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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

    The Great Leap Perspectives. Photo by John Moore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photo gallery: The making of The Great Leap:

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

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

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

    Read more: Our complete interview with Lauren Yee

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

    The making of 'The Great Leap'

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


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

    By Douglas Langworthy
    Denver Center Literary Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And who doesn’t love a surprise?

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

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

    Video: Your first look at The Great Leap:

    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

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

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

    Bonus coverage: Five pieces of fun insider basketball info:

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

    Read more: Our complete interview with Lauren Yee


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

    John Moore: Growing Up Nuggets Defined a Childhood

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

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His father, Ralph Moore, covered professional basketball in Denver from its inception to his retirement in 1983.

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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


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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Video: Your first look at Zoey's Perfect Wedding

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What can I say? He completes me.”

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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


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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mariachi community conversation: Food, music, issues

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

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


    amanda-robles-photo-by-adamsviscom

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Hamilton.

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

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

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

    Ten intriguing titles for February:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Fun Home is finding a home on stages all over Colorado

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

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

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

     

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

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    Sharon KayAURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

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

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


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

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


    BUNTPORT THEATRE


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


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


    DAIRY ARTS CENTER

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

    DUMBANDDUMBER

    DENVER ACTORS FUND

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

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

    Bruce Montgomery 300EVERGREEN PLAYERS

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

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


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


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


    THEATREWORKS

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


    PARKER ARTS

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

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


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

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

    VINTAGE THEATRE
    • Feb. 14: Same Time, Next Year (reading featuring Andrew and Kelly Uhlenhopp)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com
  • Lester Ward retires: 'There were really no dark days'

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2018

    Lester Ward Donald Seawell 2004
    The retiring Lester Ward, left, stood — literally — as Donald R. Seawell's right-hand man all the way back to the founding of the Denver Center in 1972. And before.


    The DCPA's modest former president and longest-serving trustee officially retired last month after 46 years of service

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    If the late Donald R. Seawell was the dapper, larger-than-life showman who commanded the spotlight for decades as the founder of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, attorney Lester Ward was more the genial and contented partner quietly applauding from the wings.

    But make no mistake, Seawell said in 2004: “Lester Ward has been an integral part of the DCPA since its inception.”

    Ward’s 46-year history with the DCPA is in many ways the history of the DCPA itself. And despite wild fluctuations in the economy and seemingly constant turmoil in the outside world, Ward now says with utter sincerity: “There were really no dark days" at the DCPA ... "because I thoroughly enjoyed every day I spent here.”

    Ward, 87, officially retired last month as the DCPA’s longest-serving board member, dating back to his appointment in 1986. Three years later, he was named the DCPA’s first-ever president and Chief Operating Officer — positions he held until his partial retirement in 2004.

    Lester Ward retired 2017. Photo by Julie Schumacher But Ward’s association with Seawell dates back to the mid-1960s, long before the famed theatre impresario dreamed up the 12-acre Denver Performing Arts Complex at the corner of 14th and Curtis streets on the back of a paper napkin. For decades, Ward stood in lockstep with Seawell as the newspaper magnate and confidant of prime ministers and Broadway stars grew the Denver Center for the Performing Arts into a world-class arts center out of what had been one of the sketchiest parts of downtown Denver.

    But Seawell’s vision was not universally shared by all of Denver. Not at first.

    “Don was rather amazed at the level of opposition there was,” Ward said. “And in fact, that was one of the reasons he wanted some help from me. But once Don decided on a course of action, that course of action was carried out, and carried out vigorously. And thank goodness. Just look what Don’s vision has meant for life in downtown Denver.”

    Audiences slowly came around. By 1998, the DCPA Theatre Company won the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Award as the nation’s Outstanding Regional Theatre. And so, two decades later, at Ward’s final board meeting on Dec. 5, DCPA Board Chairman Martin Semple and CEO Janice Sinden presented Ward with his own, personal replica of that award. 

    “It’s for Outstanding Performance as a Leader and Longstanding Supporter of the DCPA,” Semple said while presenting the award. (Photo above by Julie Schumaker.)

    Ward, Semple added, “was a key figure in the most glorious days of the DCPA and how it has developed over the years.”

    Ward, a modest Pueblo native, served Seawell as the DCPA’s attorney from its inception in 1972. They had met in 1965, when Ward was called in to help Denver Post editor Palmer Hoyt fight off a hostile takeover attempt. The newspaper’s longtime publisher at that time was heiress Helen Bonfils, and Seawell was her attorney and business partner until her death in 1972.

    “And then Don came up with the marvelous idea of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts,” Ward said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Ward helped Seawell create the DCPA Theatre Company and open the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex in 1979. From there, he had a hand in every significant development in the Denver Center’s growth and evolution. In 1984, for example, Ward facilitated the conversion of Seawell’s American National Theatre and Academy in New York into the DCPA’s on-site National Theatre Conservatory, a three-year masters program that included an apprenticeship with the DCPA Theatre Company through 2012.

    “The DCPA had virtually no education program until Lester came on board,” Semple said of a division that has since grown to serve 106,000 students a year.

    Lester and Rosalind WardWard and Seawell were key players in the 1988 creation of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, a voter-approved penny retail tax on every $10 that today infuses more than $50 million a year into metro-area arts organizations.

    Calling Mr. President …

    Seawell created the title of DCPA President and Chief Operating Officer for Ward in 1989. The job called for Ward to be in charge of all financial and administrative oversight of the DCPA while Seawell took charge of policy, fundraising and artistic direction.

    At the time, Ward still was living with wife Rosalind (pictured above) in their native Pueblo, where he had been a partner in his own law firm for 31 years. But the timing for a move to Denver was perfect. “The youngest of our three children was graduating high school and we were going to be empty nesters. So we thought, 'You know what? That sounds like a most enjoyable second career,' ” said Ward, who was 57 at the time. “It was a major decision, but we have had no regrets. I have been the luckiest guy in the world, with two wonderful careers.”

    But little did Ward know then that his second career would occupy his next 29 years.

    (Story continues below the photo gallery)

    Photo gallery: Lester Ward through the years

    Lester Ward: A Look back

    Photos above from Lester Ward's 46 years with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Click anywhere on the image above to be taken to a full gallery. Photos from Ward's final board meeting on Dec. 5 by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Under Ward's presidency, the Denver Center’s annual budget has grown from $13 million to $57 million. Ward supervised the creation of the DCPA’s National Center for Voice and Speech and the building of the Seawell Ballroom in the early 1990s. He worked with the city to open the Buell Theatre in 1990 as a home for Broadway touring productions. The inaugural visit, from The Phantom of the Opera, drew audiences from 40 states.

    In 2000, Time Magazine listed DCPA Theatre Company world premieres of The Laramie Project and Tantalus as both among the 10 best theatre productions in the United States that year. Tantalus was an epic, 10-play co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company that the Bonfils Foundation supported with about $12 million. “Nothing in the theater has come along like this in 2,500 years, and it probably won’t ever happen again,” he later said. RSC artistic director Adrian Noble called the collaboration “an extraordinary, landmark event in world culture.”

