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

    by John Moore | Oct 21, 2017

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ComedySportz: Ticket information

    Upcoming: Santa's Big Red Sack, Dec. 1-24
  • What Ed Berry loved most about theatre: 'Everything'

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

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To receive alerts related to Hamilton in Denver, click here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John Moore | Oct 19, 2017


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

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


    Making of 'The Wild Party'

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


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

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

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter and other local media coverage of The Wild Party

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

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

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

  • Meet Autumn Hurlbert of 'Something Rotten!'

    by John Moore | Oct 18, 2017
    AUTUMN HURLBERT. Something Rotten

    Autumn Hurlbert of the national touring cast of 'Something Rotten!' attended college in Greeley.

    Portia in 'Something Rotten!,' playing through Oct. 29 in the Buell Theatre.  

    AUTUMN HURLBERT On Broadway: Legally Blonde. First National Tour: Little Women. Selected Off-Broadway/Regional: Nobody Loves You (Second Stage), A Taste of Things To Come (York Theater Company), The Last Five Years (ACT Lousiville), Private Lives (Shakespeare Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre Company), every tongue confess (Arena Stage), Les Miserables and Evita (Pioneer Theater). Film/TV: “The Sound of Music, Live!,” “Legally Blonde: The Search For Elle Woods,” Sudden Death!, Research.

    • Hometown: I was born in Montana, and that's where most of my family lives now.
    • Home now: I have lived in New York City for almost 15 years now ... longer than anywhere else.
    • Training: I have a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theater from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
    • AUTUMN HURLBERT. Twitter-sized bio: Performer, mommy, wife, yogi, explorer, rule-breaker, wannabe political-science expert, musician ... and a silly, life-loving adventurer. 
    • What's your handle? @autumnhurlbert on Twitter and Instagram
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? Ooh! I would pursue a profession in some form of social advocacy: Social work, animal rescue, public school after-school programs, something along those lines. I feel that my purpose here on Earth is to empathize and help others in any possible way I can. Or ... this is weird, but I would totally be an aesthetician. I would love to give people facials!
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: One of the most transformative theater experiences I witnessed was Coram Boy (which on Broadway featured former longtime DCPA Theatre Company member Jacqueline Antaramian). It was an epic adventure that addressed child cruelty in the 18th Century. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, and it took my breath away. It was a huge production, but it had these beautiful, nuanced themes that I still think about. It closed much too soon and I am sad more people didn’t get to experience it. It was sad and magical and mind-blowing.
    • Bucket-list role: There are so many great roles I would love to tackle, but my No. 1 dream is to originate a role on Broadway. I love the creative process, and I really hope some day I can put my stamp on a role that future musical theater comediennes will conquer with their own interpretations.
    • One time you were totally miscast: I played one of the urchins in a production of Little Shop of Horrors at a community theater in Arizona. I sang the crap out of it, but it was definitely three white girls playing the urchins. Miscast!
    • alabamashakesWhat's playing on your your Spotify? I am currently obsessed with Alabama Shakes. They have been around for a while, but - man! - their music makes me feel the feels. I also really love Big Boi’s album, Big Boi Boomiverse. He calls himself an old-school rapper, but he says, 'I can lay down all of these new sounds and make them my own.' It’s an eclectic and fun album.
    • How should we should foster the next generation of theatregoers? I think arts education is the most important avenue, not only for nurturing future theatregoers, but also for making the world a better place. The arts teach empathy  and inclusiveness. The arts challenge and enhance your world view and your ability to participate in an ever-changing and evolving world. Studies have shown that children who play musical instruments are better at math. The arts are everything. (But I am totally not biased, am I?)
    • One thing we don't know about you: I have my toddler and my husband on tour with me. We are a like a traveling family band. We are living our gypsy spirit dreams!
    • Why does Something Rotten! matter? Our motto for this tour is: “Make America Laugh Again." Something Rotten! offers an escape from the stress and worry of daily life. One of the main themes is “To thine own self be true." That is a courageous and beautiful mission for anyone to live by. And we exemplify how to do that through comedy. Laughter is a necessity in life, in my opinion.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope they walk out with their cheeks and bellies sore from laughing. I hope the love we have for each other on stage is felt in the audience — you are our final cast member.
    • One thing you want to get off your chest: Please, please, make fanny packs go away for good. They really don’t look good on anyone. ANYONE. 😜

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Something Rotten!: Ticket information
    Something Rotten!At a glance: Set in 1595, this hit musical comedy  tells the story of two brothers who set out to write the world's very first musical. It was called  'The Producers + Spamalot + The Book of Mormon. Squared,' by New York Magazine. The New York Post called Something Rotten! 'a big, fat hit.'

    • National touring production
    • Performances Oct. 17-29
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Something Rotten! (to date)
    Something old, something new, something borrowed and Something Rotten!
    Go to the Something Rotten! show page
  • Perspectives: 'Smart People' and the constant search for 'yes'

    by John Moore | Oct 18, 2017
    Making of 'Smart People' Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Smart People,' directed by Nataki Garrett and featuring Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Five things we learned about the Theatre Company’s new comedy at our ongoing series of free conversations.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People, opening Friday in the Ricketson Theatre, is a play that takes its premise from an idealistic, real-life Princeton University neuropsychologist named whose research led her to believe that there is an identifiable gene in the bodies of white people that causes them to be racist. “Idealistic” because, in this emerging era of gene manipulation, the possibility might then exist that racism could one day be filtered out of human existence.

