• Tony Garcia: ‘American Mariachi' is an American beauty

    by John Moore | Feb 15, 2018
    American Mariachi jennifer-parades-doreen-montalvo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26117323378_o
    In the essay below, Su Teatro Executive Artistic Director Tony Garcia offers his reactions to seeing the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere production of 'American Mariachi.' Pictured are Jennifer Parades and Doreen Montalvo. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    From his new play's very title, José Cruz González challenges us to examine what we consider to be 'American'

    By Tony Garcia
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Chicano and Latino art often struggles to cross over into the mainstream, in large part because the dominant culture can’t understand — and in some cases, even fears — the “otherness” of the language, the culture and the traditions at play. If a story is too authentic, then it runs the risk of being exotic, different or perhaps even threatening. But if a play makes too much accommodation to include audiences outside the culture, it runs the risk of being criticized by those in our own community who view Chicano and Latino artistic endeavors with ultra-sensitivity, and often hold them to a higher standard.

    Luis Valdez, the father of Chicano theatre, explained the paradox of the contemporary Chicano experience in Los Vendidos (The Sellouts) by having a character say: “Wait a minute, you want something Mexican … but American?” 

    a jose-cruz-gonzalez-webJosé Cruz González’s American Mariachi, a play now having its world premiere at the Denver Center, is straightforward in portraying Mexicans as normal, and mariachi as an honored tradition. And the play is familiar enough to be accessible to a crossover audience. (Pictured at right: José Cruz González.)

    American Mariachi is profound in its title, which challenges us to look at our definitions of both words. And it challenges us to examine what we consider to be American. Is it American to be mariachi? Or can mariachi be American? The answer to both questions is yes. González’s title tells us that mariachi music, often portrayed as a novelty form with its bawdy costumes, its loud instruments clashing with disinterested voices and crashing dishes in overcrowded restaurants, is part of what we call “American.” And it’s not up for debate. González proceeds to treat that conversation as a settled matter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Although the play is set in the U.S., the location is never a factor in the story. The characters speak Spanish and English. They work, love their families and have dreams. They do not talk about their immigrant experience or border crossings. They do not talk about gang life, prison sentences or drug use. The characters are “normal.” And that is one of the greatest beauties of American Mariachi: The profound yet simple and true assumption that we are normal — in contrast to the contemporary political landscape, where we are portrayed as anything but normal. There is tremendous power in that.

    The playwright also makes no accommodation for a monocultural audience. He interweaves Spanish and English, often without translation. Some of the biggest punchlines in the play are told only in Spanish. We are also not given a European-American character to serve as our guide through this very Mexican journey. There are no translators or sympathetic allies waiting to sweep in and save us. The play is offered from a very entre nosotros perspective. This is as if to say: “This is our family, complete with joy and pain. You are invited in to view and share. We understand that we are not perfect — can you?”

    AM 800 bobby-plascencia-and-the-company-of-american-mariachi-photo-by-adamsviscom_39989603211_oWe are also passionate people, and our passion for mariachi is deep. It is steeped in tradition. Mariachi music is cross-generational with parents judiciously teaching their children its value. Mariachis pass the music through their families with some of the greatest mariachis being the product of multi-generational descendants of master musicians. Luthiers (guitar- and violin-makers) design, build and repair instruments for specific musicians. These instruments are also passed down from generations to generation, and American Mariachi celebrates this tradition. The play describes the role of each instrument. It talks about the sacredness of each aspect of the mariachi experience including the traje — the traditional costume — a vestige of the horse culture of Guadalajara. We are immersed in a respect for the music and the form. Welcome to Mariachi 101.

    (Pictured at right: Bobby Plascencia, center, and the company of 'American Mariachi.' Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    The core of American Mariachi is its heart. This is a play about family and intense love. And like any good bolero, it carries with it that aching moment of hubris that will scar the family for years to come. Its humanness and accompanying weakness invoke elements of a Greek tragedy, and it is that diametrical opposite human trait — forgiveness — that allows us to reconcile the two forces that eventually will heal us.

    I attended Opening Night of the Denver Center’s American Mariachi. At the climactic moment of the story, I heard sniffling in the crowded theater. That reminded me of a performance by El Teatro Campesino of La Carpa de los Rasquachis more than 4o years ago at the sad moment when Rasquachi realizes — like the iconic Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman — that his life given to toil and sacrifice has led to ultimate failure. The American Dream has become his nightmare. Upon Rasquachi’s inevitable death, the sniffles began. I looked around then, expecting to see all the soft-hearted Latinas in the audience with hankies to their eyes. And they were. But my older muy macho peers were also wiping tears from under their sunglasses.

    At a similar moment in American Mariachi, there was a symphony of sniffles. But as I looked around the emotional Stage Theatre, what struck me was the number of white males who were wiping their eyes under their bifocals this time.

    Both experiences revealed to me the power of theatre.

    Tony Garcia 160Tony Garcia is the Executive Artistic Director of El Centro Su Teatro since 1989 and has been a company member since 1972. He received his BA in Theatre from the University of Colorado Denver. He won a 2006 United States Artists Fellowship, was named The Denver Post’s 2010 Theatre Person of the Year and received the prestigious Livingston Fellowship from the Bonfils Stanton Foundation. He is also an adjunct professor at Metro State College in Denver.

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s’ Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    When Leonor Perez found mariachi, she found her true voice
    American Mariachi
    Perspectives: Music as a powerful memory trigger
    Photos, video: Your first look at American Mariachi
    American Mariachi
    's second community conversation: Food, music and tough issues
    Cast announced, and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal
    American Mariachi
    : Community conversation begins
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

  • Video: Your 'First Date' with Director Ray Roderick

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2018

    In the video above, Director Ray Roderick talks about the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' production of the musical comedy First Date, which he calls a "super-funny, modern love story" that follows two characters as they go through their first date at a busy New York restaurant.

    First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowAs the date unfolds, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this unpredictable evening. "It reminds people of what it was to be in love for the first time," Roderick said.

    The all-local cast includes Adriane Leigh Robinson, Seth Dhonau, Steven J. Burge, Jordan Leigh, Lauren Shealy, Barret Harper and Cashelle Butler. (Pictured at right:  Dhonau and Robinson, by Emily Lozow.)

    First Date performs through April 22 at the Garner Galleria Theatre.

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

    Meet the cast: More fun to read than any dating profile!

    First Date: Ticket information
    First DatePerformances through April 22
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    At the Garner Galleria Theatre

    The book is written by by Austin Winberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Orchestrations by August Eriksmoen. Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements by Dominick Amendum.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of First Date:
    Understudies talk about their unique role in First Date
    Video: Photos: Your first look at First Date
    Check out the all-local cast of the Denver Center's First Date


    Ray Roderick
  • City announces security change at Buell Theatre

    by John Moore | Feb 12, 2018

    Buell Theatre.


    Enhanced security, including metal detectors, will be in place by Tuesday, Feb. 13. Please plan accordingly.

    To ensure the safety of guests, the city of Denver’s Department of Arts & Venues has announced enhanced security, including metal detectors, at The Buell Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

    The first installation will be in place by Tuesday, Feb. 13, said Brian Kitts, marketing director for Denver Arts & Venues, the division of the City of Denver that manages the Buell Theatre. Tuesday is opening night of the national touring production of STOMP

    Much like any major concert or sporting event, guests will now pass through a metal detector and all bags will be inspected. Wand inspections and pat-downs are possible. Guests are encouraged to pack light, be aware of the guidelines and are strongly encouraged to arrive up to one hour before the ticketed start of any show.

    Security screenings and bag checks are becoming standard practice in civic spaces, Kitts said, and the city has been considering upgrading security at the venues it manages at the Denver Performing Arts Complex for some time. But he said these new procedures apply only to The Buell Theatre.

    “The Buell was chosen to pilot these new measures because it’s the most active venue at the Denver Performing Arts Complex,” Kitts told The Denver Post.

    The new measures specifically ban most outside food and beverages, weapons, marijuana and other drugs without prescription, and bags larger than 12 by 12 by 12 inches. The complete list can be found below.

    “Most people going to these performances have been through some sort of security before, whether it’s at the airport or Coors Field or the Pepsi Center,” Kitts told The Post. “This shouldn’t be any different than that.”

    But increased security does take advance planning. “We just ask that if you have a big, bulky bag with you and know it’s going to be searched, just leave it in the car,” he said. Arts Complex management, he added, reserves the right to refuse any item deemed a potential safety or security risk or with the potential to be a distraction to the event being held.

    “The Denver Center for the Performing Arts places the highest value on the safety of our guests,” said Suzanne Yoe, the DCPA’s Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs. “The DCPA has a dedicated security team focused on ensuring that our campus is safe, and that we continually evolve our safety procedures to meet current standards. We appreciate the leadership of Arts & Venues as it works to improve security throughout the Arts Complex campus.”

    She added that the DCPA will continue to evaluate security measures in the spaces it manages — The Stage, Space, Ricketson, Jones, Garner Galleria Theatre, Conservatory Theatre and Seawell Ballroom.

    COMPLETE GUIDELINES FOR CITY-RUN ARTS COMPLEX VENUES:

    PERMITTED ITEMS INSIDE:

    •    Empty or factory-sealed water (plastic and aluminum) bottles
    •    Limelight Restaurant beverages in plastic cups with lids
    •    Bags smaller than 12” x 12” x 12” (must fit under designated seat)

    PROHIBITED ITEMS INSIDE:

    •    ALL OUTSIDE FOOD AND BEVERAGES (exceptions: factory-sealed water bottles and Limelight beverages in plastic cups with lids)
    •    Marijuana and drugs without a prescription
    •    Laser pointers (will be confiscated and patron subject to ejection)
    •    Coolers (hard sided and soft sided)
    •    Audio or video recording devices, GoPros, professional cameras or cameras with removable lenses
    •    Weapons or items construed as weapons (including, but not limited to: firearms, knives of all sizes, sharp-edged objects, mace and pepper spray, tasers, props/toys)
    •    Bullhorns or noisemakers
    •    Balloons
    •    Selfie Sticks
    •    Confetti, glitter and other items that can be thrown
    •    Commercial signage
    •    Animals (except service animals)
    •    Bicycles and scooters
    •    Patrons bringing skateboards, inline skates, hoverboards, or strollers will be asked to check them at the theatre
    •    Remote control flying devices or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)
    •    Bags larger than 12” x 12” x 12”

    NOTE: Theatergoers may be asked to open bulky outerwear, such as jackets, prior to entering.

    For additional general information, please email Lori.Garza@denvergov.org

  • Announcing the 'Hamilton' lottery in Denver

    by John Moore | Feb 12, 2018

    Hamilton lottery. Photo by Joan MarcusThe national touring production of 'Hamilton.' Photo by Joan Marcus.

    The #HAM4HAM lottery will make 40 tickets for every performance at the Buell Theatre available for $10 each

    Producer Jeffrey Seller is pleased to announce a digital lottery for HAMILTON tickets will begin in conjunction with the show’s first performance (February 27) in Denver at The Buell Theatre.  Forty (40) orchestra tickets will be sold for every performance for $10 each.  The digital lottery will open at 11:00 AM MT on Sunday, February 25 for tickets to the Tuesday, February 27 performance.  Subsequent digital lotteries will begin two days prior to each performance. The digital lottery will begin two days prior to each performance.

    HOW TO ENTER:

    • Use the official app for HAMILTON, now available for all iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store (hamiltonmusical.com/app).
    • You can also visit hamiltonmusical.com/lottery to register.
    • The lottery will open at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time Zone) two days prior to the performance date and will close for entry at 9 a.m. (Mountain Time) the day prior to the performance.
    • Winner and non-winner notifications will be sent at approximately 11 a.m. (Mountain Time) the day prior to the performance via email and SMS (if mobile number is provided).
    • There is a limit of one entry per person, and each winner can purchase two tickets. Repeat entries and disposable email addresses will be discarded.
    • Tickets must be purchased online with a credit card by 4 p.m. (Mountain Time) the day prior to the performance using the purchase link and code in a customized notification email. Tickets not claimed by 4 p.m. (Mountain Time) the day prior to the performance are forfeited.
    • Lottery tickets may be picked up at will call beginning two hours prior to the performance with a valid photo ID. Lottery tickets void if resold.

    ADDITIONAL RULES

    Limit one (1) entry per person, per performance. Multiple entries will not be accepted. Patrons must be 18 years or older and have a valid, non-expired photo ID that matches the name used to enter. Tickets are non-transferable. Ticket limits and prices displayed are at the sole discretion of the show and are subject to change without notice.

    Lottery prices are not valid on prior purchases. Lottery ticket offer cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions. All sales final — no refunds or exchanges. Lottery may be revoked or modified at any time without notice. No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not improve the chances of winning.