    In 2002, Ward helped the late DCPA Broadway Executive Director Randy Weeks land the launch of Disney’s The Lion King's first national tour for Denver.

    Robert Petkoff TantalusIn 2004, Seawell, who was then 92, and Ward, who was 75, decided to step down from their primary positions to make way for new blood. In Seawell’s case, that meant new CEO Daniel Ritchie — who was a spry, 73-year-old mountain climber. Ward was succeeded by Weeks, who died in 2014. Seawell and Ward both stayed on as board members, and in 2007, Ritchie persuaded Ward to become president of the Bonfils Foundation — a fund that began as Helen Bonfils' assets from owning The Denver Post and were used by Seawell to build the DCPA.

    But since 2001, the fund's investment portfolio has diminished from $82 million in cash, investments and real estate to about $35 million today, Ward said. That’s largely because in 1995, the Bonfils Foundation borrowed — and has since been repaying — $37 million in bonds and $13 million in interest to pay for building expansions and capital improvements. 

    Of all of Ward’s accomplishments, he said, the most lasting may be the least publicly known: As of December, the Bonfils Foundation — and by extension, the Denver Center — are now debt-free, he said.

    “I made the decision to step down in December because that was the month we paid off those bonds,” Ward said of the Foundation’s ongoing payments of between $1.5 million and $2 million per year.

    “I can say that the Denver Center is in terrific financial shape," Ward said, "and I am so excited for its future.”

    Regrets? He has a few: Seawell, Ward and Semple stood nearly alone when the board voted to close the National Center for Voice and Speech, and later, the National Theatre Conservatory, for financial reasons. “Those were programs that gave us national standing — and that meant something," Ward said.

    But Ward considers among his greatest accomplishments the gradual but now total demolition of the persistent cliché of Denver as being some sort of a cultural cowtown. Mostly because the agrarian in Ward believes the comparison to be an insult to cows.

    Lester Ward 400 FirstSCFDCheck“It’s absolutely a wrong perception to think that because you’re interested in livestock or agriculture or sports that you’re not also interested in theatre, dance or the symphony,” Ward said in a 1992 interview with the Intermountain Jewish News. “Colorado has an incredibly diverse array of lifestyles, and I think this community is as sophisticated as you will find anywhere in the country.”

    As he reflects on that matter today, Ward adds: “I think I am most proud of the way the Rocky Mountain community has adopted theatre into their lives. The theatre that we have both made here at the Denver Center and also presented from Broadway have absolutely made Denver a national focal point for theatre.”

    (Pictured right: Lester Ward with the very first Scientific and Cultural Facilities payout to the Denver Center, for nearly $500,000 in 1989.)

    ‘Denver is now the greatest city …’

    Ward is stepping back for a final time, he says with a laugh, during a period of continuing change at the Denver Center. Within the past two years, the executive team has added a new CEO (Janice Sinden), Board President (Martin Semple) Vice President of Technology (Yovani Pina), Theatre Company Artistic Director (Chris Coleman), Vice President of Marketing (Lisa Mallory) and is currently searching for a Director of Development. But Ward sees nothing but blue skies — and high-quality theatre — ahead.

    “I absolutely feel things are going in the right direction,” said Ward, who calls Sinden “a breath of fresh air” as CEO and says Coleman will be a “top-notch” Artistic Director.

    Like Ward, Semple has been around since the very beginning of the DCPA, and Semple was in the room when Seawell introduced Ward as president back in 1989.

    “Don Seawell described Lester that day as the most intelligent, the most conscientious and the most civic-minded person he knew,” Semple said. “We believe that, because we have seen that.”

    At the final board meeting last month, DCPA trustees voted to designate both Ward and Margot Frank, who also is retiring after 17 years of service, as honorary trustees. The motion passed unanimously. Attorney Robert Slosky pointed out that Frank’s license plate is a shortened version of the word FUNDRAISER. “The T is silent,” Slosky said, “but Margot is not.”

    Ward is feeling good about stepping aside now. “I am just as pleased as I can be,” he said. “Denver is now the greatest city in the country in my opinion, and it has been a privilege for me to be involved with that.” 

    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.

     

    Lester Ward: Four favorites

    MAMMA MIA! North American Tour 2015 by Joan MarcusFor all of his attention to the bottom line, former DCPA President Lester Ward is quick to point out that the sole purpose for the DCPA’s existence is “to make people aware of what a wonderful force live theatre is in our lives. How it helps people to see the world and understand issues of every kind.” To that end, we asked Ward to name four personal favorite Denver Center offerings over the years:

    • St. Joan, Theatre Company, 1989
    • Wit, Theatre Company, 2001
    • Julius Caesar, Theatre Company, 1992
    • Mamma Mia (six Denver stops between 2003-17, pictured at right)


    Lester Ward: Highlights

    • Hometown: Pueblo
    • Graduated from Pueblo Central High School, Harvard College and Harvard Law School
    • Wife: Rosalind, 53 years
    • Children: Ann Marie, Alison Kay and Lester III. Four grandchildren. Niece Elizabeth Ward Land is a Broadway actor, most recently in Amazing Grace
    • Served in the U.S. Army, 1955-57
    • Partner at the private law firm of Predovich, Ward and Banner, 1957-89
    • Named Outstanding Young Man of 1964 by the Pueblo Jaycees
    • Appointed by Governor Dick Lamm to serve on the Colorado Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, 1975
    • President of the Colorado Bar Association, 1983-84
    • Named to the DCPA Board of Trustees, 1986
    • Named President and Chief Operating Officer of the DCPA on July 1, 1989
    • Chair of the Performing Arts Center Consortium, consisting of 27 major performing-arts centers in the U.S., Canada and Australia, 2001-02
    • President of the Helen G. Bonfils Foundation, 2007-16
    • Boards and charities including: Pueblo Kiwanis Club, Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, Pueblo Public Library, St. Mary Corwin Hospital, Thatcher Foundation, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Lawyers for the Arts
  • 'Rise Up!' More things to know about 'Hamilton' tickets

    by John Moore | Jan 30, 2018

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

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

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

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

    VIEW A LEGITIMATE DCPA RECEIPT EXAMPLE

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

    Three important highlights from those policies: 

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

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

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

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

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

    More answers to your Hamilton questions in our FAQ

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

    Hamilton Sample Ticket

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

    Hamilton Sample Ticket

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

    Hamilton: At a glance

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

    by John Moore | Jan 30, 2018
     

    Opening night is this Friday in the Stage Theatre

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


    Production photos:

    American Mariachi

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

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for The Book of Mormon in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party run the risk of overpaying, purchasing illegitimate tickets and should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance. Patrons found in violation of the DCPA Ticket Purchase and Sale Terms and Policies  may have all of their tickets canceled.

