• Meet the Cast: Sean Reda of 'The Secret Garden'

    by John Moore | May 26, 2017
    The Secret Garden. Sean Reda-photo-credit-adamsviscom

    Sean Reda, who plays Colin Craven, is an un-craven New York Yankees fan. 'The Secret Garden' plays through May 28. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    MEET SEAN REDA
    Colin Craven in The Secret Garden, the classic story of the 10-year-old orphan girl doomed to a life of isolation with her uncle in England until she uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden. It plays through May 28 in the Stage Theatre.

    A The Secret Garden 500 Sean Reda-photo-credit-adamsviscomAt the Theatre Company: Debut. Broadway credits include Les Miserables and Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Tour credits include Radio City Christmas Spectacular and Beauty and the Beast. Film: I Smile Back.

    • Hometown: Montebello, N.Y.
    • School: I am in the seventh grade at Suffern Middle School
    • What was the role that changed your life? Playing Chip in the national touring production of Beauty and the Beast. It was my first professional role. I got to travel to so many cities and states and meet so many incredible people. Also, being part of the Disney “magic” was amazing, especially since I was only 7 years old. I got this funny feeling inside my stomach that made me feel really great, and I wanted to do it again and again.
    • Why are you an actor? Because it’s fun! I have met and made friends with so many wonderful and talented people. Acting brings me joy.
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? I would be doing sports. My favorite sport is baseball. My favorite team is the New York Yankees.
    • Walton-Emily-March2017Ideal scene partners? Hugh Jackman and Emily Walton. (pictured right). But I actually get to work with her Emily this show. So I guess that dream has come true. She’s the best actor ever.
    • Why does The Secret Garden matter? It matters to me because it gives such a deep understanding of hope.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope they get a better understanding that even in the darkest times there is light.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ...  peace in the world."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    The Secret Garden: Ticket information
    The Secret GardenThe beloved classic blossoms anew in this enchanting musical full of beautiful melodies. When young Mary uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden, she becomes determined to revive the beauty that once flourished.
    Book and lyrics by Marsha Norman; music by Lucy Simon;
    based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

    Through May 28
    Stage Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Previous coverage of The Secret Garden:
    Photos: Marsha Norman visits DCPA's The Secret Garden
    Denver Post
    review: A worthy, family-friendly and satisfying theatrical experience
    Video: How does our Secret Garden grow?
    Photos, video: Your first look at The Secret Garden
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Five things we learned at Perspectives
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Vandit Bhatt, Disgraced
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Dorien Makhloghi, Disgraced
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Cajardo Lindsey, The Christians
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Zoe Manarel, The Secret Garden
    Robert Montano, Two Degrees
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Benjamin Pelteson, Disgraced
    Daniel Plimpton, The Secret Garden
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Kim Staunton, Two Degrees

    Regina Steffen, The Secret Garden

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2017 Bobby G Awards: Persistence pays off at Valor Christian

    by John Moore | May 25, 2017

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues after the video.)

    Video: 2017 Bobby G Awards in 60 Seconds


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    THE 2016-17 BOBBY G AWARDS

    Hair and Makeup

    Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Make-up Design

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

    Other nominees:

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


    Costumes

    Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design

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

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


    Lighting


    Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design

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

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


    Scenic

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

    Other nominees:

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


    Choreography

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

    Other nominees:

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


    Musical Direction

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

    Other nominees:

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


    Chorus

    Outstanding Performance by a Chorus
    Rent

    Boulder High School

    Other nominees:

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


    Orchestra

    Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra

    Rent

    Boulder High School

    Other nominees:

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


    Supporting Actress

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

    Other nominees:

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


    Supporting Actor

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

    Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:

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


    Rising Star

    Rising Star

    Joe Robinson
    Dewhurst
    The Scarlet Pimpernel

    Chaparral High School

    Other nominees:

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

    Leading Actress

    Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

    Elleon Dobias
    Catherine
    Pippin

    Valor Christian High School

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


    Leading Actor

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

    Fossil Ridge High School

    Other nominees:

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


    Direction

    Outstanding Achievement in Direction
    Tami LoSasso and Yovana Milosevic
    Sweeney Todd

    Lakewood High School

    Other nominees:

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


    Overall Production

    Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
    Pippin

    Valor Christian High Schoo
    l

    Other nominees:

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

    Valor


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



    Video: A look back at the 2016 Bobby G Awards



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

    2017 SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT WINNERS:

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

    Video: Montage welcoming all 42 participating schools:

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

  • Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Finalists

    by John Moore | May 25, 2017

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

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

    Actor 1 Carter

    CHANDLER CARTER

    Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel
    Chaparral High School
    Class of 2017

    • First role: I played Baby Elephant in a kids version of The Jungle Book in fourth or fifth grade. But the first role I feel like I really played was Frank Senior last year in Catch Me If You Can.
    • Why do you perform? Because I love to sing, and I've always loved making jokes as other "characters" in daily conversation. Theatre gives me a place to do that where it doesn't feel odd or out of place.
    • Ideal scene partner: I'd love to be in a scene with Kyle Gill from ThunderRidge High School. He’s one of my very best friends and I don't get to be around him nearly enough.
    • Favorite moment from your show: The first night that Jack, who played Percy, decided he was going make a joke about Chauvelin's name being "like a shovel!" on-stage, in front of an entire audience. I was so close to breaking, and it's a moment I'll never forget.
    • Fun with a moment where something went wrong: There was one night where my cape decided that it wasn't going to come off right before a fight scene, after which the sword I was trying to grab fell to the floor. I just kept going, because at that point there's nothing else you can do.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It's amazing, and something I wasn't expecting. It's really cool to get to work with the other nominees.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? I already valued arts education and extracurricular activities so much. But I'm so glad that this program exists. It makes me happy to see high-school theatre being recognized for the work we all put into it.

    Actor 2 Hand


    AUSTIN HAND

    Gomez Addams in The Addams Family
    Fossil Ridge High School
    Class of 2019

    • First role: I played the frog in Thwacked, a rendition of The Princess and the Frog, in fifth grade.
    • Why do you perform? To find out more about myself through the complexity of a character.
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to act in a scene with Jack Nicholson because the energy he brings to each and every character is so unique and real to the point that it is almost terrifying.
    • Fun moment where something went wrong: During a dress rehearsal, we reached the end of the show when I was supposed to kiss Caroline Frevert, who played Morticia. That night was the first time that makeup had experimented with drawing my mustache on, and after the kiss I remember looking up and hearing all of the directors and crew laughing in the audience. I was confused until I looked back at Caroline and noticed that most of my mustache had rubbed off onto her lip, making it appear as though we had matching facial hair.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I don't think that it has quite sunk in yet. It's a very surreal and humbling opportunity that I am so thankful to have been given. Working with some of the most talented (and kind) high-school thespians in the state has been one of the most fun experiences of my life, and has only solidified my passion for theatre and acting.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? A truly magnificent thing occurs when people of all different backgrounds come together to develop a shared passion, whether it is theatre, sports, academics or anything else. School is a place where people of varying perspectives and beliefs are sort of forced together in a building, and these activities provide a medium to unite each individual in creating something brand new and entirely unique.

    Actor 3 Kinsman

    GABLE KINSMAN

    Pippin in Pippin
    Valor Christian High School
    Class of 2018

    • First role: I played a sailor in Christian Youth Theatre's production of The Little Mermaid in 2008. I vividly remember my one line at the end of Act 1 when I yelled 'C’mon mateys, let’s get out of here!' and shortly after, I was followed offstage by the rest of the pirate crew. I felt like the coolest 8-year-old in town.
    • Why do you perform? To communicate with people through the telling of
      stories. It is a special thing to me that I get to communicate with people I have never met before through a story that comes to life on stage. I personally have been very impacted by stories through performance, and that inspires me to do the same unto others.
    • Ideal scene partner: If I were to take the stage with Derek Klena and Robin Williams, I think I would pee my pants. They both have been huge inspirations to me, Robin through his impeccable film and standup work, and Derek through his incredible performances in his multiple musicals as a lead. I have grown up watching and listening to both of them, and just being in the same room as them would be an honor.
    • Favorite moment from Pippin: At our very last dress rehearsal before opening night, our Theo, who was played by a 12-year-old, wasn’t able to make the rehearsal. But without a hesitation, our fearless stage manager (Neil Trotter) stepped in to play Catherine’s (Elleon Dobias) strapping young son. He waddled on, playing the best little boy he could play, which actually turned out to be pretty good. Now this was my first time seeing Neil onstage performing instead of hiding backstage in the dark, but was so dedicated to giving the most realistic performance possible, with his high-pitched voice and enthusiastic youthfulness. Let me tell you, it was an inspiration to experience that first-hand onstage. Elleon and I finished the scene, fighting through the tears of laughter, as our directors in the audience laughed hysterically at the fact that Catherine’s son was taller than both her and Pippin. I still think he could get a job as either a stage manager or playing a young boy. Or both.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It is surreal. I can’t describe how incredible it feels. It has been such a joy to work with the rest of the nominees and get to know them. They are so much fun to be around. Working with (Bobby G Awards Director) Claudia Carson and (Musical Director) Robyn Yamada has been such a blast. They are like my two new moms. I feel honored and humbled to be nominated, and I’m so glad that I get to go through this whole process with one of my best friends, Elleon Dobias, who is such a deserving nominee as Outstanding Actress for her work as Catherine.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? This process has shown me
      the importance of education through creativity. People are able to hone
      different skills when they learn creatively, and this is very important for everyone to experience. Theatre alone provides so many opportunities to excel through creative art, which is a very special thing. Also, this process has reminded me how much I love this community. The other nominees have become some of my best friends in just the first two days that I have been rehearsing with them. That doesn’t happen anywhere else.


    Actor 4 Kochevar

    TREY KOCHEVAR

    Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
    Lakewood High School
    Class of 2017

    • College plans: University of Northern Colorado’s acting program
    • First role: I was in the ensemble of Lakewood High School’s Young Frankenstein in my freshman year. I was 14 years old and I played a mad scientist and an angry villager.
    • Why do you perform? Because people can learn a lot about themselves and society from art. It allows us to become self-aware and question ourselves. I have always been so intrigued by all the tiny details I have seen in acting performances both onstage and in film, and I love being a part of telling stories that make people re-think aspects of their lives.
    • Ideal scene partner: Philip Seymour Hoffman, because he knew how to get to the core of a scene. He had a very human, instinctual sense of grit when attacking any piece of dialogue. He’s one of those actors who makes every performance a believable one. To have shared the stage or screen with someone who had such a tremendous presence would have been an absolute honor.
    • Favorite moment from your show: When I finally felt confident with my character. This is an iconic role that has so much expectation attached to it. So for the first month or so it was a struggle to figure out my own take on the role. I did my character research, analyzed the script and even read excerpts from the original penny dreadful. It finally started feeling more organic, and I was gaining more confidence in my performance as the show approached. I knew I had found a character of my own on the night of the first performance, when I was greeted by both laughs and gasps.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? This has been a truly humbling experience, and the talent I’ve seen in my fellow nominees has just blown me away. This year’s nominees are a true display of the positive effects of the arts in education, and I am honored to have the opportunity to perform with them.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? I’ve learned that both extracurricular activities as well as arts education in schools allow students a therapeutic outlet that can be difficult to find elsewhere at this age. I’ve seen students who would rather stay at school working on building a set than go home and face whatever challenges they are dealing with. That’s OK, because that’s what helps them. It teaches them to refocus their energy and contribute to something bigger. But at the same time, when something tragic does occur, those within their extracurricular activities are often their most powerful source of support. On top of that, the arts teach life skills that can be difficult if not impossible to find in a math or English class.

