• 2017 True West Award: Silverthorne Performing Arts Center

    by John Moore | Dec 02, 2017
    True West Award 2017 Silverthorne

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 2: Silverthorne Performing Arts Center

    Lake Dillon Theatre Company Artistic Director Christopher Alleman
    Lake Dillon Theatre Company Executive Director Joshua Blanchard
    Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland

    The Lake Dillon Theatre Company struck gold in Silverthorne this summer when it opened the new $9 million Silverthorne Performing Arts Center in partnership with the town best known for its sprawl of irresistible outlet shops about 70 miles west of Denver.

    The new 16,000 square-foot jewel made up of three performing spaces has brought cultural and economic heft to a beloved, risk-taking theatre company that spent its first 23 years performing in "shoeboxes and storefronts," Artistic Director Christopher Alleman said. "It’s just so lovely to be producing theatre in a building that was actually designed to produce theatre."

    2017 True West Award Silverthorne Chris Alleman The deal called for Silverthorne to kick in $6.3 million and the theatre company $2.7 million. “This was the smartest thing we could have ever done,” Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland said. “It is supporting arts and culture, which is such an incredibly enriching tool for our community, particularly our youth. But it is also absolutely an investment in economic development."

    (Pictured from left: Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland, Lake Dillon Theatre Company Artistic Director Christopher Alleman and Executive Director Joshua Blanchard.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    It’s not some wild idea to say that if you bring culture to a downtown, you can generate economic activity. It’s been proven (again) in Silverthorne. “Before the first shovel went into the ground, we secured a 32-unit condo development that I can attribute directly to this partnership,” Hyland said. After the theatre opened in the Town Center, the town finally moved forward on the long-discussed "Fourth Street Crossing," a 3.8-acre redevelopment across the street from the theatre that will include a brewery, restaurants, high-end condos and a hotel. "And this performing-arts center is the catalyst," Hyland said.

    The Silverthorne Performing Arts Center is anchored by a still-intimate 165-seat mainstage theatre called The Flex, a 60-seat studio theatre and a small classroom performing space. The theatre company already has presented nine shows in the five months since opening, compared to six for the entire year preceding. The company has drawn 11,875 audiences to the new facility, outpacing the full year before by 1,720. Season passes have doubled.

    Read our full report on the Silverthorne opening

    Alleman has announced a robust and unafraid nine-play slate for 2018 that is filled with challenging dramas including the politically charged Building the Wall, Ugly Lies the Bone and the Pulitzer-winning Topdog/Underdog. Notably, the schedule only calls for one musical (Rock of Ages), but only, Alleman says, because the company is gearing up for its big 25th anniversary season in 2019. 

    Alleman and Executive Director Joshua Blanchard have turned Lake Dillon Theatre Company into a destination facility both for audiences and actors. And their spectacular success is easily one of the biggest stories of the year in Colorado theatre. 

    SILVERTHORNE Even more substantially, the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center is evolving into a town hall with education programs and meeting spaces available to the public. The theatre company finds itself hosting topical community forums on issues such as immigration, which has allowed it to broaden its community reach far beyond the performing arts. And even the business community has taken notice.

    "We are proof of how art can invigorate commerce and growth," Alleman said, "and you see it everywhere."

    Lake Dillon Theatre Company 2017
    (since opening the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center on June 23):

    • Sister Act
    • Buyer and Cellar
    • Ghost
    • Noises Off
    • Grounded
    • Pretty Fire
    • Through Dec. 17: Murder for Two
    Lake Dillon Theatre Company 2018:
    • Jan. 19-Feb. 11, 2018: Building the Wall
    • March 2-18, 2018: Ugly Lies the Bone
    • June 18-June 17, 2018: The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey
    • June 15-July 15, 2018: Rock of Ages
    • July 13-29, 2018: Topdog/Underdog
    • Aug. 3-Sept 2, 2018: The Underpants
    • Aug. 17-Sept. 2, 2018: Mr. Joy
    • Sept. 7- 23, 2018: I'll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 16, 2018: Constellations
    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS: '30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS'
    The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

    SILVERTHORNEThis was the opening-night curtain call for 'Sister Act,' which christened the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center on June 23, 2017. Photo by John Moore for teh DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    by John Moore | Dec 01, 2017
    A Christmas Carol: Video


    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

     

    Your first look in video and photos at the seasonal staging that has come for a 25th time 'to save us everyone.'

    Here is your first look in video (above) and photos (below) at the DCPA Theatre Company's 2017 staging of A Christmas Carol, directed for the second time by Melissa Rain Anderson and starring Sam Gregory as Scrooge.


