• DCPA's 25th 'A Christmas Carol' brims with mistletoe and milestones

    by John Moore | Nov 06, 2017
    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    Above: Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' last week. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Favorite Sam Gregory is back as Scrooge and, for the first time in Denver, a young girl has been cast to play Tiny Tim.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When the DCPA Theatre Company presents the seasonal favorite A Christmas Carol later this month, it will be an offering filled with mistletoe and milestones. Check out the five things we learned at first rehearsal below.

    A Christmas Carol. Sam Gregory. The cast is again headed by Sam Gregory in his second season playing the miserly Scrooge. The most veteran member of the cast is Leslie O'Carroll, who has appeared in 19 of the Denver Center's 25 stagings, most as Mrs. Fezziwig.

    Back for her second year as director is Melissa Rain Anderson. She will again be staging the version adapted by Richard Hellesen, with music by the late David de Berry, as has been the DCPA tradition since 2006. "This is by far my favorite version," said Anderson, who has herself performed in this version of the story four times as an actor at theatres around the country. "I think it's the most Dickensian." Music Director Gregg Coffin has helmed this version of the show 22 times around the country.

    NUMBER 1LOOK WHO'S TWENTY-FIVE! A Christmas Carol is, no surprise, far and away the DCPA Theatre Company's most-produced show. This holiday season marks the company’s 25th presentation of the story dating to 1990 — having taken two years off along the way in favor of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. "That is a huge milestone," Anderson said. "It's a privilege to be a part of that legacy here at the Denver Center. With everything that is happening in the world, I am so happy to be in this room with all of these people and to be a part of telling this tale again as a true ensemble."

    NUMBER 2 A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim. Melissa Rain Anderson. Peyton Goosen.GOD BLESS THE GIRL. There have been 18 young Tiny Tims over the DCPA's first 24 years of A Christmas Carols. This year, for the first time, the role of the feeble boy whose death is imminent if Scrooge doesn't break down and finally offer his employee some health insurance, will be played by a girl. Anderson she credits DCPA Artistic Associate Grady Soapes with the idea to cast young Peyton Goosen. "I am always open to more females on the stage, so I was very for it," Anderson said. "Peyton is really smart, she is absolutely adorable and she is precocious. But most important, she was the best actor for the role."

    NUMBER 3KNOCK KNOCK. WHO'S THERE? A Christmas Carol has drawn 820,000 audience members since 1990, so if you live in Denver, chances are, you have seen it. But with 10,000 new residents moving into the city every month, it's become clear that thousands of audience members each year are experiencing A Christmas Carol for the first time "So many people love this production and count on it as a family tradition, but 40 percent of our A Christmas Carol audiences are new every year," said DCPA Associate Artistic Director Charlie Miller.

    NUMBER 4 SHE'S MIXING THINGS UP. Anderson introduced several changes last year, including, for example, introducing a grander sleigh for the Ghost of Christmas Present to ride in on. This year, she says audiences should keep an eye on the phantoms. "Their costumes are a little sleeker this year," Anderson said. "We are going to be able to see their bodies a little more, which I really like, because we have a really good dancers in our cast. I would like for people to see that they were once human."

    NUMBER 5WHO KNEW? Speaking of the creative vision, one of the most reliable aspects of the DCPA's production from year to year is the look of the set, originally designed by veteran Vicki Smith. We learned at first rehearsal that Smith's original inspiration was a Victorian Christmas card she came across.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Christmas Carol: Cast list

    • Hadley Brown (DCPA debut) as Belinda Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Latoya Cameron (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Cratchit/Ghost of Christmas Past
    • Kevin Curtis (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Dick Wilkins/Peter Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Michael Fitzpatrick (DCPA’s Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Mr. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Peyton Goosen (DCPA debut) as Tiny Tim/Ensemble
    • Sam Gregory (DCPA’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Hamlet, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Darrell T. Joe (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come/Ensemble
    • Chas Lederer (DCPA debut) as Swing
    • Kyra Lindsay (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Brody Lineaweaver (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Swing
    • Timothy McCracken (DCPA’s Smart People, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge understudy
    • Chris Mixon (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Old Joe/Ensemble
    • Grace Morgan (The Phantom of the Opera, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Belle/Fred’s Wife/Ensemble
    • Leslie O’Carroll (DCPA’s Benediction, A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Erik Pinnick (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Present/Ensemble
    • Daniel Plimpton (DCPA’s The Secret Garden) as Ensemble
    • Jim Poulos (Broadway’s Rent, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Fred/Young Ebenezer/Ensemble
    • Max Raabe (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA debut) as Boy Ebeneezer/ Ensemble.
    • Augie Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Helen Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Fan/Ensemble
    • Jeffrey Roark (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Jacob Marley/Ensemble
    • Marco Robinson (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Christine Rowan (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Shannan Steele (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Jackie Vanderbeck (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Charwoman/Ensemble
    • Brian Vaughn (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Bob Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Edward Cratchit/Ensemble
    A Christmas Carol. Photo by John Moore.



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

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


    The SantaLand Diaries:
    Back for Year 9

    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisComAround the corner in the Jones Theatre, Off-Center’s seasonal co-production of The SantaLand Diaries again will be staged in partnership with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. The production will be essentially unchanged for 2017, with Michael Bouchard again donning the caustic candy-striped socks for a third time in David Sedaris’ comic monologue recounting his real-life experience working as a Macy’s Department store elf.

    Bouchard is a Denver Post Ovation Award-winning actor best-known to Colorado audiences from his time at the Arvada Center, the Creede Repertory Theatre and the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Luke Sorge will again serve as "Other David."

    This will be Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's ninth annual holiday staging of The SantaLand Diaries, and the fourth since it moved to the DCPA's Jones Theatre. The director is again Stephen Weitz, who directed the DCPA Theatre Company's Tribes.

    The SantaLand Diaries: Ticket information
    The SantaLand DiariesAt a glance: David Sedaris' off-beat tales from his stint as a Macy's elf in New York City is the sure cure for the common Christmas show.

    • Presented by Boulder Ensemble Theatre with DCPA Off-Center
    • Performances Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • How a local film crew moved Walden Pond to the Colorado mountains

    by John Moore | Nov 05, 2017

    Video trailer above: Shot on location in Colorado, 'Walden: Life in the Woods' is a radical Western re-imagining of Thoreau’s eponymous classic that interlaces three narratives that take place over 24 hours and explore the trappings of modern life. 

    Thoreau's revered if not all that actually read screed helps Colorado natives reconcile their pasts in the wilderness.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In a witty 2015 essay titled Pond Scum, The New Yorker went there: It called out Henry David Thoreau’s sanctified, centuries-old essay Walden, or Life in the Woods, as “more revered than read.” Hashtag #TranscendentalBurn.

    Denver filmmaker Alex Harvey has been there. No really, he was right there in 2009. Not at that infamous pond in Concord, Mass. At Watercourse, Denver’s original vegan restaurant, passing bottles of wine with the homeboys he’s kept since kindergarten at Denver’s Graland Country Day School. His lifetime posse via Denver East High School includes comic actor T.J. Miller (Cloverfield), screenwriter Adam Chanzit (3 Nights in the Desert) and actor Erik Hellman, who has worked at all the biggest theatres in Chicago. On this night, the 303 pals were tossing back vino while tossing around ideas for their next creative project.

    A Walden Denver Film Festival. Photo by James DiMagibaSomebody said, ‘How about Walden — set in Colorado?” Harvey said. “And we were like, ‘OK, that’s interesting — but have any of us actually read it?’ And the answer wasn’t just ‘No.’ It was ‘No (bleeping) way!’ We had all read maybe one chapter.”

    But the one chapter Harvey remembered reading rang a bell that harked back to when, appropriately enough, Thoreau wrote of hearing a church bell ring — “and it just transforms him in amazing ways,” said Harvey. The sodden buds committed to reading Thoreau’s book — all of it this time. And over the next week, many more bells would ring.

    When they regathered a week later to talk about it, Harvey said, “We were all amazed that the first 100 pages of Walden are not about trees or lakes or transcendentalism. They are about debt. All these farmers had drawn-out mortgages they couldn’t afford. It was literally the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the 1830s that spurred Thoreau to write this damn book. And mind you, we were in 2009, when the world around us was in financial crisis. It was immediately clear to us that this book was the most relevant piece of writing for what was going on at that time, and no one was making the connection. Suddenly, we all felt like this winsome idea was something we really had to dedicate ourselves to.”

    Little did the director know it would be eight years before his similarly titled film odyssey Walden: Life in the Woods would culminate in its premiere last night at the 2017 Denver Film Festival. That Harvey went into the making of it with an admittedly meager working knowledge of his source material didn’t faze him one bit. Speaking of Odysseys, Harvey pointed out that it didn't occur to the famed Coen Brothers that neither of them had actually read Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey until long after they wrapped shooting their celebrated 2000 screen adaptation, O Brother, Where Art Thou.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Demián
    Pictured: Demián Bichir in Walden: 'Life in the Woods.'


    “When I adapt stories for film, they usually turn out very radical and very departure-oriented,” Harvey said. “I take the essences of things and I try to open them out in a prismatic way.”

    Walden took its filmic structure from screenwriter Adam Chanzit, who brought Harvey a revealing quote from the source book. “Thoreau says: ‘I have three chairs in my cabin: One for solitude, two for friendship and three for society,’ ” Harvey said. And three more bells clanged.

    “I knew right then we were going to do a three-part narrative that follows one day in the lives of three Colorado residents. And our three chapters would be called Solitude, Friendship and Society.”

    Harvey had in mind a contemporary re-imagining that would not romanticize jerky Thoreau’s Unabomber-like hermitic lifestyle. (Seriously ... The New Yorker calls his book “The Original Cabin Porn”). Rather, a cinematic rumination that would focus on the trappings of 21st century life and those who dream of escape.

    Click here for more coverage of the Colorado theatre community

    Solitude is about a widow trying to break free from the walls of encroaching dementia — and her nursing home. Friendship explores the relationship between two boys struggling to confront their inner wild in the Rocky Mountain wilderness. Society shows a desperate family man who dreams of freeing himself from the constraints of his mortgage, health insurance and failing home appliances.

    Harvey not only was inspired by the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the 1830s but rather by a quest to reconcile his own past relationship with the state of Colorado — and why that even still matters to him 20 years later.

    “I wanted to talk about why it is that so many people from Colorado have complicated relationships with the fact that they don’t live there anymore,” said Harvey, whose parents went west, as so many did, during the great suburban land rush of the 1960s. Harvey moved out around 1995 and returns very much a stranger in his native land.

    “All of my friends who are originally from Colorado feel kind of weird about not living here anymore, and that just isn’t true of my friends who are from Chicago or Toledo or Topeka,” he said. “So I was trying to put it together what it was about our state that has this kind of magnetic quality that seems qualitatively different from other places. And I find that is only true of people who are from communities like Denver that sit on the edge between civilization and the great American wilderness. It was interesting for me to explore how that affects the way people relate to each other, and to the society around them.”

    What’s funny to Harvey is that all of this stems from Thoreau’s epic journey to … a pond in Massachusetts, an adventure that should not be mistaken for, say, Chris McCandless (Into the Wild) literally walking into his frozen death in the Alaskan winter. Thoreau was born in Concord. He journeyed to the other side of town.

    “Only someone who has never experienced true remoteness could ever mistake Walden for the wilderness,” the New Yorker snarked. Thoreau's associates loved him, but didn't particularly like him. "As for taking his arm, I should as soon think of taking the arm of an elm-tree," Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote for The Atlantic in 1862 — and he was Thoreau's best friend. That's because, quite anachronistically, "Henry delighted to entertain, as he only could, with the varied and endless anecdotes of his experiences by field and river," Emerson wrote. And for the time, that was mysterious and new.

    Alex Harvey Walden “Before Thoreau, nobody believed that going outside was something healthy,” Harvey said. “You only went outside to work. The outdoors was thought of as full of dangerous things. But after Thoreau — with some help from Emerson, Walt Whitman and, on the other side of the Atlantic, William Wordsworth — suddenly you have these guys saying something new about the outdoors. And I think you can connect this new kind of thinking straight to the start of the national parks system, straight to John Muir and the founding of the Sierra Club, and straight to the front door of the Confluence Park REI in Denver. Seriously, I would argue that the idea of Colorado being served to you at that REI is the heritage of Thoreau. I was able to make a palpable connection to this romantic idea that the wilderness is still alive in these frontier places that abut the geographical line between wilderness and civilization.”

    Harvey soon hooked up with some of the biggest names in the Colorado film community. He called Oscar winner Daniel Junge for advice. “He told me, ‘Colorado production is two words: Mitch Dickman,’ ” Harvey said. Dickman, who founded Listen Productions, is the director of the prize-winning Colorado-centric documentaries Hanna Ranch and Rolling Papers, and he quickly signed on as a Walden producer. It turns out Dickman and his mother have been reading Walden together for two decades, go figure. “It was serious serendipity and synchronicity,” said Harvey.

    So was receiving more than $210,000 in incentives from Governor John Hickenlooper’s Colorado Economic Development Commission, as well as support from many of Denver’s toniest philanthropists. The result is a $1.5 million epic that was filmed in 48 Colorado locations, but primarily in Ridgway and the San Juan Mountains on a ranch made available to Harvey by Daniel Wolf and his wife, Maya Lin. Walden employed a crew of more than 40 and a cast of 32 that includes recognizable names from near and afar.

    Go to the Walden: A Life in the Woods official web site

    Headlining the effort is Mexican star Demián Bichir, best known for The Hateful Eight (also filmed in Colorado) and also a surprise 2012 Oscar nominee for A Better Life, about an East Los Angles gardener who struggles to keep his son away from gangs and immigration agents. Here he plays the maxed-out family man struggling through the morass of everyday bureaucracy trying to keep his household afloat.

    The dementia chapter focuses on a woman named Alice with early onset Alzheimer’s and played by the great Lynn Cohen, perhaps best known as Mags in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and as Golda Meir in Steven Spielberg’s Munich. The cast list is loaded with familiar names from the local theatre community as well, including longtime DCPA favorites Jamie Horton and Leslie O’Carroll, Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement winner Joey Wishnia, Chris Kendall, Karen Slack, Daniel Traylor, Jaime Lujan, Sarah Kirwin, Heather Nicolson and Anthony J. Garcia. There are also fun appearances by well-known Denver journalists Mike Littwin and Bill Husted, as well as local musicians including Macon Terry (formerly of the band Paper Bird) and jazz great Purnell Steen.

