• Photos, cast list: 'Native Gardens' draws line in the soil

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2018
    Making of 'Native Gardens'Above: Our full photo gallery from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Native Gardens,' starting with last week's first rehearsal. To see more, click on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter


    Karen Zacarías' popular comedy takes a lighter approach to the concept of a border war — with your next-door neighbor

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    "Who here has a neighbor?" Director Lisa Portes asked the cast, creatives, ambassadors and staff gathered for a festive first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming production of Native Gardens. And when she further queried, "Who here has had a dispute with a neighbor?" and, "How many of those disputes have had to do with land or noise?" — not many of the many raised hands fell.   

    Karen Zacarías' celebrated play is the story of a young Latino couple that moves into a fixer-upper next to an older couple with a beautifully kept garden. All goes well until the aristocratic young Chileans discover their property line actually extends about 2 feet over their neighbors' existing flowerbed.

    "We all hope we get along with our neighbors," Portes said. But where there is a property line, there tends to be a line in the sand.

    Native Gardens is a comedy, "but it's a sneaky comedy," Portes added, "because suddenly there is this border dispute, and within that there is all kinds of conflict  — generational, ethnic, gender and class. And eventually these two couples really have to contend with one another."

    Portes, who primarily tackles new plays and musicals, serves on the board of Theatre Communications Group, heads the MFA directing program at DePaul University and has directed at dozens of theatres around the country. Her cast includes Broadway veterans Jordan Baker (The Normal Heart) and John Ahlin (Journey’s End), as well as Mariana Fernández, who two years ago starred the DCPA Theatre Company's FADE.

    'Native Gardens' has its first performance April 6 in the Space Theatre. Here are five fun facts we learned at first rehearsal:

    Lisa Portes quote
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    NUMBER 1

    The world goes round. Although Zacarías' play has been produced around the country since 2016, Portes is calling this the play's "world premiere production in the round." The Space is a five-sided theatre with the stage in the middle. In every previous staging, the audience has watched the story in a traditional theatre setting with an invisible fourth wall separating them from the actors on the stage. "That means the audience is examining this dispute from a safe distance," Portes said. "But in this production, the stage floor is the actual garden, and the fence separating the two houses runs right through the middle of the stage. And so depending on where your seat is, you will be sitting on one side of the fence or the other. That means you are a part of this dispute. And we're interested to see how that physical relationship you have with one side or the other plays out in your terms of your allegiances."  

    NUMBER 2RAQUEL BARRETO Expect the unexpected. If Costume Designer Raquel Barreto has one wish for how the audience feels when they walk into the Space Theatre, she said, "It's they don't encounter a preconceived set of characters" when the play begins. Meaning they should not be so easily pegged based on their appearance — or your presupposition. "This is a play that is as much about about cultural and ethnic perceptions as it is about generational differences, and so I would love it if people's expectations of having a Latino or a foolish older American neighbor are not met," she said. "We have a chance to present the audience with characters who are funny but at the same time have some layers to them. I may strongly disagree with my neighbor's politics and still love the scarf that she is wearing." 

    NUMBER 3 Is that a typo? Questions about the recent rise of the term “Latinx” (pronounced “Latin X”) have come up on a regular basis all season, and they came up again on the first day of rehearsal. They even come up in  Zacarías' script. It's not a term the older white couple in the story have ever heard of — and they are not alone. So, a refresher: Latinx has become widely embraced among scholars, community leaders and journalists as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina.  According to The Huffington Post, Latinx is part of a “linguistic revolution” that aims to move beyond gender binaries and is inclusive of the intersecting identities of Latin American descendants. In addition to men and women from all racial backgrounds, Latinx also makes room for people who are trans, queer, agender, non-binary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid.

    Just Like Us makes the political personal ... and entertaining

    NUMBER 4Speaking of ... Zacarías, who also wrote the DCPA Theatre Company's Just Like Us in 2014, and Portes were among the “DC-8” who started a national movement called The Latinx Theatre Commons in 2012 to amplify the visibility of Latinx theatre in the United States. Since then, Portes has directed the world premiere of Antoinette Nwandu’s Breach, a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate in Chicago, as well as an all-Latinx version of The Glass Menagerie for Cal Shakes in northern California.  Zacarias last month launched a high-profile staging for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called Destiny of Desire, a subversive homage to telenovelas, which she calls “one of the most exported forms of entertainment in the world.”

    NUMBER 5Small world. Next door to the Space Theatre, Off-Center is preparing to stage  This is Modern Art in The Jones Theatre. That story explores an  incident when a graffiti crew created a massive tag on the outside of the Art Institute of Chicago’s new, multimillion-dollar Modern Wing. The world-premiere of the play was staged at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in 2015, and it went down as among the most controversial stagings of the past decade. And it debuted under the direction of none other than .... Lisa Portes. "Idris is a wildly imaginative thinker,” Portes said of co-writer (and Off-Center director) Idris Goodwin. " He knows the necessity of traditional structure well, and he also pushes against it in order to get to something else. “This is Modern Art follows a pretty traditional structure, but its content is quite subversive.” READ MORE

    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.

    Native Gardens: Cast and creatives
    • Written by Karen Zacarías 
    • Directed by Lisa Portes
    • Scenic Designer: Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Designer: Raquel Barreto
    • Lighting Designer: Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Designer: Rick Sims
    • Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    • Stage manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    • Kailey Buttrick: Assistant Stage Manager  

    Cast:

    • John Ahlin (Broadway’s Tony-Award winning revival of Journey’s End) as Frank Butley
    • Jordan Baker (Broadway’s Suddenly, Last Summer, The Normal Heart) as Virginia Butley
    • Mariana Fernández (DCPA’s FADE) as Tania Del Valle
    • Ryan Garbayo (Red Bull Theater’s The Government Inspector Off-Broadway) as Pablo Del Valle.
    • Anthony V. Haro (University of Northern Colorado Opera’s La Cenerentola), Ensemble
    • Brandon Lopez (Lucent Performing Arts’ American Idiot), Ensemble
    • Gustavo Marquez (Colorado Shakespeare Education’s Comedy of Errors), Ensemble
    • Gia Valverde (Su Teatro’s Enrique’s Journey), Ensemble
    Native Gardens: Ticket information

    NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.
    • Presented by Off-Center
    • Performances April 6-May 6
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Saturday Night Alive' raises record $1.15 million for DCPA Education

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2018

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    More than 800 see performance of Hamilton while supporting programs that serve 106,000 students every year

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts' 38th annual Saturday Night Alive party netted a record $1.15 million on March 3. The fundraiser is a benefit for the DCPA’s extensive theatre education programs, which serve more than 106,000 students of all ages each year.

    With that evening's performance of Hamilton included as part of Saturday Night Alive, the evening sold out in record time — just one week. While more than 80Saturday Night Alive. Janice Sinden. Photo by Amanda Tipton0 guests enjoyed the full evening, another 200 joined the festivities at the show and after-party. The emcee was of CBS Denver.

    DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden described the evening as breathtaking.

    “At the DCPA, we believe that the arts are a fundamental part of a well-rounded education,” she said. “Being able to celebrate that with Hamilton, a show that is equally passionate about arts education, is an exciting opportunity for our Saturday Night Alive donors.”

    (Pictured at right: DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. Photo by Amanda Tipton.)

    In addition to seeing Broadway’s biggest blockbuster, guests enjoyed a luxury silent auction, dinner by Epicurean Group, and post-show desserts and dancing to music by the Wash Park Funk Band.

    Saturday Night Alive has now raised an estimated $29 million and has helped the DCPA provide theatre programs to more than 2 million students.


    2018 Saturday Night Alive

    Photos from the 2018 Saturday Night Live, starting with, above, members of the 'Hamilton' cast enjoying the post-show party in the Seawell Ballroom. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Image above by acustomlook.com. All other photos by Amanda Tipton. 

    2018 Saturday Night Alive

    • 2018 Event Chairs: were Susan and Steve Struna
    • Corporate Chairs: Lisa & Norm Franke / Alpine Bank
    • Silent Auction Co-Chairs: Keri Christiansen & Jane Netzorg
    • Patron Chairs: Lyn and Dr. Michael Schaffer
    • Platinum Sponsors: Roger, Rick & Friends; United Airlines
    • Emerald Sponsors: Salah Foundation, SRC Energy, US Bank, Westin Denver Downtow
    • Gold Sponsors: Alpine Bank; Assist2Hear; Bayswater Exploration & Production; Colorado State Bank and Trust; CRG, Epicurean Group; Kathie & Keith Finger; Genesee Mountain Foundation; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP; HealthONE; Edward H. and Margaret Anne Leede; Microsoft; Tuchman Family Foundation; PDC Energy; Xcel Energy; Trice Jewelers
  • Ugly Lies the Bone: The transformation of Missy Moore

    by John Moore | Mar 09, 2018



    Albert Einstein said: "Beauty is skin deep, ugly lies the bone. Beauty dies and fades away, but ugly holds its own."

    The Lake Dillon Theatre Company is currently presenting Lindsey Ferrentino's play 
    Ugly Lies the Bone
    . When a newly discharged veteran returns to her native Florida hometown after a disabling third tour in Afghanistan, she discovers that readjusting can be painful and disorienting. Through virtual reality video-game therapy, the play examines the possible restoration of one soldier’s life, relationships and self.

    In the time-lapse video above, Moore shows how she takes on the persona of a soldier who has been burned over more than half her body. The prosthetic makeup design is by Todd Debreceni. The process to apply the makeup takes about two hours a day, Moore said.

    Ugly Lies the Bone plays through March 18 at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne. Information: 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Cast:

    • Jess: Missy Moore
    • Kacie: Samantha Rosentrater
    • Stevie: Joel Oramas
    • Kelvin: Joel Rainwater
    • Voice/Mom: Jennifer Condreay

    Creatives:

    • Director: Joshua Blanchard
    • Scenic Design: Jared Grohs
    • Lighting Design: Vance McKenzie
    • Costume Design: Molly Walz
    • Sound Design: Matthew Eckstein
    • Stage Manager: Amber Julian
    • Assistant Stage Manager: Andy Bakehouse
  • 'The Great Leap' prepares for big bound to Seattle

    by John Moore | Mar 07, 2018
    Kristin Leahey and Lauren Yee. Photo by John Moore

    'The Great Leap' Dramaturg Kristin Leahey and playwright Lauren Yee at the opening-night celebration in Denver. The play next transfers to the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Dramaturg, playwright talk hoops as The Great Leap prepares to leave Denver and visit the Great Northwest

    The DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere staging of The Great Leap has its final Denver performances this weekend, but the play is just starting its creative life. After closing on Sunday (March 11), it packs up with its cast, creatives and scenery intact and moves to the Seattle Repertory Theatre for a run starting later this month.

    The play, set in San Francisco and China, follows a scrappy young Asian-American kid who talks his way onto the University of San Francisco basketball team that is about to embark on a series of “friendship” games in China, which is in the throes of the post-Cultural Revolution era. Personal and international politics collide like Jordan driving to the hoop against Shaq. The story was inspired by events from playwright Lauren Yee's  father’s real experiences. 

    Kristin Leahey and Lauren Yee Quote. Photo by John MooreSeattle Rep dramaturg Kristin Leahey, who has been a key team member in the development of the play since it was first introduced at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, sat down with Yee for a Q&A about the play:

    Kristin Leahey: Lauren, who did you write The Great Leap for?

    Lauren Yee: My dad. Growing up, my father, Larry Yee, played basketball –  every day, all night, on the asphalt courts and rec center floors of San Francisco, Chinatown. It was the only thing he was good at. He was never good enough that he was going to play for the NBA or even at the college level, but for a 6-foot-1 Chinatown kid from the projects, he was good. Really good. I know this because even today, people still stop him on the street and try to explain to me what a legend he was. They tell me his nickname — Spider — his position — center — and his signature move — the reverse jump shot. Then they will tell me about China. My dad's first trip to China was in the '80s playing a series of exhibition games against China's top teams. At their first game, my dad and his American teammates faced off against a Beijing team of 300-pound 7-footers who demolished my dad's team. It was the first of many slaughters. My dad doesn't play anymore, but you can see how his head is still in the game. Sometimes, he'll walk up to tall young men at checkout counters, parking lots, and sporting events, and ask them if they've ever considered playing basketball. And it doesn't matter what they say: he'll start coaching them on the game right then and there. So while this play is not my father's story, it's a story like it.

    For playwright Lauren Yee, family is generation map

    Kristin Leahey: Did you know a lot about basketball before working on this play?

    Lauren Yee: Despite my father’s history with the game, I actually knew very little, so I got to apprentice myself to this whole new world. And using basketball as a means to explore China-America relations turned out to be an incredibly apt metaphor. China has played basketball almost as long as America has; it’s the most popular sport in China, the only western sport never previously banned by the Chinese government.

    Kristin Leahey: As you have been developing The Great Leap, you have also been working on two other incredible plays, among many others, The King of the Yees and Cambodian Rock Band.  What do you see is the connection with these works? 

    Kristin Leahey and Lauren Yee 800. Photo by John MooreLauren Yee: King of the Yees, which had its Northwest premiere at A.C.T. last September, is a love letter to Chinatown and my real-life relationship with my dad. Cambodian Rock Band is also a father/daughter story, a play with music about a Cambodian American young woman’s discovery of her father’s secret past as the bassist for a rock band during the rise of the Khmer Rouge. Along with The Great Leap, these plays form a kind of trilogy, about ordinary people intersecting in extraordinary places in history.  Each play reveals the hidden histories that lived alongside each other and that you would have never unexpected (basketball and Communism, rock bands and genocide). Seeing these plays through to production has revealed to me the breadth and depth of the Asian American acting community. Each play requires specific, extraordinary talent, and gives actors the chance to be so many different things on stage: funny, virtuosic, heartbreaking, and versatile –  something that Asian American actors frequently do not get to do. I feel if nothing else, one of my proudest accomplishments is creating roles worthy of today’s Asian-American actors.

    (Pictured above right: 'The Great Leap' Dramaturg Kristin Leahey and playwright Lauren Yee talk at a public forum to discuss the play with Denver Center audiences. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Kristin Leahey: Can you share with us about your writing process? 

    Lauren Yee: I start writing even before I know what I’m writing about. I can sketch out the pieces of the plays — for example, the setting, the characters, the language — fairly quickly. Most of the writing process — or rewriting process — is me figuring out how these pieces best fit together. My intuitions are rarely wrong, but it usually takes me a very long time to figure out why these particular characters are in these particular situations. In fact, in The Great Leap, I didn’t figure out one of the key plot points until very late in the writing. I’m also incredibly motivated by collaboration with others. One of my favorite things to do is enter a week-long workshop with the goal of mapping out a brand new play or pushing a half-finished piece of writing forward. I have a great respect for actors and directors, and so the thought of them having to wait for me to complete a scene makes me churn out work so much faster than I could by myself. And once I’ve nailed the characters and circumstances, I’ll go back to see where I got things right (or not) and fill in all the gaps. For me, research comes late in the process.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Kristin Leahey: You’ve spent a lot time in Seattle developing your plays.  Can you share what you love about the city and the Seattle theatre scene?

    Lauren Yee: I have never seen a city hungrier for new work than Seattle. The joy that Seattle audiences harbor for new work is incredibly motivating; they will show up for readings with an inquisitiveness that you don’t always see in other cities. It’s also an inspiring place to think about story. There’s so much unexpected and unexplored history in Seattle. And every time I come to Seattle, I’m floored by the layers I continue to unearth.

     Kristin Leahey, Ph.D., is Director of New Works for the Seattle Repertory Theatre.

    Production photos: The Great Leap

    The Great Leap Photos from 'The Great Leap,' opening Friday (tonight) and performing through March 11 in the Ricketson Theatre. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by Adams VisCom.  

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

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

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

  • Photos: Opening night of Arvada Center's 'All My Sons'

    by John Moore | Mar 06, 2018
    Arvada Center's 'All My Sons'
    Full photo gallery from the opening performance of the Arvada Center's 'All My Sons,' directed by Lynne Collins. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full, downloadable Flickr gallery.  Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter at MyDenverCenter.Org.


    Photos: Opening night of Arvada Center's All My Sons

    Arthur Miller's breakthrough play All My Sons is based on the true story of an Ohio manufacturer who sold faulty parts to the U.S. military during World War II. Joe Keller, played by Sam Gregory, is made to face the true cost of his business choices and their devastating impact on his family.