    Actor 5 Shafroth

    JESSE SHAFROTH

    Mark Cohen in Rent
    Boulder High School
    Class of 2019

    • First role: I played Yao, the fat, bad-tempered soldier in Mulan Jr. in the seventh grade at Casey Middle School. I wasn’t going to audition, but my friend dragged me into it, and I’m glad he did.
    • Why do you perform? I love making people feel. Whether it’s laughter, crying or shock, seeing people care about a character I’m portraying feels awesome. Plus, it’s fun.
    • Ideal scene partner: I would love to do a scene with Robert Downey Jr. He is just so hilarious and random and all over the place, it would be fun to see what we could create. Also, just ’cause he’s Robert Downey Jr.
    • Favorite moment from your show: After an eight-hour rehearsal, we were running the final scene for the second time. By then, we were all really tired and, honestly, feeling quite weird. So when our lead guitarist began shredding on his electric guitar, we all just let loose and started dancing and singing like there was no tomorrow. Our directors were fine with it. In fact, they started filming us and posted it to Facebook. It was quite a way to end a long and stressful day.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I am so, so honored. Even though it’s been stressful at some points, it has really been a great experience, and it is helping me to understand what show business is like.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities? The arts foster a very inclusive social circle. People from all walks of life can be a part of this incredible community without being judged. A lot of extracurricular activities promote inclusiveness, but I think the arts are almost completely nondiscriminatory because art is fluid. To be on a sports team, you have to be good at that sport. To be on a trivia team, you have to be smart. But art is everywhere. Art can be anything.

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

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

    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Finalists

  • In the Spotlife: Ethelyn Friend of '________________', An Opera

    by John Moore | May 24, 2017
    The Singing House. An Opera. Ethelyn Friend.
     


    MEET ETHELYN FRIEND
    The Writer and Mrs. Harrigan in The Singing House Productions' '________________', An Opera, running through June 10.

  • Hometown: Pound Ridge, N.Y.
  • Home now: Lafayette, Colo.
  • Ethelyn Friend QuoteHigh school: Wykeham Rise School in Torrington, Conn., which burned to the ground in January
  • College: MFA in Acting from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Calamity Jane in the musical Calamity! for Facing June Productions in Boulder.
  • Twitter-sized bio: I'm an actor who can't stay up late, gets up at dawn and spies on herons; a singer still searching for her "style"; and a voice teacher who only wants people to love their voices. My 28-year-old daughter just texted three descriptive words about me: "nice pretty mommy." Awww.
  • What's your handle? @friendethelyn on Instagram
  • The role that changed your life: When Billie McBride cast me as Bananas in the Arvada Center's production of The House of Blue Leaves in 2008. I felt so totally trusted (thanks, Billie!) and rediscovered the pure joy of performing.
  • Ideal scene partner: I want to be alongside Billie Whitelaw (another Billie!?) while she performs all of Samuel Beckett's roles, and just mirror her.
  • What is ______________, An Opera all about? It's an experiment in both storytelling and musical performance staged in a Victorian house in old-town Lafayette. Through multiple musical styles, six characters unravel a secret hidden in the broken heart of a family. My favorite "pre-press" blurb (which I'm sure I don't deserve) is this: "Ethelyn Friend will render an opera unlike any other, in the sweet spot between Gertrude Stein, Spike Jonze and Kendrick Lamar." That was from playwright Erik Ehn of Brown University.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: I love playing a character who is a writer in the very midst of a creative process. But even though I am performing text I have written, I still have to treat it like a script I just have been given, and work through all my usual actor pitfalls like "playing the obstacle" (as my acting teachers would say), and not foreshadowing the coming tragedy and staying active and positive in the moment. (Hmm, I think that's a "life lesson").
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing ______________, An Opera? We are including many aspects of improvisation in the hope that our audiences are able to feel the intensity and presence of live performance in a new way. We are working with a memorized libretto, but music that is improvised on the spot. I also hope they experience a gentle form of catharsis, which is one of the oldest purposes of theatre.
  • What's one thing people might not know about you? I'm an introvert.
  • What do you want to get off your chest? I'm tired of perfectionism in all its forms. Let's be human. And messy.
  •  

    Ethelyn Friend. HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES. Arvada Center
    Ethelyn Friend, with Kevin Hart, in the Arvada Center's 'The House of Blue Leaves' in 2008. Photo by P. Switzer.


    The Singing House's '_______________', An Opera : Ticket information

    • At a glance: One day, a writer recovers a memory of incest and tries to hide it inside an opera
    • Created by Ethelyn Friend and Gary Grundei
    • Directed by Erica Terpening-Romeo
    • Through June 10
    • 507 W. Baseline Road, Lafayette MAP IT
    • Tickets $20-$25
    • For tickets, click here


    Performance schedule:
    • 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays

    Cast list:

    • Allison Caw
    • Jessica Cerullo
    • Ethelyn Friend
    • Barrett Ogden
    • Erica Terpening-Romeo   

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet the ensemble of Buntport Theater's The Crud
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Emily K. Harrison of She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Haley Hunsaker of Funky Little Theatre Company's Extremities
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Heather Lacy of the Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Tamara Meneghini of The Last Testament of Mary
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
    Meet Adriane Wilson of Miners Alley Playhouse's Cabaret

  • Photos: 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'

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

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


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

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

    Our full coverage of the DPS Shakespeare Festival

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

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

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Finalists

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

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

    Actress 1 Dobias

    ELLEON DOBIAS

    Catherine in Pippin
    Valor Christian High School
    Class of 2017

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

    Actress 3 King

    CHANTAL KING 

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

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

    Actress 4 Marter

    CAMERON MARTER

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

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


    Actress 5 Nolte

    GRACE NOLTE

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

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


    Actress 1 Romeo

    ASHA ROMEO

    Joanne Jefferson in Rent
    Boulder High School
    Class of 2017

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

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

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

    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Finalists
  • Meet the Cast: Daniel Plimpton of 'The Secret Garden'

    by John Moore | May 23, 2017

    Daniel Plimpton believes nothing teaches perspective better than theatre. He says 'The Secret Garden' honors those who came before us, and gives hope for what is to come. Playing through May 28.


    MEET DANIEL PLIMPTON
    Lieutenant Shaw in The Secret Garden, the classic story of the 10-year-old orphan girl doomed to a life of isolation with her uncle in England until she uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden. It plays through May 28 in the Stage Theatre.

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. Touring: Visited the Ellie Caulkins Opera House with the National Tour of The Book of Mormon and the Buell Theatre with Spring Awakening. Regional Credits: Paper Mill Playhouse, O'Neill Theater Center, North Shore Music Theatre, Weston Playhouse, Engeman Theatre, New Century Theatre, Lyric Stage. Training: BFA, The Boston Conservatory.

    • Hometown: Amherst, Mass.Daniel Plimpton-photo-credit-adamsviscom
    • Training: BFA from The Boston Conservatory 
    • What was the role that changed your life? Well I have to say playing Colin in The Secret Garden! It was 2001, and I was 11 at a community theatre in Amherst, Mass. We had this fabulous director who pushed me to explore the truth of this character who has been so mistreated and who has no relationship skills, because he hasn’t been exposed to any sort of variety of life experience. It was tough but it was the first time I had been called on to actually act, as opposed to just be a cute kid. That was the show that really compelled me to want to audition professionally and try to take my love of theatre to another level.
    • Why are you an actor? The simple answer is that since I was 5 years old, there has never been another thing I have liked doing more. Never have I had a year, or a phase, or even a moment where I have wanted to do something else. The more complex answer is that theatre is the greatest teaching tool of perspective. People leave good theatre as better people. They have been able to learn about a different life experience than their own. To be a part of that, and to get the chance to constantly learn about myself and others through portraying a huge variety of different people at different times in this world, it’s amazing.
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? I like to think I would be a sports commentator, because I love sports. Or a marine biologist and swim with wild dolphins every day.
    • Mark RylanceWho would you like to roll up your sleeves and work a scene with someday? Well, I would have to roll up every inch of everything I own to get up the nerve to do a scene with Mark Rylance. Watching him onstage is like a religious experience for me. I have seen everything he has done in New York. The way he captures theatricality while still giving the most real performances is mesmerizing. I would definitely want to be on the receiving end of that energy.
    • Why does The Secret Garden matter? This story packs a huge punch with how it  deals with grief, spirituality, childhood and nature. It’s a really deep play, and this is certainly an ambitious subject to set to music. Mary Lennox goes on a journey that we can all relate to - this journey of plugging herself into the world during dark times in a way that honors those who came before us, and gives hope for what is to come.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope this play makes them feel transported to a safe place to think about how they view the circle of life. This story is very much about children, and it’s also very much about death. And on a 'less deep' level, I hope they love the music and have a great time with these characters as they find ways to move on from their respective tragedies.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ...  a world where people feel accepted for who they are; a world where peace triumphs over fear and love squashes judgment. And I think the arts can help lead us to this personal utopia.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Daniel Plimpton Spring AwakeningDaniel Plimpton left, played Ernst opposite Devon Scott as Hanschen in the national touring production of Spring Awakening that visited Denver in 2011. Photo by Andy Snow.


    The Secret Garden: Ticket information
    The Secret GardenThe beloved classic blossoms anew in this enchanting musical full of beautiful melodies. When young Mary uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden, she becomes determined to revive the beauty that once flourished.
    Book and lyrics by Marsha Norman; music by Lucy Simon;
    based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

    Through May 28
    Stage Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Previous coverage of The Secret Garden:
    Photos: Marsha Norman visits DCPA's The Secret Garden
    Denver Post
    review: A worthy, family-friendly and satisfying theatrical experience
    Video: How does our Secret Garden grow?
    Photos, video: Your first look at The Secret Garden
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Five things we learned at Perspectives
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Vandit Bhatt, Disgraced
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Dorien Makhloghi, Disgraced
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Cajardo Lindsey, The Christians
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Zoe Manarel, The Secret Garden
    Robert Montano, Two Degrees
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Benjamin Pelteson, Disgraced
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Kim Staunton, Two Degrees

    Regina Steffen, The Secret Garden

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Charles Packard leaving Aurora Fox after 19 years

    by John Moore | May 23, 2017
    Charles Packard Charles Packard was nominated for a Denver Post Ovation Award for designing this set for the ice-climbing drama 'K2' in the Aurora Fox studio theatre in 2012. 
     

    Longtime Executive Producer cited budget cutbacks, exhaustion and personal hurdles as ongoing difficulties

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Charles Packard, Executive Producer for the Aurora Fox Arts Center since 2009, has resigned, both he and city officials confirmed today in joint statements. 

    Packard is resigning "to pursue other opportunities," said Abraham Morales, Senior Public Information Officer for the city of Aurora. In his own statement, Packard cited fatigue. "I have grown tired, then exhausted, and it has come time to close," he said.