    A Jamie+Horton+HeadshotHorton, who was for years the DCPA Theatre Company’s longest-tenured actor until he was hired as a professor at Dartmouth College in 2006, was back for Saturday's first two of Walden’s four Denver Film Festival screenings.

    “It was a thrill to be a part of this film and to witness firsthand the talented director Alex has become,” said Horton, who plays a not-so-very sympathetic bank rep in Society. “It was a joy to work with so many familiar faces in the cast and crew.
    It was marvelous to work with Demián Bichir. And to be able to come back to Colorado to celebrate the film's opening — what I can tell you? Pretty damn great.” 

    The final creative piece of the puzzle was yet another Graland grad, renaissance woman Laura Goldhamer, who is beloved in local-music circles as a singer-songwriter, but many people might not know is also an expert charcoal, stop-action film animator. And that seemed to Harvey the perfect engine for telling the Alzheimer’s chapter.

    “I was sick of dementia stories being told from the outside in,” Harvey said. “It’s always about the patient’s family or caregiver. It’s never a subjective view of dementia from the inside. So we used the choppy, discontinuous style of stop-motion animation to try to create the kind of interrupted continuity of thought that Alice has going on in her mind. I tell you, Laura’s vision is unique, and no one knows about it. But she is an amazing asset to this state.”

    Harvey’s roots in the Colorado theatre community go back to the 1990s, when he performed in dozens of productions for Christopher Selby’s Compass Theatre in the new Denver Civic Theatre (now the Su Teatro Preforming Arts Center). He has since engaged himself in a variety of capacities ranging from Dixieland musician to film composer to teacher at New York University’s esteemed Tisch School of the Arts to, believe it or not, a stint as an artistic neuroscientist. If you’ve seen him on screen, you’ve most likely seen him playing his mandolin in a fortuitous series of nationally televised Geico ads, the windfall from which helped move Walden from the wine-talking stage to Harvey finally calling “action” in the Colorado mountains.

    The calendar helped spur things along in another way. "By 2016, we had been talking about this film for seven years, and it occurred to us that 2017 would be the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s birth,” Harvey said. “We felt like we had to shoot it in 2016 and release it in 2017. It had become a piss-or-get-off-the-pot situation."

    They did not get off the pot.

    Our guide to all Colorado films in the Denver Film Festival

    What Harvey unveiled on Saturday at two sold-out Denver Film Festival screenings might surprise those who vaguely recall Walden, the book.Walden, the film, is not the romantic ode to simple living in natural surroundings that some mistakenly think the book they never read is probably about. Harvey's brief trilogy does not champion self-imposed isolationism as some sort of noble contemporary pursuit. Instead, he presents protagonists who are desperately fighting to hold on to some sort of fraying connection with other human beings.

    “I think Thoreau is really advocating the letting-go of something," Harvey said. "But in our movie, each chapter explores a different way in which people give something up. And sometimes, what one person is giving up is the opposite of what somebody is giving up in the next storyline. And we embrace the contradiction.”  

    Harvey thinks the film he's ultimately created “is a kind bacchanal.”  

    Hold on there. This quiet, deeply personal, rumination on disconnection can be equated to a crazed party with drunken revelry, ecstatic sexual experimentation and wild music?

    In four words, Harvey says: Well, sure. Why not?

    “If you try to read Walden, there are parts that are as complicated as reading Zen poetry from the 12th century,” he said. “Our film is a party. Some people have called it The Beasts of the Southern Wild for Colorado in that within this admittedly poetic piece is really a portrait of an entire community.

    "If you love Thoreau, you are going to have an amazing time thinking about the relationship between the movie and the book. And if you have never heard of Thoreau, we have made a movie that is also meant to be ingested fully independent of Thoreau.

    “But one thing is the same: We are speaking the truth to power, just as Thoreau  was trying to do."


    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.

    Walden: Life in the Woods: Remaining Denver Film Festival screenings
    Directed by Alex Harvey
    Length: 104 minutes

    • Monday, Nov. 6, 1:45 p.m., Sie FilmCenter TICKETS
    • Friday, Nov. 10, 1 p.m., Sie FilmCenter TICKETS

    Photo gallery: World premiere screening of Walden at Denver Film Festival:


    2017 Denver Film Festival
    Photos from the world premiere screening of 'Walden: Life in the Woods,' at the Denver Film Festival at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Nov. 4, 2017. To see, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow. Photos by James Dimagiba, Ann Vargas and Sean Marquantte, courtesy of Denver Film Festival.


    Walden: Life in the Woods: Cast list

    Guy: Erik Hellman
    Luke: Anthony LoVerde
    Ramirez: Demián Bichir
    Alice: Lynn Cohen
    Nurse Bubilo: Sofiya Akilova
    Gloria Ramirez: Gabriella Coleman
    Isabelle Ramirez: Noella Wong
    Melinda Ramirez: Amber Gray
    Lead Surveyor: Purnell Steen
    Surveyor: Dave Slack
    Jack: Mike Littwin
    Ben: Chris Kendall
    Larry: Joey Wishnia
    Chloe: Bonita Vaden
    Tony: Chris Sullivan
    Charlie: T.J. Miller
    Bank Teller: Karen Slack
    Edelberg: Jamie Horton
    Pharmacist: Effi Hugo
    Male Clerk: Daniel Traylor
    Shopper: Jaime Lujan
    NewsCaster: Bill Husted 
    All Health Representative: Sathya Sridharan
    Hank: Ron Cohen
    Hunched Shushing Woman:  Sarah Kirwin
    Patty: Leslie O’Carroll
    Buddy: Kareem Lucas
    One Mother: Heather Nicolson
    One Child: Birdie Hughes
    Bank Security Guard: Anthony J. Garcia 
    Les: Les Sunde
    Mr. Mustache: Macon Terry
    Laura: Laura Goldhamer

    Related NewsCenter coverage of the 2017 Denver Film Festival
    Here are the films that put the Denver in the 2017 Denver Film Festival
    Denver Film Festival: Spotlight on Liyana

     

  • Breakin' Convention workshop spreads message of hip-hop and hope

    by John Moore | Nov 03, 2017
    Breakin' Convention in Denver

    To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter

    Breakin' Convention's French hip-hop stars work up a sweat with local breakers at Denver's Bboy Factory

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The aptly named French hip-hop star Salah stood before two dozen breathless breakdancers on Wednesday night practicing what he preaches: Joy. Taking just a one-minute break from an aerobic 90-minute workout worthy of a gleeful boot camp, Salah smiled widely through his sweat.

    The featured performer at this weekend's Breakin' Convention international festival of hip-hop dance theatre at the Buell Theatre told the assembled dancers of widely varying ages, genders and skin colors that, yes, technique and precision are just as important in hip-hop dancing as they are in Broadway or ballet. But hip-hop not only allows for a dancer's individuality to make itself known, he said — it demands it. 

    "You know what makes you a memorable dancer is having fun moments while you are also showing your abilities," he told the dancers who flocked to Denver's Bboy Factory dance studio in Globeville for a first hand-look at the longtime French star of Moroccan and Algerian descent whose last U.S. appearance was eight years ago. His name means "Muslim prayer," but not just any prayer — Salah refers to a physical, mental and spiritual act of worship. Not unlike his dancing.

    "I am an Arab man," said Salah, who won the fourth season of a hit TV show in France literally called Arabs Got Talent. He says letting his infectious joy for dance shine through has helped him to eradicate preconceived ideas some people might have about Muslims.

    (Story continues below the photo)

    Breakin Convention. Lisa Engelken. Photo by John Moore.


    That point hit home with workshop dancer Lisa Engelken, who has been studying Saleh's dancing for many years. "Now I get it," she said. "He's goofy. And he's really being himself when he dances. From now on, when I watch him dance, I'll know exactly why he dances like that."

    Salah. Breakin Convention. Photo by John Moore. Though Engelken proudly rocked her "Ladies of Hip-Hop" T-Shirt, she grew up taking classes at Denver's internationally renowned Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, where she now teaches. And while relatively new to what she calls the world of street dance, she's part of two crews that will be featured this weekend at Breakin' Convention, the world's biggest annual festival of hip-hop dance theatre.

    She's appearing with Nasty Kidz at Saturday's 303 Jam — a full afternoon of free performances and activities in and around the Buell Theatre featuring live DJs, workshops and demonstrations. Then on Sunday, Engelken will take to the Buell Theatre mainstage with Malika — three women whose like-minded intention "is to bring good energy to the masses."

    Salah's workput was followed by another 90-minute aerobic whirlwind led by Bee D, co-founder of France's multidisciplinary dance group Yeah Yellow, another Breakin' Convention headliner along with Protocol (U.K.), Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) and Popin’ Pete (U.S). In all, five members of Yeah Yellow burned through Bee D's workout, right alongside Bboy Factory's breakers in training.

    Click here for more coverage of the Colorado theatre community

    Teaching dance combinations to the students made Wednesday's calorie-incinerating master classes look not all that different from a Broadway rehearsal, with two key differences: The fashion — and the individuality. "The thing I really like about hip-hop is you can create your own moves," Bee D told his dancers. "It's not like classic dance. In hip-hop, it's very important that you NOT look like the person next to you. You have to be you."

    Ian Flaws has hosted many of hip-hop's greatest icons since opening  Bboy Factory in 2012 with a stated mission of preserving traditional hip-hop culture. He said other forms of dance, from Broadway to ballet to modern, could stand to take a cue from hip-hop, which is much less constricted in its rules. "Hip-hop allows for so much range of movement and expression and exploration and creativity," said Flaws, whose clientele ranges from children to adults, from beginners to high-level artists,who come from as far away as Boulder and Aurora.

    He said Breakin' Convention is a unique opportunity for the larger metro population to get a taste of what hip-hop is all about — especially if for the first time.
       
    "It will be a great introduction to hip-hop," said Flaws. "And when I say hip-hop, that usually brings an automatic assumption that we are only talking about rap music. Hip-hop is really a big, vibrant culture that includes dance, art, food and music. And this weekend, all of that is going to be represented on one of Denver's biggest stages. Hip-hop is a culture that comes from the street, and I think Breakin' Convention will be a beautiful introduction to everything that is positive in hip-hop culture."

    Engelken first saw Breakin' Convention at the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and she still can't quite believe Denver was chosen to be just the fifth North American city to host it. So she feels it is especially important for a wide swath of Denverites to come out and represent.

    "I hope people just come out and experience the true spirit of hip-hop, which is childlike play and just having fun," she said. "I think Breakin' Convention will be a good tool to demystify some stereotypes. I think people will be happily surprised. Just come and try it out."

    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.

    Breakin’ Convention 2017 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre

    Breakin' Convention: Ticket Information

    • Nov. 4-5
    • The Buell Theatre and surrounding areas
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • Special student performance at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3
    • Breakin’ Convention officially kicks off with the free 303 Jam from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov 4 at The Buell Theatre. Enjoy free activities and performances including live DJs, workshops, free demonstrations and performances by DJ Cavem, The Reminders and more. Free fun for the whole family.

    Breakin' Convention: The international lineup

    • Yeah Yellow (France) - An explosive b-boy crew from France, YY brings agility, creativity and invention to the BC stage. Bodies create orifices to dive through, and reform physical shapes with muscular alchemy. Recently performed at BOTY16.
    • Protocol (U.K.) - Lanre Malouda directs as well as performs in this duet that explores racial dynamics. Popping and tutting techniques, as well as text and physical theatre is used to present ideas that reflect the tensions in our community today.
    • Salah (France) - A living legend in the world of hip-hop dance, Salah returns to the Breakin’ Convention stage after an eight year hiatus. This consummate performer is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown and all around entertainer. Known for his amazing battle abilities, Salah will present his theatre piece The Sickness.
    • Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) - From the most notorious township on the African continent comes the Soweto Skeleton Movers. The audience highlight of Breakin’ Convention 2016 returns with a brand new show. Experts in a particular form of pantsula dance developed by Skeleton Mover pioneer Jabulani, the crew use comedic contortionism, frenetic footwork, and magical hat tricks. 
    • Popin’ Pete (U.S.) - Also known as Timothy Earl Solomon, Popin' Pete is an American dancer, choreographer, innovator, one of the originators of the "popping" dance style and member of the Electric Boogaloos. His career has spanned 30 years developing funk culture as a whole.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Breakin' Convention:

    • Breakin' Convention to bring largest festival of hip-hop dance theatre to Denver
    • Breakin' Convention promises to bring authenticity, local artists to DCPA
    • Video: Our talk with the one and only Jonzi D of Breakin' Convention
    • Denver's DJ CaveM: Saving lives one healthy beat, and bite, at a time
    • Video: Denver Arts Week is off to a hip-hop start
  • Video: Denver Arts Week is off to a hip-hop start

    by John Moore | Nov 02, 2017

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    The annual nine-day celebration of Denver’s creative community begins with the mayor getting hip-hop happy

    French hip-hop dancer Salah, who is in town for Breakin' Convention this weekend at the Buell Theatre, appeared with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden today to launch the city's 11th annual Denver Arts Week, which will celebrate the Mile High City’s vibrant arts scene this year from Nov. 3-11.

    Breakin Convention Salah Photo by Btrent AndeckSalah (pictured at right), who is considered a living legend in the world of hip-hop dance, taught the dignitaries a few dance moves as part of the fun. Salah is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown and all-around entertainer who is returning to the Breakin’ Convention stage after an eight-year hiatus.

    Breakin' Convention is the world’s largest festival of hip-hop dance theatre, and Denver is only the fifth North American city to host it. Salah will perform at the Buell Theatre along with international acts Yeah Yellow (France), Protocol (U.K.), Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) and Popin’ Pete (U.S.), as well as a number of Denver hip-hop crews.

    Click here for more coverage of the Colorado theatre community

    For more than a decade, Denver Arts Week has been a nine-day citywide celebration of  Denver’s creative community. It consists of hundreds of events that involve thousands of people each year. Signature events this year will include the 40th annual Denver Film Festival; Breakin' Convention; Know Your Arts First Friday; free nights at area museums, and more than 400 events at galleries, museums and arts districts throughout the city. Denver Arts Week is presented by Visit Denver and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    Breakin’ Convention officially kicks off with the free "303 Jam" from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at The Buell Theatre. Enjoy free activities and performances including live DJs, workshops, free demonstrations and performances by DJ CaveM, The Reminders and more.

    Photo gallery: Denver Arts Week launches

    Denver Arts Week 2017

    To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. All photos © Brent Andeck Photography, LLC.

