• Shakespeare keeps on truckin' in high-school parking lots

    by John Moore | Apr 25, 2018

    Video above by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Education program paves 400 years of distance between The Bard and issues of relevance to contemporary teens

    By John Moore

    Senior Arts Journalist

    William Shakespeare’s most popular play centers around a magic potion that makes you fall madly in love with the first person — or, say, donkey — you come across. A Midsummer Night’s Dream audiences have never taken the actual implications of that comic premise too terribly seriously. After all, by end of the beloved forest romp, all of the characters pretty much end up with their true loves.

    But when you think about it from today’s perspective … that’s kind of messed up. A magic potion that robs you of your free will? That manufactures intense and unnatural romantic desire? That very idea is, at the very least, ethically specious.

    SITPL Kevin Quinn Marchman. Photo by John Moore. Eric Minton, founder of a Bard fan site called Shakespeareances, once theorized that Midsummer remains Shakespeare’s most produced play because it is probably also his most accessible play. "It appeals to people who aren’t familiar with Shakespeare,” Minton said. “You are going to get the comedy even if you’re not proficient at speaking in verse.”

    That’s exactly what makes A Midsummer Night’s Dream the perfect vehicle for DCPA Education’s wildly successful “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot" program, which for four years has presented abridged versions of Midsummer at Romeo and Juliet at high schools throughout the state, followed by creative and compelling classroom workshops that bridge Shakespeare’s themes from 400 years ago with contemporary issues that are relevant to today’s teenagers.

    “Often we just look at Midsummer as magic and fairies and fun,” said actor and DCPA Teaching Artist Kevin Quinn Marchman. “But we wanted to apply that concept to a real-world situation that involves real stakes, and then have a conversation about it.” And at a time when full-on genetic manipulation is becoming closer and closer to a reality, the power to control emotional responses in humans seems like fairly real stakes.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    So a day after presenting a 45-minute version of Midsummer in the parking lot at Strive Prep Excel School in north Denver last week, Marchman and his five fellow DCPA Teaching Artists rejoined the students in their classrooms and presented them this what-if:

    SITPL Kevin Quinn Marchman. Chloe McLeod. Photo by John Moore. What if you were a mother of a teenage girl who isn’t recovering from her first crushed heart? A year has gone by, and she’s only getting worse. She’s withdrawing, and her grades are falling. She’s descending into drugs and alcohol, and starting to display signs of suicidal tendencies. Now imagine being told that doctors are conducting trials on a new drug they believe can selectively zap your daughter’s entire memory of the relationship. If she can’t remember the breakup, the theory goes, then there is no more pain to feel, which means she might be able to resume a normal life. But scientists are unsure of the long-term consequences. It’s your call … would you let your daughter take that pill?

    “Is it ethical to use medicine to change our life experiences and our memories?” Marchman asked the students. “And if that is the case, what effect might that have on destiny?”

    That sparked a spirited debate among the Strive students. After all, there is something undeniably appealing about the opportunity to surgically excise emotional pain from our lives — without the surgery. But most of the Strive students gravitated toward the belief that this drug would be taking science too far. “Mistakes are necessary for growth,” said one student. “Breakups are hard,” added another, “but kids have to learn how to handle painful experiences in their adolescence now, because that prepares us for the far greater difficulties to come in the future.” And another said: “You can’t erase pain. Our pain is what makes us who we are.”

    Then the Teaching Artists connected the dots: This not-so-far-out medical scenario actually poses some of the same underlying questions Shakespeare asks in A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

    • “What is love?”
    • “What causes us to fall in (and out of) love?”
    • “How does love relate to the world of law and reason?”

    The goal of “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot,” conceived and directed by DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous, is to make Shakespeare more accessible and less intimidating to students who are decreasingly exposed to the man generally considered to be the greatest playwright in the history of the English language.

    (Story continues after the photo gallery below.)

    Photo gallery: 2018 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    2018 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
    Photos from recent performances of 'Shakespeare in the Parking' lot at the central branch of the Denver Public Library and Strive Prep Excel school in north Denver. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    “Reading the play is just one thing,” Watrous said. “But we know that Shakespeare really comes alive when it is spoken. It is meant to be performed.”

    Presenting shortened, live versions of Midsummer and Romeo and Juliet with a young and multi-ethnic cast helps connect those dots. So does performing the story in and around and on top of a beat-up old pickup truck that actor John Hauser likens to “a theatrical jungle gym.” If students are welcomed into the storytelling despite their unfamiliarity with Shakespeare’s language, "then the longer they will stay with the story,” Watrous said.

    SITPL. Strive Prep. Photo by John Moore. “My students were talking about the play all the way back from the parking lot,” Strive Prep teacher Allison Body. “I think it was very engaging for them to see the play in a quick and fast-paced way. And then to be able to talk more about the themes the next day was really great. It’s not the same as just reading an annotated version of Romeo and Juliet in class.”

    At a recent outing to Fort Morgan High School, located 80 miles northeast of Denver, the Denver Center ensemble performed for 400 students throughout a single day. "This outreach program is just amazing," Fort Morgan drama teacher Morgan Larsen told the Fort Morgan Times. "A lot of our students never have a chance to see live theatre, let alone Shakespeare. So this outreach that Denver Center does is just a great opportunity."

    Watrous’ cast, comprised of Marchman, Hauser, Kristina Fountaine, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord, are both experienced stage actors and educators trained in drawing sometimes reticent students out of their shells. They get them up and moving, and make sure everyone has a chance to be heard.

    "These actors are stellar on the stage and stellar in the classroom — and that is a hard, beautiful combination to find," Watrous said. 

    SITPL Kevin Quinn Marchman. Photo by John Moore. And it can be quite an endurance test. The creative team, including Technical Director Stuart Barr and sound operator Erik Thurston, are often on the road by 5 a.m. and sometimes perform their plays as many four times a day, both in cold rain and on steamy-hot asphalt.

    This spring, “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” will visit 52 Colorado schools and public parks — including upcoming free, public performances of both Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer at 1 and 3 p.m. this Saturday (April 28) at 1610 Little Raven Street across from Commons Park in lower downtown Denver.

    In four years, “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” has now served about 45,000 Colorado students, including 20,000 this school year alone. By the time the current tour ends on May 11, the ensemble will have performed 132 shows (sometimes four on a day) at 52 schools in eight Colorado counties. They will have delivered 66 workshops and engaged more than 20,000 students.

    The No-Fear Factor
    Strive Prep is a public college-prep charter school whose enrollment is 97 percent persons of color, and where 49 percent of students are learning English as a second language.

    SITPL Chloe McLeod and John Hauser. Photo by John MooreBut two of Body’s advanced A.P. literature students said they were neither bored nor afraid of Shakespeare when they heard the Denver Center crew was coming to their school. “We already read Othello and Hamlet in class, and last year we went to see Macbeth at the Denver Center, which I loved,” said Strive Excel student Cesar Robledo. “So I already think of myself as a pretty big fan of Shakespeare.”

    In the DCPA Theatre Company’s controversial and nontraditional take on Macbeth, the story was told in the future by warlocks and set against a backdrop of driving techno music and dance breaks.


    “I always enjoy seeing new interpretations of Shakespeare,” Strive student Connor Ellertson said of seeing both Macbeth in a future glam world — and Midsummer on a pickup truck.

    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.

    “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot”: Upcoming public performances

    Friday, April 27

    • Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival
    • 1 p.m.: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • Just outside of the Bonfils Theatre Complex at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

    Saturday, April 28

    • 1 p.m.: Romeo and Juliet
    • 3 p.m.: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • At 1610 Little Raven St., just north of 15th Street and across from Commons Park in lower downtown Denver
    • More information: Call 303-446-4892, email education@dcpa.org or go to denvercenter.org/education

    The cast of DCPA Teaching Artists includes Kristina Fountaine, John Hauser, Kevin Quinn Marchman, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot”

    SITPL 2018 cast. Strive Prep. Photo by John MooreThe 2018 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot ensemble at Strive Prep, from left: Joelle Montoya, Justin Walvoord, Chloe McLeod, John Hauser, Kristina Fountaine and Kevin Quinn Marchman. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is supported by a multi-year grant from Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
  • Photos: Your first look at 'The Who's Tommy' at the Denver Center

    by John Moore | Apr 25, 2018
    The Who's Tommy Production photos for 'The Who's Tommy' by the DCPA Theatre Company. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our Flickr gallery. Scenic design by Jason Sherwood. 'The Who's Tommy' opens Friday.

    Cast:

    • Andy Mientus (Broadway’s Les Misérables, Spring Awakening, NBC’s “Smash”) as Tommy
    • Joe Beauregard (Kinky Boots first national tour) as Ensemble
    • Charl Brown (Broadway’s Motown The Musical) as Captain Walker
    • Katie Drinkard (DCPA’s The Wild Party) as Swing
    • Carson Elrod (Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher, Noise’s Off) as Uncle Ernie
    • Lulu Fall (Broadway’s Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Hair) as Acid Queen/Ensemble
    • David Hess (Broadway’s Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd) as Minister/Specialist/Judge/Ensemble
    • Sara Kapner (Broadway’s Hollywood Arms) as Sally Simpson/Ensemble
    • Gareth Keegan (CBS’ Instinct) as Cousin Kevin/Lover
    • Charlie Korman (DCPA’s Frankenstein) as Young Cousin Kevin/Ensemble
    • Betsy Morgan (Broadway’s The King and I) as Mrs. Walker
    • Corbin Payne (The Arvada Center’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Swing
    • Terence Reddick (Broadway’s Les Miserables) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Understudy
    • Timothy John Smith (NBC’s “The Blacklist”) as Hawker/Ensemble
    • Olivia Sullivent (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Erin Willis (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Youth Tommy.
    • Samuel Bird and Radley Wright will share the role of Young Tommy at age 4
     

    Creatives

    • Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
    • Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
    • Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
    • Directed by Sam Buntrock
    • Choreography by Katie Spelman (Oklahoma at Goodspeed Opera House)
    • Musical direction by Gregg Coffin (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd)
    • Scenic design by Jason Sherwood (DCPA’s Frankenstein, Off-Center’s The Wild Party)
    • Costume design by Kevin Copenhaver (DCPA’s Frankenstein)
    • Lighting design by David Weiner (Stephen King’s Misery on Broadway)
    • Sound design by Ken Travis (Broadway’s Aladdin)
    • Projection design by Alex Basco Koch (Broadway’s Irena's Vow)
    • Fight direction by Geoffrey Kent (DCPA’s This Is Modern Art)
    • Vocal and dialect coaching by Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D (DCPA’s The Secret Garden)
    • Stage Management by Kurt Van Raden
    • Assistant Stage Management by Corin Ferris and Michael Morales.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    The Who's Tommy
    at the DCPA: Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
  • Jed Feder: A lad in Boulder is now bowing in 'Aladdin' in Denver

    by John Moore | Apr 24, 2018
    JED FEDER QUOTE. Photo by John MooreJed Feder's earliest theatrical memory is attending a 1997 national touring production of 'Annie' at the Buell Theatre. Tonight, he officially joins the cast of Disney's 'Aladdin' on the very same stage. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.  

    Boulder High graduate's wish came true to debut in Denver, just five days earlier than he or Disney originally planned

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Jed Feder’s magic carpet arrived in Denver about five days early.

    The Boulder native had been sitting for weeks on the happy news that he would be making his debut as Kassim in Disney’s Aladdin tonight (April 24) while the national touring production is visiting the same Buell Theatre where Feder grew up watching Broadway shows. Hometown stories don’t get any better.

    Only his does.

    Last Thursday, as Feder was on his way to the Buell for a regularly scheduled, five-hour rehearsal, he got a text telling him to stop by and see the production stage manager when he arrived. “So … do you want to go on tonight?" Michael McGoff asked Feder. Keep in mind, this was a full five days before Feder’s planned debut — and only eight hours before that night’s performance would begin in front of 2,800 people. Of course, Feder said yes. “And Michael was like, ‘Cool, let’s go do the rehearsal,’ ” Feder said with a laugh.

    There would be just enough time to summon Feder’s parents, Rob and Andrea, from Boulder, and his only sister Rachel, an English professor at the University of Denver. But not enough time for Feder’s girlfriend, who already had made plans to fly into Denver from Seattle for tonight’s show. “She was disappointed that she didn’t get to see what turned out to be my first performance — but she somehow got flowers sent to the stage door in less than an hour,” Feder said.