    Tickets for HAMILTON are currently on sale.  Patrons are advised to check the official HAMILTON channels, denvercenter.org/hamilton, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Box Office for late release seats which may become available at short notice.

    HAMILTON is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.

    With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and music supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The HAMILTON creative team previously collaborated on the 2008 Tony Award ® Winning Best Musical In The Heights. HAMILTON features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.

    The musical is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater. The HAMILTON Original Broadway Cast Recording is available everywhere nationwide.  The HAMILTON recording received a 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album.

    For information on HAMILTON, visit HamiltonMusical.com, Facebook.com/HamiltonMusical, Instagram.com/HamiltonMusical and Twitter.com/HamiltonMusical.

    About THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) is the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation, presenting Broadway tours and producing theatre, cabaret, musicals, and innovative, multimedia plays. Last season the DCPA engaged with more than 1.2 million visitors, generating a $150 million economic impact in ticket sales alone. Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center. The DCPA Broadway season is generously sponsored by UCHealth and United Airlines. Media sponsorship is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. Denver Center for the Performing Arts is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Hamilton

    Hamilton’s celebrated education program debuts March 21 at DCPA
    'Rise Up!' More things to know about Hamilton tickets
    Hamilton tickets: Don't get scammed on Monday
    2018 Saturday Night Alive guests will attend Hamilton

  • 'STOMP' returns to Denver in all its explosive, syncopated glory

    by John Moore | Feb 10, 2018

    STOMP 2018. Photo by Junichi Takahashi.

    'STOMP' returns to The Buell Theatre in Denver from Feb 13-18. Photo by Junichi Takahashi.

    Using percussion, everyday objects and not a word of dialogue, another sweeping storm of rhythm is brewing

    Genevieve Miller Holt
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    It’s been a while since you heard those clomping, clanging racket makers — racketeers? — right here in your own back yard. Yes, STOMP is back in Denver in all its explosive, syncopated glory with those incredible percussionists who treasure the old adage about one man’s trash…

    STOMP 2018. Photo by Steve McNicholas.The troupe still doesn’t look at everyday objects the way the rest of the world does. In their hands, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters (we’re not sure about Grouchos and Harpos) and the general detritus of the 21st century takes on a life of its own. Stomp, created and directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, is an exploration of the outer limits of rhythmic invention. It’s a Pipe (read drain pipe) and Drum (read anything) Corps for our age. 

    And speaking of age, it has not withered STOMP's clatter — or fun.STOMP, that concatenation of sound and skill, is back with its rhythms and drumbeats intact. 

    The same goes for its nonstop movement of bodies, objects, sound — even abstract ideas. There’s no dialogue, speech or plot. But music? Absolutely. Uncommon music, created in nontraditional ways — with every day objects ranging from matchbooks to every household item you can imagine. “It’s a piece of theatre that’s been created by musicians,” said  McNicholas. “It doesn’t have narrative and it doesn’t have dialogue and it doesn’t have melody particularly, but it is totally rhythmically based.” You’re bombarded by a caterwauling noise that under any other circumstances you would choose to shut out. 

    But not here.

    Here all is syncopated and choreographed with the precision of an army bugle corps (minus the bugles) and by the fertile imagination of buskers or street performers from the streets of Brighton — the spot where STOMP’s creators hail from and where they dream up versions of this utterly inventive, unexpected, whacked-out show. “Most ideas come from everyday life,” said McNicholas, “but when we put a routine together we are thinking not just in terms of the rhythmic qualities, the sound qualities of the instruments, but also visual impact.”

    And impact it will have. So sit back, relax, tap your feet, clap your hands. There’s only fun to be had here — from the ringing of hollow pipes to clashing metal weaving its spell, and industrial strength dance routines involving a lot of supremely well-coordinated bodies.

    Genevieve Miller Holt, formerly of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, is the General Manager for Broadway Across America in Cincinnati. Photo above and right by Steve McNicholas.

    STOMP in Denver: Ticket information
    STOMPSTOMP
    is explosive, inventive, provocative, witty and utterly unique — an unforgettable experience for audiences of all ages. The international percussion sensation has garnered armfuls of awards and rave reviews and has appeared on numerous national television shows. The eight-member troupe uses everything but conventional percussion instruments – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hubcaps – to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms. Year after year, audiences worldwide keep coming back for more of this pulse-pounding electrifying show. 

    • National touring production
    • Performances Feb. 13-18
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • When Leonor Perez found mariachi, she found her voice

    by John Moore | Feb 09, 2018

    Video: Dr. Leonor Xochitl Perez curated the lobby exhibit on "The Trailblazing Women of Mariachi Music" in conjunction with the DCPA Theatre Company's 'American Mariachi,' playing through Feb. 25 before moving to the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. 


    Pioneering female mariachi was taught to keep her voice down, until she found the music that invited her to scream

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Today, Dr. Leonor Xochitl Perez holds a PhD in Education from UCLA and a master’s degree in human development and psychology from Harvard. Which would be enough for most people.

    But Perez has lived an entirely additional accomplished life as the leading proponent and preservationist of women's mariachi history in two countries.

    Back in 1973, young Perez was just an unassuming wisp of a girl who took up mariachi music at her junior high school in East Los Angeles, little realizing that by joining one of the first youth mariachi groups in the country, she would soon be breaking decades-old barriers in a predominantly macho musical culture.

    American Mariachi quote“Back then, we were at the beginning of a time where we were reclaiming our right to hang on to our culture and our heritage,” Perez said at opening festivities for the DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere play with music American Mariachi, by José Cruz González.

    “I walked into a mariachi class for the first time as a girl who was not allowed to embrace her culture,” said Perez , who went on to an accomplished career in higher education. “My parents were more concerned about upward mobility and assimilation. But when the guitarrón, which is the big bass instrument, started playing, I could feel vibrations of that sound throughout my body. And it was reaching somewhere deeper than that moment and that sound.

    "I know that when I heard that music, I was reaching somewhere further back in time.”

    Perez went on to perform at two Presidential Inaugural Balls — one at 19 years old — and at the Hollywood Bowl.

    (Fast-forward through many years of raising a family and astonishing success in higher education here.)

    Perez decided to return to the arts in 2012 to become Artistic Projects Manager for the San Diego Symphony. She went on to found Mariachi Women, an organization that exists to recognize and empower mariachi women throughout the world, primarily through staging large women’s mariachi festivals throughout the world.

    For the Denver Center's production of American Mariachi, Perez has curated a massive lobby exhibit outside the Stage Theatre called The Trailblazing Women of Mariachi Music.

    "It's very exciting that Denver is the first venue to offer this play," she said, "and it’s actually a beautiful thing because Denver has an important place in Mexican-American history. In March of 1969, the first-ever convening of Mexican-American students happened right here in Denver. More than 1,500 Latino youth came from all over the country and they redefined their ethnic identity as Chicanos. Many of them went on to  become activists and important people nationally and internationally. So I'd say it's no coincidence that this play is starting here in Denver."

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    American Mariachi. Photo by Adams VisCom
    The company of 'American Mariachi.' Photo by Adams VisCom

    American Mariachi
    , set in the 1970s American southwest, follows a young woman named Lucha who becomes determined to learn how to play mariachi music as a way of keeping her mother from slipping further into her dementia. This at a time when being a female mariachi player was unheard of in the United States. And that fictional character’s story is, in some ways, Perez’s story as well.  

    "I'm so honored now, so many years later, to be able to tell the story of voices that have never been heard,” Perez said of her exhibit, which includes tales of pioneering women and includes actual suits worn by mariachi women at different times and places.

    Asked what the Leonor Perez of 2018 might say to the Leonor Perez of 1973, she said with a smile: "I would tell that little girl to hang in there, because there's going to be a very important place for the telling of this story — and that that little girl will be the person telling this story.”

    Here’s more of our conversation with Dr. Perez:

    John Moore: When did you start to become interested in researching women in mariachi?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: While I was a graduate student at UCLA and I was learning research skills, I began to ask the question: ‘When exactly did women start playing mariachi music as instrumentalists? Not as singers, but as instrumentalists?" So I applied my academic and research skills into the idea of discovering the answer to that question.

    John Moore: How did you get started playing mariachi in the first place?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: In 1973, there were various forces that came together to promote the idea of providing Mexican music in the U.S. schools. That included the 1968 Bilingual Education Act. There was the Chicano civil-rights movement. The study of ethnic music and Chicano studies were emerging in universities. All of this was happening at the same time. For me, playing mariachi music at my school was somewhat of a lonely experience because some kids played it as an extracurricular activity, but I continued to play this music throughout my entire life.

    John Moore: How did you become a leading mariachi researcher with everything else that was happening in your life?

    Mariachi community conversation: Food, music, issues

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: Regardless of my degrees, or the family life, or where I moved, I was always playing mariachi music.

    John Moore: Tell us how your life intersects with the story of the play.

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: The play shows the struggles that women have had to endure in order to play this music, because it is a male-dominated genre — and I had some of those challenges as well. As a young girl growing up in East Los Angeles, I was expected to live out the life of a traditional Latina young woman, and that meant being domestic and looking forward to motherhood and being a wife. That meant being demure and being quiet. All of those things are good, but I felt like there was so much more for me in life. So when I found mariachi music, I was able to express myself in ways that were not allowed in my community. For example, in mariachi music, we give out an expressive yell during the performance of this music. At home, I was told to be quiet, to watch my words, to keep my voice down, to not ask so many questions. But when I was in mariachi music, whenever I felt it, I'd let a grito — a yell — come out, just to show my love for the music, whether it's a romantic bolero or a traditional son.

    John Moore: We don't necessarily think of the arts, in many cultures, as patriarchal. Why was it so unheard of that a woman should play this music in the 1970s?

    40049100881_5ecae8ed49_zLeonor Xochitl Perez: Well, it's interesting, because mariachi music originates in the rural areas of Mexico. The ranchers would play mariachi music. Women would stay home. The ranchers were the ones who would work, and then go and relax at the bars after that. Some of them would play the music of the ranch. During the Mexican Revolution, there was this cultural renaissance where they had to rethink what the cultural identity of Mexico was going to be. So because it was very much focused on the people, and particularly more of the general population in Mexico, they brought forth a lot of the traditional and cultural practices of the country, and that included mariachi music. They brought it forth as a cultural symbol of national identity post-Mexican Revolution. And because it was male and for the males in the ranches, it just remained that way. It was the offering of this music in the school systems in the United States that actually opened the doors for women to begin to play this music in large numbers.

    John Moore: How did being part of one of the very first school programs that allowed girls to play mariachi empower you?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I was raised in a classical music program. I was first chair in the school orchestra, and we were expected to play delicately and blend in. But when I played mariachi music, I'd use my bow arm, and I'd grind into the strings right short of screeching with the intention to project that sound and to express its vibrancy. That's something I wasn't physically allowed to do in any other space when I was growing up. Also, in mariachi music, I was able to go places I wasn't allowed to go. As a young Latina in a traditional family, we had to stay near home. But with a mariachi group, I was able to travel to different places — not just across the city or across the state. Across the country. Eventually, I got an internship in Washington D.C. after high school.

    John Moore: What did you think when you heard that Jose Cruz Gonzalez had written American Mariachi, and that the Denver Center, one of the largest performing-arts organizations in the country, was going to be presenting this story on its largest stage?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I was so thrilled to hear that finally the story and the challenges of women in mariachi will begin to be told on a mainstream level. But I was even more excited to hear that I was going to be given the opportunity to curate this lobby exhibit — because the truth is that women have been engaged in the mariachi music for more than 100 years. The play is a great start, because it talks about women in the U.S. coming together in a male-dominated field. But women have been in mariachi music since 1903 in Mexico.

    John Moore: What about in the United States?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I found a group that started playing in 1967 in Alamo, Texas. And what's really special about them is not only that they played in Alamo, but they were recruited to go entertain the troops in Vietnam. So they did their civic duty and traveled very far to continue the tradition of mariachi at the same time.

    John Moore: Give us an overview of what your display covers.

    A American Mariachi Lobby Display Leonor Perez 400 Photo by John MooreLeonor Xochitl Perez: The exhibit is a brief chronology of the 100 years of women in mariachi music. It focuses, specifically, from 1903 to the mid-'70s, when the play begins. It focuses on vintage photographs of the all-female groups that started from 1948 to 1953. There is also a really beautiful display of the uniforms they used back then. I have original suits from some of the groups that started back in the '60s and '70s. We don’t cover it here, but contemporary women are also making big strides and achieving quite a bit in the field of male mariachi music. For example, Mariachi Divas have been nominated for a Grammy eight times. They're the only mariachi group that has ever received two American Grammys — so they have beaten the men.

    John Moore: I want to know about Rosa, the gun-toting mariachi player you have pictured on the wall.