    The big-name cast features some of Denver's top actors, many with deep connections to the Denver Center, including:

    • All My Sons. Arvada Center. Sam Gregory: Joe Keller (More than 40 DCPA productions including Scrooge in A Christmas Carol)
    • Emma Messenger: Kate Keller
    • Lance Rasmussen: Chris Keller
    • Regina Fernandez: Ann Deever (DCPA's The Secret Garden)
    • Geoffrey Kent: George Deever (Acted in many DCPA productions, resident fight director, DCPA Education Teaching Artist and director of An Act of God)
    • Abner Genece: Dr. Jim Bayliss
    • Kate Gleason: Sue Bayliss (DCPA’s Don Quixote, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Love's Labour's Lost and more, DCPA Education Teaching Arts)
    • Zachary Andrews: Frank Lubey (DCPA’s Romeo and Juliet, The Three Musketeers and more)
    • Jessica Austgen: Lydia Lubey (former DCPA Education Teaching Artist, member of Off-Center’s Cult Following and writer of Drag On)
    • Harrison Hauptman: Bert
    • August Reichert: Bert (DCPA's A Christmas Carol)
    This is the final opening of the Arvada Center's second Black Box Theatre Company season. All My Sons, directed by Lynne Collins, runs through May 3 in repertory with Sense and Sensibility and The Electric Baby at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org.


    Production photos:

    All My Sons at the Arvada Center, 2018

    Emma Messenger and Sam Gregory. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to a full Flickr gallery. Matt Gale Photography 2018.
  • Boulder Ensemble Theatre commissions Idris Goodwin for new play

    by John Moore | Mar 06, 2018
    IDRIS GOODWIN. PHOTO BY John Moore
    Idris Goodwin is the co-writer and director of Off-Center's upcoming 'This is Modern Art.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company expands commitment to parent playwrights with children under age 18

    The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company today announced it has a commissioned a new play by Colorado playwright Idris Goodwin, the co-writer and director of Off-Center's upcoming This is Modern Art.

    "BETC and I share the belief that the theater artists and audiences of the Rockies are hungry for relevant new work," said Goodwin, also a rapper and associate theatre professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

    Goodwin will be working with an ensemble of artists to develop a play about how public schooling in America intersects with race, poverty, civil rights, states’ rights and federal oversight. "We're going to dive deep into the question of who decides what is worth knowing?" Goodwin said. "I am eager to get to work."

    Jenifer BarclayOn March 22, Goodwin's production of This is Modern Art, which recounts the true story of the biggest graffiti bomb in Chicago history, opens in the Jones Theatre.

    BETC's new-play development program, called Generations, supports the work of parent playwrights with children under 18. And this year it is being expanded to host a second residency, for University of Maryland assistant playwriting professor Jennifer Barclay. Her play Danny was selected from more than 150 submissions as part of BETC's annual Generations competition. Danny is a drama about two generations of African-American women set in the Cabrini Green neighborhood of Chicago.

    Barclay will receive a week-long residency in Boulder to develop Danny with a professional cast, director and dramaturg — with childcare support provided by BETC. The workshop will culminate in a public reading in August.

    “I am thrilled that BETC offers an award and development opportunity that is specifically for parents of young children," Barclay said. "I am grateful for the commitment that BETC has made to new plays, as well as their commitment to easing the burden of the playwright parent's work and life juggling act."

    Producing Artistic Director Stephen Weitz said the goal for the Generations program is to welcome all generations into the theater to see new plays, and to empower playwrights to generate new work.  “Our program has a unique focus and demonstrates our commitment to foster new play development here in the Colorado community that will have wide-ranging impact across the country and the theatre industry," he said. 

    This is Modern ArtThis is Modern Art: Ticket information

    • Presented by Off-Center
    • Performances March 22-April 15
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Idris Goodwin:
    This is Modern Art will make you look: Cast list, first-day report, photos
    Idris Goodwin is going places: From Curious' Detroit '67 to Denver Center
    Graffiti: Modern art or 'urban terrorism'?
    Vast and visceral: Off-Center season will include This is Modern Art
    Video: Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band

  • 'This is Modern Art' will make you look

    by John Moore | Mar 04, 2018
    Making of 'This is Modern Art'

    Above: Our full photo gallery from the making of Off-Center's 'This is Modern Art,' opening March 22. To see more, click on the image above. From left in first photo above: Denver actors Robert Lee Hardy, Jake Mendes and Marco A. Robinson. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter


    Off-Center play starts a provocative conversation about art that controversial Chicago graffiti artists started in snow 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Graffiti crews have been called vandals, criminals — even creative terrorists. What they are is artists, says director, playwright and artist Idris Goodwin. “And in 2009, some of those artists set out to make their voices heard and alter the way people view the world.”

    Goodwin, also a full-time associate theatre professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, co-wrote This is Modern Art, a book and now proudly controversial stage play based on an incident when a graffiti crew created a massive tag on the outside of the Art Institute of Chicago’s new, multimillion-dollar Modern Wing. Under cover of snowfall, they painted a 50-foot mural bookended by the words “Modern Art … Made You Look.”

    This explicit challenge of a powerful arts institution drew condemnation, outrage and, from many, celebration.

    "They wanted to have a conversation around art and culture that I don't think otherwise happens,” Goodwin said. "I think fine art has become very apolitical over the years, and that then fosters a certain apoliticism to class. These artists really wanted to have an open conversation about art but, unfortunately, that didn't really happen."

    Instead, the anonymous artists went — and remain — underground. But Goodwin’s co-writer Kevin Coval found them and interviewed them, Studs Terkel-style, for the play.

    This is Modern Art. Idris Goodwin Quote. Photo by John MooreThis Is Modern Art, which will be staged by the DCPA’s Off-Center from March 22 through April 15 in the Jones Theatre, offers a glimpse into the lives of graffiti artists and asks timeless questions about art: What is art — and who gets to say so? It also addresses the competing issues of artistic freedom and private property.

    This is a story, Goodwin added, “that allows the audience to get to know a very particular culture that has its own history, and its own set of morals. It allows them to go along on this ride without actually getting any paint on their hands.”

    Off-Center co-founder and curator Charlie Miller said Goodwin and Coval "take elements of hip-hop culture and put them onstage in a way that is both accessible to an audience who knows nothing about it, and to those who are deeply steeped in that culture. Idris makes the theatre a meeting place for both of those audiences.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Miller said he is “proud to be doing this work and engaging the artists who are working on this project. And, most important, to be engaging our audiences in the tough conversation this play brings up.”

    Goodwin knows the Denver Center’s traditional theatregoing audience base will be challenged. That’s the point, he said. 

    “I have this fantasy where these seniors who are 65 and older come to see the show and suddenly get a late-in-life spark to write graffiti. That's my goal," he said. "If I can get at least three octogenarians thrown in jail after seeing this play, I will have done my job.’ ”

    A THIS IS MODERN ART. Idris Goodwin. Photo by John Moore

    Photo by John Moore.


    Here are five more things we learned at the first rehearsal for 'This Is Modern Art,' followed by the announcement of the all-local cast and creative team:

    NUMBER 1

    Modern Art 800Small world. The world premiere of This is Modern Art was staged at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in 2015 (pictured right). The director was Lisa Portes, who just happens to arrive in Denver next week to begin work on the Karen Zacarías comedy Native Gardens for the DCPA Theatre Company. The Off-Center production of This is Modern Art is being directed by Goodwin himself. “Idris is a wildly imaginative thinker,” Portes told the DCPA NewsCenter. “He knows the necessity of traditional structure well, and he also pushes against it in order to get to something else. This is Modern Art follows a pretty traditional structure, but its content is quite subversive.” Indeed, the staging was among the most controversial of the past decade. The play was presented as part of Steppenwolf's Young Adult Series, and critics at the city’s two major daily papers bashed the morality of the piece. "There was a bit of a kerfuffle to say the least," Goodwin said with a laugh. "For critics, the question became, 'How dare you glorify anyone who challenges the law?' To which we said: 'Thank you for making us the N.W.A. of theatre,' " referring he said, to the polarizing gangsta-rap pioneers. Goodwin says he considers the scathing review by Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times to be among his most prized possessions. "It reads like it is right out of the 1930s," he said. "I kept waiting for the words 'Reefer Madness' to appear." A social media backlash accused the Chicago critics of being out of touch.

    NUMBER 2This is a heist! In writing the play, Goodwin and Coval were inspired by the film Man on Wire, which chronicles Philippe Petit's renegade 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center. “It's a documentary, but it feels like a heist film,” Goodwin said. A heist film is a kind of crime film that focuses on the planning, execution and aftermath of a theft. “And that was the play we wanted to write,” Goodwin said.

    NUMBER 3Crushing it. The Jones Theatre will be transformed into an abandoned warehouse that serves as the primary location for the story. The theatre walls will be covered in layers of graffiti, while the actual tag at the Art Museum will be depicted through a real-time animated projection so that the actors don’t actually paint during the performance. “It's going to be really exciting,” said Scenic Designer Nicholas Renaud. Projection Designer Topher Blair has been consulting and collaborating with graffiti artist Robin Munro, founder of Colorado Crush, Colorado’s largest independent annual graffiti event that has transformed the two-block alleyway in RiNo now known as “Art Alley.” 

    Read more: Is graffiti modern art ... or urban terrorism?

    NUMBER 4Opening doors and minds. There will be eight student matinee performances of This is Modern Art, Miller said, “because the questions this play asks are really important, particularly for high-school students. This play really lifts up these artists, who are people we don't normally get to see on a stage.” There also will be a facilitated talkback after every student matinee to further the conversation. "We're really excited that every student who comes will get to really get to dig deep into the themes and questions of the play as part of their experience,” Miller said.

    NUMBER 5The more you know. If you are interested in the rich history of Chicago graffiti art and the story behind This is Modern Art before you attend the play, you can order the source book from Haymarket Books. “We wanted to do something different than just an acting edition of the play,” Goodwin of the book, which includes a foreword by Lisa Yun Lee, Director of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "This play is about more than just this particular art crime,” Lee wrote. “ It is also about an ongoing kind of crime perpetrated by the powerful against those in the margins, a more universal history of oppression that takes place through the prescription of what is beautiful.” It is available in paperback ($11) or e-book ($6) form here. And you can read the foreword here.

    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.


    This is Modern Art
    : Cast and creatives

    This is Modern Art Cast. Photos by John Moore

    Clockwise from top left, actors John Jurcheck, Brynn Tucker, Jake Mendes, Robert Lee Hardy, Chloe McLeod and Marco Robinson. Photos by John Moore, filtered by Prisma. 

    • Written by Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin
    • Directed by Idris Goodwin
    • Scenic Designer: Nicholas Renaud
    • Costume Designer: Meghan Anderson Doyle
    • Lighting Designer: Katie Gruenhagen
    • Sound Designer: Elisheba Ittoop
    • Projection Design: Topher Blair
    • Graffiti Artist: Robin Munro
    • Dramaturg: Kristin Leahey
    • Stage Manager: Rick Mireles
    • Casting: Grady Soapes

    Cast:

    • Robert Lee Hardy (DCPA Education’s The Snowy Day, Vintage Theatre’s A Time To Kill) as Seven
    • John Jurcheck (Curious Theatre Company’s Hand To God, DCPA Theatre Company’s Jackie & Me) as Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod (Miners Alley Playhouse’s Fun Home, DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Selena
    • Jake Mendes (Aurora Fox’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, DCPA Debut) as Dose
    • Marco Robinson (Miners Alley Playhouse’s Fun Home, Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Jose Clemente/JC
    • Brynn Tucker (Local Theater Company’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, DCPA Theatre Company’s Frankenstein) as Ensemble

    This is Modern ArtThis is Modern Art
    : Ticket information

    • Presented by Off-Center
    • Performances March 22-April 15
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Idris Goodwin:
    Idris Goodwin is going places: From Curious' Detroit '67 to Denver Center
    Graffiti: Modern art or 'urban terrorism'?
    Vast and visceral: Off-Center season will include This is Modern Art
    Video: Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band


    About Off-Center

    As the most unconventional line of Denver Center programming Off-Center specializes in unexpected experiences such as Sweet & Lucky, the first large-scale immersive show in Denver; and The Wild Party, a decadent, 360-degree party set in the Roaring '20s. An Off-Center show is like no other theatre experience — by design. Off-Center focuses more on connecting people and upending expectations than on adhering to tradition. Off-Center wants you leaving a show thinking, “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

    Cast and creatives for 'This is Modern Art' on the first day of rehearsal. Photo by John Moore.Cast and creatives for Off-Center's 'This is Modern Art' on the first day of rehearsal Feb. 27. Photo by John Moore.
  • March openings: Athena rises as 'All My Sons' leaves American Dream in ruins

    by John Moore | Mar 02, 2018
    All My Sons. Emma Messenger. Sam Gregory. Matt Gale Photography

    Emma Messenger and DCPA Theatre Company favorite Sam Gregory (Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol') are currently starring in the Arvada Center's 'All My Sons.' Matt Gale Photography 2018.


    Month-long Athena Project Festival turns March theatre spotlight to women in fields of theatre, music and dance

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company's newly completed Colorado New Play Summit serves as something of a kickoff to a series of Colorado festivals celebrating new work for the American Theatre. Throughout March, the spotlight shifts to the 6th annual Athena Project Arts Festival, which has grown into a massive, citywide celebration of women's voices in theatre, dance, music, comedy and fashion.

    Athena Project 2013The festival's signature program is its Plays In Progress series. Organizers have selected three promising scripts from among 150 submissions for development during the festival: The Buddha’s Wife by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin, Mama’s Eggnog by Angela Stern, and The Golden Hour by Elizabeth Nelson. Each script will get two public workshop readings between March 22 and March 31. In addition, Claire Caviglia's The Inside Child will receive a table read on March 22, and Philana Omorotionmwan's Strong Face will have a concert reading on March 29. Most theatre events will be held at the University of Denver.

    Music highlights will include an open-mic night for female singers on March 8 at the Swallow Hill Music Hall; and a concert headlined by Megan Burtt and emerging artist Nina de Freitas on March 10. New this year is Cross Pollinations, in which artists from different disciplines are paired together to create a live, original work of art to be presented March 9. Dance events will be held March 17 and 18.

    Tickets range from free to a $35 series pass that gets you into to all three plays, panel discussions and more. Full schedule and more information at AthenaProjectArts.org.

    The Athena Festival, founded by Angela Astle, will be followed by Local Theater Company's Local Lab new-play festival from April 20-22 in Boulder.

    Here are a few more highlights for the coming month in Colorado theatre, followed by a comprehensive list of all your statewide theatregoing options for March. 