    Making Feder’s challenge all the greater was the fact that he wasn’t being promoted from within a show he already knows well. He is a newbie joining a cast that has been together on the road performing in front of nearly a million people over the past year. This would be Feder’s first time playing Kassim on any stage anywhere. And not just any stage. The stage where one of his earliest memories is seeing the touring production of Annie in 1997.

    But in the end, the evening was a thrilling, surreal success.

    “I was expecting to walk out on that stage and see nearly 3,000 people, but the most shocking part about it was that it was like walking into a black hole. You can't see anything,” Feder said. “But as soon as they started reacting and laughing, I could hear them. And then I could feel them. I could feel them breathing.”

    Feder credits the support he got from castmates Zach Bencal and Philippe Arroyo, who play Kassim’s layabout pals, Babkak and Omar. In the Broadway musical, these three characters replace Aladdin’s animated sidekick, Abu the monkey. “We basically serve as Aladdin's little street family,” Feder said. “Luckily, I am never on stage without those other two guys, and they totally got me through it. Toward the end I was just holding onto them. But we did it.”

    Broadway begins in Boulder

    TJed Feder family. he Feder family moved from Manhattan to north Boulder when Rachel was 4 years old and Jed was 6 months. Rob Feder is a real-estate land-conservation lawyer who specializes in open space, while Andrea’s background is in social work. “When I was born, my parents had this realization that they did not want the city life for us,” Jed said. Instead they raised their children on the go and out of doors: Backpacking, camping, canoeing. Anything under the sun. “Being outdoors was a big family value,” said Feder.

    So was the arts. The Feders exposed their children to every form, from fine arts to music to theatre. Jed picked up a guitar when he was 6. The family took regular culture trips to New York. “Everywhere we went, we were going to museums and seeing theatre,” said Jed, who got hooked on any art that moved. “My dad loved the museums most, but I'm color-blind, so I never really took to art as much. I was rewarded for my patience in the museums by seeing the shows later that night.”

    Disney names a new Aladdin for Denver: Clinton Greenspan

    Back home, Jed attended many stage shows with his grandmother at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre (now BDT Stage). She took Rachel and Jed on separate special trips to see classics like The Music Man and Camelot. “I remember it was all about the Bosco Sticks,” Feder said with a laugh. “That, and I was really into their souvenir glasses.”

    Jed’s first show as an actor was a family affair. The Feders joined a community theater production of Fiddler on the Roof that was performed in the outdoor pavilion at Chautauqua Park.

    JED FEDER 800 BACK“It was really my sister who wanted to do the show, and my dad told me, ‘Well, then, you're going to do it, too.’ I was 7 at the time, and I remember my dad pushing me to all the places where I was supposed to stand on the stage. I also remember getting my cheek pinched by Yente.”

    Feder attended Boulder High School, where he performed in West Side Story, Chicago and Jesus Christ Superstar. “My big breakthrough was playing Mary Sunshine in Chicago,” Feder said of a female reporter who eventually reveals herself to be a man. Feder went to Northwestern as a math and film major, though he eventually dropped the math for music composition. His unusual path since has evolved into what he calls “half as an actor, half as a drummer.” His resume lists among his special talents: “Extreme finger-snapping and body percussionist.”  

    But for a young man who has never followed a beeline toward one specific field of performance, the live theatre has done a good deal of steering for him. He was cast in a big-time production of Mother Courage and Her Children at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C. that was directed by one legend (Molly Smith) and starred another (Kathleen Turner). He also has performed for the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

    The family that dances together

    He landed his role in the dance-heavy Disney’s Aladdin tour simply by showing up at a Chicago audition. And he got it, despite not having any actual dance training. Unless you count the innumerable bar mitzvahs and weddings the Feder family has attended in Boulder over the past few decades. “I come from a family of good movers. I mean we are not shy people,” Feder said. “Whenever there was a party, my family hit the dance floor.”

    Jed Feder guitar But still, Disney’s Aladdin is a show with big, aerobic musical numbers that last eight and 12 minutes at a time.

    “Well, the dancing has certainly been the hardest part for me to get into my body,” he said. “But I did grow up doing some swing dancing just for fun. And at Northwestern, I was in this group called Boom Shaka. It's a rhythm-and-dance ensemble that was sort of like Stomp. It was half drummers and half dancers. Those dance majors at Northwestern upped my game, for sure.”

    And now Feder is appearing in Aladdin, based on a film he grew up watching at home until the VHS tape wore out. Appropriately witnessed by the family who encoded the story into his DNA.

    “It is an ongoing joke in my family for my dad to say, ‘Who disturbs my slumber?’ ” Feder said of the famously terrifying threat issued to Aladdin by the tiger in the Cave of Wonders. But it’s been going on so many years now, even his parents had forgotten where exactly it came from — until they saw Feder’s first performance as Kassim last week.

    Celina Nightengale is doing her happy dance in Denver

    “After the show, my mom was like, ‘Did you remember that that was from Aladdin?’ ”

    Feder says it’s especially fun for him to watch Aladdin on stage through adult eyes and compare it to the kid-friendly animated film he grew up on.

    “I actually saw the show really soon after it opened on Broadway, just because I wanted to,” Feder said. “I think it very much honors the original film while also honoring the tradition of a big Broadway musical at the same. There's really something for everyone. I mean, you've got these big, Broadway production numbers. You've got Disney magic going on all over the stage. And when I first saw the magic carpet, my jaw literally dropped. It really sucks you in. It's a good family night. It's a good date night. It's just incredible.”

    JED FEDER. Photo by John Moore. Feder’s quirky, multidisciplinary career includes a college band that has been compared to Tenacious D. “We call it comedic contemporary rock,” he said with a laugh. He also has scored two musicals, including one that premiered at North Carolina State University last October. “It's called Beowulf: Lord of the Bros,” he said with another laugh. “It's a modern bromantic comedy adaptation of Beowulf.”

    With so many different directions to follow, Feder was asked when he realized that his immediate future is in the live theatre. In Aladdin.

    “I don't really know,” he said. “I guess when I got cast in this show.”

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

    Photo gallery: Jed Feder in Boulder

    Jed Feder in Disney's 'Aladdin'
    Boulder native Jed Feder he has provided some photos of his early life in Colorado with his family. Also photos of Feder on the Buell Theatre stage by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos.


    Disney's Aladdin: Ticket information
    Disney’s AladdinFrom the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of Aladdin, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite.
    • National touring production
    • Performances through April 28
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disney's Aladdin:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Aladdin Photo by Deen van Meer 'Aladdin.' Photo by Deen van Meer.
  • Video: Disney's 'Aladdin' cast get students to Get Up and Go

    by John Moore | Apr 23, 2018


    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.

    Hometown Aladdin cast member (and friends) visit mom's school and get Edgewater students' blood pumping

    Disney’s Aladdin North American touring production has a community program called “Get Up and Go” that promotes fun ways kids can lead healthier lifestyles through dance, inspired by the show’s choreography and music.

    Aladdin cast members Celina Nightengale, Karlee Ferreira, Michael Graceffa and Michael Everett visited Edgewater Elementary School on May 11 to get the kids’ blood pumping as they learned a signature combination from the show as a way of encouraging kids to embrace physical fitness and good nutrition.

    "With the Get Up and Go Program, we get to show kids that you don't have to hate exercise, and you can have fun dancing and be healthy at the same time," Ferreira said.  

    The class’ teacher at Edgewater Elementary School is Kathy Nightengale — Celina’s mother. "Exercise gives the gives the kids an outlet away from the classroom, and it helps to develop their minds in different ways," Kathy Nightengale said.

    Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ continues in Denver through April 28. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    Disney's Aladdin: Complete 'Get Up and Go' photo gallery

    Disney's 'Aladdin' in Denver Photos from Disney's 'Aladdin' tour stop in Denver, including images from the cast's visit to Edgewater Elementary School. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.  


    Disney's Aladdin: Ticket information
    Disney’s AladdinFrom the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of Aladdin, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite.
    • National touring production
    • Performances through April 28
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disney's Aladdin:
    Disney names a new Aladdin for Denver: Our interview with Clinton Greenspan
    Aladdin's Celina Nightengale is doing her happy dance in Denver

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    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Aurora Fox ushers in daring new era with 'Caroline, Or Change'

    by John Moore | Apr 21, 2018

    AuroraFoxHelenMurray. Photo by John Moore Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    First season under Helen Murray confirms theatre's commitment to bold and culturally relevant new works

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    A new era at the Aurora Fox Arts Center was officially ushered in tonight when the company announced its 34th season — and first under new Executive Producer Helen R. Murray.

    The intriguing lineup offers an emphatic indication that Murray intends for the Fox, which is owned and operated by the city of Aurora, to be a haven for new and provocative works. The season opens with the only title that has ever been previously staged in Colorado — the contemporary Jason Robert Brown musical Songs for a New World. It will close with the epic 2004 Tony Kushner musical Caroline, Or Change.

    Caroline, Or Change is the best-known name on the season, with a virtuosic score that blends blues, gospel, Motown and traditional Jewish folk music. Set in 1963, it tells the story of an African-American maid drifting through life as a single mother of four in Louisiana. Her life changes when a friendship develops between Caroline and her white employers’ son while some of the greatest social advancements in the country’s history are being set in motion. It looks at a time when change was knocking on America’s door — as it is in Aurora right now.

    Read more: Packard leaving Aurora Fox after 19 years

    “I wanted to honor the history of beautiful work that has been on display here for so long, but to also use that foundation to celebrate pieces that may not have made it to this area as of yet,” said Murray. “My hope is that Aurora Fox audiences will find shows this season that speak to what they best loved about us, as well as enjoy the next chapter in our progression.”

    The lineup includes Second City’s Twist Your Dickens, Aaron Posner’s Life Sucks, the one-man The Happiest Place on Earth and, perhaps most provocatively: Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm’s Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies. The only title that is not a regional or world premiere is Songs for a New World, which was staged by Golden’s Miners Alley Playhouse in 2014.

    Murray, whose first full official day on the job is July 9, is the artistic director and co-founder of The Hub Theatre in Fairfax, Va.  She replaces Charles Packard, who resigned last May after eight seasons as Executive Producer.

    AuroraFoxPassing StrangeThe daring lineup represents a definitive step away from safe and known titles and embraces socially and culturally relevant works. But while that may sound like a departure, it’s more of a continuation of a long and unlikely trend at The Fox. With recent stagings of Black Elk Speaks, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Porgy & Bess, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Real Women Have Curves and, perhaps most emphatically, the current regional premiere of Passing Strange, The Fox has fully transformed its identity from a somewhat bound government-run facility into a true leader in introducing cutting-edge works that speak to a wide swath of under-represented audiences — and performers.

    (Pictured: Members of the 'Passing Strange' cast with Director Nick Sugar. Photo by John Moore.)

    “If you have been to the Fox regularly, we will keep you coming back. If you haven’t been in a while, or have yet to take the trip, then this is definitely the season you should join us,” said Murray.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Murray said the Fox will continue the groundbreaking Cabaret series it launched this season, featuring intimate monthly performances by local and national artists in the Fox’s studio theatre. In addition, the Fox will host a series of staged readings to support the development of new work throughout the year, as well as panel discussions and talkbacks related to each mainstage production.

    Murray also announced a special one-night-only event: A workshop reading of David Nehls’ and Zac Miller’s campy fun original musical Killer Wigs from Outer Space, followed by a Halloween party. All proceeds from the event will go to The Denver Actors Fund, which in four years has distributed more than $225,000 to Colorado theatre artists in medical need. “The Fox is excited to be giving back to the theatrical community this season,” Murray said.

    Alex Brightman at the Aurora Fox. Photo by John MooreThe season announcement was made at the Aurora Fox’s annual gala, which included a headlining performance by Broadway star Alex Brightman, who was nominated for a Tony Award for originating the role of Dewey Finn in School of Rock, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of the hit Jack Black film. (The first national touring production of School of Rock visits the Buell Theatre from May 29-June 10). Brightman is set to star in an as-yet unannounced new Broadway musical this fall.

    Brightman's wide-ranging set included songs he said he loves to sing in the shower. "I'm just clothed tonight," he said. The arguable highlight of the night: Brightman singing the beloved My Fair Lady ballad "On the Street Where You Live" — as a serial killer. The set included Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are"; "I Don't Care Much" from Cabaret; a song from the Broadway musical Glory Days, which famously opened and closed on the same day (the cast included Denver's Jesse J.P. Johnson); and ended with James Taylor's "Sweet Baby James."