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

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

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

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

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

    Photo gallery: The Book of Mormon

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


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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    More information:
    • Visit the official The Book of Mormon website at BookofMormonTheMusical.com
    • Follow The Book of Mormon on Twitter and on Facebook
    • Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center
  • January 2018: Applause Magazine puzzle solution

    by John Moore | Jan 26, 2018
    With each new issue of Applause Magazine, we offer readers a puzzle related to our current shows. Here is the most recent crossword puzzle, covering The King & I, Stomp, Zoey's Perfect Wedding, American Mariachi and The Great Leap (which we took as permission to ask a few random questions about sports and theatre).

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

    Applause Crossword 800


    ACROSS clues:
    • 4. American Mariachi playwright José Cruz González also wrote the DCPA’s world-premiere play Sunsets and _______
    • 6. Stomp started as two miming British street artists performing a genre widely known as ______
    • 8 Zoey playwright Matthew Lopez also wrote The _________ Man.
    • 10. Lyric: “Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect and whistle a ____ tune.”
    • 12. Stomp features eight performers who employ unconventional variations of this type of musical instruments
    • 13. Zoey's Perfect Wedding playwright Matthew Lopez also wrote The Legend of Georgia _______
    • 14.  A performance of Stomp contains none of these, because the creators believe everyone can fully understand it without them.
    • 17.  The King & I is set in this city, which also has bloodlines to a famous song from Chess.
    • 18.  In the 1970s, it was unheard of for this gender to be playing mariachi music.
    • 20. Mariachi bands generally wear this kind of suit in performance.
    • 22. The idea behind Stomp is to try to find music within this, a word that usually describes unwanted sound.

       
      DOWN clues
    • 1. The most famous American to play professional basketball in China to date is Stephon _______
    • 2. Matthew Lopez was named the DCPA’s first- ever _________ Fellow in 2014
    • 3. Acclaimed baseball play about the first openly gay major-league player: Take Me _______
    • 4. Doctors believe playing this can help reach a patient with dementia even as memory fails
    • 5. Last name of the actor who played King Mongkut in The King and I 4,625 times on stage.
    • 7. The King & I is based on the novel Anna and the King of ____.”
    • 9. The generally very organized wedding _____ is typically not the drunkest person at the party. Typically.
    • 11. According to the playwright, this is the only Western sport that has never been banned in China
    • 13. The tradition of mariachi music is believed to have begun in this country.
    • 15. Song from The King & I: Shall We ______?
    • 16. Howlingly well-received current Broadway play about girls’ soccer: The _______
    • 19. Last name of basketball player who was famous for the accuracy of his underhanded free throws
    • 21. Last (family) name of the Chinese center who played in eight NBA All-Star Games as a member of the Houston Rockets.

    Zoey Crossword Puzzle. Adams Viscom

    Mallory Portnoy and Nija Okoro in 'Zoey's Perfect Wedding.' Photo by AdamsVisCom.

    Applause crossword puzzle solution


    Recent previous downloadable puzzles:

    RENT, Chicago, Mannheim Steamroller, Elf, Waitress and A Christmas Carol DOWNLOAD

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

    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

  • Lakewood High School's Tami LoSasso chosen for national advocacy leadership role

    by John Moore | Jan 26, 2018
    Tami LoSasso 2017 Bobby G Awards 2017. Photo by Emily Lozow.
    Lakewood High School's Tami LoSasso accepts her 2017 Bobby G Award for Outstanding Achievement in Direction last May at the Buell Theatre. Photo by Emily Lozow.

    Two-time Bobby G Award winner joins national grassroots initiative on behalf of theatre and other arts education

    Tami LoSasso, a two-time Bobby G Award-winning director and longtime theatre educator at Lakewood High School, has been selected as a member of the 2018 class of the Advocacy Leadership Network, it was announced today by the Educational Theatre Association in Cincinnati.

    That's a three-year pilot initiative started last year designed to train and empower members of the Educational Theatre Association in grassroots advocacy efforts on behalf of theatre and other arts education. Up to 10 representatives will be selected annually in a competitive process.
     
    Now in her 17th year of teaching, LoSasso has grown the program at Lakewood from two sections of theatre to a full offering ranging from introductory classes to advanced and I.B. Theatre, and a unified theatre program for students with special needs. Next year, she will introduce a slam poetry course for at-risk youth.

    Each year, Lakewood High School produces six shows including three full-length plays, one musical, one unified production, and student directed one-act plays.

    Last May, LoSasso earned her second Bobby G Award for Outstanding Achievement in Direction, for Sweeney Todd, with Yovana Milosevic. LoSasso also won in 2014 for Young Frankenstein, with Delaney Bohlen.

    Just two weeks ago, LoSasso's sophomore student Arianna Josue was named one of the 10 semifinalitsts for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' fifth annual statewide playwriting competition.
     
    LoSasso is in her third year as Chapter Director for Colorado Thespians and is an active voice of advocacy for theatre education in Colorado.

    EdTA is a national nonprofit organization with approximately 125,000 student and professional members that supports and promotes school theatre. The Educational Theatre Association is the home of the International Thespian Society, an honor society for middle and high-school theatre students, which has inducted more than 2.3 million members since 1929.
     
    The goal of the pilot program is to create an effective and self-sustaining network of advocates who monitor and share state-based arts education policies, legislation, and advocacy successes that can be modeled by others.
     
    “The concept of the Advocacy Leadership Network is based on the notion that networking can help resolve common and unique issues impacting theatre education, especially when you have trained and committed advocates," said James Palmarini, Educational Theatre Association director of educational policy. So, each year, as we add more states, we become stronger and more effective as veterans help to mentor new members.”
     

    Direction
  • How Wonderbound, Chimney Choir make music that really cooks

    by John Moore | Jan 24, 2018

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

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

    By Erica Prather
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Read more: Here's our 101 primer on Wonderbound

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

    Aphrodite’s Switchboard: Ticket information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • John Lithgow's Broadway 'Heart' beats back to Boulder

    by John Moore | Jan 24, 2018

    John Lithgow. Stories by Heart. Photo by Joan Marcus‘Stories are the life's blood to all of us,’ John Lithgow says. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    John Lithgow, again the toast of Broadway, gave Boulder audiences a sneak peek at his intimate play back in 2011

    Note: This interview was originally published in The Denver Post on Aug. 25, 2011, when John Lithgow came to Boulder to perform Stories by Heart to help launch Boulder’s Local Theatre Company. Lithgow is now performing the play on Broadway through March 4.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The symmetry was exquisite and heartbreaking.

    A grown son, like millions before him and millions to come, struggling with how best to care for his sad, sick parents, reading them bedtime stories — the same ones they had read to him as a boy.

    It was especially hard for actor John Lithgow to reconcile the depressed man before him with the father he had always known. “He had lost his spirit, and his will to go on,” said Lithgow. “He had all but given up.”

    JohnLithgowQuoteArthur Lithgow had lived as the consummate gypsy, an actor and director who instilled in all his young Lithgows a love for storytelling. He was a man of such gusto, he once covered for an ill fellow actor by playing both Baptista and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew — at the same time. He used a black cloak and an orange cap to distinguish the two characters, “and the audience just roared,” said John Lithgow, award-winning star of stage and screens big and small.