    It’s also a funny comedy about four impossibly smart and impossibly beautiful young people embroiled in America's often comically self-deluded conversations about gender and race at the hopeful dawn of the first Obama administration.

    When Diamond read the article about Fiske's quest to solve the problem of racism by locating that elusive gene, she knew she wanted to write a play about it. In an interview with the Huntington Theatre Company, Diamond said: "The genesis was a paper by Susan Fiske, who studies the roots of stereotyping based on race, gender and age. My husband, a sociologist, happened upon the article and said, 'You may want to look at this.' It kind of jolted me and made me think, 'What would be the ramifications of that line of inquiry? I started to see that across disciplines, studies about race aggressively worked to talk around race; I imagine because it’s such a powder keg."

    Here are five things we learned about the DCPA Theatre Company’s production of Smart People at Perspectives, an ongoing series of free conversations with audiences held before the first preview performance of most every Theatre Company offering. The panel featured Garrett and her entire four-actor cast of Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen, as well as Lighting Designer Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew.

    Join moderator Douglas Langworthy next at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 19 in the Jones Theatre for a talk on Matthew Lopez’s world-premiere comedy Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.    

    NUMBER 1Jurassic-ParkHow did this play come about? “It’s a real study,” Smart People Director Nataki Garrett said of Fiske's research. “You can download that article on the internet right now.” And if you read it, she said, “What you will find is this person's earnest desire to create change. That is a symptom of this idealistic time we were in just after Barack Obama was elected. The character in our play who is pursuing this idea really does want to help humanity.” But Colorado Springs native Jason Veasey (pictured below right), who plays a different character in the play, says beware of the story’s Frankenstein overtones. “The problem with human beings' pursuit of knowledge to the furthest extremes, even with the best intentions, is that there will always be other human beings who want to take that knowledge and do something bad with it,” Veasay said, “whether it be trying to identify a gene that makes people racist — or creating a park with real live dinosaurs. Look what happened when they did that!

    NUMBER 2 Smart People. Jason Veasey. Photo by John MooreHigh hopes and high I.Qs. The play is intentionally set just as the country was electing its first African-American president, said Garrett, also the Theatre Company’s Associate Artistic Director. “That was a very optimistic time in our county — for some people,” she said. “There was this revelry around the idea that we were participating in something that was happening for the first time. Because whenever you embark on something for the first time, then what you are probably doing is changing the world. These people meet at a time when they, too, are embarking on something new — with the election, with each other and with their ideas. What they are looking to discover is something about who we are as a nation."

    NUMBER 3Double vision: It is believed that Smart People is the first time the Denver Center's tiny Ricketson Theatre has ever accommodated a double-decker set. That means it has two floors, courtesy of Scenic Designer Efren Delgadillo Jr., with input from Garrett, who initially was told the Ricketson had never been bisected horizontally because the former movie theatre just doesn't have the height. Which set Garrett’s curiosity on a quest to find out if it could be done. That didn't surprise her actors, who call working with Garrett what they call “The Search for Yes.” “I Iike to be told what I can't do, and then ... I just have to see for myself,” Garrett said to laughter. “We jigsaw-puzzled ideas for days looking for ways to make is happen” – and with help from the DCPA design team, they did. The result, Garrett said, is an intentionally spare set made up of extremely clean and efficient lines. “I needed a space where the playwright’s words are most prominent, unfettered by other scenic elements,” she said.

    Smart People. Photo by John Moore

    NUMBER 4 What is ‘The Search for Yes’? When design artists come to Denver, one thing they quickly discover, Garrett said, “is that the team from the Denver Center can do anything. If you say to the people who put their hands on the stages here that you have this really crazy idea, the answer is almost always, exclusively, going to be ‘yes.’ They will do whatever it takes to make it happen." As an example, she asked those in attendance to pay particular attention to the use of projections in Smart People. “How they did what they did in that teeny space is amazing to me,” Garrett said. Added Veasey: “It feels like you are on the inside of a TV.”

    NUMBER 5What is ‘color-blind casting’? Diamond’s script very specifically calls for an  African-American woman who in turn plays an aspiring actor. At one point in the story, she is asked about her current role in a production of Julius Caesar, and specifically whether her casting in the traditionally white Shakespeare play is the result of “color-blind casting” — one of the most polarizing issues among real-life actors. Garrett was asked to define the term, and say whether she advocates for it. After a deep breath, she accepted the challenge:

    “So … ‘color-blind casting’ is an idea that is born out of the age of multiculturalism, where you might take a play that historically was connected to just one culture and cast it instead in a way that is inclusive of several cultures or identities,” she said. “Color-blind casting sometimes works and sometimes it doesn't. I believe that when it doesn't work, it is because of an earnest desire to create a world in which color does not exist — as opposed to creating a world in which color and race and identity are actually tangible things that we hold dear. Where it is important for us to have and embrace difference, as opposed to homogeny. Often, color-blind casting can further marginalize people of color because the question usually comes with the inference that, ‘You were not supposed to be doing this.’ That means you were given an opportunity that doesn't actually belong to you. I believe in casting that allows for people to be considered for roles based on their skills and for their density and for their ability and depth and knowledge — not based primarily on their identity. So I am not a ‘color-blind caster.’ I would say that I am a ‘color-conscious caster.’ I am very aware of the people in the bodies of the people I work with, and I honor them in their bodies, and I need them to be who they are."