    Now in its 25th seasonal staging at the Denver Center, A Christmas Carol is a joyous and opulent musical adaptation that traces the money-hoarding skinflint Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol runs through Dec. 24 in the Stage Theatre. Ticket information below.

    A Christmas Carol: Production photos

    A Christmas Carol 2017

    Our full gallery of photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol. To see more, click on the image above. Photos by Adams Viscom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


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

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Through Dec. 24
    • Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of A Christmas Carol 2017:
    Video: Governor, Carol cast send Colorado National Guard thanks and hope
    A Christmas Carol: A timeline to today
    DCPA's 25th A Christmas Carol brims with mistletoe and milestones
  • December theatre listings: Broadway abounds in Denver

    by John Moore | Dec 01, 2017
    Mannheim Steamroller. Matt Christine Photography

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


    December is ... well, Christmastime for Broadway fans, who have five touring titles to choose from this month.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    A serious Broadway fan will not have to go to New York to bathe in Broadway this month. Denver audiences have the unusual opportunity to see five national touring productions at the Buell Theatre over the next 32 days. Seriously. There's Chicago (through Sunday), Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, ELF The Musical, Waitress and, opening Jan. 2: Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King & I. Just pop a tent under the arches.

    Arvada Center Joseph Sarah Rex M Gale PhotographyElsewhere, there is as always a plethora of holiday-themed fare to choose from, ranging from annual offerings such as the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble's Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum and the DCPA Theatre Company's 25th staging of A Christmas Carol, to more subversive titles such as The Avenue Theatre's Santa's Big Red Sack and The SantaLand Diaries, an annual partnership between Off-Center and the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. This year also marks the return of the Arvada Center's once seasonal tradition, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

    There's also a surprising number of, you know ... plays on area stages. Here are five intriguing titles, followed by a complete list of all your Colorado theatregoing options for December:

    Five intriguing titles for December:

    NUMBER 1Colorado Gives Day is the most important day of the year for hundreds of Colorado non-profits, especially those in the arts. And the clever kids as Buntport Theater are turning "giving day" into a "show day" on Tuesday (Dec. 5) by staging a reading of one of its early favorites: Donner: A Documentary. That's a 2001 "live documentary" about the reindeer (not the, ahem ... party). Freshly baked cookies will be available as well as, no doubt, electronic gizmos for easy internet giving. Tickets $25 at buntport.com. It's an early start time of 7 p.m. because there is a pizza party after at the Pizzeria Locale on Broadway and Sixth Avenue. The pizzeria will donate 50 percent of your purchase to anyone who mentions Buntport that day. 

    NUMBER 2 Jason Spina Phil Luna Red RDG PHOTOGRAPHYMotones vs. Jerseys. BDT Stage no doubt will be packing them in this month with the timeless family friendly musical Annie. But you know what? That adorable little red-headed munchkin is not, in fact, for everyone. So BDT is smartly also offering the "now for something completely different" audience participation 1960s pop music battle Motones vs. Jerseys on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights starting Dec. 10. It's an evening of song and dance from the Motown and Four Seasons songbooks, along with Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Beach Boys, Rick James and even Bruno Mars. At the end of each  night, the audience will vote on a winner. 5501 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    NUMBER 3Smokefall. Last month we told you The Edge Theatre is going on hiatus after  Josh Hartwell's world premiere comedy Resolutions (Dec. 1-31) in Lakewood. The new Benchmark Theatre, which will takes over The Edge's performance space next year, finishes its first season at Buntport with the world premiere of Noah Haidle’s Smokefall. It's an unusual family drama that combines everything from vaudeville to magical realism. So get ready for fetuses swapping philosophy, a daughter who eats dirt and an apple tree that grows through the walls of the house. Dec. 1-23 at 717 Lipan St., benchmarktheatre.com.

    NUMBER 4Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum. Cleo Parker Robinson Dance's nomadic, 47-year holiday tradition returns to its original home in Denver’s Historic Five Points for this year's spectacle of dance, live music, spoken word and ornate celebrations of seasonal customs from around the world. The story centers around a Granny whose memories are her gifts to those she loves. Dec. 2-17 at 119 Park Avenue West, 303-295-1759 x13 or go to cleoparkerdance.org.

    NUMBER 5The Gnome in the Room. This is not your traditional Christmas fare in Colorado Springs, where the Springs Ensemble Theatre wraps up its eighth season with a campy horror story involving decoration, death, divorce, relatives, mythological beings who can't keep their noses out of other people's business — and a Nintendo Entertainment System, Written by locals Jenny Maloney and Jessica Weaver, The Gnome in the Room follows a 10-year-old whose family has decided they will not celebrate Christmas this year, leaving the boy stuck in a cabin with no hope of getting what he wants. Enter the Weirdo and the Gnome. Dec. 7-17 at 1903 E. Cache La Poudre St. 7:30 p.m.  Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays. Call 719-357-3080, or go to  springsensembletheatre.org.