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: So Rosa Quirino started playing mariachi music in 1903 as a 13-year-old. And she loved it so much that eventually, she led a predominantly male group. She was the only female, and she was the director of that group. But it was a rough environment for a woman, so she needed to carry a gun to protect herself. And, apparently, she had no reservations about using it when she needed to.

    John Moore: How did you meet playwright José Cruz González and Music Director Cynthia Reifler Flores?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I give presentations on the history of women in mariachi music wherever I'm invited. I've been all over the world, actually. I've been to Kazakhstan and to Ireland talking about women in mariachi. I first met José on March 11, 2015, when I was provided the opportunity to go to California State University Los Angeles, where he teaches, and he came and heard my talk. Also in the audience was Cindy, who I already knew because she has been actively a participant in the mariachi field since the 1980s. I knew her as a musician in Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, so I was very aware of her contributions to mariachi music in Los Angeles. That was the intersection. It's just an honor for all of us who really are very passionate about this music that all of us can work together on this.

    John Moore: What are your thoughts on the play? This is a very specific story about one family in the 1970s. So tell us how this is a story for all audiences.

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: We have a population that's aging right now, and we're all going to have to address issues like dementia in our families. In that context, I think American Mariachi tells a story that's general to the public at large. It tells the relationship between a daughter and an aging mother. One of the lines in the play is "music is memory." And in this case, the music was the memory that became the glue that held them together. I think that's very important. And I think it's going to be relevant to many of us who are engaged in caring for our aging parents.

    John Moore: And, finally, this play is going to go straight from Denver to San Diego to be seen by audiences there. What does it mean to you that this is just the start of this play's journey?

    Leonor Xochitl Perez: I think that as the Latino population grows, we have to reassess the cultural content that we put out nationally. And I think that Denver taking the step to honor this story and by showing it and investing in it, is really a tremendous step in demonstrating to the nation at large the importance of reaching this growing population. We have major contributions that we make in this country, and very few people know about that. But I think we become stronger as a nation when we reflect our diversity in our art. So I think it's very important.

    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.

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s’ Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music..

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    When Leonor Perez found mariachi, she found her true voice
    American Mariachi
    Perspectives: Music as a powerful memory trigger
    Photos, video: Your first look at American Mariachi
    American Mariachi
    's second community conversation: Food, music and tough issues
    Cast announced, and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal
    American Mariachi
    : Community conversation begins
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

    American Mariachi Lobby Display Leonor Perez. Photo by John MooreDr. Leonor Xochitl Perez. Photo by John Moore.
  • Photos: First look at 'The Great Leap,' Opening Night of 'American Mariachi'

    by John Moore | Feb 09, 2018
    Production photos: Your first look at The Great Leap:


    The Great Leap Photos from 'The Great Leap,' opening Friday (tonight) and performing through March 11 in the Ricketson Theatre. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by Adams VisCom.  

    The Great Leap: Ticket information
    GreatLeap_show_thumbnail_160x160When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, while Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly changing country. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action on the court.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through March 11
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here


    Photos: Opening night of American Mariachi:

    Making of 'American Mariachi'

    Photos from opening night of the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere of 'American Mariachi,' performing in the Stage Theatre through Feb. 25. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music..

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Respect' uses pop music to trace women from codependence to independence

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2018
    Cast of Respect. Cherry Creek Theatre. Photo by Olga Lopez
    From left: Sarah Rex, Rachel Turner, Anna High and Sharon Kay White. Photo by Olga Lopez. Not pictured: Traci Kern.

    How a management professor turned a lecture into a musical tracing the story of American women over a century

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Respect: A Musical Journey of Women
    started in 2004 as a conference lecture. Fourteen years later, it is a boutique musical that has been performed in 75 cities. It's a genial evening of wine, women and song — literally. The evening’s host uncorks a bottle and guides four girlfriends through a history lesson covering 100 years of pop music, which she believes parallels the ongoing struggle of American women from co-dependence to independence.

    But author Dorothy Marcic, a management professor turned playwright, admits there is something about the show that feels more urgent to her now in the wake of the #MeTooMovement.

    “I now see some of the parts of the show differently because of that," she said. "There are many kinds of abuses women have suffered over the centuries, and now there is more awareness. It is time for us to notice that. But my show was never about blaming men, because we were all socialized in the same way. Now we are all learning how to work together as partners.”  

    Respect. Cherry Creek Theatre Photo by John MooreThe Cherry Creek Theatre Company is presenting the Colorado premiere of Respect with an emphatically all-female cast and creative team led by director and choreographer Shannan Steele, a Denver Center favorite whose acting credits include the longest-running musical in Colorado theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Her cast is deliberately stacked with high-powered local actors who each cover distinct pop-music genres: Sharon Kay White, Sarah Rex, Anna High, Rachel Turner and Musical Director Traci Kern. (White is also headlining two evenings of cabaret at the Aurora Fox on Friday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 18.) 

    (Pictured above and right: Dorothy Marcic and Cherry Creek Theatre co-founder Maxine Rossman. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Below and right: Sarah Rex and Anna High. Photo by Olga Lopez.)

    Marcic, now a professor at Columbia University, attended opening weekend at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center and spoke to audiences afterward. Here are excerpts from her Q&A:

    What is a little of your background?

    I got my doctorate in organizational behavior, so I became a management professor and conducted hundreds of workshops on assertiveness training. I then became a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Economics in Prague. Four years later, I moved to Nashville to teach at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. That was quite a culture shock. When I lived in Prague, I had season tickets to the Czech National Opera. When I moved to Nashville, I had tickets to Opryland.

    How did that lead to the start of creating your show?

    Nashville is a music city, so I decided to incorporate music into my seminars. I was always interested in women in leadership. In 1999, I was asked to give a talk about gender equality, and I decided to throw some songs in there because I thought that might help to tell the larger story of women. So I went back and looked at popular music that started around 1900 and it’s all there: From Someone to Watch Over Me to I Will Survive.

    When did the lecture become a musical?

    Sarah Rex and Anna HighIt was at a conference in 2002 and one of the organizers who ran Cameron Macintosh’s office in New York City said to me, 'Dorothy, this has some commercial value. You have to develop this into a musical.' I thought, 'What do I know about musicals? I am a management professor.' But I workshopped it with some people in Nashville, and we started getting gigs. I was invited to bring it to South Africa and Israel and New Zealand and Australia and then it got picked up by a commercial producer in 2004. One day I woke up and I said, 'Oh my God - I am a playwright.' So I quit my job at Vanderbilt and started taking classes. I got my MFA in playwriting last year. In the meantime, Respect played for two years in Florida, one year in Chicago, and one year in Boston. We opened in New York in October under a different title: This One is for the Girls.

    How did you come up with the score that spans Betty Boop to Billie Holiday to Cyndi Lauper to Sara Bareilles?

    I did content analysis research looking at how women were depicted in 20,000 top-40 songs. These are songs that were really part of the zeitgeist of the culture. I focused on songs where women are singing, and they had to be top 40. People have asked me, 'Why don't you include a group like the Indigo Girls?' Well they were important, but they never had a top-40 song. For me, every song had to be iconic. So most of the songs were actually Top 10.

    And there is something of a sequel playing off-Broadway?

    Yes. Sistas The Musical is the African-American variation, and it has now been playing for 6 1/2 years off-Broadway.

    What do you want people to take away from this?

    In this show, your favorite Top-40 songs lay the soundtrack to real women’s personal stories about finding dreams, lost love, relationship issues, entering the workforce and gaining independence. My goal was to be entertaining but also help change your awareness, which is what theatre is about, isn't it? Seeing things in a new way.

    Respect: A Musical Journey of Women

    • When: Through Feb. 25
    • Showtimes: 7 p.m.Thursdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, Sun @ 2 p.m.; 7:30 p.m. Saturdays. Additional performances 7 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 18 and 25. (No shows on Fridays.)
    • Tickets $35 Adult; $30 Students and Seniors
    • 303-800-6578 or online at www.cherrycreektheatre.org
    • Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St.

    Additional creative team:

    • Susie Snodgrass: Producer
    • Kortney Hanson: Stage Manager
    • Tina Anderson: Scenic Designer
    • Star Pytel: Lighting Designer
    • Steffani Day: Costume Designer
    • Morgan McCauley: Sound Designer
    • Beki Pineda: Prop Mistress
    • Gloria Shanstrom: Publicist

     

     

  • Hamilton’s celebrated education program debuts March 21 at DCPA

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2018
    Hamilton. Joan Marcus

    The 'Hamilton' national touring company. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    2,700 students and teachers will attend performance of the Broadway musical at The Buell Theatre

    The innovative educational program that debuted at HAMILTON on Broadway will continue in Denver (Denver Center for the Performing Arts) on Wednesday, March 21 when 2,700 students and teachers from Denver area high schools attend the matinee performance of the musical at The Buell Theatre. 

    The March 21 all-student matinee performance in Denver will provide more than 2,700 Denver area high school students the opportunity to experience the musical HAMILTON after having spent several weeks in their classrooms studying American history through a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers. 

    In addition to seeing a performance of HAMILTON, students will participate in a Q&A with members of the HAMILTON cast.  As well, students representing various schools in attendance will perform an original work they created based on their classroom studies – songs, rap, poetry, scenes, monologues – on The Buell Theatre stage in front of their peers.  

    The Hamilton Education Program is one of several history education programs at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Its president, James G. Basker -- who devised the education program in New York in tandem with HAMILTON creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, producer Jeffrey Seller, The Rockefeller Foundation and the NYC Department of Education -- adds, “This project is transformative. HAMILTON has struck a chord with our nation’s students because it embodies what great history education is all about: bringing the past to life, and fostering connections with the exceptional individuals and moments that have made us who we are. This program empowers students to reclaim their own narrative and empowers teachers to bridge classroom learning with the stage.”

    HAMILTON producer Jeffrey Seller, who was instrumental in developing the HAMILTON Education Program, says about the program in Denver, “Our goal is to ensure that students have a shot to see HAMILTON and use its words, music and staging to further their understanding and enjoyment of American History, music and drama. We’ve had the pleasure of expanding the education program outside of New York in Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities around the country.”

    Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation said “After the initial success of the partnership in New York City we could not throw away our shot to ensure students across the United States had the opportunity to witness living breathing history. We look forward to seeing the creativity and engagement this program continues to spur.”

    The HAMILTON producers are making tickets for this educational partnership available for $70, $60 of which is subsidized by Google. Tickets will cost $10 for each student.

    "Google is proud to work with Hamilton Education Program and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to bring Hamilton to thousands of students in the Denver community. The play shares a critical piece of American history and it's especially important for high school students to be engaged in civic learning and have a deep understanding of our country's past so they can make informed decisions about its future," says Gerardo Interiano, Head of External Affairs for Colorado. 

    The Rockefeller Foundation provided an initial grant of $1.46 million that funded the educational partnership in New York City.  After the resounding success of the partnership in New York, The Rockefeller Foundation committed an additional $6 million to the effort to support the national expansion of the program.  The Rockefeller Foundation has a long history of supporting the arts and humanities, fueled by a belief that the cultivation of aesthetic sensibilities through literature, music and other fine arts is essential to the well-being of humanity.  The HAMILTON Education Program underscores the Foundation's commitment to nurturing the vitality of American cultural institutions and the role of the arts as a catalyst for social change.   

    HAMILTON is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.  

    With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

    The HAMILTON creative team previously collaborated on the 2008 Tony Award ® Winning Best Musical In the Heights. 

    HAMILTON features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.

    The musical is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater.

    The HAMILTON Original Broadway Cast Recording is available everywhere nationwide. The HAMILTON recording received a 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. 

    For information on HAMILTON, visit www.HamiltonMusical.com, www.Facebook.com/HamiltonMusical, www.Instagram.com/HamiltonMusical and www.Twitter.com/HamiltonMusical.

    ABOUT THE GILDER LEHRMAN INSTITUTE OF AMERICAN HISTORY

    Founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the leading American history nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 education, while also serving the general public. Drawing on the 65,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials.

    As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

    For information on the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, visit www.gilderlehrman.org, www.Facebook.com/gilderlehrman, www.instagram.com/gilderlehrman and www.twitter.com/Gilder_Lehrman.

    About THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) is the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation, presenting Broadway tours and producing theatre, cabaret, musicals, and innovative, multimedia plays. Last season the DCPA engaged with more than 1.2 million visitors, generating a $150 million economic impact in ticket sales alone. Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center. The DCPA Broadway season is generously sponsored by UCHealth and United Airlines. Media sponsorship is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. Denver Center for the Performing Arts is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

  • Video: First look at 'The Great Leap,' and 5 things we learned at Perspectives

    by John Moore | Feb 06, 2018
    Your first look at 'The Great Leap.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Playwright Lauren Yee intends to take audiences right down to the buzzer when her new play opens Friday  

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver audiences have not yet seen Lauren Yee’s new basketball play The Great Leap, opening Friday in the Ricketson Theatre. But while no literal hoops action goes down on the stage, actor Linden Tailor says the story plays out much like any good, close basketball game: You don't know how it’s going to come out till the very end.