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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

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

  • Something old, something new, something borrowed and 'Something Rotten!'

    by John Moore | Oct 17, 2017


    Cast of the national touring production of 'Something Rotten,' opening tonight (Oct. 17) at the Buell Theatre. Photo by Jeremy Daniel. 

    Something Rotten! is a cheeky new musical with its tongue planted firmly in the cheek of Broadway's past  

    Most Broadway newcomers don’t get their first show produced by Tony Award-winner Kevin McCollum, and they don’t typically land Tony-winner Casey Nicholaw as their director-choreographer. But brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick and British comedy writer John O’Farrell, the creators of the Tony Award-nominated Something Rotten!, aren’t like most Broadway first-timers.

    Growing up in Louisiana, the Kirkpatrick brothers fell in love with musical theater, appearing in high school shows and going to what’s now the Baton Rouge River Center to see touring productions of Broadway hits. In 1983, Karey Kirkpatrick saw his first show on Broadway, My One and Only, starring Tommy Tune and Twiggy, at the St. James Theatre – the theater that’s now home to Something Rotten!.

    Careers took the brothers and their Something Rotten! collaborator O’Farrell in different creative directions – Karey to success as a screenwriter, songwriter and director, with credits including The Rescuers Down Under, James and the Giant Peach and Chicken Run; Wayne to acclaim as a Grammy Award-winning songwriter (Eric Clapton’s Song of the Year Change the World and Garth BrooksWrapped Up in You are his); O’Farrell to multifaceted success in the U.K. as a comic novelist, columnist and TV and film writer.

    The seeds of Something Rotten! were sewn in the mid-1990s when Karey, who now lives in Los Angeles, and Wayne, who calls Nashville home, would get together for holidays or catch up by phone.

    “We were big history buffs. It started with, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if Shakespeare’s London were a lot like what Broadway was in the 1930s?’” Karey says. “Then it was, ‘What would it be like to be writing plays in the shadow of William Shakespeare, after Romeo and Juliet just opened?’”

    “We thought of two writers,” Wayne says. “What if one went to a soothsayer? Then somewhere along the way it was, ‘What if the two writers were brothers? What if the soothsayer’s name was Nostradamus, but he wasn’t The Nostradamus? What if he was a senile, bad soothsayer, his nephew?’ Eventually it was, ‘If we’re going to do this, we should really get serious about it.’”

    The brothers buckled down, and in 2010, Karey reached out to McCollum, producer of Rent and Avenue Q.

    “We called Kevin and said, ‘What do you need?’ He said that Avenue Q was three songs and an idea,” Karey says. “He came to my house and we pitched him five songs and the idea. He said, ‘I think you’ve got something here.’ ”

    Karey brought in O’Farrell, whom he’d met on Chicken Run, to help write the show’s story. The brothers crafted the music and lyrics, eventually writing more than 50 songs. What they had, after plenty of revisions and a multi-year developmental process, is a buoyant musical set in Shakespeare’s day that imagines the creation of the very first musical.

    Something Rotten! centers around Nick and Nigel Bottom (the last name comes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream), brothers desperate for a hit in Elizabethan London, where William Shakespeare is a rock star-like god of the stage lately given to cribbing plots. 

    Nick’s wife, Bea, a can-do gal in the style of Shakespearean heroines who cross-dress to get things done, tries to help. Nigel falls for a pretty Puritan named Portia, whose daddy strongly disapproves. Unreliable soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus, nephew of the Nostradamus, looks into the future and tells Nick that theater’s next big thing will be – tahdah! – “musicals,” where people sing, dance and act all at the same time.

    Something Rotten! is laced throughout with humor for Shakespeare aficionados and musical theater geeks.

    “We were conscious of not wanting to be so inside that you could only get it if you had seen the most obscure musicals,” Wayne Kirkpatrick said. “We went broad, purposely. We referenced not only the musicals that inspired us, but also musicals people would know even if they hadn’t seen them, or maybe they’d only seen the movie. The same with Shakespeare. Everybody knows some Shakespeare lines. There are a lot of what we refer to as his ‘hits’ that everybody is going to know.” 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The end result is a show so that has been called fresh and funny and appeals to audiences of all backgrounds. “I think it doesn’t matter how much you know,” said Nicholaw, whose other current Broadway shows are Disney's Aladdin (coming to Denver April 6-28) and The Book of Mormon (returning to Denver from June 13 through July 1). “My nieces and nephews say it’s their favorite show that I’ve done, and they don’t know any of the references.”

    Added O’Farrell: “If it works as a musical for people who don’t know musicals or Shakespeare, then I’m happy. It’s about show business and putting on a show. The show works on many levels, but the main level it works on, I hope, is that it’s just a great fun night out.”

    For the no-longer-green creative team, Something Rotten! has been a challenge, an education and a joy, an experience they still savor as the touring production plays cities all over the United States.

    “This was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but [it was] so rewarding to sit in a theater and watch all these amazing contributions from people who took it beyond our idea to create this magical, happy experience,” Wayne Kirkpatrick said.

    (The preceding article was provided by Something Rotten!)

    Bonus: Something Rotten! sings!


    'Something Rotten!'
    is brimming with references from some of the most beloved modern musicals throughout history. Jazz hands out! Below is a list of just some of our favorites from the show-stopping number 'A Musical':

    “I believe it’s called ‘Miser-ahh-bluh’”: This is directly referring to Les Misérables, with music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, original French lyrics by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel and an English libretto by Herbert Kretzmer.

    “Feel that fascinating rhythm move into your feet”: These lyrics are from George and Ira Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm, which was first included in the Broadway musical Lady Be Good in 1924 with Fred and Adele Astaire.