    Associates close to Packard, who was placed on administrative leave May 8, say his sometimes competing role as both an artist and arts administrator for Charles Packard Quotea city-owned performing-arts facility had become increasingly more difficult to navigate. Reached at home 10 days ago, Packard said he was looking forward to visiting family in Michigan, and that "I am really thrilled for what's coming next in my life."

    In today's statement, he elaborated: "I will be spending the next few months 'in the sandwich,' " he said. "My parents are aging, and my kids are growing fast. I will be with them while my artistic and public-servant batteries recharge.

    "In the 19 years I've been at the Fox we have had a few failures, many successes and tremendous growth. The audience has changed and the neighborhood has changed. I have grown as an artist." (Read the full statement here.)
     
    On the blog Packard regularly kept on the Aurora Fox web site, Packard wrote openly about the theatre's many artistic achievements, but also "unprecedented challenges including staff changes, budget crises, weather and other assaults, as well as intense personal hurdles."

    The change comes at a tenuous time for the Fox, which has not yet announced its 33rd season beginning in September. Cultural Services Manager Gary Margolis, Packard's boss, will handle administrative duties while a national job search is conducted to find Packard's replacement. Margolis joined the city a year ago. When he moved to Aurora from San Diego, Packard described him as "Aurora’s No. 1 arts advocate."

    Packard's resignation also comes as the Fox has been enjoying a steady stream of artistic and box-office successes. Last July, the Fox received six Henry Award nominations, including Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company.

    Local actor, director and former Aurora Fox employee Robert Michael Sanders said Packard has been one of the most impactful people in the local theatre community over the past two decades.

    "In his years at the Fox, Charlie set himself and the theatre apart with a simple premise: 'Why not?' " said Sanders. "He set the bar high and brought people up around him."

    Packard, a former president of the Colorado Theatre Guild, joined the Aurora Fox in 1999 as Production Manager and Associate Producer. He is also a multiple award-winning Scenic Designer known for elaborate sets including The Wedding Singer, Xanadu, Something Wicked this This Way Comes, Arabian Nights, K2 and Big Fish. He won the 2014 Henry Award for his design of the water-themed Metamorphoses in the Aurora Fox studio theatre.

    Packard has long been known for openly sharing his talents with theatre companies throughout the metro area including Curious Theatre, Magic Moments and more. His scenic work is currently on display in Curious' The Luckiest People. His boxing-ring design for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a co-production between Curious and Colorado Springs TheatreWorks, was nominated for 2013 True West and Henry awards. He is also an accomplished lighting designer, winning the 2006 Denver Post Ovation Award with Jennifer Orf for Phamaly Theatre Company's The Wiz.

    Read the Aurora Sentinel's 2012 profile on Charles Packard

    Sanders said Packard has been one of the theatre community's strongest advocates for actors' rights. "He has always fought behind the scenes for actors to be paid a decent wage and have health insurance," Sanders said.

    The Aurora Fox was built for $10,000 as an art-deco neighborhood movie theater in 1946. It was renovated in the 1980s as a community arts center with two performing spaces and has become an anchor of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, which stretches along East Colfax Avenue from Clinton Street to Geneva Street. That includes the nearby Vintage Theatre, which also sports two performing spaces less than a half-mile away. For years, city leaders have hoped to turn this iconic stretch of East Colfax Avenue into a cultural destination that might grow surrounding businesses, but the results have been mixed.

    "Charles Packard has been the anchor of the Aurora Cultural Arts District for the better part of a decade," said Vintage Theatre Executive Director Craig Bond. "At the helm of the Aurora Fox he has directed, produced, supported and encouraged various groups of artists to achieve amazing theatrical successes within Aurora. His leadership will be missed within Aurora, but I am sure his amazing staff will continue to support great work within the 80010 zip code."

    Charles Packard The Wedding SingerIn his role at the Fox, Packard has overseen both the 245-seat mainstage theatre and the transformable studio theatre that seats about 90. The Aurora Fox typically produces five shows per year while making its theatres available for many other local theatres to rent. In recent years, Packard has blown open the Fox’s doors to underserved voices and audiences with productions including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics, The Color Purple, Black Elk Speaks, Porgy & Bess and the current Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

    Packard has also steered the Fox through several small controversies over the years. The Fox’s partnership with Ignite Theatre, which staged 31 productions at the Fox, hit a hiccup in 2015 when Aurora city officials said the Fox could no longer present simultaneous shows in its two spaces until the backstage dressing-room space was expanded. That forced Ignite to move or cancel three upcoming productions. And in January, Ignite ceased production

    Charles Packard  Consider the OysterThe Fox garnered much unwanted attention late last month when Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the finale of the current mainstage season, was beset with production problems, culminating with the last-minute decision to cancel the opening weekend of performances out of concern for the safety of the actors. 

    (Pictured above: Charles Packard's curtain speeches have been a staple at the Aurora Fox since 2009. Here: 'Consider the Oyster' in 2013. Photo by John Moore.)

    While numbers for the current season are not complete (Priscilla closes out the season on May 28), 2015-16 was a banner year for Packard and the Aurora Fox. In his blog, Packard reported records for fundraising, ticket revenue and season subscriptions (up an astounding 26 percent over the previous season). “My goal for the year was to be up 10 percent, which in itself was a pretty bold promise to make my board of directors,” Packard told the Aurora Sentinel. “But the increase probably just means that (Aurora Cultural Arts District Managing Director Tracy Weil’s) efforts of image control for the neighborhood have been successful.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Part of Packard’s job was “refining the theater’s financial model,” which proved to be an evolving and ongoing challenge with the city.

    Back on his blog, Packard wrote: “I am very proud of our results this year. We achieved high and quantifiable artistic successes (despite budget cutbacks.) We pushed ourselves as individual artists and stretched the very definition of what it means to be a collaborative arts center. And, we had unprecedented challenges. We’ve had staff changes, budget crises, weather and other assaults as well as intense personal hurdles."

    Beginnings in Michigan summer stock

    Charles Packard MiscastPackard, a Michigan native, said in a 2012 Aurora Sentinel profile that his first gig was working in “the creative chaos of summer-stock festivals after dropping out of Western Michigan University. Packard worked as a stage manager for a musical workshop in New Bedford, Mass., helping to create new works as creative egos clashed and backers pulled out.

    Packard arrived in Colorado in 1997 and quickly found work as a freelance stage manager and designer. His duties at the Fox evolved to season selection, design, administration and a long list of other small jobs necessary for running a theater. He stepped into the executive producer role in early 2009, just after the full effects of the economic collapse of 2008 started to hit the local theater community.

    (Photo at right: Charles Packard showed off his playful side by performing a number from 'La Cage Aux Folles' for Miscast, a 2007 benefit performance. Photo by John Moore.)

    “About every day, I was on the phone with my grandfather and my great aunt, begging for them to tell me stories about the Great Depression,” Packard said, laughing. “I wanted to know — how bad can this get?”

    Aurora Chamber of Commerce Vice President George Peck said of Packard’s hiring in 2009: “Charlie reaches out and creates networks. He understands that arts are not narrowly focused. We were very impressed with Charlie’s facility to wear both of those hats. He still has that very creative side that is necessary to be successful running a theater. But he understands the business aspects as well.”

    Packard's reach into the community often exceeded theater. In 2007, Packard helped with the defense in a gruesome federal death-penalty case. Rudy Sablan, an inmate in the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, was charged with murder for helping his cousin eviscerate a third man in the 7-by-14-foot cell the three shared. Packard was hired to meticulously re-create the jail cell in the U.S. District courtroom.

    “I don’t really care whether the person being defended is a good guy or a bad guy,” Packard said at the time. “I am proud to be part of giving him a rigorous defense.”

    For the Fox season that is ending May 28, Packard adopted the theme “Life on the Margins of Polite Society.” The intent of the season, he wrote on his Fox blog, “was to examine ourselves and the groups we form for safety and comfort. We have reflected on those tight-knit groups of like-minded people we hold dear. Our polite society. We have been introduced to others. To those left on our margins, the different, the foreign, the newcomer. We have seen that those individuals are at the center of their own hard spheres.”

    He signed off, as he often did, “ I will see you at the theater.”

    In today's closing statement, Packard wrote: "No arts organization should become dependent on the presence of any single mind. That is true of The Fox ... Dozens of artists are still here working hard on the 33rd season. Soon a new producer will emerge, and he or she will build on our accomplishments."

    Said Sanders: "Whether it was choosing shows, directing, designing or running the business of theatre, Charlie always asked the same question: 'Does it have heart?'

    "He does."

    An excerpt from Charles Packard’s blog:

    “As arts advocates and administrators we remove obstacles. We deflect worry and distraction from our artists whenever possible. We don’t want them to know how hard it can be. When you have gifted painters living in your community the last thing you want them to worry about is how to buy paint or where to hang their finished work. You want them to create art for all of our benefit. That is my job and the job of other administrators and advocates for The Fox.”

    Note: This report will continue to be updated throughout the day.

    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.
  • Video: 2017 Bobby G Awards welcome montage

    by John Moore | May 22, 2017


    The fifth annual Bobby G Awards, which culminates in a Tony Awards-style ceremony and performance on Thursday, May 25, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, celebrates outstanding achievement in high-school musical theatre in Colorado. This year the program included participation from a record 42 high schools across Colorado, and 30 of those received at least one nomination. That's up nearly double from 16 a year ago. Here's brief a look at all of the participating schools.

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

    Previous coverage of the 2017 Bobby G Awards:
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced


    Photos: A look back at last year's Bobby G Awards:

    2016 Bobby G Awards

    To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. This year's ceremony will be May 25 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

  • Meet the cast: Regina Steffen of 'The Secret Garden'

    by John Moore | May 22, 2017

    Regina Steffen says 'The Secret Garden' 'is for anyone who has ever lost love, or yearned for love, or believes in hope.' Playing through May 28.


    MEET REGINA FERNANDEZ STEFFEN
    Ayah in The Secret Garden, the classic story of the 10-year-old orphan girl doomed to a life of isolation with her uncle in England until she uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden. It plays through May 28 in the Stage Theatre.

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. At Colorado Springs TheatreWorks: Antony and Cleopatra (Charmian). At the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center: The Drowsy Chaperone (Trix). At Theatre Aspen: Avenue Q (Christmas Eve). At Creede Repertory Theatre: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Marcy Park), This Day and Age (Joy). At Merry Go Round Playhouse: Miss Saigon (Yvette). At Seaside Music Theatre: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Helena US/ Ensemble).