    “The play builds in intensity the same way a game does in those final two minutes,” said Tailor, who plays a short but scrappy Chinese-American player named Manford in Yee's tale of a college basketball team that travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game and lands right in the middle of the Cultural Revolution. “That’s the feeling I hope the audience gets when they see the play.”

    The occasion was Perspectives, the DCPA Theatre Company’s ongoing series of community conversations held just before every first preview performance. Literary Manager Douglas Langworthy was joined by Yee, Tailor, actor Keiko Green, Dramaturg Kristin Leahey of the Seattle Repertory Theatre and Scenic Designer Wilson Chin.

    Yee takes great pains to make her play mirror the game she honors in several ways. The sound of dribbles make for heightened sound effects, for example. Intermission is like halftime. There is a big game at the end of the play, but the audiences only hear about it in a fugue of language. Actors quickly toss words back and forth like the passing of a basketball. "There are times when all four of us are sharing a sentence," Green said. The effect is similar to the teamwork you see in a game. “You can feel it when the players are comfortable and supportive of each other," she said. "And that’s the feeling we hope to convey as actors."

    Here are five things we learned about The Great Leap at Perspectives. Next up: A conversation with the creative team from Native Gardens at 6 p.m. Friday, April 6, in the Jones Theatre:

    The Great Leap Perspectives. Photo by John Moore

    From left: Douglas Langworthy, Keiko Green, Linden Tailor, Lauren Yee, Kristin Leahey, Wilson Chin and Eric Ting. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Full photo gallery below.

    NUMBER 1"Let's go co." In its nearly 400 productions, the DCPA Theatre Company has only participated in two previous “co-productions” — world-premiere plays created in full partnership with another company. And they both took place in 2000: The Laramie Project, with Moisés Kaufman’s Tectonic Theatre Project in New York, and the epic 10-play cycle Tantalus with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Until now. This season, the DCPA is launching two "co-pros" simultaneously: The Great Leap with the Seattle Repertory Theatre (opening there March 28) and American Mariachi with the Old Globe in San Diego (opening there on March 29). One of the primary reasons most theatres enter co-productions is the opportunity to share expenses. But Leahey said this arrangement has far more to do with overlapping interests. "It was an affinity for the play, for the playwright and the opportunity to collaborate with our friends the Denver Center," she said. "It was not for financial reasons."

    NUMBER 2The evolution will not be televised. Yee's play was first introduced to Denver Center audiences last February as a featured reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Since then, "I think the play has changed an incredible amount," said Yee — and not just the title, which has morphed from the original Manford at Half Court to Manford at the Line Or The Great Leap to, finally, the shortened The Great Leap. "As a writer, I tend to know the major pieces of the puzzle early on, like the characters and the setting," Yee said. "For me the rewriting process — like being at the Summit for two weeks and seeing how it works in front of audiences — is figuring out better ways of connecting those pieces together."

    NUMBER 3Language barrier. Half of The Great Leap takes place in San Francisco, and half takes place in China. Yee was asked by a Perspectives audience member if the play will ever be staged in China, and she said that had not yet even occurred to her. "I don't think it would work there," she said. "My references are so American, both in terms of language and pop-culture references, that I don't know how it would read to a Chinese audience. In America, we have a very specific take on what our history is, and I'm sure that China has a very specific take on what world history is. I think if you were to see my play in China, you would be like, "No. You are completely wrong about our history. I see it entirely differently.' "

    NUMBER 4The Great Leap Linden Tailor Nuggets. Photo by Hope GrandonThe Hornets rest. The Great Leap cast made a field trip on Monday to the Denver Nuggets' game against the Charlotte Hornets, where they were welcomed by a message on the giant scoreboard. They also met Rocky, one of the most popular mascots in all of sports. And in return, the cast sent the Nuggets their good vibes, which surely played a part in the Nuggets' 121-104 rout. "It's fun to go to a game and have it be research," Tailor joked. (Photo: Rocky and Linden Tailor. Photo by Hope Grandon.)

    NUMBER 5Ordinary people. Yee’s next play is called Cambodian Rock Band, and it bears one major similarity to The Great Leap, she said: Ordinary people intersecting with extraordinary places in history. “In Cambodia during the 1960s and '70s, there was a whole psychedelic surf-rock scene that you never heard about because the communists took over Cambodia in 1975, after the Vietnam War ended," Yee said, "and the first thing they did was kill all the artists. In four years, 90 percent of their musicians died, and the only ones who survived are those who hid their identities. My play is the story of a Cambodian-American woman and her father, who is a Khmer Rouge survivor. In the course of the play, the daughter learns that her father was in this rock band. I think that's something we can all relate to: Not really fully knowing who your parents are.” It opens March 3 at the South Coast Repertory in Orange County, Calif.

    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: The making of The Great Leap:

    The making of 'The Great Leap' Photos from the making of 'The Great Leap,' opening Friday and performing through March 11 in the Ricketson Theatre. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Pictured above is Director Eric Ting (pictured). 

    The Great Leap: Ticket information
    GreatLeap_show_thumbnail_160x160When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, while Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly changing country. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action on the court.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through March 11
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Read more: Our complete interview with Lauren Yee

    Selected previous coverage of The Great Leap:
    For The Great Leap playwright Lauren Yee, family is a generation map
    Five pieces of fun hoops history to know, like: What's a pick and roll?
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal, with photos
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Vast and visceral: Theatre Company season will include The Great Leap

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • For 'The Great Leap' playwright, family is a generation map

    by John Moore | Feb 04, 2018
    Photo gallery: The Great Lap Opening Night:

    The making of 'The Great Leap'

    Photos from opening night of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Great Leap' on Feb. 9, from backstage before the show through the afterparty. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr photo gallery. Lauren Yee's world-premiere play performs through March 11. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Lauren Yee draws inspiration for new play from her father and his 1980s international basketball odyssey in China  

    By Douglas Langworthy
    Denver Center Literary Manager

    Every family has stories that get passed down through the years, often taking on mythic proportions. For playwright Lauren Yee, one such story she grew up with was her father’s trip to China to play basketball in the 1980s. “It was family lore from a very young age,” she said. “I knew that the trip had been a very large part of his life before he had kids.”

    Larry Yee, Lauren’s father, traveled with a basketball team to play “friendship games” in China in the period after the Cultural Revolution. Larry was born in San Francisco and this was his first time visiting the homeland of his parents. His international journey became the loose storyline of Lauren’s play The Great Leap.

    One part of the story that Lauren was curious about was the idea of being Chinese-American and going to China to represent America. “Who do you root for?” she said. “Do you root for the people who have the same citizenship as you? Do you root for the people who look like you? Are you ever torn?”

    Yee didn’t know a lot about China and basketball going into the project, so she needed to do her research. Her primary source was her father, of course — she loved listening to his stories about the trip. In addition, she attended some pro games. She talked to players. She also spoke with a professor from China at the University of Denver who shared his experiences growing up. “I got a window into what an ordinary person’s life was like growing up in China in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,” Yee said. 

    Lauren Yee Quote. Photo by John MooreShe studied basketball and became consumed by the big philosophical ideas behind the game. “One idea that I found very helpful,” she said, “was that basketball is all about creating space for yourself on the court. That every pass and every fake and every dribble is made with the intent of losing your defender long enough for you to have a chance to make a shot. And I think that has parallels for our everyday lives — everyone in this world goes about their lives trying to make space for themselves that they can call their own.”

    (Photo at right of Lauren Yee by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    She was surprised to discover that basketball has a long history in China. “Even though it wasn’t professionalized until the mid-’90s, basketball has had a very long love affair with China, the way it’s had with America," she said.

    Yee’s father inspired another one of her plays, King of the Yees, based on family history, sort of. “A lot of this is true,” the play’s inscription reads, “but a lot of it is only kind of true. Just like the stories your father once told you as a child.”

    Set in San Francisco, Yee folds herself and her father into the middle of this meta-theatrical play, so there is an actor playing an actor playing Larry and an actor playing an actor playing Lauren, as well as two actors playing the “real” versions of each of them. 

    After Larry Yee saw King of the Yees and attended a reading of The Great Leap, he turned to Lauren and asked if she was done with him. “I think that’s enough about me,” he told her.

    Lauren isn’t bothered by seeing herself portrayed on stage: “I know by making myself a character I’ve immediately theatricalized it. What I am interested in is someone else’s interpretation of that particular character in those circumstances.” 

    “It was in the play’s DNA from the first scene to set you up to love my father, Larry,” she said, “and be disappointed to find out that this play is about Lauren. I set the Lauren character up for being a bit roasted in this play.”

    When asked to describe her writing process, Yee said: “I start writing as soon as I come up with a world I find interesting but don’t completely understand, and a character voice that I find really compelling. Usually if I spend enough time in that world with those voices then I am led to some sort of plot and general structure. With The Great Leap, I immediately heard Manford (the central character) and also heard Saul, his coach. 

    “I go into the writing process like an audience member, I don’t know why these characters want what they want yet, but usually, after a couple of drafts, I stumble upon things. So for me, a lot of things that happen in the play were things that I did not know at the very beginning of the writing process. I think in order for the audience to be surprised in a play, I need to be surprised while I am writing.”

    And who doesn’t love a surprise?

    Douglas Langworthy is the Denver Center's Literary Manager and resident Dramaturg. 

    Playwright Lauren Yee’s works include 'Ching Chong Chinaman,' 'The Hatmaker’s Wife,' Hookman,' 'In a Word,' 'King of the Yees,' 'Samsara' and 'The Tiger Among Us.' 'The Great Leap,' which was commissioned by DCPA Theatre Company as part of its new-play development program, will go on to the Seattle Repertory Theatre following its Denver debut.

    Video: Your first look at The Great Leap:

    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The Great Leap: Ticket information
    GreatLeap_show_thumbnail_160x160When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, while Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly changing country. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action on the court.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through March 11
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Bonus coverage: Five pieces of fun insider basketball info:

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere play The Great Leap coincides with the 50th year of professional basketball in Denver. In honor of the play, and Denver’s storied basketball past, we offer five things you might want to know about the game or its history before you attend:

    NUMBER 1JeremyLinLinsanity! Lauren Yee has dedicated her play “to all the Jeremy Lins (on and off the court).” Who’s Jeremy Lin? The first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to ever play in the NBA, for one. Lin came out of nowhere in 2012 to lead an unexpected winning streak with the lowly New York Knicks, which generated a fleeting global craze known as “Linsanity.” Lin, who now plays for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, was the iconic underdog overachiever. Unfortunately, he is sitting out the entire current season with a ruptured patella tendon.

    NUMBER 2DenverRocketsLogo2Denver's India.Arie connection. The The play is set in 1971 and ’89. In 1971, the Denver Nuggets were still the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association, and they were led by a promising young guard named Ralph Simpson, who would go on to play in seven all-star games. Today he’s best known as the father of Grammy Award-winning soul singer India.Arie, who lived in Denver until she was 13. In 1989, the Nuggets, now of the NBA, were coached by Doug Moe. And — speaking of talented hoops progeny — Moe’s granddaughter, Lyndie Moe, visited Denver in November as Maureen in the 20th anniversary tour of RENT.

    NUMBER 3Pick and RollNo, not 'pick your nose!' One bit of common basketball lingo that comes up in the play is an offensive play called the “pick and roll.” That’s when you have one player holding the ball face-to-face with a defender, until a teammate comes and essentially blocks the defender off on one side. That frees the player with the ball to make a move to the basket or dump it back to his teammate who “rolls” behind him and heads for the basket.

    Read more: Our complete interview with Lauren Yee


    NUMBER 4You might want to watch this. At one point in The Great Leap, Connie urges her cousin Manford to join her at the TV for the end of an NBA playoff game, and it’s a well-chosen one: The series finale between Chicago and Cleveland on May 7, 1989. Manford doesn’t want to watch, and misses what has come to be known in NBA lore as simply “The Shot”: Michael Jordan’s buzzer-beater over Craig Ehlo.  

    John Moore: Growing Up Nuggets Defined a Childhood

    NUMBER 5David ThompsonBefore Michael Jordan, there was "The Skywalker," and he played for Denver. David Thompson once scored 73 points in a single game. He had a 44-inch leap, and in 1975, he was the highest-paid player in the history of team sports. Thompson and Julius Erving put on such a show in the first Slam-Dunk Contest at the 1976 ABA All-Star Game in Denver that the NBA later adopted it as its own. If not for off-the-court problems that cut his career short, fans no doubt would still speak of Thompson in the same breath with Jordan.

    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. His father, Ralph Moore, covered professional basketball in Denver from its inception to his retirement in 1983.