    “It’s a musical, a Seussical?”: Seussical was a musical that debuted on Broadway in 2000 and was based on the books of Dr. Seuss. Stephen Flaherty independently composed the music and co-wrote the book with Lynn Ahrens, who also wrote the lyrics.

    Sailor Hats: During A Musical, Nostradamus and the chorus men don sailor hats, which harkens to several nautical-themed musicals, including South Pacific, Anything Goes, On the Town and Dames at Sea.

    “All That Jazz” number: This number comes from the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical Chicago (returning to the Buell Theatre starting Nov. 28), featuring the iconic Broadway choreography of Bob Fosse.

    “525,600 Minutes” excerpt: This moment comes from the song Seasons of Love from Jonathan Larson’s Rent which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1996. The 20th anniversary tour of Rent comes to the Buell Theatre Nov. 14-21,

    Wash Buckets: The ensemble brings on cleaning buckets and emulates the iconic staging of the song It’s the Hard Knock Life from Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s Annie. BDT Stage will be presenting Annie in Boulder from Nov. 18-Feb. 24.

    Get in 'Line': The lyrics refer to the tradition of a chorus or ensemble dancing in a line in synchronized fashion. This can be seen with the world-famous Radio City Music Hall’s Rockettes and the musical A Chorus Line. At the end of the song, the entire company crosses to one line downstage with headshots (or rather head… sketches) in front of their faces. This is also replication of the iconic staging from the musical A Chorus Line.

    Fun photo gallery: A peek at the Playbills. Elizabethan style!

    Something Rotten! A Peek at the Playbills

    As a show about the "first" Broadway musical, there are naturally quite a few hilarious references to the Great White Way in Something Rotten! See how the titles of some famous shows would have changed if they were created at the turn of the 17th century. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears.

    Something Rotten!: Ticket information
    Something Rotten!At a glance: Set in 1595, this hit musical comedy  tells the story of two brothers who set out to write the world's very first musical. It was called  'The Producers + Spamalot + The Book of Mormon. Squared,' by New York Magazine. The New York Post called Something Rotten! 'a big, fat hit.'

    • National touring production
    • Performances Oct. 17-29
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • Teen performers raise $13,000 for Denver Actors Fund

    by John Moore | Oct 15, 2017
    13 The Musical
    Photos from the two performances of '13 The Musical' at the Mizel Center on Oct. 8. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Officials estimate young people under 18 have now raised $35,000 for the grassroots nonprofit that serves local artists

    Watch the announcement as it happened on Facebook Live

    What do most kids do when they want to raise money for charity? Set up a lemonade stand, or organize a car wash? A group of 13 young, Denver-based performers who have grown up on professional stages throughout the Denver metro area decided to put on a show for the Denver Actors Fund.

    13 The Musical Denver Actors FundWith help from some of the local theatre community’s biggest names, the teens and their parents self-produced Jason Robert Brown's 13: The Musical, culminating in two performances at the Mizel Art and Culture Center's Wolf Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 8. Their efforts raised $13,188 for the DAF, a grassroots nonprofit that in four years has provided both financial and practical relief to members of the Colorado theatre community in situational medical need.

    That makes 13: The Musical the second-largest fundraising effort in The Denver Actors Fund's four-year history. It also puts the nonprofit over the $250,000 mark in overall funds raised. Of that total, almost $130,000 already has gone back out to individual artists to help with hospital and dental bills, or to pay for medical supplies, chemotherapy treatments, burial expenses and more. In addition, DAF volunteers have logged more than 500 hours of practical service ranging from transportation to snow-shoveling to personal company, meal preparation and delivery, and groceries. 

    Denver Actors Fund Founder and Executive Director John Moore said young people under 18 have now raised more than $35,000 for the DAF through their individual efforts, not even counting their regular participation in larger benefits such as the annual Miscast variety show. 

    13: The Musical was made possible largely because of the parents' investment of time, money and performers. The parents absorbed nearly all production costs as their own personal donations so that all proceeds from ticket sales and other revenue sources would go fully to the DAF.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    13 The Musical Denver Actors Fund

    "The parents of these kids are a finely oiled machine of theatre moms who tackled the job of producing a full musical production like pros," said Director Robert Michael Sanders, who himself is responsible for raising more than $30,000 for The Denver Actors Fund. "They handled the marketing, ticket sales, rehearsal space, driving, coordinating, costumes, ushers, volunteers, fundraising and accounting head-on, all at great personal sacrifice and expense. That allowed me and my staff to focus on the performance."

    Donate to The Denver Actors Fund

    Erin Katz, mother of actor Hannah Katz, said there was something delightfully symmetrical about the final numbers: 13 performers appearing in 13: The Musical and raising just more than $13,000.            

    "I feel like all of the stars aligned for this project," Katz said. "That number has a magical quality to it." 

    Hannah Katz, a sophomore at Cherry Creek High School, has been raising money for The Denver Actors Fund through both group and self-initiated efforts for more than three years. Katz and castmate Darrow Klein each raised money for the DAF as part of their Bat Mitzvah service projects, among other efforts.

    13 The Musical Denver Actors Fund"We wanted the proceeds from 13 to go to The Denver Actors Fund because the DAF gives back to the people who have helped us become who we are," said Klein. "We have been raised by the people of this theater community, and we want to help them when they need it most. It is a great cause that supports great people."

