• Cast of 'Snowy Day': Parting thoughts on value of early arts education

    by John Moore | Nov 18, 2017

    A Snowy Day. Robert Lee Hardy. Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor. Adams Viscom

    The cast of DCPA Education's 'The Snowy Day,' from left: Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy and Zak Reynolds. Photo by Emily Lozow.

    'At an early age, the arts develop curiosity, empathy and whole little human beings through storytelling.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    DCPA Education launched its new Theatre for Young Audiences program this fall with The Snowy Day and Other Stories, which closes today after having been seen by about 20,000 underserved pre-school through 3rd graders from around the metro area.

    The production, staged in full partnership with the DCPA Theatre Company, told a sweet medley of four stories in the remarkable series authored by Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats. The Snowy Day tells the simple story of a boy named Peter and the wonder of his first encounter with snow.

    The play, told largely with the assistance of puppets, was performed by three professional local actors and benefited from the full resources of the DCPA Theatre Company’s creative staff, who focused on making the production a tactile experience in which all of the young audiences’ senses were activated.

    Allison Watrous, Director of DCPA Education and also director of The Snowy Day, said it is crucial to introduce live theatre to young people during the early years. "Theatre has not only been shown to boost academic achievement among early childhood learners," she said, "live performance can have a large impact on the way a kindergartner views and thinks about the world."

    In all the company gave 99 performances of The Snowy Day.  "More than 15,000 attended on organized field trips, with 79 percent of the participating schools on scholarship," Watrous said. "We also welcomed more than 5,000 students for post-show workshops led by DCPA Teaching Artists."

    As the company prepares to make its final two of nearly 100 performances today (Saturday, Nov. 18), actors Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor and Robert Lee Hardy reflected on the value of arts education in their own young lives, which has led them to their place on the Conservatory Theatre stage: 

    Robert Lee HardyROBERT LEE HARDY
    "I was first exposed to theatre in the second grade. I was always in the principal’s office, and my teacher decided to put me onstage. The experience changed my life. I wasn’t a horrible kid. I just needed an outlet and I needed to find my passion. The arts change lives."





    Zak ReynoldsZAK REYNOLDS

    "I was first exposed to live theatre around 5 or 6. I sat in Casa Mañana, a leading theatre in Fort Worth, Texas, when it was in the round, watching rehearsals of Big River happen while the orchestra was setting up and other actors were waiting around for their scene. I think that was the moment I sensed the smell of the theater and the energy of the entire dome, knowing that this is what I want to do. That sounds hilarious, being that young age, but it's true. I think that's why I love performing live theatre to young audiences — because I was there once. It helped me morph into the person I am today, and I just want to share those experiences with any age group."

    RachelKaeTaylor 160RACHEL KAE TAYLOR
    My older sister was a ballerina for Colorado Ballet when I was very young.  She was so stunningly beautiful. I wanted to be a part of all the splendor and the drama of the ballet so badly — but a dancer, I was not. My mother took me to the theater to see Frog and Toad when I was about 6 and mic drop — that was it. The arts are so very crucial at an early age because they develop curiosity, empathy and whole little human beings through storytelling. Whether that storytelling is done through a play, a book or a painting — it can be a game-changer.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Snowy Day. Robert Lee Hardy. Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor. Adams Viscom

    The cast of DCPA Education's 'The Snowy Day,' from left: Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy and Zak Reynolds. Photo by Emily Lozow.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day and Other Stories

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

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To receive alerts related to Hamilton in Denver, click here

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

  • Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays performed

    by John Moore | Jul 13, 2017
    Video above: We talk with the two student playwrights whose works were fully staged by DCPA Education actors on June 11. 



    DCPA Education's fourth annual Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition is a one-act playwriting competition designed for Colorado high schools. Its mission is to help high-school writers find and cultivate their authentic voices.

    Each fall, local playwrights and DCPA Teaching Artists go out into schools statewide, conduct writing workshops and encourage students to submit one-act plays for the competition. This past year, 138 playwriting workshops were held in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state.

    Student playwriting A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly. Ten were named as finalists. Four of those were chosen to be workshopped and have a staged reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February. In previous years, one play has then been chosen for a full summer production by DCPA Education’s summer teen company. But this year, competition officials chose to advance two scripts to full stagings. The winning plays were Dear Boy on the Tree, written by Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak High School (pictured above), and Spilt Lava, written by Ryan McCormick of Fort Collins High School. Each play had two public performances on June 11 in the Conservatory Theatre.

    Video: Our report from the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit

    This video above includes interviews with the playwrights, Director Steven Cole Hughes and student actors Nathaniel Pagibigan, Madeleine Kee and Jacob Maki.

    For information on next year's competition, starting with school workshops in the fall of 2017, go to denvercenter.org/education.

    Video by David Lenk and Avery Anderson for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     


    Photo gallery: 2016-17 Student Playwriting

    2017 Student Playwriting

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for free and may be used for personal and social purposes with credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
     

    2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:
    Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School
    Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School
    Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    Samantha Shapard, Overland High School
    Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    Daniela Villalobo, York International
    Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The paradox of ‘13 Reasons Why’: Listen to what isn't said

    by John Moore | Jun 13, 2017

     

    Editor’s Note: This essay discusses important plot points that take place in the last three episodes of Netflix's ‘13 Reasons Why,’ created by Brian Yorkey ('Next to Normal'). Photo above of Katherine Langford. 

    The clarion call to everyone in the audience is to listen vigilantly for what is often not said out loud.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    13 Reasons Why is one of the most talked-about new series on television for what it says about teenage suicide. But its clarion call to everyone in its audience is to listen vigilantly for what is often not said out loud.

    I should know.

    The groundbreaking Netflix screen adaptation of Jay Asher’s 2007 novel is rightly being praised for putting the issue on America’s 80-inch HD screens wrapped in exquisite writing and often riveting storytelling.

    It’s about an ordinary 16-year-old girl named Hannah who, within arm’s reach of an ideal boyfriend, achingly involved parents and supportive peers, is also bullied and assaulted right under every loving but oblivious eye in her life. But before she kills herself, she commits her reasons for committing suicide to 13 damning audiotapes. Essentially to both torture her peers - and educate the Netflix audience on what signs to look for.

    America, and especially America’s educators, are lasering in on the controversial climactic scene in which Hannah (Katherine Langford) finally goes to her school counselor (Derek Luke) for help. To give life one last try, she says. It is a heartbreaking exercise in best intentions and missed signals. And 13 Reasons Why just brought that all home for me.

    I was once an idealistic high-school theatre teacher. Not as a vocation, or even as a side job. As a favor. I was working nights in the sports department at The Denver Post right out of college, which meant my days were free. So I was asked to teach two classes this high school needed to offer in order to maintain its accreditation. It didn’t matter that I was untrained and inadequate. Or that the school counselor was untrained and inadequate. As long as all the holes were filled.

    It didn’t matter that I loved my time at that school so much that I never cashed a single paycheck, even though I was 24 and could barely afford a pizza. It didn’t matter that I was determined to shake these kids from their prevailing malaise and absorb their heart’s injuries and restore a modicum of their innate teenage optimism and adolescent joy.