    (Pictured: Alex Brightman at the Aurora Fox on Saturday night. Photo by John Moore.)

    Brightman, known for his self-deprecation and comic energy, also appeared in Wicked, Big Fish and Matilda.  He currently can be seen in the pilot episode of Showtime’s acclaimed series “SMILF,” written and directed by Frankie Shaw.


    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.

    Aurora Fox 2018-19 mainstage season at a glance

    • Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2018: Songs for a New World
    • Oct. 31, 2018: Killer Wigs from Outer Space
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 23, 2018: Twist Your Dickens
    • Jan. 18-Feb. 10, 2019: Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies
    • Feb. 22-March 17, 2019: Life Sucks
    • March 8 - March 24, 2019: The Happiest Place on Earth
    • April 5-May 12, 2019: Caroline or Change

    Alex Brightman with fans at Aurora Fox. Photo by John Moore.
    Broadway star Alex Brightman, who headlined the Aurora Fox gala, poses with two young fans at  the party. Photo by John Moore.

    The season in greater detail:
    (Show descriptions provided by the Aurora Fox)

    Songs for a New World

    • Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2018
    • Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown
    • Directed by Helen R. Murray

    Songs for a New World is the first produced musical by Jason Robert Brown, who has since become best known for The Last Five Years and The Bridges of Madison County. Brown and director Daisy Prince put together songs he had written for other venues and events, resulting in what he calls "neither musical play nor revue, it is closer to a theatrical song cycle — a very theatrical song cycle.” The musical centers on the idea of life-changing decisions that land us in a place we never expected: A metaphorical and sometimes literal “new world.”

     

    Killer Wigs from Outer Space

    • Oct. 31, 2018
    • Written by prominent area Music Director David Nehls and Zac Miller
    • This is the story of Orville, a carnival handyman attacked by a galactic, brain eating parasite. This alien from another planet transforms Orville into a rock and roll prophet for peace with out of this world hair. Battling forces of evil with several colorful characters, we follow him on an epic operatic journey to save our world. This special event, is being planned as a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund.

    Twist Your Dickens
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 23, 2018
    • Written by Second City alums and veteran Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort
    • Directed by Matthew R. Wilson
    • After successful runs in Los Angeles, D.C., Portland and Chicago, the Aurora Fox brings Second City’s irreverent and interactive, madcap (and adult) send-up of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Twist Your Dickens finds Scrooge, Tiny Tim and those know-it-all ghosts hopelessly mixed up in zany holiday sketches. Deemed by the Chicago Sun-Times as a "fresh and bountiful feast of funny."


    Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies

    • Jan. 18-Feb. 10, 2019
    • By Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm
    • Directed by Betty Hart
    • The new year will bring us Chisholm’s explosive, funny and searing look at being a young black teenager in America today. This new comedy was called “breathtakingly on-point” by The Washington Post and spurred rigorous discussion about the life-and-death issues dealt with in this insightful piece.

     

    Life Sucks

    • Feb. 22-March 17, 2019
    • By Aaron Posner
    • This enlightening reworking of Uncle Vanya finds a group of old friends, ex-lovers, estranged in-laws and lifelong enemies as they gather to grapple with life’s thorniest questions—and each other. Called “sassy yet heartfelt” by The Washington Post and “altogether wise, profoundly humane, and hilarious” by The Chicago Sun Times, this is not any Chekov you know.

     

    The Happiest Place on Earth

    • March 8-24, 2019
    • By Philip Dawkins
    • Directed by Matt Bassett
    • One actor plays all the roles in this heartwarming play that takes us to the magical kingdom and one family’s reckoning with life after the death of their beloved father and husband. Now, more than 50 years after their journey, Philip as the central character in his own true-life story retraces and illustrates how the women of his family grew up and moved on while asking if there really is a place where dreams can come true.


    Caroline or Change

    • April 5-May 12, 2019
    • By Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori
    • This thought-provoking musical gives a grounded human context for the historical watershed that was America in 1963. Set in the heat of the civil-rights movement, the Tony-nominated “Caroline, Or Change” follows a black maid working for a middle-class Jewish family in Louisiana. When a small amount of money goes missing, buried tensions threaten to rip two families — and the struggling Caroline — apart. Loosely based on Kushner’s own personal story, Caroline features a score that has been called a magical, show-stopping musical masterpiece.

    Other directors and cast for each production will be announced at a later date.

    Season subscriptions will be available for renewal and purchase after May 1.

     

     

     

  • Kate Poling on the need to choose fight over flight

    by John Moore | Apr 21, 2018
    Kate Poling 800

    Featured actor in two new one-act plays by local playwright calls for more original work that is neither safe nor easy

    MEET KATE POLING
    SmokeKatie Poling, a DCPA Education Teaching Artist, plays Daisy in The Way Station and Stel in South Star, two original one-act plays by Denver playwright Rebecca Gorman O’Neill now being premiered by And Toto Too, the only Denver theatre company to focus entirely on producing new plays by women playwrights. Poling has performed for the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Arvada Center, Miners Alley Playhouse and Bitsy Stage. Favorite roles include Viola in Twelfth Night (Foothills Theatre Company), Guildenstern in R and G are Dead (NYU) and Nurse in Romeo and Juliet (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts). She also teaches children's theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. (Pictured above: James O'Hagan-Murphy and Kate Poling in And Toto Too's 2015 production of 'Smoke.' Photo by Meghan Ralph, Soular Radiant Photography.)

    • Hometown: Highlands Ranch
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts          
    • What's your handle? @katepoling on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Colorado native. Old soul who loves tea, books, Shakespeare and dragons. A teacher and a student of the world.
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would probably be in politics. I double-majored in political science at NYU, and I love the drama, the stakes and the potential to make the world better that is inherent in any political system. To me, it’s just a different form of theatre.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible at age 16. While very fun, I definitely need to age a few years before tackling that again.
    • Bucket-list role: Iago in Othello. And with all the gender-bending in Shakespeare these days, it could happen someday!
    • What's playing on your Spotify? The Anastasia Broadway soundtrack
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I am super into Greek mythology, and I know a lot about it.
    • lily-rabe seminar. photo by jeremy danielOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I saw the play Seminar, by Theresa Rebeck, during its Broadway run, and it was a life-changing experience. The script was incredible, the characters were nuanced and the ensemble worked together effortlessly. Lily Rabe’s performance, in particular, blew me away. When an actor can make you love them, pity them, hate them, and want to be them all in a 90-minute period, you know you’re experiencing great writing and wonderful acting. Seminar also appealed to me because it beautifully expressed the idea that art and creation aren’t always easy, and they aren’t always comfortable, but they are necessary — and they are important.
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? We need to be offering rush tickets, discount tickets and other incentives to bring in younger theatregoers. Some places in Denver are really good about this, but it’s a simple way to bring in younger audiences, who might decide to spend their $10 on a play instead of a movie, or a beer.
    • What are The Way Station and South Star all about? The Way Station is the story of three strangers from different places and times, each pulled out of their travels and dropped off at a mysterious way station. It's about what happens when you run from your problems instead of facing them, and how people get stuck (literally, in this case) when they choose flight over fight. The South Star is set seven years in the future, during the second American Civil War. It's also about running, but this time it’s about spies, intrigue and war, as it takes place during a coming second American civil war.
    • Why do these plays matter? Everyone has things they’d rather run from than face, and I think The Way Station really highlights that flight never truly works out, and we should face things rather than try to bury them. As for South Star, we’re stuck right now in a political environment that is very black and white, and I think South Star really highlights that fact that there are grey areas between what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Even more than that, it brings war and rhetoric to its smallest level of the people and the lives that are affected by it.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing these plays? I hope they leave thinking about the plays and wake up the next morning still thinking about what they meant.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I think it is so important to keep supporting and producing work that isn’t safe and easy. There have been great strides in Denver over the past couple of years, but we can do more. Pick the play that challenges. If you’re producing a classic, make sure it says something new. I think theatre wages a constant battle to stay relevant, and the best way we can do this is by continuing in this direction. That’s why I love working with And Toto Too. They only produce work by women, and only new work that hasn’t been done in Colorado. I think Denver needs more of that. More new work, more work not written and directed by straight white males, and more work that challenges audiences.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    The Way Station
    and South Star: Ticket information

    • Presented by And Toto too Theatre Company
    • Written by Rebecca Gorman O’Neill
    • Directed by Susan Lyles
    • Performances through May 5
    • At The Commons on Champa at 1245 Champa Street, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 720-583-3975 or go to andtototoo.org
    • April 27 will be an ASL interpreted performance
    Cast list:
    • Austin Lazek, Kate Poling and Seth Palmer Harris
    Note: The Way Station and The South Star is sponsored by The Next Stage NOW, an initiative of the city's department of Arts and Venues with a mission to enliven, diversify and sustain the Denver Performing Arts Complex through public performances, programming and place-making.

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    • Meet Erica Brown of Emancipation Theatre's Honorable Disorder
    • Meet John Ahlin of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Elizabeth Bernhardt of Phamaly's Romeo and Juliet
    • Meet Sheryl McCallum of Aurora Fox's Passing Strange
    • Meet Brynn Tucker of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Gustavo Márquez of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Gia Valverde of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Jake Mendes of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Denver Children's Theatre's Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Meet Jordan Baker of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Candy Brown of Lone Tree Arts Center's Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • John Ahlin of 'Native Gardens' on what theatre can learn from Comic-Con

    by John Moore | Apr 20, 2018
    mariana-fernandez-john-ahlin-ryan-garbayo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26525867837_o
    Photo by Adams VisCom.

    Broadway veteran's garden grew out of a dream to be a forest ranger. Now he's tilling the soil in the Space Theatre.  

    MEET JOHN AHLIN
    John-Ahlin-Jefferson-Mays-in-the-2007-Broadway-revival-of-Journeys-End-at-the-Belasco-Theatre.-Photo-by-Paul-Kolnik.John Ahlin, who plays gardening fan Frank Butley in Native Gardens, has appeared on Broadway in seven productions including Waiting for Godot with Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin, 2007 Tony Award-winning Best Revival Journey’s End (alongside DCPA master's graduate John Behlmann), The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Macbeth, and others. Other New York credits include Orson Welles in Orson’s Shadow (Barrow Street Theatre), Gray Area (Barrow Group), ChipandGus (Soho Playhouse) and others. TV and film credits include: “Inside Llewyn Davis” (Coen Brothers), “Law & Order: SVU,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “As the World Turns” and many more. (Pictured above: John Ahlin and Jefferson Mays in Journey's End.' Photo by Paul Kolnik.)