    Breakin’ Convention 2017 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre

    Breakin' Convention: Ticket Information

    • Nov. 4-5
    • The Buell Theatre and surrounding areas
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • Special student performance at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Breakin' Convention:

    Breakin' Convention to bring largest festival of hip-hop dance theatre to Denver
    Breakin' Convention
    promises to bring authenticity, local artists to DCPA
    Video: Our talk with the one and only Jonzi D of Breakin' Convention
    Denver's DJ CaveM: Saving lives one healthy beat, and bite, at a time

     

  • Here are the films that put the Denver in the 2017 Denver Film Festival

    by John Moore | Nov 02, 2017

    The trailer for Andrew Novick's now full-length film, JonBenét's Tricycle.

    The films that put the Denver in the Denver Film Fest span the globe from Boulder to Swaziland to Trinidad and Tobago

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The 40th Denver Film Festival opened Wednesday with a star-studded lineup of major films on the schedule, including Peter Fonda and Bill Pullman in The Ballad of Lefty Brown; Frances McDormand in bad-boy Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Stanley Tucci and Kyra Sedgwick in Submission, and Tony winner Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird.

    But there are also many films with local ties generating buzz at this year’s fest. Andrew Novick, the cereal-infused brains behind the city’s hipster Denver County Fair, will present an expanded version of his off-beat documentary JonBenét's Tricycle, which was shown as a 20-minute short at last year's fest and is now a full-length film.

    DFF MollyAnd Colorado films are not without their own star power. Perhaps the biggest-buzz film of the entire festival is Molly's Game, featuring Oscar winner Jessica Chastain (The Help) as Colorado skier Molly Bloom, who is also said to have run the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested. She is the sister of University of Colorado football star Jeremy Bloom, the only athlete in history to ever ski in the Winter Olympics and also be drafted into the National Football League. The film marks Aaron Sorkin's film directorial debut.

    Walden: A Life in the Woods, filmed entirely in Colorado, is a series of three related stories inspired by Thoreau and featuring 2012 Oscar nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life), Denver East graduate T.J. Miller (Deadpool, Cloverfield), former longtime DCPA actor Jamie Horton and more. The director is Alex Harvey, and one of the producers is Mitch Dickman (Hanna Ranch, Rolling Papers) of Listen Productions.

    The featured short Mrs. Drake is nominated for the Denver Film Festival's True Grit Award. Actors Rachel Fowler and Gabra Zackman cornered playwright Kyle Warren at Local Theatre Company's annual Local Lab Festival in 2015 and told him they really wanted to do a short film together, and Warren (who, ironically, is also the author of his own play called Thoreau, and Other Assholes), offered to write it for them. Mrs. Drake is about a mom struggling to raise a difficult son. The film has been making the rounds on the festival circuit and has won several awards. "We are working on a couple of feature scripts now, and hope to get more movies made in Colorado that focus on getting more women at the helm," said Fowler, known at the DCPA for All My Sons and at Curious Theatre for Rabbit Hole

    There is also one fun bit of theatre-themed programming. Shakespearean Star Wars will be a live performance of the original film as The Bard himself might have imagined it. Performs at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Nov. 11, at the McNichols Building in Denver Civic Center Park. It's 60 minutes, and free. The cast includes Denver Film Society Education Director Neil Truglio and Denver Center master's graduate Dan O'Neill, with Andrew Ray, Parker Jenkins, Derek Nason, Daevon Robinson and Coleman Sisk.

    Here is a complete list of homegrown feature-length films and shorts being shown at the Denver Film Festival, which runs through Nov. 12 at the Sie FilmCenter, Ellie Caulkins Opera House and United Artists' Denver Pavilions. 

    FEATURE-LENGTH FILMS:

    DFF AmyAmy & Sophia
    Directed by Denver resident Adam Lipsius
    89 minutes
    An unlikely friendship forms when two troubled girls haunted by their pasts forge a shared future by using art as an escape from the present in this magical-realist drama filmed in Cardiff and London. Cast: Julian Glover, Isla Blair, Denise van Outen, Joseph Millson, Ali Rodney and Emma Raine Walker
    • Friday, Nov. 10, 6:15 p.m., UA Pavilions
    • Sunday,  Nov. 12, 3:30 p.m., UA Pavilions


    DFF GnawGnaw
    Directed by Colorado filmmaker Haylar Garcia
    88 minutes
    Fleeing her past, small-town girl Jennifer is starting over in the big city. But becoming whole again is hard to do when something is eating at you while you sleep — literally. This horror flick delves with equal gusto into paranormal and psychological phenomena.
    • Monday, Nov. 6, 9:30 p.m., Sie FilmCenter
    • Wednesday, Nov. 8, 9 p.m., Sie FilmCenter


    Home Truth


    DFF Home TruthDirected by April Hayes and Katia Maguire
    72 minutes
    In 1999, Jessica Gonzales' three young daughters were killed after being abducted by their father. Determined to make sure their deaths were not in vain, the Castle Rock mother sought justice and became an advocate for domestic-violence victims in the process. This is her story.

    • Saturday, Nov. 4, 1:45 p.m., UA Pavilions
    • Sunday, Nov. 5, 4:30 p.m., UA Pavilions
    • Wednesday, Nov. 11, 4 p.m., UA Pavilions


    A DFF HondrosHondros
    Directed by Fort Collins journalist Greg Campbell
    93 minutes
    War photographer Chris Hondros spent a decade documenting conflict around the globe — until he was killed while on assignment in 2011. Directed by his friend and colleague Greg Campbell, this eloquent documentary pays tribute to the late photojournalist's courage and compassion. The editor is Denver's Davis Coombe.

    • Friday, Nov. 10, 4:15 p.m., Sie FilmCenter
    • Saturday, Nov. 11, 11:30 a.m., Sie FilmCenter
    • Sunday, Nov. 12, 4:30 p.m., Sie FilmCenter


    DFF JonBenetJonBenét's Tricycle

    Directed by Andrew Novick
    88 minutes
    Obsessive collector and Mile High City cultural icon Andrew Novick (Denver County Fair) forges deep emotional connections to the objects he acquires, many of which represent the darker side of humanity. He was living in Boulder 20 years ago when JonBenet Ramsey's tricycle fell into his hands after her notorious murder took place. Recently compelled to tackle the unsolved mystery in his own way, Novick took the tricycle on a journey into the realm of psychic phenomena — or did it take him? This quirky autobiographical documentary is also an investigation into the impact pop culture and the media have on our experience of tragedy. The original soundtrack was created by Denver's Adam Stone, best known for creating some seriously freaky stage stuff for a company called Screw Tooth, as well his one-man performance-art band The Indestructible North. The producer is Theresa Mercado.
    • Saturday, Nov. 11, 4 p.m., UA Pavilions (post-screening discussion)
    • Sunday, Nov. 12, 2 p.m., UA Pavilions (post-screening discussion)


    A DFF LiyanaLiyana
    Directed by Amanda and Aaron Koop
    77 minutes
    Meet Liyana, a brave girl who embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue her young twin brothers — and who happens to be the invention of five orphaned children in Swaziland. Drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams, the narrative these kids create in a storytelling workshop is an account as much of their own perseverance as of their heroine's journey. By the same token, Liyana alternates between an animated version of Liyana's tale and footage of the young artists coming to terms with their traumatic pasts as they embrace daily life in the orphanage. This enchanting documentary comes from Colorado filmmakers Aaron and Amanda Kopp and is produced by yet another local, Oscar winner Daniel Junge (Saving Face). The executive producer is TV and film star Thandie Newton. READ OUR FULL STORY ON LIYANA

    • Friday, Nov. 10, 6 p.m., Sie FilmCenter
    • Saturday, Nov. 11, 4 p.m., Sie FilmCenter
    • Sunday, Nov. 12, 11 a.m., Sie FilmCenter  


    Molly's Game



    Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin
    140 minutes
    This drama is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, a Colorado-bred Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents. Jessica Chastain stars as Bloom, whose dreams of an athletic career were cut short by a back injury. So she took another route to glory, albeit clandestine, as a gambling impresario, catering to Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, members of the Russian mob. When glory turned to ignominy, she found an ally in criminal-defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey — played by Idris Elba. Supporting players Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Chris O’Dowd and others are supporting players in Sorkin’s debut as a feature director.

    • Thursday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m., Ellie Caulkins Opera House

    (Note: Tickets are $40. This screening is a benefit for Wish of a Lifetime)



    Moving Parts

    DFF Moving PartsWritten and directed by Boulder native Emilie Upczak
    77 minutes
    In this unique personal drama of human trafficking, Zhenzhen follows her brother to Trinidad and Tobago with the help of a smuggler. When her new restaurant job proves dangerous, a local art-gallery owner helps her fight to secure her future.

    • Friday, Nov. 3, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions
    • Sunday, Nov. 5, 4:15 p.m., UA Pavilions


    DFF BrakhageUnder Childhood: The Films of Stan Brakhage and Jane Wodening
    120 minutes
    Writer Jane Wodening's 30-year marriage to, and creative collaboration with, the late filmmaker Stan Brakhage produced some of the most beautiful and poetic “home movies” ever made. Wodening will present three of these films and discuss her recent book, Brakhage’s Childhood.

    • Sunday, Nov. 12, 2 p.m., Sie FilmCenter (post-screening discussion with Brock DeShane)

    Walden: Life in the Woods

    DFF WaldenDirected by Alex Harvey
    104 minutes
    Shot on location in Colorado, this radical Western re-imagining of Thoreau’s eponymous classic interlaces three narratives that take place over 24 hours to consider the trappings of modern life and the unlikely heroes who dream of escape. Cast: Demian Bichir, Lynn Cohen, Anthony LoVerde, Erik Hellman, Chris Sullivan, TJ Miller and Jamie Horton

    • Saturday, Nov. 4, 6:15 p.m., Sie FilmCenter
    • Saturday, Nov. 4, 6:45 p.m., Sie FilmCenter
    • Monday, Nov. 6, 1:45 p.m., Sie FilmCenter
    • Friday, Nov. 10, 1 p.m., Sie FilmCenter

    COLORADO SHORT FILMS

    The following films all screen together at these times:

    • Sunday, Nov. 5, 11:30 a.m., UA Pavilions
    • Tuesday, Nov. 7, 7:15 p.m., UA Pavilions
    • Wednesday, Nov. 8, 9:30 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Chocolate Spokes
    Directed by Brendan Leonard
    5 minutes
    Gregory Crichlow left his architecture job in 2011 to start a bicycle shop in Five Points, a traditionally African-American and Latino neighborhood in Denver. Servicing residents’ bikes keeps the doors open, but hand-building steel frames is what inspires him.

    Chowder

    Directed by Travis Lindner and Justin Tyrrell
    12 minutes
    Before opening his new restaurant, a desperate chef seeks constructive feedback from his friends. Cast: Nathan Lund, Timmi Lasley, Natalie Kilkenny, Nate Gust and Evan Sheppard

    The Day Before
    Directed by Geoff Marslett
    14 minutes
    In this outlandish romantic tragicomedy, the losses are literal when a pre-wedding hunting trip in the Colorado mountains spins out of control. Now the happy couple must struggle to make everything right again. Cast: Jennifer Prediger, Frank Mosley, Kira Pearson, Paul Gordon, Jesse Wardak, Geoff Marslett

    Fed to Fire
    Directed by Joseph Dasteel
    5 minutes
    This visually stimulating profile of Colorado sculptor Jordan Wilbanks explores his relationship to the medium and material of metal sculpture.

    Final Four
    Directed by Dario Ortega
    20 minutes
    An assassin with a near-perfect NCAA basketball-playoffs bracket deals with the burdens of her job and the distractions of being a sports fanatic. Cast: Maya Ortega, Nick Holland, Shayn Herndon, James Benton and Geoff Marslett.

    Mrs. Drake
    Directed by Caitlin FitzGerald
    15 minutes
    Laura is a single mother struggling to maintain her own equilibrium while raising her frequently difficult son Jack. When Jack comes home from school one day with a story of his teacher, Mrs. Drake, locking him in a closet, Laura is thrown into a spiral of confusion and guilt. Cast: Rachel Fowler and Gabra Zackman.

    Oh, Ophelia
    Directed by Dakota Nanton
    4 minutes
    In his dreams, Hamlet is visited by the ghosts of the dead in this beautiful piece of hand-painted and digital animation.

    The Outsider
    Directed by Scott Takeda
    18 minutes
    As the black sheep in her own family, a young woman hopes meeting her boyfriend’s family will fill her need to belong. Then she learns about his 100-plus relatives and their confusing cultural traditions. Cast: Kate Cook, Scott Takeda, Mike Ostroski, Kristen Rakes, Tomiko Takeda, Catherine McGuire, Yoshimi Watada, Alley Watada, Alan Shackelford, Bill Watada, Kathy Watada, Sherry Watada and Justin Watada.

    The Romantic Method

    Directed by Maggie Hart
    5 nibutes
    After a breakup, a young woman decides to take the emotional stress out of dating and find her soulmate using nothing but science, logic and The Romantic Method. Cast: Lauren Yormack, Anthony Cubba and Ryan Gunnarson.

    Unseen
    Kaleb Kohart
    6 minutes
    Forced into a situation beyond his control, Truman must let go of his convictions and open his eyes to the truth. Cast: Jason Knauf, Kellie Fox, Steve Agyei and Meredith Winfield.

    COLORADO SHORTS SCREENING AT OTHER TIMES

    Diving Monkeys
    Directed by Elizabeth Henry
    4 minutes
    Decaying 16mm footage of monkeys in a zoo provides a poetic meditation on our relationship to caged animals — at once voyeuristic and compassionate.
    Playing with ... The Last Animals:
    • Friday, Nov. 3, 6:45 p.m., UA Pavilions
    • Saturday, Nov. 4, 11:30 a.m., UA Pavilions
    • Monday, Nov. 6, 4:30 p.m., UA Pavilions
    Dreamspook - Fear in Love
    Directed by Joseph Kolean
    4 minutes
    Two women carry out a bizarre relationship in a suburban setting. Cast: Steph Holmbo and McKenna Skroggs.
    Playing with ... Music Video Mixtape
    • Thursday, Nov. 9, 6:45 p.m., Sie FilmCenter
    • Friday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m., UA Pavilions

    Check out our Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • November promises to be a 'Disaster' on at least one area stage

    by John Moore | Nov 01, 2017

    From left: Peter Henry Bussian, Adeline Mann and Erik Fellenstein in Local Theater Company's 'The Rape of the Sabine Women,' playing through Nov. 19 in Boulder. Photo by George Lange.

    Curious goes to war over a photograph, monthly cabaret at the Aurora Fox, and The Edge makes a final Resolution

    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.


