic monologue about working as a Macy’s elf (playing through Dec. 23). Both plays were directed by Kent, who calls Kinnett “the ‘fire and forget’ missile of comedians.”

    When he says that, he’s invoking the military term for a projectile that never fails to hit its target. “Once launched in any given direction,” Kent elaborated, “Sammie rockets forward with 110 percent commitment.”  

    Audiences saw a whole different side of Kinnett's comic skills when he played Sancho to Stephen Day's Henry Award-winning Cervantes in Man of La Mancha for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Reviewer Bill Wheeler wrote the casting of Kinnett as Sancho was brilliant, and that "he’s the finest comedic actor working in Colorado Springs."

    True West Awards Sammie Joe Kinnett The Foreigner Arvada CenterThe Foreigner
    has been done and doner since playwright Larry Shue (M*A*S*H) debuted it in 1983. But everything about the tired old comedy felt fresh at the Arvada Center — even, sadly, its intentionally racist overtones that felt uncomfortably contemporary in the wake of the Charlottesville riots. Kinnett played a pathologically shy young Brit who pretends not to speak English to avoid interacting with the rubes visiting a fishing lodge in rural Georgia.

    The reason it felt so fresh, said Drew Martorella, Executive Director of UCCS Presents, is because everything seems to when filtered through Kinnett’s playful lens.

    “Sammie Joe has an innocence about him that allows you to see the world through his eyes — and that is a great vehicle to allow comedy to happen,” Martorella said.

    (Pictured at right: Sammie Joe Kinnett, center, with Jessica Robblee, left, Lance Rasmussen (back) and Edith Weiss in the Arvada Center's 'The Foreigner.' M. Gale Photography.)

    'Murray Ross put beauty and goodness out into this world'

    Kinnett is a great physical comedian who uses his body as a readily available tool just as a painter uses a paintbrush or a mechanic uses a tire iron — and that was on confident display in The Foreigner. This was not the first time on a Denver stage for Kinnett, who turned two memorable summer seasons at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. But for many, The Foreigner was an introduction worthy of a classic comedy double-take. Take a gander at what the impressed critics had to say:

    • Joanne Ostrow, The Denver Post: “The Foreigner is a particular triumph for Sammie Joe Kinnett, who, through a mix of lithe physical antics, deft dialect work and spot-on timing, brings Charlie to life.”
    • Juliet Wittman, Westword: “Sammie Joe Kinnett sports a goofy, all-stops-out physicality and a gutsy, crazed creativity that lets him try anything and go anywhere for a laugh — the result being gales of laughter from the audience.”

    Ross would have loved seeing Kinnett in this exquisitely executed role, Kent said. Here was this now fully grown-up actor putting on a confident comedy clinic that was fully gained through hard knocks and hard experience. And yet it was infused with a joyful spirit of reminiscent of Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful). Kinnett's humanity even bleeds through his current take on Sedaris’ famously cynical SantaLand elf in Colorado Springs.

    "TheatreWorks made a bold choice," writes the (unnamed) critic for the website Springs on Stage:  "They gave Crumpet a soul.

    "Kinnett brings a wild energy and warmth to the show,” the reviewer goes on to say. “This Crumpet wants to care — he’s just waiting for something that’s worth caring about. It’s a touching blend of deviance and heart.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    And as most any comedian will tell you, successful comedy is often born through life’s rockiest transitions. Over their decade together, Ross watched Kinnett grow up, fall in love, get married, become a father — and then a single father.

    Ross did live to see that his former community-college dropout is now enrolled at UCCS studying for a degree in Performing Arts and Psychology. It seems the more complicated Kinnett’s life has become, the better he’s become as an actor who floats easily from screwball farce to Shakespeare (sometimes at the same time).

    Man-of-La-Mancha_3“We would rehearse for The SantaLand Diaries from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Colorado Springs, and then Sammie would drive to Arvada to perform in The Foreigner that night — all as a full-time student and single dad,” Kent said. “I don’t know how he did it.”

    Kent might not know how Kinnett did it, but he is certain Ross has had everything to do with Kinnett’s now more widely recognized statewide success.

    “Sammie Joe is now equipped with the deep pathos to pair with that classic spit take,” Kent said. “He’s the complete package.”

    (Pictured at right: Sammie Joe Kinnett as Sancho in 'Man of La Mancha' for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Photo by Jeff Kearney.)  

    Martorella believes Kinnett “may be the most generous, most humorous, most accommodating performer we have ever turned out here in Colorado Springs,” he said. “We’re proud that we still have him, and we’re glad he’s still making people laugh.”

    Whatever "that thing" Kinnett has may be indefinable. Martorella knows only one simple thing:

    “Sammie Joe just makes me smile.”

    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.

    Sammie Joe Kinnett: 2017

    • The Hairy Ape, Colorado Springs TheatreWorks (Assistant Director)
    • The Foreigner, Arvada Center
    • The SantaLand Diaries, Colorado Springs TheatreWorks (Actor)

    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 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

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

  • Single tickets to most 2017-18 shows, classes go on sale Aug. 11

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2017


    Later on-sale dates will be announced for Hamilton, Disney’s Aladdin, The Book of Mormon, Remote Denver and Dear Evan Hansen

    Tickets for most of the Denver Center's 2017-18 Broadway, Theatre Company, Cabaret, Off-Center and Education shows, as well as all fall and winter classes, will be made available to the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 11, at denvercenter.org

    The full list of 29 DCPA productions available for purchase on Aug. 11 is below.