    A Christmas Carol 2017. Michael Fitzpatrick and Leslie O'Carroll. Photo by Adams Viscom


    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

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

    Dec. 1-23: Benchmark Theatre's Smokefall
    At Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St., benchmarktheatre.com

    Dec. 1-16: Funky Little Theatre Company's The Couple Next Door
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    DecemberSantasBigRedSack Dec. 1-24: The Avenue Theater's Santa’s Big Red Sack
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

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

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

    Dec. 1-23: OpenStage's Christmas Chaos: Ralphie Gets Scrooged
    At ArtLab, 239 Linden St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or www.openstagetheatre.org

    Dec. 2-17: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre’s Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum
    119 Park Avenue West, cleoparkerdance.org or 303-295-1759 x13

    Dec. 7-24: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Every Christmas Story Ever Told
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    A Su Teatro Juan Diego PerfilDec. 7-23: Su Teatro's The Miracle at Tepeyac
    At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org

    Dec. 7, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Annie

    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Dec. 7-17: Lone Tree Arts Center's Home for the Holidays
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000, lone tree’s home page

    Dec. 7-17: Thunder River Theatre Company's Constellations
    67 Promenade, Carbondale, 970-963-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com

    Dec. 7-17: Upstart Crow's Dear Brutus
    At the Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave., Boulder, 303-442-1415 or upstart’s home page

    Dec. 7-23: Millibo Arts Theatre's Fa-La-La
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org

    EmoryJohnCollinsonBobMorschandCyndiParrinGNOMEINTHEROOMDec. 7-17: Springs Ensemble Theatre’s The Gnome in the Room
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 80909, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Dec. 8-17: Longmont Theatre Company's Harry Connick Jr’s The Happy Elf

    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Dec. 9-10: National touring production of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Dec. 13-17: National touring production of Elf The Musical
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Dec. 19-31: National touring production of Waitress
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Dec. 10, 2017-Jan. 23, 2018: BDT Stage's Motones vs. Jerseys
    (Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays only)
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Dec. 14-29: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s A Rocky Mountain Christmas
    121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Dec. 14-23: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's The Perfect Gift
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.co

    Dec. 17-23: Evergreen Players’ A Christmas Carol (costumed staged readings)
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    Dec. 30-31: Vintage Theatre's I’ll Eat You Last: A Conversation with Sue Mengers
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Jan. 2: National touring production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King & I
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

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

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

    Through Dec. 9: Curious Theatre's Body of an American
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org  READ MORE

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

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

    Through Dec. 17: Vintage Theatre Productions' Honeymoon In Vegas

    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A Josh Hartwell Jason Maxwell. Photo by Sarah Roshan 400Through Jan. 14, 2018: Vintage Theatre Productions' Red
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Feb. 14, 2018: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Feb. 24, 2018: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

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

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

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    AURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

    • Dec. 31: Central City Opera’s Winter Song, a mix of favorite tunes from jazz standards to light opera, performed by crossover classical theatre artists Jennifer DeDominici, Chad Reagan, Amanda Raddatz and Deborah Schmit-Lobis. Includes a champagne and dessert reception.

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

    BUNTPORT THEATRE


    DENVER ACTORS FUND
    • A RyanChrysRoughCuts 400Monday, Dec. 11: Screening of the film Elf, starring Will Ferrell, with live pre-screening entertainment from The Longmont Theatre Company's Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7.
    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com

    • Tuesday, Dec. 19: The Nightly Met Christmas Special at the D.L. Parsons Theatre in Northglenn, hosted by  Avery Anderson and Annie Dwyer, featuring Anna High, and Ryan Chrys and Rough Cuts. Tickets $8-$10. All proceeds to the Denver Actors Fund.  BUY TICKETS
    EQUINOX THEATRE COMPANY
    Sunday, Dec. 10: Equinox: The Season is Slaying (A drag benefit show)
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page
       
    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY
    • Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org 

    STORIES ON STAGE
    • Saturday, Dec. 16: Making Merry (at Dairy Arts Center, Boulder)

    • Sunday, Dec. 17: Making Merry (at the King Center, 855 Lawrence Way, Auraria campus)

    303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month, Jamie Horton reads from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, GerRee Hinshaw reads Crimble Wocky by Graham Potter (a Lewis Carroll-inspired variation on The Night Before Christmas), Anthony Adu reads from "The Goldfish” by Simon Van Booy. Music provided by award-winning composer/pianist Gary Grundei.

