• Video: Governor, 'Carol' cast send Colorado National Guard thanks and hope

    by John Moore | Nov 28, 2017

    Video: Watch Governor John Hickenlooper's holiday message to members of the Colorado National Guard and their families with cast members from the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol,' from left: Sam Gregory, Latoya Cameron and Peyton Goosen atop the shoulder of Brian Vaughn. Video courtesy Colorado National Guard. 


    Raising The Guard: Hickenlooper joins Denver Center actors to bolster local military spirits at holidays

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Cast members from the DCPA Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol joined Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper at the State Capitol on Nov. 21 to film a message of gratitude and hope for members of the Colorado National Guard.

    The video is a direct address to Guard members and their families after an extraordinary year when service members were called upon to combat disasters in Colorado and neighboring states including wildfires and catastrophic weather events.

    "On behalf of everyone in Colorado, we want to thank you for your service to our state and nation," Hickenlooper said. 

    Participating cast members from the Denver Center were Sam Gregory (Scrooge), Latoya Cameron (Mrs. Cratchit), Brian Vaughn (Bob Cratchit) and Peyton Goosen (Tiny Tim).

    A Christmas Carol. Peyton Goosen "After massive hurricanes pounded Houston, the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, you helped save lives and reduce human suffering," Gregory says in the video.

    Adds Cameron: "Whether you defend the homeland or support the war fight, when you wear the uniform, you embody service and sacrifice."

    The message also served as an acknowledgement that the holidays can be a time of loneliness and isolation, especially for members of the armed forces.

    "Your willingness to defend our nation is what makes you so amazing," says Hickenlooper. "But sometimes it's the little things that seem enormous. Watch out for each other and take care of yourself."

    (Photos: Peyton Goosen, who plays Tiny Tim, on the steps of the State Capitol, above, and with Colorado National Guard Major Darin Overstreet, below right.)

    The actors wove messages from Charles Dickens' classic story into their address to National Guard members who may feel vulnerable at this time of year. 

    "At times the future may look bleak by way of past misfortunes but that doesn't need to be the way it is with you," says Gregory. "The future can differ from what you see now. Resources are bountiful."

    Colorado National Guard A Christmas Carol The suicide rate in the military used to be lower than the population at large. But in the years following the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, service members began taking their own lives in increasing numbers.

    "The Colorado National Guard considers suicide prevention a top priority, and all members of our organization are encouraged to get help for themselves and their fellow warriors," said Chris Neuenfeldt, who manages the Colorado National Guard's Resilience, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention program, which is available to troops of all ranks and statuses, anywhere across the state, 24/7.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A service member who needs help has a number of resources available via The Colorado National Guard's R3SP webpage. For additional help, a soldier or airman should start by contacting Neuenfeldt via email or the CONG's R3SP Facebook page. Service members are encouraged to contact either of the Directors of Psychological Health, Doug Bryan at 720-250-1562, or Victoria Howatt at 720-847-9438.

    The video message above, directed by Major Darin Overstreet, also will be shared overseas to deployed Colorado National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.

    A Christmas Carol opens on Friday and runs through Dec. 24 at the Denver Center's Stage Theatre.

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

    Photo gallery: Creating the Colorado National Guard video:

    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    Photos from the making of the Colorado National Guard video. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information
    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Carol 2017:
    A Christmas Carol: A timeline to today
    DCPA's 25th A Christmas Carol brims with mistletoe and milestones
  • After 42 years, 'Chicago' still has all that juice

    by John Moore | Nov 27, 2017
    Chicago Broadway Photo by Jeremy Daniel The Broadway company of Chicago, above. The national touring production comes to Denver for a week starting Nov. 28. Photo by Jeremy Daniel. 

    Chicago grew long legs from the shadow of A Chorus Line to take its own place in Broadway's razzle-dazzle history

    Genevieve Miller Holt
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The 1975-76 Broadway season made history. Meryl Streep earned her first Tony Award nomination and Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures premiered on Broadway. And two of musical theatre’s most enduring musicals were created nearly simultaneously. 

    In the preceding year, while visionary director and choreographer Michael Bennett was developing A Chorus Line, the equally visionary Bob Fosse enlisted composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb (Cabaret) to create a new piece too: the musical version of a 1926 play about an infamous dame who’d killed her husband.

    Chicago Dylis CromanFosse was an established Broadway director and choreographer at this point (Pippin, Sweet Charity) with a corps of loyal dancers. Denver resident Candy Brown was one of them.  

    In January 1974, while Brown was dancing in Pippin, she and 18 other dancers gathered to discuss the challenges of being a Broadway gypsy, which eventually became the basis of A Chorus Line. Bennett’s project was an unknown quantity with only the glimmer of becoming something bigger, so some participants defected to more secure gigs, Brown among them. She joined Fosse’s Chicago

    “I felt a loyalty to Bob as Chicago would be my third project with him," she said. "Not to mention the fact that no one knew if the Bennett workshop would even be a show.”

    A year later, Brown arrived for the first day of rehearsal, yet just after lunch, the cast was told that Fosse had been hospitalized. “I went numb,” said Brown. “We all were in a state of disbelief.” Work stopped as Fosse suffered two heart attacks and underwent bypass surgery.

    Months later, the Chicago team reassembled and Fosse began to construct his iconic musical.   

    Candy Brown Quote CHICAGO“Every costume, every gesture, every bit of lighting, every word and moment were all woven together to create the story,” said Brown, who played the role of June.

    Chicago opened on Broadway on June 3, 1975, to enthusiastic audience response. Fosse considered it a compliment that some took offense at his cynical take on the American justice system and the cult of celebrity. “Bob was tickled when people walked out,” said Brown, “because he figured that in order to be offended, they must have ‘got it.’ ” 

    But when the Tony Awards came around, the unconventional A Chorus Line won them all. In his review of Chicago’s 1996 revival, New York Times critic Ben Brantley reflected that the 1975 production of Chicago had been, “in a sense, the evil twin of its rival musical, as acerbic and cold-hearted as the other was sentimental and warm.” 

    But Chicago would eventually get its due. The 1996 revival was a resounding success, winning six Tonys and a Grammy while Rob Marshall’s film version won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Picture. 

    Still considered one of Fosse’s towering undertakings, Chicago returns to Denver for a seventh time, and, after 20 years, is the longest-running American musical on Broadway today.

    It’s still got that razzle dazzle. 

    Genevieve Miller Holt, formerly of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, is the General Manager for Broadway Across America in Cincinnati.

    In the Spotlife: Denver's own Broadway star, Candy Brown

    Chicago in Denver: Ticket information

    chicagoThe longest-running American musical in Broadway history has everything that makes Broadway great: A universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz; show-stopping songs, astonishing dancing and a story that never seems far from today's headlines. 

    • National touring production
    • Performances Nov. 28-Dec. 3
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2017 True West Awards are coming. Here's a look back.

    by John Moore | Nov 26, 2017
    True West Awards Billie McBride

    The True West Awards return Dec. 1 as both a celebration and a history of Colorado theatre for 17 years running.  

    The ever-evolving True West Awards, which began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001, are the longest-running continuously administered awards program in Colorado theater. In 2014, the annual awards were re-conceived to celebrate the local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements for the year over 30 days, without categories or nominations.

    The awards are curated by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore with solicited input from the Colorado theatre community. This year, additional suggestions were accepted for consideration through mid-November.

    The 2017 honorees will be unveiled on the DCPA NewsCenter daily starting Dec. 1. A different recipient will be singled out each day for 30 days. In the meantime, here are links to stories honoring all winners from the past three years (click on any link to read more):

    2013 True West Award winners

    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.

    Colorado Theatre Person of the Year winners:

    • Shelly _Bordas_Death_circle2016 Billie McBride, actor and director
    • 2015 Donald R. Seawell, Denver Center founder
    • 2014 Steve Wilson, Phamaly Theatre Director and Artistic Director
    • 2013 Shelly Bordas, Actor, teacher, director and inspirerer (pictured right)
    • 2012 No award given
    • 2011: Maurice LaMee, Creede Repertory Theatre artistic director
    • 2010: Anthony Garcia, Su Teatro artistic director
    • 2009: Kathleen M. Brady, Denver Center Theatre Company actor
    • 2008: Wendy Ishii, Bas Bleu Theatre co-founder and actor
    • 2007: Ed Baierlein, Germinal Stage-Denver founder, actor, director
    • 2006: Bonnie Metzgar, Curious Theatre Company associate artistic director
    • 2005: Chip Walton, Curious Theatre Company artistic director
    • 2004: Michael R. Duran, Actor/set designer/director/playwright
    • 2003: Nagle Jackson, Denver Center Theatre Company director/playwright
    • 2002: Chris Tabb, Actor and director

    2001-11: List of all Denver Post Ovation Award winners

    All-time leaders in Ovation/True West Awards received since 2001:

    • 140-sugar-debreceniNick Sugar 8
    • Brian Freeland 7
    • Karen Slack 6
    • John Arp 5
    • Ed Baierlein 5
    • Sam Gregory 5*
    • Erin Rollman 5
    • Steve Wilson 5
    • Gene Gillette 4
    • Wendy Ishii 4
    • Megan Van De Hey 4
    • Chip Walton 4
    • Sharon Kay White 4
    • Steven J. Deidel 3
    • Michael R. Duran 3
    • William Hahn 3
    • Billie McBride 3
    • Emma Messenger 3
    • Erik Sandvold 3
    • Christopher L. Sheley 3
    *For 11 years, the Denver Post Ovation Awards included a separate list of "Best of the Denver Center" winners. Gregory's five wins here represent only those Ovation/True West Awards he won for other Colorado theatre companies (Paragon, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company). Otherwise, his total would be eight.
  • 'A Christmas Carol': A timeline to today

    by John Moore | Nov 22, 2017
    A 2014-ACC-gmk-1089 allen dorseyAllen Dorsey in the DCPA Theatre Company's 2014 production of 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Gabe Koskinen. 

    Over the past 25 years, more than 820,000 people have watched the the timeless story play out here in Denver.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    It seems A Christmas Carol and its seasonal message of redemption and empathy for all is a perennial need in this country. Charles Dickens’ classic tale of the miser Scrooge’s spiritual redemption remains the DCPA Theatre Company’s most popular and most-produced show. This holiday season marks the company’s 25th musical presentation of the story dating to 1990 — with two years off along the way. (Pictured below in 2003.)

    DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' 2003. In that time, there have been 18 young Tiny Tims but only two versions of the script. From 1990-2004, the DCPA staged an adaptation written by Laird Williamson and Dennis Powers. Since 2005, the company has presented the adaptation by Richard Hellesen and David de Berry. 

    Dickens wrote his opus in just six weeks, motivated in part by his own financial problems and in part by his anger seeing children working in appalling conditions in the tin mines and barely living in streets overrun with half-starved, illiterate urchins and orphans.

    Here’s a brief look at how the story has played out from London to Denver:

    1843 Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol as a novel on Dec. 19. By Christmas Eve, more than 6,000 copies are sold. 

    1844 The first stage presentation of A Christmas Carol is held, running for 40 nights. Within a year, eight rival A Christmas Carol theatrical productions are playing around London.

    1845 By now 13 editions of the A Christmas Carol novella have been released.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    1852 Charles Dickens gives the first of 127 public readings in London.

    1870 Charles Dickens’ death.

    Philip Pleasants Sam Gregory Scrooge A Christmas Carol1901 Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost is produced as a silent black-and-white British film. Since then, there have been at least 18 film variations featuring everyone from Albert Finney to Bill Murray to The Muppets to Mr. Magoo to Scrooge McDuck. Other actors to portray Scrooge on screen or stage include F. Murray Abraham, George C. Scott, Kelsey Grammer, Tony Randall, Hal Linden, Tim Curry and even The Who frontman Roger Daltrey. 

    1990 The DCPA Theatre Company presents A Christmas Carol for the first time, an adaptation by Laird Williamson and Dennis Powers. Laird Williamson also directs, which he continues through 2004. 