    Please note that Hamilton, Disney’s Aladdin, The Book of Mormon, Remote Denver are not included in the Aug. 11 on-sale. A separate on sale for each production will be announced at a later time. Dear Evan Hansen will launch its national tour in Denver as the first show of the 2018/19 Broadway season and will go on sale to the public at a later time in 2018.

    More information on the Broadway shows on-sale Aug. 11

    More information on Theatre Company, Off-Center shows


    2017-18 DCPA tickets on sale Aug. 11:

    Show title


    Run Dates

    Men are from Mars,
    Women are from Venus LIVE!

    Garner Galleria

    Aug 9 - 27, 2017



    Sept 15 - Oct 29, 2017

    Girls Only - The Secret Comedy of Women

    Garner Galleria

    Sept 21 - Oct 22, 2017

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories
    by Ezra Jack Keats

    Conservatory Thtr.

    Sep 21 - Nov 18, 2017

    Rob Lowe - Stories I Only
    Tell My Friends: LIVE!

    The Ellie

    Oct 1, 2017

    The Wild Party

    Hangar at Stanley

    Oct 11 - 31, 2017

    Smart People


    Oct 13- Nov 19, 2017

    Something Rotten!


    Oct 17 - 29, 2017

    Breakin' Convention


    Nov 4-5, 2017

    First Date

    Garner Galleria

    Nov 11, 2017 - Apr 22, 2018

    RENT 20th Anniversary Tour


    Nov 14 - 19, 2017

    A Christmas Carol


    Nov 24 - Dec 24, 2017

    The SantaLand Diaries


    Nov 24 - Dec 24, 2017



    Nov 28 - Dec 3, 2017

    Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
    by Chip Davis


    Dec 9 - 10, 2017

    ELF The Musical


    Dec 13 - 17, 2017



    Dec 19 - 31, 2017

    Rodgers & Hammerstein's
    The King and I


    Jan 2 - 14, 2018

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding


    Jan 19 - Feb 25, 2018

    American Mariachi


    Jan 26 - Feb 25, 2018

    The Great Leap


    Feb 2 - March 11, 2018

    This is Modern Art


    Mar 22 - April 15, 2018



    Feb 13 - 18, 2018

    Native Gardens


    April 6 - May 6, 2018

    The Who's Tommy


    April 20 - May 27, 2018

    Human Error

    Garner Galleria

    May 18 - June 24, 2018

    School of Rock


    May 29 - Jun 10, 2018

    Les Misérables


    July 25 - Aug 5, 2018

    On Your Feet!


    Aug 8 - 19, 2018


    Full Broadway subscriptions are no longer available to the general public. Theatre Company Full Season, Power Pass, All Stages, Family Package, Premium Subscriptions, Designer Series and Theatre Company Choose Your Own are available. For more information, visit denvercenter.org/subs. Hamilton priority access will not be available with any new DCPA subscriptions.

    Patrons between the ages of 18-30 are invited to join the Radvantage membership program, which grants access to specially priced tickets to participating shows. Ticket prices start at $20. For more information, please visit denvercenter.org/radvantage.

    The 2017-18 DCPA Broadway season is generously sponsored by BMW of Denver Downtown, UCHealth and United Airlines. The 2017-18 DCPA Theatre Company season is generously sponsored by Larimer Square and Daniel L. Ritchie. Media sponsorship is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. Denver Center for the Performing Arts is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.

  • 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.


    • 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)


    • 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

    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-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-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.”


    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.

    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


    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-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-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-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-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-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-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-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.



    • 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.



  • 2017-18 season: TheatreWorks moving forward in memory of Murray Ross

    by John Moore | Mar 30, 2017

    Theatrworks. Sammie Joe Kinnett
    Sammie Joe Kinnett, seen here in Colorado Springs Theatrworks' 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' will star in 'The SantaLand Diaries.'

    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks has announced its first season since the death of founder Murray Ross (pictured right) in January. The 2017-18 season will be presented in honor of Ross:

    • A Murray Ross 160Much Ado About Nothing, by Shakespeare (July 27-Aug. 19 at Rock Ledge Ranch)
    • Heisenberg, by Simon Stephens (Sept. 7-24 at the Bon Vivant Theatre)
    • Wild Honey, by Michael Frayn, adapted from “The Play Without a Title” by Anton Chekhov (Oct. 19-Nov.  5 at the Bon Vivant Theatre)
    • The SantaLand Diaries, by Joe Mantello, adapted from David Sedaris (Nov. 30-Dec. 23, starring Sammie Joe Kinnett at the Bon Vivant Theatre)

    The following will be presented at the new Ent Center for the Arts at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs:

    • Oklahoma! by Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers (Feb. 15-March 11, 2018)
    • Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer (April 26-May 13, 2018)

    Our tribute to Murray Ross: He put goodness out into this world'

    For more information, visit theatreworkscs.org or call 719-255-3232

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • 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.)