    Ten intriguing titles for March:

    NUMBER 1All My Sons. It not only won the first-ever Best Play Tony Award, All My Sons may be Arthur Miller's best play, period. This classic tale is based on the true story of an Ohio manufacturer who sold faulty parts to the U.S. military during World War II. Joe Keller, played by DCPA Theatre Company favorite Sam Gregory, is made to face the true cost of his business choices and their devastating impact on his family. This is the last opening of the Arvada Center's second Black Box Theatre Company season. The big-name cast also includes Emma Messenger, Geoffrey Kent, Kate Gleason, Regina Fernandez, Abner Genece, Zachary Andrews, Jessica Austgen, Lance Rasmussen and youngsters Harrison Hauptman and August Reichert. Runs through May 3 in repertory with Sense and Sensibility and The Electric Baby at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 2Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. Monday, March 5, promises to be an emotional night when Mary Louise Lee revisits her signature role as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill at the Galleria Theatre. Lee's performing career began in the Galleria (then called StageWest) when she appeared in Beehive at only 18 years old and still a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School. Lee first portrayed the jazz legend with a singular singing voice — and a lethal heroin habit — for Shadow Theatre in 2002. She returned to the role in January for this unique co-production with Vintage Theatre that now transfers to the Denver Center. This new production, directed by Betty Hart, will perform on Monday nights only through April 23. Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    NUMBER 3Wisdom from Everything. The latest provocative offering from Boulder's Local Theater Company asks: What you would sacrifice to escape a war? Chicago playwright Mia McCullough's story presents a 19-year-old Syrian who finds herself educating girls in the largest refugee camp in the world — until an older Jordanian doctor offers her an education in exchange for marriage. The primo cast includes Amy Carle (known for her work on "Chicago MED" and for the Goodman and Steppenwolf theatres) and Mehry Eslaminia, who performed in the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere play Appoggiatura. March 4-26 at The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    NUMBER 4The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. With his trademark mix of soaring intellect and searing emotion, legendary playwright Tony Kushner unfurls an epic tale of love, family, sex, money and politics — all set under the hard-earned roof of an Italian family in Brooklyn. When former longshoreman and Marxist union activist Gus decides to die, his kids come home with a raucous parade of lovers and spouses to find that even the house keeps secrets. Curious Theatre presents the regional premiere of Kushner's 2009 opus with an all-star cast including the return of former DCPA Head of Acting Larry Hecht alongside Dee Covington, Karen Slack, Desirée Mee Jung, Kirkaldy Myers, Anne Oberbroeckling, Emily Paton Davies, Matthew Schneck, Luke Sorge and Brian Landis Folkins. March 17-April 14 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    NUMBER 5 Idris Goodwin 160This is Modern Art. Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval recount the true story of the biggest graffiti bomb in Chicago history. In less than 20 minutes, and in a snowstorm, a stealthy crew spray-painted a 50-foot graffiti piece along the exterior wall of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. The tagging began with the words “modern art” and ended with the phrase “made you look.” The work was sandblasted off the next day, but because the artists had chosen such a high-profile target, the consequences got serious. “They were putting out a challenge,” Goodwin said. “What is modern art? Who gets to decide who a real artist is? And where does art belong?” The all-local cast includes John Jurcheck, Brynn Tucker, Jake Mendes, Robert Lee Hardy, Chloe McLeod and Marco Robinson/ Presented by Off-Center from March 22-April 15 at the Jones Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    NUMBER 6Ugly Lies the Bone. When a newly discharged veteran returns to her native Florida hometown after a disabling third tour in Afghanistan, she discovers that readjusting can be painful and disorienting. Through virtual reality video-game therapy, Lindsey Ferrentino's brave and bracing drama, featuring Missy Moore, examines the restoration of one soldier’s life, relationships and self. Through March 18 at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    NUMBER 7Totally Awesome '80s Ski Town, USA. It's rare to see a fully staged, locally written and produced musical, and this silly new party tuner spoofs goofball ski movies of the '80s and early '90s. The story follows Billy Tanner, a hilariously tortured drifter who wanders into a seemingly quiet ski burg and gets mixed up in saving the town from a greedy oil tycoon while slaloming his way through house parties, Norse gods and strange foreign-exchange students. Writers Charlie Schmidt and Cory Wendling draw from films such as Ski Patrol, Better Off Dead, Hot Dog The Movie and even Footloose. Through March 31 at Breckenridge Backstage Theatre, 121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    NUMBER 8Company. On his 35th birthday, perpetual bachelor Bobby contemplates his unmarried state. Through a series of comical outings with pals and an especially anxious wedding, his friends explain the pros and cons of marriage and relationships. Bobby is forced to examine his adamant retention of bachelorhood during these hilarious arrays of social interactions. The humor is sharp and the music is legendary, written by Stephen Sondheim. Presented by the Evergreen Chorale through March 11 at 27608 Fireweed Drive, Evergreen. 303-674-4002 or EvergreenChorale.org. A portion of ticket sales for the weekend of March 2-4 will benefit the Denver Actors Fund.

    Fun Home: Third staging to open in Colorado Springs

    NUMBER 9Jessica Robblee. Waiting for Obama. Waiting for Obama. Heeding the call from Florida high-school students for a national day of dialogue, marches and protest, the Bas Bleu Theatre will present a community conversation on the prevalence of gun violence in America, followed by a reading of John Moore's play Waiting for Obama about one Colorado family that, like so many others, is deeply divided by polarizing political beliefs. Waiting for Obama was praised at the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival as “a powerful and timely play that depicts the problem of gun violence in the United States in an emotional but often humorous light.” The cast will include Laurence Curry, Chris Kendall, Leslie O’Carroll, Drew Horwitz, Maggy Stacy, John Hauser and Jenna Moll Reyes. Panel at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24, with the reading to follow at 7:30. p.m. Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine St. in Fort Collins, CO 80524. Admission is free but donations to the Denver Actors Fund will be accepted. Reservations are strongly encouraged by calling 970-498-8949 or emailing basbleu@basbleu.org.

    NUMBER 10The River Bride. The northern Brazilian locals say the river dolphin found in the Amazon River can transform into human beings in search of their destined life mate. Surely you don't believe that, but ... what if it were true? In this folk tale set alongside the mightiest river in the world, Marisela Treviño Orta's heartrending storytelling blends love, grudges and transformation. Directed Hugo Jon Sayles. March 8-25 at the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org


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

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    DCPA March Mary Louise Lee. Lady Day. Photo by Adams VisComMarch 1-31: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Totally Awesome 80's Ski Town USA
    121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    March 2-May 3: Arvada Center's All My Sons
    Studio Theatre, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    March 2-18: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Ugly Lies the Bone
    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    March 2-11: Evergreen Chorale's Company
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4002 or evergreenchorale.org

    March 3-31: Athena Project Arts Festival
    Various locations, 303-219-0882 or athenaprojectfestival.org

    March 2-11: Vintage Theatre's Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    March 3-26: BDT Stage's Always … Patsy Cline
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    March 4-24: Local Theatre Company's Wisdom From Everything
    The Carsen Theater at The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    March 5-April 23: DCPA Cabaret's Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    March 8-25: Su Teatro's The River Bride
    721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org

    March 8-25: Millibo Art Theatre's The Blow Up
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, themat.org

    Briar-Rose-Ilasiea-L.-Gray-pricks-her-finger-with-Prince-Owain-Austin-Lazek-SLEEPING-BEAUTY-MACC-2018-RDG-Photography-1440x810March 8-May 4: Denver Children's Theatre's Sleeping Beauty
    Public performances 1 p.m. Sundays
    Elaine Wolf Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-316-6360 www.maccjcc.org

    March 9-April 1: Theatre Esprit Asia's Coping With America
    At ACAD Gallery, 1400 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-492-9479, or theatre-esprit-asia.org

    March 9-24: Theatrix USA's The Baptism
    At Blanc, 3150 Walnut St., wellattended.com

    March 16-April 8: Evergreen Players’ Love/Sick
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    March 16-25: Inspire Creative's Laughter on the 23rd Floor
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    March 16-25: Longmont Theatre Company's Leaving Iowa
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    March 17-April 14: Curious Theatre's The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism & Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    Benjamin Cowhick RDG PhotographyMarch 20-April 1: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s Androcles and the Lion (children's)
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    March 22-April 15: Off-Center's This Is Modern Art
    Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    March 22-25: Magic Moments' In the Same Boat
    Anschutz Family Theatre at Kent Denver School, 4000 East Quincy Ave, Englewood, 303-575-1005 or magicmomentsinc.org

    March 23-April 8: Performance Now's The Producers
    Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or performancenow.org

    March 23-April 29: Miners Alley Playhouse's The 39 Steps
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    March 23-May 26: Midtown Arts Center's Ragtime
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, (970) 225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    March 29-April 22: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s Fun Home
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org READ MORE

    March 29-April 8: The Upstart Crow's Playboy of the Western World
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-442-1415 or theupstartcrow.org

    March 30-May 13: Vintage Theatre's The Audience
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    March 31-April 28: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre's The Diary of Anne Frank
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    March 31-April 28: OpenStage's And Then There Were None
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Local Theater. Mehry Eslaminia. Naseem Etemad. Photo by Michael Ensminger
    Naseem Etemad and Regis Jesuit High School graduate Mehry Eslaminia (DCPA Theatre Company's 'Appoggiatura') in Local Theatre's upcoming 'Wisdom from Everything.' Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Through April 8: Jester’s Dinner Theatre’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

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

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

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

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

    Through May 25: Arvada Center Children's Theatre's Seussical
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

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

    EVERGREEN CHORALE. Company. Photo by Michael Ensminger

     

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE
  • Ongoing productions
  • ARVADA CENTER

  • Wednesday, March 14: The conflicted voices of America's World War I poets will spring to life in this performance written by Colorado Poet Laureate Joseph Hutchison and presented by members of the Arvada Center Black Box Repertory Company. This event is part of “Where Do We Go From Here?” a multifaceted statewide event marking the 100th anniversary of World War I. 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $15.
  • AVENUE THEATER

  • Weekends: Comedy Sportz
  • leonard-barrett-jrAURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

    • March 23-24: True West Award-winning performer Leonard E. Barrett Jr. is the featured artist this month in the Aurora Fox's ongoing cabaret series in its studio theatre. Barrett will perform Unforgettable: The Songs of Nat King Cole, a tribute to Cole through story and song.

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


    BDT STAGE

    • March 5-6: The Glenn Miller Orchestra

    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com


    BUG THEATRE
    • Thursday, March 15: The Emerging Filmmakers Project, showcasing Denver's indie film scene on the third Thursday of every month.
    • Monday, March 26: Freak Train: Open-mic variety show hosted by GerRee Hinshaw on the final Monday of every month

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


    BUNTPORT THEATER

    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com


    THE 39 STEPSDENVER ACTORS FUND

    • Sunday, March 4: Watch the biggest night of the year for movies on the big screen with Denver7 at Alamo Drafthouse Denver. Arrive around 5 p.m. in BarFly for your own red carpet, paparazzi, and more before for food, drinks and fun for everyone i the theatre. Your ticket includes a glass of champagne (or sparkling cider) and a donation to the Denver Actors Fund. Choose your preferred seating

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

    • Sunday, March 11: Screening of the film The 39 Steps with live entertainment from Miners Alley Playhouse's s upcoming comical stage adaptation of the Hitchcock classic. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7. Choose your preferred seating

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

    • Saturday, March 24: Waiting for Obama. Community conversation on the prevalence of gun violence in America, followed by a reading of John Moore's play about a Colorado family deeply divided by polarizing political beliefs. Panel at 6:30 p.m. with the reading to follow at 7:30. p.m. Admission is free but donations to the Denver Actors Fund will be accepted. 
    At Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine St., Fort Collins. Reservations are strongly encouraged by calling 970-498-8949 or emailing basbleu@basbleu.org

    DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
  • Tuesday, March 20: The Magic of Adam Trent
      At the Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

  • LOCAL THEATER COMPANY
  • Sunday, March 18: LocalREADS encourages a community-wide reading of a book with complementary themes to Local Theater Company's current production. First up: Helen Thorpe’s The Newcomers as a companion to Local's world premiere production of Wisdom From Everything. Read the book, see the play at 4 p.m. and stay for the conversation after the show.

    At the Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or tickets.thedairy.org

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


    STORIES ON STAGE
    • Sunday, March 18: Wild Women. Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month: Rhonda Lee Brown, Allison Watrous and Betty Hart perform stories by and about women - unconstrained, fun-loving and living large. 1:30 and 6:30 p.m.
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive,  303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org
    (Program repeats on Saturday, March 24 at the Dairy Center in Boulder)
  • Saturday Night Alive: Four intriguing auction items, from catwalks to crime labs

    by John Moore | Feb 27, 2018
    Singapore. Courtesy Singapore Tourism Board
    Bonus: Seductive Singapore: Enjoy a three-night weekend at The Westin Singapore situated on Marina Bay. Take a trip on the world’s tallest observation wheel, or a signature bumboat ride along the city’s landmarks, quays, bridges and vistas. Value: $2,465. Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism Board. BID

    Spotlighting four intriguing and surprising items up for bidding, which is now open for benefit of DCPA Education 

    By Katie Imhoff
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The 38th annual Saturday Night Alive is coming up this week, and hundreds of auction items are already waiting in the wings for you to bid on. Here we spotlight four unusual, intriguing and downright surprising items up for bid. See something you can’t wait to own? Bids already are being placed online at aesbid.org, so join in on the action. All proceeds from Saturday Night Alive benefit DCPA Education and its programs, which reach more than 105,000 students of all ages each year.

    Tour The Denver Crime Lab
    Value: $1,000
    NUMBER 1Denver Crime LabChannel your inner CSI for this private insider’s tour of the Denver Crime Laboratory. Opened in 2012, the state-of-the-art facility helps the City of Denver to investigate, identify or exonerate suspects and successfully prosecute criminal cases. This tour for up to 10 people lasts one to two hours and includes the lab’s eight units: Forensic Imaging, Forensic Biology and DNA, Firearms, Latent Prints, Forensic Chemistry, Trace Evidence, Crime Scene and Quality Assurance. Your guide will be the Laboratory Director, Deputy Director or member of the Quality Assurance Unit. BID

    Be a Pinball Wizard at The Who's Tommy

    Value: $5,000
    NUMBER 2Tommy_homepage_pinboard_220x285Two lucky patrons will join DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Producer Melissa Cashion and Assistant Production Manager Matthew Campbell for a very special night at the first preview performance for The Who’s Tommy on April 20. Start with an in-depth conversation over dinner at Corinne restaurant (using your $250 gift certificate) about the evolution of the show from idea to execution followed by seeing the show from a vantage point audience members never see – the catwalks above the stage. Take a photo in the control booth afterward with DCPA Production Stage Manager Kurt Van Raden, who will explain the behind-the-scenes communication it takes to pull off a large, full-scale musical. After the show, Cashion and Campbell will escort you to the Galleria Theatre bar for a cocktail and Q&A. This once-in-a-lifetime experience will be fully curated to give you the most out of your “Golden Ticket Backstage Pass.” BID
     
    Your Face on the Wall of The Palm
    Value: $15,650
    NUMBER 3Lester Ward at The PalmJoin the ranks of local politicians, bastions of business and regulars known as Palm Family Members with your own custom caricature posted on the wall of The Palm Denver. The Palm’s legendary tradition of caricatures on restaurant walls originated in 1920s New York, when some of its first patrons – talented cartoonists from the nearby King Features Syndicate – virtually paid for their supper in original art on the walls of The Palm’s first restaurant, which was then a speakeasy. These artists would draw lively scenes of the restaurant’s clientele – neighbors and family, as well as celebrity patrons – that came to be known as the hieroglyphics of New York City life. Over the next 92 years, they have become prized faces on the walls of The Palm. Your package also includes a four-course dinner for four, including wine pairings, prepared by Executive Chef Robert Brothers. BID
     
    An Evening with Lannie Garrett
    Value: $5,000
    NUMBER 4Lannie Garrett Host an intimate cocktail party in your home with legendary Denver singer and entertainer Lannie Garrett. Lannie and her piano player will entertain your guests with a cabaret-style show for up to 35 guests. Lannie is one of Colorado’s most versatile and magnetic performers, easily moving between big-band swing and the blues to her hilarious county spoof, The Patsy DeCline Show. Lannie has that rare combination of popular and critical appeal and in 2016 was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Garrett's charisma and humor will help you and your guests have an unforgettable night. BID

    Saturday Night Alive: At a glance
    Annual fundraising gala for DCPA Education
    Saturday, March 3
    Headlining event: Guests will attend performance of Hamilton
    More information
  • Look back: 2018 Colorado New Play Summit got real

    by John Moore | Feb 26, 2018
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Our gallery of photos above includes nearly 300 images from the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos Photos by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore and Adams Viscom.

    Readings explored contemporary social issues through the lens of real stories taken from the recent and distant past

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Perhaps more so than ever, the Denver Center’s 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit explored complex contemporary social issues through the lens of real stories taken from both the recent and distant past.

    Summit 2018 The Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, a forgotten pre-Civil War slave trial and a horrible, headline-grabbing drunk-driving tragedy were among the real-life inspirations for the Summit’s four featured readings, all of which become instant candidates for consideration to be fully staged in the future.  

    The Colorado New Play Summit has grown into one of the nation’s premier showcases of new plays. Since 2006, the Summit has workshopped 54 new plays, leading to 31 fully produced world premieres as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s mainstage season. At this year’s Summit, more than 800 attendees also were treated to a record three fully staged world premieres: American Mariachi, The Great Leap and Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.

    But history of another kind was made on Saturday when the topic of gender identity was addressed on a Denver Center stage for the first time in its nearly 40-year history, and it came from a most unexpected source. A teenage boy uttered the words, “Dad, I’m non-binary” in high-schooler Noah Jackson’s play Wine Colored Lip Gloss during public readings of DCPA Education’s three statewide student playwriting competition winners.