    Erin Katz said many of the young cast members have been performing in shows all along the Front Range since they were as young as 9. "Many of us parents have this sense that the larger theatre community has helped raise our kids," she said. "They are developing into the young adults they are because of the people in the larger, local theatre community. So, doing something the kids could really own and do themselves and would give back to the community was a really important value for us as parents to teach our kids." 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    13 is an original musical by Brown, who is best known for The Last Five Years and The Bridges of Madison County. Brown heard about the effort and sent the cast his recorded well-wishes before Sunday's two performances. So, too, did a Colorado member of the Broadway cast of Hamilton

    The book is by Dan Elish and Robert Horn. 13 premiered on Broadway in 2008 and is the only Broadway musical ever presented with a cast made up entirely of teenagers. It's a coming-of-age story about a pre-teen boy who is plucked from his life in New York City and plopped into a sleepy Indiana town following his parents' divorce.

    This all comes right on the heels of the return of "The Killer Kids of Miscast," who were given that name after a remarkable performance at last year in which at Miscast, they performed a twisted variation of "The Cell-Block Tango" from Chicago. A video of that performance has been viewed nearly 500,000 times on YouTube and Facebook. 

    This time, six of the 13 cast members  performed a more Denver-centric parody of "Hey Officer Krupke" from West Side Story, in which they comically lament not yet being seriously considered by area directors for adult roles.

    "These are not only our next generation of actors," Sanders said, but a group of young people I believe possess the skills as people to grow up and show the world how to be a better place again."

    13 The Musical Denver Actors Fund
    The cast with parents and other crew members. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Actors (moms in parentheses)
    Joshua Cellar (Emily Cellar)
    Conrad Eck (Kristin Eck)
    Macy Friday (Megan Friday)
    Evan Gibley (Michelle Gibley)
    Lorenzo Giovanetti (Carmela Giovanetti)
    Kaden Hinkle (Shannon Gaydos-Hinkle)
    Hannah Katz (Erin Katz)
    Darrow Klein (Jennifer Klein)
    Michelle Lee (Huwon Lee)
    Gabe Legg (Angela Legg)
    Carter Novinger (Jennifer Novinger)
    Rylee Vogel (Kristi Vogel)
    Hannah Meg Weinraub (Michelle Weinraub)

    Robert Michael Sanders: Producer and director
    Paul Dwyer: Assistant director
    Anna Smith: Assistant director
    Jayln Courtenay Webb: Music director
    Lauren Hergenreter: Stage manager
    Sydney Eck: Assistant stage manager
    Tom Quinn: Sound
    Jennifer Orf: Lighting
    Stephanie Hess: Choreographer
    Shannan Steele: Choreographer
    Matthew D. Peters: Choreographer
    Jessica Hindsley: Choreographer
    Abigail Kochevar: Choreographer


    Jason Tyler Vaughn: Guitar
    Heather Holt Hall: Keyboards
    S. Parker Goubert: Bass
    Evan Jones: Drums

    For more information on the Denver Actors Fund and its services, or to donate, go to DenverActorsFund.Org.

    Video bonus: The Killer Kids at Miscast 2017:

    Performing here are Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Rylee Vogel and Hannah Meg Weinraub. Accompanied by Donna Debreceni on keyboards. Choreography by Piper Arpan. Directed by Robert Michael Sanders. Video by John Moore. Song written by the performers and their parents.

  • 'Frozen' economic impact on Denver: $30 million

    by John Moore | Oct 13, 2017
    Frozen Banner. John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter

    In 20 years, the DCPA's partnership with Disney Theatrical Productions has infused $267 million into local economy

    The seven-week pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen made an estimated $30 million economic impact on the host city of Denver, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced today. In 20 years, the DCPA's partnership with Disney Theatrical Productions has infused $267 million into the local economy.

    The totals are based on a Broadway League study that that found when a Broadway show visits a city, it contributes an economic impact of roughly 3.6 times the gross ticket sales to that metropolitan area’s local economy. The formula takes into account travel, hotels, restaurants, parking and other businesses patronized by both theatergoers and production staff.

    Jelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Patti Murin (Anna) in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van MeerFrozen drew 125,900 patrons to the Denver Performing Arts Complex for 47 performances ending Oct. 1.

    In addition, the unique opportunity for the DCPA to host Frozen before it goes to Broadway provided work for an estimated 242 workers from the local Stagehand, Wardrobe/Hair and Musicians unions from May 30 through the middle of October.

    “It was a true joy to work with Disney Theatrical Productions this summer on the spectacular Broadway-bound Frozen, said John Ekeberg, Executive Director of DCPA Broadway. "Our audiences fell in love with the show and eagerly grabbed the opportunity to get a first look at this beautiful new musical.

    "Frozen will go down as one of the brightest moments in Denver theatre history, and I’m so pleased the Denver Center got to play a part in the show’s journey.”

    Jack Eldon, Vice President of Domestic Touring and Regional Engagements at Disney Theatrical Productions, said, "We are tremendously grateful to the Denver community who warmly welcomed the pre-Broadway debut of Frozen to their great city. Disney Theatrical Productions has a long history with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, including The Lion King Tour launch and world premiere of The Little Mermaid.  We thank our wonderful partners at the Denver Center for another sensational engagement." 

    Frozen soon joins Disney Theatrical hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway, beginning performances at the St. James Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 22, and opening Thursday, March 22. Tickets for Broadway performances are on sale now through August 12, 2018. Visit FrozenTheMusical.com for more information.