    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
  • Meet the cast: Michael Bouchard of 'The SantaLand Diaries'

    by John Moore | Dec 20, 2016
     Michael Bouchard. The SantaLand Diaries. Photo by Adams Vicsom. Michael Bouchard of 'The SantaLand Diaries': 'If you're wanting to kick Christmas in the (privates), boy do I have the show for you.' Photo by Adams Viscom.


    David/Crumpet in The SantaLand Diaries, a collaboration between Off-Center and the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, running through Dec. 24 in the Jones Theatre.

     Michael Bouchard QuoteAt the Theatre Company: Ensemble in A Christmas Carol. Selected other credits: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Colorado Shakespeare Festival), The Cripple of Inishmaan (Creede Rep), Camelot (Arvada Center), Bach at Leipzig (Boulder Ensemble Theater Company), Avenue Q (Vintage Theater). Spamalot (Aurora Fox). TV/Film: Charles Manson in The CREEP behind the Camera. Special/Awards/Training: Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, 2009 Best Season by an Actor, Denver Post; 2011 Denver Post and Westword Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy; 2012 Westword Best on Stage Couple (with wife Rachel Bouchard.)

    • Twitter-sized bio: I’m an introverted performer who wants to be liked by those around him while constantly starting arguments.
    • Hometown: The I-80 corridor from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe
    • Training: Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts
    • What was the role that changed your life? Probably Eugene in Broadway Bound along with Shady Brady in Slabtown that same year at Creede Repertory Theatre. I proved to myself that I really was capable of leading shows in a range of characters. Eugene being Neil Simon, and Brady being an angry western drunk gunslinger. That’s also the year I met my wife, so it was a really good year.
    • Why are you an actor? As a child I would cope with the difficult divorce of my parents and getting bullied at school by retreating into my imagination. Come to find you can actually make a living playing make believe. Or at least you can try, which is what I’m doing.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I’d probably be a writer. An opinion writer at that. I’m just well read enough to have opinions that are substantive and just dumb enough to think people would want to read them if I write them.
    • TatianaIdeal scene partner: Tatiana Maslany. She’s the most versatile actress working today and I have immense respect for that. In America we call people who are morphing in and out or personalities that are not their own, “character actors.” But the Brits simply call them “actors.” That’s what I aspire to be, and she is the gold standard.
    • Why does The SantaLand Diaries matter? The holidays are actually not a very happy time for many people. Not everyone has a Norman Rockwell family to return to, and the stress of presents, decorations and parties can suck all the fun out of the holidays. And there’s no escaping it. Holiday music starts playing in every public square the second after you pull the turkey out of the oven, and from then on out you’re in Holiday North Korea. So, this play helps us to remember to laugh at all the insanity and commercialization surrounding a guy in a red suit who was invented by Coca-Cola.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing it? I know I’ve done my job when people are leaving saying that they haven’t laughed that hard in years. Not everyone does, of course. The humor isn’t for everyone and time to time people leave (or flip me off). But if you're wanting to kick Christmas in the (privates), boy do I have the show for you.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... A Tony Award, a syndicated column, a cottage in Aspen, a full library and wine cellar, a sold-out show and a new pair of jeans."
    Video: Your first look at The SantaLand Diaries

    The SantaLand Diaries
    : Ticket information

    • The story: 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.
    • Through Dec. 24
    • Jones Theatre
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Selected previous coverage of The SantaLand Diaries:
    Video, photos: Your first look at The SantaLand Diaries 2016
    Podcast 2015: Listen in with Michael Bouchard and John Moore

    Michael Bouchard, left, in a previous staging of Creede Repertory Theatre's 'The 39 Steps' with Mario Cabrera and Steven Cole Hughes.
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'The SantaLand Diaries' 2016

    by John Moore | Dec 03, 2016

    Your first look at the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's 2016 staging of The SantaLand Diaries, presented each holiday season in partnership with the DCPA's Off-Center at the Jones Theatre. Michael Bouchard stars in David Sedaris' off-beat monologue about his real-life stint as a Macy's elf in New York City. The SantaLand Diaries has been called "a sure cure for the common Christmas show." Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Listen to John Moore's 2015 podcast with Michael Bouchard

    The SantaLand Diaries production photos: Our first-look photo gallery:
    The SantaLand Diaries 2016

    To see more photos, click on the "forward" arrow on the image above. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The SantaLand Diaries:
    Ticket information
    280x200-santaland-diariesAt a glance: Crumpet the Elf returns for more hilarious holiday hi-jinks in this acclaimed one-man show. Looking for a little more snark in your stocking this year? David Sedaris' offbeat tales from his stint as a Macy's elf in New York City do not make for your typical Christmas show.

    Presented by Off-Center and Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    By David Sedaris
    Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
    Directed by Stephen Weitz
    Nov. 25-Dec. 24
    Jones Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisComYou really don't want to be Riley when David (Michael Bouchard) gets going - even if you can't see the misbehaving kid. Photo by Adams VisCom.
  • Photos: DCPA demonstrates 'The Magic of Theatre' for Denver Arts Week

    by John Moore | Nov 08, 2016
    The Magic of TheatreAll photos are downloadable for free. To see more, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    More than a dozen Denver Center artisans both onstage and off treated a near-capacity crowd at the Ricketson Theatre to a free demonstration of insider tricks of the trade on Monday night. This special evening, titled The Magic of Theatre, was the DCPA's contribution to the community-wide celebration of Denver Arts Week.