    • Regina Steffen. Photo by Adams VisComHometown: Boca Raton, Fla.
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Central Florida Conservatory Program
    • What was the role that changed your life? When I was 5, a cousin was babysitting me while I was visiting family in California. I always was a pretty morbid and morose child - eternally interested in ghost stories and death. Knowing this, my cousin put on the original Broadway cast recording of Les Misérables. The soaring score, the epic story and the escape into different characters’ lives spoke to me, even as a child. I’d stand in my living room and belt out “On My Own” time and time again. Even now, as an adult, whenever I put on the recording of Les Miz, I’m transported back to being that little girl playing Eponine in my living room. I was hooked from then on.
    • Why are you an actor? I believe in art and in the art of storytelling. There’s nothing quite as magical for me than two or more people coming together to share stories. I think it’s amazing how you can be a complete stranger to a person but after exchanging stories, a connection is made. As actors, we have this huge privilege to continue this tradition time and time again.
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? If I am not at the theatre, you’ll most likely find me sitting with a blanket and a really good book. I am a huge fan of English Literature and, in another life, I would like to be an English Literature professor. In high school, I shadowed my senior year English teacher, and she let me grade a couple of papers … I loved it.
    • viola-davis-fencesWho is your ideal scene partner? Viola Davis! Have you seen Fences? She is a force. Or Audra McDonald. She is a true artist in every sense of the word. And she’s won six Tony Awards. ... Six!
    • Why does The Secret Garden matter? This story is for anyone who has ever lost love, or yearned for love, or believes in hope. It’s a story about two broken people and the choice of “coming back to life” after experiencing loss. For Mary, it's her family and everyone she knew back in India. For Archibald, it's the love of his life. It’s that feeling you get when you lose something so precious and so dear to you and you sort of feel stuck. You don’t know what to do. It’s grief. It’s struggle. It’s rebirth. The Secret Garden is a story of hope, and who couldn’t use a little bit of hope nowadays?
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope they can look at the characters and say to themselves, “Yeah. I’ve felt that way.” Or like they’ve opened up their copies of The Secret Garden and the story is right there, next to their heart.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ... human connection." It’s so easy for us to disconnect - to find reasons for derision. It may sound naïve, but in my heart, I wish we could look across the table and see the human sitting across from us and say, “I see you, and you see me. We are different in these ways. And that’s OK."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Secret Garden: Ticket information
    The Secret GardenThe beloved classic blossoms anew in this enchanting musical full of beautiful melodies. When young Mary uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden, she becomes determined to revive the beauty that once flourished.
    Book and lyrics by Marsha Norman; music by Lucy Simon;
    based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

    Through May 28
    Stage Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Previous coverage of The Secret Garden:
    Photos: Marsha Norman visits DCPA's The Secret Garden
    Denver Post
    review: A worthy, family-friendly and satisfying theatrical experience
    Video: How does our Secret Garden grow?
    Photos, video: Your first look at The Secret Garden
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Five things we learned at Perspectives
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    Regina Steffen as Xmas Eve in 'Avenue Q' for Theatre Aspen in 2012.Regina Steffen as Xmas Eve in 'Avenue Q' for Theatre Aspen in 2012.


    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Vandit Bhatt, Disgraced
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Dorien Makhloghi, Disgraced
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Cajardo Lindsey, The Christians
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Zoe Manarel, The Secret Garden
    Robert Montano, Two Degrees
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Benjamin Pelteson, Disgraced
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Kim Staunton, Two Degrees

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • In the Spotlife: Haley Hunsaker of 'Extremities'

    by John Moore | May 20, 2017
    Extremities Funky Little Theatre Company
     


    MEET HALEY HUNSAKER
    Marjorie in Funky Little Theatre Company's 'Extremities,' running through May 28 in Colorado Springs.

  • Extremities Haley Hunsaker QuoteHometown: Pueblo
  • Home now: Colorado Springs
  • College: I’ll be finishing the last year of my undergraduate at The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a performing-arts degree.
  • Twitter-sized bio: I’m back in school after a hiatus to finish my degree. When I’m not at school or the theatre, I’m teaching swimming or enjoying my days with my boyfriend and our two dogs.
  • What's your handle? @haley.hunsaker on Instagram
  • Why are you an actor? It’s fun to take on the persona of anyone from anytime or place. More so, it’s an important job to be a storyteller. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be. 
  • What is Extremities all about? It's about a woman named Marjorie who is attacked and nearly raped in her own home by a man named Raul. She fights back and by some luck turns the tables on her attacker, ties him up and locks him in the fireplace. Once her roommates arrive home and learn what has happened, they must decide what to do with him. This play challenges so many things, two of the most prevalent being the justice system and how far people will go to protect themselves. The play was made into a 1986 film starring Farrah Fawcett and James Russo.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: The biggest challenge for me has been the attack scene. It’s extensive and gritty, I’ve never had to do anything quite like it before. It’s difficult to stay in the scene and maintain some composure without getting too upset about what’s happening. I think I want the scene to be over just as quickly as Marjorie does. 
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Why does this play matter? Extremities was written in the '80s, yet here we are so many years later struggling with the same problems. Sexual assault and stalking are devastating crimes that often go unreported or are handled poorly in a court of law. This play shows the kind of impact and psychological trauma these things have on not only the victim, but everyone involved. 
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Extremities? The target audience for this play is not people who’ve experienced sexual assault or stalking - but rather those who haven’t. Maybe those who don’t feel very strongly about it or just haven’t been affected by it. We hope this play will spark a conversation or, better yet, inspires people to go out and do something about it.
  • Gene WilderIdeal scene partner: I grew up adoring Gene Wilder (pictured right) in all of the Mel Brooks movies, and I think he’d be an absolute trip to work with. He seems like he’d be the type to keep you on your toes, never knowing where the scene will go.
  • What's one thing people might not know about you? I’ve been lucky enough to coach adaptive swimming and work with the Navy Wounded Warrior Team, which coordinates the non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, and provides resources and support to their families.

  • Funky Little Theatre Company's Extremities: Ticket information

    • Written by William Mastrosimone
    • Directed by Grant Langdon
    • Through May 28
    • 2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs MAP IT
    • Tickets $11-$15
    • For tickets or information, go to funkylittletheater.org

    Performance schedule:
    • 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays
    • 4 p.m. Sundays

    Cast list:

    • Haley Hunsaker
    • Desiree Myers
    • Sophie Thunberg
    • Dylan McClintock   

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet the ensemble of Buntport Theater's The Crud
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Emily K. Harrison of She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Heather Lacy of the Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Tamara Meneghini of The Last Testament of Mary
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
    Meet Adriane Wilson of Miners Alley Playhouse's Cabaret

  • Photos: Marsha Norman visits DCPA's 'The Secret Garden'

    by John Moore | May 19, 2017
    'The Secret Garden' in Denver
    Photo gallery: To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.


    Marsha Norman, the Tony Award-winning writer of The Secret Garden, attended the DCPA Theatre Company's performance of the musical on Thursday night at the Stage Theatre. She met with the cast after the show for photos and conversation.

    "It was such a wonderful gift to have Marsha Norman in the audience last night," Director Jenn Thompson said. "I love this beautiful, soulful company. And to share their gifts and labor with our show's author was a dream come true."

    "I'm still reeling," added cast member Regina Steffen. "Marsha Norman is an inspiration."

    The evening also included a reunion between Norman and original Nancy Johnston, who was an original Broadway cast member 25 years ago, and is also performing in the DCPA production.

    Norman, 69, received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play 'night, Mother. She wrote the book and lyrics for such Broadway musicals as The Secret Garden, for which she won a Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical, as well as the libretto for the musical The Color Purple and the book for the musical The Bridges of Madison County. She is co-chair of the playwriting department at The Juilliard School.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Secret Garden: Ticket information
    The Secret GardenThe beloved classic blossoms anew in this enchanting musical full of beautiful melodies. When young Mary uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden, she becomes determined to revive the beauty that once flourished.
    Book and lyrics by Marsha Norman; music by Lucy Simon;
    based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

    Through May 28
    Stage Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Previous coverage of The Secret Garden:
    Jenn Thompson on The Secret Garden as a place to heal
    Video: How does our Secret Garden grow?
    Video, photos: Your first look at The Secret Garden
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Five things we learned at Perspectives
    Meet the cast: Zoe Manarel, who plays Mary Lennox
    Try our downloadable crossword puzzle
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    Marsha Norman. The Secret GardenMarsha Norman, center, with the cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's The Secret Garden' on May 18, 2017.
  • In the Spotlife: Adriane Wilson of 'Cabaret'

    by John Moore | May 19, 2017
    Adriane Wilson
     


    MEET ADRIANE WILSON
    Sally Bowles in Miners Alley Playhouse's Cabaret, opening tonight and running through June 25.

  • Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Home now: Greeley
  • Adriane Wilson Quote 1High school: Aviano American High School in Aviano, Italy
  • College: BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
  • What have you done for us lately? I played Morticia Addams in The Addams Family for the Little Theatre of the Rockies in Greeley
  • Twitter-sized bio: I am a pit-bull rights activist, cheese-lover and Harry Potter enthusiast. I was raised in a military family, so I had the opportunity to live and perform all over the country and overseas. I am happiest when I am cooking, reading and playing with my two handsome puppies.
  • What's your handle? @little.adriane.leigh on Instagram
  • What was the role that changed your life? In all honesty, I think I am playing a life-changing role right now as Sally Bowles. She is such a complex and challenging role to tackle, and our director Len Matheo has truly helped me find a grounded and realized version of her. I have always doubted my abilities as an actor, but working with this cast and team, I have started to gain a new kind of confidence in myself as a performer that will most definitely fuel my performances in the future
  • steve-carell 300Ideal scene partner: Steve Carell. I am an enormous fan of his work. His range is so vast, and he seems like such a friendly person.
  • What is Cabaret all about? This musical explores the horrific reality of the Nazis’ rise to power in 1930s Berlin, and how varying groups of people were affected by the new regime. Some citizens remained blissfully naïve, while others had their lives turned upside down.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: Finding a believable balance between the showman’s persona she wears in public, and the deep, depressive state she regularly finds herself in. Sally also struggles with self-loathing, doubt and addiction. I want to stay far away from playing those traits in a caricatured fashion.   
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? Foremost, I want the audience to enjoy themselves, because the first act is truly a raucous time. The second act, however, should be a wake-up call. History has been known to repeat itself. And as a Jewish woman, that frightens me. This play is a reminder that politics affect us all, no matter how far from home the conflict is taking place.
  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I desperately want to join a Dungeons and Dragons campaign!
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? I think it is absolutely outrageous that there is a ban on Pit Bulls in the city of Denver. I rescued a Pit Bull from a kill shelter three years ago, and it was one of the best things I have ever done. His name is Scott, and he is a total angel. He loves to snuggle, play with his big brother and give kisses. I would love to move to Denver as my career in theatre continues to blossom, but I cannot because of the ban, and I refuse to leave Scotty behind. There is no such thing as a “bad breed” - only people who do bad deeds. These creatures are naturally strong and smart, so cruel people taught them to fight because they were more likely to win, and they looked awfully tough on the end of a leash. The media has taken this image and blown it out of proportion, causing ill-informed people to believe it blindly. Educate yourselves, and adopt a Pit Bull today.

  • Adriane Wilson. Luke Sorge. Adriane Wilson. SARAH ROSHAN PHOTOGRAPHY
    Luke Sorge and Adriane Wilson in Miners Alley Playhouse's 'Cabaret.' Sarah Roshan Photography.