    • Hometown: Aurora
    • Home now: New York
    • Training: BFA from Syracuse University Go Orange
    • Website: JohnAhlin.com
    • Twitter-sized bio: Actor, playwright, thinker: Lives 36 floors above New York City: Works hard: Plays nice: Likes all people and distant train whistles
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? Out of high school, I wanted to be a forest ranger, and I was sidetracked by theatre in college and never looked back. I still have the “what if” pangs whenever I look up at forested mountains, and as I type this I can look out to see some snowy Rockies. There is where I’d most likely be if not for acting.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: Not a prideful fellow I, but I feel I’m able to perform myriad roles somewhat effectively, and am not pigeonholed into a type. For example, I’ve appeared on Broadway in a splashy musical, a whodunit, a contemporary Irish black comedy, an all-black musical revue, a Shakespeare, an absurdist classic and a Tony Award-winning revival of a World War I drama. I did, however, once get mis-booked on a radio show where I thought I was going to promote a play I had written, and they instead thought I was a bright young comedian. Luckily I was quick-witted enough to survive that interview, but I wouldn’t want to do that again.
    • John+Ahlin+as+FalstaffBucket-list role: If I were forced to list my all-time bucket-list role, it would be Lear. A small portion of the rest of the list: Willie Loman, Big Daddy, Sheridan Whiteside, Walter Burns, Estragon and Mama Rose. (Note: I included Mama Rose because, in theory, after you complete your bucket list, don’t you kick the bucket? If I have one un-played role on my list, I hope to stave off the inevitable end.)
    • What's playing on your Spotify? "Levon" by Elton John, "Everybody’s Talkin’ " by Harry Nilsson, "Elusive Butterfly of Love" by Bob Lind, "Gentle on My Mind" by Glen Campbell and "And When I Die" by Blood, Sweat and Tears — my favorite band. I would call these my top-five favorite songs, and it wasn’t until this little exercise that I realized what was alike about them all: Scope. The expansive reflection on one’s life, both past and future and its echoing through time.
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I have done Falstaff 11 times — and I’d be happy to do him 11 more times. (Pictured above right.)
    • 200 Mark Rylance. jerusalem. (Photo by Simon Annand)One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: Watching Mark Rylance in Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth was the happy confluence of seeing both the greatest performance and the greatest play I had ever witnessed, at the same time. And to see such a marvel, after my nearly four decades in show business, was more than an inspiring glimpse of what theatre can be. It was a rejuvenating experience, fueling me to go on, to keep wondering, and seeking the surprises that lurk around every corner of life. (Pictured at right: Mark Rylance in 'Jerusalem.' Photo by Simon Annand.)
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? This is a bit wacky, but I think everyone who makes or markets theatre should go to a Comic-Con and see the enthusiasm of the crowds of young people lining up around the outside of the convention center, and then just ponder what it is that drives these joyous fans to surrender themselves completely to the stories, characters and ambience. There are probably many revelations that can come just by thinking and wondering how to nurture, increase, reciprocate and reward fandom for theatre — and not just the young, but all theatregoers.
    • What is Native Gardens all about? Karen Zacarías' play is about a young Latino couple who move into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though their neighbors have the best intentions, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be.
    • Why does Native Gardens matter? Native Gardens is what all good theatre should be: the lifting out of ideas and concepts intrinsic to life, to be examined in a focused and palatable way. The themes, characters, plot and style blend beautifully so that the play makes its points through behavior and not comment. This play wonderfully fulfills theatre’s purpose, where we humans gather in one big room and debate life through our stories.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Native Gardens? Someone once said “the audience is the only genius in theatre,” so what they get out of it is all that really matters. I have a feeling they will get a wonderful and funny night of theatre, but more, they will see a play that shakes preconceived notions and will cause the audience to look at something afresh, as if for the first time. And hint at avenues of hope.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I think too many people are getting things off their chests. I’m far more interested in common ground and common pursuits.  There are an awful lot of good things to be done without all the complaints and recriminations dividing people.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 


    Native Gardens
    : Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
  • Video: A tree grows ... and grows ... in 'Native Gardens'

    by John Moore | Apr 19, 2018

    Video: DCPA Theatre Company Charge Scenic Artist Jana Mitchell talks about the creative challenges that came with building a massive 30-foot indoor tree. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    How the DCPA's team of scenic artists built a 30-foot indoor tree for a play in the round without blocking audience views

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The set for the DCPA Theatre Company’s new comedy Native Gardens is dominated by a large and meaningful oak tree that grows tall and encompasses the entire space above and below the stage.

    But the Space Theatre is in-the-round, which means the indoor tree posed a significant creative challenge for Scenic Designer Lisa M. Orzolek and her team of artists for this first-ever staging of Karen Zacarías' celebrated comedy in a theatre where the audience is seated in a circle all around the stage.

    The play centers on two neighboring couples at odds over the location of their property line — and the presence of a massive backyard oak tree that one couple loves but aggravates the other when it drops its leaves, acorns and branches on the other side of the fence.

    How did she pull it off? “That's the magic of theatre," Orzolek teased.

    Jana Mitchell On the page, it would seem that the tree should be located between the two houses, just on one side of the property line closest to the fence. But that would be the middle of the Space Theatre, and you can't put a big tree in the middle of a round stage because of the sightline problems that would create for audiences. So Orzolek put the tree in one of the theatre’s five “voms” (or actor entranceways). And then built it to such a massive size that its branches still create all kinds of havoc for the neighboring couple.

    “In order for the tree to reach all the way across the theatre into the neighbor’s yard, it just kept getting taller and longer and wider,” Orzolek said. "It goes up and then comes back down. In the end, it was 24 feet tall and 30 feet wide.”

    The tree began as a tiny clay model. Then came wood, steel, chicken wire and muslin. “The bark structure is actually carpet padding,” Orzolek said. “Our amazing scenic-artist team just ripped carpet padding into strips to make bark and then they spray-painted it with drywall texture." It's a technique former DCPA Scenic Artist Brian Proud invented for The Secret Graden. 

    The tree plays a major part in the story, and not just because it represents a physical point of contention. It reveals differences in the way the two couples look at the world.

    “The oak tree is very important in any native garden,” Zacarías said. “They have the most biodiversity of any tree species.”

    And that's relevant to one of the couples, and hogwash to the other.

    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.

    Making of 'Native Gardens'Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Blues queen Erica Brown on taking care of our veterans

    by John Moore | Apr 18, 2018
    Quote Honorable Disorder Erica Brown Theo Wilson  Celia HerreraURBN Brands

    Erica Brown and Theo Wilson in 'Honorable Disorder.' Photo by Celia Herrera/URBN Brands.

    The new Emancipation Theater tackles the difficult issue of how we support our veterans when they return from war

    MEET ERICA BROWN
    Erica Brown, who has been called "Colorado's Queen of the Blues," plays Nancy Foster, mother of a Denver military veteran struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the new play Honorable Disorder. This is the inaugural production by the new Emancipation Theater Company, and is being hosted at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre. Brown, namesake of the former Erica Brown Band, has worked with some of the finest artists in the world, including B.B. King, Al Green, Delbert McClinton, Tab Benoit, Kenny Neal and, most recently, Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters

    • Dan-Treanor-Erica-Brown-Steve-Mack-Photo-01-02-2013-International-Blues-Challenge-Finals-Orpheum-Theatre-Memphis-TNHometown: Sikeston, Mo.
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: Degree in Management from the University of Phoenix
    • What's your handle? @ericabrownenter on Twitter and @ericabrownentertainment on Instagram
    • Website: ericabrownentertainment.com (photo at right by Steve Mack)
    • Twitter-sized bio: Nerdy girl who loves the blues, history, reading, African-American science fiction and romance — and her family.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: Hasn't happened yet. I've been uniquely suited to every role I've played so far. 
    • Bucket-list role: It doesn't exist: I'd love to play a lead role as a magical teacher-mentor — who also just happens to be a witch or a sorceress —  -n a Harry Potter-style stage play with black characters fighting the forces of evil in America. Black women are not heralded enough for their lives as wise women, crones, witches and Curandera in American theatre and film, and such a production has never been put on, as far as I know.   
    • Big Mama ThorntonWhat's playing on your Spotify? Any old guard blues woman such as Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton (pictured right), Memphis Minnie (or Erica Brown 😊 )
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? One of my original passions in life was to be a librarian, because I so love history. I would have made a great museum curator. I love old things.
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: When my truly stage-frightened daughter stepped up to the musical plate and slayed an audience of 6,000 people singing at her first real gig — at the Telluride Blues Festival!
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? Let's engage them in difficult conversations through theatre. Our play Honorable Disorder has strong language and situations, but we should not necessarily shelter our youth from the realities of life. One of our attendees last weekend was a young teenager, and she absolutely loved and understood everything about our play.
    • What is Honorable Disorder all about? Honorable Disorder, written by pioneering local hip-hop and spoken-word artist Jeff Campbell, tells the story of DeShawn Foster, a native of Denver’s Five Points neighborhood and a veteran of  Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following the loss of his commanding officer and father figure, DeShawn struggles to hold on to his “Soldier’s Creed” back home in Denver.
    • Why does Honorable Disorder matter? Because we are tackling the difficult issue of how we support our veterans when they return from war. It also explores the difficulties the families of returning servicemen and women face, and the scarcity of support they receive. We also talk about and portray homelessness, drug addiction and poverty. These are important conversations that should be at the forefront of how we care for and about ourselves as a nation.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Honorable Disorder? A sincere desire to go back into their communities and make real change happen for our vets and their families and support systems. The conversations and help must be real and ongoing. They've been there for us, now it's time for us to step up and care for them.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Let's all just try to love each other without anger, rancor and violence, please.  We can do it!

    April theatre listings: Don't pass on Fox's Passing Strange

     Honorable Disorder Erica Brown Devon James Photo by Celia HerreraURBN BrandsDenver Center Teaching Artist Devon James, left, and Erica Brown in 'Honorable Disorder.' Photo by Celia Herrera/URBN Brands.

    Honorable Disorder: Ticket information

    • Presented by Emancipation Theater Company
    • Written and directed by Jeff Campbell
    • Performances through April 29
    • At Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, 119 Park Avenue West
    • Tickets at EmancipationTheater.com
      or email emancipationtheaterco@gmail.com

    Remaining performances:

    • 8 p.m., Friday, April 20
    • 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21
    • 6 p.m., Sunday, April 22
    • 8 p.m., Friday, April 27
    • 8 p.m. Saturday, April 28
    • 6 p.m., Sunday, April 29

    Cast list:

    • Theo Wilson, Erica Brown, Chet W. Sisk, Corey Rhoads and Devon James

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    • Meet Elizabeth Bernhardt of Phamaly's Romeo and Juliet
    • Meet Sheryl McCallum of Aurora Fox's Passing Strange
    • Meet Brynn Tucker of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Gustavo Márquez of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Gia Valverde: DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Jake Mendes of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Denver Children's Theatre's Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Meet Jordan Baker of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Candy Brown of Lone Tree Arts Center's Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • Phamaly's Elizabeth Bernhardt on destroying the things we love most

    by John Moore | Apr 17, 2018
    Elizabeth Bernhardt Phamaly Romeo and Juliet Photo by Michael Ensminger

    Phamaly Theatre Company's Jacob Elledge and Elizabeth Bernhardt. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    Denver actors with disabilities explore the passion, poetry and tragedy of Romeo and Juliet as only Phamaly can.

    MEET ELIZABETH BERNHARDT
    Elizabeth Bernhardt is playing Juliet in Phamaly Theatre Company's Romeo and Juliet. Phamaly exists to create performance opportunities for actors with disabilities. This is a workshop production with minimal staging. All performances are open-captioned. 

    • Elizabeth Bernhardt Phamaly Romeo and Juliet Photo by Michael EnsmingerHometown: Pearland, Texas
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: B.A. in English and MA. in English Literature from Abilene Christian University
    • What's your handle? @lizbernhardt
      on Twitter and Instagram
    • Website: elizabethbernhardt.wordpress.com
    • Twitter-sized bio: Library assistant who loves too many things: Books, games, movies, plays. They’re newly back to theater and will never stop learning. (They/them are preferred pronouns.)
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? By day, I’m a library assistant at Aurora Public Libraries, and I love the creativity of it: I get to sing songs with kids, teach Excel to adults, fix e-readers and fingerpaint, and hear so many different life stories. I’ve tried other dreams, too – teaching English, game development and writing – but the common thread in all of them is stories: How we shape them and how they shape us.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: A friend asked me to voice one of his characters in an animated short. He only gave me my lines to read — so I didn’t realize it was about eternal judgment and damnation. And this was just when I had stopped believing in God. I really should have asked more questions before reading. I didn’t have nearly enough fear of hell-fire in my reading — but he was very kind about it.
    • Romeo Bucket-list role: The Mexican poet and social activist Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. It will never, ever happen, and it should never happen, because I am whiter than untoasted bread. But I want Sor Juana to get the Hamilton treatment, because doesn’t this clever, visionary, sarcastic queer nun deserve that?
    • What's playing on your Spotify? I just saw Coco and it ripped my heart out in the best possible way, so I’ve been listening to the movie soundtrack.
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? My eyes are opposites! I have one near-sighted eye and one far-sighted eye.
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: In Oxford, I saw a performance of The Taming of the Shrew by the Globe Theatre on Tour with an all-female cast. I think I stopped breathing when Petruchio walked onstage, and I didn’t start again until the final bow. The beauty of Shakespeare is in the interpretation, especially in the problem plays. This performance took a play about gender roles, implicitly queered it by casting all women, and then played its comedic ending as a tragedy. There’s this moment where you watch Petruchio realize that he’s destroyed the best thing in his life, because he loved it, and because the world only provided him with broken ways to love and define people. I came to that play ready to hate it, and I left replaying those final moments over and over for more than a year. That, to me, is the power of live theatre. 
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? We need as many stories as possible about every gender and race and sexuality and class and lifestyle. Kids should look at a stage and see the entire world.
    • What is this reading of Romeo and Juliet all about? Shakespeare's timeless love story is about putting aside differences to pursue love above all else. And we are exploring the passion, beauty, poetry and tragedy of that story as only Phamaly can. This is a workshop presentation with minimal staging.
    • Why does Romeo and Juliet matter? Imagine waking up every morning to find out that three new tragedies occurred overnight. (Maybe you don’t have to imagine that.) Every tragedy leads to more fighting and heartbreak, but nothing changes, and maybe people have stopped believing things can ever change. Romeo and Juliet is “that play where the kids fall in love and die,” yes, but it’s also about hope in the middle of a cycle of violence and hate. It asks if a better world is possible. And it makes a lot of sex jokes, because it’s Shakespeare. What’s not to love?
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Romeo and Juliet? I hope they laugh more than they expect and remember the last time they fell in love with possibility. I hope they forgive themselves and someone else. And I hope they have fun.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Being in this production with Phamaly has been more fun and fulfilling than I could have imagined. I’ve learned so much. Thank you so much for the opportunity!