    "The Magic of Theatre" blood demonstration from "Sweeney Todd." Photo by John Moore. Ever wonder how it rains on stage? Snows inside? Or how they sliced so many necks in Sweeney Todd without anyone getting hurt? DCPA experts in lighting, sound, multimedia, scenic design, costumes, wigs, painting and props made brief demonstrations in each of their respective crafts. The artists made real fire on stage, and showed how some of the bulkiest-looking set pieces are actually as light as styrofoam. 

    (Pictured above right: Director of Scenic Arts Jana Mitchell is just fine after having her throat slashed and eye gouged out. It's magic!) 

    The hosts were actors Steven J. Burge (An Act of God) and Napoleon M. Douglas (A Christmas Carol). Audiences were welcomed by actors Michael Bouchard (The SantaLand Diaries) and Sam Gregory (A Christmas Carol). Jenna Moll Reyes and John Hauser performed a scene from DCPA Education's traveling  "Shakespeare in the Parking Lot" production of Romeo and Juliet, and Colorado native Matthew Dailey took questions about his current assignment playing Tommy DeVito in the Denver-bound national touring production of Jersey Boys. He welcomed about The Magic of Theatre. Jersey Boysa dozen audience members (including the boy pictured at right) onto the stage to learn how to "walk like a man."

    Some of the DCPA artisans who contributed to the program included Lisa Orzolek, Bob Orzolek, Meghan Anderson Doyle, Charles MacLeod, Robin Payne, Jana Mitchell, Doug Taylor and Topher Blair.

    They also took a wide range of questions from the audience, ranging from stage injuries to actor salaries power outages to whether crews use real black powder in their stage explosives.

    Among their pearls of wisdom:

    • The DCPA Theatre Company employs about 80 craftspeople
    • One dress can take up to 60 hours to construct
    • It takes about 20 backstage crew at every performance to keep A Christmas Carol running smoothly

    Information on the shows:
    Jersey Boys
    A Christmas Carol
    The SantaLand Diaries
    An Act of God

    The Magic of Theatre. Michael Bouchard and Sam Gregory. Michael Bouchard ("The SantaLand Diaries") and Sam Gregory ("A Christmas Carol") at Monday's "The Magic of Theatre" gathering. Photo by John Moore. 
  • Cast lists: 'A Christmas Carol,' 'The SantaLand Diaries' begin anew

    by John Moore | Nov 01, 2016

    Christmas Casting Santaland Michael Bouchard

    Michael Bouchard will return next month to his role as a desperate man who takes a job as a department-store elf in David Sedaris' 'The SantaLand Diaries.' Photo by Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The DCPA Theatre Company has begun rehearsals for its 24th seasonal staging of A Christmas Carol with at least two meaningful beginnings: Melissa Rain Anderson is the first new director to helm the production for the DCPA since 2005, and longtime company favorite Sam Gregory is assuming the role of Ebenezer Scrooge from veteran Philip Pleasants.

    A Christmas Carol. Photo by Adams VisCom.On the other hand, casting for Off-Center’s seasonal co-production of The SantaLand Diaries, staged in partnership with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, will be unchanged for 2016, with Michael Bouchard donning the caustic candy-striped socks for a second 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 Bouchard's understudy.

    Listen to John Moore's 2015 podcast with Michael Bouchard

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

    MelissaRianAndersonThe cast for A Christmas Carol includes several returning cast members and some fresh faces. Leslie O'Carroll returns for her 18th turn as the DCPA's Mrs. Fezziwig, again alongside Michael Fitzpatrick as Mr Fezziwig (pictured above right; photo by Adams VisCom.) Newcomers include Broadway veteran Jim Poulos, who starred in the Arvada Center's 2013 production of Curtains. Poulos will play Fred and Young Ebenezer. Also: Daniel Berryman, who played Anthony in the Theatre Company's acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd earlier this year, will return to Denver to play Topper.

    "At Christmastime, there is no better show to be working on," said Anderson (pictured above and right).

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Christmas Carol: Cast list (alphabetically):
    Daniel Berryman
    (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd) as Topper/Ensemble.
    Latoya Cameron (DCPA debut) as Mrs. Cratchit/Ghost of Christmas Past.
    Kevin Curtis
    (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd) as Dick Wilkins/Peter Cratchit/Ensemble.
    Allen Dorsey
    (DCPA’s Lord of the Flies, A Christmas Carol) as Swing.
    Napoleon Douglas
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come/Ensemble.
    Jack Eller
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer the Child/Ensemble.
    Michael Fitzpatrick
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Mr. Fezziwig/Ensemble.
    Sam Gregory
    (DCPA’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Hamlet, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge.
    Kyra Lindsay
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble.
    Brody Lineweaver
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble.
    Lars Lundberg
    (DCPA’s As You Like It) as Ensemble.
    Chloe McCleod
    (DCPA debut) as Swing.
    Timothy McCracken
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) will understudy Ebenezer Scrooge.
    M. Scott McLean
    (DCPA’s Animal Crackers, As You Like It, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble.
    Chris Mixon
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Old Joe/Ensemble.
    Grace Morgan
    (The Phantom of the Opera, DCPA debut) as Belle/Fred’s Wife/Ensemble.
    Leslie O’Carroll
    (DCPA’s Benediction, A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble.
    Jim Poulos
    (Broadway’s Rent, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, DCPA debut) as Fred/Young Ebenezer/Ensemble.
    Wayne Pretlow
    (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Present/Ensemble.
    Max Raabe
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble.
    Augie Reichert
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Tiny Tim/Ensemble.
    Helen Reichert
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Belinda Cratchit/Ensemble.
    Jeffrey Roark
    (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Jacob Marley/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.
    Olivia Sullivent
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Fan/Ensemble.
    Jackie Vanderbeck
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Charwoman/Ensemble.
    Brian Vaughan
    (DCPA debut) as Bob Cratchit/Ensemble.
    Owen Zitek
    (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Edward Cratchit/Ensemble.