    Denver Center's history with Disney Theatrical Productions since 1997:

    • Engagements: 14
    • Production launches: 3 (including 2 pre-Broadway)
    • Playing weeks: 64
    • Performances: 481
    • Attendance: More than 1 million
    • Gross box office: $73 million
    • Estimated economic impact: $267 million over 20 years

    Patti Murin (Anna) and Caissie Levy (Elsa) with Jacob Smith in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van Meer
    Patti Murin (Anna) and Caissie Levy (Elsa) with Jacob Smith in 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen

    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast 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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • In the Spotlife: Hugo Jon Sayles of 'I Don't Speak English Only'

    by John Moore | Oct 12, 2017

    Hugo Jon Sayles. Su Teatro

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

    • Hometown: Denver
    • Home now: Denver
    • Hugo Jon Sayles High school: Denver South High School
    • College: University of Colorado Denver
    • What have you done for us lately? I directed A Good Child, Too Soon, and had my play mounted, Sisters, Sweetwater, both by The Source Theatre Company
    • Twitter-sized bio: A storyteller via voice, body, pen and spirit. A man who lives in and for the arts, the meaning of the heart and the joy of the distance traveled.
    • Web site: thesourcedenver.org
    • The role that changed your life: I played Johnny Williams in the African-American classic The River Niger, the first role I truly lived in every moment of show as the character, not Hugo, not the actor, but the painter/poet trying to find his battlefield.
    • viola-davis-fencesIdeal scene partner: Viola Davis on stage, because you see her telling the truth of the character, and living in each moment. It would probably easier because of how much she would give you in those moments that make up the play.
    • What is La Carpa Aztlán all about? The play speaks of Latino cultural pride in this Trump-ian era of intolerance. It is framed in a satirical Chicano traveling show called La Carpa Aztlán (The Aztlán Tent).
    • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: The biggest challenge will be the physicality it will require to embody Don Aztlán. Then, the Spanish the company is loving me into.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing your show? The immigrant soul.  Remember where you come from, and cherish those immigrant roots that came before you, and fortifies your spirit.
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I started as a martial artist at age 11, and was an instructor at 16. .
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Monies should not be used to reward elitism in the arts. Case in point: In the 1970s, nationally ranked martial artists fought in tournaments here in Denver. So frequently would they lose to local fighters that they stopped fighting in Denver. Monies were awarded to those fighters. Money in the arts goes to a perceived notion of excellence, usually to those from elite areas of the country such as New York and Los Angeles.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Su Teatro La Carpa Aztlan 2010
    Photo from Su Teatro's 2010 staging of  'La Carpa Aztlán Presents: I Don't Speak English Only.' 

    I Don't Speak English Only:
    Ticket information

    Su Teatro brings back its homegrown classic dystopian comedy that rises from the past to imagine a future world where all diversity is prohibited and any expression of 'the other' has been forced underground. The play with music is based on the Mexican tent-show tradition, which emerged during the 1920s in small towns across the Southwestern United States and Mexico. Carpas were looked at as lower-class entertainment, but some of Mexico's greatest performers came out of the carpa tradition, including the man Charlie Chaplin called the world's greatest comedian: Mario Moreno, better known as Cantinflas.

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


    • Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday matinee on Oct. 22 at 2 p.m.

    Cast list:

    • Don Guillermo Aztlan: Hugo Jon Sayles
    • Elizabeth: Marialuisa Burgos
    • Carmen: Magally Luna
    • Violeta : Paola Miranda
    • Consuelo: Iliana Barron
    • Carlos: Aaron Vieyra
    • Tino: Adolfo Romero

    2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific

  • Banned Together: Theatres across country take stand against censorship

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2017

    Video: Selections from "Banned Together." Caution: Some song lyrics contain profanity. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Local actors present censored pieces to raise awareness around the ongoing issue of free expression in live theatre.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    GOLDEN — Miners Alley Playhouse joined a national coalition of theatres on Sept. 28 in presenting an informal evening of censored theatre pieces to raise awareness around the ongoing issue of free expression in live theatre.

    “Censorship of theatrical work is not some medieval practice that we’ve left behind,” Ralph Sevush, Executive Director of the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement. “It continues to this day.”

    Banned Together. Photo by John MooreAn array of acclaimed local actors came together in Golden to present songs and scenes from controversial plays and musicals ranging from Cabaret to Fun Home to Rent to Spring Awakening to The Laramie Project to Angels in America to The Vagina Monologues. Seven of the nine featured titles have been banned from being performed in school and community theatres specifically because they address the issue of homosexuality.

    Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret was held in 16 cities from Seattle to Baltimore between Sept. 24-30, also known as Banned Books Week in America. Each city followed a 40-page script provided by the sponsoring Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization created by The Dramatists Guild to advocate for free expression in the dramatic arts. The script was compiled by the fund's president, John Weidman (Anything Goes, Assassins).

    “What is it that’s peculiar to a live performance onstage that drives reactionary, narrow-minded forces right around the bend, often at breakneck speed?” Weidman asks in his introduction. He quotes Edward Albee’s opinion that while movies are a passive theatregoing experience, live theatre is active, happening in the present tense — and that’s what makes it dangerous, depending on how people react to it.

    (Story continues below the photo gallery)

    Photo gallery: Banned Together in Golden

    Banned Together 2017

    Photos from 'Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret' Sept. 28 at Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Downloadable photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Recent high-profile examples of theatrical censorship have included the election controversy in New York when Bank of America and Delta Airlines withdrew their funding to The Public Theatre for presenting a Julius Caesar who looked like Donald Trump. Soon after, 36 playwrights and other artists signed a petition demanding that the Lincoln Center cancel its production of To the End of the Land because the production received some funding from Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Lincoln Center refused to cancel the show.