    Regan Linton named Colorado Theatre Person of the Year

    Phamaly Romeo and Juliet Photo by Michael EnsmingerThe cast of Phamaly Theatre Company's 'Romeo and Juliet' at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    Romeo and Juliet: Ticket information

    • Presented by Phamaly Theatre Company
    • Performances through April 22
    • Directed by 2017 True West Awards Theatre Person of the Year Regan Linton
    • At the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    • 303-575-0005 or thedairy.org

    Remaining performances:

    • 2 p.m., Saturday, April 21 (with talkback)
    • 7 p.m., Saturday, April 21
    • 2 p.m., Sunday, April 22 (with talkback)

    Cast list:

    • Romeo: Jacob Elledge
    • Juliet: Elizabeth Bernhardt
    • Mercutio: Marcus Cannello
    • Benvolio: Apollo Blue Norton
    • Tybalt: James Vegliante
    • Nurse: Lucy Roucis
    • Friar Laurence: Kevin Pettit
    • Prince Escalus: Rich Brunker
    • Paris: Connor Long
    • Montague: Gregg Vigil
    • Capulet: David Wright
    • Lady Capulet: MaryAnne Migliorelli
    • Lady Montague: Dale Rose
    • Friar John: Melissa Ottke
    • Apothecary: Tammy Davidson

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    • Meet Sheryl McCallum of Aurora Fox's Passing Strange
    • Meet Brynn Tucker of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Gustavo Márquez of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Gia Valverde: DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Jake Mendes of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Denver Children's Theatre's Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Meet Jordan Baker of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Candy Brown of Lone Tree Arts Center's Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • Sheryl McCallum on the search for something more real than real

    by John Moore | Apr 17, 2018
    Sheryl McCallum. Passing Strange

    Sheryl McCallum passes from The Lion King to The Wild Party to the unusual odyssey of Passing Strange

    MEET SHERYL McCALLUM
    Sheryl McCallum, who played Delores last year in Off-Center's The Wild Party, appeared on Broadway in Disney's The Lion King. Denver credits include Marcus: Or the Secret Of Sweet for Curious Theatre; and Jesus Christ Superstar and I'll Be Home for Christmas at the Arvada Center. She was a featured singer in the first European tour of Blackbirds of Broadway. TV credits include "Law & Order" and "Golden Boy."

    • Sheryl McCallum. Photo by Christine Fisk. Hometown: Denver
    • Home now: Denver (although I lived in New York for 20 years)
    • Training: B.S. in Telecommunications from Texas Southern University
    • Website: None — shame on me!
    • Twitter-sized bio: Denver native, best Auntie, wanna find my beach, ZPhiB💙. Creator and host of The Source Theatre's monthly Monday!Monday!Monday! cabaret at Su Teatro. ❤Spain, 13.1 coming soon.
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would pursue sports reporting or TV travel hosting. I have always enjoyed sports of all kinds. My take would be more commenting than reporting. You should hear me in my living room! For travel, my focus would be on best lounge chairs and beach or pool bar service.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: Sister Hubert in a particular production of Nunsense 2. Who knew?
    • Bucket-list role: At one time, I wanted to be an opera singer. So I guess my bucket list-role would be to sing "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana" at the Metropolitan Opera.
    • What's playing on your Spotify? Kid Astronaut and Bruno Mars. I also recommend Air Dubai. They are a local band and they don’t perform live as often as they used to.
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I direct my church choir.
    • viola-davis-fencesOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I had a chance to witness Viola Davis (pictured right) perform on Broadway in Fences and King Hedley II. Enough said!
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? One simple thing would be to expose them to theatre early. Not just expose them to acting or singing, but expose them to set and lighting design, to playwriting, to music composition, to stage management and to front-of-house operations. The elementary-school play or musical goes a long way toward fostering future theatregoers.
    • What is Passing Strange all about? It opens as a concert with a rousing funk band led by a showman named Stew who takes us back to the tumultuous 1970s where we retrace young Stew’s epic journey from the suburban comforts of Los Angeles to Amsterdam and Berlin in search of “something more real than real." It’s a tough and meaningful odyssey about cultural identity and family that culminates as young Stew comes face-to-face with present-day Stew — and to terms with the cost his youthful narcissism has exacted on those he left behind.
    • What does the title mean? The phrase "Passing Strange" was coined by William Shakespeare in Othello when he says, "My story being done, she gave me for my pains a world of sighs. She swore in faith 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange;     'Twas pitiful." Stew once said in an interview that the quote reminds him of a rock musician who tries to attract a girl with his on-the-road stories. "Passing" also refers to the history of African-Americans passing as white, as well as to the passage of time.
    • Why does Passing Strange matter? It offers another perspective of a black man's journey to find himself. Before I saw this show, I never would have thought of a black man writing a rock musical about moving to Amsterdam and Berlin to find himself. It’s an amazing story that everyone can see a little of themselves in.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Passing Strange? I hope they  feel challenged to find what is real in your life. I love this line in the show: ”The only truth of youth is grown-up consequences.” Also, to look at those places where you may be “passing."
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Denver, please find your civility again. When I lived in New York, I would brag about how nice the people in Denver were. When I moved back about four years ago, I was shocked at the rudeness. Of course, the natives blame all the other people who moved here. It doesn’t matter. We all live here now. Please be nice.

    John Moore's 2008 review of Broadway's Passing Strange

    Sheryl McCallum. The Wild Party. Photo by Adams ViscomSheryl McCallum in Off-Center's 'The Wild Party' last year at the Stanley Marketplace. Photo by Adams Viscom.


    Passing Strange: Ticket information

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    • Meet Brynn Tucker of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Gustavo Márquez of Native Gardens
    • Meet Gia Valverde: Native Gardens
    • Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Meet Jordan Baker of Native Gardens
    • Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • 'Tommy': How The Who went from smashing guitars to blowing people's minds

    by John Moore | Apr 16, 2018
    Sam Buntrock. Photo by John Moore
    Performances of the DCPA Theatre Company's staging of 'The Who's Tommy' begin Saturday. Photo of Director Sam Buntrock by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Director Sam Buntrock says 50 years on, Tommy's true wizardry remains its emotionally authentic storytelling

    By Sylvie Drake
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Remember The Who’s Tommy? Remember when it played Denver’s Buell Theatre in 1994? Maybe you were too young.

    The show was very young then too, known mostly by hearsay or from the 1969 rock concept album on which it is based. It had made waves by elevating the life of a deaf, mute and blind boy whose prodigious talent at pinball makes him a celebrity. By applying what was then a lot of new technology to his fertile imagination, director Des McAnuff’s 1992 transfer of that iconic album to the La Jolla Playhouse stage in San Diego took musical theatre to a whole new level of innovation.

    At the time, The Who was a British rock group seeking broader recognition, so the album’s breakthrough in London — and the rock opera created in La Jolla — became sensations. Rock operas were still uncommon. There had been Hair (1968) and Jesus Christ Superstar (1970), both huge, to say nothing of The Rocky Horror Show that exploded on several London stages in 1973 before spreading across the globe with its enduring popularity.

    Rommy Sam Buntrock Andy Mientus. Photo by John MooreTommy was different. Its La Jolla opening with its flashy tech effects, its combination of heartbreaking story and unrestrained flamboyance, was a big surprise. The tools were the same, but watching the astonishing fall and rise of a traumatized child on stage offered a deeper and deeply thrilling experience. The subsequent 1993 Broadway run set box-office records, and the show traveled to Denver the following year on the wings of great press and five Tony Awards.

    (Pictured: Sam Buntrock with Andy Mientus (Tommy) on the first day of rehearsal in Denver. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Today’s DCPA Theatre Company revival is a homegrown incarnation, with a live band and reinvented staging by director Sam Buntrock, whose Frankenstein at the DCPA and whose West End direction of Sunday In the Park With George scored high marks.

    “I’ve never directed Tommy before,” he said by email earlier this spring. “In the ’60s, Townsend wrote the score to be performed in concert. In the ’90s he worked with Des McAnuff to transform it into a big and brilliant stage musical. I suspect mine will be a more emotionally driven, intimate version of the show. I’m approaching that version through the lens of contemporary theatrical conventions.

    “Audiences have become accustomed to simpler, more distilled storytelling, the sort whose thrills are precise and unexpected. With Tommy, I’m excited to stage a fantastical show that has, at its heart, a rich and emotionally authentic story.”

    Video: Andy Mientus, Lulu Fall sing for Denver Actors Fund

    Among the new ideas Buntrock brings to his staging is younger casting, including that of Andy Mientus (of TV’s “Smash” and Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening) as Tommy.

    “Of course, there are children written into the fabric of the show — 4-year-old and 10-year-old Tommy,” Buntrock said. “These two are givens, though our 4-year-old may play a larger part than people expect.

    Sam Buntock Tommy“The only other child is a teenaged Kevin. The story spans some 20 years, and Kevin is one of the characters who features through most of the timeline. So if he interacts with 10-year-old Tommy, and then adult Tommy, it’s powerful to see him grow up too. How that doubling works and what the payoff is, are both things conceived in service of creating a credible family on stage.” 

    (Right: 'Tommy' artwork by DCPA Theatre Company Director Sam Buntrock.)

    Pete Townshend, The Who’s lead guitarist, composed most of the score for Tommy. He told Applause magazine in 1994 “that story is, in a sense, my life brought up-to-date. I didn’t quite realize how autobiographical it was. Not just of me, but of the people around me at the time … everybody in the group. Not only was it an important step for us artistically, it also was the critical financial breakthrough for a group that, up to that point, had been known for wearing funny clothes and pop-art outfits and smashing guitars.”   

    Almost 50 years on, the Tommy story, and especially its score, still resonate.

    Four-year-old Tommy is thrown into a catatonic state after he witnesses a traumatic family event reflected in a mirror. It makes him instantly deaf, dumb and blind. This triple whammy brings him the wrong kinds of attention; he struggles through childhood, badgered and abused — until he discovers he has a freakish talent for winning at pinball. 

    In late adolescence, when he’s accidentally present as his mother, in a moment of despair, smashes the same mirror that caused his catatonia, Tommy is magically healed. The revitalized pinball wizard becomes an international star before evolving into a sentient, responsive and compassionate human being. All this melodrama, married to its stunning musical score, results in a rock opera whose alchemy is practically addictive.

    When asked if he agrees that what continues to make the show so gripping
    is this melding of music, magic, mystery, mysticism and melodrama,
    Buntrock demurred.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Yes. In part. It remains so gripping because it is one of the greatest musical scores ever written,” he said. “It’s not faux musical theatre rock and roll, it’s … rock and roll. All those ‘m’s are intrinsic to what Townshend was exploring when he wrote it.

    “Ultimately,” he added, “it’s a deeply honest exploration of Townshend’s own childhood. With Tommy, with his prone passivity, we have a hero we can all project ourselves upon. Yes, it’s magnified and melodramatic, but it’s rock and roll, so what do you expect? And despite this, I think it has something profound to say about our relationship to our childhood selves.”

    Theatre, being a primary champion of human understanding, often takes the lead in reversing secretive old-fashioned attitudes. Tommy is an example of art shining a light into the darkness and, in former theatre critic Frank Rich’s words, “spreading catharsis like wildfire through the cheering house.