    2005 The company switches to an adaptation by Richard Hellesen and David de Berry directed by Bruce K. Sevy. Philip Pleasants plays Scrooge and continues as the primary Scrooge through 2015.

    2007 The DCPA gives A Christmas Carol a year off in favor of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and will do so again in 2012.

    A MayorHickenlooperTinyTim Charlie Korman2009 Charlie Korman (pictured at right with then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper) is cast as Tiny Tim at age 5. He would play the role for the next four years before aging up to play Young Scrooge in 2014. Korman would later play featured roles in the Theatre Company’s Lord of the Flies and Frankenstein

    2015 Elias Harger, the Theatre Company’s Tiny Tim the year before at age 7, is cast in Netflix’s Fuller House, the sequel to the long-running hit family sitcom Full House.

    2016 Sam Gregory becomes the eighth actor to play the Theatre Company’s Scrooge. Additionally, Melissa Rain Anderson takes the reins as director.A peyton_headshot_102017

    2017 For the first time, a young female actor, Peyton Goossen, plays the role of Tiny Tim. 

    2017 The Man Who Invented Christmas is released, a film that tells the story of how Charles Dickens brought the Scrooge story to life, starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer (as an animated Scrooge).

     DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' 2016. DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' 2016.

    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information
    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: The making of A Christmas Carol 2017

    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    Above: Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol.' To see more, click in the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • Paul Ludick: The man who dressed Ben Platt for the part

    by John Moore | Nov 21, 2017
    Paul Ludick and Ben Platt. Dear Evan Hansen.Former longtime DCPA Theatre Company dresser Paul Ludick has spent the past year working with Tony-winning actor Ben Platt, who completed his run in the title role of Broadway's 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Sunday. Photo courtesy Paul Ludick.

    Former Denver Center dresser explains the expansive, intimate role of the backstage dresser at Dear Evan Hansen

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Actor Ben Platt completed his Tony Award-winning run in the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Sunday, which means one thing: He’s going to have to dress himself for a while.

    Since the celebrated Broadway musical opened a year ago, that job (at least at the Music Box Theatre) has gone to Paul Ludick, who also worked for 16 seasons as a dresser for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company.

    Platt earned raves for his performance as Evan Hansen, the lonely high-school student who perpetuates a lie that earns him Internet fame. Platt not only won the Tony Award, he became the youngest recipient of The Drama League's Distinguished Performance Award. That’s an accolade an actor can win only once in a lifetime — and Platt won it at age 23.

    And from the first Broadway preview in October 2016 through Platt's final performance on Sunday, it was Ludick who made sure Platt always was dressed for the part. That and so much more.

    DEH-Mike-Faist-Ben-Platt-0104-Photo-Credit-Matthew-Murphy 800

    By definition, a dresser helps cast members backstage with their costume changes — but the job is far more involved than that. 

    “Yes, we take care of the costumes and we help the actors change in and out of them,” Ludick said. “But sometimes you're also a therapist, a doctor, a personal assistant or a mediator. You’re there to deal with everything that comes up that needs dealing with. My job was to make sure Ben had everything he needed so that he could fully focus on his performance.”

    That included shepherding the actor’s guests backstage and filtering email. Ludick would stay long after each performance to make sure Platt got to his car safely.

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

    Paul Ludick 400 Peter PanLudick was a dresser for many DCPA Theatre Company productions between 1988 and 2006, as well as homegrown cabaret musicals in the Garner-Galleria Theatre. In his first season alone, Ludick dressed both Burke Moses and future Tony Award nominee Craig Bierko in Carousel, as well as future Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell in the Theatre Company’s Peter Pan. (Coincidentally, both Bierko and Moses later played Leadville Johnny Brown in various incarnations of the Denver Center’s recent premiere of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.)

    Ludick, a Chicago native, first came to Colorado in 1987 to work for Central City Opera. His most meta experience at the Denver Center had to be when he was the dresser for The Dresser, an acclaimed play by Ronald Harwood starring two Denver legends – Jamie Horton and Tony Church.

    (Photo above and right: John Cameron Mitchell in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Peter Pan.' Story continues after the photo below.)

    Paul Ludick The Dresser. Jamie Horton. Tony Church Jamie Horton, left, played the dresser in 'The Dresser,' with Tony Church, for the DCPA Theatre Company in 1988. Photo by Terry Shapiro.

    Horton played a backstage assistant who struggles to keep an aging actor’s life together. To research his role, Horton asked Ludick if he could shadow him as he worked on Always … Patsy Cline at the Galleria Theatre.

    “I shadowed Paul for a very good reason:  He was damned good at what he did, and I knew I would learn from him,” Horton said. “And learn I did.” One example: How to properly place a wig on a wig block (that's essentially a Styrofoam mannequin head). At a subsequent rehearsal, Horton interjected: “That’s not how Paul set the wig, so I'm going to do it the way Paul did it.”

    Before Dear Evan Hansen, Platt was known for his appearances in the Pitch Perfect movies. But in the past year, during which Platt was named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man on Broadway” and secured a recording contract, Ludick witnessed a rising young star enter into a new stratosphere in the pop-culture landscape.


    “Ben is a phenomenon I've never experienced before," he said. "I’m so happy for him, especially him being so young. For someone to be that in-tune with his life at 23 was amazing to see.”

    As is the case in Harwood’s play, Ludick says, dressers can develop lifelong friendships with the actors they serve. It happened with Bobby Cannavale when the Mr. Robot star performed alongside Chris Rock in the edgy Broadway comedy The Motherf**ker with the Hat. That’s a play that got done mostly because Rock, a Broadway newbie, signed on to do it. “I thought Chris Rock did a great thing for theater,” Ludick said. “When a guy of that stature lends his name to a Broadway show that a lot of people who normally don’t go to theater came to see, that is just great.”

    Ludick has seen some careers seriously move. “So always be nice … because you never know,” he said with a laugh.  

    Ludick reunited with Cannavale in 2013 for The Big Knife, and at closing, the star presented Ludick with a framed poster from the original play as thanks. Other New York milestones include working on the original Broadway production of Spring Awakening, and dressing for Mark Ruffalo on Awake and Sing!

    Dear Evan Hansen will launch first national tour in Denver

    Ludick lists Dear Evan Hansen right up there among them, partly because of Platt, but more so because the show is saving lives. Ludick likens its impact to that of Spring Awakening.

    Dear Evan Hansen has touched a nerve that young people can relate to,” Ludick said. “And now, because we have social media, they don't even have to be in New York to experience the essential message of the show. They are hearing about it in Omaha and Charlotte and everywhere in-between."

    The story is about young people who feel there's no one out there for them. "But there are people out there ready to help,” Ludick said. “You just have to reach out and make it known that you're going through a hardship. Ben's character, for example, has anxiety disorders, which we found from his fan mail and from the kids coming to the stage door is a very common thing. Some of them have contemplated suicide. Our show helps them to realize there are ways to get help and people to talk to. And we're opening up a lot of parents’ eyes, too.”

    Read our coverage of Colorado theatre on the NewsCenter

    When Dear Evan Hansen hits the road with its first national touring production next year, Ludick said it will have the opportunity to positively impact tens of thousands more lives. And that road starts in Denver in October 2018 — which is meaningful to Ludick.

    “That's just perfect, because it's a show that I love, in a place that I love,” Ludick said. “That’s just a perfect way to start a tour."

    As Ludick now adjusts, as he has so many times before, to serve a new actor (Noah Galvin), he likes to believe he will occupy a small but special place in Platt’s memory.

    “We've been with each other almost every day for more than a year, so that friendship is strong,” Ludick said. “Once he goes on to start being a mover and a shaker, hopefully we'll stay in touch. Each person I have ever dressed I have a special relationship with, and every one is different. But whenever I see them again, it's like we haven't missed a beat.”

    Ludick was a bit bemused by the request to be interviewed for this story, given the covert nature of his daily work. But he was glad for the opportunity to sing the praises of dressers and the thousands of other invisible practitioners of the unseen arts.

    “If we're doing our job right, we go completely unnoticed,” Ludick said. “That’s actually our goal — to go unnoticed. It’s the same for everyone backstage. But what we do that you don’t see is what makes a show whole. It takes every little part to make the show work.”  

    Jamie Horton, who is now a theatre professor at Dartmouth College, is a believer.

    “I have great respect and admiration for the dressers who have been such an important part of my professional life as an actor,” he said, “and I wish Paul the very, very best.”

    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.

    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 303-446-482

  • Vintage, Denver Center collaborate to bring 'Lady Day,' Mary Louise Lee, to stage

    by John Moore | Nov 20, 2017
    Lady Day Mary Louise Lee Adams Viscom Mary Louise Lee in the 2016 DCPA Theatre Company workshop of 'Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.' Photo by  AdamsVisCom.


    From First Lady to Lady Day: Billie Holiday musical to open at Vintage, then move to Denver Center's Galleria Theatre

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Mary Louise LeeWhen Mary Louise Lee revisited her signature role as Billie Holiday
    in a special workshop production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill last year, she dedicated the performance to Shadow Theatre Company founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Nickelson. Lee considers having played the jazz legend in 2002 to be the most meaningful performance of her storied career.

    It couldn't be more fitting, then, that when Vintage Theatre Productions brings the story to full stage life again this January with Lee in the title role, she will be be performing in the Jeffrey Nickelson Auditorium. 

    Nickelson, who died in 2009, was a graduate of the DCPA’s National Theatre Conservatory masters program. In 1997, he founded Shadow Theatre to present “stories from the heart of the African-American community,” as he liked to say. And the biggest hit in Shadow’s history was that 2002 production of Lady Day, with Nickelson directing and Lee starring as Holiday.

    Lady DayFor her haunting portrayal of a woman with a singular singing voice — and a lethal heroin habit  — Lee won a Westword Best of Denver Award for Best Actress in a Musical. The review said: “A stunning evening of theatre. Lee's singing is absolutely radiant. Her voice is smooth as glass. At times she sounds uncannily like Holiday, at others entirely like her full-throated self." She reprised the role for a special three-day workshop engagement in 2016 at the Denver Center's Jones Theatre. 

    After Nickelsen died of a heart attack in 2009, the theatre he opened at 1468 Dayton St. in Aurora was renamed the Jeffrey Nickelson Auditorium. Vintage took over operations there in 2011. 

    Berry HartToday, Vintage and the Denver Center announced an unprecedented collaboration. Vintage will introduce its new production of Lanie Robertson's Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, starring Lee and directed by Betty Hart (pictured right), from Jan. 12 through Feb. 18. The production will then move to the Denver Center's Garner-Galleria Theatre on March 5 and perform there on Monday nights through April 23 — while the Denver Center's ongoing musical comedy First Date continues its run for the rest of the week.

    Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill tells Holiday's troubled life story through the songs that made her famous, including "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit" and "Taint Nobody's Biz-ness." Set in Philadelphia in 1959, Holiday's performance at Emerson's Bar & Grill was one of her last, and Lady Day is not just a memorable tribute to the singer, but also a moving portrait of her struggles with addiction, racism, and loss.

    "We're thrilled, of course," said Vintage Theatre Artistic Director Bernie Cardell. "This is an exciting event for Vintage and for the theatre community overall. If we are to thrive, collaboration is the key. While we certainly can survive on our own, we can reach bigger heights together. My hope is this is just the start of a new way of producing quality theatre for our community."

     Lady Day Mary Louise Lee. 2002Lee's performing career began at the Denver Center when she appeared in Beehive at what is now the Garner Galleria Theatre while only 18 years old and still a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School. In 2011, Lady Day also became the First Lady of Denver when her husband, Michael B. Hancock, was elected Mayor.

    (Pictured right: Mary Louise Lee in rehearsal for her award-winning turn in 'Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill' for Shadow Theatre in 2002.)

    Lee has performing at many high profile events over the past two decades, including the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions. She performed with the Colorado Symphony at the 911 Remembrance Ceremony, and in the First Ladies of Jazz concert. She has sung the national anthem before 78,000 Denver Broncos fans, was featured vocalist at the grand opening of Union Station was a Season 9 contestant on America's Got Talent.  She has toured internationally performing for the troops of the U.S. Department of Defense. She returned to the DCPA in 2014 to sing with the cast of the national touring production of the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet onstage at the Buell Theatre. And last December, Lee won a 2015 True West Award for her performance in the new musical, Uncle Jed's Barbershop.  