    It didn’t matter how well-intentioned I was, because on the one day it really did matter that I actually knew what I was doing, I was tested. And like the school counselor in 13 Reasons Why, I failed.

    Brian Yorkey's words of comfort after actor's suicide

    There was a knock on my car window. It was a Friday afternoon, and I was taking a rare weekend off to go camping with friends. I was in my car and just a few feet away from leaving my slowly thawing young tribe of theatre geeks in the rear-view window for a few days. But from the second I turned to see the source of the knock, my pop quiz had begun.

    Her name was Lilly. No it wasn’t, but that’s not important here. Lilly was, by her own admission, insistently unlikable. She was a rich, entitled and friendless 18-year-old. She was attractive by any standard of burgeoning beauty, and no one knew that better than Lilly. I was determined to eventually open her hardened heart, but she was the one kid who did not buy my act. Not at all. Still, I persisted. Told her to audition for the school play because it was going to shake the foundation of this troubled school and all of its institutional hypocrisy. That got her attention.

    I was stunned when Lilly actually did show up to audition. But just before she began, she told me, “You should know that if I don’t get a big part, then I don’t want any part at all.” Every director’s dream. I kind of did a “say what?” and she emphatically clarified: “It would be a waste of my time to play a part that I don’t want.” That didn’t stop me from offering her a small role - and that didn’t stop her from turning it down.

    The play did kind of shake the foundation of the school, and Lilly later regretted her self-sabotage. It was about a well-intentioned pre-Columbine teacher who takes his high-school class hostage until they actually learn something. Lilly came to a performance of the play and later admitted that she blew it. And I told her there’s always another play.

    I am sure I was short with Lilly when I rolled down the window that Friday afternoon. I had no time to lose. But she only wanted to hand me a letter. “Read it when you have a minute,” she said. I took it, tossed it on the passenger seat and hit the highway.

    Lilly wasn’t in class on Monday. Tuesday, too. I asked the class. No one had seen her at any of the parties that weekend. Then it hit me: The letter. I hadn’t given it a second thought. I ran out to my car, grabbed it off the seat and ripped it open. It was written with fine pencil in exquisitely crafted cursive penmanship. And my worst fears were realized. I can quote it, because I still have it as a cautionary reminder:

    Dear John,

    I may seem to you a very strong person, but inside me I am crumbling to pieces. I’m going crazy. I sometimes wonder why I’m still alive. John, I don’t know if I can handle life anymore. There’s so much pain and anger and frustration and loneliness. The pain is so dominant. Sooner or later it will win. And I will die.”

    I read no further. I sprinted to the principal’s office with every heartbeat stabbing into my guilt-ridden hippocampus. Lilly often boasted how her parents essentially lived in Chicago, leaving her alone for weeks in their gigantic east Denver home. The school secretary gave me the number. I dialed, already starting to assume full responsibility for the death of this troubled, spoiled and unsaved child. I expected no answer and yet somehow … got one.

    “Hi John,” Lilly said casually.

    “Lilly?” I blurted. “What the hell?”

    She teased: “I was wondering how long it would take you to call.”

    Yes, Lilly was the kind of girl who missed two days of school because she was testing me. How long before I read and reacted? Five days, it turns out. Test failed. And, no, I didn’t do a lot of teaching after that. But at least she wasn’t dead in a bathtub.

    But then came 13 Reasons Why, which has shaken real (certified!) teachers to the core and, in some cases, left them defensive and angry. For weeks, embattled, overworked and underfunded educators have assailed the series for romanticizing suicide; for normalizing it as a viable option for impressionable viewers in similar crises. You know what I say? More than 5,240 teenagers attempt suicide every day. So let’s talk about it.

    13 Reasons Why To fully understand the context of this important scene between Hannah and the counselor, Mr. Porter, you first have to go back two episodes to when Hannah shuts down her good-guy budding boyfriend, Clay (Dylan Minnette). Something about homework and making a fresh start, she tells him. But as the wounded pup leaves, awkwardly trying to salvage his pride, we hear Hannah’s internal monologue: "Part of me was saying, 'Ask me again.' " Not, "Part of me wanted to say, 'Ask me again." Those words are critical: Part of me WAS SAYING. To her, she said it. Clay just didn't hear it.

    Fast-forward to the scene where Hannah finally does what we all are silently willing her to do: She goes to the school counselor and asks for help. But she just can't say the critical words: “I've been raped by the star of the basketball team.” Mr. Porter is not unconcerned – he just never quite fully hears Hannah. So they engage in a frustrating word dance where he is asking the right questions – “What's on your heart right now?” “Did you have an encounter at the party?” - but she can’t quite give him full answers.

    When she tells him: “I need it to stop. Everything. People. Life.” He gets it. “That's a serious thing to say,” he says, and for a moment, you think she might be saved. But it’s not that easy. She doesn't say, ‘Yeah. It is serious.’ She apologizes and says instead, “I didn't mean ... that. I guess." 

    And so it goes. When Hannah ultimately tells Mr. Porter she can’t confront the boy who assaulted her without the assurance of a conviction, her only real choice, he tells her, is to move on.

    Later, when Clay later confronts Mr. Porter over his culpability in Hannah’s suicide, those most haunting words come back: “She hoped you would come after her,” he tells the counselor. “But you didn't.” No one did.

    Check out our Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Some of you care,” Hannah says on the tape. “None of you cared enough.” And with that, Hannah enters that common state of finality when a suicidal person has essentially made peace with their impending demise.

    In both cases, the central dialogue is not what Hannah says out loud. It’s what we hear her saying inside her own head. And that’s where 13 Reasons Why becomes a teachable moment. So often teens in crisis are asking for help. And it’s not that we aren't listening. We're just not hearing. You can’t wait for a suicidal person to say: "I am going to walk out this door and kill myself." You have to listen for a suicidal person to tell you: “I want you to come after me." Even when they can’t say the words.

    The author is telling us all to be vigilant. Listen. Pick up on the clues. Even if those clues are cloudy, gray and wrapped in riddles.

    It’s when people go silent that you really have to listen.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.
  • 2017 Bobby G Awards: Our complete video coverage

    by John Moore | Jun 08, 2017

    The Denver Center's fifth annual Bobby G Awards celebrated achievement in Colorado high-school theatre on May 25 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The video above follows Colorado's Outstanding Actors Austin Hand and Elleon Dobias to New York City, where they advanced to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, otherwise known as the Jimmy Awards. There, they took workshops with Broadway creatives and performed at the Minskoff Theatre.