  • 2017 True West Award: The Tramps

    by John Moore | Nov 29, 2017
    TW-Award-1-Bouchard-Scrutchins-Gregory-McCracken

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 1: The Tramps

    Michael Bouchard and Sean Scrutchins
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
    Colorado Shakespeare Festival

    Sam Gregory and Timothy McCracken
    Waiting for Godot
    Arvada Center

    Scholars have long connected the lineage of the tramps from Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead back to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, though all winding, endless roads begin with Shakespeare’s Hamlet. And all four were brought to brilliantly funny and heartbreaking life this year by four of Denver’s leading actors.

    WaitingForGodot400In both plays, two bewildered men bide their pointless time in a theatrical void while the real action unfolds somewhere … off-stage. Each play presents two insignificant tramps pondering the philosophies of a universe full of fear and uncertainty. These are plays that unravel in worlds where we are told “nothing ever happens," and yet — quite a lot happened in these kindred stagings, thanks to the work of this powerhouse foursome. 

    Theatre of the absurd, once so shocking for its subversion of theatre's traditional values, often leaves modern audiences baffled and scratching their heads. These four brought clarity to the incoherence with precise physical and tongue-twisting comedy.

    And to further muddy the absurdist bloodlines: Gregory also appeared in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (as The Player) and Scrutchins likewise appeared in Waiting for Godot (as The Boy). Not to menton: Bouchard, Scrutchins and Gregory all appeared in Colorado Shakespeare Festival's Hamlet (as Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and The Ghost) — because apparently all of this wasn't meta enough.

    What they are saying:

    • Timothy Orr, director, 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead': “Any good comedy team, from Laurel and Hardy to the Blues Brothers, needs to have this psychic connection between them, and Sean and Michael had it. They were connected. They were breathing the same air. And as actors, they were both playing the funny and the straight man at the same time, which is extremely difficult to do.”
    • RosencrantzGuildenstern-CSF17-JMK-1842Geoffrey Kent, Director, 'Waiting for Godot': "Nothing helps a pairing like friendship, and Sam and Tim are old friends. They met on the Denver Center's 1994 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I watched from the audience. Didi and Gogo are introduced to the audience in the middle of a 50-year old conversation, and that personal history helps. In addition, Sam and Tim are the best listeners I know, intuitively and honestly reacting to each other from line to line. A truly fearless pair of actors."
    • Gary Zeidner, Boulder Weekly: "Whether they’re flipping quarters, forgetting which is Rosencrantz and which is Guildenstern, or delivering Stoppard’s sterling dialogue (like, “Who is the English King? Depends on when we get there”), Bouchard and Scrutchins are two of the most interesting and talented younger actors working the Front Range today. Like a modern-day Abbott and Costello, they are more than a pleasure to watch.”
    • Joanne Ostrow, The Denver Post: "The power of Beckett’s words beams through, thanks to fine, bittersweet performances by Sam Gregory and Timothy McCracken knocking about as perfect vaudevillians. The actors’ chemistry is first-rate, finding desperation beneath the comedy that doesn’t dilute the profound despair at the heart of the play. The production packs a wallop.”

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    Michael BouchardMichael Bouchard 2017:

    • Ensemble, Jesus Christ Superstar, Arvada Center
    • Rosencrantz, Hamlet, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • Rosencrantz, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • Northumberland, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • David, The SantaLand Diaries, BETC and DCPA Off-Center, through Dec. 24


    Sam Gregory 160Sam Gregory 2017:
    • Dr. Lyman, Bus Stop, Arvada Center
    • Vladimir, Waiting for Godot, Arvada Center
    • Ghost/The Player, Hamlet, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • The Player, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, DCPA Theatre Company, through Dec. 24



    Timothy McCrackenTimothy McCracken 2017:

    • Estragon, Waiting for Godot, Arvada Center
    • Brian, Smart People, DCPA Theatre Company
    • Scrooge understudy, A Christmas Carol, DCPA Theatre Company, through Dec. 24
    • Head of Acting, DCPA Education


    A Sean Scrutchins 160Sean Scrutchins 2017:

    • Bo, Bus Stop, Arvada Center
    • Boy, Waiting for Godot, Arvada Center
    • Guildenstern, Rosencrantz and Are Dead, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • Guildenstern, Hamlet, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
    • Frank, Appropriate, Curious Theatre
    • Dan (mostly), Body of an American, Curious Theatre, through Dec. 9

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS: '30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS'
    The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    The 2017 True West Awards

     

  • Lenne Klingaman's reader-to-riches 'Waitress' story

    by John Moore | Nov 29, 2017
    Lenne Klingaman. Waitress. Photo by Joan MarcusFrom left: DCPA Theatre Company favorite Lenne Klingaman, Desi Oakley and Charity Angel Dawson in the Denver-bound national touring production of 'Waitress,' opening at the Buell Theatre on Dec. 19. Photo by Joan Marcus.