    Read John Moore's Denver Post profile of Mary Louise Lee

    Mary Louise Lee The Wiz. AfterthoughtSome of Lee's other notable local theatre performances have included Vogue Theatre’s A Brief History of White Music, the Arvada Center’s The 1940s Radio Hour, Country Dinner Playhouse’s Ain’t Misbehavin', Denver Civic’s Menopause the Musical and Afterthought Theatre Company's The Wiz, as Glinda the Good Witch (pictured right). She took on that role just after Hancock was elected in 2011.

    From students to senior citizens, Lee is committed to being an ambassador for the arts to help expose and expand access to Denver’s vibrant arts and cultural communities. She is choir director at the New Hope Baptist Church and founder of “Bringin’ Back the Arts," a foundation that encourages arts education in the public schools.

    Betty Hart, the director, recently moved to Denver from Atlanta, where she was a Teaching Artist at the Alliance Theatre. She is the Special Projects Coordinator for Kaiser Permanente Arts Integrated Resources program and recently joined the board of directors for the Colorado Theatre Guild.

    The Music Director will be Trent Hines. He was most recently the conductor and pianist for The Wild Party at the Stanley Marketplace, and he also performed in the show.

    A Lady Day Westword

    Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill: At Vintage Theatre

  • Jan. 12-Feb 18, 2018 (Note: The Feb. 3 show will be performed by Shandra Duncan)
  • 1468 Dayton St., Aurora
  • Tickets $15-$34
  • Call 303-856-7830 or BUY ONLINE

  • Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill: At the Garner-Galleria Theatre

  • March 5-April 23, 2018
  • Denver Performing Arts Complex
  • Tickets start at $42
  • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • The show runs approximately 90 minutes without intermission
  • Adult language and content
  • Age Recommendation: 17 and over

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Video: Mary Louise Lee sings with Million Dollar Quartet:

    Video: Watch Mary Louise Lee sing 'Fools Fall in Love' with the cast of  the national touring production of 'Million Dollar Quartet' at the Buell Theatre in 2014.

  • November 2017: Applause Magazine puzzle solution

    by John Moore | Nov 18, 2017
    With each new issue of Applause Magazine, we offer readers a puzzle related to our current shows. Here is the most recent word challenge, covering RENT, Chicago, Mannheim Steamroller, Elf, Waitress and A Christmas Carol.

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

    Word Search Applause Puzzle
    Word Search Applause Puzzle

    A Word Search Applause 4Brent Barrett stars in 'Chicago,' coming to the Buell Theatre from Nov. 28-Dec. 3. Photo by Catherine Ashmore.

    Word Search Applause Puzzle

      RENT clues
    • Lyric: I have to go out ___ Tonight 
    • Lyric: Measure your life in ___ Love 
    • Last name of RENT creator who died just hours after the show's final dress rehearsal off
    • Broadway: Larson   

      Chicago clues
    • Longest-running revival in Broadway history, and it's coming to Denver: Chicago
    • Lyric: We both reached for it: Gun
    • Chicago writers are Kander, Ebb and ___ Fosse

      A Christmas Carol clues
    • Number of years Marley has been a ghost before visiting Scrooge: Seven 
    • Last name of the actor who is back to play Scrooge: Gregory
    • "This boy is Ignorance. This girl is ____" Want

      Mannheim Steamroller clues
    • Mannheim Steamroller is largely credited with establishing the genre of New ___ music: Age
    • Mannheim Steamroller has sold more albums than Billy Joel, Bon Jovi and Bruce ___ Springsteen
    • Last name of the Mannheim Steamroller founder: Davis

      Elf clues
    • Name of the orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s sack: Buddy
    • Actress ____ Deschanel performs three songs in the Elf source film. Zooey

      Waitress clues
    • Last name of six-time Grammy nominee who wrote the music and lyrics to Waitress: Bareilles
    • Last name of Waitress director who also launched the national tour of Pippin in Denver:
    • What's inside of love? Sugar, butter, ___ Flour.

    Recent previous downloadable puzzles:

    Mamma Mia!, The Secret Garden, The Illusionists – Live From Broadway and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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

    by John Moore | Nov 18, 2017

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Zak ReynoldsZAK REYNOLDS

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day and Other Stories

  • Curious' 'The Body of An American' a snapshot into Coleman's vision

    by John Moore | Nov 17, 2017
    A Body of an American Michael Ensminger Sean Scrutchins, left, as playwright Dan O'Brien, and Michael McNeill as war photographer Paul Watson in Curious Theatre's 'The Body of an American,' playing through Dec. 9. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    DCPA Theatre Company's new Artistic Director gave searing new war play its first life in Portland

    Playwright Dan O'Brien and celebrated war photographer Paul Watson are in Denver this weekend talking about how their friendship became the basis for a play.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The list of rising and established American playwrights new DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman has nurtured over the years is long and eclectic, but one name jumped out at his introduction this week for its current proximity to Denver: Dan O’Brien.  

    O’Brien (pictured at right) is the author of The Body of An American, a searing look at the psychological impact of post-traumatic stress currently being staged in its regional premiere by the Curious Theatre Company. And he is in town this weekend to talk about it.  

    A Dan OBrien Playwright 160 fullFor 17 years, Coleman was the Artistic Director at Portland Center Stage, which is known for its incubation of new American plays. Among the many rising playwrights Coleman has nurtured along their paths are Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee, whose latest plays Zoey’s Perfect Wedding and The Great Leap, respectively, will be on the DCPA Theatre Company’s stages this winter. Coleman's roster also spans Jason Grote (DCPA’s 1001), Ntozake Shange, Luis Alfaro, Melanie Marnich, Constance Congdon, Dael Orlandersmith and many more.

    But Coleman cites developing and premiering The Body of An American as among his favorite accomplishments. And after arriving in Denver this week, he was tickled to learn the play is getting its regional premiere less than a mile from his new place of work.

    The Body of an American is a play that I love and I am very, very proud that we premiered,” Coleman said of the script, which won the PEN Center USA Award for Drama, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama and the Horton Foote Prize for New American Plays.

    This true story tells how one stark photograph in 1993 reshaped the course of global events. It shows the body of Staff Sergeant William David Cleveland as he was dragged from the wreckage of a Blackhawk helicopter and through the streets of Mogadishu. The famous image won celebrated Canadian war photographer Paul Watson the Pulitzer Prize. But Watson was haunted, not only by that single shutter click, but from bearing witness to 30 years of devastating scenes around the world. And in Somalia, the ghosts of all those accumulated tragedies were bearing down on him.

    “Just as he was taking that picture, Paul heard a voice say, ‘If you do this, I will own you forever,’ ” O’Brien said. “And he believes it was the voice of this dead soldier.”

    O’Brien, who was struggling with personal ghosts of his own at the time, reached out to Watson after hearing his story on NPR. In the unlikely friendship they forged, the two men found a way to reckon with the traumas consuming their lives. And that is what O’Brien’s intimate play is really all about, he says: “True friendship.”

    Coleman introduced the play at Portland Center Stage’s 2011 new-play festival and gave it a full production the next year as part of the company’s 25th anniversary season. It was soon snatched up by the Gate Theatre in London, Hartford Stage and Primary Stages in New York City.

    “That play has been successful all across the country now, but I will tell you, we had a hell of a time finding an audience for it at first,” Coleman said. “It’s brilliant writing, but it is tough subject matter, especially when you describe the premise to someone.”

    Coleman said one of his hardest jobs in developing topical, resonant and relevant stories is also navigating the audience’s capacity to absorb it. “It’s a fine line,” Coleman said, “especially in the moment we are living in politically today.”

    In her review of Curious Theatre’s new production, Denver Post Theatre Critic Joanne Ostrow said current events make this the perfect time to be staging The Body of an American, which she says is being given a "muscular and thoroughly haunting" staging by director Chip Walton and actors Sean Scrutchins and Michael McNeill. It continues through Dec. 9.

    The Body of an American: Weekend events with Dan O’Brien and Paul Watson

    • Performances at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, at Curious Theatre Company, 1080 Acoma St.
    • Playwright Dan O’Brien and photographer Paul Watson will participate in the audience talkback following tonight’s (Nov. 17) performance.
    • Inside the Artists’ Mind: Director Chip Walton will interview O’Brien and Watson at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 18) at Venue 221, 221 Detroit St., in Cherry Creek. Tickets $25. Click here.
    • Note: The Body of an American continues in performance through Dec. 9. Call 303-623-0524 or go to curioustheatre.org

     A Body of an American Chris Coleman 800 John Moore


  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'First Date'

    by John Moore | Nov 16, 2017

    Video by David Lenk.

    Here is your first chance to see video and photos from the new musical comedy opening Friday at the Galleria Theatre

    Here is your first look in video (above) and photos (below) at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' new staging of First Date, opening Friday, Nov. 17,  and running through April 22, 2018, in The Garner Galleria Theatre.

    When blind-date newbie Aaron is set up with serial-dater Casey, a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a comically high-stakes dinner. As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this unpredictable evening.

    The director is Ray Roderick, and the all-local cast includes Adriane Leigh Robinson, Seth Dhonau, Steven J. Burge, Aaron Vega, Jordan Leigh, Lauren Shealy, Barret Harper and Cashelle Butler. (Vega plays the "Man 2" role from Nov. 11-Dec. 3. Leigh plays Man 2 from Dec. 5-April 22.)

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced that it is dedicating the opening performance and the entire run of First Date, opening Friday, as well as the entire run of A Christmas Carol, to Daniel Langhoff, who died last week from cancer. Read more here.

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

    Full photo gallery: First Date production photos

    First Date

    Photos from the making of 'First Date.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    First Date: Ticket information
    First DateNov. 11, 2017, through through April 22, 2018
    Tickets : Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Garner Galleria Theatre

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Local theatres respond to actor's death with challenges, collections, dedications

    by John Moore | Nov 16, 2017
    Daniel Langhoff Ragtime. Performance Now
    Daniel Langhoff recently starred as Tateh in Performance Now's 'Ragtime,' above. The company has unanimously voted to donate 2 percent of all net profits from every show in the 2017-18 season to the Denver Actors Fund in Langhoff's name.

    Performance Now issues an extraordinary challenge as others announce creative ways to support Langhoff family

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    This week's death of beloved local actor Daniel Langhoff has galvanized the Colorado theatre community and beyond, with targeted donations to Langhoff's wife and two infant daughters through the Denver Actors Fund already reaching $23,578 in four days. READ MORE HERE

    Daniel Langhoff NaomiPerhaps most immediate and most remarkable: Performance Now Theatre Company has not only made a substantial donation of $1,000 to the Langhoff family, the company's Board of Directors on Monday unanimously agreed to donate 2 percent of all net profits from every show in the 2017-18 season to the Denver Actors Fund to be used at its discretion.

    "We challenge all Denver-area theatre companies to do the same," Performance Now Executive Producer Ken Goodwin and Artistic Director Alisa Metcalf said in a joint statement. "Imagine how much more the DAF could help others if the companies themselves got involved and the DAF would not have to rely as heavily on individual donations."

    (Pictured above and right: Daniel Langhoff with second daughter Naomi, who was born Nov. 2, just 10 days before he died from cancer.)

    Performance Now even made the initiative retroactive, sending a separate contribution of $386 for its recent production of The Marvelous Wonderettes. Coming up next: Into the Woods opening Jan. 5 at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

    Langhoff has been a major player with Performance Now, having recently starred in both Ragtime and Man of La Mancha at the Lakewood Cultural Center. The challenge is all the more remarkable given that when Performance Now lost longtime Artistic Director Nancy Goodwin (Ken's wife) to breast cancer in 2007, it established a scholarship fund in her name to aid and reward young college students who are working toward a degree in the performing arts.