    The video below offers the complete original medley performed by the 10 Outstanding Actor and Actress nominees, as well as 2016 winners Charlotte Movizzo and Curtis Salinger:


    The nominees were:  

  • Chandler Carter, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
  • Elleon Dobias, Pippin, Valor Christian High School
  • Austin Hand, The Addams Family, Fossil Ridge High School
  • Chantal King, Into the Woods, Niwot High School
  • Gable Kinsman, Pippin, Valor Christian High School
  • Trey Kochevar, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
  • Cameron Marter, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
  • Grace Nolte, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
  • Asha Romeo, Rent, Boulder High School
  • Jesse Shafroth, Rent, Boulder High School

  • Videos by produced David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Our complete 2017 Bobby G Awards Video Playlist:

    Colorado's Bobby G Award winners at the 2017 Jimmy Awards in New York City
    Road to the Jimmy Awards: Austin Hand performs at the DCPA golf tournament
    Road to the Jimmy Awards: Bobby G Awards winners perform for DCPA Board
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: The full video recap
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: Nominated actors medley
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: Performance Highlights
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards welcome to all participating schools

     

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    A Bobby G Awards
    From Valor Christian's performance of 'Pippin.'
  • 2017 Bobby G Awards: Persistence pays off at Valor Christian

    by John Moore | May 25, 2017

    A Bobby G AwardsThe cast of Valor Christian's production of 'Pippin,' which was named Outstanding Musical tonight. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Fourth time is the charm for Outstanding Actress
    Elleon Dobias, who will represent Colorado in New York.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The fifth annual Bobby G Awards, which celebrate achievement in Colorado high-school theatre, were proof positive that persistence pays off. Valor Christian High School Senior Elleon Dobias (pictured at right), who was nominated all three of her underclassman years but had never before won a Bobby G Award, was named Outstanding Actress. And her school won Outstanding Musical for the first time for its production of Pippin.

    Bobby G Awards. Elleon DobiasLakewood High School led all schools by earning four of the evening’s 19 awards for its epic production of Sweeney Todd. In all, a record 12 schools won at least one award, spreading the love wide among the 42 participating high schools. Valor Christian's Pippin earned three. Bobby G Awards will soon be taking up new residence at schools throughout the state, including at Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Niwot high schools.

    The Bobby G Awards are a culmination of a year-long program administered by the Denver Center that emphasizes camaraderie and shared experiences - but there is also much at stake. The students named Outstanding Actor and Actress go on to represent Colorado at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City.

    Bobby G Awards (Pictured at right: The cast of North High School/Strive Prep's production of 'In the Heights', which was nominated for best musical. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Austin Hand of Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins was named Outstanding Actor for his performance as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family. Dobias had been nominated as a freshman and sophomore in the "Rising Star" category, for promising underclassmen. Last year she was nominated as Outstanding Supporting Actress, and this year, playing the widow Catherine in Pippin, she won for Outstanding Actress.

    "For this to be my fourth year to be nominated at the Bobby G Awards and to go out on such a high has been a delight, to say the least," said Dobias, who also graduated from high school earlier in the day.

    Moments after the ceremony ended, the newly named Outstanding Actors already were exchanging phone numbers with previous recipients. "This is a family you've entered into," said last year's Outstanding Actor, Curtis Salinger. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Bobby G Awards. Austin Hand.As Colorado’s winners, Dobias and Hand (pictured right) will be joined next month by other regional honorees for "The Jimmys," as they are known in New York City. That’s 10 days of intensive training with some of Broadway's leading actors, choreographers and directors, all leading up to a fully staged, one-night performance at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre.

    Nominees for the Bobby G Awards are determined by scoring from a team of professional adjudicators. Unlike other awards categories, the Outstanding Actor and Actress winners are determined by two equally scored criteria: First, the students are judged for their actual performances in their respective school musicals. The five students with the highest scores then go before a professional panel for a private, scored audition.

    This year, a record 42 schools participated in the statewide Bobby G Awards program, up from 30 two years ago. Valor Christian, a private school with an enrollment of 879, is located on a 35-acre campus in Highlands Ranch. When she was a freshman, Dobias said, only 10 kids tried out for the school play at Valor Christian More than 60 auditioned for Pippin, she said.

    Bobby G AwardsColorado native Gene Gillette, who is a member of the national touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, opening Tuesday at the very same Ellie Caulkins Opera House, presented two awards.

    (Pictured at right: Gene Gillette with former Outstanding Actor Curtis Salinger and Outstanding Actresses Abby Noble and Charlotte Movizzo.)

    Gillette encouraged the high-school kids in their pursuits, saying professional success takes discipline, a strong belief in yourself and a strong sense of wonder.

    Denver First Lady and prominent area singer and actor Mary Louise Lee, who runs a nonprofit called Bringing Back the Arts, presented two awards. Lee, who made her professional debut at the Denver Center when she was 18, riffed from the signature song from The Wiz, "Believe in Yourself." The students were also greeted by DCPA CEO Janice Sinden and Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg.

    Among the heartfelt and comic acceptance speeches was Will Warner, who was named Outstanding Supporting Actor for his work as Beadle Bamford in Lakewood High School's Sweeney Todd. "I would like to thank the women in my life," Warner said ... "Because they told me I had to."

    (Story continues after the video.)

    Video: 2017 Bobby G Awards in 60 Seconds


    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interviews by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. More video and photos to come.


    Of note to the local theatre community was longtime BDT Stage performer Shelly Cox-Robie's nomination as a fifth-year director at Boulder High School. She directed Rent, with her son playing Angel. Two of her actors were nominated as Outstanding Actor (Jesse Shafroth) and Actress (Asha Romeo). Boulder won for both Outstanding Chorus and Orchestra.

    Students and educators were honored in the areas of performance, design, direction, choreography, technical production and overall production excellence. All participating schools received one personal master class session with a DCPA Education theatre teacher. Winners of the Outstanding Supporting Actor, Actress and Rising Star (Outstanding Underclassman) awards also earn a full year of free classes at the Denver Center. "Theatre is alive in Colorado," said Education Director Allison Watrous. “The DCPA is proud to be a part of your journey.”

    A Bobby G AwardsWhile the Bobby G Awards culminate each year with Thursday's awards ceremony, which is modeled after the Tony Awards, the year-long focus of the program is to both celebrate and educate. The participating schools receive detailed feedback on their musical productions from the adjudicators. The 10 nominated Outstanding Actors and Actresses are invited to the Denver Center two weeks before the awards to prepare a medley together in community and friendship, which they then perform at the ceremony on the Ellie Caulkins stage.

    Each of the five nominated Outstanding Productions performed a musical number during the ceremony, each drawing thunderous appreciation from an enthusiastic Ellie Caulkins  crowd estimated at 1,800.

    The Bobby G Awards were founded in 2013 by the late DCPA President Randy Weeks. They are named after late producer Robert Garner, who established Denver as a top destination for touring Broadway shows.

    The Master of ceremonies was again Greg Moody, longtime known as Colorado's Critic-At-Large for CBS-4.