    Denver Center favorite pivots from playing female Hamlet in Boulder to quirky waitress in Denver-bound Broadway hit

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Actor Lenne Klingaman has one of those incredible stories that will make you say, “Yeah, right.”  

    But in this case: Right!

    Klingaman's story starts in an audition room in New York City at the start of 2017. What you need to know is that when an actor auditions for a specific role, the casting director often provides what’s called “The Reader” for the hopefuls to exchange dialogue with. "The Reader" may not be the appropriate gender, age or type, but it doesn’t matter. The reader isn’t the one auditioning. "The Reader" never gets the part.

    Lenne Klingaman QuoteScratch that. In this case, Klingaman was "The Reader." And she got The Part.

    Klingaman returns to her adopted city of Denver on Dec. 19 to play Dawn in the first national touring production of the hit Broadway musical Waitress. This follows her triumphant summer turn as a female Hamlet for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. In between, there was a storybook wedding.

    But we digress.

    Despite a long list of national credits that includes playing Juliet in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet and two roles in the world-premiere play Appoggiatura, Klingaman somehow ended up in the audition room for Waitress as “The Reader” alongside Director Diane Paulus, who was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People On This or Any Other Planet; Curb Your Enthusiasm writer Jessie Nelson; and six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles. None of them knew who Klingaman was at the time. But as she went about her job reading lines for the actual job-seeking actors to play off, she made an impression.

    “After the final day, Diane followed me out of the room and asked if I sang at all,” said Klingaman, who told the influential director that, in fact, she had just released her debut pop album, The Heart is The Hunter. Paulus liked it, Bareillis liked it and, fast forward, Klingaman is now playing quirky Dawn in the first national touring production of Waitress. “I could not believe it was happening,” she says. “It's been quite a whirlwind experience.”

    Video: Lenne Klingaman sings from her solo album:


    Klingaman's roles in Hamlet and Waitress could not be more different, and yet both projects are emphatic expressions of female artistic empowerment. Colorado Shakespeare Festival Director Carolyn Howarth, for one, did not have Klingaman play Hamlet as a brooding man. In this A Midwinter Night’s Dream variation on the theme, the actor was allowed to explore Hamlet’s feminine side, and the result was an unorthodox but universal revelation in part because, The Boulder Daily Camera's A.H. Goldstein said, "Madness knows no boundaries of gender."

    When the play closed, Klingaman immediately got married. Then she joined the first touring cast of Waitress, which took its pace in theatre history when it became the first Broadway musical to have women as the director, writer, composer, choreographer (Lorin Latarro) and orchestrator (Nadia DiGiallonardo).

    "It has been an amazing joy to go from playing someone as intense and complex and dramatic as Hamlet to playing a ray of light like Dawn who looks at the world in a very positive, loving way,” she said.

    Here are excerpted highlights of Klingaman's wide-ranging conversation with the DCPA NewsCenter:

    John Moore: What did it mean to you to be given the chance to explore one of the great roles of the canon without having to subvert your own femininity?

    Lenne KlingamanLenne Klingaman: It was extremely empowering to work with Carolyn Howarth on a female Hamlet because it opened up this whole range of possibility of what acting can be, and of what women can do on the stage. There was something so freeing about playing a role written for a man. It demanded such a range that I don't think most women ever get the opportunity to play. Going forward, I am sure I will be wanting to push beyond where the feminine concept seems to end in roles I'll be playing in the coming years.

    (Photo above and right: Lenne Klingaman and Gary Wright in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'Hamlet.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    John Moore: Did the unprecedented female gender dynamic in the Waitress rehearsal room make a real difference in the creative process?

    Lenne Klingaman: To go straight from Hamlet — which was directed by a strong and wonderful woman, by the way — into an experience where, across the board, they were all women, was pretty incredible. It has been thrilling to be part of that collaborative female vibe. This is an amazing group of women who are creative and decisive and effective problem-solvers. But they also allowed for flexibility and fluidity, and they allowed us to put our own individual stamps on the show.

    Our interview with Lenne Klingaman on Hamlet

    John Moore: It seems ridiculous to think that it took 100 years for there to be an all-female creative team on Broadway. Do you feel like you're part of a moment for women in Broadway that is many decades late in coming?