    But in 2002, after months of caring for his parents, Lithgow just could not cheer his father up, “and I knew that was my No. 1 task,” he said.

    The idea hit him like a bolt.

    He combed through his parents’ bookshelves until he came upon an old tome called Tellers of Tales, a collection of 100 short stories his father had often read to his kids.

    “I told my parents to pick a story as they were lying in bed, and they chose P.G. Wodehouse’s Uncle Fred Flits By, ” Lithgow said.

    Lithgow launched into the zany tale, “and as I was reading it, my father started to laugh,” he said. “In my mind, in that moment ... he came back to life.”

    Seeing it, Lithgow said, “crystallized all my thoughts about acting and performing and entertaining and storytelling.” It hit him why we all want and love stories in our lives: “They persuade us we are human, and they reacquaint us with our own emotions,” he said. “They are the life’s blood to all of us.”

    Lithgow comes to Boulder’s Chautauqua Auditorium on Sunday to perform his one-man stage memoir, Stories by Heart.

    It’s billed as the inaugural production by the Local Theatre Company founded by Boulder’s Pesha Rudnick. She’s Lithgow’s niece — the daughter of another sibling who grew up spellbound by Arthur Lithgow, teller of tales.

    But that’s not why he’s coming to Boulder.

    “Oh, I’ll do the show at the drop of a hat,” Lithgow said of Stories by Heart. “If I were a vaudevillian in the old days, this would be called my trunk show. I just carry it around and do it anywhere.”

    New York Times: Stories by Heart is delightful and uplifting

    In Boulder, he will reflect on how storytelling shaped his upbringing while he’s performing — not merely telling! — Uncle Fred Flits By and the decidedly darker Haircut, by Ring Lardner. The first is a silly British comedy in which Lithgow plays 10 outrageous characters (including a parrot). The second he calls “a darkly comic and extremely mordant American story.”

    John Lithgow as Winston Churchill in TheCrownLithgow believes there has been a renaissance in great storytelling of late, citing Elizabeth Stroud’s Olive Kitteridge, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionistsas favorites, as well as old standby John Irving, who helped vault Lithgow to fame by penning The World According to Garp, the film version of which earned Lithgow his first Oscar nomination.

    (Pictured at right: John Lithgow recently won his sixth Emmy Award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the Netflix drama The Crown.)

    But as a matter of nightly routine, storytelling has been under siege in households across America for decades. “And it all started with that (expletive) remote control!” Lithgow said.

    “I think our sensibilities have changed in the way stories are delivered to us,” he said. We’ll rotely sit in front of a TV for five hours, but we can’t stand still for 40 minutes while our own parents tell us tuck-in tales.

    But Lithgow is an optimist. He cites the recent sold-out, seven-hour off-Broadway production of Gatz, which takes the audience through every word of The Great Gatsby.

    And Irving’s recent opus, Last Night in Twisted River — another period novel Lithgow says his hero writes “almost in defiance of the snappy 200-page novels that are so popular.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “People do respond to great storytelling,” he said. “People get surprised by their patience. And I like to think that there’s a great hunger for that, almost because of and in the face of the digital revolution.”

    Those who sate that hunger with Lithgow on Sunday will hear two stories framed by the narrator, now 65, telling his very personal story about telling stories to his parents.

    “People identify so powerfully to that aspect of the evening, especially people of my age who have older parents,” he said. “Once you get north of 50 or 60, that experience becomes extremely poignant and intense.”

    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.

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

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

    The making of Zoey's Perfect Wedding

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues below the video.)

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

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

    Watch more: Our video interview with Director Mike Donahue

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

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

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

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

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    : Production photos

    Zoey's Perfect Wedding

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


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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Video, photos: Daniel Langhoff celebration of life highlights

    by John Moore | Jan 21, 2018
    Video highlights:



    The video above offers highlights from the celebration of life for Denver actor Daniel Langhoff held Dec. 4, 2017, at the Arvada Center. (Photos below.)

    The host was Robert Michael Sanders.

    Daniel Langhoff, who performed at the Denver Center and around the state, died of cancer at age 42 just 10 days after the birth of his second daughter.

    Performances and testimonials from Kathy Albertson, Jacquie Jo Billings, Lindsey Falduto, InterMezZo, Traci J. Kern, Norrell Moore, Brian Murray, Matt LaFontaine, Neil McPherson, Brian Merz-Hutchinson, David Nehls, Mark Sharp, Brian Smith, Carter Edward Smith, Megan Van De Hey and Markus Warren.

    The event planners were Eugene Ebner and Paul Page. The Band Organizer was Rick Thompson.

    Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Special thanks: Rebecca Joseph.

    Read more on the life of Daniel Langhoff


    Photo gallery:

    Daniel Langhoff

    To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr photo gallery Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Choose your 500 Days of Summer screening seats here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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


    Video bonus: Cashelle Butler visits Cherry Creek High School:

  • 'American Mariachi' community conversation: Food, music and tough issues

    by John Moore | Jan 18, 2018
    Making of 'American Mariachi'

    Local performers Deborah Gallegos and Yolanda Ortega of Su Teatro at the DCPA's 'recent American Mariachi' community conversation. To see more photos, click the image above to be taken to a full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'We've got some work to do,' DCPA tells Latinx community at forum addressing both barriers and opportunities

    By John Moore
    Senior Ats Journalist

    The DCPA hosted one its largest community conversations on record Jan. 11, when about 100 local Latinx and others gathered to talk about the many possibilities and challenges afforded by the Theatre Company's upcoming world premiere of the musical play American Mariachi.  

    And several admitted they came looking for a fight. One was Reynaldo Mireles, program manager of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of Colorado.

    “My first thought when I received the invitation was that I want to go down there and fight with some gringos,” Mirelis said to laughter. “I thought, ‘Well, I never got an invitation from the DCPA to have a conversation about us being Latinos before,’ so I was really coming in with that fighting energy.”  

    But he quickly softened after arriving at the DCPA’s Newman Center for Theatre Education. And for two reasons, he said: “There was cena … and there was musica.”

    Dinner and music.

    Cynthia Reifler Flores. American Mariachi Photo by John MooreThe latter was a rousing, 30-minute performance by the American Mariachi house band led by Cynthia Reifler Flores (pictured right), described by director James Vásquez as “one of the leading female mariachis in the world.” The musical demonstration, led by Flores' singing, moved legendary, five-decade Su Teatro actor Yolanda Ortega to spontaneously tell Flores: “You sing with your heart and with every little fiber in your body. I'm your new groupie.”

    Attendees represented a wide range of metro cultural, business and civic groups including the Mexican Cultural Center, Telemundo Denver, Mi Casa Resource Center, Museo de las Americas, The GrowHaus and the Denver mayor’s office, along with individual artists, teachers and students. Also representing was the entire cast of American Mariachi, José Cruz González’s story of a young woman in the 1970s who becomes determined to form an all-female mariachi band in a desperate attempt to connect with a mother lost in her dementia. The play, a co-production with the Old Globe Theatre, moves directly to San Diego for performances there after it closes in Denver on Feb. 25.