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

    THE 2016-17 BOBBY G AWARDS

    Hair and Makeup

    Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Make-up Design

    Cierra Denning and Izze Sajdak
    The Scarlet Pimpernel
    , Chaparral High School

    Other nominees:

    • Devan Green, Fiddler on the Roof, Brighton High School
    • Katie Kostenik, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Lydia Cole, Averi Davis, Emma Smith and Hannah Tester, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Maya Julien, Christina Larez and Simone Rodriguez, In the Heights, North High School and STRIVE Prep Excel High School


    Costumes

    Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design

    Camille Gionet, Kaila Govan and Alyssa Mader
    Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:
    • Joe Kennedy and Anne Murphy, Aida, Fairview High School
    • Mollie Beck and Rebecca Spafford,The Addams Family, Fossil Ridge High School
    • Jen Bleem, Lauryn Starke, Cynthia Vega and Ramses Vega, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Mona Lucero, Simone Rodriguez and Sarah Davies-Schley, In the Heights, North High School and STRIVE Prep Excel High School


    Lighting


    Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design

    Ethan Thomas and T.J. Thomas
    The Little Mermaid,
    Ralston Valley High School

    Other nominees:
    • Demian Detweiler and Scott Nelson, Pippin, Aspen High School
    • Brian Morgans, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Jude Franco, Dennis Gilsdorf and Nich Gilsdorf, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Karley Durate, Anthony Heredia, Joylene Quintana and Travis Roth, Tarzan, Westminster High School


    Scenic

    Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design
    Hannah Freeman and Tom Ward
    Pippin,
    Aspen High School

    Other nominees:

    • Katya Hirsch and Chris Sweeney, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Clare Buntrock, Rachel Barckholtz, Taylor Dykstra and Jace Smykil, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Josh Belk and Starr Samkus, Starlight Express, Palmer Ridge High School
    • Tori Byam and Liam Southwick, Beauty and the Beast, Durango High School


    Choreography

    Outstanding Achievement in Choreography
    Angie Dryer
    Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:

    • Lindsey Solano, Fiddler on the Roof, Brighton High School
    • Caitlin Parets, Guys and Dolls, Loveland High School
    • Evan DeBord, Tammy Johnson, Cydney Kutcipal and Rachel Miller, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • John DeYoung and Jamie Geary, Pippin, Valor Christian High School


    Musical Direction

    Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction
    Marty Magehee, Rick Paswaters and Jenny Timmons
    Pippin, Valor Christian High School

    Other nominees:

    • Duncan Cooper, Cabaret, Bear Creek High School
    • Mary Bateman, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Steve Hinman and Luke Tredinnick, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Bryce Melaragno and Debbie Miller, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School


    Chorus

    Outstanding Performance by a Chorus
    Rent

    Boulder High School

    Other nominees:

    • Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Pippin, Valor Christian High School
    • The Pirates of Penzance, Wheat Ridge High School


    Orchestra

    Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra

    Rent

    Boulder High School

    Other nominees:

    • Cabaret, Bear Creek High School
    • Fiddler on the Roof, Brighton High School
    • The Producers, Denver School of the Arts
    • Aida, Fairview High School


    Supporting Actress

    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
    McKinley Mueller
    Grandma Addams, The Addams Family
    Glenwood Springs High School

    Other nominees:

    • Stella Martin as Andrea, Once on This Island, Conifer High School
    • Anna Rosenthal as Grandma Addams, The Addams Family, Heritage High School
    • Alexa Hand as Sydney, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman, Resurrection Christian School
    • Libby Lukens as Jan, Grease, Steamboat Springs High School


    Supporting Actor

    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
    Will Warner
    Beadle Bamford
    Sweeney Todd

    Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:

    • Will Coleman as Lumiere, Beauty and the Beast, Arvada West High School
    • Brandon Michael as Herr Schultz, Cabaret, Bear Creek High School
    • Adrian Clark as Farleigh, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Luccio Dellepiane, Harold Bride, Titanic, Cherry Creek High School


    Rising Star

    Rising Star

    Joe Robinson
    Dewhurst
    The Scarlet Pimpernel

    Chaparral High School

    Other nominees:

    • Ana Lemus as Serena, Legally Blonde, D’Evelyn High School
    • Luke McKenzie as Theo, Pippin, George Washington High School
    • Sam Feng as Oz Guard, The Wizard of Oz, Lutheran High School
    • Ellie Hill as La Fou, Beauty and the Beast, Regis Jesuit High School

    Leading Actress

    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

    Elleon Dobias
    Catherine
    Pippin

    Valor Christian High School

    • Asha Romeo as Joanne Jefferson, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Grace Nolte as Marguerite St. Just, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Cameron Marter as Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Chantal King as Witch, Into the Woods, Niwot High School


    Leading Actor

    Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
    Austin Hand
    Gomez Addams
    The Addams Family

    Fossil Ridge High School

    Other nominees:

    • Jesse Shafroth as Mark Cohen, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Chandler Carter as Chauvelin, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Trey Kochevar as Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • Gable Kinsman as Pippin, Pippin,Valor Christian High School


    Direction

    Outstanding Achievement in Direction
    Tami LoSasso and Yovana Milosevic
    Sweeney Todd

    Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:

    • Shelly Cox-Robie, Rent, Boulder High School
    • Kate McRaith, The Addams Family, Glenwood Springs High School
    • Katie Marshall, Children of Eden, Mountain View High School
    • Lindsey Hutcheon and Kurt Muenstermann, Pippin,Valor Christian High School


    Overall Production

    Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
    Pippin

    Valor Christian High Schoo
    l

    Other nominees:

    • Rent, Boulder High School
    • The Scarlet Pimpernel, Chaparral High School
    • Sweeney Todd, Lakewood High School
    • In the Heights, North High School and STRIVE Prep Excel High School

    Valor


    Valor Christian High School's production of 'Pippin.'



    Video: A look back at the 2016 Bobby G Awards



    More video and photos from Thursday's awards ceremony will be posted next week.

    2017 SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT WINNERS:

    • Achievement in Orchestra: Tim Costello, Cabaret, Bear Creek High School
    • Achievement in Scenic Design: Danielle Waldman, The Producers, Denver School of the Arts
    • Achievement in Technical Direction: Chris Brown, Into the Woods, Niwot High School
    • Special Achievement for a Premiere Production in Colorado: cast and crew of Starlight Express, Palmer Ridge High School
    Previous 2017 Bobby G Awards coverage
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress finalists
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor finalists
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced

    Video: Montage welcoming all 42 participating schools:

    Watch our welcoming video introducing all 42 schools participating in the 2016-17 Bobby G Awards. Video shot by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

  • Photos: 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'

    by John Moore | May 24, 2017
    2017 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    Photo gallery: DCPA Teaching Artist John Hauser performs with 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' at the recent Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Traveling to high schools across Colorado, DCPA teaching artists perform abridged versions of Shakespeare plays for a popular education program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The next day, the actors often conduct classroom workshops to help students make the connection between the play its current-day relevance in their own lives. Here are photos from spring 2017, when the cast performed 45-minute versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet.

    Now finishing its third year, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot has now served about 25,000 Colorado students, 15,000 this school year alone. DCPA Education traveled to 31 schools in eight counties, did 98 performances and conducted 59 classroom workshops. The photos above come from performances of Midsummer at a local library, as well as the Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival.

    Our full coverage of the DPS Shakespeare Festival

    The current cast is made up of Jessica Austgen, John Hauser, Kevin Quinn Marchman, Chloe McLeod, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord, with technical support from Stuart Barr. The director is DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous.

