• Read Suzi Q. Smith's original 'Mixed Taste' poems here

    by John Moore | Jul 20, 2017
    Suzy Q Smith
    Suzi Q. Smith at the inaugural 'Mixed Taste' in the Seawell Ballroom on July 5. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'Know which voice to listen to
    when it’s time to fly,
    when it’s time to land.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Mixed Taste is a weekly tag-team lecture series that paired playfully unrelated topics on Wednesday nights throughout the summer in the Denver Center's Seawell Ballroom. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is now collaborating on the popular series with Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm

    Read more: Mixed Taste walks the talk to the Seawell Ballroom

    Local slam poet Suzi Q. Smith was the series emcee. As part of the fun, she created an original poem as each evening progressed to connect the dots between two featured but seemingly unrelated topics. She read them at the end of each night, and we have been publishing them here throughout the summer.

    Read our previous interview with Mixed Taste emcee Suzi Q. Smith

    On Glimmer and Flight

    Aug. 23
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture Topics: Air Traffic Control and Drag Queen Activism
    Lecturers: Bruce Goetz and Shirley Delta Blow

    There are so many ways to approach a runway.
    Fast, heavy as a skilled boxer’s glove;
    Precise as a jeweled manicure
    or a highlighted cheekbone;
    Clumsy as the first time in heels.
    It takes time, coordination, and practice
    to get it right.

    Last Suzi QWhat I love about the airport
    is the vastness of possibility:
    every terminal filled with dreams and stories,
    beginnings and long kisses goodbye,
    every face choreographed
    into magnificent ballet – and who
    serves more face
    than drag queens?
    Every wink
    and eyebrow raise
    is worth at least
    56 square miles of

    We must remember that certainty
    when we find ourselves mid-flight
    in what could be chaos.
    Listen: there is a small voice lending us direction –

    stay here,
    come closer,
    not yet,
    aim higher,
    the runway is yours, darling –

    and if we listen, that voice keeps us from disaster.
    Step to the front
    while flashing lights sing
    in reverence to your every eyelash.
    Sashay when they wave you on,
    ignore the flailing arms
    that offer you no welcome.

    Know which voice to listen to
    when it’s time to fly,
    when it’s time to land,
    know who keeps you safe,
    keeps you airborne amidst roaring winds
    that would have your wings
    if you let them.

    Let your pride swell.
    When you hear the sky calling, fly.
    Stay fly
    and flying,
    let the breath of those who love you
    be your wind,
    let their voices be your beacon.

    You, brilliant shimmer,
    land on that runway
    like you mean it.

    On Perspective and Relativity

    Aug. 16
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: P.T. Barnum and Infinity
    Lecturers: Kathy Maher and Diane Davis

    I first used the term “infinity” as a means
    to compound an insult
    on some schoolyard playground, as in

                “you’re ugly”
                “your mama’s ugly”
                “you’re ugly times a million”
                “your ugly times INFINITY”

    my Sunday School teacher said infinity
    was like carrying a bucket of water
    from the Atlantic Ocean
    to the Pacific Ocean,
    pouring it in, refilling the bucket
    and carrying it back,
    repeating this process until all of one ocean
    had been poured into the other entirely,
    and I stopped using it then
    as a weapon.

    It seemed a cruel use of vocabulary.
    Speaking of cruelty, I can’t help but weep
    when I consider the life of Joice Heth
    whose body, even in death, was someone else’s spectacle,
    whose suffering was no less than infinite,
    heavy as endless buckets of water colliding into a gulf
    a grand showcase of laughing waves, crashing the shore
    and winking at the grains of sand for their pretense of grandiosity.

    Maybe it is all perspective, bending with time.
    Is time a line, or a circle?
    Are we standing at zero or infinity?
    Is it ingenuity or exploitation?
    Is an elaborate hoax to be scorned or celebrated?

    Neither the sand nor the stars are infinite,
    but they offer a grand show.
    A brilliant display of possibility,
    a quantifiable image to lend this vast vocabulary
    to the dream of something greater.

    And what is greater, more infinite, than our dreams?
    Are we not the most stunning display of blue and bite?
    The most illustrious outpour of story and song?

    May we learn from our history.
    May we transform our finite breath
    into a stunning cascade of tomorrows,
    may we build a world of infinite compassion, courage and creativity –
    I believe it will be the greatest show on earth,
    to infinity

    (and beyond).

    On Bob and booze

    Aug. 9
    A Meet the Cast Bianca Mikahn 600Written by Guest Host Bianca Mikahn
    (Pictured right in May 2016)
    Lecture Topics: Prohibition and Bob Ross
    Lecturers: Jason Hanson and Doug Blandy 

    Bob was once drunk off power
    off his hands and all they could spill

    Thirty years before
    maybe his family would have been driven
    by his bust 'em up demeanor
    to the voting polls
    But then Bob got hooked on painting’s joy

    I wonder
    before he fermented his feelings into
    the nectar of inspiration
    Was his voice
    a rough and burning moonshine
    a howling across brand new highways
    while false McCoys raced in the distance
    How many distillations did it take
    to find the perfect smoky earthy pitch
    lulling so many of us to comfort
    like a perfectly aged red

    Mr Ross is famed for saying
    “there are no mistakes”
    I wonder had he witnessed to the
    dehydrated hypocrisy and
    Overreaching amendment which was the eighteenth
    Would he have maintained his floating
    and free demeanor
    Or would he revive his famed military fire
    for access to the saloon

    Mixed Taste Aug 9Maybe his only intoxication was the palette
    Most likely he would have found a
    favored speakeasy
    (which should be called Bob Rosses
    if time continuum allowed)
    A single malt
    Maybe a dear friend

    Bob Ross was my bartender
    the first to fill my cup with color
    and affirmation
    Replete with seasoned ice and
    landscapes which burned so good going down
    Temperance comes from the Latin word
    temperar which means to restrain
    Tempera is a form of paint and means
    to paint in distemper
    May we generate a toast
    to the eschewing of prohibition’s temperance
    less temperar renders us
    each of us little burgeoning Bobs
    Missing our happy little trees and forgetting
    there are no mistakes
    Just happy accidents

    On Growth and Dirt 

    Aug. 2
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Asparagus and Money Laundering
    Lecturers: Carol O'Meara and Micah Schwalb

    To grow asparagus, it must be planted deeply,
    like an oil drum full of money.
    It helps to have good real estate to bury it in.
    It takes patience and skill to get it right,
    with a nose for detail that must be studied.
    Maybe banks are the best place to begin
    the sprouts, they always have plenty
    of dirt.

    The Romans had a love
    for asparagus as well as coin,
    as both have been known
    as aphrodisiacs, both have led to
    suspicions and secrets, both traceable
    if you know where to sniff.

    I love asparagus. 
    Once, I ate marinated asparagus at a party.
    It was so magical that I decided to recreate the dish at home.
    Asparagus? Check.
    Herbs, seasonings, oil, vinegar? Check.
    I placed the ingredients in a casserole dish
    and covered, then promptly
    forgot about it.
    For days.
    Several days.
    Several long, hot, summer days.

    When I remembered,
    I excitedly removed the lid, ready to delight
    in my first attempt at marinated asparagus, and
    The worst smell I have ever experienced –
    the kind of smell that expands the realms of imagination,
    so bad that my brain had to activate new functions
    just to accurately perceive this level of awful.

    I grabbed the dish and ran outside to throw it in the dumpster –
    the asparagus,
    the spices,
    the oils and vinegars,
    and the glass dish they’d been conspiring in.
    No amount of laundering would have saved it.
    The crime was so dreadful
    that I had to hide the evidence.

    I fled the scene, packed up my daughter,
    and stayed with family that night
    because the scene was too ghastly to remain.

    The word “asparagus” comes from a Persian word
    meaning “shoot” or “sprout.”
    I imagine I asparagussed my way out the back door
    on that fateful day.

    While it was once know for its reproductive effects,
    I have yet to reproduce the marinated asparagus since then,
    the evidence of the failed attempt left an unmistakable mark.

    Both money and asparagus involve a bit of dirt,
    a fair amount of work, but when done well
    can sustain us for generations.

    May all of our harvests be fair and clean. 

    On Ways and Words

    July 26
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Giant Flutes and Celestial Navigation
    Lecturers: Akio Lis and Jim Cook

    I’ve heard that in Australia,
    Aboriginal tribes used to navigate their land
    through music.  Each place had its own song.

    Charlie.jpg_largeI’ve heard it said that
    while any person can learn to play a note,
    it takes a true musician to know why to play a note, and when,
    how to navigate a song and draw its map.

    The earth spins at nearly 1,000 miles per hour,
    so fast it almost feels like we’ve always been still.
    Sound travels at nearly 800 miles per hour,
    so fast it feels eternal, like we’ve always known this music.

    Do you ever think about the fact that we are in space
    right now? Do you wonder why?
    Are we what happens when the momentum of
    sound and orbit collide?
    Does the weight and gravity
    of our instruments help us to know
    where our momentum means something?

    When we look at the center or
    the surface of the earth
    and move toward the distant
    celestial lights twinkling their hello
    (or goodbye, as the case may be),
    is it reasonable to still feel lost?

    Is it reasonable
    to bellow into the dark
    and hope your breath will be enough
    to carry you toward home?
    The way that wind holds a sail,
    our breath carries notes
    and we are transported.

    I’ve heard conflicting tales
    about the Pied Piper, and who he lured away
    with a hypnotizing flute.
    Music has always moved us,
    even if we don’t know where its glinting guides us,
    it is natural to follow what might still be light.

    On Science and Magic

    July 19 By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Telekinesis and Sauerkraut
    Lecturers: Professor Phelyx and Mara and Willow King

    We train our kids to wash their hands
    with potions
    made by people who want to sell us something.
    We all have a lot to unlearn.

    One kiss is an exchange
    of 8 million bacteria
    invisible, moving beings
    that could kill us
    or heal us,
    we all know kisses can go either way.

    It’s amazing, the magic
    we do with our mouths & minds,
    break down
    or be broken – I don’t think I understand
    the difference between magic and science,
    when the same botulism that can kill us
    can also stop stories
    a living face might tell,
    I suppose it’s a bit of both – wielding nature,
    being wielded by it.

    Maybe everything is cultural –
    time, science, magic, movement –
    like food, fermenting into medicine,
    breaking and becoming more whole.
    They say seeds break open to sprout.
    They say people who are married for a long time
    start to look alike.

    Maybe it is like sauerkraut –
    the more time we spend together, the better we get.
    Maybe science and magic are the same thing.
    Either theory requires a bit of faith,
    even when we see it, even when we taste it.
    Maybe it’s all in our minds,
    or maybe only the best parts of each

    On Language and Justice

    July 12
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Esperanto and Trial by Jury
    Lecturers: Orlando Raola and Fred Bloom

    I have never served on a jury. 

    Have been left to share my opinions on stages,
    and especially on twitter, which is

    I guess.

    Somehow, I have never been invited to the party

    no one else wants to go to.
    I mean – I’d be a good juror, I think.
    I’ve seen like every single episode of Law & Order at least twice.
    And Ally McBeal, The Practice, and pretty much every courtroom drama
    that Netflix has to offer.

    When it comes to the wisdom of crowds,
    the finders of facts, even standing in unpopular opinions,
    I feel like I’d make a strong candidate.

    My friends roll their eyes at being called for jury duty . . .

    while I raise my hand, eager and polite
    as any wallflower
    wanting to dance.

    Meanwhile, it sounds like jury duty is sometimes

    Maybe I want it so bad
    because I believe in the weight of words,
    the intention and design of each syllable.

    How our languages shape fate,
    words as heavy as “guilty” or “not guilty”,
    of course we should speak in planned language
    when our words change lives.

    I saw an article yesterday about a family
    who was drowning in the Atlantic Ocean
    until the people on the beach formed an 80-person chain
    to bring them safely to shore.

    Imagine if we all used the power of our words
    in the same tongue.
    If we all spoke together, listened and understood.
    I imagine the harmony would make me weep,
    I imagine the volume would shake the ground,
    if we knew the weight of our words,
    imagine how heavy we could be.

    On History and Movement

    July 5
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art
    Lecturers: Adam Lerner (pictured right) and Nataki Garrett

    July 4, 1776, some of my ancestors were enslaved.
    One of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence.
    What conversations they must be having in my unexpected blood,
    emancipated and armed like Stagecoach Mary.
    How unprepared they must have been for such “mixed taste.”

    Adam Lerner Sometimes, the most essential stories are the impossible truths, born of need.
    Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention.
    Stagecoach Mary was one of the Wild West’s urgent needs:
    her shotgun,
    her six horses,
    her mule named Moses
    and if her story ain’t a burning bush
    clearing our way, maybe we are ready
    for some post-conceptual belief
    and art;
    stasis has never saved us.

    Watch how we grow wild as sagebrush,
    how we perpetuate our own movement like tumbleweed,
    how we find new ways to show the unseen
    as a means to survive.
    See how our manifestation stays migrating,
    maybe home has always been a moving target, the place
    where we are best heard.
    See how we make new language of color and moment.

    I come from a long line of wild westerners.
    Some who were enslaved and fled.
    Some who were desperately poor and fled.
    Some who’ve been here since forever ever ever ever.
    All of them finding new ways to survive.

    We are people who learn to make what we need.
    We are people who pour ourselves over horizons in unmistakable color.
    We both find, and have always been, the frontier.
    What is art if not us?
    If not the impossible conversations in my blood?
    In this room?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Off-Center's 'Wild Party' nearing its Kickstarter goal

    by John Moore | Jul 20, 2017
    Wild Party

    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    As of July 26, 321 backers have helped the DCPA's Off-Center reach 67 percent of its Kickstarter goal for its upcoming production of the immersive musical The Wild Party, which runs Oct. 11-31 at the Stanley Marketplace.

    Off-Center, which last year presented the immersive drama Sweet & Lucky in a RiNo warehouse, is the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm. The Wild Party will be Off-Center's first musical.

    "Off-Center is committed to thinking outside the box and creating exciting ways to surprise our audiences, plucking them out of reality for 360-degree theatrical experiences of all sizes," said curator Charlie Miller. "By supporting our Kickstarter, you’re giving our team of local actors, musicians and artists the chance to create a thrilling new theatrical experience for our community."

    Click here to go to The Wild Party Kickstarter campaign

    The Wild Party, written by Michael John LaChiusa, follows a mix of debauched vaudevillians in the 1920s as they attempt to drink and dance their way out of personal problems over the course of one fateful night. In the immersive staging, audiences will be smack in the middle of an art-deco apartment of yore located in the Stanley's 9,000 square-foot hangar.

    To help make the idea a reality, Off-Center has again launched a Kickstarter campaign. Last spring, Kickstarter backers helped to bring the immersive world of Sweet & Lucky to life through donor contributions. Backers were invited deeper into the experience of the critically acclaimed production by contributing photographs of loved ones that were included in the storytelling.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Wild Party Kickstarter campaign allows for contributors at varying levels to be even more involved in the action. For example, $10 will get donors early bird access to tickets; a $50 donation comes with admission to a dress rehearsal and the opportunity to provide valuable feedback that will help shape the finalized production; and $150 lets donors send in photos to be used in the set. At the highest end, $7,500 will get donors a customized costume to wear to the show designed by the production's costume designer, Meghan Anderson Doyle.

    As of Wednesday, $17,365 had been pledged toward the total goal of $25,000. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition, so this project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10.

    The Wild Party
    was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000. 

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension. That show ran throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21. The address is 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora. MAP IT

    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

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

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • For more information including ticket pre-sale and other exclusive experiences, visit WildPartyDenver.com

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Wild Party:
    Cast list: Look who's been invited to The Wild Party
    Off-Center throwing a Wild Party at Stanley Marketplace this fall
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced
  • Henry Awards spreads love from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins

    by John Moore | Jul 17, 2017
    29 Outstanding Season

    Openstage, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, TheatreWorks and The Book of Will leave indelible marks

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Colorado Theatre Guild’s 2017 Henry Awards was a night of open arms and poignant remembrance, culminating with OpenStage Theatre and Company winning the Guild’s highest honor for the first time, for Outstanding Season. The 44-year-old Fort Collins tradition also swept both outstanding actor and actress awards: Sydney Parks Smith for August: Osage County and Steven P. Sickles for Le Bête,

    Henry Awards by YearUntil 2013, theatre companies outside the metro area were not eligible for Henry Awards, but on Monday night at the PACE Center in Parker, the Henrys rolled out the welcome mat for statewide companies.

    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ The Game of Love and Chance was named Outstanding Play. That was the final play directed by company founder Murray Ross, who died in January. Drew Martorella, Executive Director of UCCS Presents, dedicated the award to Ross' considerable legacy.

    The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, in its final year before merging with Colorado College, tied with the DCPA Theatre Company for most wins for the evening with five, all for The Man of La Mancha. The DCPA won Outstanding New Play and four other awards for its world premiere of The Book of Will. DCPA CEO Janice Sinden announced to the crowd that the play, written by Lauren Gunderson about the creation of Shakespeare's First Folio, already has four major stagings scheduled around the country. "Lauren Gunderson will be the first female playwright with an original play on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Elizabethan Stage in its 83-year history," Sinden said to raucous cheers.

    Thunder River Theatre Company of Carbondale won the first two Henrys in its history, both for four-time 2017 nominee Sean Jeffries. Carbondale is a mountain hamlet of 5,200 residents located between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Jeffries won for both sound (The Tempest) and scenic (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) awards among Tier II companies.

    Just in: Check out all of our photos from the awards

    The Lone Tree Arts Center, which won its first Henry Award just last year, broke through with three wins on Monday for its production of Evita. The show, which re-cast the guerilla Che as more of a tormenting artist, was the surprise winner of the Outstanding Musical award. Even the Backstage Breckenridge Theatre got in on the act with its irreverent Toxic Avenger musical winning both the Outstanding Actress (Colby Dunn) and Supporting Actress (Megan Van De Hey) awards.

    Perhaps the emotional highlight of the evening was Tad Baierlein presenting the Life Achievement Award to his parents, Germinal Stage co-founders Ed Bairelein and Sallie Diamond Baierlein.


    2017 Henry Award nominations make way for the new

    While the annual Henry Awards often turn into landslides, 2017 will go down as the most widely spread in the 12-year history of the awards. The 25 competitive awards were distributed among 10 member companies.

    That still left a number of the metro area's most prestigious companies on the sidelines this year, including Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Buntport Theater, Phamaly Theatre Company and the Town Hall Arts Center.

    The Catamounts, which earned nine nominations for its punk musical take on Beowulf, won none. The Aurora Fox, despite five nominations for a Porgy and Bess that in performance Monday brought the capacity crowd to its screaming feet, also went away empty-handed. Last year the Henry Awards' darlings were Theatre Aspen and Vintage Theatre, winners of 12 awards. This year? None.