    Selected previous coverage of The Great Leap:
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal, with photos
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Vast and visceral: Theatre Company season will include The Great Leap

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Zoey' playwright Matthew Lopez: America could use a laugh right now

    by John Moore | Feb 03, 2018
    Zoeys Perfect Wedding. Photo by Adams Viscom

    The cast of 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' includes, from left: Mallory Portnoy, Grayson DeJesus, Nija Okoro and Jeff Biehl. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    In the face of these trying times, the playwright rejects the notion that simply 'checking out' is an acceptable option

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In this painfully protracted period of ideological divisiveness in the country, there is perhaps one (single) thing we can all agree on: America could use a laugh. 

    But despite the preponderance of comedies high and low to be found on screens large and small, American playwrights have not been widely producing flat-out, laugh-out-loud comedies for generations. And that, says playwright Matthew Lopez, is a good thing. Because theatre can do better than that. 

    matthew_lopez Quote Zoey 800“Comedy has one of two functions: To make you think or to make you forget,” he said. “The best make you forget that you’re thinking. I hope we’re the latter.” 

    Lopez is the author of the DCPA Theatre Company’s  2014 breakout hit The Legend of Georgia McBride, which went on to be performed Off-Broadway and at theatres across the country. He’s back this season with another world premiere comedy Zoey's Perfect Wedding — which is anything but. 

    “I’m allergic to the notion that, in the face of trying times — or perhaps more accurately put: in the face of a full-scale national disaster — it’s preferable to simply check out,” Lopez said. “Checking out really isn’t an option in a democracy. One could argue that’s how we got into this in the first place. However, we don’t always need to think directly at the thing.”   

    There’s nothing wrong with people spending two hours laughing and having fun at the theatre, Lopez believes. But the route to funny must pass through true understanding.  

    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding presents a wedding where disaster after disaster follows the frost-caked bride down the aisle, from boozy and brutally honest speeches to obliviously self-absorbed supporting characters to a wildly incompetent wedding planner. Ain’t weddings fun? 

    Lopez has been to enough to know that self-absorbed people often turn weddings into a referendum on their own lives. Put another way, he said: It’s shockingly easy to act like a narcissist at someone else’s wedding.

    Video: Director on how perfect Zoey's Perfect Wedding is

    “It was once said of Teddy Roosevelt that he was the bride at every wedding, and the corpse at every funeral,” Lopez said. “I think that applies to more people than anyone cares to admit.”

    It’s also true what they say about your misery being another person’s funny, because Zoey’s Perfect Wedding was inspired by a train wreck of a wedding Lopez was right in the middle of a few years after college.

    “It was the weekend after Thanksgiving,” Lopez said. “We had all just seen each other two days before, and here we were back again with nothing really more to talk about than what a fun night Thanksgiving was. Then one friend began to pick at a scab of something that bothered them from Thanksgiving and, before we knew it, we were all in a full-scale verbal brawl that eventually ended up ruining the night for most of us. 

    Zoey. Adams Viscom“I’m certain that, had this been a dry wedding, we all would have had a much better time. And I am certain that is the first time those words have ever been uttered.” 

    The characters and events in Lopez’s play are pure imagination. But the notion of friends showing up to a wedding and forgetting they’re at a wedding and acting like it’s just another night out at the bar? “That, I am ashamed to admit, is true,” he said. 

    (Pictured, from left: Nija Okoro and Mallory Portnoy of 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding.' Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    But it was the underlying fuel propelling that booze-soaked fire that interested the writer in Lopez. “These characters wrestle with commitment, loyalty and honesty,” Lopez said. “They wrestle with the difference between our expectations and our reality — and those are things we all grapple with in one way or another every day.” 

    Which is why it’s misleading to label his new play a simple comedy. Lopez would like for us to move beyond distinctions between comedy, tragedy and their many variations. The fact is, a great many plays are comedies … until they just aren’t anymore. 

    “Things aren’t funny if they aren’t true,” Lopez said. “Even sight gags require the laws of physics be obeyed in order to work. If and when a comedy veers unexpectedly into drama, perhaps the question one should ask is: ‘Is that true?’ Here’s an example: Is August: Osage County a comedy or a drama?”

    The same can be said about a great joke in the middle of an unquestionably serious play. If the moment is rooted in character, then it is rooted in truth.

    “Humans are funny. Humans are sad. Humans are sometimes funny and then, the next second, tragic,” Lopez said. “Life does not fit neatly into categories and neither should our stories. At the end of the day, it all comes down to story. And if stories are not rooted in some kind of recognizable truth, they are worthless.  

    “Lest we forget: There’s a fart joke in Waiting for Godot.”

    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.

    Matthew Lopez is currently in London for the March 2 premiere of his highly anticipated two-part play The Inheritance at The Young Vic. The epic play takes a panoramic view of gay life in New York today in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis depicted in Tony Kushner’s sprawling Angels in America.

    Video: Your first look at Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Your first look at 'Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    :
    Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances ThroughFeb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here


    Bonus read: The perfect union behind Zoey’s Perfect Wedding


    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding is not about a perfect wedding. It’s about a wedding where one hilarious disaster follows another. But one creative marriage that was built to last is the one between playwright Matthew Lopez and director Mike Donahue, which started, and continues, in Denver. 

    Zoey Mike Donahue Matthew LopezThe pair first teamed up in 2013 for a reading of The Legend of Georgia McBride at the Colorado New Play Summit. After the DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere staging the next year, Donahue and Lopez took the comedy to New York, and it has since been performed at theatres across the country. The two are partnering again on Zoey’s Perfect Wedding, which plays through Feb. 25 in The Space Theatre. 

    Donahue was definitely the pursuer in this relationship. He read an early draft of Georgia McBride, loved it, and asked his agents to arrange a meeting with Lopez. But Donahue was told that Lopez was probably a bit out of his league, because his breakthrough drama The Whipping Man had taken off in New York, he had landed a few screenplays, and was writing for TV’s “The Newsroom.” Jilted, but not for long — because Cupid conspired to bring them together a few years later for the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit in Denver. 

    Donahue was here directing Grace, or the Art of Climbing for the DCPA Theatre Company when the selected titles were announced for the upcoming Summit. “One of the plays on the list was Georgia McBride, and there was no director attached to it,” said Donahue, who again called his agents and ask them to arrange a phone call with Lopez. “He didn’t call me back,” Donahue said with a laugh. “But three weeks later I got the offer, and now Matthew is one of my best friends.” 

    It’s not lost on Donahue that both of his Lopez plays have now originated at the Denver Center. “Who knows? Maybe Denver is just a magical place,” said Donahue, who says what he loves most about Lopez’s comedies is that “they are incredibly funny 
    and have a big heart.” 

    We also asked Lopez to explain what makes Donahue such a good fit to direct his plays.

    “As with any good marriage, we just get each other,” Lopez said. “We share a complimentary — though not identical — view of the world, of theatre, of storytelling. He’s smart in ways I’m not, and I’m intuitive in ways he might not always be. And sometimes vice versa.” 

    “What can I say? He completes me.”

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'American Mariachi' Perspectives: Music as a powerful memory trigger

    by John Moore | Feb 02, 2018
    Making of 'American Mariachi'

    Photos from the making of 'American Mariachi.' The world-premiere play with music performs in the Stage Theatre from through Feb 25. Photo above from the public Perspectives conversation hosted by Douglas Langworthy. From left: Playwright José Cruz González, director James Vásquez and Scenic Director Regina Garcia. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Director James Vásquez says it’s a good story — 'and the best party you'll come to this winter in Denver.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere play American Mariachi, opening tonight in The Stage Theatre, is a memory play. But not in the way Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is considered a memory play — where a character looks back (often unreliably) on a story that took place many years before.

    American Mariachi is literally a play about memory. And music has long been proven to be one of the brain’s biggest triggers for memory.  

    “The play is inspired by a story I was told about an older woman who was suffering from Alzheimer's,” playwright José Cruz González told about 100 who gathered last week before the first preview performance of American Mariachi. “But when her family played this woman’s favorite song, she just lit up. I thought that was fascinating, and I soon realized this is such a common thing that affects all of us around the world.”

    American Mariachi, set in the 1970s American southwest, follows a young woman named Lucha who is caring for a mother with dementia. When Lucha finds a mariachi record that briefly brings her mother back to life, she becomes determined to learn how to play the song for her live, before it is too late. But this was a time when being a female mariachi player was unheard of in the United States.

    Here are five things we learned at Perspectives, a series of free public community conversations  held just before the first preview performance of every DCPA Theatre Company offering. Next up: The Great Leap at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, in the Jones Theatre.

    NUMBER 1The rhythm is gonna get you. Often when you attend a play, or even a musical, the audience is expected to politely sit back on their hands. That will not be the case here. Mariachi music has always encouraged cathartic, joyous yells from anyone within earshot. “We had an invited audience at our final dress rehearsal, and as soon as the music started paying, gritos were thrown from the audience, and we encourage that,” director James Vásquez said. “You can't help but want to get up and holler and clap and sing if you know the words.” The American Mariachi band also played at the beginning of a community conversation two weeks ago, “and it turned into a party,” Vásquez said. “That's how I like to think of our play: It’s a good story — but and it's also the best party you'll come to this winter in Denver.”

    Mariachi community conversation: Food, music, issues

    NUMBER 2 American Mariachi Perspectives  Amanda RoblesSchool of mariachi. This production is made up of nine actors and five professional mariachis — and the actors all learned to play instruments along the way. Crissy Guerrero, for example, learned to play the vihuela, a guitar-like instrument from 19th-century Mexico with five strings (no E) and a vaulted back. The Mexican vihuela is tuned similarly to the guitar. The difference is that the open G, the D and the A strings are tuned an octave higher than a guitar, thus giving it a tenor sound or a higher pitch. Amanda Robles, a professional singer, learned how to play the trumpet from scratch — which González called fitting for this show, because his characters are also learning to play from scratch. Robles was surprised by how different she found singing mariachi to be, compared to traditional musical theatre. “In a typical musical, you are always thinking about singing higher,” she said, “whereas mariachi is more guttural. You need to double down and really sing your heart out.” (Pictured above, from left: Costume Designer Meghan Anderson Doyle, actor Crissy Guerrero and actor Amanda Robles.) 

    NUMBER 3The train has left the station. The American Mariachi that opens tonight is a full hour shorter than the version that was read at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. It moves. “Jose has been able to really compact the story and the heart of the story,” said Guerrero, who was an original cast member. “A lot of painful decisions were made to cut things, I am sure. But we have always wanted to stay focused on the story we are telling.” 


    amanda-robles-photo-by-adamsviscom

    Photo of the 'American Mariachi' mural designed by Regina Garcia. Pictured: Amanda Robles. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    NUMBER 4 Plaza sweet. The action in American Mariachi takes place in multiple locations, so Scenic Designer Regina Garcia created a world that takes you inside a single home that grows into a community plaza with towers of residential windows and a stunning 60-foot brick mural. “In the spirit of collage, I decided to celebrate the Mexican arts in general with the mural, and that includes dance, cinema, spoken word, poetry, playwriting, civic leadership and community,” said Garcia. When González and Vásquez first arrived in Denver, they were taken into the DCPA scene shop where the mural was being created, “and we burst out crying, it was so gorgeous,” González said.

    NUMBER 5 Why is the play set in the 1970s? Because the stakes were higher. “That was when women really started to push for their right to play this music here in the United States,” González said. "Here these women are trying to push open a door that has been closed to them. And this music has been closed to them. It's been passed from father to son, not father to daughter. I felt it was the right time to tell a story about the empowerment of these Latinas." 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Bonus: What is the derivation of the word mariachi? It's a bit of a mystery, but it is thought to date back to the French invasion of Mexico in 1861. “It was thought that the word was connected to the French word mariage (or marriage),” Dramaturg Shirley Fishman said. Some say that’s because the Europe-born Emperor Maximilian of Mexico encouraged the music to be played at weddings. González’s theory dates back to the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés in the 1590s: "When Cortes arrived in the New World, his soldiers brought guitars, while the native people here played drums and flutes," said González. “And soon a new kind of music evolved. You can hear the African, the native and the Spanish influences in the rhythms of mariachi." Today the word mariachi can refer to a single player, a group, or the music itself.

    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.

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s’ Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music..

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    Photos, video: Your first look at American Mariachi
    American Mariachi
    's second community conversation: Food, music and tough issues
    Cast announced, and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal
    American Mariachi
    : Community conversation begins
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

  • February openings: 'Hamilton,' a Summit and a new $60 million jewel for Colorado Springs

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2018
    February Arvada Center Electric Baby. Matt Gale Photography

    Jessica Robblee and Abner Genece in the Arvada Center's magical realism play 'The Electric Baby. Matt Gale Photography 2018.


    R-E-S-P-E-CT, Colorado theatre: You have provided 82 theatregoing options in the shortest month of the year

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Hamilton.