    Teachers can book performances for the fall by emailing education@dcpa.org.

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is made possible by a grant from Anadarko.

    Selected previous coverage of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
    How Shakespeare in a truck rolls down the window on today's world
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot brings Bard to life at Weld Central High
    2015 True West Award: Rosaline the 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck
    The Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Finalists

    by John Moore | May 24, 2017
    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The fifth annual awards and performance take place Thursday, May 25, at the Buell Theatre. (RESERVE YOUR SEAT HERE.)

    Today we introduce you to the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actress. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at the national Jimmy Awards in New York City.

    Actress 1 Dobias

    ELLEON DOBIAS

    Catherine in Pippin
    Valor Christian High School
    Class of 2017

    • College plans: I will be attending Roosevelt University in Chicago
    • First role: My theatre debut was May 16, 2013, as Mrs. Potts in a required 8th grade production of Beauty and the Beast, My teapot spout arm is still sore . . . 
    • Why do you perform? One of my mentors once told me that the aim of the art of theatre is not to represent the outward appearances of things, but rather their inward significances. This phrase has come to mean a great deal to me because, as I continue to play various characters, I am reminded that performance has the power to give light to what may have once gone unseen, unaddressed or unappreciated.
    • Ideal scene partner: This is a total toss-up between Phyllis Diller and Carol Burnett. Phyllis Diller absolutely revolutionized comedy for women, and her witty creativity and masterful delivery have been an inspiration to me. Carol Burnett, on the other hand, has such a hilariously gawky, self-deprecating yet completely magnetic presence about her.
    • Favorite moment from your show: One of my favorite things about this role was all of the quirky, ad-libbed comments and improvised character exchanges between Catherine and Pippin (played by Gable Kinsman). From playing guitars for our duet to weeping in silent strength in the final scene, Gable’s talent and encouragement pushed me as an actress in both emotional vulnerability and light-hearted humor, and I am incredibly grateful for being able to play off of our friendship on stage.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I have been both humbled and amazed by the talent I’ve seen at the Bobby G Awards over these last four years, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. My fellow nominees have been delightful to say the least, and it is truly such an honor to work alongside them.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? Arts education has legitimately changed my life. It has sparked in me a desire to influence positive social and cultural change with empathy and optimism, and I look back on my four years at Valor with nothing but gratitude and love for my theatre family and teacher mentors. The Bobby G Awards is not a competition but rather a celebration of the role that performance art has played in the lives of all of these students. We are all from different schools and different personal backgrounds, but we join together in the joy that comes from creating something wonderful.

    Actress 3 King

    CHANTAL KING 

    The Witch in Into the Woods
    Niwot High School
    Class of 2017  

    • College plans: I am headed to University of Northern Colorado. I will be majoring in political science and hopefully one day will become a Political Consultant. Or take over Stephen Colbert's talk show.        
    • First role: I played July in Annie when I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade at Twin Peaks Elementary
    • Why do you perform? Because I love making people smile and feel better. Theatre has always been an escape for me. Going to see any play or musical is magical. And I want to share that experience with any and every audience member I perform in front of. 
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to be in a scene with Patti Lupone. She has been a big role model for me. She is just so iconic in the musical-theater world, and doing a scene with her would just be a dream come true. 
    • Favorite moment from your show: It has to be our final dress rehearsal. It was the scene where The Baker and his wife have lost their cow, and I pop out of nowhere to threaten them. Then Rapunzel singing was supposed to stop them in their tracks, but the actor forgot to sing. So I keep going on with my lines and I did not know what to say. So when we came to the end of my cue line, just yelled to the Baker and his wife:  "I will eat your beans! " Which made no sense. The Baker and his wife practically broke character, and it was just a hilarious moment! 
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It is such honor, and I'm just lucky to have this experience.  I'm very appreciative of being a part of theater for so long it is such a joy. 
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? That art is so valuable and important in the high-school years. I met some of my closest friends through arts participation. I don’t think I would have truly found myself if I did not do theater. My biggest takeaway from arts education and extracurricular activities is to just try, because you don't know who you'll meet or how it can better you as a person if you don't put yourself out there and go for it.  

    Actress 4 Marter

    CAMERON MARTER

    Lakewood High School
    Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd
    Class of 2017

    • College plans: University of Montana, double major in acting and psychology
    • First role: It was in a program called Prelude, which is linked with the Evergreen Children’s Chorale. The show was Pinnochio, and I played the Ringmaster. I was in first or second grade.
    • Why do you perform? It brings me joy. But more important, it brings other people joy, along with a plethora of different emotions. If I made one audience member laugh or cry or smile or emote in any way, I feel like I’ve done my job.
    • Ideal scene partner: Colin Firth is one of my all time favorite actors. I might pass out if I were in the same space as him.
    • Favorite moment from your show: There’s a song called “A Little Priest,” and it’s essentially seven minutes of Trey (Sweeney Todd) and I making cannibalism puns. I’m supposed to pretend to take a swig from one of the cups on my counter, but I forgot to drain the cup of water from a previous scene. When I went to take a swig, I wasn’t ready for any actual liquid to be in the cup, and I proceeded to inhale the water. We went on with the song mostly fine, but there was a brief 30-second period of me coughing like mad, and then giving Trey the wrong cue line once I started again. It was the night we recorded the show, too.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? There are not enough words to begin to describe how I felt seeing my name among the nominees. There was a lot of joy and excitement. But above all, the biggest thing I felt was gratitude.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? I have felt endless joy through this and every other experience I have had in theater. I think every student should find an art or an extracurricular activity they take pride in and have a passion for. It’s through hard work in the things we are passionate about that we find joy.


    Actress 5 Nolte

    GRACE NOLTE

    Marguerite St. Just in The Scarlet Pimpernel
    Chaparral High School
    Class of 2017

    • College plans: Drake University to major in Musical Theatre
    • First role: I played the old woman in Cinderella for CYT community theatre when I was 11 years old
    • Why do you perform? Because I love how you can really make a character your own. You can bring your past experiences and emotions to help your characters grow. I also love how the emotion from a character can relate to audience members and their past experiences. It can be such a powerful moment. 
    • Ideal scene partner: I love Tom Hanks. He is such an incredible actor, and I feel like he would be so much fun to work with and learn from.
    • Favorite moment from your show: Our final dress was our best rehearsal yet, and after we finished there was such a contagious energy going around. In that moment, we truly realized what everyone had worked so hard on for three months. It was an incredible feeling that we had created something truly amazing.  
    • Fun moment where something went wrong: During the sword-fight scene, a sword (not mine!) hit me in the face. Luckily, this was the scene where my husband was going to be executed, so it was OK that a few tears were shed. 
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It honestly hasn't fully hit me yet. I am so honored and thankful that I have gotten the opportunity to take part in this wonderful event, and that I get to share this feeling with all of my wonderful cast and crew members, as well as the other incredible nominees.  
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? I have been in theatre for all four of my high-school years, and there were times when I felt that theatre wasn't always as important at our school as the sports teams or student government. But this is my family, and theatre has given me a place to belong. I am so glad that there is an event like The Bobby G Awards, where so many these schools can come together and celebrate all of our achievements and support one another in the work that we do. 