    Lenne Klingaman: I hope this trend continues. I hope that people see that stories told by women, that are about women, and that are for women can be successful. Can be universal. And can be really huge hits. They used to call stories about women “chick flicks” in the movies. But stories like Waitress are worthy and valuable for everyone. And it's valuable to have women at the helm telling them from a different vantage point. It’s not that men can’t tell a woman's story — but there are angles that might only get bitten into from a female point of view. In Waitress, you'll see it in everything from the choreography to Sara Bareillis' lyrics to the way Diane makes the whole story move. So, yeah. I really do feel it.

    John Moore: Has Waitress changed to way you look at real-life waitresses?

    Lenne Klingaman in 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Lenne Klingaman: I think about how these women have to keep a smile on their faces and keep so much of their personalities submerged during  their interactions with the strangers they serve, and what that can do to a person once they get home. My character, Dawn, definitely suppresses part of herself at work because she's kind of a turtle when it comes to her personal life. I think it’s important for people to keep in mind that the people who serve them are human beings who have a lot of stuff going on in their lives. In our story, there is a bond and a sisterhood that these three waitresses share.

    (Photos above and right: Lenne Klingaman in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Appoggiatura,' left, and 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen.)

    John Moore: What else can we know about Dawn?

    Lenne Klingaman: The amazing part about Dawn is what a rich inner life she has, which you get to see in the second half of the show. She's a little bit of a nerd and she's a little bit O.C.D., but there is this beautiful kind of spark in the origin of her quirkiness that comes from a really serious place in her. That's been a joy to find as an actor, because all of her humor is really full of wonder and positivity.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: So how is this story a universal story — meaning for men, too?

    Lenne Klingaman: I think it's universal for the same reason a woman playing Hamlet is universal. What's happening for these three women is that they're all at the precipice of taking huge risks so that they can be who they truly are in their hearts. And when it comes to taking a leap into the unknown, and to really risk being your authentic self, your gender is immaterial. That moment of truth crosses any gender line. This is about letting your freak flag fly. It doesn't matter to an audience whether you are a man or a woman. It's pretty fun and sexy and daring for each of these women to take the risk, and I think that will be extremely enjoyable for everyone to watch.

    John Moore: What place does Colorado have in your life now after having spent so much time here?

    Lenne Klingaman: I feel like Denver has become a home away from home, and I am so excited to come back. And I'm really excited to be coming back with this show because of the light and life and joy that it brings. When we sing Everything Changes and we take our final bows, it is a communal and beautiful and joyful moment — after an entire evening of laughing your butt off. I'm really excited for Denver and Colorado to get to feel that in this moment and at this time we're existing in. This show will remind you of the true beauty of humanity.

    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.

    waitressWaitress in Denver: Ticket information
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. This is an uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

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

      Selected NewsCenter coverage of Waitress:

  • 2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced

    by John Moore | Nov 29, 2017
    A video look back at the 2017 Colorado New Play Festival in February. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    DCPA's signature celebration has introduced 53 new plays, over half of which have returned as full productions.

    The DCPA Theatre Company's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit will feature readings of new works by Sigrid Gilmer, David Jacobi, Kemp Powers, and Barbara Seyda alongside world-premiere productions by José Cruz González, Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee, it was announced this morning. 

    A Summit 800 5The Colorado New Play Summit, which return Feb. 17-25, 2018, is the DCPA’s signature festival dedicated to supporting playwrights and developing new work. Participating playwrights, including many commissioned by the Theatre Company, are given two weeks with professional directors, actors and dramaturgs to workshop new plays. Industry professionals and the public are invited to experience them as non-staged readings.

    (Pictured above and right: 2017 Colorado New Play Summit reading of Donnetta Lavinia Grays' 'Last Night and the Night Before.')

    Since its founding, the Summit has introduced 53 new plays, over half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit world premieres include Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, Tanya Saracho’s FADE, Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride, Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest, Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, Karen Zacarias’s Just Like Us, Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton’s Sense and Sensibility The Musical, and Dick Scanlan’s reimagined version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    2018 FEATURED NEW-PLAY READINGS:

    Mama Metallica
    By Sigrid Gilmer
    Sigrid GilmerBudding playwright Sterling Milburn has always been overshadowed by her fabulous mother Louise. Even when she’s holed up in a care facility with Parkinson’s, Louise finds a way to steal the spotlight. But with the overly critical eyes of Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams to fuel her rebellion and the frenetic energy of Metallica to help find her voice, Sterling sets out to write a story that is finally her own. As unfortunate histories mesh with hilarious interludes, Sterling must face the truth: her pain, her joys and her life will forever be shaped by and linked to the woman who raised her. Sigrid Gilmer’s “wonderfully impudent sense of humor” (USA Today) shines in this joyfully irreverent black comedy that entwines issues of identity with pop culture icons for a truly unique (and head-banging) experience.