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Five intriguing titles for November:

    NUMBER 1November Disaster Disaster! The Musical! This silly new Broadway musical farce has adventurous fun at the expense of disaster films such as Earthquake, Jaws and The Poseidon Adventure. It's 1979, and New York's A-listers are lining up for the opening of a floating casino and discotheque. B-listers include a fading disco star, a nightclub singer with 11-year-old twins, a pair of wild and crazy guys and a nun with a gambling addiction.The score includes familiar pop tunes of the era including "Knock on Wood," "Hooked on a Feeling" and "I Am Woman." Written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick. The evening grows more giddily ridiculous with every scene. Presented Nov. 10-Dec. 2 by Equinox Theatre Company at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    NUMBER 2Body of an American. Dan O'Brien's provocative new play, presented by Curious Theatre Company, speaks to a moment in recent history when the single, stark photograph of the body of an American being dragged from the wreck of a Blackhawk through the streets of Mogadishu reshaped the course of global events. O’Brien explores the ethical and personal consequences of this lone image and how it shines a light on deeply personal issues that are relevant to our time and culture. Nov. 4-Dec. 9: at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    NUMBER 3Flowers in the Desert. And Toto Too, the only Colorado company dedicated exclusively to presenting new works by female playwrights, next presents Donna Hoke's story of a married couple who call it quits after 14 years. Cheater Joe is surprised when, three years later, Britt asks him to try again. But he goes along — until he realizes his ex-wife has a very specific agenda. Starring Libby Arnold and Michael Kennedy. Produced in partnership with the Denver Center at  The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St, 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org.

    NUMBER 4Denver DollsAurora Fox monthly cabaret series. The Aurora Fox's continuing series of monthly cabaret offerings in its smaller studio theatre continues with The Denver Dolls presenting their USO/Andrews Sisters tribute, performed in the style of The Manhattan Transfer. The Dolls are led by frequent DCPA performer Heather Lacy. Nov. 17-18 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org

    NUMBER 5Resolutions. It's the end of an era for The Edge Theatre Company, which is going into a period of hibernation after the presentation of this world-premiere holiday play by Denver playwright Josh Hartwell, described as  "unique, hilarious, edgy, and terrifying." For the past eight years, three middle-aged couples have gathered, post-Christmas, at a plush, cozy Vail cabin. They exchange white-elephant gifts, make resolutions for the upcoming year and. of course, down a few cocktails.  But this year, something has changed.  Relationships have evolved, and an unexpected guest is an all-too familiar face. Resolutions plays Dec. 1-31 at 1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com. Benchmark Theatre will continue to present programming in The Edge's boutique theatre starting in 2018.

    Breakin Convention

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Cline and WynetteNov. 2-18: And Toto Too 's Flowers in the Desert
    At The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St, 720-583-3975 or andtototoo.org

    Nov. 3-Dec. 17: Vintage Theatre Productions' Honeymoon In Vegas
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Nov. 3-18: Cline and Wynette: One More For the Road featuring Chris Whyde and Darren Bell
    At Gladys: The Nosy Neighbor, 500 Santa Fe Drive, 303-893-6112 (tickets available at the door only)

    Nov 4-5: DCPA Broadway’s Breakin’ Convention 2017
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE



    Nov. 4-Dec. 9: Curious Theatre's Body of an American (see video above)
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org 

    Nov. 9-Dec. 10: Cherry Creek Theatre's Beau Jest
    At the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver, 303-800-6578 or cherry creek theatre’s home page

    November DCPA. RentNov. 9-19: Lone Tree Arts Center's Love Letters starring Candy Brown and Mark Rubald
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000, lone tree’s home page

    Nov. 9-26: Millibo Art Theatre's The Accidental Death of an Anarchist
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321 or themat.org

    Nov. 10-Dec. 2: Equinox Theatre Company's Disaster!
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Nov. 10-19: Longmont Theatre Comany's Becky’s New Car
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Nov. 10-Dec. 30: Town Hall Arts Center's Seussical
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.com

    Nov. 11, 2017-April 22, 2018: DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Nov. 14-19: National touring production of Rent 20th Anniversary Tour
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Nov. 14-19: Fivers Inc.'s Dinner at Five
    PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org

    Candlelight Beauty Best Nov. 16-Feb. 14: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Nov. 17-Dec. 23: Arvada Center's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Nov. 17-Dec. 31: Midtown Arts Center's A Christmas Story
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Nov. 18-Dec.17: Bas Bleu Theatre's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Nov. 18-Feb. 24: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Nov. 24-Dec. 24: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and DCPA Off-Center's The SantaLand Diaries
    Jones Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Nov. 24-Dec. 24: DCPA Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org




    Nov. 24-Dec. 23: Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie (see video above)
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org READ MORE

    Nov. 24-Dec. 24: The Avenue Theater's Santa’s Big Red Sack
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Nov. 24-Dec. 23: Miners Alley Playhouse's A Christmas Carol
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Nov. 24-Dec. 17: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Murder for Two
    Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Nov. 24-Dec. 30: Thin Air Theatre Company's Angel of the Christmas Mine
    Butte Theatre, 139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-3247 or thinairtheatre.com

    Nov. 25-Dec. 23: Miners Alley Playhouse's The Story of the Nutcracker (children’s)
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Nov. 25, 2017-Jan. 14, 2018: Vintage Theatre Productions' Red
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Nov. 25-Dec. 23, 2017: Firehouse Theater Company’s The Miracle Worker
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com 

    Nov. 28-Dec. 3: National touring production of Chicago
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Nov. 30-Dec. 23: TheatreWorks' The SantaLand Diaries
    At the Bon Vivant Theatre, 3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Dec. 1-31: Edge Theatre Company's Resolutions
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Dec. 1-9: StageDoor Theatre's Cinderella
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Dec. 1-30: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Scrooge, Bah Humbug!
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Nov. 4: Coal Creek Theatre's Shining City
    At the Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    Through Nov. 4: Phamaly Theatre Company's Vox Phamilia
    At Community College of Aurora, Fine Arts Building, 16000 E. CentreTech Parkway, Aurora, 303-340-7529 or brownpapertickets.com

    Through Nov. 4: Iron Springs Chateau's Rocky Horror Picture Show
    444 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com


    Through Nov. 5: The Edge Theater Company's A Delicate Balance (see video above)
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com READ MORE

    Through Nov. 5: TheatreWorks' Wild Honey
    At the Bon Vivant Theatre, 3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Through Nov. 5: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's The Music Man
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Nov. 10: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's The Vagrant 2011 REVIEW
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.com




    John Hauser. SpotlightThrough Nov. 11: BDT Stage's Rock of Ages (see video above)
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com READ MORE

    Through Nov. 11: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre and Theatre Or's Buyer & Cellar

    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through Nov. 11: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's Medea
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.com


     

    Through Nov. 11: Midtown Arts Center's Once
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com READ MORE

    Through Nov. 12: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Birds of North America
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 12: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Bunnicula  (children's)
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Explorers ClubThrough Nov. 12: Evergreen Players' The Explorers Club
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    Through Nov. 18: Arvada Center's The Foreigner (black-box theatre)
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through Nov 18: DCPA Educaton and Theatre Company's The Snowy Day (children's) Conservatory Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 18: Buntport Theater's Edgar Allan Poe Is Dead and So Is My Cat
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Through Nov. 18: Theater Company of Lafayette’s Return to the Twilight Zone, a Parody
    At the Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org




    Through Nov. 19: Local Theater Company's The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias
    At The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 19: DCPA Theatre Company's Smart People
    Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through Nov. 25: OpenStage's Monty Python's Spamalot
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through Nov. 26: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Legally Blonde, The Musical
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    Through Dec. 17: Anansi: The Itsy BiTSY Spider Stories
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    Through Dec. 29: Arvada Center's A Year With Frog and Toad (children’s) 
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Through Dec. 31: Avenue Theater's Comedy Sportz (late nights through December)
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com READ MORE

    Through May 2018: Buntport Theater's Siren Song (ongoing children's series, second Saturdays of every month)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Edgar Allan Poe. Buntport
    Photo courtesy Buntport Theater.

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    AURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

    • Nov. 17-18: The Denver Dolls’ USO/Andrews Sisters tribute

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

    BRECKENRIDGE BACKSTAGE THEATRE

    • Nov. 24 and 25: Wine and Song: A Broadway Cabaret

    Breckenridge, 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    BUNTPORT THEATRE
    • Wednesday, Nov. 15: The Narrators (a monthly live storytelling show and podcast)
    • Tuesday, Nov. 21: The Great Debate (monthly)
    CHERRY CREEK THEATRE
    • Nov 17: O, Beautiful, with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra
    At the Central Presbyterian Church, 1660 Sherman St., 303-800-6578 or cherry creek theatre’s home page

    COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER AT COLORADO COLLEGE
    • Nov. 3: An Evening with Tom Papa
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    DENVER ACTORS FUND
      Gone_With_The_Wind_Anniversary-05081
    • Sunday, Nov. 19: Screening of the film Gone With the Wind, with live pre-screening entertainment from Anna Maria High, star of the Aurora Fox's upcoming  upcoming stage production of the stage musical Hi-Hat Hattie. Entertainment 5:30 p.m.; film at 6.
    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake. drafthouse.com

    LAKE DILLON THEATRE COMPANY

    • Nov. 10-11: Cabaret Series: Broadway Now and Then
      Featuring Kelly Renoux, Belen Moyano, Andrew Tebo and Jeffery Hyman. Musical Director: Drew Nichols
    Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.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
    • Saturday, Nov. 11: On the Couch (1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Su Teatro, 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, Betty Hart reads from The Whole Truth, by Stephen McCauley; Jim Hunt reads from Steve Almond's Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched; Emily Paton Davies reads from Amy Bloom's Psychoanalysis.
  • Video: Take a deeper visual dive into Off-Center's 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Nov 01, 2017

     

    We didn't want to give away too much of the visual surprise while the show was going on, but now that The Wild Party has ended, here's a closer video look at Off-Center's deep dive into immersive theatre at Stanley Marketplace.

    Much like last year's Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party transported audience members to a different era as guests at a decadent, 360-degree party set in the Roaring Twenties. There they mingled with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Amid all that, a scripted musical played out in which the debauchery turned disastrous as the alcohol set in, the evening wore on and the drama bubbled to the surface.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This unusual, jazz- and gin-soaked gathering afforded a completely new kind of experience for visitors to the former airplane hangar Stanley Marketplace, which was completely transformed by the Denver Center's creative teams.

    The Wild Party was directed by Amanda Berg Wilson. The all-local ensemble included Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis. To explore more about the show, go wildpartydenver.com.

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party:
    Meet the cast: Katie Drinkard

    First look at photos from The Wild Party
    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    The Wild Party: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    PHOTOS: THE MAKING OF THE WILD PARTY

    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    (New photos added!) Photos from the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party,' from the Opening Night party back to the first day of rehearsal. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    OFFICIAL PRODUCTION PHOTOS:

    The Wild Party
    The official production photos for 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.

  • DJ CaveM: Saving lives one healthy beat, and bite, at a time

    by John Moore | Oct 31, 2017

    Recording artist and organic gardener DJ CaveM Moetavation explains Food Justice in this Ted Talk.


    Hip-hop crusader for culinary wellness brings his healthy green message to Breakin' Convention this weekend

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When DJ CaveM Moetavation is introduced as “The Father of Eco Hip-Hop,” he still draws the occasional blank stare. After 16 globetrotting years, the Five Points native is still helping people reconcile what they think they know about hip-hop music with the international healthy food movement he started as a high-schooler in 2002. But the way CaveM puts it, it’s really pretty simple:

    “More people die from heart disease than police brutality,” he said. “Why not start there?” Or how about this: African-American adults are 80 percent more likely than white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes.

    DJ CaveM QuoteFood Justice matters. That's what it's all about, bro,” said CaveM, a featured local artist at this weekend’s Breakin' Convention festival of hip-hop dance theatre to be held in and around the Buell Theatre. The food-justice movement, he said, is communities exercising their right to grow, sell and eat healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate and locally grown food.

    DJ CaveM, at just 31 years old, is an educator, emcee, chef, gardener, midwife, father, urban farmer, graffiti artist, yogi and environmental activist. He goes by the name Ietef Vita when he is not on stage, but both adopted monikers reflect a lifetime dedicated to living, promoting and teaching a vegan lifestyle through his music. CaveM is an acronym for “Communicating Awareness Victoriously Educating the Masses.”

    “If we can teach kids how to wear their pants below their waist and how to wear their hat backward through hip-hop, we can definitely show them how to grow food,” said CaveM, who was nominated for a 2014 Grammy Music Educator Award. “We can reprogram the industry to think differently. We are redefining the image of what hip-hop is.”

    Until recently, the experts said hip-hop had nine separate elements, only four of which actually have to do with music — rapping, DJing, beatboxing and breakdancing. Other elements relate to the genre’s subculture: Graffiti art, street fashion, language, knowledge and entrepreneurship. But at last year’s Earth Day in New York, “health and wellness” was officially introduced as the 10th element of hip-hip at a ceremony honoring CaveM and others for their pioneering efforts to intersect hip-hop music with healthy living.

    “It was only after Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest had passed away from diabetes that we really started to notice that there are a lot of food-related illnesses in hip-hop,” CaveM said. “My b-boys (breakdancers) represent the healthiest and the purest element in the hip-hop culture.” 

    Growing up hungry

    CaveM’s story is worthy of a movie — and it is one. In the documentary From Gangs to Gardens, he talks about growing up as a member of the Eastside Gangstas in Five Points. He is the son of social justice activist Ashara Ekundayo, one of the founders of both Café Nuba and the GrowHaus in Denver. She has been credited with bringing the poetry scene back to Denver in the mid-1990s. His father, Michael Walker II, is a musician.

    Click here for the complete roster of Breakin Convention performers

    “I grew up around poets, graffiti writers, gangsters and healers,” said CaveM. “I grew up around the ideas of holistic health and community development and social change through art. That's what my whole vibration is about.”

    What he didn’t grow up around was money. He saw his gang life leading to a literal dead end at 14, when he chose the vegan lifestyle for himself. By then he already had attended “all the schools,” he said, before landing at Denver Public Schools’ PS1 Charter in the Golden Triangle. It was there in 2002 he began organizing his life around the ideas of environmental hip-hop and culinary wellness.

    He founded the annual Brown Suga Youth Festival when he was a senior in high school, which still thrives. “I invited all the b-boys, the graffiti writers, the emcees, the DJs, the homeopathic wellness physicians, the acupuncturists and the tai-chi masters to come and talk about how we can redefine the image of hip-hop culture,” he said.