    Miners Alley Playhouse's Cabaret: Ticket information

    • Written by John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics) and Joe Masteroff (Book)
    • Directed by Len Matheo and Mitch Samu (music)
    • Through June 25
    • 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden MAP IT
    • Tickets $18-28
    • For tickets or information, call 303-935-3044 or go to minersalley.com

    Performance schedule:
    • 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
    • 6 p.m. Sundays May 28, June 4, 11 and 18
    • 1 p.m. Sunday, May 21 and June 25

    Cast list:

    • Jim Walker as The Emcee
    • Adriane Wilson as Sally Bowles
    • Luke Sorge as Cliff Bradshaw
    • Tim Fishbaugh as Herr Schultz
    • Kristen Samu as Fräulein Schneider
    • Alaina Beth Reel as Fräulein Kost
    • Rory Pierce as Ernst Ludwig
    • Kit Kat Girls: Steph Holmbo, Kenzie Kilroy, Abbey Kochevar and Kayla Mally
    • Kit Kat Boys: Parker Fowler and Gabe Morales

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet the ensemble of Buntport Theater's The Crud
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Emily K. Harrison of She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Heather Lacy of the Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Tamara Meneghini of The Last Testament of Mary
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas

  • Guest column: Westminster students Skype with 'Curious Incident' Scenic Designer

    by John Moore | May 18, 2017

    Curious Scenic Design Bunny Christie
    'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' Scenic Design by Bunny Christie. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    Students learn first-hand how technology collides with scenic design in the Denver-bound Curious Incident

    By BreAnna Romero
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    On May 15, CenterStage Theatre Company at Westminster High School had the unique opportunity to Skype with Bunny Christie, the scenic designer of the upcoming national touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which opens on May 30 at the Denver Center.

    Bunny, who is from Scotland and attended an art college called Central Saint Martins, was calling in from London. We learned about everything from Bunny’s background to everything that goes into designing a set to all the hard work backstage it takes to make a show come to life.

    Curious Incident Skype Westminster High Bunny ChristieBunny told us that scenic designers in the U.K. sometimes do much more than just design the set. Not only do they have to integrate their work with the lighting and costume designers, they sometimes have to take on those tasks themselves. Bunny also designs costumes for the National Theatre in London. 

    For The Curious Incident, Bunny has created a set that is both interactive and incredibly technical. In this story, technology symbolizes the life of the main character. Christopher is a 15-year-old boy who falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, so he sets out to identify the true culprit. But Christopher is not your typical teenager. His overactive mind isn’t equipped to interpret everyday life normally. Because of Bunny’s imaginative work on the set, we are able to visualize what is going on inside Christopher’s head.

    As I sat in the classroom with Bunny’s face projected in the front of us, I found it interesting to hear how she integrated technology into the production. In rehearsal, the actors were unaware how the technology would play out until they got onto the actual set. Bunny had to work hard to create the pictures in the actors’ heads so they could better understand why the scenes were being staged the way they were.

    BreAnna Romero quoteBunny faces additional challenges when a show she has built to be performed in one theatre then goes out on a national tour, like The Curious Incident. For the tour, she has to build a whole new set from scratch that can travel across the country and play in multiple venues. Because the size of the stage can vary greatly from city to city, she has to make sure that the touring set can fit into each theatre. So essentially, she has to build the touring set so that it will fit into the smallest venue on the road schedule.

    I thought the most interesting part of the Skype call was when Bunny was asked the most difficult part about being a scenic designer. “When you have to get deep inside your head,” she said. “You start off with a blank page, and you have to create an idea. You have a deadline you have to meet, and you have to meet that deadline with work presentable enough to work with. A lot of pressure goes into this job. You have to learn how to be self-sufficient but at the same time, you have to learn how to work with a lot of different people. At times the job is tricky, but the end result is more than worth it.”

    Her advice to young scenic designers: “Get training, and get familiar with all you can in theatre. Learn everything you can and take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Feed your imagination.”

    Speaking with Bunny opened my eyes to the world of a scenic designer. I realized that they deserve more credit than they are usually given. A lot of people might never know all the hard work that goes on backstage before a production is brought to life.

    The world Bunny creates in The Curious Incident is breathtaking. That she would take the time to speak to us from London was much appreciated by all of us Westminster High School. We are looking forward to seeing the show on May 30 at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

    (Editor's Note: The Skype conversation was moderated by DCPA Associate Director of Education Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski, who has been working with the Westminster students all semester as part of a Broadway League Grant.)


    About the Author: BreAnna Romero

    BreAnna Romero fullBreAnna Romero is a 16-year-old student at Westminster High School. Her interest and love for theatre sprouted when she was young, and her love for the arts has never stopped growing. She hopes to pursue a career as a casting director and continuing to devote herself to the arts.  Her teacher at Westminster High School is Andre' Rodriguez.

    About Bunny Christie

    Bunny Christie is a multiple award-winning scenic designer. She works mainly in London but has designed shows all over the U.K., Europe and in the U.S. She has a long relationship with the National Theatre of Great Britain, designing in all their theatre spaces and devising shows at the N.T. Studio. Her work at the NT covers set and costume design for many of the classics and a huge number of new plays. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time began life at the National Theatre, subsequently transferred to the West End to huge acclaim and completed a U.K. tour. The show is currently touring the U.S.

    Video excerpt from Bunny Christie's Skype call:





    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:
    Ticket Information

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeMay 30-June 18
    • The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • ASL, Audio-Described and Open-Captioned performance 2 p.m. June 11


    Previous coverage of
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:
    For Denver actor Gene Gillette, a long road from Curious to The Curious Incident
    A deep dive into a 'Curious' mind and mystery
    Gene Gillette will return to Denver in Curious Incident
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics


    Video: Your first look at The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:


    Selected previous Guest Columns:
    Judy Craymer on the origins of Mamma Mia!
    Douglas Langworthy on 'translating' Shakespeare: First, do no harm
    David Nehls: Live theatre returns to Elitch Gardens after 24 years
    Gillian McNally: Colorado's oldest theatre celebrates Artistic Director Tom McNally
    Margie Lamb on the Henry Awards: Something doesn't add up
    Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
    Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
  • Denver-bound Wolfe and Kantor on five years of 'The Last Five Years'

    by John Moore | May 17, 2017
    The Last Five Years

    Broadway stars Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor will perform the acclaimed musical 'The Last Five Years' as a special one-night concert in the Seawell Ballroom on May 22.


    Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor talk about how a failed love can still produce smarter, stronger, better people  

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe have now known each other for the last five years. And in that time the couple have been married and divorced, backward and forward. Dozens of times, in fact.

    The rising Broadway stars have made extraordinary extracurricular careers out of performing The Last Five Years, Jason Robert Brown’s celebrated and most unusual 2001 musical rumination on his first, failed marriage.

    The show uses an innovative form of storytelling in which the man sings his version of the story in chronological order, while the woman tells hers in reverse order. So the two stories only briefly intersect for their wedding, right in the middle.

    Last Five Years squareIt was a completely unexpected musical for its time, and instantly praised as a modern classic. And in 2013, Kantor and Wolfe breathed new life into the tale when they starred in a record-breaking off-Broadway revival directed by Brown himself. Since then, Kantor and Wolfe have met up for nearly a dozen one-night stands around the country performing a special, stripped-down concert version of the musical. This coming Monday (May 22), the pair will revisit the marriage of Cathy and Jamie in the Denver Center’s Seawell Grand Ballroom.

    “We’re always joking to each other: How many more years do you think we can get away with this before we have to make Jason write The Next Five Years?” said Wolfe, who was talking with the DCPA NewsCenter on a very big day in her life: Her first day of rehearsal in preparation for taking on the lead role in Broadway’s Waitress on June 13.

    Because the two actors essentially take turns singing songs, The Last Five Years is one musical where you might think their chemistry as a couple is not all that essential to the production. But Kantor and Wolfe exude magnetism, even from afar.

    Adam Kantor Quote“We've been best friends now for five years,” said Wolfe. “So not only have we been doing this show together, we have experienced some significant real-life ups and downs together. And I think that just further enriches what we do onstage. After all we have been through, I can't imagine going through this experience with anyone else.”

    Kantor, who recently appeared in a landmark Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof as Motel, says Wolfe has similarly upped his stage game. “She has made me a better actor and a better performer and a better person,” he said.

    Ironically, Kantor says, one of the most common comments the couple receives from audiences has to do with their stage mojo. “When we performed the full production in New York, we were onstage together for a grand total of maybe five minutes,” he said.

    So how can two people communicate that kind of chemistry when they hardly ever interact? “I think it is because the way we rehearsed it,” Kantor said.

    In preparation for off-Broadway, the actors had the unusual opportunity to be directed by the man who wrote the music. Rather than rehearse the two alone, Jason Robert Brown had the actors sing to each other. Even though one actor was always silent, they were reacting to one another. They were playing off each other's energy. So when it came time for the actors to take to the stage and sing alone, they were now essentially playing opposite a real memory. As all of us must do when thinking back on a failed love.

    “I tell you, we each both felt the presence of the other,” Kantor said. “The moments I was performing alone onstage were still very much based on the reactions Betsy gave me in rehearsal. So it's almost like we were playing with the ghost of the other, in a weird way. And the audience feels that energy.”

    Part of the fun in now presenting the story as a concert is that the actors don’t have to disappear from the stage when they aren’t singing. They can just take step back and watch what they never got to see in full performance: They other actor performing.

    “What’s funny is that the staged version is in so many ways, just a slightly enhanced version of a concert anyway, because we are singers take turns,” said Wolfe. “The stage production fills in some of the obvious visual blanks. You know where we are in the story, for example: We are in a bookstore. You can see that. What I personally love about the concert version - and why I actually think it's even more successful at times than the staged production - is that it allows the audience to fill in the blanks for themselves. It's not so black and white. This story is all about the grey areas of a relationship. And not having the sets, the lights or the costumes allows you to go deeper into the relationship."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Video: Listen to Betsy Wolfe sing 'A Summer in Ohio'




    Kantor feels it, too. “I do think there is something energetically unique about having the two of us onstage throughout the concert, versus in the full production,” he said. “There is more of an awareness of the presence of the other. In concert, we are able to play with each other a little bit more in the moments when Cathy and Jamey might actually be together onstage.”

    One reason The Last Five Years’ enduring success is still somewhat surprising is that audiences go into it, even on first viewing, knowing the end of the story. So why should we care about a couple that we know from the start isn’t going to make it?

    “It’s true,” Kantor said, “Cathy and Jamie are two people who fundamentally weren't meant to be in a forever relationship. There is a crack in the foundation, and I think that just makes it all the more tragic. Because despite that, I do believe they made each other better people. They made each other smarter and stronger. I think that’s why it’s so relatable. How many of us have been in a relationship that was filled with love, that was filled with dreams of perfection and infinity, but didn't come to fruition the way we thought it would?”

    Which leaves only one big and oft-debated question over these last 15 years of The Last Five Years: Why Brown decided to tell his story with the two narrators swinging from two opposing pendulums of time.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Audiences might look at that as courageous and unconventional,” said Wolfe. “But if you ask Jason, he will tell you that it was the only way that it could be done.”  

    Betsy Wolfe QuoteKantor thinks Brown’s approach gets at something essential about the way we experience time. “Whenever you are looking at a memory,” he said, “there are so many angles in. Here, he is giving us two ways in.”

    In their initial rehearsals, when Wolfe and Kantor were first exploring these fated characters, they both thought it would be a bright idea to rehearse the story in chronological order, just to see how that felt. Brown just smiled. When The Last Five Years bowed off-Broadway back in 2002, stars Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott also thought that might be a useful exercise.