    About Sigrid Gilmer: makes black comedies that are historically bent, totally perverse, joyfully irreverent and concerned with issues of identity, pop culture and contemporary American society. Sigrid burst onto the national theatre scene with her play Harry and the Thief, an action film/historical/time travel play about a thief who is blackmailed into traveling back in time to deliver a cache of arms to Harriet Tubman. It has since been produced across the country, including runs at the Pavement Group (Chicago), the Know Theatre (Cincinnati), and the Skylight Theatre (LA). Additional select works include Slavey (Clubbed Thumb), Seed: A Weird Act of Faith, It’s All Bueno (Cornerstone Theater Company), Frilly, and White 3: Manifestdestinyland. Sigrid is also on the writing team of the acclaimed Black Women: State of the Union. Sigrid is a winner of the Map Fund Creative Exploration Grant, the James Irving Foundation Fellowship and is a USA Ford Fellow in Theatre. Sigrid has an MFA in Writing for Performance from Cal Arts, where she was mentored by Suzan-Lori Parks. She resides in Los Angeles.

     


    The Couches
    By David Jacobi

    DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    David JacobiEthan Couch has lived in a bubble of pampered privilege for his entire life, so when he’s convicted of killing four people while driving drunk, he and his mother Tonya flee to a resort in Mexico rather than face the consequences. In this self-imposed state of limbo, Ethan pays hotel clerk Daniel $1000 to be his friend and help maintain the facade of his prior life. But as the unlikely pair drink, sing, and stumble through the night, delusions of how the world works melt away as quickly as their cash flow. David Jacobi draws from the infamous 2013 “affluenza” court case to weave a surreal story of recklessness and reflection.

    About David Jacobi
    : His plays have been performed throughout the U.S. and in China, including the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, FringeNYC and Penghao Theatre. His work has been developed at Ojai Playwrights Conference, Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival, RISK IS THIS, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Kennedy Center MFA Playwright’s Workshop, SLC Playwrights Lab and PlayPenn. He is a winner of the Holland New Voices Award, Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences Award, a Relentless Award semifinalist, and has been nominated for the Weissburger. David was the 2015 Shank Fellow at Pig Iron Theatre Company, and is currently under commission from the Denver Center and South Coast Rep. He received a BFA in Dramatic Writing from Purchase College and an MFA from UC San Diego.



    Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue
    By Kemp Powers DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    Kemp PowersEven though they share the same DNA, twins Steven and Bernard have lived drastically different lives. The big reason? One is plagued by racism because of his dark skin while the other passes as white. Steven spent his childhood fitting in with fellow classmates and is now a successful attorney. Though he was an extraordinarily bright student who had his eyes on outer space, Bernard’s future is as dismal as the Challenger Space Shuttle that once inspired him. As he prepares for trial and potential jail time, Bernard must face his childhood bully behind the judge’s bench and confront his brother’s advantages. Following his DCPA audience favorite One Night in Miami…, Kemp Powers’ piercing meditation on race and privilege targets the circumstances that can change a child’s destiny.

    About Kemp Powers:
    His plays include One Night in Miami… (Donmar Warehouse, Denver Center, Baltimore Center Stage, Rogue Machine; 2017 Olivier nominee for Best New Play, three Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards, four NAACP Theatre awards, LA Weekly Theater award), Little Black Shadows (South Coast Repertory) and The Two Reds (The Ground Floor at Berkeley Repertory). His work has been developed at Denver Center Theatre Company, South Coast Repertory, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Classical Theatre of Harlem. In television and film, he was most recently a writer for “Star Trek: Discovery”(CBS All Access) and is currently adapting his play One Night in Miami… into a feature film. He has toured nationally as a storyteller for the Peabody Award-winning series, "The Moth," and was one of the 50 storytellers selected for publication in their New York Times-bestselling book, The Moth: 50 True Stories (Hyperion Press). Powers is a founding member of The Temblors, a producing playwrights collective based in Los Angeles, where he resides.



    Celia, A Slave
    By Barbara Seyda

    Barbara SeydaIn 1855, 19-year-old African-American slave Celia was convicted of killing her master and hanged. Her story became known as a notorious failure of justice in American history, but to truly understand its significance, look to the people of Calloway County who experienced it all. Using oral histories and official records as her guide, playwright Barbara Seyda investigates the event with a tapestry of interviews with the dead. This stunningly evocative play illuminates the brutal realities of female slave life in the pre-Civil War South as it resurrects a panorama of real people on stage. The piece won the Yale Drama Series playwriting competition in its current form.