    DJ CaveM QuoteHe organized a panel discussion called “Going Green Living Bling” — and that, he said, “was the start of it all.” He founded an organization of the same name that develops school workshops, summer-camp programs and even gang interventions that teach kids how to grow their own food. He has taught at schools or spoken from Tuskegee to Uganda, where he studied indigenous agriculture. He has been featured in Oprah and Fortune Magazines and traveled to the White House. He was a 2013 winner of Westword's Mastermind Awards. Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock declared June 14 “Keep It Fresh Day” (a designation that has since been replicated by the city of Baltimore) to honor CaveM “for finding exciting ways to galvanize young people into taking action and transforming their environment,” Hancock wrote. He received a PhD in Urban Ecology from the Denver Institute of Urban Studies.

    Plans for Breakin’ Convention

    CaveM says it is amazing that British hip-hop pioneer Jonzi-D has chosen Denver as one of the first five North American cities to host a Breakin’ Convention weekend. And well-chosen.

    “Denver is the home of Environmental Hip-Hop,” CaveM said. “We put it on the map. And the fact that's happening in November, which is Hip-Hop History Month, makes it even more powerful.”

    (Story continues after the video)

    British dancer, spoken-word artist and director Jonzi D is the most influential advocate for hip-hop theatre in the world. In the video above, he talks with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore about 'Breakin' Convention,' coming to the Denver Center from Nov. 4-5. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and intern Avery Anderson.

    CaveM will be part of two free Breakin’ Convention events this weekend, though he will be making additional personal appearances throughout the weekend. His primary appearances take place from 1-5 as part of the free 303 Jam. At 1 p.m. CaveM takes to the stage outside the Buell Theatre for a brief demonstration of International Environmental Hip-Hop. And from 1:30 to 5, he will host a music-infused cooking class in the Wolf Room inside The Buell Theatre.

    “It’s a culinary climate-action workshop using vegetables as a beat machine,” CaveM said. “We are going to teach kids how to conduct electricity as well as vegetable literacy through math, science and hip-hop — all at the same time.”

    Click here for more coverage of the Colorado theatre community

    Performing in his hometown, alongside both local crews and some of the biggest international acts in the world, is personal to CaveM.

    “I believe we can change the world through hip-hop,” he said. “It's more than just yoga and breaking. It’s more than a culture. It's more than a dance. It's a lifestyle. People come to get entertained, but we're introducing a way of life that I want people to really embrace. Anyone can get involved in 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.

    Bonus: Three places for a new vegan to eat in Denver:
    Inspired to try DJ CaveM’s food lifestyle? Start at his website, djCaveM.com. Meantime, we asked him his three favorite places to eat in Denver:

    1. “My very favorite place is the produce section of any grocery store, especially the ones that have organic produce. Eat it raw or don't eat it at all. Drink your salads. Mix the most bitter greens with apples and oranges. Try to keep it as local as possible.”
    2. “For late-night parties, if you are looking for a vegan pizza or snacks, City, O' City is pretty nice, located at 206 E. 13th Ave. in Denver."
    3. “You might also want to check out your kitchen, you know what I'm saying? My kitchen is the flyest place to be right now, bro.”

    DJ CaveM’s weekend schedule

    • 5-8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3: Produce for the People: A pop-up juice bar, artsy film garden, open b-boy cipher with DJ CaveM and Shea Live on the Beats. This event is part of November’s monthly First Friday activities (at the Convention Center).
    • 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4: Yoga and Meditation with Tyrone Beverly and DJ CaveM (at the Convention Center). Yoga meets hip-hop, appropriate for all levels. Bring your own mat (at the Convention Center).
    • 1-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4: International Environmental Hip-Hop Performance featuring DJ CaveM with Big Wheel (outside the Buell Theatre). This is part of the free 303 Jam Festival from 1-5 p.m.
    • 1:30-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4: Plant Based Records, a vegetable beat-making workshop (in the Wolf Room inside the Buell Theatre). This is part of the free 303 Jam Festival from 1-5 p.m.
    • 10 p.m. to midnight: Produce for the People afterparty with LOF crew featuring a pop-up juice bar, artsy film garden and b-boy cypher with DJ CaveM, Mike Wird and DJ MUSA showcasing collaborative art by Thomas “Detour” Evans at a new venue called “Understudy” at the 14th and Stout streets light-rail station.
    • 1:30-2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5: Recipes for Resistance: Discovering the B-Boy diet. Culinary Climate Action Activist DJ CaveM explores holistic health and hip-hop culture in this one-hour cooking class on how to stay healthy and fit on tour, with Q&A (Convention Center). Breakin’ Convention 2017 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre

    Breakin' Convention: Ticket Information

    • Nov. 4-5
    • The Buell Theatre and surrounding areas
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • Special student performance at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3

    Breakin' Convention: The international lineup

    • Yeah Yellow (France) - An explosive b-boy crew from France, YY brings agility, creativity and invention to the BC stage. Bodies create orifices to dive through, and reform physical shapes with muscular alchemy. Recently performed at BOTY16.
    • Protocol (U.K.) - Lanre Malouda directs as well as performs in this duet that explores racial dynamics. Popping and tutting techniques, as well as text and physical theatre is used to present ideas that reflect the tensions in our community today.
    • Salah (France) - A living legend in the world of hip-hop dance, Salah returns to the Breakin’ Convention stage after an eight year hiatus. This consummate performer is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown and all around entertainer. Known for his amazing battle abilities, Salah will present his theatre piece The Sickness.
    • Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) - From the most notorious township on the African continent comes the Soweto Skeleton Movers. The audience highlight of Breakin’ Convention 2016 returns with a brand new show. Experts in a particular form of pantsula dance developed by Skeleton Mover pioneer Jabulani, the crew use comedic contortionism, frenetic footwork, and magical hat tricks. 
    • Popin’ Pete (U.S.) - Also known as Timothy Earl Solomon, Popin' Pete is an American dancer, choreographer, innovator, one of the originators of the "popping" dance style and member of the Electric Boogaloos. His career has spanned 30 years developing funk culture as a whole.


    Breakin’ Convention officially kicks off with the free 303 Jam from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov 4 at The Buell Theatre. Enjoy free activities and performances including live DJs, workshops, free demonstrations and performances by DJ Cavem, The Reminders and more. Free fun for the whole family.



    Breakin' Convention
    (inside the Buell Theatre) will present a special student matinee at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 3. Contact groupsales@dcpa.org for more information.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Breakin' Convention:

    Breakin' Convention to kick off Denver Arts Week in November
    Breakin' Convention
    promises to bring authenticity, local artists to DCPA 

    Video: Our talk with the one and only Jonzi D of Breakin' Convention


    Photo gallery: Breakin' Convention community roundtable

    Breakin' Convention in Denver

    Photo gallery: Last summer, about 35 members of the local artistic community attended a local community roundtable at the Denver Center to get the conversation about 'Breakin' Convention' started. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • Denver Film Festival: Spotlight on 'Liyana'

    by John Moore | Oct 30, 2017
    Liyana. Aaron Kopp. Denver Film Festival

    Documentary brings vivid imaginations of young African orphans to life in glorious, haunting animation

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Colorado connections: Married co-directors and producers Amanda and Aaron Kopp live in Denver. Amanda is a home-schooled Denver native who later attended the University of Colorado Denver. Aaron was raised in Swaziland and moved to Colorado in 2002. One of the producers is Denver's Daniel Junge.

    Bottom line: Liyana is an extraordinary testament to the transformative power of storytelling to infuse hope into the lives of five orphans in a remote part of Swaziland – not by merely telling them stories, but by placing the power of the storytelling both in their hands and in their fervid imaginations. “By allowing our young storytellers to take charge of the narrative," Aaron Kopp said, “we believe we can challenge dehumanizing stereotypes and transform beliefs.”

    Liyana/ Amanda and Aaron Kopp. Photo by John MooreThe film: Acclaimed South African storyteller Gcina Mhlope (also an Obie Award-winning actor) leads the orphans, all ages 10 to 12 on an intensive, three-week storytelling workshop in southeast Africa. The collaborative process wrests from their imaginations Liyana — an epic hero’s journey that is informed by the orphans' folklore, daily hardships and deepest fears. A documentary crew was not only on hand to chronicle the creative workshop, they then employed an animation team (led by astonishing artist Shofela Coker) to bring the children’s story to full and glorious life on the screen.

    (Pictured at right: 'Liyana' co-producers and directors Aaron and Amanda Kopp appeared last week at the Sie Film Center in Denver. Photo by John Moore.)

    So what’s the story? Together, the children brought to life a Swazi girl named Liyana who embarks with her trusty cow on a dangerous quest to rescue her twin brothers who have been abducted. Liyana faces overwhelming obstacles on an odyssey worthy of Homer. But given what these children have themselves endured, from child slavery to starvation to sexual assault to HIV, it can never be assumed that their story will have a happy ending. That they nevertheless tell it with the joy and craziness and humor of a campfire tale just makes the outcome that much more hauntingly endearing. “Because of their experiences in early life, these kids just have a way of looking at the world that I think can be instructive to the rest of us,” Aaron said.

    Go to the Denver International Film Center home page

    The filmmakers’ approach: At a pre-festival screening last week, the Colorado filmmakers were asked how they knew that these children would produce a story worthy of a documentary. In part, they said they had faith in Mhlope, who is a revered storyteller in Africa. “It was scary when we started because we didn't know what they were going to come up with,” Amanda admitted. But, Aaron added: “We were pretty sure if we put the children in the driver's seat, they would take us somewhere cool and weird. And they did."

    SwazilandWhat was the process? Storytelling decisions were made democratically under the guidance of Mhlope, who would present the children with empty plot points that they would flesh out. "She would say things like: ‘Our character needs a sidekick — so who is that going to be?' " Aaron said. "They were supposed to debate this for a while, but there was no debate on this point because they all wanted it to be her cow.”

    Side notes: The writing workshop was actually filmed seven years ago, but that was just the start of the filmmakers’ journey. That means the five children are now ages 16 to 18, and they were all flown to Los Angeles in June to walk the red carpet at the film’s premiere there. It was their first time outside of Swaziland. Some of them are now making promotional appearances, and filmmakers next hope to release their story as its own standalone graphic novel. … The Executive Producer of the film is the actress Thandie Newton, who is English and Zimbabwean and known for films such as Crash and on TV on NBC’s E.R.

    Final word: Ultimately, Liyana is a testament to teachers, and to all of those who employ art as therapy. “This film is really an ode to all of the great teachers I have had in my life,” Aaron said. Every teacher should feel more emboldened by their mission for having seen this film.

    Length: 77 minutes

    Film web site: liyanathemovie.com

    Liyana+Film,+LA+Film+FestivalLiyana Denver screening schedule

    • Friday, Nov. 10, 6 p.m., at the Sie Film Center TICKETS
    • Saturday, Nov. 11, 4 p.m., at the Sie Film Center TICKETS
    • Sunday, Nov. 12 11 a.m., at the Sie Film Center TICKETS

    The Sie Film Center is located at 2510 E Colfax Ave., Denver, 80206

    Additional (non-screening) panel event:
    Bucking Long Odds, a conversation with Aaron and Amanda Kopp, moderated by Robert Denerstein, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11. at the Sie Film Center. TICKETS

    Check out our Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Birds of North America' flocks into global warming, family heat

    by John Moore | Oct 27, 2017
    Birds of North America by Michael EnsmingerChris Kendall, left, and Lindsey Pierce are a strained father-daughter combo in Anna Moench's 'Birds of North America.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    Playwright explores feathers, family, flaws and feelings in Boulder — without a soap box in sight.

    By Heather Beasley
    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company Dramaturg

    Anna Moench is the author of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's world-premiere play Birds of North America, now playing through Nov. 12 at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder.

    Anna Moench Quote Moench, originally from Baltimore and now raising a family in San Diego, is an Asian-American whose play won BETC's national 2016-17 Generations competition. As part of her prize, Moench visited Boulder last spring for a one-week residency to hone the script with the cast and crew.

    Moench is a third-year MFA playwright at the University of California-San Diego and was recently named one of Hollywood's top 100 new writers on the 2016 "Young and Hungry" list. She once rode a bicycle across the United States.

    Here are seven questions with the rising playwright:

    NUMBER 1What is your play about? While birding in their backyard over the course of a decade, a father and daughter struggle to understand the parts of one another that defy understanding. Their politics and personal views couldn’t be more different, but family bonds compel their annual migration.

    NUMBER 2What drew you to writing about this family? I have long been interested in writing about the emotional experience of climate change. Throughout my lifetime, climate change has been visible all around me. It's not unlike the experience of watching a loved one age and die. That was my way into the material, and why my "climate-change play" is a family drama. I am very interested in the question of how a child can never truly know his or her parent, and that's something this play wrestles with. I look at my 1-year-old son and think about how he thinks my entire life begins and ends with him. And in one way, it does. When a person becomes a parent, they are themselves reborn the moment their child is born.

    NUMBER 3What can you tell us about the development of this play? I wrote this play last year, during my pregnancy and in my early months as a mother, while I was in my first and second years as a graduate student. I workshopped the play with student actors, and then had a production of the play in the Wagner New Play Festival at UC-SD. Then, I was fortunate to go back to the table and work on the play in Boulder, fine-tuning and adjusting things. There really isn't a better development process leading up to a world premiere than that. I wish that for every playwright on the planet.

    NUMBER 4Birds of North America by Michael EnsmingerWhat was your intention in weaving climate change as a key social issue throughout the play? I have strong views about climate change, but I don't have much interest in using my writing as a soap box. If I wanted to do that, I'd write op-eds. My work as a playwright is much more focused on how to complicate things, rather than explain them. So I wanted to look at how a person who thinks all the noble things can actually fail the people he loves the most by being a slave to those ideals, by not bending a little bit to accommodate others. We all know we're living in politically charged times, if we aren't living in a bubble under a rock. As I was writing Birds of North America, I was thinking less about the right and the left, and more about the pragmatists and the idealists, and the human flaws that people in both camps exhibit. But even though I have very strong opinions and feelings (how can I not, as a woman and a person of color?) I think our underlying humanity is the most important thing.

    NUMBER 5What are you working on right now? The older I get, the angrier I get about the injustices people of color and women experience. I'm working on a play that explores victim-blaming for sexual assault, and the wide gulf that exists between the revenge fantasies of girls at the idea of sexual assault, and the grim acceptance of women after the experience of sexual assault. Every woman knows the moment I'm talking about: The moment you go from thinking you're a person to knowing you're a woman.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 6What did you learn from writing Birds of North America that you're taking into your current work? Not to be afraid of engaging with "Issues" in my work. I really hate "Issue" plays. Birds of North America has helped me realize there's a way to write about this stuff that feels true to me, and that doesn't sacrifice the elements of craft and storytelling in service of a political point.