    “It means so much to me that the Denver Center allowed my story to be heard,” said Jackson, who attends Girls Athletic Leadership School. “I had someone come up to me in tears saying that my play touched her so much. I am just over the moon that people are actually feeling the words that I have worked so hard on.”  

    2018 Summit: A look at all four featured plays

    The 2018 Summit came as DCPA Theatre Company leadership continues to transition from Summit founder Kent Thompson to incoming Artistic Director Chris Coleman, who told the Friday night crowd the Summit was “a great calling card” for the job he is about to embrace. “A festival like this is impossible at a lot of theatres around the country,” he said. “But new-play development is creativity at its most pure. There is enormous joy and heartache in watching something come out of nothing. And I want to be a part of the future of this organization's voice around the country.”

    (Story continues below the video)

    Video: Our interviews with all four featured playwrights

    Press play to watch all four of our short spotlight videos.


    The four featured Summit readings at a glance
    :

    • A Summit Playwrights Social Barbara Seyda’s Celia, A Slave recalls a 19-year-old African-American slave in Missouri who was convicted of killing her master in 1855 and hanged.
    • Kemp Powers’ Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue is the story of mixed-race twins who are genetically the same but to the entire outside world, one is perceived as black, and one is perceived as white.
    • David Jacobi’s The Couches takes its cue from the real-life story of a 16-year-old Texas boy who drove drunk and killed four people. His lawyer successfully argued the boy had “affluenza" — meaning he was too rich to know right from wrong.
    • Sigrid Gilmer's Mama Metallica is the story of a woman who copes with her mother's dementia through her muse: The heavy-metal band Metallica. "What makes you laugh will make you cry," she said.

    “This is a precious and fragile time in the life of these plays and that's because they are reflecting life which is also so fragile, as we have learned in these past couple of weeks,” said Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett,” referring to the Florida school shooting. “And that's why it’s so important to support new work and nurture it and fund it and produce it and give it to the world. That's our responsibility: To keep life moving forward. And I like to think of the Summit as the beginning of that.”

    (Pictured at right: From 'Celia, A Slave', from left: Jada Dixon, Owen Zitek, Director Nataki Garrett, Celeste M. Cooper.)

    Celia A Slave. Summit. Photo by John MooreThe Colorado New Play Summit allows for two weeks of development of each new play, culminating in a first round of public readings. Playwrights then take what they learn from their first readings back into rehearsal before more rehearsal and a second round of readings for industry professionals.

    This year’s Summit drew industry leaders from 33 local and national theatre organizations, with more than 150 directors, actors, artistic leaders, educators and others from 12 states attending or taking part. Visitors represented companies ranging from the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C. to the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York. Closer to home, guests included the Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Curious Theatre, The Catamounts, Athena Festival Project and others.

    There was another added twist at this year’s festival in that both American Mariachi and The Great Leap are the Theatre Company’s first co-productions in nearly 20 years — upon closing, both will set off for stagings at other theatres with their Denver creative teams intact.

    Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap is a Denver Center commission, meaning she was hired to write a play for the Theatre Company’s right of first refusal. She used her Asian-American father’s real-life goodwill basketball tour to China in the 1980s as the basis for exploring, among many other things, the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Her play was read at the 2017 Summit, premiered in January at the Denver Center and will re-open at the Seattle Repertory Theatre later in March.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “This play would not exist without the Denver Center,” Yee said. “Not just because it's a commission, but also because of the way that the Colorado New Play Summit launches you into national consciousness. This is an event that the whole new-play development world looks at every year for leadership and inspiration.”

    The Couches. Adams VisComJosé Cruz González’s American Mariachi was given a second full year to germinate before being fully staged. It was introduced at the 2016 Summit, then developed for two years before opening in January. The story of a pioneering young woman who forms an all-female mariachi band in a desperate attempt to use music to communicate with a mother falling into dementia struck a universal chord with Theatre Company audiences. It now moves to the Old Globe Theatre, which is Director James Vásquez’s artistic home, for a run in San Diego.  

    (Pictured: Tasha Lawrence and Cesar J. Rosado in 'The Couches.' Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    “The Denver Center has been so unbelievably supportive since the moment we got here,” Vásquez said. “It's been a dream. And I feel like the luckiest guy in the world that now I get to take the show home and share it with my family and friends in San Diego.”  

    Vásquez is particularly grateful the Summit coincided with the Denver run of American Mariachi, where it was seen by dozens of artistic leaders from around the country.

    “It's overwhelming and exciting to think of how many industry professionals saw our play here at the Summit,” said Vásquez. “We do this work so we can share it, and I want Jose's play to get out into the world. So if the other professionals want to take it, I say … ‘Go.’ ”

    One of those professionals is former longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor David Ivers, now the Artistic Director at the Arizona Theatre Company. He already has added American Mariachi to his season lineup for performance in March 2019.

    American Mariachi resonates in myriad ways with the kaleidoscope of our community,” Ivers said. “The writing, the gift of mariachi music, the celebration and empowerment of women, and the struggle of loss in the face of hope are powerful and meaningful messages to explore in the communities we have the honor of serving.”

    2018 Colorado New Play Summit Slam. Photo by John MooreThe Summit again included two late-night "Playwrights Slams," where writers sampled their developing works in a fun and supportive atmosphere. One focused on local playwrights and was curated this year by the Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

    (Pictured at right: Playwrights Slam reader Mfoniso Udofia. Others included José Cruz González, Ricardo A. Bracho, Denver native Max Posner and Luis Quintero. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The Summit also included a gathering of the Women's Voices Fund, the Denver Center’s $1.5 million endowment that supports new plays by women and female creative team members. Since 2006, the Denver Center has produced 33 plays by women, including 14 world premieres, commissioned 19 female playwrights and hired 28 female directors Supporters of the fund were treated to a private gathering with 2018 featured playwright Sigrid Gilmer (Mama Metallica.)   

    The Summit ended on the same day the Denver run of American Mariachi closed. But unlike most other shows, closing day in Denver was just the start for the San Diego-bound cast and crew.

    “We’re leaving Denver,” said actor Amanda Robles. “But it doesn't feel like the end.”

    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.


    Christa McAuliffe's Eyes Were Blue
    From left: Cast members Tihun Hann, Celeste M. Cooper and Owen Zitek. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Selected NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Summit Spotlight: Barbara Seyda's collision with voices of the dead
    Summit Spotlight: Kemp Powers on a matter that's black and white
    Summit Spotlight: David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague
    Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
    Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

  • 2018-19 Broadway season: 'Dear Evan Hansen,' Betty Buckley as Dolly and more

    by John Moore | Feb 26, 2018

    Play the video above to learn more about the Denver Center's 2018-19 Broadway season announcement.

     

    Highly anticipated 2017 Best Musical opens September 25; legendary Buckley to find empty lap in Denver as Dolly Levi


    Hello, Betty!

    We now know that the previously announced national tour launch of the 2017 Tony and Grammy Award-winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen will launch the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' 2018-19 Broadway season from Sept. 25 through Oct. 13 in the Buell Theatre, it was announced this morning.

    Joining Dear Evan Hansen will be the 2017 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival Hello, Dolly! starring Broadway legend Betty Buckley and the first national tours of Come From Away, A Bronx Tale, The Play That Goes Wrong, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Anastasia. Also as part of the season, DCPA Cabaret will produce Xanadu in the Garner Galleria Theatre.

    Reservations for the limited number of new subscriptions are available at 10 a.m. starting today (Monday, Feb. 26), at 10 a.m. at denvercenter.org. Renewing subscribers, followed by members of the wait list, will receive priority seating. Some restrictions apply. A public on-sale will be announced at a later date.

    The DCPA also announced several non-subscription shows, in order of their Denver arrivals: Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Love Never Dies, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Cirque Eloize – Hotel, Rock of Ages, Bat Out of Hell, Cats, Wicked and ­Fiddler on the Roof.

    Dear Evan Hansen Creative Team. Photo by Chad Kraus

    Dear Evan Hansen creative team members, from left: Benj Pasek, Steven Levenson, Alex Lacamoire, Justin Paul and Michael Greif. Photo by Chad Kraus. 


    2018-19 BROADWAY SUBSCRIPTION SEASON AT A GLANCE
    :

    • Dear Evan Hansen tour launch, Buell Theatre, Sept. 25-Oct. 13, 2018
    • Xanadu, Garner Galleria Theatre, Nov. 3, 2018-April 28, 2019
    • Come From Away, Buell Theatre, Nov. 13-25, 2018
    • A Bronx Tale, Buell Theatre, Jan. 8-20, 2019
    • The Play That Goes Wrong, Buell Theatre, March 5-17, 2019
    • Hello, Dolly! Buell Theatre, March 27-April 7, 2019
    • Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Buell Theatre, July9-28, 2019
    • Anastasia, Buell Theatre, Aug. 7-18, 2019

    ADDITIONAL NON-SUBSCRIPTION OFFERINGS:

    • Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, Garner Galleria Theatre, July 12-Aug. 5, 2018
    • The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Garner Galleria Theatre, Sept. 13-30, 2018
    • Love Never Dies, Buell Theatre, Oct. 23-28, 2018
    • Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Buell Theatre, Dec. 5-15, 2018
    • Cirque Eloize – Hotel, Buell Theatre, Dec. 19-23, 2018
    • Rock of Ages, Buell Theatre, Jan. 25-27, 2019
    • Bat Out of Hell, Buell Theatre, Feb. 6-17, 2019
    • Cats, Buell Theatre, April 24-28, 2019
    • Wicked, Buell Theatre, May 8-June 9, 2019
    • ­Fiddler on the Roof, Buell Theatre, June 11-16, 2019

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

    Read more: DCPA NewsCenter interview with Michael Greif


    ABOUT THE SHOWS:
    (In alphabetical order; descriptions provided by DCPA)

      [3475]_NicoleScimecaMaryBethPeilinANASTASIAonBroadwayPhotobyMatthewMurphy2017ANASTASIA

      • Aug 7-18, 2019
      • Buell Theatre

      Inspired by the beloved films, the romantic and adventure-filled new musical Anastasia is on a journey to Denver at last. From the Tony Award-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime, this dazzling show transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love and family. Anastasia features a book by celebrated playwright Terrence McNally, a lush new score by Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) with direction by Tony Award-winner Darko Tresnjak. (Photo by Matthew Murphy.)


      Andrew Polec as Strat & Christina Bennington as Raven in BAT OUT OF HELL THE MUSICAL (7). Photo Credit - SpecularBAT OUT OF HELL

      • Feb 6-17, 2019
      • Buell Theatre

      The romance of rock ‘n’ roll comes alive on stage in Jim Steinman’s “Jaw-Dropping Spectacle” (London Evening Standard) Bat Out of Hell The Musical. The streets are heating up as Strat, the forever young leader of rebellious gang The Lost, falls in love with Raven, the beautiful daughter of the tyrannical ruler of post-apocalyptic Obsidian in a love story that has “changed the way musicals are staged forever” (North West End). Winner of Best Musical at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, this “dazzling tale of star crossed lovers” (Toronto Sun) plays The Buell February 2019. Forget everything you know about musicals and get lost in this critically-acclaimed, smash-hit theatrical spectacle. (Photo by Specular.)


      A Bronx Tale. Photo by Joan Marcus. A BRONX TALE

      • Jan 8-20, 2019
      • Buell Theatre

      Broadway’s hit crowd-pleaser takes you to the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s — where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he’d love to be. Bursting with high-energy dance numbers and original doo-wop tunes from the songwriter of Beauty and the Beast — Alan Menken — A Bronx Tale is an unforgettable story of loyalty and family. Academy Award winner Robert De Niro and Tony® winner Jerry Zaks direct this streetwise musical based on Academy Award nominee Chazz Palminteri’s story that The New York Times hails as “A Critics’ Pick. The kind of tale that makes you laugh and cry.” “A combination of Jersey Boys and West Side Story” (amNewYork).


      Mamie Parris as Grizabella in CATS (Photo by Matthew Murphy)CATS

      • April 24-28, 2019
      • Buell Theatre

      Cats, the record-breaking musical spectacular by Andrew Lloyd Webber that has captivated audiences in more than 30 countries and 15 languages, is now on tour across North America. Audiences and critics alike are rediscovering this beloved musical with breathtaking music, including one of the most treasured songs in musical theater—“Memory”. Winner of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Cats tells the story of one magical night when an extraordinary tribe of cats gathers for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn. The original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Phantom, School of Rock, Sunset Boulevard), original scenic and costume design by John Napier (Les Misérables), all-new lighting design by Natasha Katz (Aladdin), all-new sound design by Mick Potter, new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton) based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne (Phantom) and direction by Trevor Nunn (Les Misérables) make this production a new Cats for a new generation. (Photo by Matthew Murphy.)


      6_RyanFoustinROALDDAHLSCHARLIEANDTHECHOCOLATEFACTORYPhotosbyJoanMarcus2017ROALD DAHL’S CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

      • July 9-28, 2019
      • Buell Theatre

      Roald Dahl’s amazing tale is now Denver’s golden ticket. It’s the perfect recipe for a delectable treat: songs from the original film, including “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man,” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” alongside a toe-tapping and ear-tickling new score from the songwriters of Hairspray. Willy Wonka is opening his marvelous and mysterious chocolate factory...to a lucky few. That includes Charlie Bucket, whose bland life is about to burst with color and confection beyond his wildest dreams. He and four other golden ticket winners will embark on a mesmerizing joyride through a world of pure imagination. Now’s your chance to experience the wonders of Wonka like never before – get ready for Oompa-Loompas, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator and more, more, more at this everlasting showstopper. (Photo by Joan Marcus.)


      Cirque-Eloize-Hotel-200x200CIRQUE ELOIZE - HOTEL

      • Dec 19-23, 2018
      • Buell Theatre

      For its 25th anniversary, Cirque Éloize once again presents a touching, poetic, one-of-a-kind creation. Hotel is the story of a place and the travelers who come passing through it. A stopover where lives intersect, collide and juxtapose for a brief time to generate tales and memories. Acrobatics, theatre, dance and live music will draw spectators into a colorful, timeless world. Avant-garde stage design, inspired by the elegance of the great hotels, will carry the narrative. All that remains is to enter through the lobby door and get swept away by the grandeur and poetry of Hotel.


      [2]_ThecastofCOMEFROMAWAYPhotobyMatthewMurphy2016COME FROM AWAY

      • Nov 13-25, 2018
      • Buell Theatre

      The true story of the small town that welcomed the world. Broadway’s Come From Away has won Best Musical all across North America. The New York Times Critics’ Pick takes you into the heart of the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships. Don’t miss this breathtaking new musical written by Tony nominees Irene Sankoff and David Hein and helmed by this year’s Tony-winning Best Director, Christopher Ashley. Newsweek cheers, “It takes you to a place you never want to leave.” On 9/11, the world stopped. On 9/12, their stories moved us all. (Photo by Matthew Murphy.)


      Dear-Evan-Hansen-200x200DEAR EVAN HANSEN
      North American tour launch of the Tony and Grammy-winning Best Musical

      • Sept. 25-Oct. 13, 2018
      • Buell Theatre

      Winner of Six 2017 Tony Awards Including Best Musical and the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Dear Evan Hansen is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it. “One of the most remarkable shows in musical theater history,” says The Washington Post. Rolling Stone calls Dear Evan Hansen  “a game-changer that hits you like a shot in the heart” and NBC News says the musical is “an inspiring anthem resonating on Broadway and beyond.” Dear Evan Hansen features a book by Tony Award winner Steven Levenson, a score by Grammy, Tony and Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman) and direction by four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal). Casting will be announced at a later date.


      Fiddler-on-the-Roof-200x200FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

      • Jun 11-16, 2019
      • Buell Theatre

      Audiences across North America are toasting a new production of Fiddler on the Roof. Rich with musical hits you know and love, including “Tradition,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and "To Life (L'Chaim),” Fiddler on the Roof is the heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and life, love and laughter. Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher and the team behind South Pacific, The King and I and 2017 Tony-winning Best Play Oslo, bring a fresh and authentic vision to this beloved theatrical masterpiece from Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. Featuring a talented cast, lavish orchestra and stunning movement and dance from Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins, Fiddler on the Roof will introduce a new generation to the uplifting celebration that raises its cup to joy.