    Despite 16 nominations, the Arvada Center, a perennial Henrys favorite, won only one award - and it was perhaps the most surprising of the night. Matt LaFontaine, who took on the role of Judas in the Arvada Center's Jesus Christ Superstar just days before opening, was named Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical. A grateful and humble LaFontaine dedicated the award to actor Napoleon Kaufman, who was originally cast as Judas but had to drop out due to illness, and Daniel Langhoff, who is continuing to battle cancer.

    "I shouldn’t be up here," LaFontaine told the crowd. 

    Curious Theatre Company, second only to the DCPA and Arvada Center in total Henry Awards received since 2006, pulled out of consideration last July after the company was shut out of the Henry Awards for the second straight year. Managing Director Katie Maltais cited what she called the judges' “limited knowledge of the theatre craft, especially with regard to technical design,” as well as the lack of diversity among last year’s winners. That complaint only stands to grow louder after last night, which produced only three apparent winners of color.

    Given the political climate, the evening was  remarkably civil in tone. Hosts Steven J.  Burge and GerRee Hinshaw teased the crowd at the top of the show to expect no holds barred political commentary throughout the evening, but it was all a ruse for keeping things light. The only variance came when Stephen Day accepted the Henry Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. Day, who plays the delusionally hopeful knight Cervantes in The Man of LaMancha, said, "I want to thank the current administration in Washington for giving me my subtext every night."  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Henry Awards honor outstanding achievements by member companies, and the event serves as the Colorado Theatre Guild’s annual fundraiser. The awards are named for longtime local theatre producer Henry Lowenstein. Nominations are determined through a judging process conducted by more than 45 theatre journalists, blogger critics and adjudicators from the community.

    The Henry Awards split the four design categories into two tiers determined by member companies' annual overall operating budgets. Only six companies have annual budgets above the $1.2 million threshold and therefore are considered Tier I: The DCPA, Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Theatre Aspen, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Colorado Springs TheatreWorks. The rest all compete in Tier II.

    The Guild made great strides in expanding the eligible pool this year to a record 190 productions. But it also reduced the number of judges required to make each show eligible from six to five, which likely accounts for some of the pronounced clustering of nominations around certain shows.

    It was announced at the show that Gloria Shanstrom, who has served the Colorado Theatre Guild for more than 20 years and has administered the Henry Awards since their inception, is retiring at the end of the month. Monday's ceremony, which has been directed for the past 11 years by Jim Hunt, were led this year by Jonathan D. Allsup.

    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.

    2017 Henry Awards video:

    Video by DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.

    2016-17 HENRY AWARDS

    Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company

    • OpenStage Theatre and Company, Fort Collins

    Also nominated:

    • Arvada Center
    • OpenStage Theatre and Company
    • Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
    • DCPA Theatre Company
    • Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Thunder River Theatre Company

    Outstanding Production of a Play

    16 GameLoveChanceGame of Love and Chance
    Murray Ross, Director

    Also nominated:

    • "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company, Dulcie Willis, Director
    • "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company, Davis McCallum, Director
    • "Constellations," TheatreWorks, Joye Cook-Levy, Director
    • "Don’t Dress for Dinner," OpenStage Theatre & Company, Wendy S. Moore, Director"
    • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Thunder River Theatre Company, Corey Simpson, Director
    • "Tartuffe," Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director

    Outstanding Musical

    28 EVITA BM at the Lone Tree Arts Center credit Danny LamEvita

    Lone Tree Arts Center
    Gina Rattan, Director; Max Mamon, Musical Director

    Also nominated:

    • "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts, Meridith C. Grundei, Director; Gary Grundei, Musical Direction                         
    • "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company, Scott RC Levy, Director; Sharon Skidgel, Musical Direction
    • "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative, Kelly McAllister, Director; Tanner Kelly, Musical Direction                                
    • "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center, Kenny Moten, Director; Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Musical Direction
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center, Randal Myler, Director; Dan Wheetman, Musical Direction
    • "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center, donnie l. betts, Director; Jodel Charles, Musical Direction

    Outstanding New Play

    10 New Play or Musical DCPA Theatre Company The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson Directed by Davis McCallum The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company
    Written by Lauren Gunderson
    Directed by Davis McCallum

    Also nominated:

    • “The Firestorm,” by Meridith Friedman
    • "Full Code," by David Valdes Greenwood
    • "The History Room," by Charlie Thurston           
    • "I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Music and Lyrics by David Nehls, Book by Kenn McLaughlin
    • "Lost Creatures," by Melissa Lucero McCarl
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There,” by Randal Myler

    Direction of a Play
    23 Direction - Dulcie  Willis - August Osage CountyDulcie Willis
    August: Osage County

    OpenStage Theatre & Company

    Also nominated:

    • Lynne Collins, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Joye Cook-Levy, "Constellations," TheatreWorks
    • Davis McCallum, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Matt Radcliffe, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Murray Ross, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Corey Simpson, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Thunder River Theatre Company

    Direction of a Musical
    27 Direction - Man of La ManchaScott RC Levy
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • donnie l. betts, "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Meridith C. Grundei, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Kelly McAllister, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • Randal Myler, “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Gina Rattan, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Nick Sugar, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company

    Outstanding Musical Direction
    25 Musical Direction EVITA at the Lone Tree Arts Center credit Danny LamMax Mamon

    Lone Tree Arts Center

    Also nominated:

    • Neal Dunfee, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
    • Gary Grundei, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Sharon Skidgel, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Jason Tyler Vaughn, “Murder Ballad,” The Edge Theater Company
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb, "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center
    • Dan Wheetman, “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center

    Outstanding Actress in a Musical
    20 Toxic Avenger Colby DunnColby Dunn
    The Toxic Avenger

    Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

    Also nominated:

    • Jacquie Jo Billings, "Little Shop of Horrors," Miners Alley Playhouse
    • Sarah Groeke, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Cecilia Iole, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Marissa Rudd, "Sister Act," Midtown Arts Center
    • Tracy Warren, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” BDT Stage
    • Danielle Hermon Wood, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative

    Outstanding Actor in a Musical

    21 Actor - Man of La ManchaStephen Day
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company 

    Also nominated:

    • Leonard E. Barrett Jr. , "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Joshua Blanchard, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Miles Jacoby, "Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • August Stoten, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative
    • Colin Summers, "Million Dollar Quartet," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Joe Von Bokern, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts

    Outstanding Actress in a Play
    14 Actress - Sydney Parks Smith - August Osage CountySydney Parks Smith
    August: Osage County

    OpenStage Theatre & Company

    Also nominated:   

    • LuAnn Buckstein, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • Carley Cornelius, "Constellations," TheatreWorks
    • Denise Burson Freestone, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company      
    • Kathleen McCall, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Emma Messenger, "Misery," The Edge Theater Company
    • Caitlin Wise, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks

    Outstanding Actor in a Play
    15 Actor - Steven P. Sickles - La BeteSteven P. Sickles
    Le Bête

    OpenStage Theatre & Company

    Also nominated:

    • William Hahn, "Burn This," The Edge Theater Company 
    • Kevin Hart, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • Sammie Joe Kinnett, "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Micah Speirs, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company               
    • Dan Tschirhart, "The Flick," OpenStage Theatre & Company        
    • Adam Verner, "Don’t Dress for Dinner," OpenStage Theatre & Company                                                                                                         

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play

    03 Supporting Actress in a Play Miriam A. LaubeMiriam A. Laube
    The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Miriam A. Laube, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Carolyn Lohr, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre              
    • Leslie O’Carroll, "Silent Sky," Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Amelia Pedlow, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Christina Sajous, "Disgraced," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Linda Suttle, "A Time to Kill," Vintage Theatre Productions
    • Edith Weiss, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play

    04 Supporting Actor in a Play Triney SandovalTriney Sandoval
    The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Nathan Cox, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Rodney Lizcano, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Wesley Mann, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Owen O’Farrell, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Hunter Ringsmith, "Equivocaton," Colorado Shakespeare Festival            
    • Corey Simpson, “The Tempest,” Thunder River Theatre Company

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

    07 Toxic Avenger MEGAN VAN DE HEYMegan Van De Hay
    The Toxic Avenger

    Breckenridge Backstage Theatre

    Also nominated:

    • Jenna Bainbridge, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Joan Bruemmer-Holden, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Charlotte Campbell, “A Christmas Story,” Midtown Arts Center
    • Anna High, “Porgy and Bess,” Aurora Fox Arts Center
    • Rebecca Hoodwin, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Carol Rose, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

    08 Supporting Actor in a Musical - Matt LaFontaine - Jesus Christ Superstar - Arvada CenterMatt LaFontaine
    Jesus Christ Superstar

    Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities

    Also nominated:

    • Brandon Bill, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center and Inspire Creative
    • Ben Hilzer, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • John Jankow, "A Christmas Story," Midtown Arts Center
    • Bob Moore, "Cabaret," Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Nicholas Park, “First Date,” Lake Dillon Theatre Company
    • Kyle Ashe Wilkinson, "Titanic," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

    09 EnsembleOutstanding Ensemble Performance

    The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center, Lynne Collins, Director
    • "The Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • "Motones vs. Jerseys," Midtown Arts Center
    • “Muscle Shoals: I'll Take You There," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • "Porgy and Bess," Aurora Fox Arts Center

    Outstanding Choreography

    24 josephMatthew D. Peters
    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    BDT Stage

    Also nominated:

    • Mary Ripper Baker, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Joan Bruemmer-Holden & Amanda Berg Wilson, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
    • Jeff Duke and Stephanie Hansen, "The Little Mermaid," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Kelly Kates, “The Robber Bridegroom,” Town Hall Arts Center
    • Michael Lasris, "A Christmas Story," Midtown Arts Center
    • Kate Vallee, "42nd Street," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse  


    Outstanding Sound Design Tier 1
    01 Sound Design - Man of La ManchaBenjamin Heston
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Jason Ducat, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks
    • Jason Ducat, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Morgan McCauley, "Tartuffe," Arvada Center
    • Stowe Nelson, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • David Thomas, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Zach Williamson, “The Secret Garden, “ DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Sound Design Tier 2
    02 Sound-Tier2-Tempest-TRTCSean Jeffries
    The Tempest

    Thunder River Theatre Company 

    Also nominated:

    • Travis Duncan and Jeremiah Walter, "The Elephant Man," Springs Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Carlos Flores, "Misery," The Edge Theater Company
    • Allen Noftall, “Evita," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Allen Noftall, “Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You Theatre," Lone Tree Arts Center
    • Jon Northridge, "Million Dollar Quartet," Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
    • Tom Quinn and Kenny Storms, "Murder Ballad," The Edge Theater Company

    Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 1
    05 LightingDesign-Man of La ManchaHolly Anne Rawls
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Charles R. MacLeod, "The Glass Menagerie," DCPA Theatre Company  
    • Shannon McKinney, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Jon Olson, “The Drowning Girls,” Arvada Center
    • Paul Toben, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Brian Tovar, "Frankenstein," DCPA Theatre Company   
    • Mike Wood, “Constellations,” TheatreWorks

    Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 2

    06 Lighting Evita Danny LamJen Kiser

    Lone Tree Arts Center

    Also nominated 

  • Seth Alison, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
  • Brandon Ingold, "August: Osage County," OpenStage Theatre & Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
  • Sean Mallary, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts
  • Brett Maughan, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," BDT Stage


    Outstanding Costume Design Tier 1
    12 Camille_AssafCamille Assaf
    The Book of Will

    DCPA Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Stephanie Bradley, "Game of Love and Chance," TheatreWorks
    • Janson J. Fangio, "Enchanted April," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Sydney Gallas, "Man of La Mancha," Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company
    • Clare Henkel, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Clare Henkel, "Tartuffe," Arvada Center
    • Lex Liang, “Shrek,” Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Outstanding Costume Design Tier 2

    13 Little Mermaid- RMRTJesus Perez
    The Little Mermaid

    Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

    Also nominated:

    • Kari Armstrong, "The Snow Queen," Bas Bleu Theatre Company
    • Buntport Theater, "The Crud," Buntport Theater
    • Pamela Clifton, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre         
    • Judith Ernst, "The Wizard of Oz," Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    • Tricia Music, "Monty Python’s Spamalot," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • Annabel Reader, "Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage," The Catamounts

    Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 1

    18 Scenic Design - Man of La ManchaChristopher L. Sheley
    Man of La Mancha

    Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Lisa Orzolek, "Disgraced," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Brian Mallgrave, "The Drowning Girls," Arvada Center
    • Brian Mallgrave, "Jesus Christ Superstar," Arvada Center
    • Sandra Goldmark, "The Book of Will," DCPA Theatre Company
    • Paul Black, "Mamma Mia," Theatre Aspen
    • Jason Sherwood, "Frankenstein," DCPA Theatre Company

    Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 2

    19 Scenic-Tier2-Jekyll-and-Hyde-TRTCSean Jeffries
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    Thunder River Theatre Company

    Also nominated:

    • Shaun Albrechtson, "Steel Magnolias," PACE Center & Inspire Creative
    • James Brookman, “August: Osage County,” OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • M. Curtis Grittner, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
    • Sean Jeffries, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Sean Jeffries, “The Last Romance,” Thunder River Theatre Company
    • Lori Rosedahl, "The Flick," OpenStage Theatre & Company
    • Kyle Scoggins, "Little Shop of Horrors," Miners Alley Playhouse


    Specials collage

    Ed Baierlein and Sallie Diamond Baierlein, Germinal Stage Denver

    Todd Debreceni


    Les Crispelle
    Glenn Tiedt

  • The triumph of Phamaly's not-so-horrible Hannigan

    by John Moore | Jul 14, 2017
    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by Michael Ensminger

    Despite physical challenges, Phamaly's Ashley Kelashian says the girls of Annie just wanna have sun.

    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    It was the first day of rehearsal for a highly anticipated new production of Annie, and one overwhelmed young actor in a wheelchair began to panic. The girl was one of the many novices who will play orphans in Phamaly Theatre Company’s upcoming staging on the DCPA Theatre Company’s biggest stage.

    For 28 years, Phamaly has made performance opportunities available for actors with disabilities, culminating in a big Broadway musical every summer at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For actors with mental and physical challenges, adjusting to the move from the rehearsal room to the vaunted stage with dozens of fast-moving cast and crew swirling about can be too much.

    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by John MooreBut veteran Phamaly actor Ashley Kelashian spotted the girl and took action. Within seconds, she managed to maneuver her own wheelchair to the girl’s side and comforted her, despite the enormous pain she was in herself. That’s the way it goes at Phamaly, where there is always an army of special people standing by to help those with special needs.

    At Phamaly, everyone is different - which is what makes everyone the same.

    “We are aptly named Phamaly because it is a family too,” said Kelashian, who, ironically, will be scaring the bejeebers out of the orphans in the iconic role of the mean Mrs. Hannigan when Annie opens on Saturday.

    Kelashian and the girl she helped have more in common than wheelchairs: She has been acting since she was old enough to play an orphan herself. She knew performing was her calling when she was 13 and a teacher told her forcefully, ‘That is what you are supposed to do with your life.’ ”

    Kelashian grew up in Texas and attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where she received the R.L. Frasier Scholarship for Artistic Excellence. It was there, while playing a witch in Macbeth, she discovered something was going wrong with her body.

    “There was a point in the play when we had to run up over this hill because it was an outdoor theatre,” she said. “But I had a breakdown and all these lumps popped up over me. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.” When she admitted to her director that she could no longer accommodate the physical demands of the blocking because she was in such pain - she was cut from the show.

    Phamaly campaign raises $200K, 'saves the company'

    “Everyone was like, ‘You need to handle this. You shouldn't be on stage if you aren’t in shape to run down the hill,’ ” Kelashian said. “Instead of just changing things around so I wouldn’t have to run down the hill, they let me go.”

    A life-changing diagnosis

    Kelashian was diagnosed with Dercum’s disease, a rare condition that caused tumors to grow over her body and under her skin. The result is extreme and constant pain.

    Her peers just didn’t get it, and Kelashian dropped out of college. She says the next couple of years were a dark time. She was depressed because she could no longer act out her passion for theatre - and scared because of the uncertainty this little-known disease brought.

    “That was a rough experience,” she said. “I really don’t talk to anyone from that time of my life, just because it was such a strange thing to go through at a young age.”

    Kelashian enrolled at a local community college where she studied Speech and Debate - “or what I call ‘Competitive Theatre,’ she quipped. It was during a competition she met the man she would marry and start a family with.

    The couple moved to Denver with son Edric, she said, because of the city’s reputation for providing services that allow the disability community to live full and independent lives. “Denver is the the disability mecca,” she said with a laugh. The subsequent legalization of medical marijuana has been a godsend, she says, because it eases her chronic pain.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by John Moore

    The only thing that was missing from her life here was theatre. That changed in 2012. One day while scanning the audition notices in The Denver Post, one upcoming production caught Kelashian’s eye: Phamaly was looking for disabled actors to perform in Little Shop of Horrors.

    “I fell to pieces,” Kelashian said. “I didn't know anything except that whatever this was, it was for me. I just cried and cried. I auditioned, I got in - and that is what I have been doing ever since.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Kelashian instantly felt she could be herself again in the company of Phamaly. Subsequent roles with the company have included Yente in Fiddler on the Roof and Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. Her son, Edric Kelashian, joined his mother in the ensemble of Fiddler.

    Ashley Kelashian_Quote 2Through it all, Kelashian has tried not to let her disease change her instinct to always put others first.

    “You have to be humble,” she said. “You have to be patient through your own pain, so you have to be patient with other people's pain. Any opportunity you have to make someone feel good is a good chance for me.”

    As Phamaly's official Literary Manager, Kelashian maintains a script library to help her fellow actors prepare for auditions. She has resisted the frequent suggestion that she should charge for the service.

    “My motto is, ‘Kind is the most important thing you can be,’ ” Kelashian said. “I hope people would say I am kind and helpful whenever I can be.”

    She seems by all accounts, completely miscast to play the role Carol Burnett made famous on film. Mrs. Hannigan is the booze-sodden, kid-hating caretaker of the ratty New York orphanage where she makes her girls scrub the floor till it shines like the Chrysler Building. But while Kelashian might not be wicked, she is known for her wicked sense of humor.

    “Sometimes she just channels Hannigan," said castmate Jenna Bainbridge, who plays good-girl Grace. “Last night one of the kids were driving us crazy and she said, ‘Oh, God, I feel like Hannigan today. I need a drink, you guys.' "

    The sun will come out in Texas

    The Kelashian family moved back to Texas a year ago so Edric could attend his freshman year of high school with his friends there. Ashley has been traveling to and from Denver for the past year to continue her work for Phamaly.  