    Others admitted to their cynicism as well. But after 90 minutes of blunt and constructive conversation about the sustainability of the DCPA’s aggressive commitment to communities of color both during and after American Mariachi, any opening clenched fists changed to handshakes.

    “We are here to support you, and I am really excited about bringing more GLBT from our community to the play,” Mireles said at the end of the evening. “And of course, our ninas, because I am wanting them to see what they could actually become one day.”

    How did Mireles and others move so far in such a short period of time? In part because DCPA Director of Strategic Projects FloraJane DiRienzo came clean.

    “We’ve got some work to do,” DiRienzo said flatly. Not so much onstage: The Theatre Company has in recent years staged three world premieres by González as well as new works by Karen Zacarias, Octavio Solis, Rogelio Martinez and other Latinx playwrights.

    “We have always had a longstanding commitment to diverse voices on stage," she added. "But in some ways that has fallen a little bit short because we have make sure that our audiences are just as diverse as those voices that are onstage

    Suggestions from the community included making sure bilingual employees are positioned at the front door of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex to welcome all first-time patrons who need help finding their way around. Others hope that translated supertitles like you see at the opera are made available for non-English-speaking audiences. Others wondered if a performance or two might be presented entirely in Spanish. The director and his cast committed to both exploring those possibilities, and to making personal appearances at any local school that asks them.

    The primary, systemic barriers to attendance at major arts venues by communities of color are not unique to Denver: The price barrier, getting the word out to the people who might be most invested in a given story, and the cost and general intimidation of downtown parking.

    One of the most moving testaments to that reality came from Bianca Acosta, a young, single mother who is working to becoming a teacher at Bryant-Webster, a dual language Denver Public School that happens to house Mariachi Juvenil de Bryant Webster — the first after-school elementary mariachi group in the DPS system. She said:

    “I was not going to come tonight because my grandfather passed last night in Mexico. The last time I came here, I got lost for almost an hour looking for this  building because I am not familiar with driving downtown. And if I pay $10 for parking — that's my budget for gas for an entire week. Those are real things. Denver is such a beautiful city, and I am so in love with it, but it's expensive. But I am here to represent my community.

    “When I first heard this play was happening, I was so excited, but then when I saw the price of the tickets, I said to myself, ‘I can't even afford to bring me, much lesss my family.’ I see my family every day struggling to survive. When we talk about theatre, it doesn't even cross their minds because it is so out of our reach.

    “That's why I wanted to come tonight: To tell you that our communities deserve to have the experience to see this play just like anyone else. So how can we make that happen? Is there a way to raise money to bring as many families, especially Spanish-speaking families, to the play? I imagine that many of those people who come will be going to be in a theatre for the first time. I can imagine their kids being blown away by seeing their culture and their music portrayed on the stage. How can we make that possible?”

    DiRienzo told the crowd the DCPA is committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to see the play has an opportunity.

    "It's possible," DiRienzo told Acosta. "Yes, it's possible.”

    DCPA board member Patricia Baca told Acosta and others in attendance that  the DCPA has scholarships and corporate underwriting that can make it affordable for families with financial hardship to come to the DCPA not only to see its plays but to participate in classes offered by the Education Division. And she made it plain that the DCPA’s commitment to Latinx and other communities of color is neither new nor fleeting.

    "The Denver Center is for everybody," she said.

    “And this is not the first or last play we will ask you to come in and give us your thoughts about,” Baca added. “And we will not only ask you to give us your thoughts on Latino-oriented plays. We want you here for the multitude of offerings, and we want to know what you think and feel.

    “The conversation cannot end here. The conversation needs to continue. The suggestions you have made have been noted. And we will take action on as many of those as we can.” 

    Here is a roundup of other comments from the community conversation:

    American Mariachi director James Vásquez: “My full name is Pedro James Vásquez. My dad was born in Mexico, and my mom in  Southern California. I look very much like my mother, while my two younger brothers look very Mexican. I don't have a Spanish accent, so growing up, I got made fun of by a lot of my cousins for the way I spoke. So I just stopped speaking. American Mariachi is about reconnecting people to their culture. It’s about being given permission to reconnect with your culture, and attempt to start speaking again. And I am grateful for that.”

    Tina Walls, DCPA Board member: “My big passion is bringing the arts and culture of the underrepresented to the broader community, and bringing the under-represented, especially the kids, to this wonderful cultural footprint that we have in this community."

    Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski, DCPA Associate Director of Education: “People don't get any whiter than I am, and no more devoted to mariachi. And I can tell you that mariachi saved my life when I was growing up. I came from a very violent high-school experience, but we would stop everything when my peers would bring out their instruments and bring us all together in the halls of our high school in Northern California. So I am very much a witness to the story you are telling. Could we have any greater Valentine to our community than this play?”

    Jesse Ogas, Su Teatro and Fire Fly Autism: “We are seeing bigotry and hatred and ugliness in our community that I have not experienced in my lifetime — but my parents did. And to watch them now as elders having to relive that just infuriates me. What you are doing right now with American Mariachi is extremely important at this particular time in our history because you are portraying who we are as people — and to celebrate us in this way really is important. It takes courage.”

    Patty Baca, DCPA board member: "This play is going to be one of the delights of our community this year. I believe so strongly in this story, especially for our children so that they can see our people on the stage. See our people writing the play, directing the play, designing the play — and knowing that those are all possibilities for them as well.”

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

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

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

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

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

  • 'Fun Home' is finding a home on stages all over Colorado

    by John Moore | Jan 17, 2018

    Fun Home. Miners Alley Playhouse. Sophie Dotson. Photo by John Moore.

    Sophie Dotson, who plays 'Small Alison' in Miners Alley Playhouse's staging of 'Fun Home' opening Jan. 26 in Golden, sang 'Ring of Keys' at an anti-censorship event at the theatre in September. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Landmark Best Musical of 2015 will be staged in Golden, Colorado Springs and, opening tonight, in Fort Collins

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Fun Home
    was never supposed to make it to Broadway. The first major musical with a lesbian protagonist couldn’t possibly win the Tony Award. There was no chance a touring production could ever succeed traveling the conservative heartland. And surely small theatres across America would never have the courage to stage the story themselves.

    And yet … all of those things have happened.

    Every state in the country has at least one homegrown production of Fun Home scheduled in 2018. Colorado has three — in Fort Collins, Golden and Colorado Springs.
    “That gives me goosebumps bigger than the Rockies,” said Boulder’s Liz Armstrong, co-producer of the underdog 2015 Broadway sensation that starred Tony-nominated Douglas County native Beth Malone.

    Beth Malone Fun Home QuoteMalone is fiercely vulnerable when it comes to Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of a woman who dives deep into her past to revisit how she discovered her own sexuality while at the same time trying to piece together the puzzle of her enigmatic father. It is a disarmingly honest musical about seeing your parents for the first time through grown-up eyes.