    NUMBER 7What do you hope audiences leave this production thinking about? I hope people call their parents or their kids, if they can. (Not to talk about my play, just, you know, to chat.) And I hope people call their senators and representatives – because all of us can do that.

    Birds of North America: Ticket information
    • Through Nov. 12
    • Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    • 303-440-7826 or go to BETC.org

    Cast and crew:
    • John: Chris Kendall
    • Caitlyn: Lindsey Pierce
    • Director: Stephen Weitz
    • Stage Manager: Jordon Brockman
    • Set Designer: Tina Anderson
    • Costume Designer: Katie Horney
    • Lighting Designer: Katie Gruenhagen
    • Sound Designer: Jason Ducat
    • Dramaturg: Heather Beasley


    Related events:

    Friday, Oct. 27
    , after the 7:30 p.m. performance:  A conversation with Susan Bonfield, executive director of Environment for the Americas, and David Schimel, senior climate researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report. They will talk about conservation efforts, climate change, and how the themes of Birds of North America relate to important efforts beyond the stage.

    Saturday, Oct. 28, 9 a.m.: A free birding nature walk led by Boulder Audubon teen naturalist Luke Pheneger at Sawhill and Walden Ponds. No reservations needed. Meet at the parking lot at Walden Ponds, on 75th Street just north of Valmont Road. Wear good walking shoes; if you need binoculars, Boulder Audubon will have pairs on hand to lend.

    Sunday, Oct. 29, after the 2 p.m. performance: A conversation with Karl Brummert and Kate Hogan from the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, on local citizen science opportunities and conservation efforts throughout the region.

  • 5 things you don't know about Nataki Garrett

    by John Moore | Oct 26, 2017
    Nataki Garrett

     

    She's smart, in demand and making her Denver directorial debut with the Denver Center's Smart People.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    What you might not know about new Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett, who makes her Denver — and Denver Center — directing debut with Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People, playing through Nov. 19 in the Ricketson Theatre:

    NUMBER 1Macbeth. Nataki Garrett SHE'S SMART PEOPLE. Garrett attended California Institute of the Arts to study theatre and went on to become the associate dean and the co-head of the undergraduate acting program at CalArts’ School of Theater. She became the DCPA Theatre Company’s Associate Artistic Director in January. (She's pictured right at the recent opening of the DCPA's reimagined 'Macbeth.')

    NUMBER 2 SHE'S IN DEMAND. Garrett directed Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ celebrated antebellum melodrama An Octoroon last year for the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, a run that was so celebrated it was remounted in August. After her DCPA Theatre Company directorial debut, she will helm Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre’s staging of Aziza Barnes’ BLKS followed by Jefferson’s Garden at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. “These gigs confirm her status and the Denver Center’s place in the national conversation about theater’s future,” wrote Lisa Kennedy of The Denver Post.  

    NUMBER 3SHE'S ADMIRED. “She’s a breath of fresh air. I think she’s a strong, visionary artist and director,” DCPA CEO Janice Sinden told The Denver Post in February. “I think she’s going to inspire us. I think she has a great eye for how we can engage new and different audiences at the DCPA as well. I’m beyond excited.”

    NUMBER 4 SHE'S MIXING THINGS UP. Garrett has established close artistic relationship ties with some of the boldest new voices in the American theatre, including Jacobs-Jenkins (a MacArthur Fellow and Obie winner), Katori Hall (The Mountaintop), Timberlake Wertenbaker (Jefferson’s Garden), and Sigrid Gilmer. Who is Sigrid Gilmer? According to her own website, “she makes black comedies that are historically bent, totally perverse, joyfully irreverent and are concerned with issues of identity, pop culture and contemporary American society.”

    NUMBER 5SHE'S ON THE RISE. Garrett was highlighted in the November issue of American Theatre’s “Role Call: People To Watch.” In that feature, she was quoted as saying she’s attracted to “plays that seem impossible to stage, and to those which impact us in tremendous ways, chasing us out of our comfort zones. My mandate in the theatre is to give voice to the voiceless, and I am inspired by stories that expose the dark and discarded in the corners of our existence.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Smart People: Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    In Smart People, the race is on from the start
    Perspectives: Could racism be filtered out through genetics?
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
    Photos, story: Smart People opens rehearsals in full swing




  • In the Spotlife: Marialuisa Burgos of 'I Don't Speak English Only'

    by John Moore | Oct 25, 2017

    From left: Aaron Vieyra, Marialuisa Burgos and Hugo Jon Sayles in Su Teatro's 'La Carpa Aztlán Presents: I Don't Speak English Only,'  Photo by Steven Abeyta.


    MEET MARIALUISA BURGOS

    Elizabeth in 'La Carpa Aztlán Presents: I Don't Speak English Only,' playing through Oct. 28 at the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center. 

    • Hometown: Pueblo
    • Home now: Denver
    • High school: Centennial High School
    • College: Metropolitan State University of Denver
    • What have you done for us lately? I appeared in Joaquin’s Christmas at Su Teatro last year.
    • Twitter-sized bio: I love to travel, I enjoy meeting new people and trying different foods. Snack-time is my favorite part of the day, and I love to make people laugh. I am always up for a new adventures as long as my schedule is cleared.
    • The role that changed your life: Playing Maria Isabel in Enrique's Journey at Su Teatro, written by Anthony J. Garcia. That was the role that truly exposed me to Latino theatre. Based on a true story, the story follows a young boy who travels across Central America by train to find his mother. The role taught me the importance of telling the stories about the struggles people of color face. We took the play to Los Angeles, where I had the opportunity to watch 15 other productions by Latino theatre companies. It was a life changing experience.. READ MORE
    • Ideal scene partner: Jaime Camil (pictured below right), who currently plays Rogelio de la Vega on Jane the Virgin. I remember watching Jaime Camil in a Mexican telenovela I loved called Las Tontas Van al Cielo. (English translation: Dumb Girls Don't Go to Heaven.) He was such a charmer and I loved his comedic timing. When he made his way into prime-time television in the Unites States, I remember stopping and having this proud moment as a Latina because he was crossing cultures and was breaking barriers in diversity in TV.
    • Marialuisa Burgos Jamie CamilWhat is La Carpa Aztlán all about? The play takes place in the near future in a society where diversity is outlawed and those who are different are abandoned and  left out of mainstream society. Elizabeth wanders into an abandoned alley and discovers Don Guillermo Aztlán and his Carpa — and she also finds herself.
    • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: The play is performed in Carpa tradition, which is basically Mexican vaudeville. The style itself is a challenge. It is big, over-exaggerated and very physical. Also, this play is one of Su Teatro’s most successful past productions — and my character was written and has always been played as a male. There is a lot of pressure to both do justice to carpa and the play itself. I also get to sing and dance and act and play guitar, I'm working on doing more than one thing at the same time.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing your play? I hope the audience will be able to laugh and have fun. But the messages conveyed are real struggles that resonate with people of color. 
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I was born singing Mariachi music. I have my own group where I sing and play vihuela (a guitar-shaped string instrument from 15th and 16th century Europe, usually with five or six doubled strings). I have been performing and competing in Mariachi since I was 10.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I would like to encourage everyone to take the time to hear the stories of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students, and know how they are impacted by the decision to rescind it.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    I Don't Speak English Only: Ticket information
    At a glance: Su Teatro brings back its homegrown classic dystopian comedy that rises from the past to imagine a future world where all diversity is prohibited and any expression of 'the other' has been forced underground. The play with music is based on the Mexican tent-show tradition, which emerged during the 1920s in small towns across the Southwestern United States and Mexico. Carpas were looked at as lower-class entertainment, but some of Mexico's greatest performers came out of the carpa tradition, including the man Charlie Chaplin called the world's greatest comedian: Mario Moreno, better known as Cantinflas.

    • Written and directed by Anthony J. Garcia
    • Through Oct. 28
    • At 721 Santa Fe Drive
    • Tickets $17-$20
    • For tickets, call 303-296-0219 or go to suteatro.org

    Performances:

    • Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.

    Cast list:

    • Don Guillermo Aztlan: Hugo Jon Sayles
    • Elizabeth: Marialuisa Burgos
    • Carmen: Magally Luna
    • Violeta : Paola Miranda
    • Consuelo: Iliana Barron
    • Carlos: Aaron Vieyra
    • Tino: Adolfo Romero
    2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

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

  • Video: Our talk with the one and only Jonzi D of 'Breakin' Convention'

    by John Moore | Oct 25, 2017
    British dancer, spoken-word artist and director Jonzi D is the most influential advocate for hip-hop theatre in the world. In the video above, he talks with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore about 'Breakin' Convention,' coming to the Denver Center from Nov. 4-5.) Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and intern Avery Anderson.


    The champion of hip-hop dance theatre says there will be something for everyone at Breakin' Convention in Denver

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Breakin' Convention, coming to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts from Nov. 4-5, is the world's biggest festival of hip-hop dance theatre, showcasing the very best from around the world and around the corner.

    Jonzi D 800. Breakin' Convention. Photo by John Moore It is curated and hosted by British hip-hop pioneer Jonzi D, who talked with the DCPA NewsCenter about what festival-goers can expect, and who Breakin’ Convention is for.

    “Theatre is missing out on a brand-new vision and voice and audience,” Jonzi D said. “This is a chance where you can bring your children and your grandchildren to something which will hopefully bring the whole family together and also demystify maybe some of the stereotypes that people have about hip-hop," he said. (Look for the full written text of the Jonzi D video interview at the bottom of this report.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The major ticketed events will be two public performances in the Buell Theatre featuring four international hip-hop dance acts, one national act and local crews that were chosen from auditions held in Denver over the summer The lineup includes Machinez Remainz, Nasty Kidz, Block 1750, Rennie Harris Grass Roots, School of Breaking, Malika, The Freak Show and DJ A-L, with pre-show demonstrations and performances from DJ Lazy Eyez, Asia One and Queenz of Hip-Hop and DJ Thred.

    Jonzi D started Breakin’ Convention in 2004 and first took his creation across the pond to Charlotte two years ago. It comes to Denver in now both to fill a void and open a door here. 

    Breakin' Convention: The international lineup

    • Yeah Yellow (France) - An explosive b-boy crew from France, YY brings agility, creativity and invention to the BC stage. Bodies create orifices to dive through, and reform physical shapes with muscular alchemy. Recently performed at BOTY16.
    • Protocol (U.K.) - Lanre Malouda directs as well as performs in this duet that explores racial dynamics. Popping and tutting techniques, as well as text and physical theatre is used to present ideas that reflect the tensions in our community today.
    • Salah (France) - A living legend in the world of hip-hop dance, Salah returns to the Breakin’ Convention stage after an eight year hiatus. This consummate performer is a master popper, locker, b-boy, clown and all around entertainer. Known for his amazing battle abilities, Salah will present his theatre piece The Sickness.
    • Soweto Skeleton Movers (South Africa) - From the most notorious township on the African continent comes the Soweto Skeleton Movers. The audience highlight of Breakin’ Convention 2016 returns with a brand new show. Experts in a particular form of pantsula dance developed by Skeleton Mover pioneer Jabulani, the crew use comedic contortionism, frenetic footwork, and magical hat tricks. 
    • Popin’ Pete (U.S.) - Also known as Timothy Earl Solomon, Popin' Pete is an American dancer, choreographer, innovator, one of the originators of the "popping" dance style and member of the Electric Boogaloos. His career has spanned 30 years developing funk culture as a whole.

    Related events before and during the festival:

    Denver's Bboy Factory will conduct master classes on Wednesday. Nov. 1, at 6401 Broadway. To sign up, call 720-771-2667 or email Ian Flaws at ian@bboyfactory.com

    • 7-8:30 p.m.: Salah - Popping, Animation, Boogaloo and Effects
    • 8:30 – 10 p.m.: Yeah Yellow - Breakin, Top Rock, Footwork and creating your own style


    Breakin’ Convention officially kicks off with the free 303 Jam from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov 4 at The Buell Theatre. Enjoy free activities and performances including live DJs, workshops, free demonstrations and performances by DJ Cavem, The Reminders and more. Free fun for the whole family.



    Freestyle Hip Hop with Steve Lelong takes place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Studio Loft at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 1400 Curtis St. The cost is $20. This will be a lively freestyle hip hop workshop from world champion winner of Juste Debout. Steve Lelong (Yeah Yellow, France) has developed a unique technic of improvisation that mixes mixing hip hop gesture and contact technique, drawing from his experience of working with choreographers from varied dance disciplines.


    Breakin' Convention (inside the Buell Theatre) will present a special student matinee at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 3. Contact groupsales@dcpa.org for more information.



    Breakin' Convention: Ticket Information

    Breakin’ Convention 2017 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance TheatreNov. 4-5
    • The Buell Theatre and surrounding areas
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829
    • Special student performance at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3

     

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Breakin' Convention:
    Breakin' Convention to kick off Denver Arts Week in November
    Breakin' Convention
    promises to bring authenticity, local artists to DCPA 


    Photo gallery: Breakin' Convention community roundtable

    Breakin' Convention in Denver

    Photo gallery: Last summer, about 35 members of the local artistic community attended a local community roundtable at the Denver Center to get the conversation about 'Breakin' Convention' started. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    The Jonzi D video interview: The complete text

    My name is Jonzi D, and I am the Artistic Director of Breakin' Convention , the international festival of hip-hop dance theatre.

    Breakin' Convention is hip-hop dance in the theatre. I always felt that there was a gap in the culture in that there is this amazing dance form that is very contemporary that's spreading like wildfire around the world. And why is it that theatre is a little bit behind in actually saying, 'Well, hey, there is an opportunity here.'

    I spoke to Alistair Spalding, who is the Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. And I said to him: 'We need to do a festival which brings together all of this work from around the world.' So in 2004, we did our first festival. We introduced artists from Korea, France, The Netherlands, Russia, and brought them all to London, and it was amazing. It sold out.

    We managed to carry on and keep doing it, and 14 years later, we are here now in Denver. I connected with the Bboy Factory, which is a local school here, and as always, I realized there was a lovely hip-hop community here. It was enough to know that Breakin' Convention would work here.

    We're gonna take over the theatre space at the Buell Theatre. We're gonna have graffiti exhibitions outside and inside the building as well. We're gonna have DJs spinning. Outside the theatre space, we're gonna be seeing some dancers basically ciphering. (A dance cypher is the area of the dance floor that is open to those who wish to dance in it.) So before you even buy your ticket, there will be activity. There will be workshops around the various international artists that will be part of it. Once you get into the auditorium, you're going to see an array of short pieces and very different approaches to the hip-hop genre.