    But by far, the most censorship of live theatre happens in schools across the country that try to tackle topics touching on sex, politics, race or religion.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Director and Emcee of the program in Golden was Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement winner Jim Hunt, who introduced each cutting with anecdotes covering how each piece has been challenged in various ways. For example, a church group in Maiden, N.C., lobbied the local school board to keep its high school thespians from staging John Cariani’s vignette comedy Almost, Maine, because it comically shows two men (literally) falling in love. (The students raised money to produce the play themselves off school grounds.)

    The actors who performed the challenged and challenging scenes in Golden were Jimmy Bruenger, Sophie Dotson, Josh Hartwell, Steph Holmbo, Jim Hunt, Curtiss Johns, Abigail Kochevar, Len Matheo, Kristen Samu, Suzie Scott, Luke Sorge and Jim Walker. The Music Director was Mitch Samu. The local producer of the event was Hartwell, on behalf of the Dramatists Guild.

    The program included two songs from the 2015 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Fun Home, which was a copacetic coincidence for the host theatre. Miners Alley Playhouse is one of three Colorado theatre companies that will be the first to present homegrown stagings of Alison Bechdel’s coming-of-age story next year. Cabaret exists as a warning against the dangers of Nazi-era propaganda and the death of individual thought, and the program also brought back to Miners Alley the star of its recent production to perform the pointed allegory “If You Could See Her.” The finale was an audience singalong of the Rent anthem, "Seasons of Love."

    Admission was free, with donations accepted for the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund. About $500 was raised.

    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.

    Banned Together. Photo by John Moore

    Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret: Songs and Scenes

    • “Class” from Chicago, performed by Kristen Samu, Steph Holmbo and Mitch Samu
    • Scene from Almost, Maine, performed by Suzie Scott, Luke Sorge and Curtiss Johns
    • “Ring of Keys” from Fun Home, performed by Sophia Dotson and Mitch Samu
    • “Changing My Major” from Fun Home, performed by Abbey Kochevar and Mitch Samu
    • “Totally F*cked” from Spring Awakening, performed by Jimmy Bruenger and Mitch Samu
    • Scene from The Vagina Monologues, performed by Suzie Scott
    • Scene from The Laramie Project, performed by Luke Sorge and Josh Hartwell
    • “If You Could See Her” from Cabaret, performed by Jim Walker, Steph Holmbo and Mitch Samu
    • Scene from Angels in America, performed by Len Matheo and Josh Hartwell
    • “Seasons of Love” from Rent, performed by all
  • Rachel Kae Taylor of 'The Snowy Day' on the magic of being a kid

    by John Moore | Oct 11, 2017

    Actor, Teaching Artist and Puppet Designer Rachel Kae Taylor is one of three ensemble members in DCPA Education's The Snowy Day and Other Stories, by Ezra Jack Keats, playing through Nov. 18 in the Conservatory Theatre. She plays Archie, Amy, Mom and other roles.

    At the Denver Center: The Servant of Two Masters, One Foot on the Floor and A Christmas Carol. Other theatres: Touch the Names (Ensemble Studio Theatre N.Y., Cleveland Play House); The Good Woman of Setzuan, 5th of July (National Theatre Conservatory).

    • Hometown: Denver
    • Training: University of Colorado, MFA from the Denver Center's National Theatre Conservatory (pictured below right with Patrick Goss in 'The Fifth of July'.)
    • Rachel Kae Taylor and Patrick Goss in The Fifth of JulyTwitter-sized bio: Mom of the coolest 14-year-old on the planet. Visual artist. Zombie fanatic. Ghost-story addict. Baseball lover. Doing my part to keep 80s alternative music alive. Undefeated at Tetris.
    • Web site? rkaetaylor.com and CupOfTwigs on ETSY
    • What was the role that changed your life? This is a tough one because I think every role changes your life in some way, and it should.
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I actually have my dream career as a Teaching Artist and At-Risk Coordinator for DCPA Education. I have the privilege of teaching and developing theater arts programing for underserved communities and Title One schools across Colorado. If I hadn’t gone into the arts, I would have been an anthropologist or forensic sculptor. I am the biggest geek for all things science. Humans are endlessly fascinating.
    • RachelKaeTaylor Larry Hecht 160Ideal scene partner? Larry Hecht (pictured right), the former head of adult acting at the DCPA. He could literally wizard things out of you. Things you had no idea you could do or be.
    • Why does The Snowy Day matter? Ezra Jack Keats was such a groundbreaker in terms of social awareness in children’s literature, in a quiet and beautiful way.  For a child to be able to read a story and say “Hey, they look like me!’ is a very powerful thing. I remember the first time it happened to me to this day.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope that for adults it is a reminder of how truly beautiful the simple things in a life are. Whether it is the wonder of a new snowfall, or having your heart flutter for the first time, or little acts of bravery, it’s easy to forget sometimes in our adult lives how magical these moments are. I hope that the kids find themselves within the characters and their discoveries about the world around them. If it is their first time at the theater, I hope they fall madly in love with it, like I did.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ... to live my favorite quote, which I saw spray-painted on a door in Queens: “Art changes people, and people change the world.’ "

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Rachel Kae Taylor. AdamsVisCom. The Smowy DayThe cast of 'The Snowy Day Other Stories,' from left: Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy and Zak Reynolds. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Snowy Day and Other Stories

    First rehearsal photos: Forecast calls for a Snowy Day at DCPA
    DCPA Education to launch Theatre for Young Audiences
    Meet Zak Reynolds of The Snowy Day, 'a fan of being happy'

    The Snowy Day and Other Stories: Ticket information
    Snowy DayFrom the joys of a first snowfall and learning how to whistle to thrilling encounters delivering a precious invitation, the delightful moments of childhood are perfectly captured in this medley of simple, sweet stories.