    For this run of Annie, Kelashian is living in an apartment with a roommate, and she admitted there are times when she needs to ask for help.

    “I don't want to say I overestimated myself before I came back here for this - but I did,” Kelashian said. “I have gotten to the point where when I do the dishes, the repetitive motion tears the tissue in my arm. And at rehearsal, I need to wave the kids all about, and that is more painful than normal.”

    Ashley Kelashian. Photo by Avery AndersonBut all Kelashian had to do was say the word, and "within 30 minutes," she said, help was on the way. The Denver Center, which not only makes its theatres available for Phamaly productions but also assists with production, marketing and logistical support, had made one of the apartments it owns in nearby Brooks Tower building available to another out-of-town Annie performer. And that convenience has made her available to help Kelashian at a moment's notice.

    "I got a phone call saying she could come over and help me with things and take me to the emergency room if I ever needed it,” Kelashian said. “I was just crying. Nowhere else in the world would I get this kind of accommodation to do what I love doing.”

    And when Edric graduates from high school in 2020, Kelashian and her husband plan to come home to Colorado for good.

    “Phamaly is the end-game of my life,” Kelashian said. 

    Phamaly Theatre Company's Annie: Ticket information
    • July 15 through Aug. 6
    • Stage Theatre Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Directed by Regan Linton and Steve Wilson. Musical Direction by Trent Hines
    • Tickets: $20-$37
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Accessible performances: July 23, Aug. 3

    Video: View Phamaly's official Annie trailer

    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of Phamaly:

    Pop-culture Annie, from comics to Broadway to Jay-Z
    Phamaly gala, campaign raise $200K, ‘save the company’
    Phamaly launches emergency $100,000 fundraising campaign
    Regan Linton accepts Spirit of Craig Award
    Regan Linton returns to lead Phamaly in landmark appointment

    About the author:
    Avery-Anderson Avery Anderson is interning with the DCPA NewsCenter for the summer. He is the General Manager and producer of Met TV at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He was won two Heartland Student Emmy Awards for his work on The Met Report. He has a passion for local arts and culture and enjoys covering theatres across the Denver area and the state. Follow him on Twitter at @a_anderson64.

  • Tapestry: A theatre company that applauds all abilities ​

    by John Moore | Jul 13, 2017

    Tapestry Theatre

    Katie Ellis, 15, right, and peer mentor Fiona Cubillas, 14, have been paired together for three summer musicals, including 'Honk Jr.,' above.

    Young special-needs actors are paired with peer mentors and discover talents they never knew they had.

    By Ann Morrill
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    CenterStage’s Tapestry Theatre is a unique program that casts young actors with special needs in lead roles, alongside peer mentors in support roles. By cultivating a safe and inclusive community, these young actors discover talents they never knew they had and form long-lasting friendships.

    “Isn’t it a more natural way to live in the world when people of all abilities interact together every day?” asks Elizabeth Goodrich, who has served as co-director with Lynne Niston on all eight of the company’s musical productions.

    Beginning with You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in the summer of 2012, this unusual theatre model has strived to hold up individual strengths, challenge societal perceptions and embrace the philosophy of applauding all abilities.

    Through Sunday (July 16), Tapestry Theatre is presenting the family-friendly musical How to Eat like a Child at Boulder’s Dairy Arts Center.

    Goodrich is a St. Vrain Valley special-education teacher and Niston is a former professional actor and director who works in special education in Lyons. Their mantra: Moving beyond what each actor thinks they can achieve. This is not about what a person is unable to do, says Goodrich. It is instead about the belief that the actors will continue to grow if given the chance.

    "The tendency when working with people with special needs is to make things easier for the person," Goodrich says. She tells them instead: “I know it’s hard, but we know that you can do this.”

    The young actors are paired with peer mentors throughout the rehearsal and performance process. Sometimes these mentors may need to provide a lot of support - or only occasionally.  

    Tapestry Theatre Katie Ellis, 15, and peer mentor Fiona Cubillas, 14, have been paired together for Tapestry’s past three summer musicals: Bye Bye Birdie Jr., Honk Jr. and How to Eat like a Child. Ellis’ favorite role so far has been Grace in Honk "because I got to be a beautiful duck and be really sassy," she said. "I love to make people laugh.”

    Her mentor’s favorite assignment has been watching Ellis grow into the role of Mrs. Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie Jr. She credits the directing team for helping the actors connect and understand how they work together.

    Niston says the goal at Tapestry is always a high-quality, professional production in every way — including acting, music, costuming, set design and lighting. “These actors’ eagerness, their desire to be involved, and their hours of hard work inspire and challenge me to give my best as a director,” she says.

    Tapestry productions often have shorter rehearsals spread over more weeks than typical theatre companies to accommodate the actors’ differing abilities, other commitments and therapies. Although participating is a major time-commitment, Tapestry has grown from an average of 15 actors per show in 2012 to nearly 40 today. Tapestry families have become a close-knit community through picnics and potlucks throughout the year.

    For Ellis and Cubillas, being paired has helped them to forge a friendship that has extended to sleepovers, playdates and birthday parties. “People ask us if we are sisters because we seem so much alike,” Cubillas said.

    Niston says Tapestry also allows audiences to interact with people with intellectual disabilities without fear. “When you see kids onstage performing, it bridges the gap between people of differing abilities, and it changes perceptions," she said. "It impacts the audience in terms of knowing what the actors can do.”

    As Tapestry grows and adds programming, especially for those who have aged out of the musical shows for school-age actors, the goal is to stage more productions for actors of all ages and abilities. The recent spring musical, Fiddler on the Roof Jr., did just that. It featured actors ranging in age from14 to 72, including three generations from one family.

    “This model truly equalized our cast with all ages and experience levels," Goodrich said. That led to deepened connections and a mutual respect regardless of age, ability or experience.

    About the Author: Ann MorrillAnn Morrill

    Ann Morrill is a middle-school Spanish teacher, education writer, bilingual editor, theatre lover, and CenterStage Board member. CenterStage provides a rich atmosphere that leads young people into excellence in the vast world of theatre arts; thus building confidence, self-esteem, community awareness, and friendships that last a lifetime. To learn more about all CenterStage productions this summer and upcoming shows, please go to centerstagetheatrecompany.org.

    How to Eat Like a Child
    : Ticket Information

    • At a glance: A comic musical romp through the joys and sorrows of being a child, among them: How to beg for a dog, how to torture your sister, how to act after being sent to your room, and how to laugh hysterically.
    • Presented by CenterStage's Tapestry Theatre
    • Through July 16
    • At the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 80302
    • Info: 303-444-7328 or centerstagetheatrecompany.org

    Remaining performances:

    • Thursday, July 13, 7 p.m.
    • Friday, July 14, 7 p.m.
    • Saturday, July 15, 1 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 16, 1 p.m.

    Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter Guest Columns:
    BreAnna Romero on Skype with Curious Incident's set designer
    Judy Craymer on the origins of Mamma Mia!
    Douglas Langworthy on 'translating' Shakespeare: First, do no harm
    David Nehls: Live theatre returns to Elitch Gardens after 24 years
    Gillian McNally: Colorado's oldest theatre celebrates Artistic Director Tom McNally
    Margie Lamb on the Henry Awards: Something doesn't add up
    Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
    Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season

  • Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays performed

    by John Moore | Jul 13, 2017
    Video above: We talk with the two student playwrights whose works were fully staged by DCPA Education actors on June 11. 

    DCPA Education's fourth annual Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition is a one-act playwriting competition designed for Colorado high schools. Its mission is to help high-school writers find and cultivate their authentic voices.

    Each fall, local playwrights and DCPA Teaching Artists go out into schools statewide, conduct writing workshops and encourage students to submit one-act plays for the competition. This past year, 138 playwriting workshops were held in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state.

    Student playwriting A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly. Ten were named as finalists. Four of those were chosen to be workshopped and have a staged reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February. In previous years, one play has then been chosen for a full summer production by DCPA Education’s summer teen company. But this year, competition officials chose to advance two scripts to full stagings. The winning plays were Dear Boy on the Tree, written by Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak High School (pictured above), and Spilt Lava, written by Ryan McCormick of Fort Collins High School. Each play had two public performances on June 11 in the Conservatory Theatre.

    Video: Our report from the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit

    This video above includes interviews with the playwrights, Director Steven Cole Hughes and student actors Nathaniel Pagibigan, Madeleine Kee and Jacob Maki.

    For information on next year's competition, starting with school workshops in the fall of 2017, go to denvercenter.org/education.

    Video by David Lenk and Avery Anderson for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Photo gallery: 2016-17 Student Playwriting

    2017 Student Playwriting

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for free and may be used for personal and social purposes with credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:
    Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School
    Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School
    Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    Samantha Shapard, Overland High School
    Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    Daniela Villalobo, York International
    Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Check out the all-local casting for DCPA's 'First Date'

    by John Moore | Jul 12, 2017

    First Date

    The cast of 'First Date,' top row from left: Steven J. Burge, Seth Dhonau, Jordan Leigh and Lauren Shealy. Second row: Adriane Leigh Robinson, Cashelle Butler, Barret Harper and Director Ray Roderick. (Note: Aaron Vega plays Jordan Leigh's role from Nov. 11-Dec. 3.)

    Returning Galleria faces among the all-Colorado cast are Jordan Leigh, Lauren Shealy and Steven J. Burge

    By John Moore and Heidi Bosk
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced an all-local cast for its  upcoming production of First Date, playing The Garner Galleria Theatre from Nov. 11, 2017, through April 22, 2018.

    When blind date newbie Aaron is set up with serial-dater Casey, a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a comically high-stakes dinner. As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this unpredictable evening. In an unexpected twist, Casey and Aaron’s inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines. Can this couple turn what could be a dating disaster into something special before the check arrives?

    Directed by Ray Roderick (The Last 5 Years, The Taffetas, Five Course Love and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change), First Date features both returning Denver Center favorites and exciting new faces:  
    • Adriane Leigh Robinson – Casey
    • Seth Dhonau – Aaron
    • Steven J. Burge – Man 1
    • Aaron Vega – Man 2 (Nov. 11-Dec. 3)
    • Jordan Leigh – Man 2 (Dec. 5-April 22)
    • Lauren Shealy – Woman 1
    • Barret Harper – Male Understudy
    • Cashelle Butler – Female Understudy

    The First Date creative team includes Martha Yordy (musical direction), Lisa M. Orzolek (scenic design), Charles R. MacLeod (lighting design), Meghan Anderson Doyle (costume design) and Craig Breitenbach (sound design).

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    (Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for this productions in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.)

    First Date: Meet the cast

    Adriane Wilson 160ADRIANE LEIGH ROBINSON (Casey) is overjoyed to be making her Denver Center debut in this production of First Date. Before migrating to Colorado, Adriane performed internationally with a number of Air Force troupes and with James Madison University’s Children’s Playshop in Harrisburg, Virginia. Since graduating from The University of Northern Colorado, Adriane has appeared on the stages of Little Theatre of the Rockies and Miner’s Alley Playhouse, where she recently played Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Adriane was the recipient of Best Actress in a Musical at The European Toppers Awards in Heidelberg, Germany for her role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (Aviano Theatre) and an Irene Ryan Awards nomination for her performance as Laurie Williams in Oklahoma (University of Northern Colorado).

    Adriane WilsonHometown: Aviano, Italy. I spent the ity of my high-school years there, and consider it the place where I truly began finding myself as an adult.
    • College: University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • What's your handle? @little.adriane.leigh on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: I am a Pit-bull-loving, cheese-devouring, Harry Potter enthusiast. I was raised in a military family, so I had the opportunity to live and perform all over the country, and overseas. In my free time, I am a princess impersonator with a fabulous company called Wands and Wishes Occasions, in addition to running a photography business with my partner called Marco Robinson Photo. I am happiest when I’m reading, cooking, and playing with my two handsome puppies.
    • The role that changed your life? I recently played Sally Bowles in Cabaret with Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden (pictured above.) Sally was by far the most challenging and enjoyable character I’ve had the opportunity to tackle in a long while. She is such an iconic persona in the musical theatre world, and it was an honor to put my own spin on her manic yet lovable personality.
    Ideal scene partner: Steve Carell. I am such an enormous fan of his work; his range is so vast, and he seems like such a friendly person.
    What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope they walk away understanding that the presence of love in one’s life should stand above all other things. Professional success, material possessions and good looks all fade away at some point. But the one thing that has been proven to stand the test of time is love. Love deserves our attention, respect and dedication.
    Your worst first-date story: When I first arrived in Colorado in 2011, a friend set me up with one of his classmates. Let’s call him Ryan. Ryan seemed cute and sweet, so I agreed to the date. As a surprise, Ryan set up a horse-riding excursion for us in Colorado Springs, but we got hit by a terrible rainstorm, so that was no longer an option. I was new to the area, so I had no ideas, and neither did Ryan. Things were a little awkward as we sat in his car, trying to make small talk. Then things got very weird very fast. As our conversation started to dwindle, I realized we had nothing in common, especially when he started telling me about the demons that possess him. That’s right … demons. He went into great detail about the personalities of his demonic captors, and how they affected his daily life. Needless to say, there was no second date. I haven’t heard from Ryan or his demons since.
    Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... safety, good health, and happiness for those I love. Oh, and for my Hogwarts letter to arrive.
    Anything else you want to add?
    Enjoy the show, folks!

    Check out the all-local casting for DCPA's The Wild Party

    Seth DhonauSETH DHONAU
    (Aaron). Since moving to Denver last year, Seth has been seen in several productions including Red Hot and Cole (Cherry Creek Theater, pictured below right) and Evita (Lone Tree Arts Center). Previously he lived in New York and sang with some of the top choirs in the area, appearing at both St. Patrick's Cathedral and Carnegie Hall. Seth studied opera, theater and economics at Northwestern University where he appeared in Bernstein’s Mass, The Waa-Mu Show and multiple productions with the American Music Theatre Project. 

    Seth DhonauHometown: Fond du Lac, Wis.
    • College: Bachelor of Music (Voice and Opera) from Northwestern University
    • What's your handle? @Deathsono on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Connoisseur of film, literature, music, wine and cowboy boots.
    • The role that changed your life? George in Sunday in the Park with George. It wasn’t until I took on this role that I realized the power of storytelling on stage. To me it’s the ultimate confluence of music and art and the attending emotions that each brings about in us.
    Ideal scene partner: Joaquin Phoenix. I’m absolutely transfixed when he’s on screen; whether he appears to be digging into some unfathomable, wild place or just … being.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope our show reminds our audiences to take chances, and to not focus too much on the stuff you can’t change. There’s a big world out there if you allow yourself to go find it.
    • Your worst first-date story: Back in college, during the dark ages of Facebook (temporally, not socio-politically), I attempted to use my cell phone to look up an acquaintance with whom I’d be going on a first date that evening. Instead of typing her name into the search bar, I accidentally posted it, like a total creep, prominently atop my profile page where it remained for the duration of a recital I had just stepped on stage to perform. The post got no ‘likes,’ and I don’t think there was a second date.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... for people to slow down!”

    A Steven J. Burge 160STEVEN J. BURGE
     (Man 1) is thrilled to be back and treading the Denver Center boards again after making his Galleria debut last season as God in An Act of God (pictured below right). He made his Colorado debut in 2003 as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors following the national tours of … And Then They Came for Me and A Christmas Carol. Since then, this award-winning character actor has appeared on stages throughout the Denver metro area including the Denver Center, Arvada Center, Curious Theatre, Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret and many others. Steven was the recipient of The Denver Post Ovation Award for Best Solo Performance in Fully Committed (Aurora Fox), a one-man show in which Steven portrayed more than 30 different characters. Steven has also been recognized for his work in Contrived Ending (Buntport Theatre) and Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (Avenue Theatre).

    Steven J. Burge, Erik Sandvold, Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God. Photo by John Moore. Hometown: Martelle, Iowa. There's a sign on the city limits that reads "Welcome to Martelle! The small town with a big heart!" And it very much lives up to that hype. When my family moved there just after my seventh birthday, the town claimed fewer than 300 people. But I remember them as being the nicest 300 people on Earth. 
    • College: Theatre and Communications at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa
    • What's your handle? I don't do the Twitter or the Instagram. But you should totally feel free to "friend" me on the Facebook if you'd like. It's my most favorite way to waste time.
    • The role that changed your life? In 2003, a tour I was doing ended and I came to Denver to take a three-month contract playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. The plan was for me to do the show and hit the road again. But Colorado was so beautiful, and the people were so great, that I just kept on not leaving. Thirteen years later, I consider myself a proud Denverite. I guess that role didn’t just change my life; in some ways it sort of created it.
    Ideal scene partner: I don't need to look beyond Colorado to find a scene partner who will excite me or challenge me or inspire me. The artist community here is vibrant and relevant and I, for one, am so grateful to the Denver Center’s producers and subscribers and individual ticket-buyers for giving so many local theatre artists the opportunity to work where we live. That is a great gift. … OK, also Cassandra Peterson, a k a Elvira Mistress of the Dark. She's hilarious and she has been my comic hero since I was 10 years old. And guess what? She’s also from Colorado, kind of. Colorado Springs. But that counts.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? Kissed. I hope you come to the show with someone you have a big ol' crush on ... whether it's a brand new crush or someone you've loved and married and crushed on for 50 years. I hope you sit in the audience together and get all twitterpated and nervous and get that "barfy" feeling. (It's a great feeling, isn't it?) And then I hope you get kissed. Every single one of you. 
    • Your worst first-date story: Ohmigosh, you guys, no lie: When I read this question, I immediately started to sweat. Then I briefly thought about quitting this show so I could avoid thinking about my dating life and answering this question. Then I recognized I was being a crazy person so I spent the better part of an hour Googling therapists in my insurance network and late-night delivery restaurants in my neighborhood. Then I watched a couple episodes of Dateline on Investigation Discovery because I find that when you're reflecting on your dating history, more often than not an episode of Dateline will remind you that no matter how bad you think it is, your taste in men could be worse. Pass.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... a room somewhere.
    Far away from the cold night air.
    With one enormous chair.

    (That's from My Fair Lady. Because I am a #MusicalTheatreNerd)
    • Anything else you want to add?
    Fine! Tell you what. ... If you REALLY want to hear my dating horror stories, find me after the show and I'll tell you over dessert. (It's a first date!) <3

    Jordan LeighJORDAN LEIGH
    (Man 2 from Dec. 5-April 22) couldn’t be happier to be back on the Garner Galleria stage for a fifth time after his record-setting run in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (1,731 performances), Five Course Love, The Doyle and Debbie Show and Forbidden Broadway. A proud Denver native, he has appeared on stages across the city for 20 years, including his co-starring role with the DCPA Theatre Company as the Apostle, Matt in 2015’s The 12 (pictured below right) and in front of capacity crowds at The Buell while co-starring in the DCPA Theatre Company’s, White Christmas. An award-winning film actor as well, (three-time Best Actor-48 Hour Filmmaking Project/Special Screening Cannes), he recently appeared alongside Hollywood legends, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, in the Netflix feature Our Souls at Night. Proud 17-year member of Actors Equity Association. Much love to Hannah.