    OK, there is a lot more than that going on in local theatre in February. At the Denver Center alone (in addition to that eagerly awaited national touring production) there will be three consecutive world-premiere plays: Zoey's Perfect Wedding, American Mariachi and The Great Leap that will be the cornerstone of the upcoming Colorado New Play Summit that was just named among the top 20 theatre festivals in the world. Also: STOMP's eighth Denver visit, and the musical comedy First Date continues at the Galleria Theatre. (Go to denvercenter.org for info on all of them.)

    And then there is ... the rest of the state. Now try to keep up ... but we warn you, it won't be easy — because the shortest month of the year may be presenting the most theatre offerings of any month ... ever. We're talking 34 openings and a whopping 83 theatregoing options overall, counting a huge number of special events. In 28 days.

    Here are just a few highlights outside the Denver Performing Arts Complex, followed by a comprehensive list of all your Colorado theatregoing options for February:

    Ten intriguing titles for February:

    NUMBER 1Oklahoma! All eyes will be on Colorado Springs this month for the opening of the jaw-dropping $60 million Ent Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. The new home of the venerable TheatreWorks and several other performing groups is a 92,000-square-foot building with multiple performance and gallery spaces. It officially launches with TheatreWorks' presentation of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in a sparkling new theatre with a familiar name to TheatreWorks audiences: The Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater. Feb. 15-March 11 at 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org.

    NUMBER 2Respect: A Musical Journey of Women. Cherry Creek Theatre's musical tribute to women is being billed as the company's show of support for the #MeToo Movement. It's an all-female production: Directors, cast, crew and playwright. That's Dorothy Marcic, who will be in attendance for both the evening performance on Saturday, Feb. 3, and the matinee on Sunday, Feb. 4. The show is co-directed and choreographed by longtime Denver Center favorite Shannan Steele with a cast that includes big-shots Sharon Kay White, Rachel Turner, Sarah Rex, Anna High and co-director Traci Kern. The Top-40 score includes "I Will Survive," "These Boots are Made for Walking," "What's Love Got to Do with it" and many more. NOTE: No Friday performances — and evening shows start at 7 p.m. Feb. 1-25 at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    NUMBER 3Intimate Apparel. The newly merged Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College brings revered playwright Lynn Nottage's breakout work to southern Colorado for the first time. Nottage, who later won Pulitzer Prizes for Ruined and Sweat, here tells an intensely personal story that weaves the joys and sorrows of an African-American seamstress in 1905 New York City. Feb. 8-25 at 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    NUMBER 4Crying Wolf: Stories of the Lupus Warriors. Rhonda Jackson's new  play, presented by The Source Theatre Company (which has grown up in the shadow of the former Shadow Theatre Company) is an attempt to document what it's like to live with a chronic autoimmune disease such as  lupus. For mature audiences. Feb. 8-17 at Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    NUMBER 5 The Electric Baby. The Arvada Center's second full repertory season kicks into full gear with Stefanie Zadravec's adult folktale about six strangers whose lives collide after a tragic car accident, forcing them to confront their secrets, hopes and fears. At the play’s center is a mysterious baby who glows like the moon. The play, directed by Rick Barbour of the University of Denver, combines magic, myth and humor to explore devastating loss and hopeful healing. Running Feb. 9-May 4 and in repertory with Sense and Sensibility and All My Sons (opening March 2) at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 6Waiting for the Parade William A. CottonWaiting for the Parade. Playwright John Murrell's 1977 fact-based drama introduces five very different women who find a way to survive by working together and accepting one another’s differences during the depths of World War II in 1940s Calgary. It's based on interviews with wartime survivors. Co-directed by Ami Dayan and Lou Ann Wright. Feb. 3-March 4 at the Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org (Photo by William A. Cotton)

    NUMBER 7JANE/EYRE. Denver, meet the Grapefruit Lab, a new performance company that debuts with a queer adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel with live original music by Teacup Gorilla and Dameon Merkl (of the Denver band Bad Luck City). Adapted by author, musician and True West Award winner Miriam Suzanne, along with former LIDA Project director Julie Rada. Their  hybrid play/concert takes a dark and often humorous look at early feminism — bringing a contemporary, queer perspective to Jane’s story. Feb. 23-March 3 at The Bakery, 2132 Market St., eventbrite.com

    NUMBER 8Wisdom from Everything. The latest provocative offering from Boulder's Local Theater Company asks: What you would sacrifice to escape a war? Chicago playwright Mia McCullough's story presents a 19-year-old Syrian who finds herself educating girls in the largest refugee camp in the world — until an older Jordanian doctor offers her an education in exchange for marriage. The primo cast includes  Amy Carle (known for her work on "Chicago MED" and for the Goodman and Steppenwolf theatres) and Mehry Eslaminia, who performed in the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere play Appoggiatura. Feb. 28-March 26 at The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    Fun Home is finding a home on stages all over Colorado

    NUMBER 9The Book Handlers. Buntport Theater's newest original creation in its 17th season of original creations is a world-premiere comedy about a handy service that will make your books look read, even though they haven't been. Because, you know ... who reads anymore? This fun satire is inspired by a short story written by Brian O'Nolan. Feb. 23-March 17 at 717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    NUMBER 10A Kid Like Jake. Benchmark Theatre moves into its permanent new home at the former Edge Theatre with Daniel Pearle’s 2013 play that explores the conflict that grows between a married couple when it becomes plain their 4-year-old prefers Cinderella to GI Joe. Directed by Warren Sherrill. The Lakewood theatre has been renamed The Bench at 40W. Feb. 16-March 25 at 1560 Teller St., benchmarktheatre.com

    DCPA February listings
    Photo of 'American Mariachi' by Adams Viscom.

     

    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of upcoming theatre openings, spotlighting work being presented on stages statewide. Companies are encouraged to submit listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    Feb. 1-25: Cherry Creek Theatre's Respect: A Musical Journey of Women
    At the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    Feb. 1-4: UpstART's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    604 Clinton St., Ridgway, 81432, 970-325-3501or http://www.upstartmoves.org

    Feb. 2-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s American Mariachi
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Feb. 2-March 11: Vintage Theatre's Sleuth (with Lowry's Spotlight Theatre)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Feb. 2-17: Longmont Theatre Company's Steel Magnolias
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Seussical Ben Griffin and Melissa Morris. Matt Gale Photography 2018Feb. 2-May 25: Arvada Center Children's Theatre's Seussical
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    (Pictured at right: Ben Griffin and Melissa Morris. Matt Gale Photography 2018)

    Feb. 3-March 4: Bas Bleu Theatre's Waiting for the Parade
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Feb. 3-March 3: Miners Alley Children's Theatre’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Feb. 8-25: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s Intimate Apparel
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Feb. 8-17: The Source Theatre Company’s Crying Wolf: Stories of the Lupus Warriors
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    Feb. 8-18: Millibo Art Theatre's Cake
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, themat.org

    Feb. 9-March 18: DCPA Theatre Company’s The Great Leap
    Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Feb. 9-May 4: Arvada Center's The Electric Baby
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Feb. 9-25: 5280 Artists Co-op's Colorism
    At the Aurora Cultural Arts District Building, 1400 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-432-9162 or 5280ArtistCoop.com

    Feb. 9-11: National touring production of Shen Yun
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 888-316-4234 or shenyunperformingarts.org

    Feb. 9-Aug. 11: Iron Springs Chateau’s A Precious Bit of the West, or: She Was Simply a Delight!
    444 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com

    Feb. 13-18: National touring production of STOMP
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 15-March 4, 2018: Springs Ensemble Theatre's The Totalitarians
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 80909, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Feb. 15-March 11: Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Oklahoma
    At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Feb. 16-March 25: Benchmark Theatre's A Kid Like Jake
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, benchmarktheatre.com

    Feb. 16-24: Theatrix USA's Call Me Mrs. Evers
    At the Lakewood Cultural/Heritage Center, theatrixdenver.com




    Feb. 17-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Colorado New Play Summit
    Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 17-March 17: Firehouse Theatre's Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com  

    Feb. 22-March 4: Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Trouble in Tahiti
    At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Feb. 22-March 10: Thunder River Theatre Company's The Price
    67 Promenade, Carbondale, 970-963-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com

    Feb. 22-April 8: The BiTSY Stage’s Jotunheim: A Legend of Thor and His Hammer
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    Feb. 23-March 17: Buntport Theater's The Book Handlers
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Feb. 23-March 25: Town Hall Arts Center's Something’s Afoot
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Feb. 23-March 18: Aurora Fox's Real Women Have Curves
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Feb. 23-April 15: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Kiss Me Kate
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Feb. 23-March 10: Coal Creek Theater of Louisville’s Becky Shaw
    Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    Feb. 23-March 3: Grapefruit Lab's JANE/EYRE
    The Bakery, 2132 Market St., eventbrite.com

    Company Evergreen Chorale Feb. 23-March 11: Evergreen Chorale's Company
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4002 or evergreenchorale.org

    Feb. 27-April 1: National touring production of Hamilton
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 28-March 26: Local Theater Company's Wisdom from Everything
    At The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

     

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Feb. 3: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre's Rumors
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through Feb. 3: Funky Little Theatre Company's The Bigot
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    Through Feb. 4: Town Hall Arts Center's Peter and the Starcatcher
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Through Feb. 4: Theatrix USA's Kiss
    At Dobrin Studios, 931 Santa Fe Drive, theatrixdenver.com

    Through Feb. 10: Aurora Fox's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Through Feb 11: Inspire Creative's The Little Mermaid
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    Through Feb. 11: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Building the Wall
    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, Silverthorne,  970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Through Feb. 11: StageDoor Theatre's The 39 Steps
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Through Feb. 14: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Feb. 17: OpenStage Theatre Company's The Crucible
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 17: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits
    At  121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 17: Equinox Theatre Company's Evil Dead: The Musical
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Through Feb. 18: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Guards at the Taj
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    Through Feb. 18: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com READ MORE

    Through Feb. 18: BDT Stage's Motones vs. Jerseys
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com (Sundays only)

    Through Feb. 24: Curious Theatre's Detroit 67
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org READ MORE

    Through Feb. 24: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through Feb. 24: Avenue Theater's Comedy Sportz
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com READ MORE

    Through Feb. 25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Zoey’s Perfect Wedding
    Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    SophieDotsonAbigaleKochevarandSusannahMcLeod Fun Home. Photo by Sarah Roshan.Through March 4: Miners Alley Playhouse's Fun Home
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com READ MORE

    (Pictured: Susannah McLeod, Sophie Dotson and Abigail Kochevar. Photo by Sarah Roshan.)

    Through March 17: Midtown Arts Center's Fun Home
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, (970) 225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com READ MORE

    Through March 25: Midtown Arts Center's Always ... Patsy Cline
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through April 22: DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through May 6: Arvada Center's Sense and Sensibility
    Studio Theatre, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

     

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    Sharon KayAURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

    • Feb. 16 and 18: True West Award-winning performer Sharon Kay White is the featured artist this month in the Aurora Fox's ongoing cabaret series in its studio theatre. In the shadow of Valentine’s Day, White weaves tales and music through a journey of love, loss, joy, heartbreak, relationships, realities and absurdities.