      HelloDolly_Performance4_033117-398HELLO, DOLLY!

      • March 27-April 7, 2019
      • Buell Theatre

      Tony Award-winning Broadway legend Betty Buckley stars in Hello, Dolly! – the universally acclaimed smash that NPR calls “the best show of the year!” Winner of four Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival, director Jerry Zaks’ “gorgeous” new production (Vogue) is “making people crazy happy!” (The Washington Post). Breaking box office records week after week and receiving thunderous raves on Broadway, this Hello, Dolly! pays tribute to the original work of legendary director/choreographer Gower Champion – hailed both then and now as one of the greatest stagings in musical theater history. Rolling Stone calls it “a must-see event. A musical comedy dream. If you’re lucky enough to score a ticket, you’ll be seeing something historic."


      The-Improvised-Shakespeare-Company-200x200THE IMPROVISED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY

      • Sept 13-30, 2018
      • Garner Galleria Theatre

      Based on one audience suggestion (a title for a play that has yet to be written) The Improvised Shakespeare Co. creates a fully improvised Shakespearean masterpiece right before your very eyes! Each of the players has brushed up on his “thee’s” and “thou’s” to bring you an evening of off-the-cuff comedy using the language and themes of William Shakespeare. Nothing has been planned out, rehearsed, or written.  All of the dialogue is said for the first time, the characters are created as you watch, and if every you're wondering where the story is going ... so are they. The night could reveal a tragedy, comedy, or history. Each play is completely improvised, so each play is entirely new.


      LoveNeverDies-5LOVE NEVER DIES

      • Oct 23-28, 2018
      • Buell Theatre

      This story of boundless love, full of passion and drama, follows Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, one of the most successful musicals of all time, which has now been seen by more than 130 million people worldwide and is the winner of more than 50 international awards. The ultimate love story continues in Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spellbinding sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. Love Never Dies is a dazzling new production, which takes audiences on a thrilling rollercoaster ride of intrigue, obsession and romance. Be seduced by the beautiful, sometimes magical and poetic, sometimes joyful, and occasionally melancholic score. Don’t miss this magnificent continuation of one of the world’s greatest love stories as it makes its Denver premiere.


      The Play That Goes WrongTHE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

      • March 5-17, 2019
      • Buell Theatre

      What would happen if Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python had an illegitimate Broadway baby? You’d get The Play That Goes Wrong, Broadway and London’s award-winning smash comedy. Called “a gut-busting hit” (The New York Times) and “the funniest play Broadway has ever seen” (Huffington Post), this classic murder mystery is chockfull of mishaps and madcap mania delivering “a riotous explosion of comedy” (Daily Beast). Welcome to opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead and actors who trip over everything (including their lines), it’s “tons of fun for all ages” (Huffington Post) and “comic gold” (Variety).



      Rock-of-Ages-200x200ROCK OF AGES

      • Jan 25-27, 2019
      • Buell Theatre

      It’s 1987 on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip when a small-town girl meets a big city rocker.  As they fall in love in L.A.’s most famous rock club, Rock of Ages allows fans to rock out once again to their favorite ‘80s hits. Featuring the music of iconic bands such as Styx, Poison, Twisted Sister and Whitesnake among many others, this 10th Anniversary production features a dynamic new cast revisiting the larger than life characters and exhilarating story that turned Rock of Ages into a global phenomenon.


      IMG_3494_Kiss-CroppedSEX TIPS FOR STRAIGHT WOMEN FROM A GAY MAN

      • July 12-Aug. 5, 2018
      • Garner Galleria Theatre

      This romantic comedy takes the audience on a hilarious and wild ride where no topic is taboo and the insider ‘tips’ come straight from the source: a gay man.  The play is set at a local university auditorium where the English department holds its monthly meet the author’s event.  Robyn is the shy and studious moderator of the event and this month’s featured author is Dan Anderson of Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man. With the help of a hunky staged assistant named Stefan, Dan aims to turn this meet the author’s event upside down with a highly theatrical, audience interactive sex tip seminar.  Will Stefan’s muscles be used for more than moving more than heavy scenery?  Will the power of Dan’s tips prove too titillating for even Robyn to resist? As with everything at this event ... that is for Dan to know, and you to find out.



      8_IBWCIRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS

      • Dec. 5-15, 2018
      • Buell Theatre

      Start this holiday season with a timeless tale of joy and good will, fill it with classic Irving Berlin songs, top it off with glorious dancing and lots of snow and head on over to The Buell Theatre to see Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. It tells the story of a song-and-dance team putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and falling for a stunning sister act in the process. Full of dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written. Give everyone the gift they’re dreaming of with this merry and bright holiday musical.


      GinnaClaireMasonMaryKateMorrisseyinWICKED.PhotobyJoanMarcusWICKED

      • Sept. 25-Oct. 13
      • Buell Theatre

      Wicked, the Broadway sensation, looks at what happened in the Land of Oz…but from a different angle.  Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin — smart, fiery, misunderstood and possessing an extraordinary talent. When she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships…until the world decides to call one “good,” and the other one “wicked.” From the first electrifying note to the final breathtaking moment, Wicked — the untold true story of the Witches of Oz—transfixes audiences with its wildly inventive story that USA Today cheers is “a complete triumph. An original musical that will make you laugh, cry and think.” (Photo by Joan Marcus.)



      xanadu-200x200XANADU

      • Nov. 3, 2018-April 28, 2019
      • Garner Galleria Theatre

      Xanadu follows the journey of a magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from the heavens of Mount Olympus to Venice Beach, California in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest artistic creation of all time – the first roller disco. (Hey, it's 1980.) But, when Kira falls into forbidden love with the mortal Sonny, her jealous sisters take advantage of the situation, and chaos abounds. This Tony Award-nominated, hilarious, roller skating, musical adventure about following your dreams despite the limitations others set for you, rolls along to the original hit score composed by pop-rock legends, Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. Based on the Universal Pictures cult classic movie of the same title, which starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly,  Xanadu is hilarity on wheels for anyone who has ever wanted to feel inspired. Produced by DCPA Cabaret, local Xanadu auditions will be posted at a later date at denvercenter.org/about-us/careers.


      ABOUT THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

      The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation, presenting Broadway tours and producing theatre, cabaret, musicals, and innovative, multimedia plays. Last season the DCPA engaged with more than 1.1 million visitors, generating a $115 million economic impact in ticket sales alone.

      Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center.

      Save the date for the 2018/19 Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company & Off-Center announcement in early April.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • Summit Spotlight: Barbara Seyda's collision with voices of the dead

      by John Moore | Feb 23, 2018

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


      In this daily four-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 13 years, 29 plays introduced at the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. Today: Barbara Seyda, author of Celia, A Slave.

      By listening to the voices of history, playwright brings the voice of hanged slave to Colorado New Play Summit stage.

      By John Moore
      Senior Arts Journalist

      Barbara Seyda attended a backyard barbecue in Arizona eight years ago that not only changed the course of her life, it raised the voices of the dead.

      Seyda met a historian and scholar at the University of Arizona named John Wess Grant. “And instead of making cocktail party chatter, he began telling me stories of freed and enslaved women of color from the 19th century — for three hours,” she said. “I went home that night and had a dream, which I think was a subconscious affirmation of the play.”

      A Barbara Seyda Celia 800 Adams Viscom The play is Celia, A Slave, which recalls a 19-year-old African-American slave who was convicted of killing her master in 1855 and hanged. It is one of four featured plays at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit that begins today. It was the first play written by Seyda, who was an Arizona-based writer, editor, photographer and designer until the voices of history spoke to her.

      “I think about that moment a lot because I never studied slave litigation, and I wouldn't have discovered this trial on my own,” she said. “So that was definitely an alchemic moment.” (Rehearsal photo above by Adams VisCom.)

      Seyda does not know why she had that life-changing dream that night. But she accepted the muse freely.

      “I think stories arrive on their own, like love and forgiveness,” she said, “and then we have to be brave and surrender to them. I also think writing is an irrational act. I think a lot of writing comes from the subconscious. It comes from ancestral spirits. It comes from our bodies and the silences that we hold within our families or within our communities and cultures.”

      Seyda pays attention to her dreams. “And that was a significant dream,” she said.

      2018 Summit: Quick look at all four featured plays

      Here's more of our conversation with Seyda:

      Barbara Seyda Quote. Photo by John Moore
      Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


      John Moore: What happens in your play?

      Barbara Seyda: My play is based Celia’s trial. It's told from the perspective of 24 characters, so it's kaleidoscopic in structure and fragmented. It deals with systemic racism, slave litigation, rape and the execution of a juvenile.

      John Moore: Tell us about your journey as a playwright.

      Barbara Seyda: I don't have an MFA from Yale in playwriting. I've never studied writing or theater. Celia, A Slave is my debut play. But I've been working backstage for 38 years, so that's been my drama school. I learned about theater working backstage, on the loading docks, in the pipe tunnels, the badly lit stairwells and the dressing rooms. After my dream, I began writing Celia as a screenplay. During that process, I saw Katori Hall's play The Mountaintop, directed by Lou Bellamy (DCPA Theatre Company's Fences) at the Arizona Theatre Company, and it was astounding and inspiring. I went straight home and reframed the play for stage because I was just so invigorated by what Katori Hall did. She took a historical moment — the eve of Martin Luther King's assassination — and created this amazing, expansive, panoramic platform to explore: Two people are meeting at a hotel room: King and Camae, the maid, in a motel room. That’s the entire play. The other play I've always loved is Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith in 1991. She wrote in response to an incident in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where a Hasidic rabbi's motorcade went up on a sidewalk and hit a Haitian boy who died, and riots ensued. And Anna Deavere Smith interviewed all these folks and there are 31 voices in that play. It's a brilliant intersection of journalism and performance and public ritual. And I really studied that piece structurally when I was writing Celia, A Slave.

      John Moore: But Anna Deavere Smith had the benefit of being able to go back and interview the actual participants. You're exploring something happened in 1855. So how did you approach your research when there's nobody to interview?

      Barbara Seyda: I did a lot of archival research. I looked at the actual trial transcripts and court records. I looked at genealogical records and diaries and letters and legal papers. But I was also hearing voices at night. So I kept a notebook by the bed and I recorded the voices. I didn't know who was speaking or in what context. I just listened. I also scheduled interviews with midwives and hog farmers and death-penalty attorneys and the descendants of slaves and the descendants of slave owners, and basically anyone I could find who grew up in Missouri. And along with all of that, I started doing random street interviews with people I didn't know and then braided all of that material into the text.

      John Moore: What was driving you to wrote this story? Was it anger when you heard about what happened to Celia? A need to put this into the historical record?

      Barbara Seyda: It wasn't anger, but anger can be a catalyst and a motivating force. As a journalist, I was always interested in foregrounding the voices of those silenced by the mainstream. So this felt very much a continuation of what I've always done, except that I was doing it for stage instead of for the press.

      John Moore: So what are we actually seeing in your play? Is it a courtroom trial?

      A Barbara Seyda Celia Jacob Gibson. Adams Viscom Barbara Seyda: It's not a courtroom drama. It's a collision of voices of the dead. At one point in my writing I thought, ‘If I could somehow just gather all these characters in a room and interview them, this would make my job a lot easier.’ So I envisioned myself as a journalist interviewing the dead. The play kind of takes you through that process and that journey.

      John Moore: So why is now perhaps the right time for us to be looking back at what happened in 1855 to better understand better what's going on in America in 2018?

      Barbara Seyda: When I initially started working on the play, I asked myself, ‘Who is going to be interested in this obscure female slave trial from 1855 in pre-Civil War Missouri?’ I really didn't know if it would resonate with anyone. But now I think that the racists' consciousness that existed in 1855, and the rape culture that existed then is what created the foundation for American capitalism that continues today. We see it manifesting all the time. We see it manifesting in the White House.

      (Pictured at right: Cast member Jacob Gibson. Photo by John Moore.)

      John Moore: You've already been through the first weekend of the Summit, so can you talk bit about what you learned in the first week and the first public reading?

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      Barbara Seyda: The first week was amazing and intense and horrifying because I came with an original script and I didn't really know what was going to happen with that. And then (DCPA Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director) Nataki Garrett — my brilliant, genius, iconoclast director — she jackhammered the script, and we blew it up into 20,000 moving pieces. And just last weekend, I wrote six new scenes. So we had the original script, we had these fragments and then we had the new material. So the artistic team started to panic a bit. That’s when I realized that the writer's like a quarterback. You're calling the plays and everyone's looking to you. And the writer doesn't always know the answer. And so I said, ‘Have faith in me and have faith in the play and in this process.’ So we kind of moved through a slot canyon at night and through a 30-mile boulder field, and now we're coming out on the other end of it. And basically, we’ve given birth to a whole new script.

      John Moore: And just to clarify the history of this work: You won the national Yale Drama Prize for this play in 2015. So how is it still considered a new play?

      Celia Erin Willis. Photo by John MooreBarbara Seyda: We had a reading at Lincoln Center in New York, directed by Nigel Smith. And then the Rogue Theater in Tucson opened their season with it in September. But yes, the play continues to go through a transformation — and it's gone through the most radical transformation here in Denver.

      (Pictured at right: Cast member Erin Willis. Photo by John Moore.)

      John Moore: Is that transformation essentially taking a script that was primarily direct address and making it more of a tapestry?

      Barbara Seyda: I think it's becoming more of a tapestry play but I don't know because I don't have a cohesive vision of the new whole yet. I mean, there are sections that feel like stained glass to me. There are sections that feel like broken nails. There are pieces that feel highly orchestrated, tight, and precise. There are other sections that still feel kind of organic. And maybe there are still some potholes.

      John Moore: I know you are right in the middle of it, but how do you feel now that the Colorado New Play Summit exists and that this two-week development process is available to you?

      Barbara Seyda: I am so grateful for this Summit. I mean, it's pretty rigorous and challenging and intense. But because of all that intensity and rigor, something amazing, I think, is going to emerge.

      John Moore: Tell us about this particular collection of actors you’ve been given to work with here in Denver.

      Cajardo LindseyBarbara Seyda: I will just say I would crawl miles on my knees to see these actors perform. They are astounding. I'm humbled by their talent, by their ability, by the gifts that they bring to the table and to the stage. For example, Jingo is the hog farmer who starts the play. And he now has a significantly expanded role in the story that didn't exist before I arrived — and that’s because of the actor who’s playing him, Cajardo Lindsey (pictured right). There's something about him, about his presence, just being able to conjure and express this character. It just seemed to require and demand that I write more for him.

      John Moore: And what about your dramaturg?

      Barbara Seyda: Sydne Mahone is legendary. She has been my friend for 38 years, and a huge inspiration through my whole life. We met at Rutgers and after she graduated, she became the Literary Director and dramaturg at Crossroads Theatre Company in New Jersey, which was one of the pioneering African-American theatre companies in the U.S. She also created the annual Genesis playwriting festival. Folks like George C. Wolfe and Anna Deavere Smith and Suzan-Lori Parks and Robbie McCauley were all unknown until she brought them to Crossroads and produced their work. Then they went to New York and became mega superstars. She also was the editor of Moon Marked and Touched by Sun, which was the first anthology of African-American women playwrights. And so to have Sydne next to me on one side and Nataki on the other? Wow, what a team.

      John Moore: And finally: What do you think Celia would say if she knew this play existed?

      Barbara Seyda: God, what would Celia say? Well, she's finally had the opportunity to tell her own story.

      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.

      Celia Summit. Photo by John Moore
      From left: Cast members Tihun Hann, Celeste M. Cooper and Owen Zitek. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)


      Celia, A Slave: Cast list
      A Nataki Garrett Barbara Seyda 400 2 Adams VisComWritten by Barbara Seyda
      Directed by Nataki Garrett (pictured right)
      Dramaturgy by Sydne Mahone
      Stage Manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
      Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Becerra

      • Jingo: Cajardo Lindsey
      • Ulysses a.k.a. Uncle Pee Wee: donnie l. betts
      • George: Jacob Gibson
      • Justice Abiel Leonard / John Jameson: Gareth Saxe
      • Polly Newsom / Virginia Waynescot: Emily Van Fleet
      • David Newsom / Dr. Hockley Yong / Benjamin Sheets / Felix Bartey: Jake Horowitz
      • Viola / Solace: Nija Okoro
      • William Powell / Judge William Augustus Hall / Higgler: Steven Cole Hughes
      • Mildred Louisa Rollins: Billie McBride
      • Bethena / Euphrates: Jada Dixon
      • Celia: Celeste M. Cooper
      • Vine: Tihun Hann
      • Matt: Owen Zitek
      • Coffee Waynescot: Tristan Champion Regini
      • Aunt Winnie / Stage Directions: Erin Willis

      2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information
      Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25
      303-893-4100 or INFO

      Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

      Summit Spotlight: Kemp Powers on a matter that's black and white
      Summit Spotlight: David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague
      Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
      Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
      2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
      Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

    • Summit Spotlight: Kemp Powers on a matter that's black and white

      by John Moore | Feb 22, 2018

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


      In this daily four-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 13 years, 29 plays introduced at the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. Today: Kemp Powers, author of Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue.