    “But it was completely unhelpful,” Wolfe said. “Because when you look back at a relationship and it comes across as, 'OK, well this happened, and then this happened,' then it's just the blame game. If you see what each person is feeling at the same time, I think it's too easy to pick sides. Better to explore the relationship as a big picture instead of with a magnifying glass. You just can't tell this story any other way.”

    Wolfe says these special one-off concerts tend to draw first-timers and 50-timers alike. But she’s not sure how many years The Last Five Years has left.

    Adam and I are very proud of our history with this show,” said Wolfe. “I like to think we are giving you a show that will make aficionados proud and will make huge new fans of this show as well. But I don't know how many more times we'll get to do it. Our schedules have gotten busier. At some point, the time will come to say, ‘OK, I think we're good.' One of the biggest compliments we get is when people say, ‘I knew I should have gone, and I am devastated that I missed it.’ ”

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

      

    The Last Five Years in concert starring Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe

    Last Five Years Kantor WolfeAbout the show: Adam Kantor (Fiddler of the Roof, RENT and Next to Normal on Broadway, Avenue Q off Broadway) and Betsy Wolfe (Falsettos, Bullets Over Broadway and The Mystery of Edwin Drood on Broadway) star in The Last Five Years in Concert. This intimate musical by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Songs for a New World, Honeymoon in Vegas, The Bridges of Madison County) chronicles the five-year relationship between two New Yorkers, struggling actress Cathy and promising writer Jamie, from their first meeting to their last goodbye. The Last Five Years is a powerful and personal look at marriage told from both points of view – Jamie’s story begins at the first meeting and follows through to the couple’s ultimate breakup, while Cathy relates the story in reverse, from falling out of love back to the first spark of romance. This innovative storytelling structure makes for a show nearly entirely comprised of solo songs, with the actors meeting just once in the middle of the show in a duet.
    • May 22
    • Seawell Grand Ballroom
    • Tickets start at $45
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – online at DenverCenter.Org – is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for The Last Five Years in Denver. Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center.


    Video: A message to Denver from Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe


    Interview bonus: More with Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe

    John Moore: I have to ask you about some of you your other projects: Betsy, you appeared in The Mystery of Edwin Drood opposite Chita Rivera.

    Betsy Wolfe: Every night. I had played Princess Puffer in a college production. So when I first got called in for the Broadway Edwin Drood, silly me, I just assumed, 'Oh, they want to see me for Princess Puffer.” And they are like, “No, Betsy. Chita Rivera is playing Princess Puffer.” And I thought, “Oh yeah, - that's right. I'm in the real world now.” So I played Rosa Bud and Miss Deirdre Peregrine. And that was pretty thrilling. Every night, Chita sang the second-to-last song, and she sang it right to me. She’s reminiscing about her life and how some things went right and some things went wrong. And of course as much as I am trying to be 100 percent in character, I am sitting there going, "Chita Rivera is singing to me at 80 years old about her life.” I'll never forget it. It's ingrained in my memory.

    John Moore: And Adam, you just appeared in a wildly received production of Fiddler on the Roof.

    Adam Kantor: Yes. Fiddler on the Roof was the first show that I ever did, when I was in 6th grade. That was a school production. I played Mendel, the Rabbi's son. And then two years later, in 8th grade, I played Tevye. That was community theatre. So the show lives in my bones and in my blood on multiple levels. Going deeper, I am a descendant of Jewish immigrants. To do some prep for the show, I did a big trip through Eastern Europe and traced my ancestry. The whole journey from my preparation through this really gorgeous production really was like an excavation of the soul. I learned a lot about myself, and my roots. I just loved doing it. I am really grateful for it.

    John Moore: And Betsy, next you will be taking over the lead role in Waitress on Broadway. The national tour comes to Denver in December. What are we in for?

    Betsy Wolfe WaitressBetsy Wolfe: I'll say this - and you can't say this about all shows: It is pure joy from start to finish. And I mean joy in every sense of the word. It's joyous to watch this woman who is so broken find her footing, because we are all that person in a way. And so few females are written like this now, where we get to see them have this incredible journey. It's a huge gift to get to play this role, in same way that The Last Five Years is a gift. It's also just funny. I remember seeing one of the first preview performances as an audience member, and my stomach hurt because I was laughing so hard. These characters are outrageous and yet … they are us. There is a part of them in everyone. You can't leave this show without feeling better about decisions you have made. And the music is incredible. Sara Bareilles has written one of the most incredible scores I’ve ever heard.

    (Photo above: Betsy Wolfe and writer and actor Sara Bareilles recently appeared together on 'Good Morning America.') 

  • In the Spotlife: Buntport Theater ensemble in 'The Crud'

    by John Moore | May 17, 2017
    Buntport-From-The-Hip-Photo
     


    MEET THE BUNTPORT THEATER ENSEMBLE
    Buntport Theater Company — Brian Colonna, Hannah Duggan, Erik Edborg, Erin Rollman and Samantha Schmitz — is a wee group of theater-making humans who have been making new stuff together for 17 years. "We work collaboratively — without officially designated writers, directors, designers or janitors," says ... well, one of them. "We do all the stuff. Because we love it." Buntport's "new stuff’ is often based on "old stuff." "We are not delusional about our place in history," says ... (who can ever know?) "We are ever grateful to the hundreds and hundreds of people who inspire us — and we steal from."

  • Buntport QuoteHometown: Buntport was “born” in Colorado Springs, but we made our home in Denver
  • College: We formed while a couple of members were still students at Colorado College
  • What have you done for us lately? The Zeus Problem was a needling of the new regime in Washington, D.C., through a script based loosely on Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound.
  • Twitter-sized bio: This “band” has stayed together for 17 years. We are wondering when we are going to break up so we can move into the “reunion tour” portion of our group career.
  • Web site: buntport.com
  • What's your handle? @buntport on Twitter and Instagram
  • What was the role that changed your life? We played Chip, Enid, Barb and the Professor in Quixote, Buntport’s first creation. That was the start of what has become a career — and a large dysfunctional family.
  • Buntport FullIdeal scene partner: We would like to work with our celebrity doppelgängers. Here are the celebrities we have most often been told we remind people of: Brian: John Belushi (or Jim Belushi in Red Heat); Erin: Rowan Atkinson; Hannah: Tina Yothers; Erik: Jim Carrey. Really, we’d like to just re-cast one of our shows with the above actors and watch the crap out of it.
  • What is The Crud all about? The crud on your floor and the crud in your head and the crud in the world. The crud.
  • Tell is about the challenge of playing these roles. This production was inspired by the stuff we bought in an abandoned unit at a storage auction. The objects told a story about the person who previously owned them. Our challenge was to imbue them with a new life. Some days that was easier than others.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing this play? We don’t have one specific takeaway, but, as always, we hope the audience will meet us halfway. Hopefully one of the themes that runs through it — about the nature of memory, the transience of "having," our relationship to technology, our need for play and fantasy — strikes a chord with viewers.
  • What's one thing most people don't know about you? Long ago, we were hired (as a group) to perform in short musical videos to be aired at an awards ceremony for a giant pharmaceutical company. It keeps us up at night. (But the footage we have is one of our most prized possessions.) 
  • What’s one thing you want to get off your chest? We are passionate about not letting Sam answer any of these questions, even though she has been a part of the company for its entire history. But the rest of us are actors and voraciously take center stage, even in a written interview like this one. (Note: Sam says she is not too keen to hear that in Season 8 of The Great British Bake Off, new hosts are introduced.) (Note on the note: Please ignore the last note. We don’t know how Sam managed to sneak it in here!) 

  • Buntport Theater The Crud
    Brian Colonna in Buntport Theater's 'The Crud.' Photo courtesy Buntport Theater.


    Buntport Theater's The Crud: Ticket information

    • Written, directed and performed by Ensemble
    • May 19-June 10
    • 717 Lipan Street MAP IT
    • Performances 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays May 28 and June 4; one Monday performance at 8 p.m. June 5
    • Tickets $15-20 ($25 on opening night, with reception)
    • For tickets or information, call 720-946-1388 or go to buntport.com

    Cast list:

    • Brian Colonna, Hannah Duggan, Erik Edborg, Erin Rollman and Samantha Schmitz (off-stage). They play Broken Baby Doll Detective, Dear Deer, Barely Bear and “I have no name.”

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Emily K. Harrison of She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Heather Lacy of the Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Tamara Meneghini of The Last Testament of Mary
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas

  • Dear Evan Hansen, You will be found ... in Denver

    by John Moore | May 16, 2017
    Dear-Evan-Hansen-You-Will-Be-Found-4645-Photo-Credit-Matthew-Murphy 800Director Michael Greif says 'Dear Evan Hansen' 'is going to give people the opportunity to talk about some really important and healing things.' Photo by Matthew Murphy

    The Denver Center will launch the acclaimed
    new musical’s first national tour in October 2018

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Dear Evan Hansen, one of the most celebrated musicals of the current Broadway season, will launch its first national touring production in Denver in October 2018, it was just announced, continuing a trend that has recently included Denver premieres of If/Then, Pippin and The Book of Mormon.

    Dear Evan Hansen, which is nominated for nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, is the story of a lonely boy who perpetuates a lie that earns him Internet fame. Director Michael Greif, who also helmed the groundbreaking musicals Rent and Next to Normal, says Dear Evan Hansen “is a cathartic story about a kid who comes to love himself. And it's about a grieving family that gets healed.”

    And Greif could not be happier that the show’s hopeful message will be going out into the heartland, starting in Denver.

    Michael Greif quote“This show has such a beautiful and generous and important message,” Greif said in an exclusive interview with the DCPA NewsCenter. “I am thrilled that the universal appeal of this story is going to continue to touch and move people throughout the country. It’s going to give people the opportunity to talk about some really important and healing things, and I can’t wait to share that with as many people as possible.”

    Dear Evan Hansen, which will open DCPA Broadway’s 2018-19 season in the Buell Theatre, was greeted by overwhelming critical and box-office success when it opened in December. The New York Times called it “a gorgeous heartbreaker of a musical for anyone with a beating heart.” The Washington Post called it historic.

    The plot turns when a misunderstanding over a teenager’s death inadvertently turns Evan into a social-media celebrity. Greif says he knew the unlikely story would work on a Broadway stage before he even finished reading the earliest draft of Obie Award-winner Steven Levenson’s script. The score is written by the songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who just won Academy Awards for La La Land.

    “I knew right away - which I don't often say, and I don't often believe,” said Greif. “As soon as I got to talk to these three brilliant writers, I knew that this was a very special project. I knew it because of the incredible, complicated way they were going at this material. I just think it's so smart and beautifully crafted. I love it because the real theme of the play is not lying or fabrication - it's actually generosity."

    The score is built around a celebrated anthem called “You Will Be Found.” And as was the case when he directed Rent and Next to Normal, Grief is being reminded nightly of live theatre’s power to save lives.

    “It’s really unbelievable what we are hearing from kids and from parents and from families in crisis,” Greif said. “They are telling us that they are seen. They are telling us that things they didn't feel they could talk about – yes, they can talk about them. They are telling us that the redemption and the catharsis and the forgiveness in Dear Evan Hansen is helping them to get through whatever they are going through, and to forgive and to accept themselves.