    Jordan Leigh The 12Hometown: Denver. I am a third-generation Coloradan!
    • College: BA in Theatre and Masters Acting Intensive from UCLA School of Theatre (magna cum laude)
    • What's your handle? @JordanLeighActs on Twitter; @ThatActorGuyJordan on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Buddhist Jew who loves Jesus. And Science. And South Park. And Animals. Hopes we can find a way to cut through all this worldly Mishegas (Yiddish for “insanity”). 
    • The role that changed your life? I regularly find that the roles I play reflect aspects of my own life journey that I'm experiencing right then and there. I'm constantly reawakened to how this craft is somehow esoterically and intimately intertwined with my own life experience. Well that, and playing Danny Zuko my senior year in high school. Because, well... Danny Zuko.
    Ideal scene partner: I love the idea of discussing the fact with Hugh Jackman that he can pull off playing both Wolverine and Jean Valjean. That seems pretty ideal from an acting standpoint.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? When I am affected by the truth of human connection in this life, it restores my faith in our common journey on this planet. When I'm able to be a part of making others feel that way through theatre, it makes me all warm and fuzzy. That's what I'm hoping this show will do to the good folks who continue to support this ancient form of storytelling. Oh, and I hope that at least one person laughs hard enough to pee a little.
    • Your worst first-date story: When she said, “I'm not a big reader. My favorite book is Hop on Pop." No offense to Dr. Seuss, but I'll just leave that there.
    • Your best first-date story:
    Driving down to Albuquerque to meet the woman with whom I now love and share my life. Hooray for internet dating!
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... for all sentient beings to be free from suffering.” (That is the goal of Buddhist philosophy.)
    • Anything else you want to add?
    I have been so fortunate to call the Denver Center (and especially The Galleria Theatre) my theatre home for 17 years now. I feel truly blessed to have been able to do what I do so frequently at this incredible place. To all at the DCPA who have placed your professional faith in me all these years, you have my undying gratitude.

    Lauren ShealyLAUREN SHEALY
    (Woman 1) DCPA Cabaret: Forbidden Broadway (Woman 2), The Doyle and Debbie Show (Debbie), I Love You, You’re Perfect… (Woman 2). DCPA Theatre Company: Sweeney Todd (Swing), A Christmas Carol (Ensemble). Off Broadway: Lingoland (Lauren), How to Succeed In Business... (Rosemary). The Arvada Center: White Christmas (Betty), A Man Of No Importance (Mrs. Patrick), Curtains (Georgia), Miracle On 34th Street (Doris), 1940’s Radio Hour (Anne). Lone Tree Arts Center: Evita (Eva, pictured below right), South Pacific (Nellie). National Tour: South Pacific (Nellie). Other Theaters: Jekyll and Hyde (Lucy), Tick, Tick…Boom (Susan), Phantom (Christine). Training/Awards: NYU, Tisch; 2015 CTG Henry nomination for Best Actress in a Musical; Westword’s Best Actress in a Musical for 2013. 

    Lauren Shealy. Photo by Danny Lam. EvitaHometown: Littleton
    • College: BFA Drama from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts
    • What's your handle? I am not that cool.
    • Twitter-sized bio: Lover of life, stories, music, family, heavy weights, hikes, hugs and cake pops. Habitual bath taker, banana bread maker and horror movie watcher.
    • The role that changed your life? My role as a mother changed me as a performer. My heart underwent profound renovations; the current model has no walls, many doors and seriously leaky faucets. Every day I wrestle with a delightful and terrifying mix of fear, love, and humility. I am often raw, I doubt my goodness, question my strength … but I am strangely more brave.
    Ideal scene partner: Emma Thompson. I want to work a scene with her, follow her around for a week, peek in her freezer. She’s so yummy to watch – fully present, strong and beautifully vulnerable. She is so smart! – she adapted the script for the Ang Lee version of Sense and Sensibility – it’s perfection.  
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope the audience laughs and releases the stress of the day. I hope that they make a connection ... to me, to each other, and to the role that love/attraction plays in their lives.
    • Your best first-date story:
    In the summer of 2011, friends set me up on a blind date with Bret Hipsher. I had reservations. I was casually dating a photographer and felt conflicted about going on a date with someone else. My father encouraged me to go. “Lauren, you have nothing to lose and you never know ... this guy could be the love of your life," he said. I kept the date. When Bret arrived, I opened the door and promptly lost the ability to speak coherently. There was something about his easy smile, beautiful blue eyes and delicious smell that rendered me useless for a short time. Once I recovered, I found myself more at ease with Bret than I had ever been with another man. I loved talking to him. I stared at his forearms. I felt his kindness washing over me at regular intervals. I watched the breeze play with his hair. I marveled at his exceptional intelligence and great sense of humor. He had his stuff together. I knew he was important. After he kissed my cheek that night, I called the photographer and wished him well. I married Bret a year later.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "… what I have.”

    Aaron VegaAARON VEGA
    (Man 2 from Nov. 11-Dec. 3)
    DCPA Off-Center: The Wild Party. Aaron has performed in theaters across the country and after many years in New York City moved to Colorado with his dog. He has adapted and directed Shakespeare, staged rock and symphony concerts, is a founding artist and board member for the puppet and mask ensemble The Zoot Theatre Company, is the Artistic Director for Eureka Suitcase in New York and is the Executive Producer for The People’s Theatre of Denver.

    Aaron Vega. The Wild Party. Adams VisComHometown: I grew up in Amish country in north central Ohio. A little rural town called Mansfield
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: I graduated from high school early so that I could get a degree at Wright State University's Professional Actor Training Program
    • What's your handle? @bardgeek on both Twitter and Instagram
    • Website: AaronVega.com
    • Twitter-sized bio: Freelance actor and director who is committed to bringing the audience's imagination into the theatrical process. Also an over-eater of pizza and hummus.
    • The role that changed your life? I played John Harrower in an unknown musical by Ricky Ian Gordan and Tina Landau called States of Independence. That was the moment I realized that musical theatre could be something deeper and more meaningful than I previously thought. And that I didn't have to choose between being an actor and being a musical-theatre performer.
    • Ideal scene partner: Laurence Olivier. He was the perfect blend of technique, imagination, grace and courage.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? A sense that the world is not as scary as prime-time TV would have us believe. That there is love in the world and that the only thing separating us from it is our frantic mind.
    • Your best first-date story: I've been incredibly lucky, and I've never been on Tinder so ... I'm good.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …”:
    "... for the world to create more and destroy less."
    • Anything else you want to add? I have the index page of Shakespeare's Folio tattooed on my forearm. Whenever I'm feeling to big for my britches I can just look down and be reminded of what true genius is, and it motivates me to keep working harder. Kaizen! (That's the Japanese word for "change for better.")

    Barret HarperBARRET HARPER
    (Male Understudy) Denver Center debut. Barret has performed across the country in New York, Arizona and Florida, but is thrilled to return to Denver, which he considers home. He was most recently seen as Lonny in Rock of Ages at BDT Stage after two regional premieres of the production in Colorado and Arizona. Other favorite roles include Cornelius in Hello, Dolly!, Jinx in Forever Plaid, Mark in Altar Boyz, and Link in Hairspray. Regional: Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Arvada Center, Central City Opera, Arizona Broadway Theater, Broadway Palm Theater and Colorado Light Opera. Thanks to friends, family, and my beautiful wife for always encouraging me to dream.

    Barret Harper Forever PlaidHometown: Littleton 
    • College: BFA in Theater Performance, BA in Biochemistry, Minor in Chemistry from the University of Colorado Boulder 
    • What's your handle? @BarretHarper on Twitter; @grin.and.barret on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Barret. Beets. Battlestar Galactica
    • The role that changed your life? Jinx in Forever Plaid (pictured right at the Town Hall Arts Center). He is this quiet and shy person the audience gets to see come out of his shell, exposing so much heart. Everyone loves an underdog, and Jinx is the perfect personification of one. I love the journey he takes and his uncompromising nerdiness, which makes him incredibly endearing. If given the chance, I would play that role forever. 
    Ideal scene partner: Tom Hanks is a master of subtlety and nuance. His attention to small details makes his characters so vibrant and rich. I would love to watch him work and play off of that energy.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope the audience walks away with a renewed faith for the human spirit. In recent times, I have sensed that we have lost touch with the ability to find common ground as a source of compassion for people with different views. This show is about two impossibly matched people who find that deep down they are looking for the same thing. My hope is that we all find that common ground and a compassion for one another. 
    • Your worst first-date story: That would have to be the time I thought I would impress the girl with some culinary skills. The plan was to make a Greek-themed meal complete with homemade baklava, since she had never eaten any Greek food before. As we finished eating, she had a few bites of the baklava before her face started to flush and swell. I had never thought to ask her if she had a nut allergy, and the baklava was stuffed with finely crushed walnuts. Luckily, she realized what was happening and stopped eating the deadly dessert before it got any worse. We later laughed about my unintentional attempt at murder, but at the moment it happened I was sure I had blown it. 
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... a room somewhere. Far away from the cold night air.” That’s from My Fair Lady. The world could use a little more of the kind of joy that musical theater celebrates. 

    Video above: Watch as Cashelle Butler returned to her Cherry Creek High School stomping grounds when she was in Denver for the farewell tour of 'Mamma Mia!' Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    CashelleButlerCASHELLE BUTLER (Female Understudy) is thrilled to be back in her hometown of Denver following two years playing Tanya on the national tour of Mamma Mia!. Other credits include: Young Frankenstein (Elizabeth, Westword Best of Denver Award), The Marvelous Wonderettes (Cindy Lou, pictured below right at the Town Hall Arts Center), Parade (Lucille) and Legally Blonde (Paulette). University of Northern Colorado. Former DCPA Education student. Immense gratitude to DCPA, the cast, and the creatives. Love to Mom, Dad, Shea and Aaron.

    • Hometown: Denver
    • College: BA in Musical Theatre from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • What's your handle? @cashellebutler on Twitter and Instagram
    • Website:
    • Twitter-sized bio: Lover of conversation, family, naps, music, coffee, cute animal photos and Chipotle.
    Chashelle Butler. Town Hall Arts Center. The role that changed your life? Playing Tanya in the Farewell Tour of Mamma Mia! The character is so fun and comical that it was a blast to be able to go to work every night and just be silly and laugh. However, it was also amazing discipline, doing the show for two years straight and staying truthful and genuine every night. It is crazy to think that live theatre can ever become muscle memory, but after a long run it is so important to be present every single night. The role was life-changing, but so was the lifestyle that went with it. Seeing the country while doing what I love was an incredible opportunity, and it was so wonderful to be able to perform in amazing theatres in awesome cities. (My favorite was Denver). It was such a whirlwind.
    Ideal scene partner: I really love Rachel Bay Jones, who is currently appearing in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway). She is so versatile and such a strong actress. I’ve seen her in a few different shows, and every character she plays is just so genuine and believable. She's funny and fierce and vulnerable all in one, and I would love to work a scene (or 20) with her and learn from her.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope the audience is able to laugh, enjoy, and escape the world, I think First Date has a little bit of something for everyone. The story is so easy to connect with, and the music is so great that I think it’s an awesome way to spend an evening.
    • Your worst first-date story: One first date suggested we go on a hike and, in retrospect, it’s kind of creepy going off into the woods with a stranger. He said he was going to bring his dog, and I love dogs, so that really sold me. I met him at the trail thinking we will get to know each other while we leisurely walk. Instead, the guy broke into a full uphill sprint. What followed was two breathless hours of me trying to keep up on the trail run with this man and his dog. I tripped a lot, sweat a lot - and all we got to know about each other was our very different fitness levels.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... Happiness for myself and all those around me. Also music, Chipotle, and endless photos of baby animals.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

  • In the Spotlife: Lenne Klingaman of 'Hamlet'

    by John Moore | Jul 11, 2017
    Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen

    Lenne Klingaman played Juliet in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Romeo and Juliet' and two roles in the world premiere of the time-traveling 'Appoggiatura.' Now she is one of the few female actors to take on Hamlet, for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

    Hamlet in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 'Hamlet,' through Aug. 6. She also will be playing Hamlet in the upcoming Tom Stoppard play, 'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.'

  • Hometown: Minneapolis
  • Home now: Brooklyn
  • College: BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz, MFA from the University of Washington
  • Lenne Klingaman What have you done for us lately? I played Sylvie and Young Helen in the DCPA Theatre Company's Appoggiatura.
  • What's next? I can't tell you yet, but it is going to be FUN!
  • What's your handle? @lenne03 on Instagram, @lennek on Twitter
  • Website: lenneklingaman.com
  • Twitter-sized bio: Lenne Klingaman is a performer of stage/screen/mic and mirror. Onstage, she has built a plane, acted on trapeze, rope and silk - in a cape and high-heeled boots. Her album The Heart is the Hunter is on iTunes and Apple Music
  • The role that changed your life: Playing Juliet. Every time. She and Shakespeare were my first theatrical loves and playing her four different times over a span of 10 years  was the best acting lesson I could ever ask for. She taught me not to be precious, to keep asking questions, never give up, that there is always another way, and to always look for strength in characters, even when they’re at their weakest.
  • Harriet WalterIdeal scene partner: Mark Rylance. I want to know where those ideas come from. So perfectly simple and complex all at once. Or Harriet Walter. I am obsessed with her book Brutus and Other Heroines that my Hamlet director Carolyn Howarth lent me in preparing to play Hamlet. I just want to have wine with Walter after rehearsal to chat all things feminism in theater. She knows my soul. 
  • Our full interview with Lenne Klingaman on playing Hamlet

  • In short, what is Hamlet all about? Mortality and what we are put here on this planet to do. Fortune, and how you handle it.
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing a female Hamlet: I love my character with my whole heart. All the flaws, all the joy, all the wit, all the desire, all the intellect, all the heart, all the love. Love drives this human. Love for her father, for her family that’s been broken apart, for her mother, as conflicted as that is, for her friends … and so when they wrong her, the pit of despair and pain runs so deep, not much can stop her. The push and pull of this character is a fascinating thing to witness and enact. Her intellect, mixed with her deep drive to act, to do something, whether it be exacting revenge or finding out the truth, is luscious to sink my teeth into. Every night I am confronted by having to do Hamlet's “Rogue and Peasant Slave” speech, followed immediately by “To Be or Not to Be.”  This juxtaposition is the very heart of the character. We could talk about placement of “To Be” for a while, but I will say the positioning of it at Act 3, Scene 1, out of all the three folio/quarto options, makes the most sense to me. I don’t think the speech is about killing oneself. It is about action. About what it means to truly live, which goes hand-in-hand with dying, the ultimate consequence of living.
  • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Lenne KlingamanWhat do you hope audiences get out of seeing your show? Oh, I hope people hear the text anew. That they fall in love with it in new ways. That they feel like a new and different life has been breathed into it - but was always there. I hope young girls see me sword fight, spit, kick things, love, swear, cry, and shout, and want to do all of that, too. (Maybe not the stabbing part.) I hope men see it and want to play Hamlet with some new ideas in mind. I hope people see a kingdom that is falling apart. Because ultimately, that is what Hamlet is fighting – corruption of the spirit, of the soul, of the kingdom. (And there is so much spying in this play. Everyone is a spy!)
  • What don't we know about you? I love puzzles. I am currently obsessed with Two Dots and Sudoku. I also believe in past lives. (I am just going to leave that one hanging.) “Alexander returneth to dust. The dust is earth, of earth we make loam, and why of that loam, where to he was converted, might they not stop a beer barrel.” Exactly, Shakespeare. (Or maybe he was just encouraging us to recycle…?).
  • What do you want to get off your chest? I am thinking a lot about the human existence right now. (Can’t imagine why.) I think we are so busy defining and refining the divisions between us that we forget how powerfully unique each and every one of us is. If we stopped finding labels and parties to identify with, and rather spoke from our own experiences and our beliefs and our hearts, we might actually see that we are far more united than divided. We might finally accept the intense fluidity that comes with human existence. It is all about multiplicity, identifying it within our own self, and thus training our brains to comprehend it outside of us.
  • Read Lenne Klingaman's interview in the New York Times

    Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. KoskinenAva Kostia as Laertes, left, duels to the death with Lenne Klingaman as Hamlet for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    Hamlet: Ticket information

    • Written by William Shakespeare
    • Directed by Carolyn Howarth
    • Through Aug. 13
    • University Theatre, University of Colorado campus MAP IT
    • Tickets $23-$39
    • For tickets, call 303-492-8008 or go to cupresents.org
    • Note: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead plays July 21-Aug. 13

    Remaining Hamlet performance schedule:
    • Sunday, June 18, 6:30 p.m.
    • Friday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 23, 1 p.m.
    • Wednesday, July 26, 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 30, 1 p.m. 
    • Wednesday, Aug. 2, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, Aug. 5., 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, July 6, 1 p.m.

    Cast list:

    Gary Wright: Claudius
    Michael Bouchard: Rosencrantz
    Kristofer Buxton: Osric/Tragedian
    Elise Collins: Fortinbras/Tragedian
    Sam Gregory: The Player/Ghost
    Lenne Klingaman: Hamlet
    Ava Kostia: Laertes
    Rodney Lizcano: Polonius/Gravedigger
    Jihad Milhem: Horatio
    Emelie O'Hara: Ophelia
    Sean Scrutchins: Guildenstern
    Cindy Spitko: Voltemand/Tragedian
    Austin Terrell: Cornelius/Tragedian
    Mare Trevathan: Gertrude
    Blake Williams: Marcellus/Tragedian Carolyn Howarth: Director
    Paul Behrhorst: Stage Manager
    Whitney Brady: Assistant Lighting and Scenic Designer
    Jason Ducat: Sound Designer
    Hugh Hanson: Costume Designer
    Stephen C. Jones: Scenic Designer, Lighting Designer
    Darion Ramos: Assistant Stage Manager

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Jack Barton of BDT Stage's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    Meet the ensemble of Buntport Theater's The Crud
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Ethelyn Friend of ________________, An Opera
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Emily K. Harrison of She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Tim Howard of Backstage Breckenridge's The Producers
    Meet Haley Hunsaker of Funky Little Theatre Company's Extremities
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Heather Lacy of the Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Tamara Meneghini of The Last Testament of Mary
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
    Meet Adriane Wilson of Miners Alley Playhouse's Cabaret

  • Aurora Fox amping up musicals, diversity in 2017-18

    by John Moore | Jul 10, 2017

    Stew, right, the subject and star of the 2008 Broadway musical 'Passing Strange.' Photo by David Lee.
    Stew, right, was the subject and star of the 2008 Broadway musical 'Passing Strange.' Its first local production will be at the Aurora Fox. Photo by David Lee.