    Actress 1 Romeo

    ASHA ROMEO

    Joanne Jefferson in Rent
    Boulder High School
    Class of 2017

    • College plans: Attending San Francisco Conservatory of Music to study Vocal Performance
    • First role: Juliet in Romeo and Juliet
    • Why do you perform? Because it gives me the chance to connect to audiences even though I’m portraying a completely different person. It means I get to experience another life. I do it because of the raw connection it creates between myself and those watching.
    • Ideal scene partner: Robin Williams. I have always loved and admired his comic flare, as well as his ability to genuinely present both himself and as his characters. I think he was incredibly intelligent as far as understanding human nature. Just being in the same room with him would be a pleasure.
    • Favorite moment from Rent: Anytime I performed “The Tango: Maureen” with Jesse Shafroth, who played Mark. Each performance was unique, and I always had fun doing it. On our last show, Jesse and I were really milking it, and our audience was playing into it as well. There was some improvisation from both of us and I’m sure we looked ridiculous. But I will always remember how fun and natural it felt.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It still feels like a bit of a dream. It’s been a wonderful experience to work with all the other nominees, and it has been very humbling.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? So many kids have talent and drive and potential. It’s a shame when those kids don’t get the chance to explore those abilities. I’m grateful to have gone to Boulder High School, where there are dedicated teachers and staff who take time out of their days to work with us. Boulder High provides focus on almost every aspect of the arts, and I could have taken classes in each one if I chose to. I would want that same high-school experience for everyone else.

    Reserve your seat for the May 25 Bobby G Awards celebration here!

    Previous coverage of the 2017 Bobby G Awards:
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Finalists
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced
    Video: Montage welcoming all 42 participating schools
    Coming tomorrow: 2017 Outstanding Actor finalists

    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Finalists
  • Shakespeare Fest: Students put spirit of youth in everything

    by John Moore | Apr 29, 2017

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

     

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues under the photo gallery)

    Full photo gallery: 2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival

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



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

    Watch our Facebook Live stream from the parade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist. This is his 16th year covering the DPS Shakespeare Festival.


    2017-dps-shakespeare-festival

    Our 2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festival
    TO SEE MORE PHOTOS, CLICK ON THE GALLERY AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.
  • Hurlyburly of nation's largest student Shakespeare Festival returns Friday

    by John Moore | Apr 24, 2017

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


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

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

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

    But it can be.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    33rd Annual Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival

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

    Photo gallery: The 2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival:

    2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival

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

    Our 2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

  • Video: Mamma Mia's Cashelle Butler returns to Cherry Creek High School

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Photo gallery: Cashelle Butler at Cherry Creek High School


    Mamma Mia in Denver 2017

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


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

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

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

    Cashelle Butler. Mamma Mia.

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

    Chashelle Butler. Mamma Mia. Kevin Thomas Garcia.

  • Photos: Best of Savion Glover, Saturday Night Alive 2017

    by John Moore | Mar 07, 2017
    2017 Saturday Night Alive

    This photo gallery includes highlights from Savion Glover's performance and master class, as well as the gala and afterparty. To see more, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Amanda Tipton and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts' 37th annual Saturday Night Alive gala on March 4 netted a record $1 million. The fundraiser is a benefit for the DCPA’s extensive theatre education programs, which serve more than 105,000 students each year.

    The sold-out crowd of 800 was treated to a high-energy show by Tony-winning choreographer Savion Glover in the Stage Theatre, plus a live showcase of the DCPA's educational programs over dinner performed by students from DCPA programs. Among those in attendance were Congressman Mike Coffman. The emcee was Ed Greene of CBS Denver.

    Glover, a virtuosic tap dancer who made his Broadway debut at 12, was mentored by, among others, tap legend Gregory Hines, who said of Glover:  “Savion is possibly the best tap dancer who ever lived.”

    The afterparty band was Denver's Wash Park Funk Band.

    The 2017 Event Chairs were L. Roger and Meredith Hutson.

    The Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Saturday Night Alive was BMW of Downtown Denver. Platinum Sponsors were the Salah Foundation and United Airlines. Emerald Sponsors were the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry, HealthOne, The Westin Hotel Denver. Gold Sponsors were Always Best Care Senior Services, Epicurean Catering, Kathie and Keith Finger, u.s. bank, Colorado State Bank and Trust, The Tuchman Family Foundation and Triptyk Studios. The Surprise Box Sponsor was Kendra Scott.

    Coming soon:
    Video our interview with Savion Glover, plus concert highlights

    Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Savion Glover to headline DCPA's Saturday Night Alive

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Amanda TiptonHow the Seawell Grand Ballroom looked as education students performed at Saturday Night Alive. Photo by Amanda Tipton.
  • 'Motown' performers visit D-Town's North High School

    by John Moore | Feb 17, 2017

    Video above: Cast members from the national touring production of Motown the Musical visited students from Denver's North High School to sing a song and answer their questions about life in the theatre.

    Michelle Alves, who plays 15 roles, and 11-year-old CJ Young, who plays a young Michael Jackson, offered advice and encouragement before returning to the Buell Theatre for 'Motown,' the story of founder Berry Gordy's journey from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul. His American dream launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson. The conversation was led by DCPA Education’s Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski.

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.

    Photo gallery: Motown at Denver's North High School:

    'Motown' in Denver 2017
    Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Motown the Musical: Ticket information
    Motown The MusicalThrough Sunday, Feb. 19
    The Buell Theatre
    ASL, Open Caption and Audio Described performance: 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups (10+): 303-446-4829

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Motown the Musical:
    How Berry Gordy turned a slogan into The Supremes

    Michelle Alves and CJ Young, center, with students from Denver North High School. Photo by John Moore. Michelle Alves and CJ Young of 'Motown the Musical,' center, with students from Denver North High School. Photo by John Moore for the DCA NewsCenter.
  • 'Messiah of movement' Bob Davidson passes away

    by John Moore | Dec 22, 2016

    Above: A video close-up at Bob Davidson's work with the National Theatre Conservatory.

    Though he grew up in rural Minnesota, renowned dancer and movement coach Bob Davidson lived a life of adventure Hemingway would have envied. Just last summer, he was training a group of European movement teachers in Istanbul “when we were rudely interrupted by a coup,” he said with typical panache.

    Bob Davidson Quote His global world view was shaped early in his life. He toured Central and South America with his college a cappella choir, followed by a summer studying indigenous music and dance in rural Uganda and Uzbekistan. He later received his advanced degree from the University of Washington in Ethnomusicology, the study of non-Western cultures.

    Davidson was found dead at his home earlier today, his family confirmed. He was 70. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

    Davidson was a teacher to the core. He started teaching Sunday school at the tender age of 13 and took charge of his church choir at 15. But if anything, he was a messiah for movement. Davidson fundamentally believed that the way we think and move influences what we say and do.