      New play explores when the bond between bi-racial twins, like the Space Shuttle Challenger, goes up in smoke

      By John Moore
      Senior Arts Journalist

      Playwright Kemp Powers looks back on the days leading up to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster almost with a sense of nostalgia. He was like a lot of American kids growing up in 1986 with their heads in the stars.

      “It was a very different time then,” Powers said. “What people don't realize now is just how amazing it was. The space program was moving, no pun intended, at the pace of a rocket. As kids, we felt like it was only a matter of years before every man, woman and child would be taking a vacation in space the way we fly to Hawaii right now.”

      Christa McAuliffe. Photo by John MooreAll of that changed, of course, on Jan. 28, 1986, the day the Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members — with almost every schoolkid in America watching on live television. One of the dead was Christa McAuliffe, a social-studies teacher from New Hampshire and the first civilian to go up into space. She was the winner of a national contest for teachers, which is why so many classrooms were tuned in that day to witness history — just not that kind of history.

      “That moment marked a turning point for the space program,” said Powers. “Christa McAuliffe symbolized a lot of people's dreams, not just for the space program, but their own hopes for where they were going to go in this brave new world we were entering into as a nation. NASA really pulled back after that, and people turned their attention to other things.”

      (Pictured above, from left: Allen E. Read and Tobie Windham as twins Sevvy and Bear Gentry in 'Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue.' Photo by John Moore.)

      That’s the backdrop for Powers’ intriguing new (and tantalizingly titled) play, Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue, one of four featured works at this weekend’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Tantalizing, in part, because her eyes were brown.)

      The play is pulled from the real headlines, inspired by two real twins in an interracial family — their mother is white and their father is black. But in a genetic twist, one baby came out white and the other came out black.

      “The play explores the idea of nature versus nurture — but within one household,” Powers said. “We see the impact when two men are genetically the same but to the entire outside world, one is absolutely perceived as black, and one is absolutely perceived as white."

      Kemp Powers Portrait. Photo by John Moore

      The real story involved two teenage girls in Gloucester, and media coverage when they turned 18 went viral. “There was one news segment where these girls were being interviewed," Powers said, "and the newscaster, a well-meaning lady, said to them, ‘So you got all of the black parent's genes —  and you got all of the white parent's genes?’ And they nodded. And then she turns to the white-looking bi-racial girl and says, ‘Well, aren't you the lucky one?’

      And I just sat there and thought, ‘There you go.’ That's what I want to explore.”

      In Powers’ story, the brothers have fallen apart and are forced to confront each other in their adulthood. “And over the course of this confrontation, we learn why they had this tremendous falling out when they were children,” Powers said. And the pivotal moment in the lives of both men comes in the days leading up to the Challenger disaster.

      “When Christa tragically died with those other six astronauts, I wanted to parallel the symbolism of when everything went wrong in the space program to the relationship between these two brothers,” Powers said. “Because one of the brothers thinks he's going to become an astronaut. And he quite literally saw his dreams go up in smoke.”

      2018 Summit: Quick look at all four featured plays

      Here's more of our conversation with Powers:

      John Moore: What can you tell us about the title of the play?

      Kemp Powers: I can tell you that this play ultimately deals a lot with bullying. And another big part of the story is that in 1986, one of the books on the New York Times bestseller list was called The Worst of Truly Tasteless Jokes. And until people see the play, I think that’s all I should say about it.

      John Moore: Fair enough. So what does it say about the America we live in that these two brothers, who are identical in every other way, ended up in such different futures?

      Kemp Powers: When the play begins the brothers haven't spoken to each other in years and they are brought together in a random moment of fate. I wanted to explore the realities of family in a way that is very familiar to me, but I don’t often see. In some families, as you get older, there’s some unspoken grudge that goes on and on until eventually you really have nothing to do with each other. Here’s what fascinates me: What happens when that grudge has a racial component, and one brother feels like the other one let him down?

      Christa McAuliffe. Photo by Adams ViscomJohn Moore: And what’s your stake in all of this?

      Kemp Powers: This is probably the most personal thing I've ever written because it's largely set in and around the Brooklyn that I grew up in.

      John Moore: Tell us about that Brooklyn.

      Kemp Powers: I've always been a big fan of theater. Growing up in New York City, theater was kind of always in the background for me. I think my first Broadway show that my mother took me to was La Cage Aux Folles, which I believe was in 1983. I was 10 or 11 years old. I didn't even know what Broadway meant then. That was a pretty powerful, impactful moment in my life. The first non-musical I saw was a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest that we went to at the Public Theatre when I was in sixth grade. If you grow up in New York, theater is just part of the culture. But I never thought it was something I'd actually be able to do.

      (Pictured above, from left: Natalie Camuna and Tobie Windham. Photo by Adams VisCom.)

      John Moore: Tell us about your transition from your previous profession to playwriting.

      Kemp Powers: I was a journalist for more 15 years. When I got into college, I displayed some skill as a writer, and I immediately turned that into journalism because I'm a pretty voracious reporter and researcher. My research is often evident in what I'm writing, and I'm actually trying to make it less evident.

      John Moore: And what is your history with the DCPA Theatre Company?

      Kemp Powers: My relationship with the Denver Center started when they produced my play One Night in Miami… in 2015. And then when (former Artistic Director) Kent Thompson commissioned me to write a new play, my first question was, "What do I need to write?" And he said, ‘Whatever you want.’ So I took that as a unique opportunity to write about a subject that under normal circumstances would be more challenging to pitch to a theatre company. I wanted to stretch myself as a storyteller with this play.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      John Moore: One Night in Miami … was your first play, which still boggles me. It imagines what happened the night Cassius Clay met in a hotel room with Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X in 1964. That was obviously a landmark production here in Denver and around the world. What did it mean to you when the play was performed in South Africa?

      Christa McAuliffe. Photo by Adams VisComKemp Powers: Oh, I can't put it into words. I mean, it's running in Johannesburg right now. And it ran in London a year ago. And yes, that was my first play. I think all playwrights at some point are overcome with a certain amount of what I call ‘impostor syndrome.’ That’s when you ask yourself, ‘Am I good enough to be doing this?' 'Will anyone get the story I'm trying to tell?’ But the journey of that play was incredible because everywhere that it went, it seemed to connect with its audience. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the response to the play here in Denver because that was an audience that largely didn't look like the characters represented in the play.

      John Moore: They were white.

      Kemp Powers. A lot of them. But they were still able to connect so deeply with those characters. That was really special.

      (Pictured above, from left: Quinn Marchman and Tobie Windham. Photo by Adams VisCom. Story continues after the video below.)

      Inside Edition coverage of the Gloucester twins:




      John Moore: You have regularly attended the Colorado New Play Summit as an audience member, but this is your first as a featured playwright. How does the second week of development perhaps set this festival apart from others?

      Kemp Powers: The second week is tremendous. I mean, you're almost getting as much rehearsal with the actors here at this Summit as you get for a fully staged production. The first day or so you feel stressed and rushed. But by Day 3 or 4, you realize how luxurious this whole process is.

      John Moore: What do you learn from having that first public reading at the end of the opening week?

      Kemp Powers: It’s thrilling to have the play be heard by an audience because at a certain point there's only so much you can discover when you're sitting alone in a room writing. There's so much more you get to discover when you put it in front of a live audience. And then you get to go back and recalibrate. And if you want to take a completely different stab at it, you can. That's really exciting for me. I'm accustomed to festivals that are just one weekend, and you only have a few days of rehearsal. You don't get to explore the play as deeply as you do here.

      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.

      Christa McAuliffe. Photo by John Moore

      Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue: Cast list
      Written by Kemp Powers
      Directed by Nicholas C. Avila (pictured right)
      Dramaturgy by Jerry PatchChrista McAuliffe 400. Photo by Adams VisCom
      Stage Manager: Rick Mireles
      Stage Management Apprentice: Mariah Brown 

      • Bernard “Bear” Gentry: Tobie Windham
      • Steven “Sevvy” Gentry: Allen E. Read
      • Joseph “Joey” Martinelli: Bradley Fleischer
      • Mr. B: Brian Shea
      • Migdalia: Natalie Camunas
      • Rich: Quinn Marchman
      • Summer: Anastasia Davidson
      • Stage Directions: Joelle Montoya

      2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information
      Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25
      303-893-4100 or INFO

      Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

      Summit Spotlight, David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague
      Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
      Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
      2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
      Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

    • Behind the scenes video: The Great Wall of 'American Mariachi'

      by John Moore | Feb 21, 2018


      Jana 160In the video above, Jana Mitchell, Charge Scenic Artist for the DCPA Theatre Company (pictured right),  takes you backstage at the world-premiere play American Mariachi to explain how she and her team brought the massive 60-foot street mural imagined by Scenic Designer Regina Garcia to life.

      The enormous mural, designed as a kind of street-art collage, anchors playwright José Cruz González’s story of a young woman in the 1970s who becomes determined to form an all-female mariachi band in a desperate attempt to connect with a mother lost in her dementia.

      American Mariachi Wall. Photo by John MooreThe wall is made up of six separate pieces. Mitchell explains how her crew treated and distressed the mural so the wall doesn't have an inauthentic brand-new look.

      American Mariachi, a co-production with the Old Globe Theatre, moves directly to San Diego for performances there after it closes in Denver on Sunday, Feb. 25. The director is James Vásquez.

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

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


      American Mariachi
      : Ticket information

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

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

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

      American Mariachi Wall. Photo by John Moore

      Photos showing the making of the 60-foot wall and turning it into a mural. Photos by John Moore and Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

      American Mariachi Wall. Photo by John Moore

      amanda-robles-photo-by-adamsviscom

      Photo above of actor Amanda Robles by Adams VisCom.

    • Summit Spotlight: David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague

      by John Moore | Feb 21, 2018

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


      In this daily four-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 13 years, 29 plays introduced at the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. Today: David Jacobi, author of The Couches.

      Ethan Couch drove drunk and killed four people. Apparently he was too rich to know right from wrong.

      By John Moore
      Senior Arts Journalist

      The Couches, says Philadelphia playwright David Jacobi, is play ripped from the headlines. In 2013, a 16-year-old Texas boy named Ethan Couch drove drunk and killed four people, paralyzing one other. With seven teenage passengers in his father's truck, Couch sped into a disabled SUV on a rural road and plowed into a Samaritan's nearby parked car, which in turn hit an oncoming Volkswagen Beetle.

      During the trial, his lawyer argued that he was too rich to know right from wrong."

      They called it “affluenza," and it's actually a word in the dictionary: "A psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt and a sense of isolation." The term dates back to 1957 as a commentary on consumerism, but it is now most commonly associated with the 2013 Couch case.

      But rather than prison, Couch was given rehab and probation, which he promptly violated. "So my play begins after his mother has taken $40,000 and driven him to Mexico, where they're hiding in an all-inclusive resort," Jacobi said.

      The resulting play, he said, explores the playwright's feelings on late-stage capitalism, overconsumption and the idea that creating wealth is tied to a loss of morality.


      "It’s about the financial inequity of the world we live in," Jacobi said. "The inequity in our criminal system. The inequity between the haves and the have-nots.

      "It’s all so messed up."

      Here's more of our conversation with Jacobi, one of four featured playwrights at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit:

      John Moore: Did you feel any kind of empathy for the young man who killed all those people?

      David Jacobi: I don't pity the Couches. But at times I feel like I understand them and where they're coming from. I feel we are complicit in a system that dehumanizes people on both ends to an extent — the poor and the rich.

      John Moore: What did you think when you first heard about the Ethan Couch case, and how it brought the word “affluenza” into the lexicon?

      David Jacoobi. The Couches. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by Adams Viscom.David Jacobi: I was furious. As someone who didn't grow up rich and was raised by a single mother in a very modest house, it really bothered me to learn that people could be so rich that they don't have to suffer consequences. But then I had to look inward and wonder why I was so angry at them. I started to think that maybe Ethan never had a chance to be a normal human being. He was raised by very disturbed people who would just throw money at problems. I still blame him for what he did, but there's just something about him that's very tragic.

      (Pictured above and right: Tasha Lawrence and Nick LaMedica in 'The Couches.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

      John Moore: I can see some similarities to the school shooter in Florida. He did this atrociously heinous thing, but a writer naturally wants to know what drove him to do that.

      David Jacobi: Yes, and they just found out today the Florida shooter was a member of a white supremacist group, and those are the saddest, most terrified people in America. They have internalized their own fear and rage. They are just very broken people.

      John Moore: You have said your play devolves into this Lynchian nightmare — and that you think it's funny.

      David Jacobi: Exactly. I tend to just look at everything I write through a lens of absurdism. It's my way of getting through it. My plays tend to be funny, and I think that for the most part this is a comedy, too. It's an extremely, extremely dark comedy, but I'm going for it. I think that by the end, there's no real way to stage this except for in the most bizarre, David Lynchian, surrealist nightmare that I think the story really is.

      John Moore: And wackiness ensues, right?

      David Jacobi: Wackiness will always ensue.

      David Jacobi Quote. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore


      John Moore: Do you consider David Lynch to be one of your major influences?

      David Jacobi: I love Ionesco. I love a lot of Sam Shepard plays. I adore Annie Baker's work. Jeff Augustin. Those people really have a handle on story and dialogue. I was also raised on The Twilight Zone marathons and comic books, and I feel like a lot of my work kind of fits that pop/punk aesthetic. Someone once lovingly told me that my work is considered ‘junk punk,’ which means that there are a lot of relics from the past in my work. That people are playing with broken, discarded ideas and things.

      John Moore: You've written about race, hate crimes, unfair labor practices, drug addiction, often in the context of current events. What interests you most about exploring the latest headlines in your plays?

      David Jacobi: I tend to write about problems and conflicts that existed when I was a kid and still exist now. And I like to look at them through the lens of how I felt about something back then, and how I feel now. Have I grown as a person, and if not, what's holding me back?

      John Moore: You once said that professional wrestling, for better or worse, was your introduction to theater. I really hope that you were being sincere when you said that.

      Tasha Lawrence. Cesar J. Rosado. The Couches. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by Adams Vicsom.David Jacobi: Oh, yeah. Out of all my influences, professional wrestling is probably the biggest. That was my entry into theater as an audience member. What really got me is that there was always a story. For example, this really happened: There was this pro wrestler who got on the microphone and he was just berating America to a New York audience. And then I read in the news the next day that as he was trying to leave the arena, he was surrounded by a bunch of angry fans and they tried to flip over his car. And try as we might, I don't think we'll ever get that sort of reaction from live theater. I would love a future where the actor playing Iago has to get security to get out to his car because the audience is so mad at him. I would just love for that to happen.

      (Pictured above and below: Tasha Lawrence and Cesar J. Rosado in 'The Couches.' Photos by Adams VisCom and John Moore.)

      John Moore: Does the second week of development that you are afforded here at the Colorado New Play Summit perhaps set the DCPA apart in terms of new-play development?

      Tasha Lawrence. Cesar J. Rosado. The Couches. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore.David Jacobi: Yes. I really like getting a second bite of the apple. Having that second reading allows me to not try to get it all out of the way too soon. When I'm afforded more time like this, I can focus my energy on a couple of things. For example, right now my ending isn't there yet. We're experimenting with things. But we decided to let the original ending run for the first reading. I'm excited to see how the audience takes it, and then we can decide afterward just where that ending is at. The second reading just gives me so much more breathing room.

      John Moore: What are your friends out there in the world saying about the DCPA and the Colorado New Play Summit?