    “Evan coming to terms with himself in our story is a proxy for our audiences being able to come to terms with their own issues."

    Listen to the anthem 'You Will Be Found'

    The Associate Director of Dear Evan Hansen is Adrienne Campbell-Holt, who last year directed the world premiere of the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck. The producer is Stacey Mindich.

    DEH-Mike-Faist-Ben-Platt-0104-Photo-Credit-Matthew-Murphy 800The original Broadway cast recording of Dear Evan Hansen was released on Atlantic Records in February 2017 with the highest Billboard Chart debut of any cast recording in the past 50 years. 

    This is just the latest coup for Denver, which is quickly rising among the country's elite touring cities.

    “I am thrilled and honored the Dear Evan Hansen team has chosen Denver for their upcoming tour launch," said John Ekeberg, Executive Director for DCPA Broadway. "Bringing new voices and artistically powerful work to the stage is a primary goal of the DCPA, and this compelling new musical embodies all of these qualities and more.” 

    Information regarding on-sale dates and tickets will be announced at a later time. To sign up to receive alerts, click here or visit DearEvanHansen.com. Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – will be the only authorized ticket provider for Dear Evan Hansen tickets in Denver.

    (Pictured above and right: Mike Faist, left, and Ben Platt from the original Broadway company of 'Dear Evan Hansen.' Photo by Matthew Murphy.)

    Here's more from John Moore’s interview with Michael Greif:

    John Moore: Do you think we've ever seen a protagonist quite like Evan Hansen in a Broadway musical before?

    Michael Greif: When I first met this play and started to get to know it, it felt like we were doing the Natalie and Henry story from Next to Normal. It was really profound for me to be able to think, ‘Oh, what's so wonderful here is that the focus has shifted, and this here is a musical about Henry.’

    John Moore: I think with the advent of social media, we have created a generation of teenagers who are both more connected and more isolated than ever before. Now that you have been through this experience, what do you think are the pros and cons of growing up in the world of today’s social media?

    Justin Paul, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek - Photo Credit Jenny Anderson 800Michael Greif: I have a 22-year-old and an 18-year-old, so I have really watched it through the eyes of a parent, which has been very helpful in developing this musical with these three fantastic writers. What's remarkable about our story is how organically the role of social media informs both plot and characters. This particular story could only take place because the mechanism of Evan's fame is so credible to us in this moment. The germ of Benj's original idea had to do with how one high-school kid's identity changes through the various things that people say about him on social media. From the very beginning, the interaction of a very domestic plot in relation to access to the bigger world has always been a really, really important part of this musical. Like everything, my thoughts about social media relate to monitoring and understanding. It would be backward and conservative and wrong for me to say that it's not wonderful to be able to be in touch with the world the way social media allows us today. It's spectacular to have that kind of access to the rest of the world.

    (Pictured above, from left: 'Dear Evan Hansen' writers Justin Paul, Steven Levenson and Benj Pasek. Photo by Jenny Anderson.)

    John Moore: Why are you particularly attracted to the kind of theatre like Rent, Next to Normal and Dear Evan Hansen that can have such a profound impaMichael Greif quotect on the lives of their audiences, as opposed to the safer escapism of other musicals? 

    Michael Greif: I think everyone is attracted to great stories. I am really fortunate that I have some sort of a track record, so that I actually get the opportunities to work on these kinds of projects. The opportunity to recognize yourself, or someone you know, or some of the pain or struggles that you feel or have felt, in someone else’s acting, is both powerful and profound. And I think all three of those terrific musicals you mentioned share that. All three have incredible music and compelling characters and great stories. But what I think Dear Evan Hansen has that Next to Normal and Rent do not is an extraordinary duality. You are able to completely give your heart over to Evan and to the grieving Murphy family. And at the same time, your mind is racing because there is this whole other level of mistrust about the whole thing. So while your heart is feeling one thing, your head is feeling another. I think that’s just remarkable.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Are you watching 13 Reasons Why, which also addresses similar issues?

    Michael Greif: Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal, If/Then) wrote that, and so I am very interested in it, but I have not yet had the opportunity to watch it. I have a great regard for Brian Yorkey, as you know, and I am excited to be able to dive into that series when I have a little more time.

    John Moore: Speaking of If/Then, which also began its national tour in Denver, what are your thoughts about Denver as the launch pad for Broadway touring productions?

    Michael Greif: I am looking forward to spending time in Denver again because I had such a wonderful time there with If/Then. It's a great walking town, and that is fantastic for me. The audiences are open and interested and interesting, so I think Denver is a wonderful place to launch it.

    John Moore: Several years ago, producer David Stone told me it was the encouragement he got from late Denver Center Broadway President Randy Weeks that even got him thinking that a national touring production of Next to Normal might work.

    Video: Watch the NBC News report on Dear Evan Hansen

    Michael Greif: I know that there was the concern about touring that show. I feel so happy about the great success of that tour. I think the Fun Home tour also tells us that these are great stories and people around the country are hungry for them. I think it's wonderful when you can really integrate the play-going and the musical-going audiences. I don't think they should be two different kinds of audiences. I always love it when people who say, 'I generally prefer plays,' get so much out of musicals like Dear Evan Hansen and Rent and Next to Normal.

    John Moore: Speaking of Rent, the 20th anniversary tour is also coming to Denver, in November. After two decades, do you feel this is now a nostalgia piece for the original fans, or can Rent still be a musical for the Dear Evan Hansen generation?

    Michael Greif: It's certainly a wonderful opportunity for a new generation of people who love Dear Evan Hansen to see an ancestor. I think Rent remains profound because it's a musical about a group of people who learn to take care of one another.  And they have seen both the cost and the reward of taking care of one another.


    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.


    Video: Dear Evan Hansen:



    Ben Platt and Laura Dreyfuss from the original Broadway company perform 'Waving Through a Window' on 'Late Night with Seth Meyers.'

    Dear Evan Hansen: Denver information

    UntitledOctober 2018
    • The Buell Theatre
    • Tickets: An on-sale date will be announced at a later time. For more information, 303-893-4100 or sign up for EMAIL ALERTS
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Dear Evan Hansen: Creative team

    • Book by Steven Levenson
    • Score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

    • Directed by Michael Greif
    • Music direction by Ben Cohn
    • Choreography by Danny Mefford
    • Scenic design by David Korins
    • Lighting design by Japhy Weideman
    • Costume design by Emily Rebholz
    • Sound design by Nevin Steinberg
    • Projection design by Peter Nigrini
    • Hair design by David Brian Brown
    • Music supervision, orchestrations and additional arrangements by Alex Lacamoire
    • Vocal arrangements and additional arrangements by Justin Paul




  • For Colorado's Gene Gillette, it is morning in America

    by John Moore | May 15, 2017

    Gene Gillette, left, returns to Denver next week with Adam Langdon in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.' Photo by Joan Marcus.


    He lost his mother at 5, beat cancer at 40, and now returns home in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    It was the culminating day of his acting career. It was last August, and Denver actor Gene Gillette was sitting at a table in New York reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the opening rehearsal for the first national touring production of the National Theatre of Britain’s acclaimed, Tony Award-winning play. And as the actors came to the end of the story … Gillette broke into tears.

    “Something about this troubled kid who has lost his mother,” Gillette said, his voice trailing off. “I just started bawling.”

    Probably because he can so easily relate.

    Gillette plays Ed, the father of a 15-year-old boy named Christopher who lost his mother two years earlier. Gillette’s mother died of breast cancer when he was 5.

    “When you lose your mother, you have no emotional anchor in your life,” Gillette said in advance of his return to Denver in The Curious Incident, which opens May 30 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. “My father always tried to be there for me. But a father is just a different kind of anchor than a mother.”

    In the stage story, Christopher is an exceptionally intelligent boy, but his overactive mind is ill-equipped to interpret everyday life normally. Gillette can palpably understand a boy who is exploding to get out of his own head.

    To say an adolescent Gillette was a bit of a trouble-maker is grossly inadequate. To say he had trouble in school, to say he had run-ins with the law, to say was a bit of a hothead – it’s all grossly inadequate. A young Gene Gillette could have ended up dead or in jail, several times over. But somehow he made it through, he said, largely through the interjection of protectors ranging from teachers to his father to his future wife. That and the safe haven he found in Denver theatre community.

    But it has been a very long road from Denver’s Curious Theatre to the national touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. One that recently included three weeks in a life-threatening coma.

    An incomprehensible loss

    Gillette was born in Evergreen in 1974 and moved with his father and sister to Franktown after his mother died. His father, then a paper salesman, struggled with how to help his children cope. In eighth grade, Gene was sent to a school for kids with special problems. There were stints in both rehab and a mental hospital. Doctors believe it was all a natural response to the boy losing his mother.

    Gene GilletteGillette attended three area high schools, but never fit in at any of them. “I actually did really well in school,” he said, “but there were a myriad of ways I found to get into trouble back then.” At Denver Academy, at just 15, he was jumped by three older students on the football team at prom. He dropped out of Douglas County High School during his junior year but, after several years adrift, he earned his high-school G.E.D.

    His life started to turn around when he made his way to Denver to explore the local theatre community. “There were times I didn’t have an address, but I always had a roof over my head,” he said, “usually crashing on people’s couches.”

    People say that theatre saves lives ... and sometimes they are being overdramatic when they say it. Gillette is not.

    “I absolutely believe that theatre saved my life,” he said. “It's so stupid and cliché to say it, but the way I was going, I didn't think there was any way I would make it to 30.”

    Theatre was his lifeline, starting back in the fourth grade when he playeGene Gillette Raind the troll in Billy Goat's Gruff. Later, as his life was imploding at Ponderosa High School, Gillette remembers a teacher named Mrs. Smith showing him the movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Marlon Brando. “That’s when I really, really got into theatre,” he said. “Everything about that guy, man: Stanley Kowalski. On the Waterfront. The Godfather. Apocalypse Now. Those are monumental transformations. That’s the kind of acting I dream about doing – the stuff that touches your soul.”

    Fitting, because critics have observed a young Brando quality to Gillette’s work from the start – the good, the sexy, and the scorching. One of his first roles in Denver was in Separate Tables at the South Suburban Theatre in Littleton. “I was actually surprised to learn that he was under 21, because his height and carriage at his audition were so mature and elegant,” said his director, Jeremy Cole. That was followed by a production of Macbeth, again directed by Cole. “Gene had multiple roles,” Cole said, “including – notably – a murderer.”

    (Photo at right: A young Gene Gillette with Kathryn Gray in Curious Theatre's 'Praying for Rain' in Denver in 2000.)

    Like Brando, a young Gillette was wild, untrained and had a short fuse. During intermission of the final performance, Cole went backstage and criticized him for the way he was grabbing the woman playing Banquo. After the show, there was a confrontation, “and I had to be dragged off of him,” Gillette said.

    “Gene and I both learned lessons from that, I think,” said Cole, who remains friends with Gillette and will be seeing The Curious Incident in Denver.