    Black, brown, white and transgendered voices will be represented in a lineup led by Passing Strange.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Aurora Fox's ongoing commitment to bringing diversity to its stages was emphatically confirmed tonight with the announcement of the city-run company's 33rd season, which will include a record four mainstage musicals of all kinds and colors.

    A year after staging Porgy & Bess, Black Elk Speaks and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the Fox will stage Hi-Hat Hattie, the story of the first black performer to win an Oscar; Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the cult classic tale of a failed transgender rock star; the Latina immigrant comedy-drama Real Women Have Curves; and the first local production of Passing Strange, an all-black underdog nominee for Broadway's 2008 Best Musical Tony Award.

    This is the Fox's first season announcement since the resignation of Executive Director Charlie Packard, who had led the Aurora Fox since 2009. Packard's duties have temporarily fallen to his former boss, Aurora Cultural Services Manager Gary Margolis, who is heading an ongoing search for Packard's replacement.

    Opening the season Sept. 22 will be Stephen Sondheim’s contemporary musical classic Company, winner of seven Tony Awards. That's the tuneful story of the bashful bachelor who's not getting married today, tomorrow, or maybe ever. 

    Anna HighThen comes Hi-Hat Hattie, a tour-de-force solo musical that will star Denver actor Anna High (The Color Purple and Porgy & Bess, pictured at right). Hattie McDaniel was the Denver native who broke down Hollywood barriers by winning the 1939 Supporting Actress Oscar for playing Mammy in Gone With the Wind. The Denver East grad battled segregation and racism her whole life, yet she was targeted by the NAACP for playing subservient roles, blacklisted by studios and abandoned by all those big-time white Hollywood stars she once bragged were her friends. We never even get to hear McDaniel’s famous mantra: “I’d rather play a maid for $700 a week than be one for $7.”

    The Aurora Fox's original 2004 production of Hi-Hat Hattie starring Sheryl Renee won a Denver Post Ovation Award.

    Read our interview with Hedwig co-creator Stephen Trask

    HedwigThen comes cult favorite musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the Latina immigrant comedy-drama Real Women Have Curves and, perhaps most daringly, the season-ending Passing Strange.

    (Pictured right: Euan Morton in the 2016 national touring production of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch.')

    Passing Strange and In the Heights made history in 2008 as the two all-minority musicals went toe-to-toe for the best-musical Tony Award. Passing Strange is the more groundbreaking and substantive of the two. It opens as a concert with a rousing funk band led by a writer and showman known simply as Stew, who asks us, “What do you do when you wake up, and your whole life has been based on the decision of a teenager — a stoned teenager?”

    As actors come and go in Spring Awakening-like Brechtian fashion, we go back to the tumultuous 1970s and retrace young Stew’s epic journey from the suburban comforts of Los Angeles to Amsterdam and Berlin in search of “something more real than real.”

    But this is no nostalgia trip. It’s a difficult and meaningful odyssey about cultural identity and family that culminates as young Stew comes face-to-face with present-day Stew — and to terms with the unalterable cost his youthful narcissism has exacted from those he left behind. Passing Strange is catchy and cathartic performance art unlike anything Broadway has seen before. Spike Jones filmed the final Broadway performance and turned it into a 2009 concert film.

    (Story continues after the video.)

    Video excerpt: Passing Strange

    Denver's Su Teatro offered Real Women Have Curves in 2015, and Artistic Director Anthony Garcia said the play drew astronomical crowd counts. "The place was just packed all the time with heavily drinking women," he said with a laugh. Josefina Lopez's play is set in a tiny sewing factory in East Los Angeles in September 1987. Its women tell the Latina immigrant experience as they discuss their lives, desires and ambitions. The play was made into a movie in 2001 starring America Ferrera (Ugly Betty.)

    All of the Fox's season productions will take place on the 250-seat mainstage theatre. Next season will be the first at the Fox since the demise of Ignite Theatre, which rented both the Fox's mainstage and studio theatre for its offerings. But the vacancy has created for the company to present a new staging concept for its smaller studio theatre, which it is calling the Cabaret Series.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "These will be one-off performances, such as you might see in New York City," said The Aurora Fox's Beau Bisson. One performer will be announced per weekend throughout the year, he said. The exact lineup will be rolled out as the season goes along, each about two months in advance of any appearance.

    "At this time, the Fox is holding off on future theatrical rentals until the new executive producer is in place and can weigh in on the direction of the rental program," Bisson said. "We are, however, available for smaller non-theatrical rentals such as film screenings, corporate meetings, parties, dance recitals and more."

    Another new feature for 2017-18 will Thursday night performances throughout the runs of  all mainstage shows.

    Aurora Fox 2017-18 mainstage season
    Sept. 22-Oct. 22, 2017: Company 
    Nov. 24-Dec. 23, 2017: Hi-Hat Hattie
    Jan. 19 - Feb. 10, 2018: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Feb. 23-March 18, 2018: Real Women Have Curves 
    April 13-May 13, 2018: Passing Strange
    Information: 303-739-1970 or AuroraFox.org
  • Colorado Shakes comes to bury Caesar ... not Trump

    by John Moore | Jul 06, 2017

    Colorado Shakespeare Festival Anthony Powell

    Colorado Shakespeare Festival opens a Julius Caesar that director Anthony Powell hopes will speak for itself

    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    When Julius Caesar is assassinated in Shakespeare’s famous play of the same name, it sends shock waves through the audience. But when a Caesar who uncannily resembled President Donald Trump was assassinated in a recent New York production of the play, it sent shock waves through the entire country.

    Julius Caesar has been a hot topic since the Public Theatre played up similarities between the title character and Donald Trump. The murder of a Caesar who was played by a white actor wearing a business suit and a long, red tie, struck some as too close to home. Sponsors Delta and Bank of America pulled their support of the production. After word of the controversy quickly spread, pro-Trump protesters stormed the stage and halted a performance, to the derision of the crowd.

    Robert SicularDelta said the production did not reflect its values and that the "artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste." Bank of America felt the production "intended to provoke or offend."

    The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund was quick to condemn Delta and Bank of America for their decision.

    “Good taste is a matter of opinion, and an ‘intention to provoke’ may be an integral part of a play's mission,” President John Weidman and Executive Director Ralph Sevush said in a combined statement. “Delta doesn't appear to have had a problem with the ‘values’ or ‘taste’ of such depictions before.”

    In 2012, The Guthrie Theater’s production portrayed Caesar as then-President Obama. Delta sponsored that production in Minneapolis, but did not pull its support.

    Now, amid the still-swirling discourse about the rights and responsibilities of both artists and sponsors, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival is set to open its own take on Julius Caesar on Saturday at the Mary Rippon outdoor amphitheatre in Boulder. And the company is already receiving calls from curious patrons wanting to know just how political this staging might be.

    All over the country, from New York to Oklahoma to Oregon, theaters are staging Julius Caesar this year, the New York Times opined, “as a way to chew over politics, power, democracy and authoritarianism at a moment when a populist leader with a fondness for executive power has moved into the White House.”

    Actress explores Hamlet's feminine side for Colorado Shakes

    Shakespeare’s play has always been about far more than the death of Julius Caesar, who is killed in the middle of the play — bloodily — by Brutus and his band of co-conspirators. In this familiar world, Caesar is an increasingly powerful leader who is killed in the name of saving the republic. But be careful what you wish for, Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt told the Times, noting the chaos and bloodshed the assassination unleashes. “The very thing that you think you’re doing to protect the republic can lead to the end of the republic,” Greenblatt said.

    The Public’s Oskar Eustis, one of the most influential directors in the American theatre, said he decided immediately after the election that his title character would be a provocative stand-in for President Trump. “When we hold the mirror up to nature,” Eustis said in his opening-night speech, “often what we reveal are disturbing, upsetting, provoking things. That’s our job.”

    Public Theatre Julius CaesarIn his program notes, Eustis added, “Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means.”

    Shana Cooper, who is directing Julius Caesar for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this summer, believes that although there is an assassination scene in Julius Caesar, the play is not encouraging the death of the president or anyone else.

    “Julius Caesar in no way condones assassination,” Cooper wrote in a letter to audiences. “In fact, it is actually a story about the relentless cycle of violence that is set in motion by that singular act. It is a story about a group of citizens who allow their civic love to be contorted by the conclusion that the only way to oppose a world of tyranny is with the world’s weapons. And that choice to continue the cycle of violence costs them everything: family, friends, and the very republic they sought to protect.”

    (Pictured above right: The Public Theatre's staging of a Trump-like 'Julius Caesar.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Why Julius Caesar speaks to politics today. With or without Trump.

    The Public Theatre received threats because of the controversy. The New York Classical Theatre, Shakespeare and Company, and Shakespeare Theatre Company have as well - even though none of them are producing Julius Caesar this year.

    Colorado Shakespeare Festival Director Anthony Powell hopes the controversy ends up being much ado about nothing in Boulder. He says his production will be staged as written, set in Shakespeare's time.

    “It is super radical that we are setting it in Ancient Rome,” Powell joked. “It seems like that was the right decision.”

    Powell has been a longtime director for the DCPA Theatre Company (most recently Lord of the Flies and All the Way), but Julius Caesar is his first production with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. He said the New York controversy is in no way impacting what he is doing in Boulder. In fact, “I wish people would stop talking about it,” he said, though he expects the subject to be a popular topic in post-show talkbacks.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Colorado Shakespeare Festival

    Robert Sicular, who is playing Julius Caesar in Powell's production, said the controversy has not even come up for discussion in rehearsals.

    “We are just doing the show and trying to make it work, tell the story, have the characters believable and speak the language well,” Sicular said. “This is probably my 85th to 90th Shakespeare play, and I have found that the more outlandish the concept, the less accessible the production.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Sicular is well-known to DCPA Theatre Company audiences, having performed in 11 plays since 1994, most recently Heartbreak House, The Liar and The Taming of the Shrew.

    “I understand how theatre can be used for political aims,” Sicular said. “But I think it is actually more powerful when the play can speak for itself.”

    Powell said Shakespeare can be presented  in any form as long as the creative team and actors do their part.

    “I don’t think Shakespeare needs to be done in tights or togas,” Powell said. “But it makes a strong statement about how timeless Shakespeare’s themes are. You can set it in Rome; you can set it on the moon. It doesn’t matter. As long as we do our job right, the audience will make their own connections between then and now.”

    Julius Caesar: Ticket information

    • Performance July 8 through Aug. 12
    • Performance dates and times vary
    • Mary Rippon Outdoor Amphitheatre
    • Tickets $20-$70
    • Call 303-492-8008 or go to cupresents.org

    About the author
    Avery-Anderson Avery Anderson is interning with the DCPA NewsCenter for the summer. He is the General Manager and producer of Met TV at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He was won two Heartland Student Emmy Awards for his work on The Met Report. He has a passion for local arts and culture and enjoys covering theatres across the Denver area and the state. Follow him on Twitter and @a_anderson64.

  • Cast list: Look who's been invited to 'The Wild Party'

    by John Moore | Jul 06, 2017
    Wild Party
    From left: Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Diana Dresser and Erin Willis.

    Off-Center, the unconventional and most adventurous wing of Denver Center programming, has announced casting for its next off-site collaboration and first full-scale musical production: An immersive, 360-degree staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s jazz musical The Wild Party to run Oct. 11-31 at Stanley Marketplace.

    The Wild Party, which was nominated for seven Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2000, will feature Denver favorites Brett Ambler, Leonard Barrett Jr., Allison Caw, Laurence Curry, Diana Dresser, Katie Drinkard, Trent Hines, Drew Horwitz, Wayne Kennedy, Sheryl McCallum, Jenna Moll Reyes, Marco Robinson, Emily Van Fleet, Aaron Vega and Erin Willis.

    Barrett is set to star as Daddy Warbucks in Phamaly Theatre Company's Annie, opening Saturday at the Denver Center's Stage Theatre. Dresser recently appeared in Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky and the Theatre Company's All the Way. Curry appeared in the Theatre Company's All the Way; Willis in The Secret Garden; and Horwitz in As You Like It. Jenna Moll Reyes is a DCPA Teaching Artist who performs in the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot schools program. Reyes (Bus Stop) and Van Fleet (The Drowning Girls) were members of the Arvada Center's inaugural Black Box Repertory Ensemble. Drinkard returns to the Denver Center after having appeared in the Galleria Theatre's Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking.

    Kennedy is a 30-year veteran of Boulder's BDT Stage, where he is currently playing Jacob in the critically acclaimed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Ambler just appeared in the Arvada Center's Jesus Christ Superstar. Caw just worked with Ethelyn Friend on an improvised opera called “_____”, An Opera, in Lafayette. McCallum, a Denver native, was in the Broadway company of The Lion King. Robinson is an actor and professional photographer whose stage credits include playing the Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Assassins. Vega is a new Denver resident who most recently worked with the Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, Ohio.

    The previously announced director of this fully immersive staging is Amanda Berg Wilson, who is the artistic director of the Boulder-based company The Catamounts. She was a cast member for Off-Center's Sweet & Lucky last year and is a 2016 True West Award winner.

    The music will be directed by David Nehls, the Arvada Center's former longtime resident music director. Nehls and Hines are currently sharing the music direction for Phamaly, which creates performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    The choreographer is Patrick Mueller. The production will feature designs by Jason Sherwood (Scenic Designer), Meghan Anderson Doyle (Costume Designer), Jason Lynch (Lighting Designer), Sean Hagerty (Sound Designer), and Erin Ramsey (Fight Coordinator).

    “Last summer, Off-Center took over a 16,000-square foot warehouse in RiNo to bring you Sweet & Lucky. This fall, we’re breaking out the bathtub gin and heading to the Hangar at Stanley to tackle the first musical in Off-Center’s history,” said Off-Center curator Charlie Miller.

    “Much like Sweet & Lucky, The Wild Party will transport audience members to a different era where they will be immersed in the story as guests at Queenie and Burr’s party. The live band will be swinging, and we’ll find out what happens when you let down your guard and give yourself over to the party. I am so excited to dive into this piece with our incredible team of collaborators.”

    This production continues the partnership forged between Off-Center and Stanley, which began with the adventure comedy Travelers of the Lost Dimension. That show ran throughout the public spaces at Stanley through May 21.

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

    (Note: The Michael John LaChiusa adaptation of 'The Wild Party' is very different from the Andrew Lippa version that was presented by Ignite Theatre at the Aurora Fox.)

    The Wild Party: Cast list

    • Brett Ambler: Gold
    • Leonard Barrett Jr.: Oscar D’Armano
    • Allison Caw: Sally
    • Laurence Curry: Black
    • Diana Dresser: Miss Madelaine True
    • Katie Drinkard: Mae
    • Trent Hines: Phil D’Armano
    • Drew Horwitz: Burrs
    • Wayne Kennedy: Goldberg
    • Sheryl McCallum: Dolores
    • Jenna Moll Reyes: Nadine
    • Marco Robinson: Eddie Mackrel
    • Emily Van Fleet: Queenie
    • Aaron Vega: Jackie
    • Erin Willis: Kate

    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

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

    • Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    • Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    • Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    • Oct. 11-31, 2017
    • At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St.
    • For more information including ticket pre-sale and other exclusive experiences, visit WildPartyDenver.com

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Laurence Curry
    File photo of Laurence Curry from his days as a teacher and choreographer for the Denver Center Theater Academy and the National Theatre Conservatory.
  • Opera 101: 'Think of it as a pizza with everything on it'

    by John Moore | Jul 05, 2017
    CARMEN. Central City OperaWelcome to the DCPA NewsCenter's new, ongoing series called 'Get Arts Smart,' a fun introduction to a variety of cultural forms through the eyes of experts from local organizations. First up: Opera 101. Your instructor is Tom Getty of Central City Opera, which is presenting 'Carmen' (perfect for newbies) opening July 8.


    "Think of it as a ginormous pizza with everything on it.’

    Tom GettyLook who's talking: Today's instructor is Tom Getty, who has been a pianist and coach for Central City Opera for more than 20 years. He was formerly on the staffs of Utah Opera, Anchorage Opera, Kean University Theater Department, Opera at Rutgers (University). He is currently music director of the Tyler Young Artist Program for Opera On The James in Lynchburg, Va.

    So, what's your deal, Tom Getty? As a coach, I help singers with role preparation, especially through musical phrasing and language pronunciation.  As surtitlist, I act as the liaison between the stage and the audience, and let people know what’s really going on up on the stage – and often, what the characters are really thinking.

    Origin of the species: Opera started in Italy more than 400 years ago in an effort to revive the classical drama of the ancient Greeks. It was called “opera” because that’s the plural of the word “opus,” which means “work.”  So “opera” is “The WORKS” – a theatrical enterprise that can encompass any or all of the performing arts, including music, theatre, dance or visual arts.

    Maria Callas sings the Ave Maria above. 

    Maria_Callas _200Your greatest dead rock star: Closer to our own time, the greatest is undoubtedly the great Greek-American soprano Maria Callas.  She brought the utmost dramatic conviction to her roles and revived the old “bel canto” operas that had become stale, proving there was plenty of dramatic life in them yet.   The voice was unlike any other before it  - or since.  She was glamorous and temperamental – the essential ingredients for a Diva with a capital D. Catch her in the second act of Puccini’s Tosca.  It’s pretty hot. 

    Jonas_Kaufmann 200Your greatest living rock star: Tenor Jonas Kaufmann breaks all the vocal rules: He has a rich, dark voice that can sail effortlessly up to ringing high C’s, which makes him perfect for the most dramatic roles in opera.  He’s also incredibly good-looking - yes, I’m jealous - and an excellent actor on stage.  The title role of the doomed poet in Massenet’s Werther is one of his signature roles, and it can be sampled online. Just be prepared to get mighty depressed. (It’s one of those operas…)

    Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton won the Cardiff Singer Of The World competition, and for good reason.  It’s a warm, beautiful, communicative voice, with an incredible technique that can take on big, dramatic roles like Verdi and Wagner and still spin out delicate, refined musical lines and fast, clear passages such as the bel canto composers Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini). She can probably sing any mezzo role in the repertoire.