    Davidson was born July 20, 1946. He joined the Denver Center’s former National Theatre Conservatory faculty as Head of Movement in 1997 through its closure in 2012 and was largely responsible for the DCPA’s reputation as the national leader in teaching students how to incorporate the art of trapeze into theatrical productions. The NTC was the only graduate school in the country where studying trapeze for three years was not only an option, but a requirement.

    “He could help turn an MFA actor into a cowboy from Texas, and then into a 17th century aristocrat,” DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson told The Denver Post. “A lot of people don’t fully understand that isn’t simply clothing or dialect, but a physical process.”

    Davidson celebration
    To RSVP your attendance at Bob Davidson's life celebration on April 9, click here.


    His influence on the NTC's students was profound. A group of alumni led by Steven Cole Hughes (currently appearing in the DCPA's An Act of God), John Behlman and Eileen Little created a trapeze-based theatre company in New York called Fight or Flight, comprised almost entirely of NTC graduates. The troupe produces original works and aerial adaptations of classic stories.

    Davidson "changed a lot of tangible things about my life," Behlman wrote in tribute. "He's the reason I was ever introduced to the trapeze, and the source of a lot of joy and strange stories in my life. The world is significantly less interesting without Bob."

    Matt Zambrano, a member of the final graduating NTC class, called Davidson a brilliant teacher and student. "He was the man who taught me to fly, how to hold my head high with invisible strings and how to appreciate the space between things," Zambrano said.

    Bob Davidson. Photo courtesy DCPA EducationDavidson has collaborated with many directors on productions of Ibsen, Chekhov, Brecht and Shakespeare. He frequently choreographed productions for the DCPA Theatre Company, most recently a fully immersive movement adventure called Perception, which played out simultaneously as the audience toured several DCPA Education studios. The show was described as “a walk through a mind-bending, fantastical excursion where nothing is what it seems, and where every twist of your journey toys with your senses.”

    Read our recent faculty spotlight on Bob Davidson

    Davidson began exploring aerial dance on the triangular low-flying trapeze in 1986 and established his own aerial dance company in 1988. His epic, signature works were considered to be Rapture: Rumi and Airborne: Meister Eckhart, which have toured throughout the U.S., Europe and the former Soviet Union. He also choreographed successful aerial versions of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for Seattle’s Intiman Theatre as well as Portland Center Stage.

    (Story continues below)

    Video bonus: Masters students fly to poetry of Byron:

    Video highlights from the National Theatre Conservatory class of 2011's movement project inspired by the poetry of Lord Byron. Performed April 23, 2009.


    He was still teaching public classes as a faculty member for DCPA Education as recently as November. Asked what makes him a good teacher in a recent interview with the DCPA NewsCenter, he said, “Possibly because my education was so multi-disciplinary. And possibly because I’ve been doing it for almost 60 years!”

    Bob Davidson. Perception. Photo by Adams VisCom. DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous is a graduate of the NTC, and she considered being trained by Davidson on the trapeze to be an esteemed pleasure.

    “After my first year of graduate school at the NTC, everyone told me, ‘You seem taller’ - and it was true,” she said. “My already tall self had grown an inch because of trapeze and movement work with Bob. But I not only grew taller physically, I grew in artistry, passion, presence, creativity and love of the world because I met him.” 

    Davidson took particular pride in becoming certified in teaching the Skinner Releasing Technique way back in 1969, “making me the oldest living certified teacher of this technique in the world,” he said. SRT, he explained, “is a form of kinesthetic training that is essentially non-intellectual, yet image-oriented. So when SRT precedes an actor’s monologue work, the monologues generally improve greatly. It seems less strain, fear and ego are involved in the presentation — and more clarity, dynamics and confidence are the result.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Davidson remained founder Joan Skinner’s primary assistant at the University of Washington throughout the 1970s, becoming the director of the Skinner Releasing School in the 1974. He was a leading dancer in her American Contemporary Dance Company as well as the Music and Dance Ensemble.

    Bob Davidson. 1Davidson trained more than 65 teachers to be certified in SRT all over the world. “I am so passionate about it, I sometimes do it for free,” he said, “and it is a rigorous, challenging, sometimes painful 12-week commitment.”

    Watrous called Davidson "an extraordinary teacher who had a superpower to help actors find the power of connecting to their bodies,” she said. "He inspired so many artists and actors to carve space and take on the world - and he will forever inspire me.”

    Davidson is survived by his sister, Peggy Nield.

    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.


    Photo gallery: Off-Center's Perception in 2015:

    PERCEPTION- Off-Center at the JonesPhotos from 'Perception,' choreographed by Bob Davidson for the DCPA's Off-Center. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Adams VisCom.

    Additional testimonials

    Steve Jones, NTC, DCPA Theatre Company's 'As You Like It': "Bob taught me how to lift my skull to the heavens, plunge my feet down to the core of the Earth and how to fly with all of my heart."

    Geoffrey Kent, DCPA Fight Director: "If anyone deserves flights of angels, it's Bob."

    Alaina Beth Reel, student: "This man unleashed something in me, and made me surprised by how my own body could move. He was an incredible teacher I was lucky to have met and to have practiced under. Bob, thank you for all the lessons I practice daily and long to share with others. The Denver theatre community has another dark hole in its heart today."

    Curtiss Johns, student: Bob, you changed my life. You changed the way I looked at art and for that I am grateful. You changed the way I thought about theater and for that I am grateful. But most of all, you changed the way I move though this world and for that sir, I am forever in your debt. I, like so many of us who danced the dance of gossamer threads, will miss you terribly. But we will have you and the gifts you gave us in our bodies, minds and souls."

    Susanna Florence Risser, student: "This wild, mild, giant of a man shaped my artistic life as deeply as anyone I've known."

    Linnea Scott, student: Bob's spirit, grace, and suppleness are qualities that cannot be easily forgotten. His teachings were such a special gift, and I am so immensely grateful to have come in contact with his wisdom at such a young age.

    A Bob Davidson 800 1
    Photo below courtesy of DCPA Education.
  • Fall Classes: Meet Three DCPA Teaching Artists

    by John Moore | Sep 21, 2016
    Curtiss Johns.  DCPA Education's 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore.
    Curtiss Johns participated in a DCPA Education acting master class that culminated with a full staging of 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    DCPA Education offers year-round classes for 85,000 students of all ages, from a diverse lineup of experienced educators and professional teaching artists.

    This fall, DCPA Education is offering more than 40 adult classes and workshops ranging from stage accents to acting on camera to low-flying trapeze. There are business workshops available as well, including public speech (pictured below right). Classes are geared toward newcomers all the way through an acclaimed master class project for budding professionals that culminates each year in a fully produced play.

    “We are so fortunate to have the faculty we have,” said DCPA Head of Acting Instruction Tim McCracken. “They are terrific individuals from this market, who are highly skilled and able to offer so much to students of all levels.”

    Today, the DCPA NewsCenter is spotlighting three of those faculty members and the various classes they will be leading this fall. One is the acclaimed Christy Montour-Larson, who directed the DCPA Theatre Company’s Shadowlands, and will helm the world-premiere production of Two Degrees, opening Feb. 3.