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

    Tommy cast Photo by John MooreThe cast of 'The Who's Tommy' at its first rehearsal in Denver. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The Who's Tommy
    at the DCPA: Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances April 21-May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
  • Brynn Tucker of 'This is Modern Art': What are we willing to risk?

    by John Moore | Apr 15, 2018
    T This is Modern Art Brynn Tucker. Photo by Adams VisCom
    Rhonda (Brynn Tucker) argues that graffiti belongs outside and not inside on museum walls in Idris Goodwin's 'This is Modern Art,' closing today (April 15) at the Jones Theatre. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    The actor loves anime, stop-motion and now a more controversial variation on the art form: Graffiti, and its history

    MEET BRYNN TUCKER
    05+cut+-+Brynn+Tucker+in+The+Rape+of+the+Sabine+Women+by+Grace+B.+Matthias.+Photo+by+George+LangeBrynn Tucker, who plays Rhonda and other roles in Off-Center's This is Modern Art, made her DCPA Theatre company last year in Frankenstein. Other local credits include the True West Award-winning Rape of the Sabine Women by Grace B. Matthias for Local Theatre Company; Robert Schenkkan's Building the Wall for Curious Theatre and the Aspen Ideas Festival; and  Marcus: The Secret of Sweet for Curious Theatre. Regional credits include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Folger Theatre), The Widow Lincoln, Our Town (Ford's Theatre), A Guide to Dancing Naked* (DC Capital Fringe Festival). 

    • Brynn Tucker QUOTEHometown: Germantown, Maryland
    • Home now: Denver
    • High School: Rangeview
    • Training: Spelman College and The British American Drama Academy
    • What's your handle? @BrynnPossible on Twitter and Instagram
    • Website: brynnpossible.com
    • Twitter-sized bio: Actress and dancer living in the Mile High City. Lover of anime and Adventure Time. Spirit animal is Lumpy Space Princess. Can bust out some black moguls on the ski mountain like a champ. #sostylee!
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would be a travel vlogger. Traveling for extended periods of time, where most people don’t know me. Learning new languages is an aspiration of mine. Getting paid for it would be living the dream.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: Benjamin Franklin
    • Bucket-list role: I don’t seek out specific roles, they reveal themselves to me and if I’m meant to have them, I take them on.
    • What's playing on your Spotify? Enrique Inglesias. (Baby I STILL like it!)
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I worked on an organic farm in Thailand with no air conditioning or electricity in a bamboo hut. I realized I didn’t know how to grow anything, and I wanted to learn Howa.
    • This Is Modern Art. Brynn Tucker 400.Photo by John MooreOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I’ve always been enamored by Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. The music, story and songs make it a must-watch during the holidays. The darkness, the beauty and the lifelike art of stop-motion animation really catered to my imagination as a child, and still does now as an adult.
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? Evolving theater to be more interactive and engaging than ever before. I think the next generation would appreciate a revolution of some kind. Especially when it comes to their entertainment.
    • What is This is Modern Art about? Idris Goodwin's play recounts the true story of one of the biggest graffiti bombs in Chicago history. In less than 20 minutes in a 2010 snowstorm, a stealthy crew spray-painted a 50-foot graffiti piece along the exterior wall of the Art Institute of Chicago, raising big questions, including: What is art? Where does it go? And who gets to say so?
    • Why does This is Modern Art matter? It really resonates because it shows a group of young people who were willing to risk everything for something they believe in, something greater than themselves. The right to share your ideas, art, beliefs and even opinions is now under constant scrutiny. You can get into serious trouble if you say the wrong thing. I pose the question: “What are we willing to risk to say or do what we believe is right?”
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing This is Modern Art? I hope they  begin to notice graffiti in their neighborhoods. And that they understand the history and culture so they can make an informed decision for themselves, rather than a one-sided one.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I’ve been thinking about freedom for a while now. I’ve found it’s less about access to what we think we want or deserve. It’s more about your own hero’s journey: Taking up your sword and having the courage to go through life. Love and dragons, you take them all on. I think the ability and the choice to do this is the greatest freedom. Choose your own adventure book EVER!

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    This is Modern ArtThis is Modern Art
    : Ticket information

    • Presented by Off-Center
    • Performances through April 15
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Written by Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin
    • Directed by Idris Goodwin
    • Featuring Robert Lee Hardy, John Jurcheck, Brynn Tucker, Jake Mendes, Chloe McLeod and Marco Robinson
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of This is Modern Art:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    • Meet Meet Gustavo Márquez of Native Gardens
    • Meet Gia Valverde: Native Gardens
    • Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Meet Jordan Baker of Native Gardens
    • Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

    This is Modern Art at Native Gardens opening

    Some members of the 'This is Modern Art' team attended Friday's opening of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens' on Friday. From left: Chloe McLeod, Brynn Tucker, John Jurcheck, Off-Center Curator Charlie Miller and Jake Mendes. 

  • Backyard border dispute: How does your garden grumble?

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2018

    Your first video look at the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of 'Native Gardens." Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

     

    Good fences make for good neighbors in new comedy about couples who draw a property line in the sand


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    These days, sure, we can choose our own families. But unless you live in a commune, you don’t really get to pick your own neighbors. And America’s great, ongoing ideological divide could not be expressed more definitively — or apparently, more comically — than in a play about a property line dispute between neighbors.

    KAREN ZACARIAS. Photo by John MooreThat’s the thorn in the rose of Karen Zacarías’ popular comedy Native Gardens. On one side of the fence, we have a pregnant Latinx couple who are new to town. On the other we have empty-nesters who think “Latinx” must surely be a misspelled word. (It's not.) Trouble blooms when the younger couple discovers their property line actually extends right over their next- door-Boomers’ pristine flowerbed.

    “It’s a deceptively simple play,” Chicago-based Director Lisa Portes said. “At first you might think you are watching this charming and disarming little play about neighbors and gardens. But the minute there is a dispute over 2 feet of land — all hell breaks loose.”

    Zacarías, a native of Mexico who penned previous DCPA Theatre Company stagings of Mariela in the Desert and Just Like Us, got the idea for her play at a dinner party where the guests all traded horror stories about their neighbors. Everyone, it seems, has one.

    “All of these stories, I found, were both upsetting and funny,” Zacarías said. “And what I discovered in listening to them is that we seem to have this primal attachment to land that is both poetic and absurd at the same time. And then I realized that almost every single fight that’s going on anywhere in the world can be distilled down to one of these two things: border disputes and cultural differences.”

    mariana-fernndez-john-ahlin-ryan-garbayo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26525867837_oWhat comes out on stage, Portes said, is an accessible comedy that explores weedy issues we don’t dare talk about in our own living rooms but maybe we can laugh at in the communal anonymity of a theatre.

    At a time when the nation is polarized by talk of borders and walls, Zacarías found a way to use gardening as what she calls “a really fun metaphor to talk about really much harder issues like class and race and ageism .”

    (Pictured above and right: Mariana Fernandez and John Ahlin in 'Native Gardens.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    Even the title asks a prickly little question, Portes said: “What is native? Who is native? What does that word even mean? It’s not as black and white as we think.”

    The inaugural staging of Native Gardens accomplished something quite rare when the play was praised by a local reviewer both for having “a finger pressed to the pulse of the American mood” and for “its ability to make you forget the current political and social climate.” At the same time.

    That’s probably because Native Gardens, Zacarías said, puts no one on the defensive. “It’s sneaky that way,” she said. “I wrote all four main characters from a place of love. There’s a simplicity to the set-up, and that’s on purpose. It allows the play to sow some seeds and grow some deeper roots. And the audience is willing to go there together because really nobody comes up smelling like a rose.”

    LISA PORTES QUOTE. Photo by John Moore. Native Gardens premiered in 2016, before the ascendency of Donald Trump. But while debate over immigration has raged for as long as America, there is no question it now tops a list of issues Zacarías says “are bubbling to the surface in a vicious manner.”

    Zacarías experienced something similar in 2014, when she adapted Denver journalist Helen Thorpe’s book Just Like Us for its Denver Center world premiere. That true story followed four Denver Latinas through high school, and told how their struggles and opportunities diverged based on their citizenship status.

    “I was hoping Just Like Us would become less relevant over time, but unfortunately it’s only become more relevant,” Zacarías said, referring to the ongoing battle over the immigration policy known as DACA. And with the rise of Trump, she said, the same has proven true of Native Gardens. Only this play is much funnier.

    Zacarías and Portes were among the so-called “DC-8” who started a national movement called The Latinx Theatre Commons in 2012 to amplify the visibility of Latinx theatre in the United States. Since then, Portes has directed the world premiere of Antoinette Nwandu’s Breach, a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate in Chicago, as well as an all-Latinx version of The Glass Menagerie for Cal Shakes in northern California.

    Read more: Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    Zacarías, now the most produced Latinx playwright in America, last month launched a high-profile production for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called Destiny of Desire, a subversive homage to telenovelas, which she calls “one of the most exploitative forms of entertainment in the world.”

    Native Gardens has already had several productions around the country, but the Denver Center’s will be the first to be staged in the round configuration,” which Portes said “almost makes this like a world premiere because that will create an entirely different actor-audience relationship. The audience will be its own kind of community circling this other community of actors, and we’re all sitting together in this real garden with real plants and flowers.”

    Zacarías said the Denver Center staging also will be a first because it will introduce small, first-time improvements to the script. “I do think this will be a whole different take on the play,” she said.

    “Native Gardens is a story that asks what it takes to be a good neighbor. It is about four specific, flawed people — but it’s not really about them. It’s about us. And how all of us can be better neighbors.”

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Native Gardens: Production photos

    Native Gardens Photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by by Adams Viscom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens
    : Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    Native Gardens Opening Night. Photo by John Moore. Cast and creatives on opening night. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • New Denver Center plays take center stage in Seattle, San Diego

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2018
    Our video report from the openings of the Denver Center-born plays 'The Great Leap' and 'American Mariachi' in Seattle and San Diego. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Theatre Company's first co-productions in a decade open for West Coast audiences on back-to-back nights 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    It was an hour before the opening performance of the Denver-born play American Mariachi at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and something wasn't quite right. A large backstage table was filled with floating balloons, sweets and several bouquets of fresh congratulatory flowers, including one from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

    But then there was the incongruous vase on Bobby Plasencia’s dressing-room table. Its water was discolored, its flowers tired and wilting. But to the actor, they were surely the most vibrant flowers in the room.

    American Mariachi in San Diego. Photo by John Moore“They’ve been here ever since our final dress rehearsal,” said Plasencia, who plays an old-school mariachi player whose wife dies in the story. After that performance almost a week before, the actor got word that a 12-year-old boy in the audience wanted to meet him. Plasencia walked to the stage door and was greeted by “this super-cool little dude,” he said, wearing a tie and perfectly gelled hair. The boy took one look at Plasencia, fell into his arms and burst into tears. “And he just couldn’t stop,” Plasencia said.  

    One of the grown-ups in the entourage pulled Plasencia aside and whispered that the boy had recently lost someone very close to him, and that the play had moved him immensely. The boy collected himself and presented Plasencia with flowers as a gift for the entire cast. “And they are going to stay right here until our very last day here on April 29,” Plasencia promised.  

    Those kinds of powerful audience responses to José Cruz González’s family drama have been steady since the play premiered back in Denver on Feb. 2. And because of several unique partnerships the DCPA Theatre Company has forged this season, they are continuing to happen in multiple cities.

    American Mariachi is one of two world-premiere plays the Denver Center has recently launched as co-productions with other leading national theatre organizations. The other was Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap in partnership with the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Both plays tell culturally specific stories that bring underrepresented voices to the stage while also telling uncommonly universal family stories.

    Jose Cruz Gonzalez quoteA co-production, or “co-pro,” as they say in the biz, is a collaboration between two companies that have a shared investment in launching a new play, both artistically and financially. They work together on the development of the piece, share certain expenses and then present the play in both cities back-to-back, with the original casts intact.

    When both plays closed in Denver last month, all key creative personnel packed up along with the sets, props and costumes and set forth to either Seattle or San Diego for their immediate transfers. By great calendrical coincidence, both plays opened in their second cities on back-to-back nights: March 28 and 29.

    Despite the modest financial benefit that comes with partnering with other companies, large-scale co-productions are rare in the American theatre. In its nearly 40-year history, the DCPA Theatre Company has only participated in three previous co-pros — Pure Confidence with Cincinnati Playhouse in 2007; and the world premieres of The Laramie Project with the Tectonic Theatre Project in 1999-2000 and Tantalus with the Royal Shakespeare Company the following year.

    The partnerships with Seattle Rep and the Old Globe involved dozens of people but were primarily negotiated by first-year DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. The goal, she said, was simple: To make better, more finished plays — thereby giving them better chances for a continued life in the American theatre.  