    "All performing-arts nonprofits face extraordinary funding challenges as a matter of course," said Denver Actors Fund President Will Barnette. "When nonprofits with already stretched resources still find a way to support other nonprofits, that is kind of remarkable, when you think of it." 

    Donate to the Denver Actors Fund's Langhoff collection


    Barnette added that The Denver Actors Fund does have a modest, ongoing giving campaign in collaboration with area companies called the Tap Shoe Initiative, in which participating companies choose one night per run of a show to collect spare change for the DAF. To date, the initiative has raised about $20,000. Companies interested in participating are encouraged to email Debbie Weinstein Minter at sk8bug77@yahoo.com.

    Elsewhere, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced that it is dedicating the opening performance and the entire run of First Date, opening Friday, as well as the entire run of A Christmas Carol, to Langhoff.

    Langhoff made his Denver Center debut in 2010 in the musical comedy Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre, followed by a stint in a revival of the longest-running musical in Denver history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. He also performed in the DCPA Theatre Company’s seasonal stagings of A Christmas Carol in 2014 and 2015.

    “Daniel was a brilliant actor and comedian who loved to laugh almost as much as he loved to hear others laugh," said First Date director Ray Roderick.

    Through curtain speeches, information in the show programs and DCPA NewsCenter, the DCPA will be directing audiences to make targeted donations to the Langhoff family.

    Immediate efforts to add to the Langhoff fund:

    Many other individuals and theatre companies have responded with creative entrepreneurial efforts to add to the total over the coming days and months. Here is a roundup:

    • A November Denver Dolls 400The Aurora Fox's new monthly cabaret series this weekend (Nov. 17-18) features The Denver Dolls presenting their USO/Andrews Sisters tribute, performed in the style of The Manhattan Transfer. The Dolls, presented by YearRound Sound, are led by frequent DCPA performer and Langhoff castmate Heather Lacy, who will lead a collection as audiences leave the studio theatre at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora. 303-739-1970 or BUY TICKETS
    • BDT Stage opens its new production of Annie this weekend and will make an audience appeal for donations to the Langhoff fund at performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 17-19). 5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com
    • Local actor, choreographer and certified fitness instructor Adrianne Hampton is holding a benefit "Broadway Boot Camp" at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19, with all proceeds and donations going to Langhoff's family. What is a Broadway Boot Camp? Well, it's a workout, with showtunes. "It’s a place where theaA Daniel Langhoff Vintage. Honemoon in Vegas RDG Photographytre people can come to hone their skills and support each other," Hampton said. "Just come, bring your dancing shoes and have fun dancing. If you don't want to be part of the class, you can come and watch or just come and make a donation." $15. Littleton Ballet Academy 1169 W. Littleton Blvd.
    • Vintage Theatre has announced that all proceeds from the industry-night performance of its new musical Honeymoon in Vegas on Monday, Nov. 27, will go to Langhoff's family, including, remarkably, box office. The DAF's Sue Leiser will lead a collection brigade. All tickets are $15 for this performance only. At 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or BUY TICKETS
    • Daniel Langhoff Community BETCThe Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company will also donate 100 percent of the proceeds from its official opening performance of Every Christmas Story Every Told on Dec. 13 to the DAF's Langhoff Fund. Langhoff was a cast member of this very same show at this time last year. "Daniel Langhoff will be deeply missed by all the artists who had the opportunity to work with him...and there were so many," said BETC Managing Director Rebecca Remaly Weitz. "He touched so many of us with his wit, optimism, persistence, kindness and humor. Our hearts go out to his family." Additional donations will be accepted at the door on Dec. 13. At the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or BUY TICKETS

    Details on a life celebration for Daniel Langhoff are expected to be announced soon.

    Pictures above, from top: The Denver Dolls; James Thompson and the cast of A Daniel Vintage Theatre's Honeymoon in Vegas (RDG Photograph and Daniel Langhoff in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Every Christmas Story Every Told (Michael Ensminger). 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'RENT' and more: No day like Tuesday at the Denver Center

    by John Moore | Nov 15, 2017
    Rent Cast Denver Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore
    Original 'RENT' cast member Rodney Hicks, front, joins the ensemble performing the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour playing at the Buell Theatre through Tuesday, Nov. 21. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Original cast member meets the newest crop of stage squatters, capping a Tuesday that's one to remember

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    “No day but today,” the cast sings at the finale of RENT, which opened in Denver on Tuesday night. But there was no day quite like Tuesday at the Denver Center in recent memory.

    The day began early with the morning introduction to employees of Chris Coleman as the DCPA Theatre Company’s fourth Artistic Director. Coleman, who has led Portland Center Stage for 17 years, was accompanied by husband Rodney Hicks, who originated the role of Paul and others when RENT debuted on Broadway in 1996.

    Tuesday was a homecoming for Hicks, who played Edmund in the DCPA Theatre Company’s King Lear in 2007. Coleman said Hicks was encouraging about the potential new job in Denver based on his brief experience here. "He told me, ‘What’s possible in that performing-arts complex is very unique in the American theatre,’ ” said Coleman.

    Chris Coleman Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore. Coleman also told the gathered company members a personal story that elucidates why storytelling means so much to him. It happened when his sister died quickly and unexpectedly, he said, from a burst clot that stopped her heart.

    “What that solidified for me is that we know not the hour or the day,” Coleman said. “We do know that the universe calls to each of us to carve out meaning in the time that we have together on this planet.”

    (Pictured right: Chris Coleman and his husband, Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    At the same time Coleman was being introduced, DCPA Education was staging a morning performance of its inaugural Theatre for Young Audiences offering, The Snowy Day, in the Conservatory Theatre.

    That evening, as RENT was opening its 20th Anniversary touring production to screaming fans in the Buell Theatre, the the Garner Galleria Theatre was hosting a preview performance of the homegrown musical First Date, featuring a cast of all-local actors. Over in the Ricketson Theatre, the Theatre Company's smart comedy Smart People was playing out. It's the story of four young Harvard intellectuals who collide over race and sexual politics.

    Breaking: Coleman DCPA Theatre Company's new leader 

    Following RENT, Hicks and Coleman were taken backstage along with DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden and Broadway Division Executive Director John Ekeberg. The cast and crew gathered in the green room to meet Hicks, trade some stories and take a group photo.  

    Hicks told the newest RENT squatters their performance transported him right back into his 21-year-old shoes, and that at intermission, he texted superstar Anthony Rapp (the original Mark Cohen) to tell him all about it. Hicks, who has several other Broadway credits, most recently Come from Away, returned to the RENT family in 2007 to play Benny, the conformed ex-roommate who is now evicting his penniless old bohemian friends “for their own good.” Hick spoke to the cast of the ongoing influence the late RENT composer Jonathan Larson has on his life.

    Back in the Buell, four cast members regaled a few hundred audience members who stayed for a post-show Q&A — and some in the crowd returned the favor. One woman told the story of having been in attendance at RENT’s first pre-Broadway performance (and that this touring cast compared quite favorably). Another thanked the cast for bringing the show back to life with this touring production, and revealed a RENT shoulder tattoo that takes its inspiration from the show.

    A Rent Lyndie Moe 400The audience was also delighted to learn that actor Lyndie Moe, who plays the demonstrative performance artist Maureen in RENT, is a Colorado native and granddaughter of beloved former Denver Nuggets coach Doug Moe. She was asked how the loveable, legendary old coach liked seeing her perform the evocative role created by Idina Menzel. “I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about that — but he actually really liked it, thank God,” said Lyndie, whose sport of choice was volleyball through high school and college.

    (Here is a video of Lyndie Moe performing the national anthem at a Nuggets game at McNichols Sports Arena in 2006. Photo at right.)

    One young audience member asked what advice the cast has for aspiring performers such as herself.

    “Well, RENT was my first audition in New York — and I got it,” said Moe. “So my advice is to just go for everything, because you can never know what you are going to get.”  

    All in all, “today” was one very full day at the Denver Center, one that was unique in many ways but at the same time representative of the non-stop activity that both surrounds and fuels the Denver Performing Arts Complexon a daily basis. 

    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.

    RENT: 20th Anniversary Tour: Ticket information200x200-rent
    At a glance: This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Nov. 14-21
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more CLICK HERE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of RENT:
    Two decades later, RENT still comes in on time
    RENT announces daily Denver lottery for $20 orchestra seats
  • Chris Coleman promises a DCPA Theatre Company that's robust and resonant

    by John Moore | Nov 14, 2017
    Chris Coleman named A.D.
    Photos from today's announcement of Chris Coleman as just the fourth Artistic Director in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The longtime Portland leader champions a range of voices from George Bernard Shaw to Lauren Gunderson, who says: 'Denver is so lucky to get him.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Chris ColemanWhen the Managing Director at Portland Center Stage learned that longtime Artistic Director Chris Coleman was being hired away by the DCPA Theatre Company, she shook her head and said, “Denver, I hope you know you just won the lottery.”

    “Chris Coleman is not only a gifted theater artist, he's one of the best community connectors I've ever worked with,” a resigned Cynthia Fuhrman added from Portland. “That is a rare combination.”

    Coleman was introduced this morning as only the fourth Artistic Director in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company. For the past 17 years, the Atlanta native has led a company with many of the same sensibilities as his new one. Portland Center Stage offers up to 12 offerings each season ranging from classics to contemporary works to homegrown musicals on two stages while also hosting an annual new-play festival, education programs and an array of community events. All of which sounds a lot like the mission of the DCPA Theatre Company. With one big difference: Twice as many performance spaces, and more financial resources. 

    “There is not another theatre in the country with the same administrative and physical infrastructure inside one organization,” said Coleman, who also will oversee the company’s burgeoning line of Off-Center programming — the kind that takes place in non-traditional performance spaces ranging fro the Stanley Marketplace to the streets of Denver.

    Asked to name one dream offering that might help elucidate his artistic sensibilities, Coleman mulled the possibilities before offering this tantalizing prospect: “One of my fantasies would be to go back to the beginnings of the company and remount The Caucasian Chalk Circle and engage DeVotchKa to write a score for it,” he said. “I just think that would be so cool.”

    Coleman clearly has studied up on his Denver Center history. The Theatre Company launched on New Year’s Eve 1979 with Bertolt Brecht’s modernist masterpiece, starring Tyne Daly. And just last year, Colorado’s own Grammy-nominated gypsy-punk band DeVotchKa not only experimented with Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Sweeney Todd score, but the band members got their necks at every performance.

    Shawn King Devotchke Sweeney Todd. Photo by John MooreColeman lists Brecht as among his favorite playwrights — and it is a wildly eclectic list that includes William Shakespeare, Luis Alfaro, Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel and the playwright Coleman has directed more than any other: George Bernard Shaw. Under Coleman, 52 of the new plays Center Stage helped in their gestation have been performed at 115 theatres around the country. One he is most proud of is Dan O’Brien’s Body of an American, about how a photograph of an American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu haunted the photographer who took it. (It is currently being presented by Denver’s Curious Theatre).

    Among the many rising playwrights Coleman has nurtured along their paths are Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee, whose latest plays Zoey’s Perfect Wedding and The Great Leap, respectively, are coming up soon on the Theatre Company’s current season.

    (Pictured above and right: Shawn King of DeVotchka in 'Sweeney Todd' in 2016. Photo by John Moore.)

    In announcing the appointment, DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden cited Coleman’s “commitment to artistic excellence, community engagement, new-play development, crowd-pleasing musicals and discovery of new voices” — all of which she said will resonate throughout the region, and will further the DCPA’s efforts to diversify its audience. Coleman said his priorities also include local storytelling, giving voice to underserved communities and building a robust collaboration with the DCPA’s Education division.

    Chris Coleman and husband Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore.  “I am super-interested in figuring out how we put the most resonant work on stage we can,” Coleman said. “And by that I don’t necessarily think every play has to be topical to be resonant. I mean work that really lands emotionally for people. So much so that audiences feel compelled to reach out and let us know that we affected them, and that the work has stayed with them.”