    About Barbara Seyda: She is a playwright, editor, designer and theatre artist. She has a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA from Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University. She has been a freelance editor for the Southwest Center, Rio Nuevo Press and the University of Arizona Press with a focus on native art, culture, history, ethnography and oral traditions of the American Southwest. She taught at Pratt Institute, The New School for Social Research, Rutgers University and University of Arizona's Continuing Education Program. Her publications include Nomads of a Desert City (University of Arizona Press) and Women in Love (Bulfinch, imprint of Little, Brown & Company). Her debut play Celia, A Slave was selected by Nicholas Wright, former Associate Director of London's Royal Court and won the Yale Drama Prize in 2015. The first public staged reading was at Lincoln Center under the direction of Niegel Smith and the script was published by Yale University Press in 2016. Celia opened The Rogue Theatre's 2017 season to rave reviews by PBS and NPR. She will reexamine the structure of Celia at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Her new plays include An Unnatural History and Life in a Jar.


    2018 WORLD PREMIERE PLAYS:

    American Mariachi
    By José Cruz González

    Directed by James Vásquez
    Produced in association with The Old Globe

    A Jose Cruz Gonzalez 160DCPA Theatre Company Commission developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music.

    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding
    By Matthew Lopez
    Directed by Mike Donahue

    Matthew LopezDisaster after disaster follow one unfortunate bride down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    The Great Leap
    By Lauren Yee
    Directed by Eric Ting
    Produced in association with Seattle Repertory Theatre

    Yee, LaurenDCPA Theatre Company Commission developed at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit
    When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action in the stadium.

    The 13th Annual Colorado New Play Summit
    Launch Weekend: Feb. 17-18
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 23-25
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

    All-inclusive Festival Weekend packages including all four readings, three world premieres, plus meals and special events are on sale now. Launch weekend events will go on sale in January 2018. 

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit

    Full photo gallery from the 2017 Colorado New Play Festival in February. To see more, click on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Bonus video coverage: Meet the 2017 featured playwrights:
    Summit Spotlight video: Lauren Gunderson, The Book of Will
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    Summit Spotlight Video: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Summit Spotlight Video: Mat Smart, Midwinter
  • Video: Governor, 'Carol' cast send Colorado National Guard thanks and hope

    by John Moore | Nov 28, 2017

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

     

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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


    Photo gallery: Creating the Colorado National Guard video:

    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

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


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

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

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


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

    Genevieve Miller Holt
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It’s still got that razzle dazzle. 

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

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

    Chicago in Denver: Ticket information

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2013 True West Award winners

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

    Colorado Theatre Person of the Year winners:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

    1870 Charles Dickens’ death.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    Photo gallery: The making of A Christmas Carol 2017

    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

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

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PAUL LUDICK QUOTE

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

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

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

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

    Dear Evan Hansen will launch first national tour in Denver

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

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

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

    Read our coverage of Colorado theatre on the NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Dear Evan Hansen: Denver information

    UntitledOctober 2018
    • The Buell Theatre
    • Tickets: An on-sale date will be announced at a later time. For more information, 303-893-4100 or sign up for EMAIL ALERTS
    • Groups: Call 303-446-482

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

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

     

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    A Lady Day Westword

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

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


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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Video: Mary Louise Lee sings with Million Dollar Quartet:

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

  • November 2017: Applause Magazine puzzle solution

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

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

    Word Search Applause Puzzle
    Word Search Applause Puzzle

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

    Word Search Applause Puzzle

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Recent previous downloadable puzzles:

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

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

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

    Jersey Boys, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Finding Neverland, A Christmas Carol and The Hip-Hop Nutcracker DOWNLOAD
  • Cast of 'Snowy Day': Parting thoughts on value of early arts education

    by John Moore | Nov 18, 2017

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





    Zak ReynoldsZAK REYNOLDS

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day and Other Stories

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

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

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

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


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     A Body of an American Chris Coleman 800 John Moore

     

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

    by John Moore | Nov 16, 2017

    Video by David Lenk.

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Full photo gallery: First Date production photos


    First Date

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


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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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


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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Donate to the Denver Actors Fund's Langhoff collection

    Daniel


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

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

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

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

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

    Immediate efforts to add to the Langhoff fund:

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Breaking: Coleman DCPA Theatre Company's new leader 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘He sure can pick em’

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    7 QUICK QUESTIONS WITH CHRIS COLEMAN:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • What a wonderful world it was with Daniel Langhoff

    by John Moore | Nov 12, 2017

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues below the photo.)

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


    A punctilious punster

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

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

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

    "That was Daniel," his wife said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A life on every stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

    The great work of helping others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Story continues below the video.)

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


    The impact of family


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

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

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

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

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

    And that's OK.
    You found your forever. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Daniel Langhoff/Selected shows and companies

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

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

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

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