    “The main reason I wanted to push for these co-productions is because I wanted to look for opportunities for the writers to continue to work on developing their plays,” Garrett said.

    Both productions shared key creative personnel from both companies, including American Mariachi director James Vásquez, who considers the Old Globe to be his artistic home; and Seattle Rep Director of New Works Kristen Leahey, who has served as Dramaturg for The Great Leap since its first draft. That almost all of the Latinx artists Vazquez has brought home with him to the Old Globe are now working there for the first time, Artistic Director Barry Edelstein said, “is a special happiness for all of us.” His Seattle counterpart, Braden Abraham, called The Great Leap "an irresistible opportunity to showcase a rising Chinese-American playwright in the Pacific Northwest," and said working with Garrett and the whole team in Denver was "a pure joy."   

    (Story continues below the photo gallery.)

    Our complete photo gallery from Seattle and San Diego:

    Denver Center in Seattle and San Diego

    Photos from the openings of 'The Great Leap' and 'American Mariachi' in Seattle and San Diego. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Both plays were begun as commissions by former DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson. A commission is when a company pays a playwright a stipend to write a new work for its right of first refusal to produce. González began writing American Mariachi in 2014, and it was first presented as a featured reading at the Denver Center’s 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Back then it was a sprawling, 150-page script. By the time of its world premiere in Denver in February, it was down to 95 pages. “So it's now very lean, and it moves like gangbusters,” said González, who continued to hone the script all the way up to opening night in San Diego on March 29.

    “Having the opportunity to have a play done in two places is a tremendous gift to a playwright,” González said. “First, to be able to premiere it in Denver and work out all the things that still needed to happen in terms of casting, storytelling and design. We left Denver feeling very satisfied, and yet that whole time we were still watching our audiences take in the play. We were learning from them and thinking about how we could improve it. And then there is the gift of that second production.”

    the-company-of-american-mariachi-photo-by-adamsviscom_39989611081_oAmerican Mariachi, set in the early 1970s, follows the journey of a young woman named Lucha who has become the caretaker for a mother with dementia. When she finds an old mariachi record that briefly brings her mother back to life, Lucha becomes determined to learn how to play the song for her with live musicians before it is too late. Although being a female mariachi player was unheard of at that time, Lucha defies her grumpy father, assembles a group of women and makes her dream come true.

    (Pictured above, from left: Amanda Robles, Jennifer Paredes, Natalie Camunas, Crissy Guerrero and Heather Velazquez. Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    American Mariachi played in the Denver Center’s largest theatre (750 seats) and exceeded box-office projections. The play is enjoying the same kind of crossover appeal in San Diego, where it is playing in a slightly more intimate, 600-seat space. None of which surprises the women in the cast.

    “This play is doing much more than filling a Latino slot on the season,” said actor Crissy Guerrero. “It has touched anyone from any background.” It is also the right time to be telling this story in the current cultural zeitgeist, said castmate Natalie Camunas. “It is important to show strong women on the stage doing what they do best right now, which is encouraging and supporting each other and shining,” she said.

    Video spotlight: Our interview with Lauren Yee

    All theatre companies, to an extent, program according to their censuses. In Denver, the Latino population is 31.8 percent, compared to 31.6 percent in San Diego. While the Denver Center has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to presenting plays with Latinx voices (most recently Native Gardens, Just Like Us, Fade and Lydia), The Great Leap, meanwhile, is only the second play by an Asian-American playwright the Denver Center has ever presented. But in Denver, the Asian-American population is just 3.4 percent, compared to 13.7 in Seattle.

    linden-tailor-photo-by-adamsviscom_39272674395_oYee’s The Great Leap, set in the late 1980s, follows a scrappy Asian-American kid who talks his way onto a college basketball team that embarks on a series of “friendship” games in a China in the throes of the post-Cultural Revolution. Yee grew up in basketball-mad San Francisco, and her story was inspired by events from her father’s real experiences. Much of the play revolves around the intersecting lives of the two coaches — the compliant Chinese and the (really) ugly American.

    "This is a play that I never would have written in quite the way I did without Denver." Yee said. "Wherever it goes, there is something embedded in its DNA what Denver is all about." Added Director Eric Ting: "What a gift to have two pre-eminent theatre companies working together to make this play happen."

    Actors Keiko Green and Linden Tailor say Seattle audiences, which are made up of many more Asian-Americans than in Denver, are reacting to the story very differently, specifically as it pertains to the American coach who spews comic racial epithets throughout.

    “In Seattle, the audiences are way tougher on the coach, absolutely,” Green said. “The race comments that he makes are definitely felt more. You can see people be slightly offended and then remember, ‘Oh yeah, this is written by a Chinese-American woman.’ ”

    That, said Tailor, “is the great thing about Lauren's writing. She wants to push the envelope and ride that fine line of making you uncomfortable and making you think. I feel like here in Seattle, we are more making them think.”

    Vásquez says the same is true of American Mariachi in San Diego. “It was a raucous comedy in Denver,” he said. “I think people are leaning in and really listening to the story a little closer here.”

    American Mariachi in San DiegoThat, to Seattle Rep’s Kristin Leahey, was the whole fun of The Great Leap. “It was a really exciting thing to be sharing this work with the Denver audience as well as the Seattle audience, and to see how it engages with each of them differently,” said Leahey.

    Making the money work

    DCPA Managing Director Charles Varin said the unusual creative arrangement of a co-pro calls for an unusual financial arrangement as well. As the instigating company, he said the Denver Center assumed the cost of producing each initial staging as it would for any other show on its season. But in the case of The Great Leap, Seattle Rep contributed about $40,000 toward the $350,000 budget and the Old Globe contributed about $75,000 of a $650,000 budget.

    Varin estimated that having a producing partner ultimately represented about a 10 percent improvement to the Denver Center’s bottom line. While that is significant, he said, it is not enough to be a motivating reason to enter into a co-pro. “This was all very much artistically motivated,” said Varin, who attended both out-of-town openings. “Having a second staging helps the playwright immensely, and I think both productions were measurably improved in their second cities.”

    Video spotlight: Our interview with José Cruz González

    A similar model of play development has been employed by the National New Play Network since 1998. That’s a group of 30 core companies that select a number of new plays each year to be fully staged by a minimum of three member companies successively. It’s called a “rolling world premiere,” and the script isn’t sealed and published until after the third staging. The major difference from a co-pro is that the chosen playwright works with completely different casts and creative teams in all three cities.

    LAUREN YEE QUOTESo what happens now?

    The extended initial birth journeys for both plays end soon — The Great Leap closes April 22 and American Mariachi on April 29. But both already have their immediate futures laid out for them: The Great Leap will be staged off-Broadway this June at The Atlantic Theatre starring Tony Award-winner BD Wong. It also will be staged by the prestigious Guthrie Theatre next January in Minneapolis. American Mariachi will be presented by the Arizona Theatre Company next March.

    American Mariachi resonates in myriad ways with the kaleidoscope of our community,” said Arizona Theatre Company Artistic Director David Ivers, a former longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor. “The writing, the gift of mariachi music, the celebration and empowerment of women, and the struggle of loss in the face of hope are powerful and meaningful messages to explore in the communities we have the honor of serving.”

    This all comes in a year when Denver Center-born works are proliferating on national stages like never before. Last year, Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride became the Denver Center’s most-produced new Denver Center work since Quilters in 1982. Not only is it getting its own upcoming staging at The Guthrie, it is also being made into a film starring Jim Parsons. Last week, Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will won the American Theatre Critics Association’s Steinberg Award as the best new play of the year produced outside of New York. It opens this summer on one of the nation’s largest stages, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 

    Read more: Denver Center's new place on national stage

    “I think all of that continues to advance the idea that the Denver Center is at the forefront of new-play development,” said Garrett. “As we are moving through the 21st century, one thing I lament about how we develop plays is that we all seem to be looking only for opportunities for playwrights to write something that is going to be a hit right now. There is a need for immediate success, as opposed to providing a space for something to unfold and be given life over time.”

    The benefit for actors  

    One of the ancillary windfalls that comes with any co-production benefits the actors themselves. The casts of both The Great Leap and American Mariachi were signed to four-month contracts. In a business where actors are most often signed to smaller contracts ranging from just four to eight weeks, an extended co-pro is about the best job they can get outside of a long run in New York.

    American Mariachi in San Diego. Photo by John Moore“I feel very lucky, and I think everyone else who is involved with this play feels very lucky to be a part of it,” said Plasencia.

    But the biggest benefit, says Rodney Lizcano and others, is the familia that takes shape when a creative team spends that much more time together. The American Mariachi team performs six days a week, he said. And yet, he said, they have almost to a person spent nearly every day off together as well.

    “There has been a consistently positive camaraderie since Day 1,” he said. “We share or lives both onstage and offstage — and I think the performances have deepened because of that.”

    Which makes ultimate benefit of a co-pro to the play itself and, by extension, to its expanded audiences.

    “I always had a feeling that this was going to be a very special play for everyone who saw it, and it has come to pass because it tells a story that audiences are hungry for at this very moment in our history,” Plasencia said of American Mariachi. “This is a story about inclusion and seeing yourself represented onstage, and I feel like a lot of people have been longing for a play like this. I think there is an audience this play in every big city in the country.”

    And in every audience is the potential for another life-changing moment, like that 12-year-old boy at the final dress rehearsal of American Mariachi in San Diego.

    “It is such an honor to walk out into that theatre lobby each night and see crowds of Latino families. That doesn't happen a lot,” Vásquez said. “Just tonight, a young Latino friend came up to me and said the moment the lights came up and the music started and he saw Mexican people onstage, he just started crying — because he had never seen anything like it.

    “I think that's the biggest takeaway.”

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


    American Mariachi in San Diego. Photo by Douglas Gates
    'American Mariachi' in San Diego. Photo by Douglas Gates.


    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:

    Behind the scenes video: Making the Great Wall of American Mariachi
    Tony Garcia: American Mariachi is an American beauty
    When Leonor Perez found mariachi, she found her true voice
    American Mariachi
    Perspectives: Music as a powerful memory trigger
    Photos, video: Your first look at American Mariachi
    American Mariachi
    's second community conversation: Food, music and tough issues
    Cast announced, and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal
    American Mariachi
    : Community conversation begins
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

     

    The Great Leap in Seattle'The Great Leap' in Seattle. Photo by John Moore.

    Selected previous coverage of The Great Leap:
    The Great Leap prepares for its big bound to Seattle
    Lauren Yee: “This play would not exist without the Denver Center'
    Video: First look at The Great Leap, and five things we learned at Perspectives
    For The Great Leap playwright Lauren Yee, family is a generation map
    Five pieces of fun hoops history to know, like: What's a pick and roll?
    Five things we learned at first rehearsal, with photos
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Vast and visceral: Theatre Company season will include The Great Leap

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Gustavo Márquez of 'Native Gardens': From the box office to the big time

    by John Moore | Apr 13, 2018
    Gustavo Marquez Quote

    He's been a janitor and a Denver Center ticket agent. And tonight he takes the stage in his Theatre Company debut.  

    MEET GUSTAVO MÁRQUEZ
    Lisa Portes quote Gustavo Márquez, a member of the Native Gardens ensemble, is making his DCPA Theatre Company debut. He recently played the crazed, bug-eating servant Renfield in Dracula for the Aurora Fox (and Westword's Juliet Wittman called him excellent at it). He played Cassius, Adriano and other roles (both in English and Spanish) in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's educational productions of The Comedy of Errors and Julius Caesar. He appeared in Local Lab's controversial reading of The Merchant of Venice, and in the Colorado-born production of I Am Alive that played at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, Calif. Other stage credits include The Tempest, Metamorphoses, You Can't Take It With You, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Mozart's The Magic Flute.