    (Pictured at right: New Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman with his husband, Rodney Hicks, at today's announcement. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Coleman says he is not only a fan of the Theatre Company's annual Colorado New Play Summit, one of the signature programs launched by his predecessor, Kent Thompson, he sees it as the company’s greatest drawing card, along with the $1.4 million Women’s Voices Fund, which supports plays written and directed by women. “I am eager to connect great artists with the larger conversation Denver is having about its future right now,” he said. “I am interested in telling big stories — both from cultures that haven’t found their way onto our stages yet, and those that are waiting to burst out of the mind of the young playwright down the street.

    “I don't think there is any reason we shouldn't be one of the top institutions for producing new work in the country.”

    ‘He sure can pick em’

    At Portland Center Stage’s 2002 equivalent of the Colorado New Play Summit, Coleman had a hunch about a submission from a budding 18-year-old playwright. So he took the extraordinary step of giving the young woman a featured slot in the festival alongside, among others, a comparatively grizzled 25-year-old named Itamar Moses. His latest play, The Band’s Visit, opened on Broadway just this past Thursday.

    Chris Coleman quote 8 LAUREN GUNDERSONThe teenager’s play was called Parts They Call Deep, about three Southern women in a Winnebago. Now for the kicker: The playwright was Lauren Gunderson, who, fast-forward 14 years, wrote the Denver Center’s red-hot world-premiere The Book of Will and is now the most-produced playwright in America for the second year running. “It has been amazing to watch her rise,” Coleman said. 

    “Yeah, he sure can pick ’em,” Gunderson said with a laugh.

    Gunderson calls Coleman a mentor who helped her to visualize a possible life in the theatre for herself – when she was 12. Her hometown is also Atlanta, where in 1988 Coleman founded Actor’s Express, dubbed Atlanta's "gutsiest and most vital theatre."

    In those tender years, Gunderson fancied herself an actor, and she was cast as the kid in two mainstage productions there — The Philadelphia Story and Approaching Zanzibar — and she absorbed everything. “That’s the first time I realized that people actually sit down and write plays,” Gunderson said. “By just watching Chris, I started to see all of these other avenues for a life in the theatre for me.”

    Coleman, whose family's Atlanta roots go back to 1804 ("But we were poor dirt farmers," he says), was a bit of a star of the stage himself in those days. How big of a fan was Gunderson of his work? “My 14th birthday party was taking my girlfriends to see Chris Coleman play Hamlet,” she said. “I loved it, and I will never forget it.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    While at Portland, Coleman also produced or directed plays by Sophocles, Molière, Anton Chekhov, Edward Albee, August Wilson, Tennessee Williams, Ntozake Shange, Dael Orlandersmith, David Henry Hwang, John Patrick Shanley, Naomi Wallace, Sam Shepard, Douglas Carter Beane, Martin McDonaugh and Amy Freed — among others.

    “He just has such a knack for championing a remarkably wide variety of voices in the new-play world,” Gunderson said. “I think that’s because he has such a variety of experiences himself as a director, playwright, actor and artistic leader. What makes him a genius is that he knows every aspect of the creation of art first-hand. He has nonstop incredible ideas.” 

    Chris Coleman Introduction PhotoColeman is something of a renaissance man. Before he leaves Portland, he will direct a two-part epic he adapted himself called Astoria, featuring a cast of 16. Based on the best-selling book by Peter Stark, it tells of the harrowing but little-known journeys west undertaken by President Thomas Jefferson and millionaire John Jacob Astor that served as turning points in the conquest of the North American continent. It’s a story Coleman imagines might be of interest to Denver Center audiences because it taps directly into the spirit of the west.

    (Pictured at above and right: Chris Coleman with husband Rodney Hickst o his right and, to his left: DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden, and Chairman Martin Semple. Photo by Brittany Gutierrez for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    But his acting days are likely behind him, he says. These days, he is far more interested in ballot measures and fundraising and other administrative duties (he swears). He led the design and construction of Portland Center Stage’s new home in the 122-year-old Historic Portland Armory. That experience will be critical as the DCPA prepares to renovate both its Stage and Ricketson theatres within the next four years.

    Under Coleman, who earned his BFA from Baylor University and his MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, annual attendance at Portland Center Stage increased from 77,000 to 139,000. The average age of the audience dropped from 64 to 48. The company brings in about 7,600 students a year to see its plays.

    Coleman will direct his two-part adaptation of Astoria, followed by Major Barbara at Portland Center Stage before moving to Denver with his husband, Rodney Hicks, in May. In the meantime, he will work with DCPA Managing Director Charles Varin and Associate Artistic Directors Nataki Garrett and Charlie Miller to finalize the 2018-19 season selection.

    “I just think he is a great voice for the American theatre as a whole, and I can’t wait to see what he does to continue Kent’s legacy," Gunderson, said. “Oh my God, Denver is so lucky to get him.”  

    Video above: A 2015 interview with Portland Center Stage Artistic Director Chris Coleman.


    NUMBER 1Rodney Hicks King Lear Terry ShapiroHey, we already know your husband here in Denver: Rodney Hicks played bad-boy Edmund here in Kent Thompson’s 2007 production of King Lear. He was in the original Broadway cast of Rent and Come from Away. Is it safe to say he will be an active member of our acting community? It is not safe to say that. Rodney is totally excited about coming to Denver, and he wants to figure out what engaging with the artistic community here might look like for him. But his focus right now is primarily on film and television and his budding writing career. Rodney had a big career before we met, and there’s every reason to believe he will have a big career for the rest of his life. So while I think you will see him around Denver a lot, I am not sure you are ever going to see him onstage at the Denver Center.

    Pictured above right: Rodney Hicks as Edmund and Markus Potter as Edgar in the DCPA Theatre Company's 2007 production of 'King Lear.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.)

    NUMBER 2What was your introduction to theatre as a kid? It was my mom, who was trained as an actor. She started a drama ministry at our Southern Baptist church in the 1970s. So literally from the time I can remember, I was dragging angel wings around or operating a dimmer board or giving the actors their lines. So it's always been a part of my life. During my senior year in high school, it became clear that's what I wanted to pursue. And when I got to Baylor University I very quickly realized, 'This is what I want to do. This is the room I want to be in. This is my tribe of people.' 

    NUMBER 3How do you plan to move the dial when it comes to the national problem of equity, diversity and inclusion in the American theatre? As a gay man, I am on the bandwagon. I absolutely agree with the movement, and I believe it is high time for there to be opportunities for lots of different kinds of people in leadership roles. And I think there is a lot that any artistic leader can do to make positive changes, no matter that leader's gender and skin color. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is more passionate and committed to move us forward on that front. That certainly was the case in Portland, and I expect that only to increase in Denver.

    NUMBER 4You may have heard that Denver Center audiences are passionate about their Shakespeare. Will there be a continuing commitment to Shakespeare? And if so — what kind of Shakespeare? There absolutely will be a continuing commitment to Shakespeare. Now, over the years, I have done every kind of radical Shakespeare reinvention you can possibly imagine. But then about four years ago, I thought: 'You know what would be really radical? To do a Shakespeare play in the period when it was actually written. That would be radical.’ I expect that I am probably more of a centrist when it comes to Shakespeare at this point in my life. What I value most is truthfulness, authenticity and the ability for an audience to engage emotionally. I just want audiences to take the whole ride and not sit back.

    NUMBER 5Should the DCPA Theatre Company be actively responding to the political polarization of the country right now? I think if you are doing interesting new plays, then that happens, whether you want it to or not. Politics tends to show up whenever you are talking about the things that are happening in our world. For example, when we programmed a new play we are staging right now called Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, we already knew of course that immigration is a big issue in this country. But we had no idea how searingly hot it was going to be by the time we opened the play. It is delightful that Luis Alfaro’s play engages with the issues of the current moment, but that’s not why we did it. We did it because we liked the play. But the issue allowed us to build community partnerships around the play that are absolutely conscious of engaging with the conversation of the moment. For example, we have two symposiums in partnership with Catholic Charities that will include our attorney general, a leading immigration attorney, the deputy director of I.C.E. and two Dreamers. That kind of thing is totally in our zone. It’s not just pushing one point of view. It’s bringing together many sides and deepening the conversation you just experienced on the stage.

    NUMBER 6george-bernard-shaw-9480925-1-402So what’s with your love for George Bernard Shaw? I will tell you: The play we are doing this season that most directly engages the executive leadership of this country is Major Barbara — which of course never refers to America or our current president because it was written in 1907. But the themes are uncannily resonant.

    NUMBER 7Is there a place for current DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett on your team? I have actually known Nataki Garrett for 20 years because she stage-managed a show I acted in back in Atlanta. I have enormous respect and fondness for her, and I was delighted when she was hired to be the Associate Artistic Director here. I anticipate that she will continue in that role until she decides she doesn’t want it anymore. I also know there are a lot of people around the country who have noted Nataki's leadership capabilities, so I suspect there are people knocking at her door.

    NUMBER 8DCPA Education just launched its Theatre for Young Audiences program with a production of The Snowy Day that is directed at pre-kindergarten through third graders, and it was made in full collaboration with the Theatre Company's design staff. How important is it for the Theatre Company to have a strong relationship with the Education division? It's critical to me. One, because we have to prepare future audiences. It is so easy today to walk through life without any real cultural participation of some kind. So I think it's critical that we create, invent and provide as many on-ramps as we can. So education, outreach, and using every opportunity we can to build community relationships with people is just huge.

    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.

  • What a wonderful world it was with Daniel Langhoff

    by John Moore | Nov 12, 2017

    Video above: Daniel Langhoff sings 'What a Wonderful World' at an April benefit concert for the Denver Actors Fund. Video provided by Eden Lane and Sleeping Dog Media.

    The busy actor, husband and father fought cancer like the errant knight he played in Man of La Mancha. He was 42.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When award-winning Denver actor Daniel Langhoff was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2015, the first-time father dreamed what most every doctor told him was an impossible dream: To beat an unbeatable foe. And yet, over the next rocky and remarkable two and a half years, he reached star after unreachable star.

    Daniel LanghoffThe cancer was discovered just a few months after Langhoff and wife Rebecca Joseph welcomed daughter Clara into the world. Langhoff then fought the disease with the same earnest fortitude and blind optimism as Cervantes, the playwright who defends his life through storytelling in the classic Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. That's a bucket-list role Langhoff somehow found the mettle to play last year during a brief cease-fire with his disease, which would make a raging comeback only a few months later.

    In April, doctors discovered a second, more virulent form of cancer in Langhoff’s abdomen, and it was everywhere. The Langhoffs were told it would be a matter of months. Not that the diagnosis changed Langhoff’s attitude one bit. He fought on with grit, optimism and no small share of Quixotic delusion.

    “Dying never entered his mindset,” said Langhoff’s best friend, Brian Murray. “He always thought he would beat it.” It was only recently in the hospital, when Langhoff was no longer able to eat and fluid was filling his lungs that the impossible dreamer offered Murray this one slight concession to his adversary: “The prognosis is not good,” he told Murray.

    DanielLanghoffFacebook“Daniel fought the cancer by trivializing it — like it was just this little thing to be taken care of,” Murray said.

    Rebecca Joseph, known as R.J. to friends, gave birth to a second daughter, Naomi, on Nov. 2. It happened that day because Joseph made it happen that day. She had doctors induce labor to make certain Langhoff would be alive to see Naomi born. A few days later, Langhoff was admitted to Denver Hospice, where he again defied experts' expectations by fighting on for days until there was no fight left in him.  

    Langhoff died at precisely midnight today, peacefully and as his wife held his hand. He was 42.

    When he left, he was different from the man who married R.J. in 2015. During the ensuing years, as cancer gradually robbed his life, life in turn gave him everything to live for: A wife, two daughters, and the seminal roles of his acting career.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Daniel Langhoff Find an extensive gallery of Daniel Langhoff photos at the bottom of this report.

    A punctilious punster

    Langhoff was born in Denver on Nov. 8, 1975, and has been a performer since the third grade. He graduated from Cherry Creek High School and the University of Northern Colorado, and has been working steadily at theatres all over Colorado since 1999.