    “At first I thought, ‘If people across the country are not going to embrace or accept Fun Home, then that is going to hurt me very deeply,’ ” Malone told the DCPA NewsCenter. “But every time I've had any fear with Fun Home … whenever we have gone to a new level or to an unknown place, love and acceptance have truly outweighed any kind of hate that steps forward to be heard.”

    And the fact that Fun Home is not just coming to Colorado, but is now being made in Colorado, Malone said, “pleases me more than I can even express.”

    Malone was speaking from New York during a costume fitting for her next role as no less than The Angel in the coming Broadway revival of Angels in America. She said if not for the job that promises to shoot her career into yet another stratosphere, “I would go to every single one of those productions in Colorado — just to watch the audience.”

    What she would see, Malone expects, is what she saw time and again when she was performing Fun Home in Times Square: Lives changing before her eyes. Not only those in the audience struggling with their own identities, but those holding firm to moral objections to homosexuality itself.

    Fun Home has this magical ability to incrementally shift people’s attitudes,” Malone said. “Fun Home has a way of teaching people how to think and how to feel from a different spot in themselves than they are used to operating from. I saw it happen with my own dad.”

    Fun Home Midtown Arts CenterMalone was estranged for her conservative father for years after she came out as gay. Fun Home, she said, helped them find each another again — in an entirely new and admittedly uncomfortable context. “After he saw Fun Home,” Malone said, “I noticed just a shade more compassion in him, after having been opened up by this one very specific story.”

    And in that small Fun Home example, Armstrong says, “I see the potential for a mass awakening of humanity.” Especially at the very thought that, say, a young lesbian in rural Greeley might find her way to the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins to see Fun Home when it opens on Thursday (Jan. 18).

    (Photo above and right: Monica Howe and Vince Wingerter in Midtown Arts Center's production of 'Fun Home,' opening tonight, Jan. 18.)

    “And that possibility moves me more than any words could ever capture,” said Armstrong, who, like Bechdel, grew up with a closeted gay father. Armstrong was raised in Texas but spent summers in Aspen before moving there at age 25 — and later to Boulder. After her parents’ divorce, she said, “Dad moved to Aspen specifically because it had a gay community that he could breathe and live in, as opposed to the Bible Belt in West Texas.”

    Liz Armstring. Fun Home quoteSo Fun Home is a story that lives in her bones. New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley called it "an extraordinary musical that pumps oxygenating fresh air into the cultural recycling center that is Broadway."

    Alison is represented onstage by three actors playing the character at different ages. One of the signature moments of the musical comes in the song “Ring of Keys,” when the youngest Alison takes notice of a woman with short hair walking into a store wearing dungarees and boots — and experiences sexual attraction for the first time. This moment, Armstrong said, is a rite of passage for every young person dressed in skin, regardless of sexual orientation.

    “Everyone has a ‘ring of keys’ moment,” Armstrong said. “Everyone has to find themselves.” That is just one reason Malone believes the potential audience for Fun Home is really anyone born of a mother. “Because Fun Home is not only the story of Alison,” she said. “It’s also about her father, Bruce. It’s also about her mother, Helen. It is also about the other kids. It’s about anyone who was raised in a house with a family. And when you walk out, you'll be like, ‘Oh. Wow.’ Now I'll have to give my entire identity some thought.’ ”

    Putting the fun into Fun Home

    Kurt Terrio, Len Matheo and Scott RC Levy are the three Colorado theatre producers who had their own, more literal, “ring of keys” moments — when each saw Fun Home for the first time and immediately knew they had to one day produce it themselves. They are the ones who accepted the risk of staging Fun Home at, respectively, the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins, Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

    None of them has yet experienced pushback from any subscribers based on the story subject. Matheo, frankly, thinks that’s in part “because many of them don’t yet know exactly what it is,” he said. But he thinks some blowback is inevitable, based on Miners Alley Playhouse’s recent experience of staging HIR. That was an intentionally abrasive and dark comedy that almost incidentally features a trans teenager.

    “But I personally think, and perhaps, naively so, that Fun Home is so powerful, so beautiful and so perfect that it will transcend the hate-filled responses we received when we produced HIR,” Matheo said.  

    And when Matheo says he thinks Fun Home is perfect, he means it. “The music is perfect, the book is perfect, Alison Bechdel’s novel is perfect and, quite honestly, my cast is perfect,” he said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime show.”

    In Fort Collins, Terrio has made scoring the first Colorado stagings of big and often envelope-pushing Broadway musicals part of Midtown Arts Center’s mission. His premieres have included Next to Normal, once, In the Heights, Rent and Avenue Q.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “I’ve always admired Kurt’s tenacity when it comes to bringing new shows to the Midtown Arts Center,” said actor Alisa Metcalf, who plays Alison’s embattled mother, Helen. “I think it’s pretty amazing that we get to be a part of this regional premiere of Fun Home. It’s such special story, and I’m excited to get to be a part of telling this very complicated relationship this woman has with her husband.”

    (Note: It was announced last week that the Midtown Arts Center property has been sold, and the theatre company will have to find a new home by the end of 2019.)

    Levy believes it is imperative that he seize the opportunity to stage landmark stories like Fun Home in Colorado Springs, one of the largest military cities in the world, when they become available. “The chance to produce the regional premiere here is an opportunity I would never pass up,” said Levy. And if members of his audience take issue with the story, content or characters, he added, “I would welcome that — so that the dialogue can continue.”

    Abigail Kochevar. Miners Alley Playhouse. Fun Home. Photo by John MooreKeeping a watchful eye

    Malone will be keenly watching from New York for news of the three Colorado productions, and for word on how people are receiving them.

    “You have no way of knowing the depth of my allegiance to the state of Colorado,” said Malone, a graduate of Douglas County High School and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. “I love every square mile of it. More than anything, I want the people I care so much about to see this beautiful piece of theatre that I was working on for five years. To see why it's so important to me. Hopefully it will resonate in their own lives. I know it will.”

    (PIctured right: Abigail Kochevar rehearsing for Miners Alley Playhouse's 'Fun Home,' opening Jan. 26. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    And there’s no arguing with the message, she said.

    “Shame causes unnecessary anguish and is handed down from generation to generation,” she said. “Fun Home sometimes has the effect of leaving people asking themselves what role they have played in this cycle. And that can be a very life-altering question.

    “I can’t wait to hear what people think when they see it and hear it and feel it.”