    But the raw performance was riveting. Future Curious Theatre founder Chip Walton, then a PhD student at the University of Colorado, saw Macbeth and quickly cast Gillette in his first leading role, in Saved at the LIDA Project warehouse. Walton then convinced theatre professor Sean Kelley to help Gillette enroll at CU-Boulder to study theatre.

    Gene Gillette. Coyote on a Fence. Gillette then headed for New York, but a violent confrontation during a holiday trip home changed the course of his life. Gillette was ordered to return to Colorado to serve a house arrest. Here, he was cast as the lead in Hamlet at the Denver Civic Theatre (now Su Teatro), followed by the play that landed him on the Denver theatre map – Curious Theatre’s Coyote on a Fence (pictured at right). Gillette chillingly portrayed Bobby Reyburn, an uneducated hick awaiting the death penalty for killing three African-American girls in a church fire. The play opened three days after the 9/11 attacks. Gillette won the Denver Post Ovation Award for Best Actor.

    “That was a life-changing event for me,” Gillette said. “That play was all about revenge. An eye for an eye: Is that the path that you want to take in life, either as a community or as an individual? Those are subjects we were dealing with a lot back then – and we still are now.”

    Gene Gillette wifeGillette credits two people for turning his life around: One is his wife, Laura Tesman, a theatre professor at Brooklyn College who has been by Gillette’s side for 19 years. “She's a huge rock in my life,” Gillette said. “She knows who I am and where I come from. She's everything to me, man.”

    The other is Walton, who most recently cast Gillette at Curious in The Lieutenant of Inishmore in 2008. Westword’s Juliet Wittman called that black Irish comedy “a crazed, cathartic bloodbath of a play dominated by scenes of torture, murder and dismemberment.” She called Gillette’s performance as a psychopathic soldier “mesmerizing, steely and scary.”  

    “Curious is my home,” Gillette said. “Chip's like my older brother. He's my mentor. He's the guy I look up to most of all.”

    Gillette went on to seminal roles in Denver and around the country, notably as John Proctor in the Arvada Center’s The Crucible. His life, through the benevolence of passing time, has normalized. He was happily married in 2014 when he was asked to join the national touring production of War Horse, the National Theatre’s epic story of another 15-year-old boy whose horse is sold into the military by his father (Gillette) to aid in Britain’s World War I effort.

    “Knowing that a place like the National Theatre of Great Britain believed in me enough to cast me in a play like that, in a principal role, just really validated my life choices,” Gillette said. “It told me, ‘You didn't totally screw up.’ ”

    Cancer calls a cold timeout

    But his biggest battle was just around the corner. The War Horse tour was on a brief break before a scheduled closing visit to Japan in the summer of 2015. But Gillette wasn’t feeling right. After three weeks, he visited a doctor who diagnosed him with an aggressive form of testicular cancer.

    “My mother died of cancer when she was 35 so, yeah, it's just terrifying, man. Just terrifying,” said Gillette. “I found out I had cancer, turned 40 and lost the best job I ever had – all within two weeks.”

    (Story continues below the photo gallery.)

    Photo gallery: Gene Gillette through the years:

    Gene Gillette: A look back

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Rather than go to Japan, Gillette had surgery to remove the tumor and his lymph nodes. In true Gillette fashion, he said, “I guess that I was kind of fighting people when I came out of surgery – so they put me back under.” Doctors put him on the drug propofol, which slows brain activity and the nervous system. But while he was under sedation, Gillette developed pneumonia and slipped into a coma. A pulmonary embolism formed in his lung, and blood clots in his legs. He credits his wife for saving his life – again – when she demanded that doctors take him off the propofol.

    Gene GilletteAfter three weeks in the coma, he came to. By then he had lost 45 pounds and was down to a rail-thin 137. When he woke up, the first person he called was his father.

    “I think I've heard my dad cry maybe two times in my life, and one of them was when I called him after waking up from three weeks in a coma,” Gillette said.

    He said his curious, near-death incident had a profound effect on his outlook, his demeanor, and his relationship with loved ones.

    “I just don't let stuff get to me as much as I used to,” Gillette said, before backtracking. “OK, I still let things get to me – because I am still me. But I just don't take things for granted. I really like the life I have. I love my wife. I love the career that I have. I don't want to die anytime soon, man. I really want to live life as much as possible.”  

    Gillette does not think it is a coincidence that every audition he has gone after since the coma has resulted in either a callback – or a job. “This whole thing was a call to action,” he said. “I'm done (bleeping) around. This is what I want to do with my life.”

    One of the jobs he went after – and landed – was in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. As Gillette was recovering from his cancer scare, he found out the play, written by Simon Stephens and adapted from Mark Haddon’s best-selling 2003 novel, was forming a national tour.

    The story begins with young Christopher falling under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog. The boy then sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery. Gillette auditioned for the role of the father, Ed, in New York City – and got it. Gillette says if Ed were a real person, the two would probably be good friends.

    (Pictured at right: Gene Gillette with his father at the tour opening of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.)

    “Ed is a guy you would want to watch a football game with,” Gillette said. “He’s a good dude. He runs his own company. He has a son with an extraordinary skill set and some special needs. He’s got a lot of weight on his shoulders, but he’s doing the best he can.”

    One of the hardest parts about playing Christopher’s father, he said, is the fact that the boy doesn't like to be touched. “That is very difficult for a parent, not being able to touch your own son,” he said. “Christopher doesn't have any friends at school. He talks a lot about enjoying being alone and how amazing it would be to be an astronaut and see the Milky Way. He just has a very bittersweet outlook on life.”

    Gene Gillette QuoteAnd while Christopher’s story and Gillette’s own are very different, he recognizes commonalities: A difficulty conforming, living on the fringes, not behaving the way that society deems normal. But to play the role of Ed, Gillette looked more to his own father for inspiration.

    “When I look at what my dad had to deal with from me as his son – it was a lot,” Gillette said. “I think Ed loves his son as much as my dad loves me. I think they both were dealt a really hard hand with the mother dying so young, and his son having the special needs that he has.”

    You may recall Gillette saying he has only heard his dad cry twice. He thinks the third time might happen on May 30, when Gene takes the stage at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver.

    “Our relationship is great now,” he said. “I realize now how hard my dad had to work after my mom died, and I know that he did the best that he could to take care of us. I think it's going to mean a lot to him to be there on opening night in Denver.”

    He knows what it will mean to him.

    “It’s going to be a dream realized,” he said. "I have never worked at the Denver Center. That’s the crown jewel in my head. That's THE spot. It's going to be huge for me. I cannot wait.”

    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.


    Video: Your first look at The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time



    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:
    Ticket Information

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeMay 30-June 18
    • The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • ASL, Audio-Described and Open-Captioned performance 2 p.m. June 11


    Previous coverage of
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:
    A deep dive into a 'Curious' mind and mystery
    Gene Gillette will return to Denver in Curious Incident
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics


    Video bonus: Our 2011 interview with Laura Tesman and Gene Gillette:

    Gillette and Tesman discuss 'Bound,' an adaptation of the Prometheus and Pandora myths (and more) which they co-wrote. He starred; she directed.
  • 'The Illusionists,' and why we love to be fooled

    by John Moore | May 10, 2017
    The Illusionists Dan SperryDon't be fooled: No birds are harmed during Dan Sperry's performance in 'The Illusionists.' 


    'Magic is back,' says the director, 'and I think we were a big part of bringing it back and making it cool again.'


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Illusionists – Live from Broadway is a sophisticated variety show that gives seven of the greatest magicians in the world 10 minutes each to blow your mind. Then, on to the next.

    “Most of our audiences love all seven of them,” says Director Neil Dorward. But should you not care for one, just blink and another will appear before your very eyes. The ensemble includes an escape artist, a mentalist, a daredevil and a deductionist.

    The Illusionists, coming to Denver's Ellie Caulkins Opera House from May 19-21, is brought to you by the same creative team that surprised Denver with the thrilling aerial spectacle Circus 1903 in February. The Illusionists was (and remains) a simple performance concept that Dorward and Creative Producer Simon Painter modestly launched five years ago as a two-week run at the Sydney Opera House. It has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon that has played on Broadway and now has three current touring productions traveling the world, with stops including Canada and Russia.

    There is just something we humans universally love about being fooled, Painter said. “That goes back to childhood,” he said, “that lovely age of innocence.”

    But why do we so love to be fooled? That’s a bit like saying, “Why does a kid like Christmas?” Painter said. Both require a certain suspension of disbelief – and a healthy belief in magic.

    “Our show is not really about figuring out, 'Is it real or not real?’ ” he said. “It's magic as an entertainment piece, as opposed to magic to move the Statue of Liberty from one place to another. There are things that people do in our show that are unbelievably remarkable. You won't believe what you are seeing on stage.”

    The Illusionists Kevin James. Photo by Joan Marcus. You might not realize this, Dorward said, but magic – much like the circus - started to go out of fashion in the 1980s and ‘90s. “But magic is back,” Dorward said, “and I think we were a big part of bringing it back and making it cool again.”

    They achieved that that, he said, by not taking magic too seriously. 

    “This show has got lots of humor,” Dorward said. “We have some hysterically funny magicians, and some beautiful magicians.”

    While the Denver lineup is subject to change, Dorward called out South Korea’s World Magic Champion An Ha Lim, otherwise known as “The Manipulator,” and "shock Illusionist" Dan Sperry, who is described as Marilyn Manson meets David Copperfield. Sperry bills himself as "The Anti-Conjuror," whose website is draped with the tagline: "Magic No Longer Sucks." Broadway World called Sperry the cynical Alice Cooper of magic: Totally icky, yet totally awesome at the same time.” But audiences are in on the joke: "He has audiences laughing and shuddering in equal measure," said the West Australian News.

    (Pictured above and right: 'The Inventor,' Kevin James. Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    “I would just bring your whole family out to the show,” Painter said. “It is highly entertaining. It’s lots of fun, lots of laughter and lots astonishing 'wows.’ You will be definitely fooled. So come along.”

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

    The Illusionists Live from Broadway: Ticket information
    The Illusionists – Live From BroadwayThe story: This mind blowing spectacular showcases the jaw dropping talents of seven of the most incredible Illusionists on earth.  This non-stop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions.
    • May 19-21
    • Note: Newly added special family performance at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 20
    • The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    • Tickets start at $30: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829


    The Illusionists: Ben Blaque the Weapon Master
    'The Illusionists': Ben Blaque is 'The Weapon Master.'

  • May 2017: Crossword puzzle and solution

    by John Moore | May 10, 2017
    With each new issue of Applause Magazine, we offer readers a crossword puzzle related to our current shows. Here is the most recent puzzle, covering Mamma Mia!, The Secret Garden, The Illusionists – Live From Broadway and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

    The solution is posted below. Print and play! CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE PUZZLE WITH THE SOLUTION!

    Crossword Puzzle_Applause 7 1Crossword Puzzle_Applause 7 2Crossword Puzzle_Applause 7 3Crossword Puzzle_Applause 7 4

    Recent previous downloadable puzzles:

    An American in Paris, Kinky Boots, Hal Holbrook Tonight and Disgraced DOWNLOAD

    Fun Home, The Book of Will, The Christians and Two Degrees DOWNLOAD

    Jersey Boys, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Finding Neverland, A Christmas Carol and The Hip-Hop Nutcracker DOWNLOAD
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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.