    He was known as a consummate actor with a quirky sense of humor; a way with a guitar, a song and a terrible pun; a geeky affinity for sci-fi films ...  and a massive collection of inappropriate T-Shirts.

    One of his favorites said: “When I die, I am going to haunt the (bleep) out of you.”

    "That was Daniel," his wife said.

    "Daniel was into weird science fiction, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, anything counter-culture and all manner of useless knowledge," said his frequent co-star and sometimes director, Robert Michael Sanders. "We had a shared love for underrated big-hair metal bands and Alien movies." 

    In the dressing room, Langhoff was a serial punster who was known for running exasperated castmates out of the room with his wit. But on stage, Sanders describes Langhoff as an intelligent, steady actor who could only be distracted from his task by perhaps, say … a random reference to Ridley Scott (maker of Alien).

    He was also one of the most dependable and pragmatic friends you could ever have, said Murray, who has been friends with Langhoff since appearing in Company together at the Town Hall Arts Center in 2008. 

    “I always called him my Vulcan,” said Murray, currently starring in Town Hall’s Seussical. “He was Spock, and I was Kirk. I was the emotional one, and he was the logical one."

    Ironically, Langhoff was the human being Murray turned to when he needed one most.

    "When I was going through a divorce in 2009, the only thing that helped me get by was playing video games with Daniel until 3 in the morning and telling him the same stories all over again," Murray said. "He would say to me, 'Brian, this thing happened. It was outside of your control. Now what you have to do is move through it and move on from that." 

    Perhaps the greatest testament to any man's character, Murray said: "Daniel was kind to everyone — even to the people who annoyed him." (Although, to be fair, Langhoff also loved to quote Tom Waits' life philosophy: "Champagne for my real friends ... and real pain for my sham friends.")

    Traci J. Kern was a real friend. For 22 years, Langhoff has been her constant. "Soon after our meeting, Daniel proclaimed himself the little brother I never wanted," she said. "Anytime I needed him, he was there. No questions asked, because it didn’t matter. Dan lived his life full of passion. Whether it was talking about music, theatre, movies, Stephen King novels, sports, his family, his babies or his wife — he spoke with such enthusiasm, you couldn’t help but be drawn in."

    A life on every stage

    Daniel Langhoff was, simply put, “the most consistent actor ever,” said Sanders. He was also just about the most consistently working Denver actor ever. The list of area theatre companies Langhoff has performed with reads essentially like the list of all area theatre companies. You would be hard-pressed to find a person or company whose path has not, at some point, crossed with Langhoff's on a Colorado stage.

    Dan Langhoff DCPA Love Perfect Change Shanna Steele Robert Michael Sanders Lauren Shealy“Once Daniel got it right, he went out and nailed it at that level every night," Sanders said. "You never had to worry what he was going to do, whether it was for one person or 100. Even for dumb stuff like Guys on Ice – he would find moments that mattered.”

    Langhoff made his Denver Center debut in 2010 in the musical comedy Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre, followed by a stint in a revival of the longest-running musical in Denver history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. He also performed in the DCPA Theatre Company’s seasonal stagings of A Christmas Carol in 2014 and 2015. The latter staging was right when Langhoff was starting his cancer fight. He had surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes – then immediately joined the cast, fitting rounds of chemo into 10-show weeks at the Stage Theatre.

    Langhoff’s substance and versatility put him in an elevated class among local performers: He was a nuanced dramatic actor with a rich singing voice — and an uncommon knack for comedy and children’s theatre. He could glide from playing the conflicted pastor fomenting the Salem witch trials in Firehouse’s The Crucible, to Coolroy in the Arvada Center’s children’s production of Schoolhouse Rock Live, to the long-suffering husband of a bipolar housewife in Town Hall’s Next to Normal.

    Langhoff’s breakout year was 2016, which began in triumph and ended in terror. It started with Performance Now's Ragtime. As Langhoff was continuing his initial chemotherapy, when he called Director Kelly Van Oosbree to express his interest in playing Tateh.

    “I remember thinking, ‘How in the hell is this going to happen?’ ” Van Oosbree said. “I couldn’t wrap my brain around it because if were in the same situation, I wonder how I would even cope. But Daniel did not let cancer stop him from doing anything.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Langhoff had strong sentimental and professional reasons for wanting to play Tateh. He had played the homegrown terrorist known as “Younger Brother” in a remarkable production of Ragtime for the Arvada Center in 2011, and he wanted to complete the circle by playing Tateh — also a dreamer, also a new father — for Performance Now. “Tateh was a role that spoke to him,” said Van Oosbree said.

    Dan Langhoff Sunglasses project. Photo by John MooreIn the summer of 2016, doctors declared Langhoff cancer-free. He celebrated by performing for the Arvada Center (40th anniversary concert), Firehouse (The Crucible) and Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Every Christmas Story Ever Told). He began 2017 by reuniting with Van Oosbree to play the chivalrous and insistent dreamer in Man of La Mancha. These were perfect bookend roles, said Van Osbree: Both Tateh and Cervantes are kind, inventive men who see the world not as it is, but how it should — or could — be. “They are both Daniel,” she said.

    But just as Man of La Mancha was to begin rehearsals, Langhoff noticed another abnormality in his abdomen, and doctors soon discovered a new, more prevalent and more vicious strain of cancer in his abdominal walls. Langhoff began a second round of chemo just as he had been cast to perform in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Arvada Center, followed by Ring of Fire at Vintage Theatre. This time, he would not be well enough to play either role. And he again downplayed the challenge. “I am just more physically compromised than I was before,” he conceded at the time.

    The great work of helping others

    Langhoff was known for helping out any company or cause that needed a hand — or a voice. Back in 2010, he joined the volunteer cast of Magic Moments' The Child. That's an annual musical revue where up to 200 disabled and able-bodied performers perform together, many for the first time. Langhoff played a war veteran opposite a devil character played by Drew Frady, his castmate back in the Arvada Center's 2008 staging of Les Miserables. Langhoff had been recruited as a late replacement for another actor. On his first day, the stage manager ended her introduction of Langhoff by saying, to his horror, “He loves hugs.” And, he later said with a laugh, “I didn’t really have the heart to correct her.”

    Over the next few months, Langhoff said, he learned to love hugs.

    “This is the kind of place where you can still be 5 minutes late for rehearsal, even if you show up on time, because there is a 5-minute gantlet of hugs to navigate,” he said.

    Daniel Langhoff, Laura Mathew Siebert and Nate Siebert. Photo by John Moore. Throughout his cancer ordeal, Langhoff was both a beneficiary of, and great champion of, The Denver Actors Fund, which in three years has made $133,000 available to Colorado theatre artists in situational need. Between direct aid and targeted donations, the theatre community has so far made more than $14,000 available to help the Langhoff family with medical bills, along with practical volunteer assistance. And Langhoff has given back at every opportunity, performing at five DAF fundraising events over the past three years.

    In April, a weakening Langhoff made a galvanizing appearance at United in Love, a benefit concert staged by Ebner-Page Productions that raised $40,000 for the Denver Actors Fund at the Lone Tree Arts Center. (See video at the top of this page.) 

    Dan Langhoff. Annaleigh Ashford. RDG PhotographyLanghoff sang a heart-rending version of What a Wonderful World to acknowledge the support and love he has received from the theatre community throughout his medical ordeal. “All of these performers, this stunning audience, all of these donors make me feel like my fight ahead is just a matter of logistics,” he said.

    (Photos at right, top: Photographer Laura Mathew Siebert, with son Nate Siebert, raised money for Langhoff's cancer fight in 2016 by taking portraits and donating the proceeds. Photo by John Moore. At right: Broadway's Annaleigh Ashford with Langhoff at Klint Rudolph at the April 'United in Love' concert for the Denver Actors Fund. RDG Photography.)

    His final performance was on Sept. 25 at Miscast, a popular annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, and it was one for the ages. Langhoff, Jona Alonzo and Norrell Moore, all actors in the midst of their own cancer journeys, performed a variation of the song Tonight, from West Side Story, that was written by Langhoff and his (pregnant) wife, who also choreographed. It was essentially a rousing declaration of war against cancer, and it brought the Town Hall Arts Center audience to their feet. The trio were immediately dubbed "The Cancer Warriors."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Daniel Langhoff, Jona Alonzo and Norrell Moore perform Sept. 25 at 'Miscast,' a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund, at the Town Hall Arts Center.

    The impact of family

    Everyone close to Langhoff says the courage and unyielding optimism he has shown since his diagnosis can be explained in three simple words: Rebecca, Clara and Naomi. "Those three were everything to him," Murray said. "They were his life."

    He met his R.J.  in a theatre, but Langhoff wasn't on the stage; he was a member of the audience. Joseph caught Langhoff's eye after a performance of Vintage Theatre’s Avenue Q. Langhoff noticed the assistant stage manager — usually one of the most invisible jobs in all of theatre. She eventually agreed to a late-night date at the Rock Bottom Brewery that almost didn’t happen because she was running late. Langhoff was appearing in, ironically, the dating comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Denver Center's Galleria Theatre. She was attending Red at the Curious Theatre, which ran longer than she was expecting. Luckily, he waited. Sanders later married the couple in a ceremony at the Town Hall Arts Center.

    Langhoff recently helped Sanders in a profound creative way when the singer-songwriter went into production on his second solo album (under the name Robert Michael). In 2013, Sanders was the victim of a botched shoulder surgery that partially paralyzed his arms and left him unable to play the guitar. Sanders now writes new music through the help of friends who act as his fingers. Langhoff co-wrote the lyrics and music to a track called Forever that Sanders says is informed in part by their own personal experiences:

    You found your forever. You put your hand in his.
    He pulled you close to him, gave you that forever kiss.
    You found your forever, now you'll wake up every day.

    With him smiling back at you, and you have no words to say.

    And that's OK.
    You found your forever. 

    (To listen to 'Forever' on Spotify, click here. Backing vocals by Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore.)

    As the theatre community struggles to process the news that Langhoff is gone, his friend Murray was asked what Langhoff himself might say to bring comfort to those he leaves behind. His response:

    "I think the Vulcan in Daniel would say to us exactly what he said to me: 'This thing happened. It was outside of everyone's control. I did everything I could to make it not happen, but it still happened. Now what you have to do is move through that and try to move on from that.' "

    In addition to his wife and daughters, Langhoff is survived by his parents, Jeannie and Charlie Langhoff, and his sister, Amy Langhoff Busch.

    After an intimate family service later this week, a larger celebration of Daniel Langhoff's life will be announced in the coming weeks.

    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.

    Here's how to help Daniel Langhoff's family:
    The Denver Actors Fund is accepting targeted donations that will go 100 percent to Rebecca Joseph to help with medical, funeral and expenses. Any eventual excess funds will go toward the future educational needs of daughters Clara and Naomi. Here's how it works: Click here. When prompted, "Where do you want your donation directed?" choose from the pulldown: "For the family of Daniel Langhoff." The Denver Actors Fund will absorb all transactional fees.) If you prefer to mail a check, the address is P.O. Box 11182, Denver , CO 80211. Separately, if you are motivated to start your own campaign to proactively raise additional funds for the Langhoffs, you can create your own personalized fundraising page on the Langhoffs' behalf. To do that, just click on this (different) link. Choose "Start a fundraiser." Follow the instructions from there.

    Photo gallery: A look back at the life of Daniel Langhoff

    Daniel LanghoffTo see more photos, click on the photo above to be taken to our full Flickr album.