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

     

    Fun Home in Colorado: Ticket information:

    MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER
    Jan. 18-March 17
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com
    Capacity: 236

    • Director: Kurt Terrio
    • Musical Director: Paul Falk
    • Bruce: Vince Wingerter
    • Helen: Alisa Metcalf
    • Small Alison: Julia Gibson and Ella Sokolowski
    • Adult Alison: Monica Howe
    • Medium Alison: Sarah Briana Lewis
    • Joan: Zulfiya Julia Asquino
    • John: Ryan Fisher
    • Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby/Jeremy: Corbin Payne
    • Christian: Matthew Farley 

    MINERS ALLEY PLAYHOUSE
    Jan. 26-March 4
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com
    Capacity: 90

    • Director: Len Matheo
    • Musical Director: Mitch Samu
    • Bruce: Rory Pierce
    • Helen: Heather Lacy
    • Small Alison: Sophie Dotson
    • Adult Alison: Susannah McLeod
    • Medium Alison: Abigail Kochevar
    • Joan: Chloe McLeod
    • John: Brody Lineaweaver
    • Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby/Jeremy: Marco Robinson
    • Christian: Jack Eller 

    COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER AT COLORADO COLLEGE
    March 29-April 22
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or
    csfineartscenter.org
    Capacity: 399

    • Director: Nathan Halvorson
    • Bruce: Patrick Oliver Jones
    • Helen: Megan Van De Hey
    • Small Alison: Kelly Tanburg
    • Adult Alison: Allison Mickelson
    • Medium Alison: Jessica Kahkoska
    • Joan: Mackenzie Beyer
    • John Bechdel: Gabe Levy
    • Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby/Jeremy: Parker Fowler
    • Christian Bechdel: Atticus Baker
    • Child Understudy: Ellie Levy

    ABOUT FUN HOME

    • Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel memoir
    • Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron
    • Music by Jeanine Tesori

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Fun Home:

    Video: Beth Malone talks Fun Home, sings Broncos anthem

    Beth Malone: Fun Home is 'for anyone born of a mother'
    Beth Malone returns to Denver to perform So Far
    Denver’s Sweeney Todd will return with Fun Home tour
    Denver’s Beth Malone returning to Broadway in Fun Home

  • 'Hamilton' tickets in Denver: Don't get scammed on Monday

    by John Moore | Jan 17, 2018
    Mathenee Treco, Jordan Donica, Ruben J. Carbajal & Michael Luwoye - HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan Marcus

    From left: Aurora native and Eaglecrest High School graduate Mathenee Treco with Jordan Donica, Ruben J. Carbajal and Michael Luwoye in the 'Hamilton' national touring cast. Tickets for the Denver engagement go on-sale Jan. 22. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Here's how to make your ticket-buying experience go smoothly when Hamilton tickets go on sale Jan. 22

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Monday will be a historic day in Colorado theatre when single tickets go onsale for the Denver run of Hamilton, one of the most honored and rapturously received musicals in Broadway history. Denver Center officials are expecting consumer interest to be akin to that of a Denver Broncos playoff game.

    But along with passionate theatergoers, the Hamilton ticket sale promises to also attract third-party ticket brokers hoping to scoop up tickets and re-sell them for well above face value — which for most tickets in Denver will not exceed $165 on the Jan. 22 on-sale date.

    Re-selling sports and entertainment tickets is big business. How big? according to Northcoast Research, it's a $5 billion annual industry. They do it by using “bot” technology that can access legit online ticket providers such as denvercenter.org and essentially replicate human behavior. By the thousands. And with super-human speed.

    JohnEkebergHAMILTONQUOTE"This is a worldwide problem," said John Ekeberg, Executive Director of DCPA Broadway. "The bigger the show, the bigger the problem."

    And shows don't get any bigger than Hamilton. With tickets going on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 22, this is both "buyer beware" and "buyer be aware" time for all potential consumers, whether you choose to buy tickets in person, on the phone or online.

    "We have safeguards in place to try to keep tickets in the hands of those people who actually want to attend our performances," said Yovani Pina, DCPA Vice President of Information Technology. But he and his team are in an endless race against technological advances that help secondary brokers get their hands on tickets.

    Those safeguards include limiting purchases to four tickets per account so if the brokers win, they don’t win as much as they might have won before. "Anti-bot" technologies have been implemented to prevent bots from obtaining tickets. Another safeguard: The Denver Center does not allow a single credit-card to be used from multiple computers.

    But perhaps the biggest new weapon in the good guys’ toolbox is a service called “Queue It.” That's a virtual waiting room that guarantees your place in line, and lets you know in real time how long it will be before it is your turn to buy. "We will even let those folks know that they can either stay on the site or we will let them know via email that it's their turn," said Pina.

    No matter how long you have been purchasing your theatre tickets from denvercenter.org, this will be a whole new consumer experience. The "Queue It" service will help ensure a smooth patron experience when purchasing tickets online.

    Here’s how it works:

    Visit hamilton.denvercenter.org between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan 22. You will find yourself in a virtual waiting room. At 10 a.m., you and everyone else in the virtual waiting room will be assigned a random place in line. (And then any latecomers who join after 10 a.m. will be placed, in order, at the back of the line.)

    Hamilton Virtual Waiting RoomOnce your place in line is randomly assigned (see example pictured at right), your place in line is secure. If and when you reach the front of the line before Monday’s allotment of tickets are claimed, you will have 15 minutes to complete your transaction.

    "The whole point of this new system is to ensure that the patron purchasing experience online is as smooth and as efficient as possible," Pina said.

    Now here’s perhaps the best news for legit Hamilton-loving customers: After Monday’s available tickets are gone and the sale is over, the DCPA has committed to reviewing every single online purchase for its legitimacy before any sale is final. That part of the process is essentially a cleansing of the list of unfairly bought tickets.

    "We will be looking for different indicators of purchase behavior that violates our ticket policy," Ekeberg said. Any and all transactions that are detected to be “bot” purchases will be canceled without further consideration. Also: Any patrons who create duplicate accounts with the intention of purchasing more than four tickets per account will also find their orders canceled.

    "We want to reassure people that we are doing everything we can to make this as fair as possible," Ekeberg said. 

    If you do not make it to the front of the virtual line by the time Monday’s allotment of tickets are gone, an announcement will appear in the waiting room that says, “This Event Has Ended.” But if that happens to you, do not despair: Before every performance, there will be a lottery for 40 $10 orchestra seats. That’s 1,500 lucky people who will see Hamilton in Denver from great seats — and for only 10 bucks each. Details will be announced closer to the Feb. 27 opening.

    Here are more helpful tips, useful background information and answers to some of your anticipated questions, not only to help you from being scammed on Monday, but also to help you make your purchasing experience go as smoothly as possible:  

    Five helpful tips to make your Monday go better:

    NUMBER 1 This is big: If you have not created a ticket-buying account on denvercenter.org, do it before Monday. Heck, do it right now. Here's where to do it. Fill out all your information now, so that if you make it to the front of the virtual line on Monday, your transaction will go that much faster. (And those behind you in line will thank you for it.)

    If you already have a Denver Center account, know your username and password. Test it today so that you won't have any trouble purchasing tickets quickly on Monday. If you are unsure of your username and password, please call the box office at 303-893-4100 no later than 5 p.m. on Jan. 21 to ensure a smooth login process on Monday.

    Also: Look up your account information and write it all down in a secured, secondary place so if you need that information on Monday, you will have it handy — on a device separate from your computer.