    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
    By Charles Dickens
    Adapted for the stage by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    Nov. 25-Dec. 24
    Stage Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    The SantaLand Diaries:
    Ticket information

    280x200-santaland-diariesAt a glance: Crumpet the Elf returns for more hilarious holiday hi-jinks in this acclaimed one-man show. Looking for a little more snark in your stocking this year? David Sedaris' offbeat tales from his stint as a Macy's elf in New York City are the sure cure for the common Christmas show.

    Presented by Off-Center and Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    By David Sedaris
    Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
    Directed by Stephen Weitz
    Nov. 25-Dec. 24
    Jones Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • 2015 True West Awards: Rebecca Remaly

    by John Moore | Dec 28, 2015
    True West Award Rebecca Remaly

    Timothy McCracken and Emily Paton Davies of 'Outside Mullingar.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.


    ​Today’s recipient:
    Rebecca Remaly
    Managing Director, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    Today’s award presenter:
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore

    Stephen Weitz has been on a pretty public roll these past few years. The co-founder of the 10-year-old Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company just directed Tribes and The SantaLand Diaries back-to-back at his second artistic home, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Meanwhile, his own rising company back in Boulder has been picking up four-star reviews like so many coins in a fountain, most recently for the Chekhov variation Stupid F***ing Bird and, last month, for John Patrick Shanley’s Irish romance Outside Mullingar.

    Rebecca Remaly quote 2In 2012, Weitz was named the True West Theatre Person of the Year. But he would be the first to insist that the driving force behind his theatre company, his family and pretty much his whole life is his wife, Rebecca Remaly.

    When the pair started BETC (colloquially known as “Betsy”) in 2006, their artistic plan was noble. The mission: “To present profound theatrical stories that inspire our audiences and enrich our community.” And in 2009, Remaly figured out a foolproof, slightly ignoble way to pay for it: By staging an annual production of The SantaLand Diaries, which just completed its sixth sold-out holiday run and third as co-production with the DCPA. Remaly directed the inaugural production that started it all.

    Remaly is also an accomplished director who has been authoritatively delivering one solid regional premiere after another for BETC. She has helmed 17 titles over the past decade, and two in 2015: The Aliens and Outside Mullingar. One is a deliberately slow-motion tale following two wayward young men who spend their days in the alley behind a coffee shop talking music and Bukowski. The other is the old-fashioned romantic tale of a pair of stubborn, middle-aged Irish introverts who decide to take a chance on late love.

    Broadway reviewers were largely ambivalent about Shanley’s unexpectedly sentimental turn after his searing Doubt, but Remaly’s staging of Mullingar struck a deep chord with audiences and critics alike. If it’s true that directing is about 90 percent casting, then Remaly hit Mullingar about 90 percent out of the ballpark when she cast Chris Kendall, Emily Paton Davies, DCPA Head of Acting Timothy McCracken and Colorado Theatre Guild Life Achievement winner Billie McBride. The Denver Post’s Joanne Ostrow called what that foursome presented “spellbinding.”

    But of perhaps even greater importance to BETC’s success has been Remaly’s contributions as Managing Director. With Remaly managing the business side of the operation, BETC’s annual operating budget has steadily climbed over the past three seasons from $285,000 to $350,000 to $420,000. Back in 2006, it was $12,000. That represents a growth of 3,400 percent.

    “She's incredible with numbers, and I give her a ton of credit for the financial health and success that the company has achieved over the years,” said Weitz. “At the same time, she's a hell of a good artist. Many of our most successful shows have been under her direction. I would go so far as to say she's possibly the most underrated director in the area.”

    Westword’s Juliet Wittman has certainly seen the light. Remaly’s An Empty Plate in the Cafe du Grand Boeuf in 2014 “announced emphatically that BETC was at the top of its game, both in choice of material and in terms of performances.”

    If Remaly weren’t so busy behind the scenes, you’d likely be seeing more of her on the stage as well. Her acting resume includes Doubt (Sister James), Stop Kiss (Sara), The Glass Menagerie (Laura) and Antigone (Ismene) for BETC. She also played Hannah in Curious Theatre Company’s world premiere of Collapse. And then there is young Jamison, the son she and Weitz welcomed to the family in 2012.