    Daniel Langhoff/Selected shows and companies

    • High School: Cherry Creek
    • College: Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • Denver Center for the Performing Arts: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre; A Christmas Carol for the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Arvada Center: A Man of No Importance (Breton Beret), Ragtime (Younger Brother), A Man for All Seasons, A Wonderful Life, The Crucible, Man of La Mancha, Miracle On 34th Street Les Miserables. Children's shows: Charlotte's Web, Lyle the Crocodile, Schoolhouse Rock
    • Town Hall Arts Center: Next To Normal (Dan), Annie (Daddy Warbucks), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Company, Batboy! The Musical
    • Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company: Every Christmas Story Ever Told
    • Firehouse Theatre Compay: The Crucible (Rev. Hale)
    • Miners Alley Playhouse: Pump Boys and Dinettes
    • Performance Now: Man of La Mancha (Cervantes), Ragtime (Tateh)
    • Aurora Fox: Spamalot (King Arthur)
    • Vintage Theatre: Hamlet, Prince of Pork, 18 Holes (Lyle)
    • Next Stage: Assassins (The Balladeer)
    • Magic Moments: The Child
    • Hunger Artists
    • Film: Bouquet of Consequence, Why There Are Rainbows

    Video: Daniel Langhoff presents Community Impact Award to Denver Actors Fund:

  • 'RENT' announces daily Denver lottery for $20 orchestra seats

    by John Moore | Nov 10, 2017
    RENT Carol-Rosegg
    Kaleb Wells and Sammy Ferber of the Denver-bound 'RENT 20th Anniversary Tour' playing at the Buell Theatre from Nov. 14-21.

    Hopefuls may enter their names in a drum starting
    2½ hours before each performance in Denver

    Seats in the first two rows of the orchestra section will be available for $20 for every Denver performance of the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical playing at the Buell Theatre from Nov. 14-21.

    The $20 tickets are available for in-person purchases at The Buell Box Office on the day of each performance only. Starting 2½ hours before each performance, everyone who presents themselves at the Buell Theatre box office will have their names placed in a lottery drum. Thirty minutes later, names will be drawn for seats in the first two rows of the orchestra at $20 each.

    This lottery is available only in-person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person. Lottery participants must have a valid photo I.D. when submitting their entry form and, if chosen, when purchasing tickets.

    The tradition of the $20 Rent tickets began in New York in 1996 when the show moved to Broadway after a sold-out run in a small downtown theatre. The producers of the show are committed to continuing the tradition of offering orchestra seats for $20 in every city the show will play.

    RENT: 20th Anniversary Tour: Ticket information200x200-rent
    At a glance: This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Nov. 14-21
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more CLICK HERE


    More about RENT

    In 1996, an original rock musical by a little-known composer opened on Broadway and forever changed the landscape of American theatre. Two decades later, Jonathan Larson’s RENT continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences across generations and all over the world. Now, RENT returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. 

    A re-imagining of Puccini's  La Bohème, RENT follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters — love.   The show received its world premiere off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop on Feb. 13, 1996, and transferred to Broadway on April 29, 1996.

    RENT is winner of the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It is one of only five musicals to win both awards. Based on the original direction by Michael Greif (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), Evan Ensign will restage this 20th anniversary tour. Marlies Yearby (Tony nomination) will serve as choreographer.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of RENT:
    Two decades later, RENT still comes in on time
  • Two decades later, 'RENT' still comes in on time

    by John Moore | Nov 09, 2017
    RENT Carol-Rosegg
    The 20th Anniversary Tour of 'RENT' visits the Buell Theatre from Nov. 14-21. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

    When we think of RENT, we think of the ’90s. Yet it hasn’t become a period piece. Audiences are still coming.

    By Dan Sullivan
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Musicals are time capsules. Oklahoma! recalls what we were fighting for in ’43; Hair shows what we were fighting for in ’67; A Chorus Line mirrors the anxieties of the ’70s; The Phantom of the Opera captures the gilded ’80s.

    When we think of RENT, we think of the ’90s. Yet it hasn’t become a period piece. The music still sounds like today and the story sounds like a storm warning. The burning question, “How we gonna pay the rent?” echoes the not too distant past.   

    It was a question that was true of New York in the ’90s and one that Jonathan Larson, RENT’s young composer-lyricist, often asked himself while waiting on tables in SoHo. When somebody proposed he write a campy uptown version of La Bohème, Larson decided instead to set it in the East Village and to take his characters as seriously as Puccini had.

    To see who's in the 20th Anniversary Tour cast, click here

    The result was the megahit that every Broadway composer dreams of. Tragically, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm just before previews were to begin, as severe a shock as Kevin McCollum, RENT’s co-producer, ever hopes to sustain.

     RENT Carol-Rosegg Quote Kaleb Wells Skyler Volpe“Jonathan’s death was a tragedy,” McCollum said. “But it’s a mistake to see him as a character in his own story. It never occurred to him that he wasn’t going to be the new voice in the American musical theatre.”

    Like La Bohème, Rent concerns a band of would-be superstars, not all of them geniuses, toughing out the winter in an unheated loft in the East Village. As members of Generation X, they speak the musical language they were brought up on: rock, pop, soul, salsa, disco, country.

    Although hard to track, their adventures on Avenue B are both exuberant and alarming. And Rent shows why today’s parents agonize even more than their parents did when a child takes off to a roach-ridden apartment in the big city in order to “find out who I am.”
    “Can’t you do that around here?” Mom and Dad want to say. Instead they murmur, “Don’t forget to call.” Which the kid never does. So the parents do, and get voicemail.

    Mom’s fake-cheery voice from Scarsdale gets a laugh in RENT, but not a mean one: Larson, a White Plains boy, shares her concern. La vie bohème on Avenue B is hard-core and high-risk. Where Hair once glossed over the penalties of freaking out, Rent deals with them. A music video for “the life,” it’s not.

    Human, it is. One’s heart goes out to Mimi, the clueless cat-dancer, and to Roger, the out-of-tune guitarist, struggling to come up with his one great song (which keeps turning into Musetta’s waltz from Bohème).

    Yet hope keeps breaking in. Plus a certain amount of self-dramatization. (I said these were young people.) And true love, of course. (I said it was an American musical.) And a terrific score.

    RENT may not have been the first big step that the rock musical had taken since Hair — we can’t forget Jesus Christ Superstar — but it was the most propulsive musical to surface in a long while, fired not only by the energy of the young, but by their desperate need to make their lives happen before they ran out of time.

    The intensity of the emotion does not swamp the ship. “Mindless,” the usual synonym for rock musicals, won’t work for this one. If Larson’s tunes sound like the Top 40 fare his kids grew up on, he wrote them as a theatre composer, with careful attention to character and situation. Meanwhile his lyrics have an ironic edge that keeps the show from whining.

    “Jonathan did write a song about what victims his characters were; he took it out,” said McCollum, whose partner, Jeffrey Seller, had been tracking Larson’s career. RENT’s first workshop in ’93 hadn’t knocked Seller out. The next winter, Seller said to McCollum: “Remember that thing I saw a year ago? They’re doing another workshop tonight.”
    McCollum wasn’t interested.

    “I’d been doing deals all day and just wanted to go home and read a book. But Jeffrey says it’ll be good for me to go out. We walk into the New York Theatre Workshop. We see this huge stage with three metal tables set up. Jeffrey says, ‘This is either gonna be brilliant or a total mess.’

    “The show starts; I don’t know what’s going on. A girl called Mimi comes out and sings, ‘Light my candle’ and I start to cry. And the next song, and the next, and it’s some of the best writing I’ve ever heard. At the end of the first act I turn to Jeffrey and say, ‘Get out the checkbook.’ ”

    It wasn’t that simple, of course. It got very complicated after Larson’s sudden death just as the show started previews in the winter of 1996. It left McCollum and Seller with an unfinished show. Larson’s score was amazing, his characters alive, but the story still needed sorting out.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A solution was proposed: Incorporate Larson’s stage directions into the dialogue. The device helped to clarify what the characters wanted — not perfectly, but well enough — and McCollum wasn’t about to apologize for it.

    “We didn’t change Jonathan’s show. We made it clearer by using the clues he left us. We didn’t go with the cliché, ‘What would Jonathan have wanted?’ He would have wanted people to come to his musical.”

    Thousands of performances later, they’re still coming.

    The RENT 20th Anniversary Tour visits the Buell Theatre in Denver from Nov. 14-21.

    Dan Sullivan directed the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Critics Institute and reviewed for the Los Angeles Times.

    RENT: 20th Anniversary Tour: Ticket information200x200-rent

    At a glance: This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 19-31
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    RENT. Jasmine Easler, Lyndie Moe. Photo by Carol Rosegg.  Jasmine Easler, left, and Lyndie Moe. Photo by Carol Rosegg. 
  • Tony winner on Denver playwright Max Posner: 'I want him to be heard'

    by John Moore | Nov 08, 2017
    Max Posner. Deanna Dunagan. The Treasurer. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    'I did it because I believe in Max,' says Deanna Dunagan, creator of Violet Weston in August: Osage County

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver native Max Posner's new off-Broadway play The Treasurer closed on Sunday after an extended run, full houses and great critical acclaim. 

    Max Posner. The Treasurer. Playwrights HorizonsAnd the 29-year-old Denver School of the Arts grad is the first to admit that all of that was in large part due to the play being directed by David Cromer, presented by New York’s esteemed Playwrights Horizons, and starring Tony Award winner Deanna Dunagan and Peter Friedman, who played Tateh in Broadway's Ragtime.

    But Dunagan, whose life and career are based in Chicago, said on closing weekend there was only one reason she accepted the role: Max Posner.

    "It was because I believe in Max, and I wanted to help him get started," said Dunagan, who previously originated the epic, acidic role of Violet Weston in Tracy Letts' August: Osage County in both Chicago and on Broadway.

    "He is going to be an important playwright in the American theatre, you mark my words," Dunagan told the DCPA NewsCenter. "I want him to be heard."

    (Pictured above: Peter Friedman and Deanna Dunagan in 'The Treasurer,' courtesy Playwrights Horizons.)

    The Treasurer, which opened Sept. 22, is a darkly funny portrait of an elderly mother and her aging son. Ida Armstrong, who abandoned her husband and three sons when they were teenagers, is now broke, lonely and facing encroaching dementia in Albany, N.Y. Her 60-something son (who goes without a specific name but lives at a Denver address that matches Posner's childhood home), is then forced into the unfair and unwanted role of “The Treasurer."

    New York Magazine called The Treasurer "an invaluable new play." Ben Brantley of The New York Times called it tender and unforgiving. "Mr. Posner has a precocious feeling for the harshness with which people often judge themselves as they approach the midpoint of their lives," Brantley wrote. "His writing is often effectively double-edged, an amalgam of 21st-century casualness and cadenced lyricism. Mr. Posner has a sharp and original ear for the tension between what is spoken and what is not." 

    Our interview with Max Posner about The Treasurer

    Max Posner. The Treasurer. Curious New VoicesAnd to think he started out as a teenager in the inaugural class of young writers in the first Curious New Voices summer playwriting program started by Dee Covington of Curious Theatre Company in 2004. Posner's play was called Counting to Infinity. And it turns out that the director of that play (Laura Tesman Gillette) and one of his actors (Gary Culig) were at the final Saturday matinee performance of The Treasurer in New York (pictured right).

    Posner said of his overall experience with The Treasurer: “It’s a total fantasy realized." 

    The Treasurer also featured Marinda Anderson and Pun Bandhu, who starred in the DCPA Theatre Company's The Catch in 2011. Bandhu was also one of the original producers of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening

    Posner had his first New York production in 2015 with Judy, which is set in the winter of 2040. Posner called Judy “a subterranean comedy about family life when technology fails and communication breaks down."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Critics were not as kind to Judy. So what did it feel like to be understood and championed by New York critics this time around?

    "It was the feeling of not being murdered," he said with a laugh.

    Moving in next to the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre just vacated by The Treasurer is Mankind, written by Robert O'Hara and featuring Ariel Shafir. O'Hara directed just directed a rousing reimagining of Macbeth for the DCPA Theatre Company. Shafir played the title role.   

    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.

    Max Posner. The Treasurer. Photo by John Moore.
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    From the video archive: Our 2015 interview with Max Posner

    Watch our video interview with Max Posner from May 2015 in New York City. Video by John Moore.