      David Jacobi: I've been namedropping the Denver Center ever since I got into the Colorado New Play Summit, and it always goes over well. People think I'm automatically fancier. The caliber of artists that the Denver Center brings in to help facilitate the playwright's needs is just absolutely fantastic. I'm meeting a lot of theatrical heroes in my dramaturgs and directors and other playwrights, so this whole experience is really next level for me.

      John Moore: What do you hope people get out of seeing your play?

      David Jacobi: I want the audience to leave with this tiny bit of hope, because that's how I always want them to leave my plays. But for this one, I really want them to think about the ways in which our economy tends to hollow out people. What are the ways in which we start treating people around us like inconveniences, like speed bumps?

      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.

      Caitlin Ryan O’Connell. The Couches. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by Adams Viscom.The Couches: Cast list
      Written by David Jacobi
      Directed by Caitlin Ryan O’Connell (pictured right)
      Dramaturgy by Doug Langworthy
      Stage Manager: Corin Ferris
      Stage Management Apprentice: Amy LeGore

      • Ethan Couch: Nick LaMedica
      • Tonya Couch: Tasha Lawrence
      • Daniel: Cesar J. Rosado
      • Stage Directions: Alaina Beth Reel

      2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information
      Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25
      303-893-4100 or INFO

      Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

      Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
      Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
      2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
      Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

    • Audition: Denver Center looking for two wee pinball wizards

      by John Moore | Feb 21, 2018

      Sam Buntock

      'The Who's Tommy' will mark the Denver Center return of Director Sam Buntrock (Frankenstein). Photo by John Moore.

      The tiniest version of The Who's traumatized protagonist will be played by two area youngsters. Here's how to apply.


      The DCPA Theatre Company is looking for two young pinball wizards to share the role of 4-year-old Tommy in its upcoming production of The Who’s Tommy, which runs April 20 through May 27 in the Stage Theatre.

      TOMMY_256x288This youngest version of the title role is seen several times throughout the show and includes one speaking line and minimal singing. Rehearsals begin on March 13. These two young actors are expected to attend all rehearsals after school and on weekends, in addition to all technical rehearsals, dress rehearsals and scheduled performances.
       
      The ideal boys for this role should be between the ages of 4 and 8 and be no taller than 4 feet, 8 inches.

      Parents of interested children should email a photo and resume including any previous acting experience to dcasting@dcpa.org with the subject line “Young Tommy Submission” by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27. 

      The Who’s Tommy is the stage adaptation of the famous 1969 concept album about a boy who is traumatized into catatonia after witnessing his father commit murder, and nonetheless goes on to become an international pinball superstar. The show contains some violence and sexual content.

      Related: Two local girls play LuLu in Waitress tour

      THE WHO'S TOMMY
      the-whos-tommy

      • Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
      • Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
      • Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
      • Directed by Sam Buntrock
      • April 20-May 27
      • Stage Theatre
      • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

      Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive. This production reunites director Sam Buntrock and scenic designer Jason Sherwood, the team behind last season’s audience favorite, Frankenstein.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: What makes you laugh will make you cry

      by John Moore | Feb 20, 2018

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


      In this daily, four-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we will introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 13 years, 29 plays introduced at the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. First up: Sigrid Gilmer of San Francisco, author of Mama Metallica.

      'Mama Metallica' is playwright's love letter to her mother, Metallica and the theater in one heavy-metal smash-up

      By John Moore
      Senior Arts Journalist

      John Moore: What happens in your play?

      Sigrid Gilmer: A woman named Sterling Milburn has a mother with dementia and she's coping with the grief of that through her muse: The heavy-metal band Metallica.

      John Moore: So why Metallica?

      Sigrid Gilmer: The play really is a love letter to my mom, to Metallica, and to the theater, which were the three biggest influences on me growing up.

      John Moore: Let's go through those. First, tell us a little bit about your mom.

      Sigrid Gilmer: My mom right now suffers from dementia, but she obviously didn't for most of my life. She was a single mom, so a lot of it was just the two of us hanging out. We used to travel, and she cooked a lot. It was a good childhood. But and like all mother-daughter relationships, it was complicated, and I have had to kind of negotiate and  reconcile that. The play is really me grieving somebody who's still alive.

      John Moore: Is it possible that you've managed to write a play about dementia that's actually funny?

      Sigrid Gilmer: Oh, it's super funny. I mean, what makes you laugh will make you cry, right? I think that whatever that edge of crying and laughing is, that openness, I feel like they're in the same emotional neighborhood.

      Sigrid Gilmer Quote 800


      John Moore: Why do you love heavy-metal music?

      Sigrid Gilmer: Because it's just naked aggression and rhythm and rage. And that's what I feel like on the inside.

      John Moore: How does Metallica help you deal with what's going on with your mom?

      Sigrid Gilmer: I discovered Metallica in my sophomore year of high school. I was listening to the college radio station after school one day when they played the song “Master of Puppets,” and it just blew my mind. It's a very long song about how addiction is the puppet master. It's amazing. It's orchestral. We had this giant stereo system and I remember leaning against these really huge, tall speakers. It was cranked up, and my mind was just blown.

      JMama Metallica Adams Viscom. ohn Moore: And how is your play a love letter to theatre?

      Sigrid Gilmer: I have been doing theater since I was 9, so I haven't really haven't done anything else with my life. My play is a salute to the mid-century autobiographical plays like The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, anything by Arthur Miller. Those are the first plays I ever encountered, and they are so well-made. I felt like Mama Metallica is my homage to that kind of play. (Pictured right: Courtney Sauls. Photo by Adams VisCom.)

      John Moore: So, when I hear your mother, Metallica, and mid-20th-century playwrights  … they sound like three different plays. How do they work all together in one?

      Sigrid Gilmer: Well, they're three different things, but they're all filtered through me, so it becomes one thing. They're thrown together and spliced together and smashed up against each other, and I think it makes an interesting kaleidoscope. Some of the dissidence is really quite beautiful and fun. It’s a cacophony, like a good heavy-metal jam. If you listen to any really good Metallica song like “Master of Puppets” or “Disposable Heroes,” they're long and complicated and they have different melodies and strains and rhythms running throughout them. And at some point, it all coalesces into this magnificent tapestry of sound.

      Sigrid Gilmer Mama Metallica. Photo by John Moore


      John Moore: So tell us about some of the famous characters you have written into your story.

      Sigrid Gilmer: Tennessee Williams is in it, and Eugene O'Neill, and Metallica.

      John Moore: They were all available?

      Sigrid Gilmer: They were all available — and they all wanted to be in it.

      John Moore: This is what you do in a lot of your plays. You worked Duran Duran into one of your plays, Axiom.

      Sigrid Gilmer. Mama Metallica. Photo by John MooreSigrid Gilmer: Oh, yeah! That play is about how a Duran Duran song sparks a student-worker riot in a factory. I find that pop culture is a really good way of anchoring emotion. Especially pop music, because it’s always in the background as you're living your life.

      John Moore: How did it ever occur to you to re-imagine Harriet Tubman as an action star in your play Harry and the Thief?

      Sigrid Gilmer: Oh, my God, it's so easy. I read this one anecdote about Harriet Tubman and it was that she kept a gun with her when she ferried people to the north. And when people would freak out, she would turn to them, pull the gun out and say, "You're going to be free or you're going to be dead." And I was like, "That is the best action-movie line ever." I thought, "Where is the Michael Bay production of this story?" It was kick-ass.

      John Moore: Is it true that your playwriting career started with you taking a class in college?

      Sigrid Gilmer: Oh yes, and coincidentally, the writer of (The DCPA Theatre company’s current world premiere) American Mariachi, José Cruz González, was that playwriting instructor. I think the value of taking a playwriting class is the ability to shape a world for yourself and to be able to tell whatever story you want. And to to actually know how to construct a story for the stage is powerful.

      John Moore: What would you think if someone tried to tell you that there are rules of playwriting that you should follow?

      Sigrid Gilmer: If somebody were to tell me there's one certain way to write a play, I would be thinking mean things — but I would be polite. There's no one way to tell a story. There are as many people in the world as there are ways to tell a story. Everyone has their certain way of viewing the world and negotiating and navigating that world. I mean there are certain devices and narrative structures that are helpful to know, but I think those are negotiable.

      John Moore: When did you find your own voice and know this is what you wanted to do?

      a jose-cruz-gonzalez-webSigrid Gilmer: It was actually taking that first playwriting class with Jose (pictured right). I had always known that I wanted to be in theater. I did theater, acting and directing as an undergrad until I realized that, as a black woman, there weren't going to be as many choice roles for me. Nobody was going to hand me Othello or let me play Iago — which I think is probably the best character ever created. I was really thinking of leaving theater altogether before I took that playwriting class. And when I wrote my first play, I knew this is where I belong in the theater. I got to play all the roles. I got to be everybody and make everything happen. That's an amazing feeling.

      John Moore: What are your initial thoughts on your first Colorado New Play Summit?

      Sigrid Gilmer: For me, having that second week allows the work we're doing in the first week to be less precious. We can be risky. We can take more chances knowing that if something doesn't work, we have another week to tweak it and put it back up on its feet. Having a process that's less geared toward presentation frees me up as a playwright. I think it also frees up the actors and the directors to be adventurous and find the beauty that can come out of a mess or an accident or by being haphazard. It doesn’t have to be perfect, which means there's more freedom and more breathing room. And when we try something out in front of an audience, and if it doesn't work we can just sweep that under the rug. Nobody has to know.

      John Moore: What would it mean to you if, one day, Metallica was in the audience watching this?

      Sigrid Gilmer: Oh, my God. It would just be crazy amazing. In the fantasy production in my head, Metallica's playing onstage — but it is Metallica in 1987. Dear Metallica, if you're reading this, come and be in my play.

      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.

      Mama Metallica. Photo by Adams VisComMama Metallica: Cast list
      Written by Sigrid Gilmer
      Directed by Jaki Bradley
      Dramaturgy by Ricardo A. Bracho
      Stage Manager: Dana Reiland
      Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Langeberg

      • Sterling Milburn: Courtney Sauls
      • Louise Bell Milburn: Lee Sherman (pictured right, photo by Adams VisCom.)
      • James Hetfeld: Nick Ducassi
      • Lars Ulrich: Grayson DeJesus
      • Kirk Hammett: Linden Tailor
      • Cliff Burton: Adam Haas Hunter
      • Blue Orchid: Robert Lee Hardy
      • Pink Orchid: Luis Quintero
      • Stage Directions: Aspen Rader

      2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information Second weekend (Festival Weekend): Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25
      303-893-4100 or INFO

      Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

      Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
      2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
      Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

    • Tony Garcia: ‘American Mariachi' is an American beauty

      by John Moore | Feb 15, 2018
      American Mariachi jennifer-parades-doreen-montalvo-photo-by-adamsviscom_26117323378_o
      In the essay below, Su Teatro Executive Artistic Director Tony Garcia offers his reactions to seeing the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere production of 'American Mariachi.' Pictured are Jennifer Parades and Doreen Montalvo. Photo by Adams VisCom.


      From his new play's very title, José Cruz González challenges us to examine what we consider to be 'American'

      By Tony Garcia
      For the DCPA NewsCenter

      Chicano and Latino art often struggles to cross over into the mainstream, in large part because the dominant culture can’t understand — and in some cases, even fears — the “otherness” of the language, the culture and the traditions at play. If a story is too authentic, then it runs the risk of being exotic, different or perhaps even threatening. But if a play makes too much accommodation to include audiences outside the culture, it runs the risk of being criticized by those in our own community who view Chicano and Latino artistic endeavors with ultra-sensitivity, and often hold them to a higher standard.

      Luis Valdez, the father of Chicano theatre, explained the paradox of the contemporary Chicano experience in Los Vendidos (The Sellouts) by having a character say: “Wait a minute, you want something Mexican … but American?” 

      a jose-cruz-gonzalez-webJosé Cruz González’s American Mariachi, a play now having its world premiere at the Denver Center, is straightforward in portraying Mexicans as normal, and mariachi as an honored tradition. And the play is familiar enough to be accessible to a crossover audience. (Pictured at right: José Cruz González.)

      American Mariachi is profound in its title, which challenges us to look at our definitions of both words. And it challenges us to examine what we consider to be American. Is it American to be mariachi? Or can mariachi be American? The answer to both questions is yes. González’s title tells us that mariachi music, often portrayed as a novelty form with its bawdy costumes, its loud instruments clashing with disinterested voices and crashing dishes in overcrowded restaurants, is part of what we call “American.” And it’s not up for debate. González proceeds to treat that conversation as a settled matter.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      Although the play is set in the U.S., the location is never a factor in the story. The characters speak Spanish and English. They work, love their families and have dreams. They do not talk about their immigrant experience or border crossings. They do not talk about gang life, prison sentences or drug use. The characters are “normal.” And that is one of the greatest beauties of American Mariachi: The profound yet simple and true assumption that we are normal — in contrast to the contemporary political landscape, where we are portrayed as anything but normal. There is tremendous power in that.

      The playwright also makes no accommodation for a monocultural audience. He interweaves Spanish and English, often without translation. Some of the biggest punchlines in the play are told only in Spanish. We are also not given a European-American character to serve as our guide through this very Mexican journey. There are no translators or sympathetic allies waiting to sweep in and save us. The play is offered from a very entre nosotros perspective. This is as if to say: “This is our family, complete with joy and pain. You are invited in to view and share. We understand that we are not perfect — can you?”

      AM 800 bobby-plascencia-and-the-company-of-american-mariachi-photo-by-adamsviscom_39989603211_oWe are also passionate people, and our passion for mariachi is deep. It is steeped in tradition. Mariachi music is cross-generational with parents judiciously teaching their children its value. Mariachis pass the music through their families with some of the greatest mariachis being the product of multi-generational descendants of master musicians. Luthiers (guitar- and violin-makers) design, build and repair instruments for specific musicians. These instruments are also passed down from generations to generation, and American Mariachi celebrates this tradition. The play describes the role of each instrument. It talks about the sacredness of each aspect of the mariachi experience including the traje — the traditional costume — a vestige of the horse culture of Guadalajara. We are immersed in a respect for the music and the form. Welcome to Mariachi 101.

      (Pictured at right: Bobby Plascencia, center, and the company of 'American Mariachi.' Photo by Adams Viscom.)

      The core of American Mariachi is its heart. This is a play about family and intense love. And like any good bolero, it carries with it that aching moment of hubris that will scar the family for years to come. Its humanness and accompanying weakness invoke elements of a Greek tragedy, and it is that diametrical opposite human trait — forgiveness — that allows us to reconcile the two forces that eventually will heal us.

      I attended Opening Night of the Denver Center’s American Mariachi. At the climactic moment of the story, I heard sniffling in the crowded theater. That reminded me of a performance by El Teatro Campesino of La Carpa de los Rasquachis more than 4o years ago at the sad moment when Rasquachi realizes — like the iconic Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman — that his life given to toil and sacrifice has led to ultimate failure. The American Dream has become his nightmare. Upon Rasquachi’s inevitable death, the sniffles began. I looked around then, expecting to see all the soft-hearted Latinas in the audience with hankies to their eyes. And they were. But my older muy macho peers were also wiping tears from under their sunglasses.

      At a similar moment in American Mariachi, there was a symphony of sniffles. But as I looked around the emotional Stage Theatre, what struck me was the number of white males who were wiping their eyes under their bifocals this time.

      Both experiences revealed to me the power of theatre.

      Tony Garcia 160Tony Garcia is the Executive Artistic Director of El Centro Su Teatro since 1989 and has been a company member since 1972. He received his BA in Theatre from the University of Colorado Denver. He won a 2006 United States Artists Fellowship, was named The Denver Post’s 2010 Theatre Person of the Year and received the prestigious Livingston Fellowship from the Bonfils Stanton Foundation. He is also an adjunct professor at Metro State College in Denver.

      American Mariachi: Ticket information

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

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

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

    • Phamaly's new era includes new Managing Director Sasha Hutchings

      by John Moore | Feb 15, 2018
      Ashley Kelashian_8004
      Phamaly's 2017 production of 'Annie' at the DCPA's Stage Theatre broke the company's all-time attendance record by 20 percent. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

      'It is a privilege to join an organization that uses the magic of live theatre to create meaningful, lasting social change.'

      By John Moore
      Senior Arts Journalist

      Denver’s Phamaly Theatre Company took another major step on its road back to solvency today when it named Sasha Hutchings to the newly created title of Managing Director. No, not the Broadway performer of that name. The self-described nerd and bookworm from Wyoming who owns a rescue dog. 