    Remaly is part of a remarkable organic trend that is underway in Boulder: With the exception of Michael J. Duran of the venerable BDT Stage, all of Boulder’s present theatre companies are managed by women: Pesha Rudnick (Local Theatre Company), Amanda Berg Wilson (The Catamounts), Emily K. Harrison (the lower-cased square product theatre company) and Remaly (BETC).

    Weitz knows one thing for sure:

    “In all honesty, BETC would be nothing without her," he said. "There's no way we would have ever gotten this far without her leadership.”

    Stephen Weitz with son Jamison at a 2013 opening that happened to be his son's first bithday. Photo by John Moore.
    Stephen Weitz with son Jamison at a 2013 opening that happened to be his son's first birthday. Photo by John Moore.

    The True West Awards began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. This year, 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 around the state 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

    Day 1: Rachel D. Graham
    Day 2: BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Day 4: Laurence Curry
    Day 5: Bernie Cardell
    Day 6: Susan Lyles
    Day 7: John Jurcheck​
    Day 8: Christopher L. Sheley
    Day 9: DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
    Day 10: Man and Monster: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle
    Day 11: Shauna Johnson
    Day 12: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant
    Day 13: Sesugh Solomon Tor-Agbidye
    Day 14: Keith Ewer
    Day 15: Allison Watrous
    Day 16: Jonathan Farwell
    Day 17: Bob, Wendy and Missy Moore
    Day 18: Emma Messenger
    Day 19: Shannon McKinney
    Day 20: Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter
    Day 21: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
    Day 22: Scott Beyette
    Day 23: Augustus Truhn
    Day 24: Jimmy Bruenger
    Day 25: The Masters of Props: Rob Costigan, Peki Pineda and Becky Toma
    Day 26: Jalyn Courtenay Webb
    Day 27: Andre Rodriguez
    Day 28: Rebecca Remaly
    Day 29: Mark Collins
    Day 30: Phamaly Theatre Company's Cabaret
    Bonus: Donald R. Seawell
  • DCPA casts will cabaret for a cause Nov. 23

    by John Moore | Nov 10, 2015

    DCPA Holiday Cabaret at the Hard Rock Cafe

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is partnering with the downtown Hard Rock Cafe for a night of holiday hits, rock 'n roll and showtunes featuring cast members from all of the productions currently on stage at the DCPA: Disney’s The Lion King, A Christmas CarolMurder for Two and The Santaland Diaries.

    This special event on Monday, Nov. 23, will mark the first time in history that all DCPA shows performing at the same time will share a stage for a benefit concert.

    Hard Rock-Denver Actors FundOne-hundred percent of ticket sales will equally benefit The Denver Actors Fund and DCPA Education's "send a child to a Theatre Company student matinee" program. Tickets are $25 and are available for purchase now.

    The Denver Actors Fund is a source of immediate relief when members of the Denver metro theater community (on or off stage) find themselves in situational medical need. Most recently, the DAF raised $3,600 to help actor Daniel Langhoff offset
    expenses after having been diagnosed with colon cancer. Langhoff, who starts a 24-week round of chemotherapy next week, is returning for his second straight appearance in the DCTC Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol

    To date, The 2-year-old Denver Actors Fund has distributed about $25,000 to help actors, directors, stage managers and more with medical bills, co-payments, supplies and other services. Volunteer action teams have logged more than 200 hours of service, delivered nearly 50 meals and about 15 bags of groceries. They also run errands, provide rides, child or pet care, personal company and more.

    In 2014, DCPA Education served 611 schools in 59 counties with 638 events that reached more than 58,000 students.

    Hard Rock Cafe Denver General Manager John Lindsay is donating the use of his venue as well as equipment to make the concert happen. The director of the cabaret performance is Denver Actors Fund event coordinator Ronni Gallup, who recently starred as Anita in Town Hall Arts Center's West Side Story and has worked extensively in event management.

    Tentative lineup of performers:

    Napoleon M. Douglas: A Christmas Carol
    Blaine Krauss: Disney's The Lion King
    Daniel Langhoff: A Christmas Carol
    Ian Lowe: Murder for Two
    Emma C. Martin: A Christmas Carol
    Tonoccus McClain: Disney's The Lion King
    Tiffany Hobbs: Disney's The Lion King
    Tricia Hofacker: Disney's The Lion King
    Gerald Ramsey: Disney's 'The Lion King'
    James Michael Reilly: A Christmas Carol
    Luke Sorge: 'The SantaLand Diaries'
    Scott Swallen: Disney's The Lion King
    John Wascavage: Murder for Two
    Jake Williamson: A Christmas Carol
    And … The Lion King Cubs (Young Simba and Young Nala)!

    The full band of live musicians will include Neal Dunfee, Tag Worley, Jason Tyler Vaughn and Eli Acosta. The director of the DCPA Holiday Cabaret is Ronni Gallup. Special thanks to Denver native Aaron Quintana, company manager of Disney's The Lion King national tour.

    The night also includes exclusive auction opportunities such as two tickets to opening night of the DCPA Theatre Company's Sweeney Todd featuring DeVotchKa with access to the opening-night party; two orchestra tickets with a backstage tour to Disney’s The Lion King and more.