    Bill LewisWho’s the biggest deal from Colorado? For me, the biggest deal in opera who comes from Colorado – Denver, to be specific – is the pianist and voice coach Bill Lewis.  He brought me to Central City. A protégé of the great and formidable John Moriarty (the living patron saint of Central City Opera), Bill has a huge repertoire that encompasses both opera and musical theater.  Having taken coaching and singing lessons from him, I can say first-hand that he offers wonderful support and encouragement, and his musical suggestions border on genius; he also plays the piano like a demon. 


    Or: Who sings notes that only a dog can hear?

    Word 1A solo for one singer, usually reflecting the character’s state of mind.  “I love her!” “I hate him!” “I’m crazy!” “I’m tired!”

    Word 2The act of singing a long string of many notes on one syllable, usually at a fast pace.  Essential for all voice types in the works of Handel (mostly because the text is so repetitive).  A coloratura soprano is a light-high-voiced lady who specializes in these passages. She is sometimes capable of sailing up to high notes that only dogs can hear.

    Word 3The sung dialogue part of an opera, usually accompanied by a few chords from a keyboard, but sometimes punctuated by the orchestra.  The operas of Mozart and Rossini use this device ad nauseum to help carry the plot; with the operas of Handel, it’s the only thing that carries the plot.  Since things can get wordy, it can take hundreds of supertitles to get through a performance. (See below.)

    Word 4The much-dreaded but necessary part of the rehearsal process leading up to the bows and bravos on opening night. During Tech Week, the entire production moves from the rehearsal hall to the actual stage, where all the layers of production such as scenery, costumes, lighting and the orchestra are finally added. Things get adjusted, crises are averted, and everyone manages to live happily ever after – except for those characters whose demise is an integral part of the plot.

    Word 5Also known as Surtitles, Supertitles are now standard for any opera company the world over. Translations are projected onto a screen either above the stage, on the side, or on the seat of the person in front of you so that the audience can easily follow what’s happening on stage.  In the case of a comedy, like The Barber of Seville, supertitles also can tell the audience when to laugh.  This kind of audience manipulation arguably makes the supertitlist the most powerful person in opera. (I love my job!)

    What is the biggest stereotype about your field:
    “I don’t know Italian! (Or simply insert your foreign language of choice.) Not anymore, you don’t!  Thanks to supertitles, all you need to know will be translated on the screen for you.  It’s just like watching a foreign film … except it’s live… and there’s a lot of singing.

    How is your opera different from other opera? Part of Central City Opera’s mission is to bring world-class performances of new, standard and neglected works to its audience in an intimate setting. The Central City Opera House is indeed intimate, and the acoustics are so good that the singing is in your face even in the far corners of the balcony. Plus, the Central City Opera House (and, consequently, the company) have a history in Colorado that can be traced all the way back to the great Gold Rush in 1858. By experiencing a performance in the Central City Opera House, the audience becomes part of Colorado history in the making.  How cool is that!?

    Let’s play trivia: Did you know that the famous overture to The Barber of Seville is actually from two different operas?  After the disastrous first performance in 1816 (the audience was rigged), composer Gioacchino Rossini replaced the original overture with the 1815 overture from Elisabetta, Regina d’Inghilterra (Elisabeth, Queen of England) which was, in turn, recycled from Aureliano in Palmira (1813).  This is why none of the tunes in the overture occur in the opera itself.  (Extra points for pronouncing everything properly.)

    What would be my perfect introduction to opera? Carmen, by Georges Bizet. Filled with dazzling orchestrations and familiar tunes, Seville’s favorite party girl finally meets her match - with fatal consequences. We are presenting Carmen in repertoire from July 8 through Aug. 6 at the Central City Opera House.

    Lastly, finish this sentence, Tom Getty: I love opera because …
    … it shows all of the incredible things the human voice can do; it’s also the biggest, grandest form of theatre imaginable!

    CENTRAL CITY OPERA/Summer festival season

    • Carmen by Georges Bizet: July 8-Aug. 6 at the Central City Opera House
    • Così fan tutte by W. A. Mozart: July 15-Aug. 4 at the Central City Opera House
    • The Burning Fiery Furnace by Benjamin Britten: July 26-27; Aug. 2, at the Martin Foundry
    • Cabildo by Amy Beach: July 26 and 29; Aug. 2, at the Williams Stables, Central City MAP IT
    • Gallantry by Douglas Moore: August 3-4; also (with Cabildo) on July 26 and 29; Aug. 2; at the Williams Stables MAP IT

    CENTRAL CITY OPERA/Ticket information
    : The Opera House is located at 124 Eureka St, Central City, 80427 MAP IT
    : centralcityopera.org
    Box office
    : 303-292-6700
    : @ccityopera
    : @ccityopera





  • Pop-culture 'Annie,' from comics to Broadway to Jay-Z

    by John Moore | Jul 03, 2017

    A sneak video peek at Phamaly Theatre Company's 'Annie,' opening July 15 at the Denver Center.

    Today, tomorrow and forever, the red-headed orphan is part of our pop-culture fabric.

    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Denver's Phamaly Theatre Company has provided performance opportunities for actors with disabilities for 28 years. The company stages a big, annual Broadway musical every summer at the Denver Center, and the upcoming Annie will be its first to be presented in the larger Stage Theatre.

    Over the years, America's favorite red-headed orphan has appeared several different forms from the big screen to the newspaper. And the Annie you see on stage this month at the Denver Center "will be unlike any production of Annie you've ever seen," promises co-director Regan Linton.

    Here are 10 different versions of Annie we have met throughout nearly a century of American pop-culture history:

    NUMBER 1In the newspaper: Annie was introduced to the world in 1924 as a comic strip called Little Orphan Annie in the New York Daily News. In this version created by Harold Gray, Annie often battled her archenemy: The mean-spirited and cold-hearted Mrs. Warbucks, if you can believe it. The comic strip attracted adult readers with political commentary that targeted organized labor, the New Deal and communism. The comics ran in several different papers and as different versions until 2010.

    annie comic book

    NUMBER 2On the radio:
    Running from 1931-42 on NBC’s Blue Network, Little Orphan Annie closely followed the comic-book storylines. America’s favorite redhead drew  6 million listeners a week. The radio show even made a cameo in the movie A Christmas Story, prompting the famous Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine scene.


    NUMBER 3Early movies: Long before Annie could be seen singing “Tomorrow” on the bring scree, she had two film premieres in 1932 and 1938. The 1932 version (below) followed the traditional adoption story, while the sequel saw her head to Hollywood to work for low wages as a stunt double.

    NUMBER 4Broadway musical: The world was introduced to the iconic Annie stage musical 40 years ago, in 1977. Opening just days after the Watergate scandal, Annie was welcomed as a breath of optimism and hope. The original Broadway production won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for almost six years.

    NUMBER 5AnnieLater movies:
    There have been three movie musical versions of Annie. The 1982 version starred Aileen Quinn and Carol Burnett and differed from the stage show substantially by adding and removing several songs. At the time, it was the most expensive film musical ever made, at about $40 million to produce. Nearly $10 million of that went to buying the rights to the 1977 Broadway source musical. There were more than 500 product tie-ins ranging from umbrellas to lunch boxes. Annie was brought back to the screen in 1999 for a TV movie, followed by a 2014 remake produced by Will Smith and Jay-Z and featuring an African-American Annie, Quvenzhané Wallis.


    NUMBER 6Hard Knock-Life
    : In 1998, Jay-Z released his version of Hard Knock Life. Originally, he did not have the rights to use the song. So he wrote a letter explaining that he had seen the show on Broadway on a field trip and that it had touched him so much that he cried. That was all it took for him to get the green light for the rights. He later revealed in his autobiography that he actually never saw the show and made up the whole story. 

    NUMBER 7Stage sequels:
    Annie almost returned to the New York stage with a 1989 sequel called Annie 2: Miss Hannigan’s Revenge. Even with Dorothy Loudon reprising her role as Miss Hannigan, the production was a disaster and closed during its pre-Broadway run in Washington. Another off-Broadway sequel in 1992 called Annie Warbucks fared better. It starred Harve Presnell and featured Denver's Michael E. Gold - but it never made it to Broadway.

    annie stage

    NUMBER 8Forbidden Broadway: Young Annie found herself in a different kind of role in 1982 when Forbidden Broadway added her to its annual satiric musical revue. In this version Annie is a 30-year-old smoking adult who sings a parody of her iconic "Tomorrow" song.

    NUMBER 9Actress AnnieActress who have played Annie:
    Over the years, many actresses have played the title role of Annie including Andrea McArdle, Alicia Morton, Quevenzhané Wallis and Sarah Jessica Parker.

    NUMBER 10Coming up in Colorado:
    Little Orphan Annie will be no stranger to area stages in the coming months. In addition to Phamaly Theatre Company's upcoming staging at the Denver Center from July 15- Aug. 6, BDT Stage will be staging Annie from Nov. 18- Feb. 24. Pictured below: The cast of Phamaly's Annie at a recent promotional benefit appearance for the Denver Actors Fund at the Alamo Drafthouse. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Annie Phamaly

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Phamaly Theatre Company's Annie: Ticket information
    • July 15 through Aug. 6
    • Stage Theatre Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets: $20-$37
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Accessible performances: July 23, Aug. 3

    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of Phamaly:
    Phamaly gala, campaign raise $200K, ‘save the company’
    Phamaly launches emergency $100,000 fundraising campaign
    Regan Linton accepts Spirit of Craig Award
    Regan Linton returns to lead Phamaly in landmark appointment

    About the author:
    Avery-Anderson Avery Anderson is interning with the DCPA NewsCenter for the summer. He is the General Manager and producer of Met TV at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He was won two Heartland Student Emmy Awards for his work on The Met Report. He has a passion for local arts and culture and enjoys covering theatres across the Denver area and the state. Follow him on Twitter and @a_anderson64.

  • Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

    by John Moore | Jul 02, 2017

    Lauren Yee. The Great Leap
    Lauren Yee’s 'The Great Leap,' which was introduced as a reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, will premiere at the Denver Center next February, then re-open at the Seattle Rep just 12 days after closing here. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Companies are now jumping on new Denver Center works before they have even been fully staged here.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center is taking a major step forward in its development of new work for the American theatre in 2017. And one major reason is a hip new term in the theatrical lexicon: “Co-Pro.”

    For the first time, the DCPA Theatre Company will stage two new plays next season that will immediately transfer to major theatres around the country as essentially continuing world premieres. They will quickly re-open in their second cities with their Denver Center directors and casts intact.

    American Mariachi. Summit The Theatre Company opens José Cruz González’s American Mariachi on Jan. 26, 2018. Less than a month after it closes in Denver, the production will re-open at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, which bows in Denver on Feb. 2, will re-open at the Seattle Rep just 12 days after closing here.

    By virtue of these unique partnerships, both stagings are considered “co-productions.” Or, as the kids say, “Co-Pros.” Coincidentally, the re-opening nights in San Diego and Seattle will both take place on March 23.

    (Pictured above right: 'American Mariachi' was introduced as a reading at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    For 12 years, artistic leaders from around the country have come to the Denver Center’s Colorado New Play Summit each February to see readings of developing new works, then come back the next year to see the subsequent fully staged world-premiere productions before scheduling some of the plays themselves. Among the popular titles that have expanded through this slow growth plan have been Jason Grote’s 1001 and Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale.

    But now companies are coming here to see readings and committing to scheduling them even before they are fully staged at the Denver Center for the first time.

    Matt McGrath in 'The Legend of Georgia McBride.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. All this comes at a time when Denver Center-born works are proliferating on national stages like never before. In 2017, Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride will become the most-produced new Denver Center work since Quilters in 1982. Ten companies this year are presenting the story of a straight man who explores the world of drag to feed his family in cities stretching from Los Angeles to Key West, Fla., with four more already slated for 2018. Lopez’s newest work, Zoey’s Perfect Wedding, will debut at the DCPA’s Space Theatre next Jan. 19.

    (Pictured above right: Matt McGrath in the Denver Center's 2014 world premiere of 'The Legend of Georgia McBride.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.) 

    How Georgia McBride has evolved since Denver

    Since former Artistic Director Kent Thompson launched the Colorado New Play Summit in 2006, the DCPA has given 27 new plays their world-premiere stagings. At least 32 productions of 13 DCPA-born works are being presented around the country this year and next, most notably a high-profile return of the reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which plays from July 21-27 at The Muny in St. Louis. The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre. After that, star Beth Malone said, the goal is Broadway.

    LEAD MOLLY"That is absolutely the intention of putting it up at The Muny,” Malone said. “There is no other reason than for it go to Broadway. Everyone involved with it feels very strongly that we are completely on track.”

    (Pictured at right: The cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    Last week, two recent Colorado New Play Summit readings landed on The Kilroys, a curated list of the 31 most promising new plays by women: Yee's The Great Leap and Donnetta Lavinia Grays' Last Night and the Night Before.

    NATAKI GARRETT 3Even older new plays like Octavio Solis' Lydia (2008) are still making an impact. “Lydia is a blast-furnace drama now in its Seattle debut in a blistering, urgent staging from Strawberry Theatre Workshop," Misha Berson of the Seattle Times wrote last month of a "forcefully directed ensemble of visceral power." Last year, the Aurora Fox became the first company to stage the Denver Center’s Native American premiere of Black Elk Speaks since 1996.

    All of this proliferation is not only changing the way the nation looks at the Denver Center, said Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. It is changing how the Denver Center looks at itself.

    “The Colorado New Play Summit is a nationally renowned place where theatre companies from all over the United States come to see those playwrights who are moving up in the ranks and becoming the clarions for the future of playwriting,” she said.  “But I think this is where it was always heading. The most important part of the work we do as theatre artists is to foster and develop new work, and I think this is that idea coming to full fruition.”

    (Story continues after the video)

    Video spotlight: American Mariachi

    What makes for a successful Co-Pro, Garrett said, is the continuation of the Denver Center’s commitment to the playwright once the new play reaches its immediate second destination.

    “What I am really focused on with these companies is, 'Are you willing to make space for that writer to keep writing?’ ” Garrett said. “The whole point is to for them to be able to keep evolving their piece after they leave Denver, if that’s what the piece needs.”

    The Theatre Company’s commissioning program is one reason the pipeline stays stocked. At any given time, the company has a number of renowned and emerging playwrights under commissions. That essentially binds the playwright to write a new work of his or her choice, and the DCPA Theatre Company then has the right of first refusal to stage it. The playwrights with commissions in progress are:

    • Kemp Powers
    • Anne Garcia-Romero
    • Aleshea Harris
    • Mary Kathryn Nagle
    • Tony Meneses
    • David Jacobi
    • Regina Taylor

    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.


    The Unsinkable Molly Brown, by Dick Scanlan and Meredith Willson: The 1960 musical that tells the rags-to-riches tale of Colorado's greatest heroine is infused with new songs and a new script.

    • The Muny, St. Louis, July 21-27, 2017

    The Book of Will, By Lauren Gunderson:  The untold story of the race to publish Shakespeare's First Folio before half his canon was lost to history.

    • Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, June 9-July 28, 2017
    • Northlight Theatre, Skokie, Ill., Nov. 9-Dec. 17, 2017
    • Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Md., Nov. 29-Dec. 24, 2017
    • Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Ore., June-October, 2018

    The Great Leap, by Lauren Yee: An American college basketball team travels to Beijing in 1989.

    • American Conservatory Theatre New Strands Festival, San Francisco (reading), May 19, 2017
    • DCPA Theatre Company, Feb. 2-March 11, 2018
    • Seattle Rep, March 23-April 22, 2018 (co-world premiere)

    The Legend of Georgia McBride, by Matthew Lopez: A young Elvis impersonator turns to drag to feed his growing family.

    • Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, April 4-May 14, 2017
    • GableStage, Coral Gables, Fla., May 27-June 25, 2017
    • Marin Theatre Company, San Francisco, June 8-July 9, 2017
    • ACT Theatre, Seattle, June 9-July 2, 2017
    • Theatre Nova, Detroit, June 9- July 9, 2017
    • Dorset Theatre Festival, Vermont, Aug. 3-19, 2017
    • Northlight Theatre, Skokie, Ill., Sept. 14-Oct. 22, 2017
    • Hippodrome State Theatre, Gainesville, Fla., Oct. 13-Nov. 5, 2017
    • B Street Theatre, Sacramento, Calif.,Nov. 6-Dec. 9, 2017
    • Uptown Players, Dallas, Dec. 1-17, 2017
    • Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, March 23-April 22, 2018
    • Key West Players, Key West, Fla., May 2-19, 2018
    • Stoneham Theatre, Stoneham Mass., May 3-20, 2018
    • Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Md., June 8-July 1, 2018

    American Mariachi, by Jose Cruz Gonzalez: The musical tale of an all-female mariachi band in the 1970s.

    • DCPA Theatre Company, Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018
    • Old Globe (San Diego), March 23-April 29, 2018 (co-world premiere)

    Just Like Us, by Karen Zacarías: Documentary-style play follows four Latina teenage girls in Denver - two are documented, two are not.

    • Visión Latino Theatre Company, Feb. 24-March 12, 2017

    Dusty and the Big Bad World, by Cusi Cram: When a popular children’s TV  show spotlights a family with two daddies, it sparks a conservative outcry.

    • Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, July 6-19, 2017

    Appoggiatura, by James Still: A trip to Venice brings love, loss, pain and joy to three weary travelers in search of healing and happiness in a magical story filled with music and amore.
    • Indiana Repertory Theatre, March 7-31, 2018

    FADE, by Tanya Saracho: When Mexican-born Lucia is hired to write for a Latina TV character, she finds an unexpected muse in the Latino studio custodian.
    • Cherry Lane Theatre, New York, Feb. 8-March 5, 2017
    • TheatreWorks, Hartford, June 1-30, 2017

    Lydia, by Octavio Solis: A maid cares for a border family's near-vegetative teenage daughter who was left in a coma after a mysterious accident. 

    • Strawberry Theatre Workshop, Seattle, June 1-24, 2017

    Almost Heaven: The Songs and Stories of John Denver: The songwriter's life story is told through anecdotes and 21 songs.

    • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, Grand Lake, Sept. 1-30, 2017

    The Whale, by Samuel D. Hunter: An oversized, homebound and dying man struggles to reconcile with his estranged teenage daughter before it’s too late.
    • Verge Theatre Company, Nashville, June 2-14, 2017

    black odyssey, by Marcus Gardley: An imagination of Homer’s epic lens through the lens of the black American experience.
    • California Shakespeare Theatre, Orinda, Calif., Aug. 9-Sept. 3, 2017

    Quilters, by Molly Newman: A series of vignettes performed in song and spoken word that chart the joys and sorrows of the frontier journey West.

