Phamaly will send wheelchairs flying in historic 'Peter Pan'

by John Moore | Jun 05, 2016
Phamalys 2016 season announcementPhotos from Phamaly's annual gala on June 4, where it was announced that 'Peter Pan' will anchor the 2016-17 season at the DCPA's Stage Theatre. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.


Phamaly Theatre Company promises to send wheelchairs flying in the summer of 2017 when it presents Peter Pan in the Denver Center's expansive Stage Theatre, making it the largest undertaking in Phamaly's 28-year history.

Peter Pan John Cameron Mitchell Phamaly Phamaly will be following in the hallowed fairy dust of John Cameron Mitchell, internationally ignored song stylist and creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, who performed the titular role in Peter Pan in the same Stage Theatre in 1989 as a member of the Denver Center Theatre Company (pictured at right).  

Phamaly produces professional-scale plays and musicals year-round, cast entirely of performers with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. For years, Phamaly has presented its annual summer musical at the Denver Center's Space Theatre, but because of year-long renovations that are presently underway, Phamaly will offer Evita next month at the University of Denver's Byron Theatre (July 16-Aug. 7).

"Peter Pan is a wonderful story about aging, the fairness of life and the value of obstacle," Artistic Director Bryce Alexander (pictured below right) said when announcing Phamaly's 2016-17 season at its annual gala on Saturday night.

Phamaly Bryce AlexanderThe lineup is at once a complete embrace of both classic stories and presentational innovation. Phamaly will present Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol at the King Center on the Auraria campus, directed by Paul Dwyer. That will be followed by George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion at the Aurora Fox, directed by Carolyn Howarth, who recently helmed Colorado Shakespeare Festival's award-winning production of Henry V. 

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Next will be a staged reading of a new adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream in collaboration with New York's disability-based Apothetae Theatre at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

"While still in Shakespeare's language, Phamaly and Apothetae will work together to further develop a script called Spirits of Another Sort that highlights the themes of war, chaos and otherness - as well as the magic that exists in love, and in variation of body," said Alexander, whose goal is to eventually fully produce the new play both in Denver and New York.

Phamaly Evita Hannah Ballmer Rob Costigan
Rob Costigan and Hannah Balmer demonstrate how the tango will look with the added dimension of a wheelchair when 'Evita' opens next month at the University of Denver. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


The touring children's production will be Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, opening in October at the Lakewood Cultural Center before touring Colorado and Wyoming through May. Alexander said the story of a boy who feels like an outsider, learning to accept differences and overcoming obstacles, makes Dahl's classic the perfect vehicle for Phamaly's educational outreach.

"With this new season, we are daring the community to reimagine these classic stories through a new lens," Alexander said.

But all eyes will be on the sky when Phamaly takes on Peter Pan in the Stage Theatre, which has has a capacity of 778. That's more than 200 greater than the Space Theatre. And while Phamaly traditionally performs "in the round," the Stage has a thrust stage with an audience that wraps around in a semi-circle. DU's Byron Theatre, which is hosting Evita next month, seats about 350.

Click here for more info on Phamaly Theatre Company

Alexander also took a moment from his announcement to commend the company's ongoing relationship with the Denver Center, particularly its Education Division.

"Phamaly already has a renowned partnership with Denver Center Education, where we collaborate to provide free professional-arts training specifically for adults with disabilities. But as we look to change the standards of accessibility, I am thrilled to announce that this fall, Phamaly will begin adding classes specifically for children with disabilities. Phamaly is raising the bar for education."

Alexander's first year as Artistic Director included an on-site visit from National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu, and a move to bring both trained audio describers on staff and equipment in-house, making Phamaly one of only a handful of theatre companies in the country that can accommodate those audience requests on demand.

"It's easy to focus on the past - to look at where we've come from, at what we have accomplished and who we have touched," Alexander said. "But I want us to look forward."

The gala was hosted by KUSA anchor Kyle Dyer and former Denver Broncos running back Reggie Rivers.


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.


Phamaly Theatre Company' 2016-17 season
Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach (touring)
Opening Oct. 21-22, 2016, at the Lakewood Cultural Center
Directed by Bryce Alexander

Tiny Tim's Christmas Carol
Dec. 1-18, 2016
At the King Center on the Auraria campus
Directed by Paul Dwyer

Pygmalion
By George Bernard Shaw
Feb. 23-March 12, 2017
At the Aurora Fox
Directed by Carolyn Howarth
 
Staged reading of Spirits of Another Sort
in collaboration with New York's Apothetae Theatre
May 6-7, 2017
At the Lone Tree Arts Center

Peter Pan
July 13-Aug. 6, 2017
Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
Directed by Bryce Alexander


Click here for more info on Phamaly Theatre Company

1 comment

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  1. joan Janicelli | Jun 08, 2016

    I am so touched by the Phamaly organization. To give these adults and now children the skills and opportunities to perform is simply wonderful !

    i have met beautiful Hannah Balmer. I went to school with her Dad many years ago. I know she is thrilled to be a part of Evita.

    Thank you for all you do !

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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.

    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.