    Selected previous coverage of Denver's Posner family:
    Max Posner's The Treasurer to be staged at Playwrights Horizons
    Denver playwright Max Posner scores first New York production
    Jessica Posner's triumphant tale is a world-changer and a page-turner
    Jessica Posner: Changing lives in a hell on Earth
    From 2006: Max Posner one of Colorado's "Can't Miss Kids"

    Max Posner/At a glance
    Max Posner’s play Judy premiered Off-Broadway in 2015 (Page 73, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll). Recent productions include Snore (Juilliard, directed by Knud Adams), Sisters on the Ground (Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll), and Gun Logistics (Drama League, directed by Knud Adams). He is the recipient of the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, the Heideman Award from Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, the P73 Fellowship, and two Lecomte du Nouy awards from Lincoln Center. Max is a Sundance Institute Theatre Fellow, a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, and was the Writer-In-Residence at Williamstown. He's an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Ars Nova's Playgroup, The Working Farm at Space on Ryder Farm, and I-73. He contributed to John Early's episode of The Characters (Netflix) and is working on a libretto for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus with composer Ellis Ludwig Leone. Max's plays have been developed by Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, Page 73, Clubbed Thumb, Williamstown, The Atlantic, Ars Nova, The Bushwick Starr, NYTW, American Theater Co., The Juilliard School, and Space on Ryder Farm. He is a frequent volunteer at Manhattan's 52nd Street Project. He studied writing as an undergrad at Brown, and recently completed a two-year Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship at The Juilliard School. Max was born and raised in Denver and lives in Brooklyn. 

    David Cromer/At a glance
    Recent credits include: Man from Nebraska (Second Stage Theater); The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company); The Effect (Barrow Street Theatre); Come Back, Little Sheba (Huntington Theatre); Angels in America (Kansas City Rep); and Our Town at the Almeida Theatre in London. New York Credits include: Women or Nothing at Atlantic Theater Company, Really Really at MCC, The House of Blue Leaves and Brighton Beach Memoirs on Broadway, When the Rain Stops Falling and Nikolai and the Others at Lincoln Center Theater. Also at the Barrow Street Theatre he has directed Tribes, Our Town, and Orson’s Shadow as well as Adding Machine, which was a BST production at the Minetta Lane. Originally from Chicago, his credits there include Sweet Bird of Youth (The Goodman); A Streetcar Named Desire, Picnic, and The Price (Writers Theatre); Cherrywood, Mojo, and The Hot l Baltimore (Mary-Arrchie); The Cider House Rules (co-directed with Marc Grapey at Famous Door); and Angels in America (The Journeymen); among others. For Michael Ira Cromer (1966-2015). 

  • In the Spotlife: Candy Brown of 'Love Letters'

    by John Moore | Nov 08, 2017
    Candy Brown and Mark Rubald. Lone Tree Arts Center.

    Candy Brown and Mark Rubald in 'Love Letters' at the Lone Tree Arts Center. Photo by Danny Lam.

    Pippin_Candy_Brown_Manson_800Candy Brown is playing Melissa opposite Mark Rubald in Love Letters from Nov. 9-19 at the Lone Tree Arts Center. Broadway credits include Grind, Chicago, Pippin, Hello Dolly and several Shirley MacLaine concert performances. She has an indelible place in Broadway history indelible for being part of the first Manson Trio, a signature Bob Fosse moment in the original Broadway production of Pippin. Brown can be seen in famous photographs stepping alongside Pamela Sousa with top hats and canes wearing white faces and exaggerated smiles just behind their Leading Player, Ben Vereen.

    • Candy Brown Quote Hometown: Northern California
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: Hermantown High School in Duluth, Minn.
    • College: St. Mary’s College of Moraga, Calif.
    • One recent role? The “role” I love most is being a guest artist in the theatre department at the Denver School of the Arts.
    • Twitter-sized bio: With any luck, I am rarely what I seem to be.
    • The role that changed your life: Performing as a Player and understudying Fastrada in the original Broadway cast of Pippin. While I had done three Broadway musicals, this was the first time I had worked on a Broadway show from the ground up. It was an eye-opening experience, and working with Mr. Fosse made me aware that I also needed to be a better actor to be a competent dancer. I had had some acting classes, but it made me want to study the craft more seriously ... which I did. READ MORE
    • Ideal scene partner: Meryl Streep and/or Viola Davis (pictured below right). Having never met either, I imagine they are both not only brilliant actors, but grounded and giving human beings.
    • What is Love Letters all about? It’s a relationship between a man and a woman spanning decades revealed in the letters they wrote to one another.
    • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: Melissa is a very wealthy free spirit. ... I am neither. But I certainly understand the moral, emotional and intellectual elements of her character. My favorite characters are those seemingly different from me — until the human connection is discovered. viola-davis-fences
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing your play? Theatre’s task is to illuminate the human condition. I will honor my contract to the audience to do that to the best of my ability.
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? This is painful to admit, but: I am quite boring.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I am passionate about empowering the young people with whom I come in contact in an educational platform. I am passionate to encourage them to be beacons going forth with confidence, and armed with passion and compassion wherever their paths lead.

    Check out all your November theatregoing opportunities

    Love Letters: Ticket information
    At a glance: Two actors, one stage and a love story spanning 50 years. Andrew Makepeace Ladd III wrote his first letter to Melissa Gardner to tell her she looked like a lost princess. They were both 7 years old. For the next five decades, through personal triumphs and despair, through wars and marriages and children and careers, they poured out the secrets of their hearts to each other — in letters.

    • Written by A.R. Gurney
    • Directed by Bruce K. Sevy
    • Featuring Candy Brown and Marl Rubald
    • Nov. 9-19
    • 10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue,
    • Tickets: $35-$45
    • For tickets, call 720-509-1000, or go to lone tree’s home page


    • Thursday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.

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    • Friday, Nov. 10, 8 p.m.

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    • Saturday, Nov. 11, 1:30 p.m.

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    • Saturday, Nov. 11, 8 p.m.

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    • Sunday, Nov. 12, 1:30 p.m.

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    • Sunday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m.

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    • Wednesday, Nov. 15, 1:30 p.m.

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    • Thursday, Nov. 16, 1:30 p.m.

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    • Thursday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.

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    • Friday, Nov. 17, 8 p.m.

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    • Saturday, Nov. 18, 1:30 p.m.

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    • Saturday, Nov. 18, 8 p.m.

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    • Sunday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m.

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    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Voters say emphatically improvements to DCPA and elsewhere are 2B

    by John Moore | Nov 07, 2017

    Denver Election 2017. Photo by John MooreCultural partners who will benefit from the passage of 2B gathered with Mayor Michael B. Hancock tonight in celebration. From left: Tamra Ward (Denver Zoo), Kristy Bassuener (Denver Art Museum), Andrew Rowan (Denver Zoo), Marie Revenew (Denver Zoo), Andrea Kalivas Fulton (Denver Art Museum) and Janice Sinden (Denver Center for the Performing Arts). Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Results mean renovations to Stage and Ricketson theatres, but will benefit an array of area cultural institutions as well

    By John More
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver residents overwhelmingly approved a bond initiative tonight that will make funds available for 460 projects valued at $937 million, including $19 million to renovate the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Stage and Ricketson theatres — without a tax increase.

    The proposed improvements were presented to voters as seven separate spending packages. The referendum that includes the DCPA and other cultural institutions, designated as 2B, passed with 71 percent approval. Votes in favor of 2B numbered 98,640, with 40,536 against. All seven ballot measures passed by similar margins.

    Denver Election 2017 Mayor Hancock. Photo by John MooreMayor Michael B. Hancock called the initiative "a thoughtful, balanced and responsible investment package created by and for the people of Denver." He credited the relatively easy victory to the voters themselves.

    "This is the people's bond," Hancock told the DCPA NewsCenter at a gathering in the Seawell Ballroom. "You led us to these investments. We heard you loud and clear. Tonight, the voters responded appropriately and now, because of you, we are able to go forward."

    DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden said improvements to the Stage and Ricketson theatres are now 40 years in coming. In full, 2B represents about $116 million that will benefit six other are facilities as well: The Denver Zoo, Buell Theatre, Red Rocks, Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

    "If voters had not supported 2B tonight, I think our arts and cultural institutions would have needed a lot more time to really engage the community to make these substantial improvements," Sinden said. "It would have taken an extraordinary effort to raise more than $100 million without 2B."

    Hancock, similarly, said what the city would have lost most tonight without these victories is time.

    "It would have taken a lot more time to get where we need to go as a city," he said.  Instead, the outcome represents an unparalleled opportunity for the city. 

    Roughly half of the total bond program will go toward road maintenance, sidewalk connections, intersection improvements and transit infrastructure. The slate includes library renovations; new recreation centers and playgrounds; and upgrades to police and fire stations, cultural institutions and enhancements to Denver Health Medical Center.

    The seven separate ballot questions included:

    • $431 million for transportation and mobility projects
    • $116.9 million for city-owned cultural facility improvements (including the Stage and Ricketon theatres)
    • $75 million for a new outpatient care center at Denver Health Medical Center
    • $77 million for safety facility projects
    • $69.3 million for Denver Public Library improvements
    • $151.6 million for parks and recreation
    • $16.5 million for city-owned facility improvements
  • The wait is over to find Denver's two little Lulus for 'Waitress'

    by John Moore | Nov 07, 2017

    The video above includes scenes from the Denver auditions on Oct. 5, comments from 'Waitress' assistant director Susanna Wolk, the presentation of the winners on Nov. 7 and a backstage talk with the chosen girls and their families.Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Two local girls win the thrill of their very young lifetimes when hit Broadway musical visits Denver in December

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced today (Nov. 7) that young Molly Scotto and Hazel Thompson will perform the role of Lulu in Waitress for the duration of the hit Broadway musical's upcoming Denver engagement. Each young actress will perform four shows per week through the show, which runs Dec. 19-31 at the Buell Theatre.

    A Waitress 400The character of Lulu is a sweet and carefree young girl aged 4 or 5 who appears in the production’s finale. The role will be cast locally in every city Waitress visits — and the auditions and casting decisions were conducted entirely by Waitress' Broadway creative team. Local auditions were held Oct. 5.

    Thompson, of Denver (pictured on the left), and Scotto, of Boulder (right), had the opportunity to step onto the Buell stage for the first time today at a press gathering to announce their selections. The young actors were presented with their very own “Congratulations Molly” and “Congratulations Hazel” pies from Centerplate to coincide with the unique names of the pies in the show.

    Watch the announcement as it played out on Facebook live

    Scotto is 4½ and has experience in yoga and ballet. She performed on the field for a University of Colorado football game through their Cheer Camp. She also plays soccer. 

    Thompson is 5 and has ballet and tap experience from the Dance Institute of Denver as well as participating in DCPA Education classes. She also does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and speaks a little Japanese.

    Waitress is the new Broadway musical inspired by Adrienne Shelly's 2007 motion picture. Brought to life by a groundbreaking, all-female creative team, Waitress features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Finding Neverland). Paulus launched the national tour of Pippin in Denver. (Finding Neverland, Pippin, Hair).

    Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county, and the town's new doctor, may offer her a chance at a fresh start as her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. 

    Waitress cast includes local favorite Lenne Klingaman

    "It's an empowering musical of the highest order," said the Chicago Tribune.

    The national tour of Waitress premiered in Cleveland on Oct. 17. It visits Denver's Buell Theatre from Dec. 19-31. Single tickets are on sale at denvercenter.org.

    Complete photo gallery: Finding our Lulus for Denver

    Waitress in Denver 2017
    Photos from the Nov. 7 announcement of Molly Scotto, left, and Hazel Thompson as the the two young Denver actors who will perform the role of Lulu in 'Waitress' for the duration of the hit Broadway musical's upcoming Denver engagement. To see more, click anywhere on the photo above. Photos by Emily Lozow and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Waitress in Denver: Ticket information

    • National touring production
    • Performances Dec. 19-31
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Waitress. Lulu. Denver Center. Photo by Emily Lozow. Photo by Emily Lozow.


    Video: Watch the announcement live

    Video above: Watch as DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg announces Molly Scotto and Hazel Thompson as the two young Denver actors who will perform the role of Lulu in 'Waitress' for the duration of the hit Broadway musical's upcoming Denver engagement. Check back soon for our interviews with the girls and their families.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    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.