    • Ferndale (Calif.) Repertory Theatre, March 9-April 2, 2017

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Video spotlight: The Great Leap

  • 'Mixed Taste' walks the talk to the Seawell Ballroom

    by John Moore | Jun 29, 2017

    Mixed Taste 

    Ready, set ... goad! Experts debate silly topics that have absolutely nothing in common. Or do they?

    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    So what’s your pleasure? Telekinesis or, say …  sauerkraut? Giant flutes or, perhaps ... celestial navigation?

    No preference, you say? That may change when those burning topics and more are lustily debated at Mixed Taste, Adam Lerner’s tag-team lecture series pairing playfully unrelated topics that enters its 14th season on Wednesday night in its new home: The DCPA’s Seawell Ballroom. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is now collaborating on the popular series with Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm.

    The comic debates will rage beginning at 6:30 p.m. for eight consecutive Wednesday nights through Aug. 23. Up first: Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art.

    Here’s how it works: Think political debate, only the politicians are respected experts in their fields of study. The first speaks on one topic for 20 minutes, followed by the other. "The audience then gets to ask questions - and that's wheAdam Lerner Mixed Tastere anything can happen,” said Off-Center Curator Charlie Miller.

    But unlike political campaigns and sporting contests, winners are not declared. This is simply a chance for curious audiences to learn more about bizarre topics and then perhaps even draw unexpected connections between the two. Think the ability to move objects through mental prowess has nothing in common with finely cut fermented cabbage? Don’t be so sure.

    Lerner, the MCA’s director and chief animator, created Mixed Taste in 2004 at The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at the Belmar Shopping Center in Lakewood. The series moved to the MCA in 2009.

    The Seawell Ballroom will be an expansion for the series, which is used to topping out at 400 people. Although the Ballroom can hold up to 1,000 people, Miller says only about 450 seats will be made available for Mixed Taste to preserve its intimacy.

    “MCA approached us a year ago and asked if we would be interested in hosting and giving Mixed Taste the next chapter of its life, and we jumped at the opportunity,” Miller said.

    After nurturing Mixed Taste from its inception, Lerner now feels “the program is ready for its next level of growth," he said, "and I believe Off-Center is the perfect partner to help us take it there.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Mixed Taste is not a theatrical production, and yet Miller feels it is an inherently theatrical adventure for its audience.

    “It’s a really engaging and fun summertime experience,” Miller said. “It’s a way to learn about things you never engage with and inject some new information and fun into a Wednesday night.”

    Mixed Taste. Charlie MillerOther wacky pairings on tap this summer include Prohibition and Bob Ross, Air Traffic Control and Drag Queen Activism, and Asparagus and Money Laundering.

    “Each lecture is 20 minutes, which is long enough to go deep but keep your attention the whole time,” Miller said. “We try to make sure the topics have nothing in common and that makes it fun because after a while you start to think, ‘Well they do have things in common.’

    So how did he come up with a roster of such non-kindred, spirited subjects?

    “I used this as an opportunity to engage friends and Denver Center staff to submit ideas for topics,” he said. “Once we got some ideas we talked with a smaller group of Off-Center collaborators and teammates to narrow it down. Then we started researching people to speak on those topics.”

    Our previous interview with Mixed Taste emcee Suzi Q. Smith

    Miller is particularly excited for the talk on Prohibition and Bob Ross, the American painter and host of The Joy of Painting, which aired on PBS from 1983-94, while his personal favorite is telekinesis and sauerkraut (July 19), simply because it’s such a bizarre combination.

    Mixed Taste. Professor Phelyx. Shirley Delta BlowLocal slam poet Suzi Q. Smith will be the series emcee.

    “Off-Center collaborated with Suzi Q. last summer in our poetry show How I Got Over: Journeys and Verse that she was the lead collaborator on,” Miller said. “She will be the host and poet laureate, so we will be fusing poetry and spoken word into the evening. She will be creating an original poem to connect the two topics to conclude every Mixed Taste.”

    Off-Center is bringing back other past collaborator the series as debaters. Professor Phelyx, the mentalist magician who last worked with Off-Center on Perception, will speak on behalf of telekinesis, while Shirley Delta Blow, recently seen in DragOn at the Galleria Theatre, will be rally on behalf of drag-queen activism. (Photos above right by Adams Viscom.)

    Before every lecture, audiences can attend a Mixed Taste Garden Party starting at 4:30 p.m. just outside of the Galleria Theatre with live music curated by Swallow Hill Music.

    Mixed Taste: Ticket information
    • 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday from July 5 through Aug. 28
    • Seawell Ballroom, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets: $20
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Avery-Anderson Avery Anderson is interning with the DCPA NewsCenter for the summer. He is the General Manager and producer of Met TV at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He was won two Heartland Student Emmy Awards for his work on The Met Report. He has a passion for local arts and culture and enjoys covering theatres across the Denver area and the state. Follow him on Twitter and @a_anderson64.

  • Meet the cast of Denver's Broadway-bound 'Frozen'

    by John Moore | Jun 25, 2017

    The photo gallery above shows the making of Disney Theatrical Productions' new Broadway musical Frozen, opening in Denver Aug. 17. To see more, hit the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Jenny Anderson for Disney Theatrical Productions and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Casting is complete. Now put a face to those Frozen names:

    Now that principal casting has been announced for Disney Theatrical Productions'  Broadway-bound new musical Frozen, we've put together this rundown of the cast so you can put a face to the name before the show launches in its pre-Broadway run in Denver from Aug. 17-Oct. 1 at Denver's Buell Theatre.

    Where have you seen these faces before? Chances are, all over stage and screens small and large. Frozen, the new stage adaptation of the popular animated film, plays here for seven weeks before joining Disney hits "Aladdin" and "The Lion King" on Broadway in spring 2018 at the St. James Theatre.

    And here's something fun: You can follow the cast on Twitter all in one place simply by subscribing (it's free) to this special Twitter list we have assembled. It's filtered to just show you all the Tweets from members of the cast and creative team. Enjoy!

    Meet the 40-member cast of Frozen:

    Caissie LevyCAISSIE LEVY (Elsa). On Broadway, Ms. Levy created the roles of Fantine in the 2014 revival of Les Misérables, Molly in Ghost (also West End and cast album) and Sheila in the 2009 revival of Hair (also West End and cast album), and played Elphaba in Wicked (also Los Angeles) and Penny in Hairspray (also 1st national tour and Toronto). Off-Broadway, she starred as Julie Nixon and Patti Davis in First Daughter Suite (The Public Theater), Sara in Murder Ballad and Maureen in the national tour of Rent. She has played solo to sold-out audiences throughout the U.S., U.K. and Canada, was a guest soloist with The United States Military Academy at West Point, backed up Sir Rod Stewart in Las Vegas and most recently made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops. Her debut solo album, With You, is available on iTunes.
    Patti MurinPATTI MURIN (Anna). Broadway/national tour: Lysistrata Jones (Lysistrata), Wicked (Glinda), Xanadu (Euterpe). Off-Broadway: Love's Labour's Lost (Shakespeare in the Park); Fly By Night (Playwrights Horizons); Lady Be Good! (Encores!). Almost Broadway: Nerds (Sally). TV: recurring roles on "Chicago Med" (Dr. Nina Shore), "Royal Pains" (Ava). Proud alum of the Syracuse University Drama department.
    Jelani AlladinJELANI ALLADIN (Kristoff). Broadway debut. Off-Broadway: Sweetee (Signature Theatre), Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope (York Theatre). Regional: I and You (TheatreSquared), Choir Boy (Studio Theatre DC, Marin Theatre Company - San Francisco Critics Circle Award Best Leading Actor in a Play), The History Boys (Palm Beach Dramaworks - Carbonell Award for Best Ensemble), Violet (Clarence Brown), Josephine (Asolo Rep – world premiere). Graduate of the NYU Tisch New Studio on Broadway. @jelanialladin
    Greg HildrethGREG HILDRETH (Olaf). Broadway: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, Peter and the Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Off-Broadway: The Robber Bridegroom (Lortel nomination). TV: “The Good Wife” (recurring), “Royal Pains," "Kings," "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver." Film: Radium Girls; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows; Wall Street II. Education: Boston University and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.
    John RiddleJOHN RIDDLE (Hans) was last seen on Broadway in Kander and Ebb's The Visit starring Chita Rivera. His other stage credits include Tony in West Side Story (Casa Manana), Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid (St. Louis MUNY), Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees (PCLO), Evita (1st national tour), Little Dancer (Kennedy Center) and My Paris (Long Wharf). Other: The Secret Garden in concert at Lincoln Center, Cincinnati Pops. Last year, John debuted his solo show, Keep It Simple, at Feinstein's/54 Below. He can be heard on John Kander's Hidden Treasures from Harbinger Records. CCM grad.
    Robert CreightonROBERT CREIGHTON (Duke of Weselton). Co-author and star of Cagney (Fred Astaire Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics noms for Lead Actor in a Musical.) Broadway: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Durdles), Anything Goes (Purser/Moonface), Chicago (Amos), The Little Mermaid (Chef Louis), The Lion King (Timon), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Laughing Room Only. Shakespeare in the Park’s Comedy of Errors (Angelo). TV: “The Good Fight” (CBS), “The Family” (ABC), “Elementary” (CBS), “Law & Order” (NBC), “Life on Mars” (ABC). Album: Ain’t We Got Fun!.  www.RobertCreightonNYC.com  
    Kevin Del AguilaKEVIN DEL AGUILA (Oaken). Broadway: Smee in Peter and the Starcatcher, Rocky. Off-Broadway: Starcatcher; Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare in the Park); Jacques Brel; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Encores!). TV: “Peg + Cat;” “Law & Order: SVU;” “Deadbeat.” Kevin is also an Emmy-winning writer and book-writer of the musicals Altar Boyz and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Fun fact: Kevin was a Troll in the original Frozen movie. delaguila.info

    Timothy Hughes TIMOTHY HUGHES (Pabbie) plays the Strong Man in 20th Century Fox’s upcoming movie The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, score by Pasek and Paul.  He made his Broadway debut in Chaplin and was part of Paint Your Wagon at Encores!.  Regionally, Timothy has performed at the MUNY, Goodspeed, Fulton Opera and was directed by Kathleen Marshall in My Paris at the Long Wharf Theatre.

    Andrew PirozziANDREW PIROZZI (Sven). Broadway debut. TV/film credits include: “Hairspray Live!,” “Peter Pan Live!” (NBC); “The Late Late Show with James Corden” (CBS); “The Real O' Neals” (ABC); Ted 2 (Universal) and many more. National tours include: Movin' Out, Dirty Dancing, Follies (CTGLA). www.andrewpirozzi.com. Instagram @afpirozzi.


    Audrey Bennett AUDREY BENNETT (Young Anna). Broadway:  Amélie (u/s Young Amélie). National tour: The Sound of Music (Gretl). Instagram @audreybennettactor.

    Mattea ConfortiMATTEA CONFORTI (Young Anna). Broadway: Sunday in the Park with George (Louise) and the title role in Matilda The Musical. Film credits include 3 Generations and The Super. On television she has appeared on "Gotham" and "Power." Workshops: Frozen.

    Brooklyn Nelson BROOKLYN NELSON (Young Elsa). Broadway: Matilda (Amanda, formerly Small Girl swing). Workshop: Frozen (Young Elsa). Various commercials, voiceovers and films.

    Ayla SchwartzAYLA SCHWARTZ (Young Elsa). Broadway debut. Regional: Queens Theatre The Miracle Worker (Helen Keller).

    Alyssa FoxALYSSA FOX (Elsa Standby). A Dallas native, Alyssa was most recently seen in Wicked on Broadway as the Elphaba standby, after playing the lead role on the national tour. Twitter @AlyssaFox. Instagram: @AlyssaJoyFox.

    Aisha JacksonAISHA JACKSON (Anna Standby). Broadway: Waitress, Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Regional: Memphis (Felicia), Witness Uganda. College: University of Northern Colorado, Greeley.


    Alicia AlbrightALICIA ALBRIGHT (Swing). Broadway: Wicked. Tours/regional: Wicked, Transcendence Theatre Company, All Shook Up, Jesus Christ Superstar, Seven Brides, A Chorus Line and more. Follow her adventures @aliciaalbright.

    Tracee BeazerTRACEE BEAZER (Ensemble). Broadway: Something Rotten!; Honeymoon in Vegas; Holler If Ya Hear Me; Memphis; The Wedding Singer; Good Vibrations; Hairspray.

    Wendi BergaminiWENDI BERGAMINI (Ensemble). Broadway: Doctor Zhivago; Evita; Promises, Promises; South Pacific. Tours: Light in the Piazza (Franca), Guys and Dolls, Evita, Cats. Regional: Little Dancer, Secondhand Lions, Night Music. TV: “Sound of Music Live!.” www.wendibergamini.com

    Ashley Blanchet ASHLEY BLANCHET (Ensemble). Broadway: Beautiful (Little Eva - Locomotion), Annie (Star to Be), Memphis. National tour: Beautiful (Little Eva). Regional: How to Succeed... (Rosemary) - TUTS, Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey) - KCRT. BFA U. Michigan. Please visit Ashleyblanchet.com.

    James Brown IIIJAMES BROWN III (Ensemble). Broadway: Rocky, Wicked, Ghost, Priscilla, Memphis, The Little Mermaid, The Color Purple, The Frogs. National tours: The Lion King, The Producers. TV: “The Wiz Live!;” “Peter Pan Live!;” “The Mysteries of Laura;” “Forever;” “Mr. Robot;” “The Get Down.” Instagram: @JamesBrownIII.

    Claire Camp CLAIRE CAMP (Ensemble). Broadway: Cats (dance captain, swing). National tours: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Mrs. Potiphar), Flashdance the Musical (ensemble). Bill T. Jones Broadway workshop Super Fly. Received BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase.

    Lauren Nicole ChapmanLAUREN NICOLE CHAPMAN (Ensemble). Broadway and first national tour: Kinky Boots (ensemble, u/s Lauren). Select regional: A Sign of the Times (Goodspeed) and Legally Blonde (Sacramento Music Circus). BFA Emerson College. Laurennicolechapman.com

    Spencer Clark SPENCER CLARK (Swing). Broadway: Cats, Paramour. Other: West Side Story (Paper Mill Playhouse), In Your Arms (The Old Globe Theatre). Pace University 2016, BFA commercial dance. @thespencerclark

    Jeremy DavisJEREMY DAVIS (Ensemble). Broadway: Cats (Skimbleshanks), Annie (Bert Healy), The Last Ship, South Pacific, Billy Elliot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 9 to 5, The People in the Picture, Ghost. BFA U. of Michigan.  Equity member since 1998.

    Kali GrinderKALI GRINDER (Ensemble). Broadway/NYC: Wicked (ensemble) and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Rockette). National tour: Wicked.

    Ashley Elizabeth HaleASHLEY ELIZABETH HALE (Swing) Broadway: Matilda. US: Carmen; Mamma Mia!. West End: Shrek, Jersey Boys, Candide, Dirty Dancing, Guys and Dolls, Fame. International: Finding Neverland, Starlight Express, Saturday Night Fever. Film: Cinderella, Ted 2.

    Zach Hess ZACH HESS (Ensemble). Broadway debut! National tours: The Book of Mormon (Elder Price standby), Cats (Munkustrap). AEA.

    Donald Jones, JrDONALD JONES JR. (Ensemble). Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Broadway: Aladdin (OBC), Chicago (Sgt. Fogarty). Off-Broadway: Sweet Charity (Philip), Carnegie Hall's West Side Story (Bernardo). National tour: The Color Purple. Seattle's Spectrum Dance Theater. @doniejunior #blocSTAR

    Nina LafargaNINA LAFARGA (Ensemble). Broadway: On Your Feet! (OBC); In the Heights (OBC); Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; Sweet Charity; Aida. Off-Broadway: Capeman, Fanny. TV/film: “Elementary,” “Smash,” “30 Rock,” Friends With Kids, Sleeping with the Fishes, Ted 2. @ninalafarga, ninalafarga.com

    Ross Lekites ROSS LEKITES (Ensemble). Broadway: Kinky Boots. National tours: West Side Story (Tony), Kinky Boots. Regional: Theaterworks Silicon Valley, Goodspeed Opera House, Riverside Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse, TOTS. TV: “Time After Time” (ABC). www.Rosslekites.com. Insta @rjlekites.

    Austin LeschAUSTIN LESCH (Ensemble). Broadway: Something Rotten!; Violet; Billy Elliot. Off-Broadway: Altar Boyz. New York City Center Encores!: Violet. National tour: Altar Boyz. TV/film: “Peter Pan Live!;" Across the Universe. Original music on iTunes as Boo Riley. @boorileymusic

    Synthia Link SYNTHIA LINK (Ensemble). Broadway: How to Succeed…, Big Fish, Bullets Over Broadway. 1st national tour: Young Frankenstein (Inga). NYC: Radio City Rockette. Met Opera: Merry Widow (Lolo). TV: “Smash.”

    Travis PattonTRAVIS PATTON (Swing). Tours: Fosse, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Regional: Dreamgirls; Chicago; Fosse; Cats (Alonzo); Swing!; Pippin (Leading Player); The Wedding Singer. @trvspttn

    Adam PerryADAM PERRY (Ensemble). Broadway: Rocky; Nice Work...; Anything Goes; Promises, Promises; A Chorus Line and Wicked.  Other: Joan of Arc (Public Theater). Tours: Wicked, Cats, Sweet Charity. TV/film: “Law and Order: SVU;” “Smash;” Hail, Caesar!. @adammperry

    Jeff PewJEFF PEW (Swing). Broadway: Cinderella (Prince Topher u/s), Radio City Summer Spectacular. Tours: Billy Elliot. @jeffpew1

    Olivia PhillipOLIVIA PHILLIP (Ensemble). Select credits -  Broadway: Waitress; Disaster!. West End: The Book of Mormon, Ghost The Musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Instagram @olivialucyphillip. Twitter @oliviaphillip. Facebook Olivia Phillip.

    Noah J. RickettsNOAH J. RICKETTS (Ensemble). Broadway and 1st national tour: Beautiful The Carole King Musical. Favorite regional: Dreamgirls (C.C.) – NSMT; Hello, Dolly! – Muny; Tarzan (Terk) – WWT; La Cage (Jacob) – Summer Lyric. BFA CCM. @noahjrkts

    Ann SandersANN SANDERS (Ensemble). Broadway: Lincoln Center’s The King and I, If/Then, Leap of Faith, Avenue Q (Christmas Eve), Beauty and the Beast (Belle). Off-Broadway: Plenty, Falsettoland. Regional: Shrek, Hair, Allegiance. TV: “Elementary,” “Unforgettable, “The Big C,” “Johnny and the Sprites.”