    Theatre is missing out on a brand-new vision and voice and audience. This is a chance where you can bring your children and your grandchildren to something which will hopefully bring the whole family together and also demystify maybe some of the stereotypes that people do have about hip-hop. This is a chance to be in your local theatre and then you can really understand hip-hop. You can see  graffiti close-up. You can see the artistic disciplines that hip-hop calls at you. And also: You can have fun. It's probably the most joyous event that you will go to in your theatre calendar. Everybody's got something to be engaged with in Breakin' Convention. If you like graphic arts, you will be engaged with that. If you like music, you can be engaged with that. If you have a family, there is a lot that your children can be part of.

    Yeah, there are a lot of reasons to come.

  • 'Smart People': First-look video, Opening Night photos

    by John Moore | Oct 25, 2017
    Video:

    Video above: Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's Smart People, by Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. The cast includes, below from left: Jason Veasey,  Esther Chen, Director Nataki Garrett, Tatiana Williams and Timothy McCracken. Smart People runs through Nov. 19 in the Ricketson Theatre. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Photo gallery: Smart People Opening Night and more:
    Making of 'Smart People'
    Photos above from the making of Smart People, including the Opening Night celebration on Oct. 20, 2017. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Smart People: Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    In Smart People, the race is on from the start
    Perspectives: Could racism be filtered out through genetics?
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
    Photos, story: Smart People opens rehearsals in full swing
  • 'Smart People': The race is on from the start

    by John Moore | Oct 24, 2017
    Smart People
    Production photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Smart People,' directed by Nataki Garrett and featuring Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams Viscom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Playwright Lydia R. Diamond refutes the notion that bigotry is owned only by certain people. No one is exempt.

    By Sylvie Drake
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Smart People is a loaded title for a loaded play. 

    It opens with projected images: diverse people, young, old, rich, poor, engaged in various activities. When I asked the play’s author, Lydia R. Diamond, what these images meant, she thought for a moment.  

    Lydia_R._Diamond“I wanted to open with a sense of the diversity of the characters,” she said with gravitas. “I wanted to inspire the director in a certain direction. I write from a very visual place, particularly when it’s about race.” 

    And yes, Smart People is about race. 

    Diamond is meticulous when it comes to intent. Her talents now include writing for film and television as well as theatre, and she was in the middle of writing for Showtime’s The Affair when we spoke on the phone. This required that she pull her mind off that project to discuss her 2014 play. 

    Four complicated people vie for our attention in Smart People: Brian, a white, tenured Harvard professor of neuropsychiatry with an entitlement issue who’s pursuing a controversial project; Valerie, a young African-American struggling to break through as a professional actress; Ginny, a Chinese-Japanese-American professor of psychology at Harvard with a serious shopping habit who focuses on identity issues among Asian-American women; and Jackson, an African-American medical resident with an attitude, fresh out of Harvard Med and eyeing a career as a surgeon. 

    If these thumbnail descriptions sound rooted in academia, they are. 

    “My mother was a college professor,” Diamond offered. “I grew up in a family of academics.” 

    Her own career has included stints as a professor and, although they are now divorced, she was married to a Harvard professor with whom she has a son. “I was very aware of that self-congratulatory world,” she added, “and what shapes it.”

    Smart People was triggered by a Princeton study about how we, as a species, tend to dehumanize the lowest of the low. When the study’s focus group was confronted by images of indigent, homeless people, the group registered no reaction. That detail got Diamond’s attention. It confirmed for her that our preconceptions — how we see others — are where prejudice begins. 

    Nataki Garrett, who joined the DCPA Theatre Company as Associate Artistic Director in January, chose Smart People for her Denver directorial debut because she could relate, she said. Like Diamond, Garrett comes from an African-American family of academics. Except that she grew up in Oakland, Calif., in the 1980s. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “It was the middle of the Reagan scourge, the drug scene, the killings down the street from my house. That was my life,” Garrett said. With President Obama’s ascension to the presidency, “I was living in an extreme dichotomy with my sweet liberal friends because they were saying ‘racism is over,’ except it wasn’t. They weren’t listening to the wider world; they were listening to the sound of their own voice. Their sense of entitlement determined how the world was meant to be: my existence defined by your privilege. 

    SMART PEOPLE ADAMS_VISCOM“I wasn’t shocked by the (Trump) election and needed to ask myself why,” she continued. “Why wasn’t I…? And then I read Smart People and remembered how self-congratulatory my sweet liberal friends had been. This belief that you and I are alike just because we’re really good friends is an illusion. We’re not (alike). ‘Liberal’ does not protect you from bias; you have to go back to the beginning to understand how we got to here.”

    (Pictured right: Timothy McCracken and Tatiana Williams in 'Smart People.' Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Before coming to Denver, Garrett racked up solid credits working in various capacities with a broad range of the country’s best resident theatre companies and schools, most recently California’s CalArts. She was highlighted in American Theatre magazine last year as a person to watch and admits she favors doing cutting edge work by emerging artists. 

    “My mandate in the theatre is to give voice to the voiceless. I’m attracted to plays that seem impossible to stage and that chase us out of our comfort zones,”  she said.

    Garrett selected Efren Delgadillo Jr. to design the sets for Smart People because, she said, “he favors clean lines and uncluttered spaces. Nothing’s hidden. A neutral place, so we can hear the words.”  

    And Diamond’s words do demand to be heard, because Diamond is an equal-opportunity indicter. She refutes the notion that bigotry is owned only by certain people. As demonstrated by her stark 2008 play Stick Fly, racism cuts all ways. No one is exempt. 

    Her “smart people” have issues with the wider world, but they also have a hard time talking to each other. Their anger simmers under a fragile surface that erupts easily. As the world’s playwrights all know, communication is mainly miscommunication — a human failing, regardless of the color of one’s skin, yet made worse by it.

    “I knew Brian had to be a white man,” said Diamond, whose protagonist is “a neuroscientist out to prove that white people are biologically racist. No, that’s not what I believe,” she added quickly. 

    It was a way to jump-start the discussion.

    “I didn’t know what or who the characters around this man would be,” she said. “Creating characters is part of a process that’s purposeful, but also organic. It has a spiritual component. I discover things as I go along.” 

    That the play takes place in the weeks leading up to President Obama’s inauguration is a component that wasn’t there when she started thinking about Smart People. Yet when his presidency became reality, it played into her premise, helping to shape it.  

    As for the steady stream of controversial statements regarding race that have come from  Obama’s successor, Diamond said only: “I always thought that I would rather people be outspoken about their ideas — but I find it frightening."

    Sylvie Drake is a translator, former theatre critic and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, contributor to culturalweekly.com, American Theatre magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and is the DCPA's former Director of Media Relations and Publications.

    Lydia_R._Diamond SMART PEOPLE ADAMS_VISCOM

    Clockwise from top left: Esther Chen, Timothy McCracken, Tatiana Williams and Jason Veasey in 'Smart People.' Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Smart People
    : Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Written by Lydia R Diamond
    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    Perspectives: Could racism be filtered out through genetics?
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
    Photos, story: Smart People opens rehearsals in full swing

    Photo gallery: The making of Smart People

    Making of 'Smart People' Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Smart People,' directed by Nataki Garrett and featuring Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • Meet Katie Drinkard of 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Oct 22, 2017
    A katie-drinkard

    Katie Drinkard, above, attended ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    MEET KATIE DRINKARD
    Mae in The Wild Party, playing through Oct. 31 under the hanger at the Stanley Marketplace.   

    A katie-drinkard 200At the Denver Center: Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking. Recent regional credits include Million Dollar Quartet at Totem Pole Playhouse and Chasing Rainbows at Flat Rock Playhouse. Off-Broadway: Far From Canterbury at Soho Playhouse.

    • Hometown: Highlands Ranch
    • Home now: New York
    • High school: ThunderRidge
    • Training: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ithaca College in New York
    • Twitter-sized bio: Comically verbose avocado enthusiast often found in the process of dropping or spilling something.
    • What's your handle? @katiedrinkard on Twitter and Instagram
    • Web site? katiedrinkard.com
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? I am a true-crime junkie and aficionado, so perhaps something in the realm of private investigator or criminal psychologist. If only I got paid for the embarrassing number of hours I’ve already spent going down various internet rabbit holes compiling my own research and theories on countless forensic cases.
    • A Laurie Metcalf 200One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: Laurie Metcalf in A Doll’s House Part 2 on Broadway (pictured right). Oh wait, no. Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple. I am riddled with indecision. I can’t stick with one answer. I will describe both in tandem: These women changed the molecules in the air with their performances. As an audience member, you felt the room become so still and you could feel everyone listening with their entire bodies. The command, the power, the humanity and the magic harnessed and delivered from these two women was nothing short of intoxicating to witness.
    • Bucket-list role: I change my mind on this bi-weekly, but at the moment it’s Mama Rose in Gypsy. I know, I have to wait about 30 years, but one day everything’s gonna come up roses for me.
    • One time you were totally miscast: I played the elderly and racist Mrs. Dubose in To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, and I played another ancient woman in the ensemble of The Light in the Piazza at Ithaca College. What can I say? I’ve got a convincing and compelling old-lady gait.
    • What's playing on your your Spotify? Phoebe BridgersStrangers in the Alps album.
    • How should we should foster the next generation of theatregoers? We need to work harder to reach disenfranchised communities. We need to continue to foster outreach programs that bring the arts and live-theatre experiences to every young person.
    • Katie-Drinkard-with-mom-Celeste. Photo by John MooreOne thing we don't know about you: I was born in England!
    • Why does The Wild Party matter? Like all great theatrical endeavors, The Wild Party provides compelling insight into human nature. We see complex, fascinating people dealing with pain, inner turmoil, secrets and indiscretion. We see people projecting the versions of themselves they want the world and their community to see, and we also get to see people without all the glitz and glamour at their most raw and carnal. I think that matters.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? That they find pieces of themselves in these 15 characters. I hope they leave feeling like they have been truly immersed in a wild evening of fun and debauchery. I hope they leave ruminating on the masks they might wear in their own lives.
    • One thing you want to get off your chest: I have a hard time trusting anyone who enjoys the taste of Marmite.

    Pictured above right: Katie Drinkard her with her mother, Celeste, at the 'Wild Party' opening-night celebration. Photo by John Moore

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Wild Party: Ticket information
    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Through Oct. 31, only
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party:

    First look at video and photos from The Wild Party
    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    The Wild Party: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of Su Teatro's I Don't Speak English Only
    Meet Autumn Hurlbert of Something Rotten!
    Meet Zak Reynolds of DCPA Education's The Snowy Day
    Meet Rachel Kae Taylor of DCPA Education's The Snowy Day
    Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific

  • Avenue Theater's new era begins with 'ComedySportz of Denver'

    by John Moore | Oct 21, 2017

    'ComedySportz of Denver' opened last night. Photo courtsey The Avenue Theater.
    'ComedySportz of Denver' opened last night. Photo courtesy The Avenue Theater.

    Jane and Dave Shirley promise to bring laughs and an educational component to venerable boutique theater. 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The ever-resilient Avenue Theater has a new lease — and a new lease on life — even as the neighborhood surrounding it on 17th Street continues to burgeon into one of Denver’s hottest commercial and residential districts.

    The 32-year-old boutique theatre that moved into its current home off Logan Street in 2003 has re-emerged this week as a home for comedy and comedy theatre, said Jane Shirley, who became president of Avenue Theatre Group in 2012 with her husband and business partner, Dave Shirley. In something of a Dickensian miracle, the family that owns the building is holding the rent stable even though the going rate in the neighborhood has skyrocketed. That means the mighty little theatre that has had more near-death experiences than Harry Houdini lives to fight and frolic for another day.  

    ComedySportz Jane Shirley.  “Dave and I have been involved with the Avenue Theater for a long time now, and we have always felt like the brand here has to be comedy,” Jane Shirley said. “That's what it once was, and what it wants to be now. So we want to continue with that.”

    The Avenue’s new era officially launched last night with the opening of ComedySportz of Denver, a popular improv-comedy format that pits two teams of comedians against one another like in a sporting event. “It’s a fun, fast-paced comedy show that's great for the whole family and great for groups of all types,” said Dave Shirley.

    Each night features six improv experts competing for laughs and points, with Jane Shirley serving as the referee. It’s her job to keep things going at a fast clip by essentially stopping improv gone wrong, right in its tracks. “The referee gets to say, ‘OK, we're done with that,’ and move on,” she said. “It’s up to me to keep the energy going forward and to create an entertaining show for the audience.”    

    Anywhere from seven to 12 games will be played during each match, drawn from a pool of more than 100 improv games. Every show is different, with different players, different games and different audiences supplying suggestions. The fans judge the scenes and games, and ultimately they decide the winners and losers.

    ComedySportz was started in 1984 by a group of Milwaukee comedians including Dick Chudnow, Bob Orvis, Brian Green and others. The Shirleys were part of the group that introduced ComedySportz to Denver at the Wynkoop Brewery’s legendary Impulse Theatre in the early 1990s. The Shirleys went on to open the Rattlebrain Theatre – now known as the Clocktower Cabaret — in the D&F Tower.

    “This format has been polished and perfected by other ComedySportz theatres around the country, so all we have to do is plug in some of Denver’s best improvisers and we’ll have an incredible night of comedy,” said comic Jessica Austgen, past president of the Denver Improv Festival, a DCPA Teaching Artist and writer of the recent Galleria Theatre hit comedy DragOn. “I think it’s a perfect fit for The Avenue.”  

    The Denver roster will expand and rotate depending on actor availability. The roster includes Kerstin Caldwell, Michael Collins, Heather Curran, Chris Gallegos, Adrian Holguin, Leanne Jewell, Jeff Kosloski, Allison Learned, Brian McManus, Royce Roeswood, Dave Shirley, Skip Stewart, Sara Vandas, Meredith Winfield, Jon Wilkerson, and Cult Following veterans Austgen, Nanna Thompson (pictured below and right), Sara Vandas and Chris Woolf.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    As a pioneering female improv comedian who cracked into ComedySportz at its inception in Denver, Shirley was shocked when she auditioned actors to join her in ComedySportz of Denver.

    ComedySportz“When I was at Impulse, I was the only woman most of the time,” she said. “But when I showed up for our auditions, half the place was women. Things have changed so much. The other thing that amazes me is that the comedy scene isn’t as cutthroat or competitive as it used to be. It’s clearly become a community. So what we have the opportunity to do now is show how all these diverse and talented people who have such different backgrounds and experiences can come together and create something unique.”