    • Hometown: Aurora
    • Home now: Denver
    • High School: Rangeview
    • Training: BFA from Metropolitan State University of Denver
    • What's your handle? @gooosetee on Twitter and @goosetee on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Shall I compare me to a summer’s day? Yes, yes, I will: I’m like a summer’s day!
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? Many things! But a primatologist would be one. I’ve always been fascinated with apes, specifically chimpanzees, and how similar we are to them. And I find them to be adorable.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: I played Monostatos in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Monostatos is a treacherous villain, and he is written as a Moor. Also, I am a tenor, and that character was clearly meant to be a baritone. But I pulled it off. FKA_twigs
    • Bucket-list role: Usnavi from In the Heights
    • What's playing on your Spotify? FKA TWIGS (pictured right) and Princess Nokia do wonders to the soul.
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I was a 19-year-old janitor in Antarctica.
    • What's one thing we already know about you, but other people probably don't: I have been working in the Denver Center's box office as a ticket agent since 2016. 
    • And what does Native Gardens Director Lisa Portes have to say about that? "I think it's going to be such a treat for those audiences who may have bought their ticket from Gustavo to then see him in the play, because he brings such beautiful life to the stage. And I will tell you a little secret: When we were looking for pre-show music in Spanish having to do with gardens, Gustavo emailed me a list of songs. So those are his." 
    • Phantom 2009 Photo by Christine Cudia MoldovanOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I saw The Phantom of the Opera at the Buell Theatre in Denver when I was in high school back in 2009. The Phantom was singing "Music of the Night," and right when he was about to sing his last note of the song, the sound went out. What happened after was nothing short of amazing. The actor, John Cudia, was able to fill the whole theatre with sound using just his unamplified voice. What I realized in that moment was pure, focused talent that I could attain as well, with hard work. (Photo: John Cudia and Trista Moldovan in the 2009 touring production of 'The Phantom of the Opera.' Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann.)
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? The next generation of theatregoers will be the most diverse this country has ever seen. It is important that what is presented on stage is just as diverse as they are.
    • What is Native Gardens all about? Karen Zacarías' play is about a young Latino couple who move into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though their neighbors have the best intentions, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be.
    • Why does Native Gardens matter? Because it teaches us that we can improve as a society despite our society's past actions. Even if we, or our past generations have transgressed against each other, we must learn from those past events and experiences and improve. Don’t feel guilty for what your ancestors did or how they behaved, just change the way you are living now.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Native Gardens? That we must forgive the past by improving the present to make the future better for all.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I enjoy American Chinese food more than Mexican food. And I feel so blasphemous saying that!

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    the-company-of-native-gardens-photo-by-adamsviscom_41396747291_o

    The company of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens.' Photo by Adams Viscom for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 


    Native Gardens
    : Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    • Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • Anna Morsett: Coastal singer finds her 'Still Tide' on Denver's dry land

    by John Moore | Apr 12, 2018
    The official video for The Still Tide's new single, "Give Me Time." 

    Anna Morsett came to Denver seeking calmness, but the tide is about to rise again with one bold step into the spotlight

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Anna Morsett spent most of her life on the coasts, but it wasn’t until she moved to landlocked Colorado in 2013 that the guitar-wielding songwriter discovered The Still Tide: Both her band, and the calm current she had been seeking in her own life.

    “I came here from the coast, noise and city tangled in my head,” she sings on the first single from The Still Tide’s fourth EP. “Found you like forgiveness, swept clean by years of mountain air.”

    Morsett is now firmly entrenched in the Colorado music community, having played with These United States, Ark Life, Porlolo, Brent Cowles and Natalie Tate. But she very much remains the undulating wave of The Still Tide, a seductive, shoegazey collective that marks a shifting tide with Each, After. The new EP, which will be introduced at a release party on Saturday (April 14) at Lost Lake, is essentially Morsett’s solo debut, while still fully supported by guitarist and co-founder Jacob Miller and a rotating ensemble that currently consists of drummer Joe Richmond (Churchill, Tennis) and bassist Nate Meese (Meese, The Centennial).

    “I always wanted the full band sound, Morsett said. “But I also wanted the freedom and the anonymity to kind of cruise around on my own.”

    Morsett is as enigmatic as her sound is alluring. She describes herself as both a shredder guitar chick and a nerdy loner. A frontwoman and an anonymous face in the crowd. She is seemingly always in transition, like a wave shapeshifting between low and high tide.

    Morsett grew up in Olympia, Wash., under a sister-infused musical foundation that included Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix and Andy Aledort’s guitar lesson books. She dove head-first into the headwaters of New York and came up for air five years later, almost by accident, in Denver. That’s where she created The Still Tide, which was soon named 303 Magazine’s best up-and-coming local artist.

    But with Each, After, Morsett is stepping up to the mic and fully claiming The Still Tide as her own. “I think I was hiding behind the band, for whatever reason,” she said. “But now, I’m ready.”

    In its previous incarnation, The Still Tide was called Yet Cut Breath, a delicious morsel for theatre geeks who may recognize the phrase from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. It’s about a man who draws breath from a woman he believes to be a statue. It’s a celebration of any artist who manages to bring life from any kind of metaphorical stone.

    But when Morsett moved to Denver, it was time to cut bait from Yet Cut Breath, for two reasons: There are only so many Shakespeare nerds in the music community, and Morsett grew “aweary,” as The Bard might say, of explaining the meaning. But more so because The Still Tide was a more fitting way to describe an unlikely singer who prefers to perform in the protective bosom of a collective. Morsett is both first and last. A poet and a literalist.

    Morsett describes herself as human slackwater — that’s the exact moment when you are not quite sure if the tide is coming in or moving out.

    “I think I've been trying to seek stillness for so long,” she said. “I was at this point where I felt like everything was falling off the table and you keep trying to catch things — but you can never catch them fast enough.”

    Which is another way of saying: You can't please everyone. So she stopped the world. And before things change again, Morsett is intent on enjoying what she is calling “a beautiful pause” that started with her move to Denver in 2013.

    (Story continues below the photo.)
    The Stilll Tide quote. Photo by Anthony Isaac


    Within a year, Miller joined Morsett in Denver after a breakup of his own in New York. Morsett said it was being booked into the 2014 Denver Post Underground Music Showcase in her first year here that turned the tide for the evolution of her band. “We thought it was such a big deal that we got into the UMS,” she said. “And that was great entrance to Denver for Jake, too. He was so enchanted by the whole thing that he moved here a few months later.”

    Morsett calls dropping into a very welcoming Denver music community as akin to “plopping down under the wings and grace of these beautiful people,” she said. “They were like, ‘Hey, this kid's all right. She can shred.’ ”

    And within a few months, even she was shocked to realize that she had made a home here in Denver.

    The Still Tide Anna Morsett “I think in my mind, I was always going to move to the West Coast and back to family,” she said. “I thought this was a pit stop. But then I thought, ‘No, there's something really special here. I need to explore this for however long it lasts.' "

    It will last at least through Each, After. She calls the E.P., with its carefully placed comma and chill vibe, as “a sweet landing spot for these beautiful open guitar riffs that didn’t really fit the vibe of the last record,” she said. “I love the power of having that full band experience, but I also love the immediacy and intimacy of these tender little things. I’m trying to figure out how both of those vibes can fit in the same world.”

    Morsett tantalizingly describes the new E.P. as four true ruminations on past personal and artistic breakups. Tantalizing, because the fourth song is a reflection on a woman she hasn’t even met yet.

    She wrote the first song five years ago about someone she was falling in love with at the time. “It was so vulnerable that I tucked it away for years and I would only play it privately,” she said. “But then I changed the riff a little bit and I started to fall in love with the song all again, and now it’s one of my favorites. But it took five years for me to get there.” Another song is about a past songwriting collaborator. Each is a soft, reflective way, she said, of putting those past relationships to bed.

    And then there is the fourth song.

    “That last one, I guess, is for the next person, who I don't know yet,” she said. “It's the hope for someone, I guess.”

    When the time comes for her still tide to rise again.

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

     

    The Still Tide's EP release:

    88-ogSaturday, April 14

    • Lost Lake, 3602 East Colfax Ave.
    • With Panther Martin and Bluebook
    • $10-$12
    • Call 303-296-1003 or ticketfly.com

    Other upcoming dates:

    Friday, April 20

    • Washington's, 132 Laporte Ave., Fort Collins
    • Opening for The Tallest Man on Earth
    • $35
    • Call 970-232-9525 or ticketfly.com

    Tuesday, June 12

    • Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.
    • Opening for Covenhoven
    • $12-15
    • 1-888-929-7849 or bluebirdtheater.net

    Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • More, more Mormon: 'The Book of Mormon' extended through July 7

    by John Moore | Apr 12, 2018
    Monica L. Patton, Kevin Clay and Conner Peirson 'The Book of Mormon.' Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

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


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

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced the addition of more seats for The Book of Mormon at The Ellie. Due to popular demand, performances for the fourth Denver engagement of the show, opening June 13, will now run for an additional week, through July 7. The added performances are on public sale now at denvercenter.org.

    The Book of Mormon has played three previous sold out runs in Denver starting, with the national tour launch in 2012 and return engagements in 2013 and 2015.

    Kevin Clay 'The Book of Mormon.' Photo by Julieta Cervantes.Tickets for the upcoming engagement start at $35. There will be a lottery for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each for every performance. Lottery details will be announced closer to the engagement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photo gallery: The Book of Mormon

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


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

    • National touring production
    • Performances June 13-July 7
    • Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    More information:
    • Visit the official The Book of Mormon website at BookofMormonTheMusical.com
    • Follow The Book of Mormon on Twitter and on Facebook
    • Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the DCPA News Center
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'Native Gardens'

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2018
    Video:

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk the DCPA NewsCenter

    Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's production of Native Gardens, Karen Zacarías' celebrated comedy about a young Latino couple who move into a fixer-upper next to an older couple with a beautifully kept garden. All is is well until the young couple discover their property line actually extends about 2 feet over their neighbors' prized flowerbed. Performances run through May 6 in the Space Theatre. Directed by Lisa Portes and featuring John Ahlin, Jordan Baker, Mariana Fernández and Ryan Garbayo. Complete cast and creative team.


    Photo gallery: The official production photos

    Native GardensOfficial gallery of 'Native Gardens' production photos. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet Gia Valverde: Denver native finds a home in 'Native Gardens'

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2018
    Gia Valverde QUOTE. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore.

    The first time the actor saw a play at Su Teatro, she knew she wanted to be an actor. Now she's at the Denver Center.  

    MEET GIA VALVERDE
    gia_valverde Gia Valverde is a born-and-raised Denver Northsider. She has been a company member for Su Teatro for more than 20 years. She originated roles in the world premieres of Enrique’s Journey, When Pigs Fly and Men Have Babies; El Louie and Other Post-Pachuco Dreams; and Dancing with the Spirits, all by Anthony J. Garcia. She has also been in plays by Chicano Teatro greats Luis Valdez , Rudolfo Anaya, Rodrigo Duarte Clark and Evelina Fernandez. She has done multiple film and commercial roles including "The Frame," "Love Pirates" and is the lead in the upcoming web series "One Moment Longer." She as also been seen in music videos for Molina Speaks and Kontrast & Fo Chief.

    • Hometown: Denver
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: The Art Institute of Colorado
    • What's your handle? @GiaValverde on Twitter
    • Website: eazymedia.biz
    • Twitter-sized bio: Multimedia designer, actor, mother, Denver Northsider and burrito connoisseur
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I also run a multimedia business specializing in video production, graphic and web design. I like to bounce back and forth between acting and multimedia because they allow me to tell stories in different mediums, and they are both just as much my passions as my professions.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: I played an executioner in Dancing with Spirits by Anthony J. Garcia.
    • Bucket-list role: Anita in West Side Story
    • What's playing on your Spotify? Smino’s 'blkswn' album
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? You will occasionally find me rolling burritos (mostly eating them) at Lucero’s & Sons on 52nd Avenue and Pecos Street.
    • Gia Valverde Su Teatro Native GardensOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: The first time I saw a play at Su Teatro, I knew I wanted to be an actor. Seeing Chicano representation on stage at a young age helped me take the leap from dream to do. I joined the Su Teatro company immediately after seeing a show at 11 years old. They became my second family. (Pictured from left: Sonia Justl, Marianna Chavez, Gia Valverde and Amy Luna in Su Teatro's 'The Lamented Last Dance at the Rainbow Ballroom.')
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? The Denver Center is putting out a lot of shows with diverse casts lately. The next generation of theatregoers are going to be brought in by diversity and representation.
    • What is Native Gardens all about? Karen Zacarías' play is about a young Latino couple who move into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though their neighbors have the best intentions, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be.
    • Why does The Native Gardens matter? This is an important play right now because it represents the conversation a lot of Americans are having, and offers us a fresh perspective allowing us to see what is really important.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Native Gardens? I love that this play features a Latino couple that goes against stereotype, and I hope the audience finds that refreshing as well.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I’m passionate about self-love in all forms and practicing In Lak'Ech (The Living Code of the Heart).

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Native Gardens: Ticket information
    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 6
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    • Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

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

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