    Jacob SmithJACOB SMITH (Ensemble). Broadway: Doctor Zhivago (ensemble). Other credits: The Spongebob Musical (Patrick u/s, swing), Spamalot (Galahad) and Rock of Ages (Dennis). Instagram: @LumberJakeSmith.

    Nicholas WardNICHOLAS WARD (Ensemble). Broadway: In Transit, On The Town. NY City Center Encores!: The Golden Apple, 1776, Cabin in the Sky, Paint Your Wagon. National tour: Show Boat. European tour: Porgy and Bess. Regional: Big River, Ragtime, Once on This Island.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Frozen: Ticket information
    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours. Single tickets to Frozen are on sale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account. Details:

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    Buell Theatre
    Sales to groups of 10 or more here


    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Photos: Rehearsals begin in New York
    Video: The summer of Frozen is heating up in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Casting completed for Denver launch of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • Lake Dillon Theatre Company strikes gold in Silverthorne

    by John Moore | Jun 24, 2017
    Silverthorne Performing Arts CenterPhotos from Friday's grand opening of the new $9 million Silverthorne Performing Arts Center. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Lake Dillon makes big splash with three new theatres that are already stimulating Summit County economy

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    They call it the $9 million email, and it is now framed in the lobby of the new Silverthorne Performing Arts Center that opened to great fanfare last night with the opening performance of Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s Sister Act, The Musical.

    It’s a remarkably ordinary email dated Aug. 15, 2013, written by Artistic Director Christopher Alleman confirming an upcoming meeting with Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland.

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake Dillon“The truth is, it was a really boring email,” Hyland said. But the drama hidden between the keystrokes was anything but. The acclaimed Lake Dillon Theatre Company, which had been presenting award-winning theatre in Dillon’s original, teeny-tiny Town Hall cabin since 1995, would soon be made homeless. The town of Dillon planned to redevelop the historic site, so it was time for the theatre company to find a new home.

    That boring email was the start of a beautiful relationship with the girl, er, town next door. And that partnership culminated Friday with the grand opening of the $9 million Silverthorne Arts Center. The new 16,000 square-foot jewel brings the cultural heft of three performing spaces to a town best known for its sprawl of irresistible outlet shops about 70 miles west of Denver.

    (Pictured above right: Curtain call after the inaugural performance of 'Sister Act.' Photo by John Moore.)

    The deal called for Silverthorne to kick in $6.3 million and the theatre company $2.7 million. “This was the smartest thing we could have ever done,” Hyland said.

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake Dillon“It is supporting arts and culture, which is such an incredibly enriching tool for our community, particularly our youth. But it is also absolutely an investment in economic development. It’s not some wild idea to say that that if you bring culture to a downtown, you can generate economic activity. It’s been proven. And this performing-arts center will be a catalyst for big things to come in this downtown.”

    (Pictured above right, from left: Ryan Hyland, Chris Alleman and Joshua Blanchard. Photo by John Moore.)

    When the cultural partnership was announced two years ago, Hyland said, investors immediately started to look at Silverthorne differently. “Before the first shovel went into the ground, we secured a 32-unit condo development across the way that I can attribute directly to this partnership,” Hyland said. “There is also a brewery and a new restaurant coming, so we haven't even started yet.”

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake DillonThe Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, located in the Town Center at 4th Street and Blue River Parkway, is anchored by a still-intimate 165-seat mainstage theatre called The Flex, where Sister Act opened Lake Dillon’s 23rd season on Friday and plays through Aug. 13. To maximize space, the orchestra performs live in a specially constructed studio next to the backstage dressing rooms.

    The 60-seat studio theatre next door will remind faithful Lake Dillon theatregoers of the company’s longtime cramped cabin home just a mile up Highway 6 in Dillon. That opens with the musical adaptation of the movie Ghost on July 1, running through Aug. 27. There is also a small classroom theatre that will host the company’s Lab Solo Series – successive one-actor plays Buyer and Cellar (June 30-July 9), Grounded (Aug. 11-20) and Pretty Fire (Sept. 15-24).

    Grand Lake's Rocky Mountain Rep opens 50th season

    When Ghost and Buyer and Cellar open, the company will have productions running in all three of its performance facilities. On most days of the week, theatregoers will have two of them to choose from.

    And just outside the entrance to the very mod arts center, designed by Denver’s Oz Architecture, is an outdoor music pavilion that will bring Hazel Miller (July 8), Chris Daniels and the Kings (July 15) and comedian Jim Breuer (Sept. 13), among many others, to Summit County this summer.

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake DillonThe Lake Dillon Theatre Company was conceived by Lennie Singer (mother of Denver actor Jordan Leigh) and B.J. Knapp in 1993. Alleman joined in 2002 with his partner, future Executive Director and actor Joshua Blanchard, who is nominated for a 2017 Henry Award for his performance in last year’s Cabaret. Together they have grown the organization from a $140,000 annual budget to $1.4 million. The company has maintained  a remarkably steady annual growth rate of about 13 percent.

    Today the fully professional company supports nine full-time employees and an extensive theatre education program. The full summer company of actors, crew, staff and apprentices numbers 72. The company also includes Arvada Center favorite Adam Estes, who directed Sister Act and stars in Buyer and Cellar, Colorado Shakespeare Festival Henry Award nominee Hunter Ringsmith, and widely acclaimed area designers including Nick Kargel, Brian Mallgrave, Vance Mackenzie and Andy Bakehouse.

    The mood at Friday night’s opening celebration was euphoric. But a better description for Alleman and Blanchard might be exhausted. “I’ve gotten eight hours of sleep in the past three days,” said Alleman, whose fundraising work is not yet done.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Our capital campaign is actually for $3.8 million,” he said. "That includes the $2.7 million we put into the building, but also a $500,000 reserve fund, plus the cost of fundraising. We're at $3.2 million right now, so we're not all said and done just yet.”

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake DillonJuliana Davis Ditmyer performed in Lake Dillon Theatre Company's first show under Alleman back in 2002, And the World Goes Round. She now lives in Florida, but came back this summer to be part of this new chapter in the company’s history. She’s choreographing Ghost.  

    “I was dying to be here for this," Davis said. "When I moved to Colorado, I was still not sure what I wanted to do with my life. I was living in Leadville when I stumbled across that little barn theatre in Dillon one day. I had no idea the impact it would have on me. This has not only been an artistic outlet for me but an artistic home. And although the building and surroundings are new, the heart is the same."

    Bob Moore, who has performed at theatres across Colorado since 1965, has appeared in 17 Lake Dillon Theatre Company shows, including the Monsignor in Sister Act. Make that 18 when he joins daughter Missy Moore in Noises Off, opening Sept. 1. (The director is his wife and her mother, Wendy Moore.)

    “This is now a destination facility, both for audiences and actors,” Bob Moore said. Missy Moore, who won the 2017 Henry Award for the Edge Theatre’s Getting Out, said, “Lake Dillon is absolutely bringing theatre in this part of Colorado to the next level.”

    Recent True West Award winner Sharon Kay White, who plays Mother Superior in Sister Act, is among many professional actors from Denver who find the mountain employment with Lake Dillon to be both rewarding and fulfilling. Among Colorado theatre companies, only the Denver Center and Arvada Center make more professional contracts available to Denver actors each year, Alleman said.

    “It's such an honor to be in the inaugural show in this beautiful space lovingly built by this city that embraced this theatre company that was made suddenly homeless,” said White, who previously played Sister Mary Patrick in the Arvada Center’s production of Sister Act last year. “And my goodness: This city is so beautiful. My plan was to drive home to Denver once a week all summer, but now I think I'm just staying up here all the time.”

    Our statewide Colorado summer theatre guide

    She said the quality of theatre in Silverthorne “fares great” in comparison to Denver’s best theatres. “It’s just bustling with activity. Everything feels new.”

    But while the summer of 2017 may be all about the new, Bob Moore says not everything has changed.

    “I would describe backstage at the old theatre as … very tight,” he said with a smile.  I mean, you really got a chance to know your fellow actors there. I remember a couple of times changing my clothes in the car.”

    And the new place?

    “Well, I would describe backstage at this theatre - for this particular show - as the same. But here’s the difference: There are 22 cast members in the show.” 

    That’s new.

    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.

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake Dillon

    The opening-night afterparty following 'Sister Act.' Photo by John Moore.


    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org
    Through Aug. 13: Sister Act
    June 30-July 9: Buyer and Cellar
    July 1-Aug. 24: Ghost
    Sept. 1-17: Noises Off
    Aug. 11-20: Grounded
    Sept. 15-24: Pretty Fire

  • Video: Tournament raises $110,000 for DCPA Education programs

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2017

    The Denver Center’s annual Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament, held June 16 at Legacy Ridge Golf Course in Westminster, raised a record $110,954 to support the DCPA’s arts in education programs.

    More than 106,000 students of all ages participated in DCPA Education programs around the state last year. Proceeds from the golf tournament help underwrite these important efforts, including:

    • Nearly 22,000 youth benefited from free and reduced-price tickets, matinees for their schools, and special Student Nights.
    • Shakespeare in the Parking Lot toured to 60 schools in 10 different counties, providing more than 9,000 unique interactions with students.
    • DCPA Teaching Artists offered workshops for all 189 schools participating in the annual DPS Shakespeare Festival, which attracted nearly 5,000 to the Denver Performing Arts Complex last month.
    • The Bobby G Awards celebrates achievements in Colorado high-school musical theatre. Trained judges adjudicate more than 40 local high-school musicals, culminating in a Tony Awards-style celebration that advances two local students to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (The Jimmys) in New York City.
    • DCPA Education administers a year-round one-act playwriting competition to nurture high-school writers. This year, four finalists had their plays presented at the DCPA’s annual Colorado New Play Summit. And earlier this month, two plays were selected for fully staged performances in the Conservatory Theatre.
    • DCPA Education also contributes to workforce development through multiple industry courses, a Career Readiness program and Job Shadow Days.

    Randy Weeks worked from the ground up to become President of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He started in the box office as a college student and was named Executive Director of the DCPA’s Broadway division in 1991. He was promoted to president in 2004. As President, welcomed more than 11.6 million guests to the Denver Center until his death in 2014.

    Guests on the video above include DCPA CEO Janice Sinden, President John Ekeberg, Bobby G Awards winner Austin Hand, and golf-tournament event co-chairs Shawn Fowler and Maxwell Bull. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and intern Avery Anderson.

    Photo gallery: 2017 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament:

    Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament

    DCPA CEO Janice Sinden gets a lift at the 2017 Randy Weeks Memorial Golf Tournament. To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Amanda Tipton. Photos may be downloaded and shared with proper photo credit. 

    Our 2017 Bobby G Awards Video Playlist (so far):
    Road to the Jimmy Awards: Austin Hand performs at the DCPA golf tournament
    Road to the Jimmy Awards: Bobby G Awards winners perform for DCPA Board
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: The full video recap
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: Nominated actors medley
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards: Performance Highlights
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards in 60 seconds
    The 2017 Bobby G Awards welcome to all participating schools

    More of our 2017 Bobby G Awards coverage:
    Our complete photo gallery
    Our full Bobby G Awards report: Persistence pays off at Valor Christian
    Video, photos and top quotes from the 2017 Bobby G Awards
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress finalists
    Meet your 2017 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor finalists
    2016-17 Bobby G Award finalists are announced

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Video: The summer of 'Frozen' is heating up in Denver

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2017

    Disney Theatrical Productions launches its new Broadway-bound musical Frozen from Aug. 17-Oct. 1 at Denver's Buell Theatre. The new stage adaptation of the popular animated film plays here for seven weeks before joining Disney hits "Aladdin" and "The Lion King" on Broadway in spring 2018 at the St. James Theatre.

    In this video, DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg talks Frozen as banners for the show were hoisted throughout the Denver Performing Arts Complex - ironically, on the first day of summer.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "Hosting a pre-Broadway theatrical engagement is so unique because this will be the first time any audience gets to see the full Broadway production up on its feet in the theatre before it goes to New York next spring," said Ekeberg. The venture is also great for the local economy, he added, "because it provides a lot of jobs for the Denver region."

     Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

    Frozen Banner. John Moore
    Banners are going up throughout the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
    More photos here.

    : At a glance

    From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.

    Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    Buell Theatre
    Sales to groups of 10 or more here


    Ticket information for Denver:
    Single tickets for the pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen are on sale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Casting completed for Denver launch of Frozen
    Photos: Rehearsals begin for Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen
  • Rocky Mountain Rep: Having a Grand Old Time at 50

    by John Moore | Jun 22, 2017


    Grand Lake's mainstay, Main Street mountain theatre draws nearly 20,000 theatregoers every summer.

    By Avery Anderson
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    It might be easy to overlook Grand Lake on a map - if not for the largest natural body of water in Colorado that sits alongside it.

    Grand Lake is a tiny mountain village located 105 miles northwest of Denver at the western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Many might not know that movie star John Wayne once owned a vacation home here, or that for five decades the town has been home to a professional summer-stock theatre company that produces big Broadway musicals from June through September.

    Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre is, in fact, one of only six Colorado theatre companies that are now 50 years or older. Rocky Mountain Rep, is it more affectionately called, opened its Golden Anniversary season on June 9 with Mamma Mia, soon to be followed by Newsies, West Side Story and Almost Heaven; Songs of John Denver, which began as a Denver Center world premiere in 2002.

     Judy Goodman _Little Mary Sunshine 1970Theatre in the mountains is just different than it is in the city. In Denver, the curtain might be delayed for heavy traffic. In Grand Lake, the curtain might be delayed by a heavy Rocky Mountain Elk blocking the entrance to the theatre.

    But make no mistake: Rocky Mountain Rep has grown from a mom-and-pop operation in 1967 into a premiere company that drew about 19,000 theatregoers last season despite a year-round population of just 466. About 43 percent of its audiences come from all over the state, while 33 percent come from around the country and beyond. The company’s estimated economic impact on Grand County and the surrounding area is $6.7 million per year.

    (Pictured right: 'Little Mary Sunshine' in 1970.)

    Although named the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, the original idea for it came to life in Yellowstone National Park. That’s where founders David and Audrey Thompson met and first dreamed of their future life running a mountain theatre ... somewhere. In 1965, now living in Chicago, the Thompsons heard that the town of Grand Lake was forming an arts council. The couple loaded up their family and headed for Colorado. They created the Troupe of American College Players in 1967 as a place for young actors and students to practice and build their craft.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The company performed its first season with a cast of college students, lights made out of large tin cans and an eagerness to show the town their first production, The Sound of Music, in the town's Pine Cone Lodge. Forty-four years later, in 2011, the company  opened the doors to a $5.5 million, 300-seat state-of-the-art new facility on Main Street.

    “It’s sorta like: Boy theatre, we’ve grown up,” current executive director Michael Querio said.

    Michael Querio quote 3“We could only fit 170 people In our old theatre, we sold out most of our performances and had waiting lists.”

    It was time to think bigger. Or, more appropriately for this company: Grander.

    “We got a generous lead donation of the property, raised $5.5 million and opened the theatre with no debt,” Querio said.

    For most of the company’s history, the actors have been primarily summering college students from Denver and around the country. Although Querio hires both students and professional performers today, he boasts that all of his performers “are young, strong, and going to be big names in the future.”

    Some notable alums have included future Baywatch star David Hasselhoff, Tony Award nominee Peter Freedman (Ragtime) and multiple Henry Award-winning director and choreographer Nick Sugar.

    This season’s up-and-coming actors include Josh Kellman, who is returning for his sixth season after starting his own traveling company called Empirical Theatre.

    The young actors who arrived in Grand Lake that first summer in 1967 were greeted by a major culture shock. The Thompsons had cast out of Chicago, and when the students arrived by train they had to be taken to their summer homes in a cattle car. Grand Lake was very different from the world the Chicagoans were used to, but when the townspeople came out to the station and greeted the newcomers with signs that said, “Grand Lake Welcomes the Troupe," they knew they were starting something special.

    Mamma Mia Men 2017“I remember clearly how excited everyone was when the show was over that first night,” said David Thompson Jr., son of the founding couple (who goes by the first name Tom). “Not just the actors but the audience. And they didn’t leave the theatre until everyone came from backstage. It was clear something special had happened.”

    In those early years, a naughty young Thompson and his five siblings could be spotted in the rafters throwing candy wrappers on the actors as they rehearsed. But those years set him on a path to a career as a playwright that led to a Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nominations for writing the books to John Kander and Fred Ebb's Steel Pier and The Scottsboro Boys.

    “My love of the theatre and my understanding of what’s important about a life in the arts is a gift from my parents,” Thompson said. “They taught all of us the importance of pursuing a passion.”

    (Photo above: The men of 'Mamma Mia,' 2017. Story continues after the video)

    Video bonus: John Moore at the 2010 opening of the new theatre in Grand Lake:

    The company has performed in many different Grand Lake venues over the years after the Pine Cone Lodge burned down. They performed in a tent while the theatre was rebuilt. The Pine Cone is now a local Mexican restaurant called El Pacifico.

    In the 1980s, Denver’s esteemed Loretto Heights performing-arts college took over the theatre and shared the Pine Cone with the Little Bear Bar. Longtime actor, director and producer Paul Dwyer, a student at the time, says that at 9:30 p.m. every night the bar’s band would start playing and thundering through the building - whether the show was done or not.

    1974 Pine Cone Theatre“There were times that intermission went long and we would be like, ‘Speak faster, skip lines,’ ” Dwyer said with a laugh. “It was like playing Russian Roulette with theatre. It was crazy fun.”

    In 1989, the Town of Grand Lake asked the Thompson family to come home and run the theatre full-time. Performances moved around between the local school, the town hall and a cabin theatre at the center of Main Street. The Thompson family continued to run the theatre until 1993, when founder David Thompson died. Company members Judith and Skelly Warren then ran the company for a decade.  

    (Pictured right: 'West Side Story' in 1974.)

    Even though the theatre has modernized and changed its mission over the years, it is still the quirky, beloved mountain theatre it always was. Why, just the other day, Querio said, a bear came up to the window during rehearsals.

    “Grand Lake is a small town, with a small-town feel,” he said. “They take care of their own. It’s a wonderful relationship.”

    Avery-Anderson Avery Anderson is interning with the DCPA NewsCenter for the summer. He is the General Manager and producer of Met TV at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He was won two Heartland Student Emmy Awards for his work on The Met Report. He has a passion for local arts and culture and enjoys covering theatres across the Denver area and the state. Follow him on Twitter and @a_anderson64.

    800 Grand Ave, Grand Lake, 970-627-3421 or rockymountainrep.com
    Through Aug. 26: Mamma Mia
    June 16-Aug. 24: Newsies
    June 30-Aug. 25: West Side Story
    Sept. 1: Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver

    1973 Man of La ManchaMan of La Mancha in 1973.
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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