    The Shirleys hope ComedySportz catches on and becomes a permanent but flexible offering at The Avenue. For example, the Shirleys have now been staging their twisted holiday sketch comedy Santa’s Big Red Sack for the past nine years now. When they bring it back to The Avenue from Dec. 1-24, ComedySportz will move to a temporary late-night slot, then return to early evenings in January.

    Moving forward, the other huge programming emphasis for Jane Shirley, a former principal at Aurora’s William Smith High School — better known as “Last Chance High School” — will be to introduce a robust educational component that will provide area students who have little or no previous exposure to arts education with both the encouragement and the tools to simply create. Shirley’s day job is as President of a company called Catapult Leadership, which exists to fix problems in education and transform schools into dynamic learning communities.

    “I want kids to come here who have never had an opportunity in the arts before,” she said. “They've never had piano lessons. They've never had anyone take them to the theatre. It doesn't matter how good they might be — they will never get into a dance program because no one has ever taught them how to audition. So the idea right now is to use The Avenue very intentionally as way of connecting with these schools and to craft a core program that becomes part of their DNA. Because right now we are graduating kids who are trained to take tests, to replicate somebody else's work and to comply. There is no risk-taking. There is no living with an unfinished product. You go into schools today and you see all these kids who are being told to sit down and get on a computer and practice some (bleep) stuff. Which means there are a lot of people out there now who can't create anything, who can't think for themselves and who can't have a conversation about anything.”

    Shirley is already forming programming partnerships with nearby Rise Up Community School and Denver Public Schools’ DC-21 High School. There will also be a high-school league component of ComedySportz, which will allow improv teams from schools across the city to compete with one another.

    “The questions we are asking are, ‘How do we engage our youth? How do we elevate their voices?’ ” Shirley said. “Because they are the ones who are going to be in charge someday.”

    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.

    ComedySportz: Ticket information

    • Presented by The Avenue Theater, 417 E. 17th Ave.
    • Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 25; 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Dec. 1-24; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29-30; 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Dec. 31
    • Prices: $15 - $20
    • Tickets: Call 303-321-5925 or go to http://www.avenuetheater.com
    Upcoming: Santa's Big Red Sack, Dec. 1-24
  • What Ed Berry loved most about theatre: 'Everything'

    by John Moore | Oct 20, 2017
    Ed Berry. Firehouse. Photo by Brian Brooks.

     Ed Berry, back left, with the cast of Firehouse Theater Company's 2012 production of 'Jekyll and Hyde.' Photo by Brian Miller.

     
    Soft-spoken bear of a man stared death in the face — and cracked wise. 'That's who he was,' friends say.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Ed Berry knew his death was imminent as he sat in his Colorado Springs hospital room last Saturday. He didn’t know whether he had days or hours left when the cafeteria worker called and asked what he wanted for breakfast. With his trademark sardonic humor, Berry just laughed and told the caller, “We’re going to have to play that by ear.”

    “Here he was looking death right in the face, and for him to pop off that line — that’s pretty indicative of who he was,” said his longtime friend Maggie Stillman.

    Berry, a longtime member of the Colorado theatre community in a wide variety of capacities, died Tuesday morning from the effects of long-term congestive heart failure. He was 62.

    Ed Berry Quot“Ed faced death as he faced life, and that was with courage and bravery,” said his friend, Matt Lang. “We should be so lucky to take that and incorporate that into how we face life every day.”

    Berry was also a proud nerd, Stillman said. He loved BBC murder mysteries — especially episodes of Inspector Morse and Midsomer Murders — the Denver Comic Con and all things space, from last summer’s eclipse to the hit CBS sit-com The Big Bang Theory. If the subject was sci-fi, Stillman said, Berry was all about it.

    “We’re both part of a Facebook group called The Nerdverse, she said. The group quotes actor Simon Pegg's philosophy: "Being a geek means never having to play it cool about how much you like something." 

    “He really liked posting photos of nerdy T-shirts,” Stillman said.

    Berry once stood all day in a line at Denver Comic Con to grab a ticket to a panel featuring William Shatner. Then he gave it to Stillman.

    “He was always a person you could rely on to give all of himself to you — and be happy to do so,” Stillman said of a man also known for a soft-spoken nature that gave him uncommon observational powers.

    “Ed knew that I was carrying a child before I did,” said his friend, Ona Canady. “He came up to me and said, ‘Maybe you should check before drinking that wine.’ I did, and he was right. He was like an owl who would only talk when he knew that he was right.”

    It wasn't the number of theatre companies Berry worked for that was as remarkable as the number of jobs he took on for those companies. Berry was a director, assistant director, stage manager, sound designer, board member and publicity photographer. He was, simply put, a guy who did anything that needed doing. He loved nailing boards to a stage as much as he did directing a show.

    “I think we have lost someone who everybody really loved working with,” his sister, Colleen Berry Linder, posted on Facebook.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Berry was there for John Hand when the founder of Colorado Free University started his Firehouse Theater Company at the former Lowry Air Force base. And he was there for Hand’s sister, Helen Hand, when she scrambled to keep her brother’s dream alive after Hand was murdered in 2004.

    Firegouse Theatre. Photos by Ed Berry.“When my brother bought the old Lowry fire station, he started a 'readers theatre' series that cost a dollar a class,” Helen Hand said. “John wanted to be around interested people, and he didn’t care about making money from it. Ed was one of those interested people. The bond that was formed among the participants was powerful. They were creating something new and supporting each other to take new risks.”

    Ed was among the friends who pulled together after Hand’s death to help his sister keep Firehouse together. “First we formed a board just to keep Firehouse going, and Ed was one of the founding members – so he was there for me from the get-go,” she said.

    (Samples of Ed Berry's theatre photography, right: Emma Messenger in 'The Lion in Winter,' and Greg West in 'I Am My Own Wife,' both for Firehouse Theater.)

    Berry never aspired to perform onstage, but he loved being a part of the creative process. Helen Hand depended on Berry for his quiet and calm whenever things got loud and agitated. “He was the kind of guy who waited until things quieted down to state his opinion,” she said. “He was low-key, soft-spoken, steady and supportive. He never got caught up in the drama — he never created it, and he never spread it.

    “I remember once when we were sitting in a board meeting. People were going off in different directions and things were falling apart from all sides. Ed suddenly spoke up and said, ‘Guys. We have to make this fun … or it’s not worth doing.’

    “He didn’t demand attention,” she said. “He waited to speak for the moments when he could be heard.”

    Berry helped select the plays that were presented by Firehouse and often assisted on productions directed by Brian Brooks, including Jekyll and Hyde and Earth and Sky. “And he was a fabulous photographer,” Hand said. He particularly loved photographing race cars.

    Berry was a board member for the late Byers-Evans Theatre Company and was a mainstay at the Bug Theatre back in the early 2000s, when it hosted one of the area’s most admired acting ensembles. “He volunteered all the time and was a smiley presence, gently laughing with and encouraging everyone. Such an altruist,” said Mare Trevathan, now a co-founder of Local Theatre Company.

    Berry was born in Dallas on Nov. 30, 1955, and attended Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas. After moving to Denver, he worked for five years at Natural Grocers before moving to Colorado Springs in 2014.

    His real-life profession was as a Network Administrator, where his main task was calmly resolving mission-critical software issues. In other words, Berry was a professional problem-solver. Just as he was in the theatre.

    Berry was diagnosed with congestive heart failure back in the 1990s and came to terms with his his eventual fate years ago. Still the end came less than a week after doctors told him his last option was the heart transplant list, which he declined. “If it’s my time, it’s my time,” he told friends. He announced his terrible news on Facebook in typical straightforward fashion:

    "Basically my heart is shutting down,. My heart was damaged through years of trying to pump blood through a 380-pound body. Even after losing 130 pounds, gaining it back, and then losing 157, the damage was already done. The upshot: My heart has run its course. It's beat itself ... well, to death.”

    Berry spent much of his final days using humor to lighten the burden off his closest friends and family. When Stillman visited Berry in the hospital, he was watching Star Wars: A New Hope. “We got to talking and he said, ‘Oh man, now I'm not gonna know how Star Wars ends,' " Stillman said with a laugh.

    A Ed Berry 800 3Later, Stillman asked Berry what he loved most about theatre. His answer? “Everything.”

    Berry is is survived by his sister, Colleen Berry Linder. He was preceded in death by a younger brother, Kevin Berry, in February 2016.

    A life celebration will be held at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29, in the ballroom at the Colorado Free University at 7653 First Ave., in Denver. It’s a pot luck, so bring food and drink.

    In lieu of flowers, Berry’s sister asks that you make a donation to a favorite charity in his name.

    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.

    Ed Berry. Crave Magazine. Ripple Effect. Courtesy Jim Willis. Crave Magazine featured the start of the new Ripple Effect Theatre Company founded by Maggie Stillman, seated front. Ed Berry is first from the right. Photo by Jim Willis, courtesy Maggie Stillman.
  • Breaking: 2018 Saturday Night Alive guests will attend 'Hamilton'

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017

     

    Guests of the Denver Center's signature fundraiser for arts education will experience the Broadway show first-hand

    Guests of the DCPA's 38th annual signature fundraiser, Saturday Night Alive, next March 3, will attend that evening’s performance of Hamilton at The Buell Theatre, it was  announced tonight at a kickoff party at Le Méridian Denver Downtown

    Every year, Saturday Night Alive helps DCPA education programs give more than 106,000 students the opportunity to take their first step toward changing their lives and transforming the world around them.

    Chris De'Sean Lee, Jose Ramos, Wallace Smith, Miguel Cervantes - HAMILTON - (c) Joan Marcus 2016“At the DCPA, we believe that the arts are a fundamental part of a well-rounded education,” said DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. “Being able to celebrate that with Hamilton, a show that is equally passionate about arts education, is an exciting opportunity for our  Saturday Night Alive donors.”

    (Pictured right: Chris De, Sean Lee, Jose Ramos, Wallace Smith, Miguel Cervantes from the original Broadway company of 'Hamilton.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Individual tickets for Saturday Night Alive start at $1,000 and will go on sale at the end of November. Tables of 10 start at $10,000. Prices include a donation to the DCPA, the events of the evening, and tickets to Hamilton that evening. Visit denvercenter.org/SNA  for more information.

    SNA_Social_AnnouncementPlease Note: Tickets to the Denver engagement of Hamilton are currently not on sale. Tickets to Hamilton will go on sale after the first of the year. Information regarding the specific date and details of the public on-sale will be announced at the end of 2017. Please be aware that if one sees tickets for sale from a third party, there is a very good chance these are not legitimate tickets. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for Hamilton in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party 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.

    To receive alerts related to Hamilton in Denver, click here

    SNAAt Saturday Night Alive, which is a regular sell-out on the Denver social calendar, guests will enjoy not only that evening’s performance of Hamilton, but also elements that have made this event an eagerly anticipated highlight of the social scene for nearly four decades:

    • Surprise Box Sale: A Saturday Night Alive original. Bidders purchase a box without knowing what is inside.
    • Computerized Luxury Silent Auction featuring nearly 100 items including artwork, jewelry and fabulous trips both domestic and worldwide courtesy of United Airlines and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
    • Dinner provided by Epicurean Culinary Group in the elegant Seawell Grand Ballroom.
    • Post-show desserts and dancing, to which members of the Hamilton company have been invited.

    (Pictured above and right: Broadway stars Kelli O'Hara and Brian d'Arcy James headlined the 2016 Saturday Night Alive.)

    Last year, Saturday Night Alive grossed more than $1.2 million to support the Denver Center’s extensive educational programs. Over the past three decades, an estimated $21 million has helped the DCPA provide theatre programs to more than 1.9 million students — a testament to the volunteers, donors, sponsors and attendees who have made this event a success.

    Video Bonus: Savion Glover at the DCPA's 2017 Saturday Night Alive

    Tap-dancer and choreographer Savion Glover's headlining performance helped raised a record $1 million for DCPA Education programs last year at the Denver Center's annual Saturday Night Alive benefit. In addition, he taught a master class for a wide range of Denver dance students. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interview by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Related NewsCenter coverage
    :
    Hamilton dates, 2017-18 Broadway season titles announced
    Broadway's Hamilton is heading to Denver
    Lin-Manuel Miranda on the power of theatre to eliminate distance
    Why Lin-Manuel Miranda's father is obsessed with The Unsinkable Molly Brown



    Note:
    The 2018 Saturday Night Alive Event Chairs are Susan and Steve Struna. Corporate Chairs are Lisa and Norm Franke/Alpine Bank. Auction Co-Chairs include Keri Christiansen and Jane Netzorg. Patron Chairs are Lyn and Dr. Michael Schaffer. sponsors are United Airlines, The Westin Denver Downtown, Epicurean Culinary Group, Kathie and Keith Finger, HealthONE and the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry.

  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017

    VIDEO:

    Your first look inside the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party.' Just push play. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.


    The Denver Center's Off-Center programming wing is presenting the Jazz Age musical The Wild Party as a 360-degree immersive theatregoing experience where the 208 audience members are guests at a corker of a gin-soaked Big Apple soiree, right alongside the 14 professional actors in the ensemble. It is staged in what was once an airline hangar at the new Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood. The director is Amanda Berg Wilson and the all-local ensemble includes Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis. The Wild Party runs through Oct. 31 only.

    OPENING-NIGHT PHOTOS:

    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    Photos from the making of Off-Center's 'The Wild Party,' from the Opening Night party back to the first day of rehearsal. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    OFFICIAL PRODUCTION PHOTOS:

    The Wild Party
    The official production photos for 'The Wild Party.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.


    The Wild Party: Ticket information
    The Wild PartyAt  a glance: You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind as you join a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties, brought to you by the producers of Sweet & Lucky. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and gin-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees.

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • Visit the official Wild Party web site
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Previous NewsCenter and other local media coverage of The Wild Party
    :



    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: Meet Emily Van Fleet
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    The Wild Party: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    Reviews:
    Westword: This one party you should not miss
    5280 Magazine: full of fun, flappers, booze and tunes
    303 Magazine: The Wild Party delivers on the promise of its name

    About the Stanley Marketplace
    The Stanley Marketplace, which opened last year near the Stapleton neighborhood just east of Denver, is a community of like-minded businesses and residents who believe sustainable retail and community development. The more than 22-acre space, which occupies 140,000 square feet, was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, where airplane ejector seats were engineered and manufactured. Today it is an adaptive re-use community hub, home to a park, beer hall and an urban marketplace. All businesses are local and independent. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

POPULAR POSTS
 
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.