    “Our teachers have the professional experience in the industry to get you where you want to go,” said McCracken.

    Registration deadlines vary by each individual class’ starting date, but most begin the week of Oct. 3. Full class descriptions and a downloadable brochure are available online here. For more information, call 303-446-4892.

    MEET BOB DAVIDSON

    “I began teaching Sunday school at age 13, and was our church choral director at 15. I toured Central and South America with our college a cappella choir, followed by a summer studying music and dance in rural Uganda and Uzbekistan. I established my own aerial dance company in 1988 and joined the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory faculty as Head of Movement in 1997.
    I was certified in the Skinner Releasing Technique in 1970, making me the oldest living certified teacher of this technique in the world.

    • Hometown: I grew up in rural southern Minnesota
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: Mabel (Minn.) High School
    • College: Hamline (Minn.) with a BA in Music Performance and Composition, minoring in English Lit
    • Advanced education: University of Washington in Ethnomusicology 
    • Who was your favorite teacher? I am neither scientifically nor mathematically oriented, but Dean Wendlandt taught me high-school geometry, algebra, trigonometry, chemistry and physics in such a clear and comprehensible way. His classes may have planted the seeds that helped me sort through the potential chaos that often is “the arts.”
    • What makes you a good teacher? Possibly because my education was so multi-disciplinary. Possibly because I’ve been doing it for almost 60 years!
    • About DCPA Education: We’re always striving to focus and refine our course offerings to be relevant to actors at all levels of training.

      YOUR COURSE: MIND AND MOVEMENT INTENSIVE FOR ACTORS
      (with Laurence Curry)

    • Course description: I will first introduce the basics of the Skinner Releasing Technique, a form of kinesthetic training that is essentially non-intellectual, yet image-oriented. When SRT precedes monologue work, the monologues generally improve greatly. It seems less strain, fear, and ego are involved in the presentation — and more clarity, dynamics and confidence are the result.
    • Dates: Oct. 29 through Nov. 19 in the Newman Building
    • When: 1-4 p.m. Saturdays (First two Saturdays taught by Laurence Curry; second two Saturdays by Bob Davidson)
    • Your ideal student? An experienced actor who wants to improve his or her technique and process — although beginners are welcome. Each student must bring in a fully memorized monologue to present at the beginning of the Nov. 12 session, preferably classical.
    • What do you hope your students get out of it? I hope they begin to acquire a deeper sense of technical competence in their approach to acting, and that they learn there’s more than one way to say a line, and that the way we think influences what we say and do.
    • Fun fact: This is essentially process-oriented training — as opposed to product-oriented; so it is virtually impossible to fail. The by-products of this form of experimental training may be plentiful and pleasurable to behold.
    •  

    Editor's Note: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated where Bob Davidson received his certification in the Skinner Releasing Technique. We regret the error.

    MEET TIA MARLIER

    Tia Marlier 3"Over the past 40 years, I have worked as a vocalist singing jazz, pop, rock and a cappella; as a stage actor at Arvada Center and BDT Stage; as an on-camera actor; singing coach; as a church worship leader; as a news announcer, and as a presentation-skills coach. I'm now a voiceover talent agent."

    • Hometown: I grew up in Cleveland and Detroit
    • Home now: Littleton
    • High school: I attended the all-girls Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Mich.
    • College: B.A. in Telecommunications from Michigan State University
    • Web site: tiamarlier.com
    • Who was your favorite teacher? Louise Scudlo, who taught a J.D. Salinger class in high school, recognized and encouraged my writing ability, and she was wildly interesting and mysterious — the epitome of eccentricity!
    • What makes you a good teacher? I am a great encourager, and I love to bring out the potential in people.
    • About DCPA Education: The DCPA provides a fun, safe environment where adults of all ages can explore their creative sides. You will learn new skills and gain insight into the performing arts, while getting to explore and grow.

      YOUR COURSE: COMMERCIAL VOICEOVER 1 

    • Course description: Is your voice your favorite asset? Step up to the mic and learn the basics of the radio and television voiceover industry. Analyze and activate commercial copy, learn to take direction and increase your versatility. Learn about demos, agents, auditions and the voiceover market to get going with your career. You’ll even get to work in a professional recording studio during your final class.
    • Dates: Oct. 8-Nov. 12
    • When: First five Saturdays from 1-3:30 p.m. in the Newman Building. The final class will be held at a professional recording studio where students will experience a real voiceover recording session.
    • Your ideal student? ... is interested in using their voice, and has either some acting background, or a willingness to explore acting - which is an important voiceover skill.
    • What do you hope your students get out of it? I hope my students enjoy learning how to make words on a page come alive through their voices.
    • Fun fact: It's harder than you think to do voice over. And yet when you do it right, it's effortless!

       

    MEET CHRISTY MONTOUR-LARSON

    Christy Montour-Larson is a multiple award-winning director, recently named Top Director by Westword Magazine, 5280 Magazine and CBS4 Denver. Christy is looking forward to directing Two Degrees for the DCPA Theatre Company and Constellations at Curious Theatre, both in early 2017. She studied Meisner Technique from Bill Esper and Maggie Flanagin and has taught Acting and Directing at Metropolitan State University of Denver for more than 15 years. 

    • Hometown: Minneapolis
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, Minn.
    • College: BFA in Theatre from the University of Minnesota-Duluth
    • Advanced education: MFA in Directing from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Jersey
    • Who was your favorite teacher? I have been blessed to have had several inspiring teachers in my life. The great ones include my high-school drama teacher Gretchen Heath, who taught me to believe in myself; and Maggie Flanagin and Amy Saltz from Rutgers, who taught me to reach for the highest artistic standards
    • What makes you a good teacher? I pride myself on creating a space where students feel safe and have permission to take risks. I strive to be demanding without being unkind. I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. 
    • About DCPA Education: The DCPA makes the whole classroom experience unforgettable and inspiring. The DCPA gives you a spark of life and equipment for living. For when you study theatre, you are crafting deeper skills in how to live more authentically — not only on stage, but off-stage as well.

      YOUR COURSE: MEISNER TECHNIQUE

    • Course description: Through the Meisner acting technique, students will discover they are never done learning the craft. Rooted in the work of master acting teacher Sanford Meisner, this class uses a series of exercises that build upon each other to create a useful set of new skills to master truthful human behavior.
    • Dates: Oct. 5-Nov. 9
    • When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the Newman Building
    • Your ideal student? Maybe someone who is beginning his or her studies as an actor.  You are passionate and hungry to find a way to use all of yourself to express those deep feelings. Maybe someone who has studied acting and has noticed there are moments when something has “clicked,” but it seems to be hit-or-miss. You wish you had something solid that you could build on and grow with. Maybe someone who has acted some but so often you feel you have lost touch with your own creative center.
    • What do you hope your students get out of it? To experience themselves as much greater and more powerful than they were previously aware. That they can be totally available and receptive to their acting partners. That they are courageous and ready to take risks.
    • Fun fact: When I first read Meisner on Acting, it changed the course of my professional life.
    DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous leads a class for local business professionals. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.