      Hutchings, Director of the Victim Services and Advocacy Network in the Denver District Attorney’s office, has served in the Denver nonprofit community since 2008 for organizations including the Seeds of Hope Charitable Trust and the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center.

      Sasha Hutchings. PhamalyHutchings, 38, is also co-founder of "The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary," a non-profit that promotes voices from underserved communities and diverse backgrounds — specifically those who have faced adversity and injustice — through literature.

       “One cannot overstate the power of story and art – of seeing yourself in characters, connecting to the experience of others, and bringing stories (alive) that speak to your life,” Hutchings said. “It is a privilege to be joining an organization that uses the magic and power of live theatre to create meaningful and lasting social change.”

      The appointment was announced today by Artistic and Executive Director Regan Linton, who was named the True West Awards’ 2017 Colorado’s Theatre Person of the Year in December after returning to Phamaly in October 2016 and leading the company back from a potentially catastrophic deficit of more than $200,000.  

      Hutchings’ hire signals “one more step,” Linton said, in the continuing comeback of the internationally acclaimed theatre company that for 29 years has produced professional plays and musicals exclusively for actors with disabilities.

      “I don’t think nonprofit arts organizations are ever good-to-go indefinitely,” Linton said, “but I think we’re on a better path of making thoughtful choices that are going to sustain us into the future.”

      Hutchings’ hire completes a reorganization of the company’s leadership structure. The main focus of the Managing Director be will fundraising, development, marketing and leadership — responsibilities that had previously been shared by Linton, former Executive Director Maureen Johnson Ediger, and former Director of Development and Marketing Tamara Arredondo.

      True West Award: How Regan Linton led Phamaly back

      “We’ve changed the title because we will be sharing leadership responsibilities between the Artistic Director and the Managing Director,” Linton said. “Moving forward, the artistic leadership will be equal in importance to the administrative leadership, which was not the case in the past.” Phamaly's Director of Production and Operations remains Paul Behrhorst, the other key figure in Phamaly's leadership team.

      Originally from Rock Springs, Wyo., Hutchings’ early life was spent between Denver and Arizona before heading east for college in Connecticut, where she said she developed a passion for social justice and serving disenfranchised communities.

      In her new job, she sees great opportunity for continuing Phamaly's artistic excellence while enhancing its impact on both individuals living with disabilities, she said, as well as those audiences who experience Phamaly programming.

      Hutchings’ appointment follows a five-month national search conducted by Phamaly’s board and staff. Linton said Hutchings’ salary will be commensurate with Managing Directors at comparably sized professional theatres across the nation.  

      “Our search committee devoted a great deal of time and energy to finding the optimal candidate to complement the current board and staff and help carry Phamaly into the future,” Linton said. “Sasha brings a wealth of nonprofit development experience to Phamaly, as well as vibrant energy and a passion for effecting meaningful impact. Phamaly is poised for great new chapter, and we are ecstatic to have her.”

      Hutchings earned her Master of Arts from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Religious Studies with a Minor in Sociology from Fairfield University in Connecticut.

      Each summer, Phamaly presents a Broadway-scale musical at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. In July, the company will stage Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at the Space Theatre under the direction of Christy Montour-Larson (DCPA Theatre Company’s Two Degrees) and Mac Merchant.

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

      More about Phamaly Theatre Company

      Now in its 29th season, Phamaly Theatre Company is an award-winning Colorado-based nonprofit that produces professional plays and musicals that exclusively feature actors with all nature of disabilities: physical, cognitive, intellectual, and emotional. Phamaly has become a leader in the field with its approach to disability inclusion, access, and transforming social perceptions of disability. Phamaly is known for its innovative reinvention of conventional stories, creating what has become some of the most entertaining and moving experiences available to Denver audiences. Phamaly’s mission is to inspire people to re-envision disability through professional theatre.

      Coming up from Phamaly Theatre Company in 2018:

      Romeo and Juliet (workshop production)

      • By William Shakespeare
      • Directed by Regan Linton
      • April 14-22
      • Dairy Arts Center, Boulder
      • Tickets onsale at phamaly.org

      Into the Woods

      • By James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim
      • Directed by Christy Montour-Larson
      • Musical Direction by Mac Merchant
      • Choreography by Debbie Stark and Ronni Stark
      • July 12-Aug. 5
      • Space Theater at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

      Harvey

      • By Mary Chase
      • Directed by Rand Harmon
      • In partnership with Senior Housing Options
      • Oct. 18-Nov. 11
      • The historic Olin Hotel

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • $70 million Ent Center isn't a game-changer: It's a whole new game

      by John Moore | Feb 14, 2018
      Ent Center for the Arts

      Photos from the opening of the $70 million Ent Center for the Arts on the University of Colorado Colorado Springs campus. 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. 


      New home for students, arts groups, artists and residents is in many ways the new gateway to Colorado Springs

      By John Moore
      Senior Arts Journalist

      COLORADO SPRINGS — It took 40 years to bring the $70 million Ent Center for the Arts to life. But it took no more than the opening of its doors this month to forever transform the cultural life of Colorado Springs and the surrounding Pikes Peak region. 

      “A year from now, the assumption is going to be that if something is happening in Colorado Springs, then it is probably happening here,” said Drew Martorella, executive director of UCCS Presents, which will manage the 92,000 square-foot home to music, dance, theatre, film, art, academia and more in a perhaps unprecedented public-private partnership. “We have staked our claim to being a nexus for the arts in Colorado Springs.”

      This is not just a game-changer. "It's the beginning of  whole new game," said Kevin Landis, associate professor of theatre at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs that now houses the stunning, silvery arts center that was built on a slope of grassland along I-25 at Nevada Avenue to be a new home for students, community nonprofit arts groups, world-class artists and the people of Colorado Springs. It is the new gateway to the college and, in many ways, to the city itself.

      And while the Ent Center was just four years under construction, it truly was four decades in the making. Back to when the legendary Murray Ross, who died a year ago, was first hired at the university.  

      The story goes, as Martorella tells it, “that when Murray was hired to come here from Rochester (N.Y.), he wrote a letter to a friend that said: ‘I’ve accepted a job to teach English and run a theatre program at the university in Colorado Springs. They don't have much in the way of facilities right now — but they have assured me they will build me one in the very near future.’ ”

      Photos by Tom Kimmell and Chuck BiggerThat was in 1975.

      The Ent Center that was christened at a massive gala on Feb. 3 features a dramatic metal skin that complements the wave-like clouds that form when air moves over the nearby Rockies. Imagine the Denver Art Museum — with gentler curves. For anyone driving along I-25, there will be no missing the Ent Center. And that’s on purpose.

      "The client was not shy about wanting the building to stand out," architect Chris Wineman of Semple-Brown Design told The Colorado Springs Gazette. “They told us, ‘We want people to know where to find it. Let’s stretch the boundaries.’ ”

      Job completed.

      (Story continues below the photo. Gala image above by Tom Kimmell.)


      Ent Center


      The Ent Center instantly becomes perhaps the defining architectural marker of the state's second-largest city. Two giant silver sculptures dominate the outer grounds, one perhaps a Phoenix, the other akin to a weather vane. The pieces are borrowed from the family of the late Starr Kempf, a bold, Colorado Springs artist known for his graceful steel wind kinetic sculptures. They were left in his backyard following the artist’s suicide in 1995, and the Ent Center staff asked the family for a two-year loan. “They just respond to the environment in a beautiful way, and their enormous scale just seems to complement the building in a really nice way,” Martorella said.

      The Ent Center rests on the trailhead for the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail. A handy walkway leads pedestrians under the highway to the sprawling University Village that is quickly turning the surrounding area into an entertainment district.

      Our tribute to TheatreWorks founder Murray Ross

      But it’s what’s inside the Ent Center that is truly transforming Colorado Springs. It features four major performance spaces, an art gallery, and houses the university’s entire music, theatre and dance programs. The Ent Center, which from inside glass walls provides spectacular views of the Rockies from several vantage points, will soon be home to an array of Colorado Springs arts groups of varying sizes and budgets. The major presenter will UCCS Presents, whose programming  includes TheatreWorks (the professional theatre company founded by Ross), the Gallery of Contemporary Art (GOCA), and a new dance and music series that debuts this month under the guidance of Aisha Ahmad-Post, who was hired away from The New York Public Library’s flagship cultural series to be the Ent Center's first director. The series opened Feb. 10 with Keigwin + Company, a contemporary dance company, and acclaimed pianist Seong-Jin Cho in concert Feb. 28.

      “With more than 160 productions already scheduled this spring, ranging from student shows to performances by regional arts organizations and even nationally acclaimed artists, we’re hitting the ground running and look forward to welcoming the community into the Ent Center for this incredible inaugural season," Ahmad-Post said.

      Here is a quick rundown of the facilities by size and scope:

      Shockley-Zalabak Theater, 786 seats: "This is the new home for the arts in Colorado Springs,” Martorella said of the flagship theatre with a dance-friendly white oak sprung floor, and named for Pam Shockley-Zalabak, the chancellor emerita largely responsible for the construction of the Ent Center. “We already have two 2,000-seat theatres in Colorado Springs, but what we don't have is a medium-sized theatre,” he said. “And we have lots of non-profit performing arts groups that have no place to call home. Places like the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale have performances throughout the year but they have to fight to find space and often end up performing at a church or a high-school auditorium.” This will be their new home.”

      Ent Center 400Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theatre, up to 300 seats on two levels: This imminently flexible space will allow TheatreWorks to accommodate about 20 percent more audiences for any given show than it could in its previous space (with the same name) on the opposite side of the campus. “Murray Ross basically designed this space before he died,” Martorella said. “It is a scaled-down version of the Dorfman Theatre in London.” In addition to a second, mezzanine seating level, actors and set pieces now can ascend from below the stage for the first time, and they can go about 10 feet higher as well. The theatre officially opens tonight (Feb. 15) with a multi-ethnic staging of Oklahoma! More on that, with a complete cast list, at the end of this report.

      Chapman Foundations Recital Hall, 250 seats: There is not going to be a finer place to listen to classical music or any kind on non-amplified music than this hall, Martorella boasts. “Acoustically, this room is perfect,” he said. It can also serve as a cinema.

      Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery of Contemporary Art, 2,500 square feet: Now open with a stunning tribute to Manitou Springs artist Floyd Tunson — and it doubles as a daytime yoga studio.

      Osborne Theatre, flexible up to 100 seats: While students often participate in TheatreWorks productions, that is a professional theatre and a destination for leading actors and artists across the state. The Osborne (also retaining its former name) will again be an exclusive home for college productions. “Only it's about 100 times better,” Martorella said.    

      (Story continues below the photo.)

      Ent Center. Photo by John Moore
      A view of the Shockley-Zalabak Theater. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


      In addition:
      The Ent Center also includes rehearsal rooms, acoustically sealed music classrooms, a recording studio, the Murray and Betty Ross public lobby, Pinney's Cafe (named after beloved local actor Bob Pinney), a dance and movement studio, and the Crow's Nest rehearsal studio for TheatreWorks. That room was made possible by a gift from Williams College Class of 1963 — 16 remarkable former classmates of Murray Ross' who stayed in touch after college for 40 years and recently visited Colorado Springs to remember him. A Ent Center. Murray Ross On the wall hangs a framed piece of art crafted by Ross’ wife, Betty, comprised of seemingly random Murray Ross personal artifacts such as a credit card ripped into pieces. It is called The Crow’s Nest because Ross’ nickname in college was The Crow. All of the performance areas share a common backstage area that the architects modeled after the “Green Room” in the Denver Center's Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. The architects also headed the recenr renovation of the DCPA's Space Theatre.

      The Ent Center is similar to the Arvada Center in size and somewhat akin to the Newman Center at the University of Denver in terms of its partnership with a local college. But the Ent Center stands alone because of its associations with the surrounding cultural community.

      “I can't think of a lot of equivalents in the entire county," Landis said. “Not just in Colorado. Anywhere.” It’s a brand-new era for students attending the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, as well. The second floor of the Ent Center is home for all of the college's arts programs.

      More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

      “For our students, it's just not comparable,” Landis said of the change. “We went from a converted office building where we were securing things with duct tape and a prayer to spaces in which the technology is advanced beyond anything we have ever had before. Think about it this way: We have professionals all over our classrooms. But now we have professionals all over this building — and now students can walk right downstairs and intersect with those professionals. I don't see that happening anywhere else.

      “Now one of our priorities will be figuring out how we use this beautiful space to recruit. I want the best students in Colorado Springs to come here — and I want the best students in New York to come here."

      New era begins tonight

      Ent Center Bon Vivant Murray Ross’ dream for a new home for TheatreWorks officially comes true tonight (Feb. 15) with the opening of Oklahoma! in the new Bon Vivant Theatre. It will be bittersweet given that Ross was intended to direct the production.

      “Murray was not a musical theatre person,” Martorella said. “The only reason we are doing Oklahoma! is because many years ago, Murray and I became enchanted by a spare production of Carousel we saw at the Living Room Theatre in Kansas City, which only seated about 75. We loved seeing big musicals in small spaces, and we marinated on Oklahoma! for years. We finally decided this was the time to do it."

      After Ross died, Martorella reached out to Kyle Hatley, who directed that Kansas City production of Carousel years before. And he said yes to directing Oklahoma!

      Many in Colorado Springs have been speculating what Ross would think of the Ent Center, and the blowout party that marked its opening on Feb. 3. “I just know he would have been glowing,” Landis said, “because Murray had that childlike persona that made him such an infectious force in the arts. I think he would have been just over the moon about this." 

      And, Martorella added with a laugh … "he would have notes. Because Murray always said, ‘There is no such thing as perfection. And there is always more work to be done.’ "

      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.

      Ent Center Cultural partnerships:

      Regional performing arts and cultural organizations that will use the Ent Center for the Arts to varying degrees include:

      • Colorado Springs Youth Symphony
      • Chamber Orchestra of the Springs
      • Colorado Springs Choral Society
      • Colorado Springs Conservatory
      • Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale
      • Colorado Springs Dance Theatre
      • The Colorado Springs Philharmonic
      • Opera Theater of the Rockies
      • Imagination Celebration
      • Starz Theater Company

      Where the money came from:

      The building budget for the Ent Center was $60 million, plus $10 million in infrastructure for a total project of $70 million. Here’s how it was paid for:

      • $30 million from Colorado Legislature
      • $12.6 million from Ent Federal Credit Union in exchange for 15-year naming rights
      • $10 million from CU's Office of the President
      • $10 million from private donors

      Oklahoma! Ticket information and cast list:

      • Feb. 15 through March 11
      • Music by Richard Rodgers; book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
      • Tickets start at $35 (UCCS students: Free)
      • At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 80918
      • Call 719-255-3232 or go to theatreworkscs.org

      Cast list:

      • Laurey: Sumi Yu
      • Curley: Zach Guzman
      • Aunt Eller: Jen Lennon
      • Will Parker: Kevin Pierce
      • Jud Fry: Dylan Mosley
      • Ado Annie: Rachel Fey
      • Ali Hakim: Hossein Forouzandeh
      • Carnes: Bob Morsch
      • Gertie: Carmen Shedd
      • Fred: Kyle Dean Steffen
      • Slim: Nels Jacobson II
      • Joe: Max Ferguson

      Artistic team:

      • Kyle Hatley: Director
      • Mark Arnest: Musical Director
      • Jack Magaw: Scenic Designer
      • Stephanie Bradley: Costume Designer
      • Jeffrey Cady, Lighting Designer
      • Joseph Concha: Sound Designer
      • Lauren Duggin: Props Master
      • Mary Ripper Baker: Choreographer
      • Kristen Wickersheim: Stage Manager
      • Alex Williams: Assistant Stage Manager
      • Don Fox: Production Manager
      • Ken Stark: Technical Director
      • Seth Alison: Master Electrician

      Also this weekend: Oskar Eustis and Jeanine Tesori
      One reason Kevin Landis won a 2017 True West Award for "Prologue," a series of theatre conversations with prominent members of the national theatre community. At 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, he will welcome Oskar Eustis and Jeanine Tesori to talk about Fun Home, They'll talk about will the state of American theatre and the creation of new work just as Fun Home is about to open at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College next month. Go to uccspresents.org to register.

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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.