    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org


    BUG THEATRE
    • Feb. 15: The Emerging Filmmakers Project, showcasing Denver's indie film scene on the third Thursday of every month. This month's program will honor local actress Stacy Farrar, who was murdered along with her son by her husband last May.
    • Feb. 26: Freak Train: Open-mic variety show hosted by GerRee Hinshaw on the final Monday of every month

    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info


    BUNTPORT THEATRE


    THE CATAMOUNTS
    • Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 10-11: FEED: Love (an theatrical examination of the journey from our youthful ideals of love, to the more hard-won truths of adulthood — served with a four-course meal and live music by Wes Watkins, formerly of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. 7 p.m.
    At VOCO Studios, 3700 Franklin St., Denver. feedlove.brownpapertickets.com


    Leonard BernsteinCOLORADO COLLEGE
    • Feb. 22-24: Leonard Bernstein at 100, a three-day symposium examining the  composer, conductor and performer as one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century. Includes and interview with oldest daughter Jamie Bernstein and keynote address by a Bernstein scholar. Registration is limited to 450 attendees and is required by Feb. 15 to attend any events on the conference program.
    At Colorado College’s Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs


    DAIRY ARTS CENTER

    • Thursday, Feb. 8: Every discipline of the arts will be represented in a single evening at this fundraiser for the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder. With food stations, craft beverages, a live DJ and surprises. Performers include Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance with Spinphony, The work of Stacey Steers, Maya and Goddess Here Productions and comedian John "Hippieman" Novosad. 6 p.m.
    2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    DUMBANDDUMBER

    DENVER ACTORS FUND

    • Sunday, Feb. 18: Screening of the film Dumb and Dumber starring with live entertainment from Backstage Breckenridge Theatre's upcoming original party musical Totally Awesome '80s Ski Town USA. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7

    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com

    Bruce Montgomery 300EVERGREEN PLAYERS

    • Feb. 2 and 10: The Big B.M. (A one-man bio-comedy featuring Bruce Montgomery, pictured at right)

    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org


    MILLIBO ART THEATRE
    • Feb. 3-4: The Dinosaur Show (for kids)
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org


    THEATRE MADE IN BOULDER FESTIVAL
    • Continuing through Feb. 10: Staged readings, low-tech productions and free public workshops from local artists. Featured production: How To Screw Up Your Life! by Ami Dayan
    • Feb. 4: Trans/Actions, by K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan
    • Feb. 4: What Happens in the Dark, by Kristofer Buxton
    • Feb. 11: Rooted, by Joy Barber
    • Feb. 11: Laura and Ibsen, by Susan Flakes
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org


    THEATREWORKS

    • Saturday, Feb. 3: Grand opening of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs’ Ent Center for the Arts, including dedication ceremonies and performances throughout the building, including  the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, Theatreworks, UCCS Music Program and UCCS Theatre and Dance Program.
    Located off Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, uccs.edu/entgala


    PARKER ARTS

    • Saturday, Feb. 17: Comedy & Cocktails: Nancy Norton, an evening of stand-up comedy that marks the re-opening of the newly remodeled Schoolhouse Theater. 8 p.m.
    Schoolhouse Theater, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave.,, Parker, 303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY
    • Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org


    STORIES ON STAGE
    • Sunday, Feb. 11: Love & Marriage, 1:30 and 6:30 p.m.
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive,  303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month: “The Big Cat,” by Louise Erdrich, read by Timothy McCracken; “Madame Lazarus,” by Maile Meloy, read by Randy Moore; and “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage,” by Anne Patchett; read by Mare Trevathan

    VINTAGE THEATRE
    • Feb. 14: Same Time, Next Year (reading featuring Andrew and Kelly Uhlenhopp)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com
  • 'Rise Up!' More things to know about 'Hamilton' tickets

    by John Moore | Jan 30, 2018

    Hamilton Solea Pfeiffer, Emmy Raver-Lampman and Amber Iman. Photo by Joan MarcusFrom left: Solea Pfeiffer, Emmy Raver-Lampman and Amber Iman in the national touring production of 'Hamilton' that performs in Denver from Feb. 27-April 1. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Here are more helpful tips for Hamilton audiences – for example, don’t post pics of ticket barcodes on social media.

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is the only authorized ticket provider for the Denver engagement ofHamilton and tickets are currently not available. Here are some more things to know about tickets to the Denver engagement:

    NUMBER 1 By purchasing through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, regardless of when or how the transaction was made (subscriber pre-sale, on Jan. 22 or after), account holders receive a receipt that looks like this, assuring they bought an authorized ticket from the DCPA. We recommend that customers compare the account number on their receipt with their actual DCPA account to make sure they match. No one will have actual, hard tickets in hand until the week of Feb. 12.

    VIEW A LEGITIMATE DCPA RECEIPT EXAMPLE

    TheNUMBER 2 DCPA’s Ticket Purchase and Sale Terms and Policies are what we follow for ticket purchases to all shows and plays so that we can do everything possible to assure that the customer is getting a legitimate ticket at the correct price. The DCPA team is currently analyzing the legitimacy of every transaction. We did identify a brief code error from our ticketing provider that occurred on Jan. 22, which has been remedied.

    Three important highlights from those policies: 

    • Tickets may not be sold for more than face value. Even fairly obtained tickets.
    • Tickets purchased from a source other than DCPA may be lost, stolen, fake or otherwise violate our terms or policies. Such tickets will not be honored at the door.
    • The DCPA is analyzing transactions for patrons who purchased more than the maximum limit of tickets per account.

    Ticket-buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker, or any third party, run the risk of overpaying or potentially buying illegitimate tickets. If they do, they should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and are unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

    Any patrons found to be in violation of our terms may have their tickets canceled. Any canceled seats may be available to the public as we get closer to the engagement. We welcome patrons to check back at denvercenter.org/Hamilton at their convenience to purchase any tickets that may be made available.

    If you suspect suspicious behavior that violates our policies, please send that information to feedback@dcpa.org

    NUMBER 3 Patrons who do not violate the DCPA ticketing policy can plan on being "in the room where it happens" for the performance and in the seating location noted on their official DCPA receipt. 

    More answers to your Hamilton questions in our FAQ

    NUMBER 4 Our authorized tickets prices vary by date and availability. We welcome patrons to check back at denvercenter.org/Hamilton at their convenience to purchase any tickets that may be made available.

    Hamilton Sample Ticket

    Hamilton stickersNUMBER 5 When customers receive their tickets the week of Feb. 12, we highly recommend that they always #CoverTheCode when posting photos of their tickets online or on social media. Why? The barcode can be easily copied from a photo and resold. We don't want them to "throw away their shot" to see the show. They can keep it simple and cover it with their hand or, the Hamilton App has some excellent stickers (examples at right).

    Hamilton Sample Ticket

    NUMBER 6 There also will be a lottery for 40 $10 orchestra seats before every performance — details will be announced closer to the engagement. The best way to be informed about how the lottery will work is to sign up for alerts at denvercenter.org/Hamilton or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram @DenverCenter.

    Hamilton: At a glance

    Related NewsCenter coverage:
    Hamilton Tickets
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'American Mariachi'

    by John Moore | Jan 30, 2018
     

    Opening night is this Friday in the Stage Theatre

    Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's American Mariachi, José Cruz González’s story of a young woman in the 1970s who becomes determined to form an all-female mariachi band in a desperate attempt to connect with a mother lost in her dementia. The play, a co-production with the Old Globe Theatre, opens Friday (Feb. 2) and moves directly to San Diego for performances there after it closes in Denver on Feb. 25. The director is James Vásquez. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 


    Production photos:

    American Mariachi

    Click the image above to be taken to our full gallery of more than 30 production photos. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music..

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 26 through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    American Mariachi's second community conversation: Food, music and tough issues
    Cast announced, and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal
    American Mariachi
    : Community conversation begins
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

    amanda-robles-photo-by-adamsviscom_26117318568_o 800Amanda Robles of 'American Mariachi.' Photo by Adams Viscom.
  • The Book of Mormon's Denver return goes onsale February 5

    by John Moore | Jan 29, 2018
    Monica L. Patton, Kevin Clay and Conner Peirson 'The Book of Mormon.' Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

    From left: Monica L. Patton, Kevin Clay and Conner Peirson from 'The Book of Mormon,' returning to Denver June 13. Photo by Julieta Cervantes. 


    Tickets start at $35 and there will be a lottery for a limited number of $25 tickets before every Denver performance.

    Back by popular demand, The Book of Mormon, which played sold-out runs in Denver starting with the national-tour launch in 2012 and return engagements in 2013 and 2015, returns for a limited engagement presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts from June 13-July 1 at The Ellie.

    Kevin Clay 'The Book of Mormon.' Photo by Julieta Cervantes.Tickets start at $35 and go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 5 at denvercenter.org. There will be a lottery for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each for every performance. Details will be announced closer to the engagement.

    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for The Book of Mormon in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party run the risk of overpaying, purchasing illegitimate tickets and 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. Patrons found in violation of the DCPA Ticket Purchase and Sale Terms and Policies  may have all of their tickets canceled.

    (Pictured at right: Kevin Clay from 'The Book of Mormon.' Photo by Julieta Cervantes.)

    The Book of Mormon features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated TV series South Park. Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy Avenue Q.  The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker. 

    The Book of Mormon is the winner of nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Book (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Direction (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker), Best Featured Actress (Nikki M. James), Best Scenic Design (Scott Pask), Best Lighting Design (Brian MacDevitt), Best Sound Design (Brian Ronan) and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman, Stephen Oremus); the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical; five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album; four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, and the Drama League Award for Best Musical.

    The Book of Mormon features set design by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt and sound design by Brian Ronan. Orchestrations are by Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus. Music direction and vocal arrangements are by Stephen Oremus.  

    The Original Broadway Cast Recording for The Book of Mormon, winner of the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, is available on Ghostlight Records.

    Photo gallery: The Book of Mormon

    The Book of MormonProduction photos for the national touring production of 'The Book of Mormon' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to the full photo gallery. Photos by Julieta Cervantes.


    The Book of Mormon
    :
    Ticket informationBook of Mormon
    Back by popular demand, The Book of Mormon, the nine-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical returns to Denver. This outrageous musical comedy follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word.

    • National touring production
    • Performances June 13-July 1
    • Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or MORE INFO
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    More information:
    • Visit the official The Book of Mormon website at BookofMormonTheMusical.com
    • Follow The Book of Mormon on Twitter and on Facebook
    • Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center
  • How Wonderbound, Chimney Choir make music that really cooks

    by John Moore | Jan 24, 2018

    Chimney Choir 5 Chimney Choir is collaborating with Wonderbound on a new ballet called Aphrodite’s Switchboard, performing Feb. 9-24 at three metro locations. Photo by Amanda Tipton.

    Ambient folk band joins Wonderbound for new ballet with live music that was truly, madly, deeply baked ... in an oven

    By Erica Prather
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    It’s a warm August afternoon in a cozy cabin in Fairplay, about 90 miles southwest of Denver. Kris Drickey, Kevin Larkin and David Rynhart sing a tune into an iPhone, place the phone gently into an oven with a recording device, and hit play/record.

    Those who attend Wonderbound's first ballet of 2018, Aphrodite’s Switchboard, will be listening to this oven-born experiment in sound as ambient transitional pieces between songs. This playful soul and quirky aural vision is what the band Chimney Choir brings to their upcoming musical composition collaboration with Wonderbound, an adored Denver dance company that mingles very human dance with a live music element.

    Westword described Chimney Choir, which formed in 2011, as "a folk band that combines harmonies, ambient electronics and swirling textures of rhythm and melody into a style of music that is not easy to define." Since late summer, the band has been writing and arranging music for Wonderbound's Aphrodite’s Switchboard, a new ballet that weaves various tales of Greek mythology throughout the plot, with the central character being the titular goddess of love herself.

    While Chimney Choir is no stranger to working with Wonderbound, having written an original score for 2015’s Boomtown, the creative process for this ballet was very different than it was a few years ago. “Boomtown was a great creative project, but it felt more constricted than Aphrodite’s Switchboard, because we didn’t know what we were doing,” said Rynhart. “This time, it feels very free.”

    Above: Exclusive audio demo concocted by Chimney Choir for 'Aphrodite’s Switchboard' after drawing a tarot card called “The Architect.”


    For Boomtown, Chimney Choir focused intensely on creating the characters with Wonderbound Artistic Director Garrett Ammon, making the composition match the storyline. This time, the musicians tried a different approach – just making music. Having understood Ammon’s creative process and the back-and-forth of what a collaboration entailed, Chimney Choir instead focused on loosely created themes and feelings that could be swapped around throughout the ballet.

    Chimney ChoirTo create music and sounds that carried emotion, the band played games. “We made up our own stories with tarot cards,” said Larkin. “We would pull cards, write our own narrative for it, and then score the story. We still call some of the titles of the songs by these scenarios we created. We did this to give the music a movement.”

    Another game the band played to enhance working together was passing a song around among the three musicians. “Someone came up with a beat, then the next person created the chords, and then the last person made up the melody line,” Said Larkin. Rynhart said it would be hard to say who wrote what song in this ballet.”

    Read more: Here's our 101 primer on Wonderbound

    Chimney Choir. Amanda TiptonAll of this was in an effort to create an arc to an imagined storyline – and it turned out to be a highly effective method. “We made a point to come up with a lot of different moods and situations musically, because then there was a hopeful part, disappointed part, and so on. All the different colors to choose from in the stories we were making up – whereas in Boomtown we were more attached to the storyline and more specific,” Rynhart said.

    The band drew on its prior experience with the dance company to inform the flow for this production. “Garrett will cut and paste and edit songs in Garageband, make it the length he wants to work with, and we fill that in and make it more interesting, which is a great composition exercise,” says Rynhart. “We didn’t know that when we were creating Boomtown. We now know its OK to give him things that aren’t quite complete, and then we fill in the blanks together.”

    (Photo at right: Kevin Larkin and David Rynhart at work creating the music for Aphrodite’s Switchboard from a mountain cabin. Photo by Amanda Tipton.)

    The band took multiple retreats together at various cabins in Colorado, which enhanced their process. “Having the experience of really getting lost in that world, in the stories we were creating, was an important part of the creative process for us. We had a schedule we adhered to – breakfast, writing, composing, etc. – really being able to step away and focus in the mountains was key,” said Larkin.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    One fruit of their retreats was the aforementioned quirky sounds. Aside from the metallic ambiance created in the oven, another sound that came forward was the “owl-tron” – the sound of an owl that loops throughout the song “Golden Age.” This sound was inspired by the character of Athena – who is often represented or accompanied by an owl in Greek mythos. The band also sampled old telephone recordings, splicing operator switchboard vocals into their songs.