    NUMBER 2This one is even bigger: The Denver Center's web site at hamilton.denvercenter.org is the only authorized online ticket provider for Hamilton. Do not buy tickets from ANY OTHER online source. You will pay more on any other site. And how to know you are buying from the Denver Center?
    • Look for the Denver Center logo at the top of the online page.
    • Make certain that you see "denvercenter.org" somewhere within your URL.
    Don't be fooled by sites with URLs that might even include official-looking words like "buelltheatre" in the web address. It's all a ploy to make you believe you are buying from an official site, when you aren't. Bottom line: On Monday, just remember "denvercenter.org."


     
    NUMBER 3Real Hamilton tickets will range from $75 to $165 on the Jan. 22 onsale date, with a select number of $585 premium seats available for all performances.

    Take it from 9News' Jeremy Jojola: Only buy from denvercenter.org


    NUMBER 4 Bonfils ComplexThe DCPA is providing three points of purchase: Online, by phone (303-893-4100) and at the box office located in the lobby of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. (See map at right.) Tickets are not guaranteed for any point of purchase, and agents are authorized to process only one transaction per customer, regardless of point of purchase. If you choose to purchase in-person at the DCPA box office, know that the line outside will not be allowed to form until after 6 a.m. on Monday. If you plan to purchase by phone, you can expect a very high call volume. Certain carriers may give a "disconnect" message as opposed to an "all circuits are busy" message — which is, unfortunately, out of the DCPA's control.


    NUMBER 5If you succeed in buying tickets, congratulations! As part of your purchase, you will be asked whether you prefer to have your tickets mailed to you, or left for you at will call. For this show only, the Denver Center’s "Print at Home" service is not a ticketing option — purely as a safeguard to cut down on potential fraud. So if any seller says they will email your tickets as a PDF to download, print and take to the theatre, know that it's a fake.



    And a bonus: Even after Monday’s sale, a small number of new tickets often become available for a variety of reasons. Before overpaying any secondary broker, try checking back on denvercenter.org first for any new availability. 

    View answers to your Hamilton questions in our FAQ

    Now, you might be asking: If tickets for Hamilton don’t go onsale until Monday, why am I seeing them being offered online right now, and for as much as $3,000 a seat?

    The answer: These brokers do not even have their hands on any actual tickets yet, because until Monday, Hamilton tickets do not exist. Potential customers searching the web today for Hamilton tickets will find such offers and might think the Denver Center is gouging them — only it isn't the Denver Center that is doing the gouging.

    So how can these brazen brokers sell tickets they don't have? "Essentially they are making promises to their buyers in the certainty that, one way or another, they will get their hands on enough tickets to satisfy their demand," Ekeberg said. Bottom line, added Pina: “They are gambling. And they are betting the house.”

    Despite the Denver Center’s best efforts, Ekeberg acknowledges, the brokers will successfully amass some inventory of actual Hamilton tickets. Just how many is not currently measurable.

    HAMILTON Google screen shot One of the most common mistakes buyers make, Pina said, is trusting a Google search to send them to the right place for real tickets. For example, if you search "Hamilton tickets Denver," the first four options you will see are actually paid ads from third-party ticket brokers. The official denvercenter.org outlet only comes up fifth. (See the example at right.)

    "Most folks hear about a show like Hamilton on TV or the radio, and they go to Google to buy," Pina said. "But most consumers aren't aware that the first few options they see are paid advertisements. Take a second to look at your screen. These are sites that pay big money to look like the Denver Center when they are not. And if you click one of the wrong sites, you are going to find a ticket broker who might be selling a $70 ticket for $500."

    What to do? If you start at hamilton.denvercenter.org, you will not have this problem. But if you do use Google, keep scrolling until you see the real denvercenter.org option. hamilton.denvercenter.org is the only place you can buy tickets at face value.

    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.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Hamilton: At a glance:
    HamiltonWith book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography.  It is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now.

    Feb. 27-April 1
    Buell Theatre

    Related NewsCenter coverage:
    Hamilton Tickets
  • Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 playwriting finalists

    by John Moore | Jan 17, 2018
    scenesters_finalists_011618 800

    The winning plays, taking on a wide array of topical issues, will be read at the Colorado New Play Summit

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts today announced the finalists for its fifth annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition for Colorado high-school students:

    • Emmaleth Ryan, Grandview High School: Sleep No More, about a young woman who decides to commit suicide until she is reminded of the resilience of the human spirit. Says Ryan: “I learned more about how to grapple with life by writing a character who has fought her demons and won.” MEET EMMALETH
    • Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel, Vista Peak Preparatory: Technical Difficulties is a comedy about a high-school theatre production that has been seized by vengeful understudies. Say the self-described techies: When the lights, sound or even just the ambience we help create draws ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the audience, it is mystical for us. It feeds the hunger of our inner artist.” MEET JULIANNA AND TRINELL
    • Noah Jackson, Girls Athletic Leadership School: Wine Colored Lip Gloss, about a teenager dealing with gender-identity problems and how to tell his parents about it. Says Jackson: “I learned how to take advice on social situations from my own characters, which actually helped me through a lot of problems I've faced.” MEET NOAH
    2017 Student Playwriting_John MooreAfter week-long workshops and mentoring from nationally acclaimed playwrights, the winning playwrights will have their scripts read by professional actors at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, in The Conservatory Theatre. Finalists also receive a $250 cash scholarship and complimentary pass to all Summit activities.


    (Pictured: A reading of a student play at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The finalists were chosen from a field of 153 submissions, after which 10 semifinalists were named. Director of Education Allison Watrous noted that the entries covered a much more substantive range of important topics this year, including sexual abuse, gender identity, suicide, homelessness, child abuse race relations and addiction.

    "We are so inspired by the quality and the depth of the writing this year," said Watrous. "These writers are exploring the fullest potential of the art form through their use of poetry and nuanced dialogue. These extraordinary playwrights are writing with distinct, authentic and brave voices. We are honored to nurture and empower these emerging voices of the American theatre."

    Starting last fall, DCPA Education faculty Finalists quote 2018 Scenesterstaught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state. The subsequent submissions judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals.

    In addition to the Summit reading, each teacher of the finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    After the Colorado New Play Summit, one of the three scripts will be selected for full production during DCPA Education’s 2018 summer program.

    “These young playwrights are the next generation of theatre. It is our responsibility and our privilege to encourage them and give them the tools to succeed,” Watrous said. “We launched the one-act play playwriting competition in 2013 to nurture Colorado’s promising young playwrights, create new plays and inspire creativity.

    "In just five years, we’ve been overwhelmed with the response: 730 submissions and more than 13,500 students served through the program, giving voice to the next generation of American theatre.”

    It's worth noting that at this time of pronounced gender disparity in the American theatre, the DCPA's statewide playwriting competition has, by a blind judging draw, produced 70 percent female semifinalists in its first five years (39 of 56.) 

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:

    In addition to the previously announced finalists listed above, the judges singled out two entries for honorable mention:
    • Los Amorios by Catalin Varela, Castle View High School
    • This Play is Literally Impossible to Perform by Caroline Storey, Compass Montessori High School
    The coordinator of the DCPA's  student playwriting program is 2017 True West Award winner Claudia Carson. The sponsors are Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

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

    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.