    DCPA Holiday Cabaret: Ticket information

    • Where: Hard Rock Cafe, 16th Street Mall at Glenarm Place
    • 5:30 p.m.: Happy Hour and Dinner
    • 7-8:30  p.m.: Showtime
    • Tickets: $25; click here to order online

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Denver Actors Fund

    Miscast 2015 benefit helps Denver Actors Fund reach milestone
    Once, The Musical cast members perform at Denver Actors Fund benefit
    How Denver Actors Fund is helping the local theatre community
    Denver School of the Arts students make remarkable donation to Denver Actors Fund
    Denver Actors Fund success stories
    To apply for Denver Actors Fund aid, click here

    Editor's note: DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore is the founder and Executive Director of The Denver Actors Fund.
  • American Theatre Wing honors Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    by John Moore | Sep 03, 2015

    Emily Paton Davies and DCPA Heod of Acting Tim McCracken will star in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Copmpanys 'Outside Mullingar' opening Sept. 17. Photo by Michael EnsmingerEmily Paton Davies and DCPA Head of Acting Tim McCracken will star in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's 'Outside Mullingar' opening Sept. 17. (Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, co-founded by frequent DCPA Theatre guest artist Stephen Weitz, today was named one of 12 winners of $10,000 National Theatre Company Grants by the American Theatre Wing. To see the complete list of winners, click here.

    Stephen Weitz (Instructor)Weitz, who has both directed and performed in several DCPA Theatre productions, will direct Tribes, opening Oct. 9, and his seventh annual seasonal holiday staging of The SantaLand Diaries, now a co-production with the DCPA’s Off-Center, opening Nov. 27.

    Companies in continued existence for at least five years - but not longer than 15 – were eligible for the NTC grants, which may be used for general operating support. During their existence, these growing companies must have articulated a distinctive mission, cultivated an audience, and nurtured a community of artists in ways that strengthen the quality, diversity and dynamism of American theatre. 

    BETC (colloquially known as "Betsy") was founded in 2006 by Weitz and his wife, Rebecca Remaly. For the DCPA Theatre Company, Weitz has appeared in productions of Tom Sawyer, King Lear, Richard III, Othello, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He  also directed Jackie & Me. He was named "Colorado Theatre Person of the Year" for 2012 by CultureWest.Org. Remaly has directed 15 BETC productions and will helm the Season 10 opener, John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, bowing Sept. 17. That staging will featuring a stellar cast of Emily Paton Davies, DCPA Head of Acting Tim McCracken, three-time 2015 Henry Award winner Billie McBride (DCPA's Benediction) and Chris Kendall. 

    In announcing BETC’s selection, the American Theatre Wing said of BETC: 

    “BETC's organizational structure includes a board of directors, six part-time staff members and the artistic ensemble. Ensemble members are professional, experienced local actors, directors, designers, and dramaturgs. Some are Actors' Equity Association members, while others have terminal degrees and years of experience in their areas of expertise. Ensemble members’ voices help to shape the direction and vision of BETC's artistic work through ongoing conversations around production quality and through the annual play selection process. These artists represent BETC within the larger metropolitan community, and are highly visible, positive advocates for our work.”

    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or BETC’s home page


    • Tribes, the story of a fiercely intelligent and proudly politically incorrect family that includes a son deaf since birth, opens Oct. 9 in the Ricketson Theatre.
    • The SantaLand Diaries, David Sedaris' off-beat tales from his stint as a Macy's elf in New York City, opens Nov. 27 in The Jones.
  • 'The SantaLand Diaries' featured in "Opening Nights" photo series

    by John Moore | Dec 05, 2013


    Matt Zambrano attended a Denver appearance by "The SantaLand Diaries" author David Sedaris the week before his own opening. Zambrano waited in line and got Sedaris' autograph and good-luck message. His signed script now reads: "To Matt: You used to be a lesbian."

    The opening performance of "The Santaland Diaries" is the featured production this morning in CultureWest.Org's year-long photo series, "It's Opening Night in Colorado Theater."

    "SantaLand" is a co-production between Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and Denver Center Attractions. Click here to see the full gallery of Opening Night photos, both backstage and at the cast party.

    And click here to see the CultureWest's full series to date, which has included many Denver Center offerings to date. All photos by John Moore.


    Opening No. 140: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “The SantaLand Diaries”: National Theatre Conservatory graduate and Wheat Ridge native Matt Zambrano is donning the candy-cane tights for a second straight holiday season telling David Sedaris’ real-life story of working as an elf in the New York Macy’s SantaLand display. This staging is a co-production with Denver Center Attractions, which is presenting the show in the Garner-Galleria cabaret bar. Directed by Stephen Weitz. Contains adult subject matter and explicit language. Thanks: Heidi Bosk, Anja Hose, Jess Buttery and Maxie Beth Bilyeu.

    Once again: Click here to see the full gallery of "SantaLand" Opening Night photos

    "The SantaLand Diaries" ticket information:

    When: Through Dec. 24

    Where: At The Garner-Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets in the Denver Center complex

    Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Tuesdays; also 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. No performances on Wednesdays.

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or visit the Denver Center's web site


    More "SantaLand Diaries" coverage:

    Above: A montage of scenes from the show


    Above: Matt Zambrano brings out the inner elf in Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and other metro municipal leaders.


    Above: Meet Crumpte: John Moore interviews Matt Zambrano for a "Page 2 Stage" conversation at the Tattered Cover Bookstore.