    “The most exciting thing about collaboration is that it puts you outside of your head and your habits, and you are susceptible to having higher ideas because of that,” said Rynhart.

    “If any of us were going about it alone, of course you would experiment but you are still in your own orbit. But when you work with ideas you wouldn’t have had on your own, and then take all that and extend it to working with Garrett, or those with a different artistic discipline, and what they need from music, then it’s even more so out of the way of what we could do alone. There are just so many levels of being expanded creatively in this project.”

    Erica Prather is a freelance writer and ballet dancer from Kansas currently living in Denver. "I believe strongly that life's purpose is to use our bodies and minds to explore, to connect to and feel one another through our adventures," she says, "and to preserve, bring peace, and protect our planet so that we may share it with one another and generations to come." Contact her at ericaprather@gmail.com   
                  

    Aphrodite’s Switchboard: Ticket information

    aphro-400In a tall office building on the corner of a busy street, Aphrodite is a switchboard operator who discovers that she has the power to control the love lives of mortals with a single phone connection. But beware crossed wires and best-laid plans, as meddling may have unintended consequences and the goddess herself may become ensnared in the very cords she wields.

    Presented Feb. 9-24 at three Denver-area venues:

    1. At the Pinnacle Charter School, 1001 W. 84th Ave., Denver, 80260

    • 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9
    • 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 
    • 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11 Buy Tickets

    2. At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 80138 

    • 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 
    • 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb, 18 Buy Tickets

    3. At the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, University of Denver, 2344 E. Iliff Ave., Denver, 80208

  • Perspectives: How is 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' funny? Let's count to three, no, five

    by John Moore | Jan 23, 2018
    Photo gallery: Zoey's Perfect Wedding opening-night photos:

    The making of Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere comedy 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding,' by Matthew Lopez, playing through Feb. 25 in the Space Theatre. Photos include opening night and go back to the first rehearsal. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to the full photo gallery Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    How the creative team is creating a world-premiere comedy with a playwright who is making waves across the pond

    Perspectives is a series of public panel discussions held just before the first preview  performance of each DCPA Theatre Company offering. Next up:

    Zoey's Perfet Wedding. Perspectives. Photo by John MooreHere are five quick things we learned at the Jan. 19 conversation about Matthew Lopez's Zoey's Perfect Wedding, which opens Jan. 26 in the newly renovated Space Theatre:

    NUMBER 1Nice digs? Zoey's Perfect Wedding is a world-premiere comedy about a wedding that goes horribly, hilariously wrong. The play is set in 2008 at a Marriott Hotel in downtown Brooklyn, and there are many digs in Matthew Lopez's script about the nature of the digs. But the DCPA Theatre Company's creative team didn't exactly find the inspiration it was looking for when it visited the Brooklyn Marriott last summer. "It's sadly been renovated — and quite nicely," said Scenic Designer Dane Laffrey. "It's sort of rather tasteful now. I suspect in the former life of the hotel it was more decrepit than it is now. So our trip to that hotel was less helpful than we thought because it didn't feel like the right world for our play."

    (Pictured above, from left: DCPA Literary Director Douglas Langworthy, 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding' Director Mike Donahue, Dramaturg Kimberly Colburn and Scenic Designer Dane Laffrey. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)  

    NUMBER 2Zoey Miek Donahue Matthew LopezCalling London. Playwright Matthew Lopez, who was in Denver last month for the start of Zoey's Perfect Wedding rehearsals, is currently in London for the March 2 premiere of his highly anticipated two-part play The Inheritance at The Young Vic. The epic play takes a panoramic view of gay life in New York today in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis depicted in Tony Kushner’s sprawling Angels in America, which is also about to get a Broadway remount with Denver native Beth Malone sharing the role of The Angel. Lopez's new plays will be directed by Stephen Daldry, the Tony Award-winner for, most recently, Billy Elliot, and an Oscar nominee for films including The Reader and The Hours. Lopez previously debuted his play The Legend of Georgia McBride at the Denver Center. (Pictured above: 'Zoey' Director Mike Donahue, left, and Playwright Matthew Lopez. Photo by John Moore.)

    NUMBER 3The game is afoot. Even though Lopez is ensconced in London, he remains very active in preparations for Friday's opening of Zoey's Perfect Wedding. "He's sending in rewrites every day," said Dramaturg Kimberly Colburn. How does that work? "In large part because he trusts in our  reporting," said Colburn, also the Literary Director at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif., who is spending much of her time watching preview audiences watch the play. "We tell Matthew where the audience laughed, and where they didn't ... which jokes aren't quite landing, or if the rhythm feels off. We'll tell him if a joke has maybe three too many words in it. And then he takes all that feedback and he puts it into that magical brain of his and he spits it out new pages. It has been a great and gratifying process because Matthew is such a trusting collaborator."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Video bonus: Your first look at Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Your first look at 'Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Watch more: Our video interview with Director Mike Donahue

    NUMBER 4Rule of  threes. There is a reliable axiom in comedy that three of something is funny, but four is not. "It's a mystery, but it's almost always true," said Colburn, who says she is "rigorously faithful" in her allegiance to the rule of threes. And there are a lot of threes (or were) in Zoey's Perfect Wedding. "You find the places where something happens four times, and then you have cut the right one," she said. "In one of our cuts, we decided that we cut the wrong one, so now we are restoring the old line and cutting this other line. It's a fun puzzle." If you are wondering, there are other numerical rules, Colburn said: "So three is funny, and four is not, but once you get to seven, it gets funny again. So you actually have some options." Certain sounds are funnier than others, too, she added, such as any hard consonant. "So a kiwi is always going to be funnier than an orange, every time" she said. "It's a mystery, but it's true."

    NUMBER 5Turning the table. Because the play takes place at a wedding reception, it makes sense that the banquet table serves as the nerve center of the action. And that presents a particular staging challenge for Laffrey: You never want things to get static in a story with a lot of scenes that have people sitting around a table. "That's a challenge on any kind of set, but there are ways to cheat," Laffrey said. "Often on a proscenium stage, you'll only see three chairs at a four-sided table, and I am always wondering where the fourth chair went." For Zoey's Perfect Wedding, which is presented in the round, Laffrey is employing a turntable so the banquet table slowly rotates throughout the play. "It's like a revolving restaurant — without the restaurant," Laffrey said. His solution means no one in the audience will be stuck looking at the same point of view for the entire pay. "It makes for a more democratic audience experience," he said.

    Bonus: What's your fortune? Audiences will be be handed fortune cookies upon their arrival at the Stage Theatre that offer yummy life advice — in  the form of quotes from Lopez's script. Samples: "Get a cheap apartment, find a couple dozen roommates and live!" and, "Tradition dies today!"

    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.

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    : Production photos

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Your first look at the official production photos for 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to the full Flickr photo gallery. Photos by Adams VicsCom.


    Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    :
    Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 19-Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'First Date' understudies will take center stage at Denver Actors Fund screening

    by John Moore | Jan 18, 2018
    Understudies Cashelle Butler and Barret Harper. First Date Photo by John Moore
    First Date understudies Cashelle Butler and Barret Harper. Photo by John Moore

    Unsung heroes will get their chance to sing out at Monday's benefit screening of 500 Days of Summer at Alamo

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Understudies are among the many unsung heroes of the theatre — especially on long-running shows such as DCPA Cabaret’s romantic musical comedy First Date at the Galleria Theatre. All the more so during the ongoing cold and flu epidemic in Denver.

    We talked about it with Cashelle Butler and Barret Harper, who on Monday will be performing songs from First Date before a screening of the popular film 500 Days of Summer at the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund, which, in four years, has made more than $200,000 in medical relief available to members of the Colorado theatre community. Alamo donates 50 percent of all ticket proceeds from this fun monthly film series, which cleverly pairs a popular movie with a live appearance by a local theatre company staging a related musical.

    Cashelle Butler First Date QuoteFirst Date, which performs at the Galleria through April 22, follows a blind-date newbie who is set up with a serial dater. The audience follows along as a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a comically high-stakes dinner.

    We asked Butler and Harper about the life and challenges of an understudy, the importance of The Denver Actors Fund and Monday’s upcoming appearance at the Alamo.

    “I always find it an honor to be cast as an understudy,” said Butler, who attended Cherry Creek and Cherokee Trail high schools and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. “They are trusting me not only to know multiple roles, but to be able to come in at the last minute and keep the show running.”

    Butler was called on to perform in First Date just last week. “My castmates were all so supportive, helpful, trusting and incredibly fun to be on stage with,” she said. “They are a great group. You should all go see them shine, because they are truly amazing performers and human beings.”

    Harper, who graduated from Littleton High School and the University of Colorado Boulder, said understudies make it so that the lead actors don’t have to take unnecessary health risks for the sake of a single performance. “When an actor knows he has an understudy, he or she generally does a better job and is less likely to get sick because it removes the stress from feeling like they have the weight of the show resting on the unpredictable nature of human health,” he said. “They can focus on their craft with the confidence someone has their back.” 

    Choose your 500 Days of Summer screening seats here

    Join Butler and Barrett Monday for their live appearance at the Sloan’s Lake Alamo Drafthouse, hosted by film series emcee (and, coincidentally, First Date castmate) Steven J. Burge.

    In the meantime: Don’t forget to hug an understudy … but only if you’re healthy.

    Question: How is the importance of understudies heightened during cold and flu season?

    Cashelle Butler: That’s when understudies are especially vital. As a performer, you want to know that if you have to go out of the show, you aren't letting anyone down. Having an understudy gives you the peace of mind to know you can take the time you need to heal your body without any guilt. I want everyone to be healthy and happy and to never need me. But should that day come, I want to make sure nobody on stage has to worry about me or the show.

    BARRET HARPER QUOTE FIRRST DATEBarret Harper: Working as an understudy during cold and flu season requires extra vigilance and discipline. Your chances of performing skyrocket, but you are equally at risk for illness yourself. So staying fresh on the material and staying healthy are paramount.

    Question: What does it mean to you to help support The Denver Actors Fund on Monday?

    Cashelle Butler: It is both an honor and a privilege. While being an artist is incredibly rewarding, fun and exciting, it does not always afford us the stability and comfort that other jobs have. Life happens, and nobody should have to face life's worst turns alone. The Denver Actors Fund is there when you are going through your darkest days, offering help, support, hope and a reminder that this community is there for you and you are not alone. I feel so lucky to be a part of such a kind, supportive, genuinely caring community of humans and artists, and to be able to support the Denver Actors Fund is such a rewarding treat.

    Barret Harper: The Denver Actors Fund is the lifeline that connects the entire Colorado theatre community. It sends a message to the artists in this community that helping each other in our time of need makes our community and our art stronger. Individual actors generally don’t have the means to help others in a meaningful financial way, so the DAF provides a mechanism to transform our magnanimous spirit into something more tangible. It means the world to me to support an organization that has helped so many of my brilliant coworkers and friends over the past few years. 

    Question: Why should people come to see the screening of 500 Days of Summer on Monday?

    First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowCashelle: Everyone should hang out with us on Monday! When you support The  Denver Actors Fund, you are supporting Denver's community of actors. And you get to hear a few songs from First Date. Plus, Steven J. Burge is the funniest, most lovely and prettiest human around. He will make you laugh so hard you will leave with a washboard stomach. You also get to ogle Barret Harper and listen to his gorgeous voice. You'll get to eat popcorn and drink beer and watch one of the cutest movies of all time — which is not coincidentally quite similar to First Date. You get to escape the world for a few hours and hide in a movie theatre and believe in love.

    (Pictured: Seth Dhonau and Adriane Leigh Robinson in the DCPA's 'First Date.' Photo by Emily Lozow.)

    Barret Harper:  People should come knowing they will be contributing to an organization that is dedicated to directly helping the local theater community. You can see your donated money in action every time you see the actors perform. You become a part of the art in a meaningful way.

    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. He is also the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.

    Meet the cast: More fun to read than any dating profile!

    500 Days of Summer: Benefit film screening:
    What: Denver Actors Fund screening of the film 500 Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel
    Who: Live pre-screening entertainment from DCPA Cabaret's First Date.
    When: Monday, Jan. 22: Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7
    Where: Sloan's Lake Alamo Drafthouse, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com

    First Date: Ticket information
    First DatePerformances through April 22
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    At the Garner Galleria Theatre

    The book is written by by Austin Winberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Orchestrations by August Eriksmoen. Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements by Dominick Amendum.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of First Date:
    Video: Photos: Your first look at First Date
    Check out the all-local cast of the Denver Center's First Date


    Video bonus: Cashelle Butler visits Cherry Creek High School:

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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.