Video: Kim Staunton still misses director Israel Hicks 'every day'

by John Moore | Jan 26, 2014

Note: KIm Staunton will be John Moore's guest for an hour of conversation at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at our next LoDo Page 2 Stage event. It's free and open to the public. Click here for more information.


It has been three years since the death of Israel Hicks, but Denver Center Theatre Company actor Kim Staunton still misses the renowned director every day.

Many Denver Center audiences know Hicks made history with the Denver Center Theatre Company in 2009, when he became the first director in the world to helm August Wilson's entire 10-play, 10-decade exploration of the black experience in America for the same theater company. Staunton was cast by Hicks in many of those Denver Center productions. But most don't know Staunton's association with Hicks actually goes all the way back to high school.

Hicks was the principal during Staunton's senior year at Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. He was instrumental in getting her into The Juilliard School in New York City.

"Israel was part of my beginning in launching me," Staunton said, before adding with a laugh: "However, he didn’t think to hire me in a show until a lot of years later."

That was "Pork Pie, A Mythic Jazz Fable" and it was during the 2000-01 season here at the Denver Center.

"I played Mahaley," Staunton said. "She goes into a coma at the end of Act One, and she doesn’t come come out of it  until the end of the play. So Israel said, 'We have to find something more for you to do.' 

"And sure enough, he did, and everything else is history from there. He really did stick to his word. He kept me working. After he passed, an actor friend told me, 'You and Israel had a love affair -- and it was a love affair of art. You were great collaborators.' And we were.  It was a love affair. He's here with me still. Absolutely."

Staunton has continued to work feverishly. She appeared last season in "Fences," directed by Lou Bellamy. It was the Denver Center's first August Wilson production not directed by Hicks. In October she played Linda Loman in the South Coast Repertory Theatre's “Death of a Salesman” in Costa Mesa, Calif. In November She played the uptight wife in the Lone Tree Arts Center's "Sylvia." And last week she opened in the Denver Center Theatre Company's world-premiere production of black odyssey.

"I am one of the fortunate actors who has had a theater that has been so willing to embrace me and bless me with these wonderful roles," she said. It's rare for an actor to that. I have gotten to do great, great things here, and Denver has been home for me."

Read our full feature story on Kim Staunton from October.

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John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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