  • Page to Stage Video: Matt Zambrano talks 'SantaLand Diaries'

    by John Moore | Nov 19, 2013

    Crumpet may be one cynical elf, but Colorado's own Matt Zambrano proved to be a joyful sprite of a guy when he joined John Moore for a fun-filled hour at November's "Page to the Stage," a monthly lunchtime conversation at the Tattered Cover book store. This brief video contains highlights from their talk. The SantaLand Diaries, a co-production with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, opens Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 24. Call 303-893-4100, or go to www.denvercenter.org

  • First look: 'The SantaLand Diaries' TV commercial

    by John Moore | Nov 15, 2013

    Here's your first look at a fun new TV spot for "The SantaLand Diaries." It was conceived by Denver Center graphic Designer Kyle Malone, whose animation required about 150 individual Photoshop layers, with an assist from videographer Ken Mostek.

     Local favorite Matt Zambrano dons the candy-cane tights in
    "The SantaLand Diaries," bringing to life David Sedaris' semi-true story working as an elf in a Macy's SantaLand display. It opens Nov. 29 in the Garner-Galleria Theatre as a co-production with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Call 303-839-4100 or visit www.denvercenter.org

  • Meet Manning, Denver Mayor Hancock's 'SantaLand' elf alter ego

    by John Moore | Nov 13, 2013

    Mayor Michael Hancock is given some training in being an elf. Video by Ken Mostek.

    “Get off the couch.”

    That was Mayor Michael Hancock’s exhortation this morning at the launch of the annual Mile High Holidays tourism campaign, held on the stage of the Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    The annual cooperative marketing venture is designed to raise awareness of holiday happenings and shopping opportunities throughout Denver. But this year, in the wake of the recent catastrophic floods, officials from all across the Front Range were invited to the dais to reinforce the message that Colorado – all of it – is open for business this holiday season.


    Photo by John Moore


    Hancock got sentimental pointing out the Garner-Galleria was the very stage where his wife, actor Mary Louise Lee, got her professional start as an 18-year-old student at Thomas Jefferson High School.  It was watching her from the audience performing in the ‘60s musical “Beehive,” he said, “that knew I was going to marry her.”

    The lighthearted program wound up with a very funny bit of stage business, when local actor Matt Zambrano, who will play Crumpet the Elf in the Denver Center's upcoming production of "The SantaLand Diaries," entered in shades, a green smock and candy-cane tights to take the good-natured mayor through a few tricks of the elf trade. “The SantaLand Diaries” is based on caustic NPR humorist David Sedaris' semi-true experiences working as an "elf" in a Macy's SantaLand display.

    Zambrano made Hancock choose an elf name on the spot – he came up “Manning Elf,” referring to Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, to the delight of the crowd. “That’s a winner,” Zambrano fired back.

    Eventually, Zambrano had Hancock and a whole gaggle of respectable-looking business leaders from Greeley, Fort Collins, Boulder, Loveland, Longmont and beyond up and twirling at his elfish whim.

    “I suspected Mayor Hancock missed his true calling as a dancing holiday elf,” Zambrano deadpanned. “I think I suspected right.”

    But the overriding reason for the gathering was deadly serious. The flooding from Fort Collins south to Manitou Springs caused an estimated $2 billion in damages and displaced 10,000 Coloradans. So “letting people know that we are open for business is crucial for our recovery,” said Hannah LaForest, coordinator of marking and sales for the Longmont Area Visitors Association.Added Hancock: “The holidays are a make-it or break-it period for many businesses in Denver and along the Front Range."

    Added LeeAnn Sterling, director of Visit Greeley: "A whole lot of water has not dampened our spirit.”

    One by one, Front Range leaders spoke of hotel deals, shopping opportunities, theatre, symphonies, parades of light, festivals of trees, nearby skiing, holiday films, ice skating, horse-drawn carriages, and ... with surprising regularity … brewpubs. More than 40 hotels are offering specific “Mile High Holidays” discounts, 17 of them offering rooms for $52.80. Shout-outs were also made to other flood-impacted towns such as Manitou Springs and Estes Park.

    Jeff Hovorka, the Denver Center’s director of sales and marketing, touted a whopping five holiday theatregoing options: “A Christmas Carol,” “The SantaLand Diaries,” “Jackie & Me,” “Mannheim Steamroller Christmas” and “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.” 

    The overriding theme: Shop local. The more than 200 holiday-themed events planned in Colorado over the next two months ought to make that easier.

    “Denver Mile High Holidays,” now in its 10th year, is a cooperative venture between Visit Denver, the Denver Center, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and other tourism and business leaders.

    For a complete list of participating cities and businesses, go to www.MileHighHolidays.Com.

     “The SantaLand Diaries" plays Nov. 29-Dec 24, 2013, in the same Garner-Galleria Theatre. It's a co-production with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org




    The Denver Center's director of sales and marketing, Jeff Hovorka.











    Talk about "naughty and nice": To wrap things up, Matt Zambrano brought Charlie Korman out to utter the famous words of Tiny Tim, "“God bless us, everyone." Words sure to warm the heart of anyone not named Crumpet. Korman, 10, is performing as Tim in the Denver Center's "A Christmas Carol," running Nov. 29-Dec. 29. Photos by John Moore.

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.

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