    • Written by Ezra Jack Keats; adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
    • Performances through Nov. 18
    • School performances: Weekdays 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. (except Thursdays are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
    • Public performances: 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, 1101 13th St.
    • Tickets $10 (discounts and scholarships available)
    • Best suited for: Pre-K through third grade
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Teachers: Inquire by clicking here or calling 303-446-4829
  • Coloradans urged to pledge we're amazin' to Amazon

    by John Moore | Oct 10, 2017

    To lend support to Colorado’s bid to attract Amazon's second headquarters to the state, a grassroots group called “Colorado Loves” is asking everyone from natives to newcomers to share the many reasons they love Colorado on a new website called ColoradoLoves.com.

    The hope is that when officials from the tech giant read the entire collection of fawning anecdotes, they will collectively fall in love with Colorado, too. 

    Click here to share your story

    Amazon is receiving bids from communities angling to be the landing spot for the Seattle-based company’s second headquarters. Amazon is promising the winning city a mega-tech campus with tons of high-paying jobs.

    “The goal is to highlight all the things that are great about this region and why we can support 50,000 new jobs and tons of new innovation,” Stephanie Donner, who is leading the campaign, told The Denver Post. “If you’re inspired, we want you participate. There is no area where we have too much or too little. We need content and we want it to be user-generated.”

    Read the full Denver Post report

  • 'American Mariachi': Community conversation begins

    by John Moore | Oct 09, 2017
    Making of 'American Mariachi'Photos from the Sept. 21 roundtable conversation on 'American Mariachi,' opening Jan. 26. To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Playwright, director introduce coming world premiere that will tell a pioneering story from Denver to San Diego.

    By John Moore
    Senior Ats Journalist

    The DCPA invited members of various local Latino communities to join them on Sept. 21 for a roundtable conversation on American Mariachi, the Theatre Company’s upcoming world premiere musical play by José Cruz González.

    American Mariachi Students from three local colleges, teachers, mariachi players and members of the Mi Casa Resource Center were among the two dozen who joined the playwright, director James Vásquez and members of the DCPA staff for a free-form introduction to the play, followed by an open discussion on how the Denver Center might best engage the community around this high-profile staging.

    American Mariachi is a first for the DCPA Theatre Company: It is being created as a co-production with the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. That means the story is being brought to life here in Denver from Jan. 26-Feb. 25 as a featured attraction of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. And once it closes here, the entire production will be transported to San Diego for a second run opening March 23 – sets, actors and all.

    González and Vásquez gave the roundtable audience their enthusiastic accounts of the play’s history, inspirations, logistical challenges and potential audience impact. “I think this play is ultimately going to have a beautiful, brilliant life all around the country,” Vásquez said.

    But first González, who previously debuted September Shoes (2005) and Sunsets and Margaritas (2009) at the Denver Center, wants to make sure as many people from all economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds see the play when they have the opportunity in Denver. Here’s some of what they told those gathered:

    What’s the story? American Mariachi is set in the 1970s American southwest. It follows the journey of a young woman, Lucha, who has become the caretaker for a mother suffering from dementia. As a girl, Lucha’s father and his best friend were part of a mariachi band, and their home was filled with life and music. But something happened that tore the band apart, after which the mother began to lose herself. Now years later, Lucha and her cousin find a record of a mariachi song that briefly brings the mother back to life. Lucha is then determined to learn how to play this magical song for her mother before it is too late. But as the young women set out to start their own mariachi band (something unheard of in that day), everyone around them discourages them because they are women – including Lucha’s father. But they do it anyway.

    American Mariachi. Summit Are they any good? In a word, no. “They're The Bad News Bears of mariachi bands,” González said. “They're not great. But they find their path, and they learn the song. And along the way they find their voices - and their places in the world.”

    (Pictured right: Elia Saldana and Sal Lopez in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit reading of 'American Mariachi.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 

    Will the play include live music? The cast of nine not only must act and sing, they will play live musical instruments. In addition, five mariachi musicians will make up the orchestra.

    The music: About 14 songs will be performed in American Mariachi. González wrote three, including the poignant ballad song at center of the plot. The rest are traditional songs.    

    American Mariachi The development: American Mariachi was commissioned by the DCPA Theatre Company in 2014 and was presented as a featured reading at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. It has been honed through two workshops since, most recently in Los Angeles this past summer. At the Colorado New Play Summit in 2016, "it was 150-page play,” González said. "We're now down to 95 pages. So it's now very lean, and it moves like gangbusters.”

    (Pictured right: The cast of the DCPA's 'American Mariachi' at a workshop in Los Angeles in July. Photo provided by Douglas Langworthy.)

    Is there a language barrier? “The script is 95 percent English, with a smattering of Spanish here or there,” Vásquez said. And pains will be taken to convey the meaning of any Spanish word, through physical gestures or outright translation. “Now, the traditional songs are in Spanish,” Vásquez said. “But I think their meaning is something our audience will understand through the sheer theatricality of the musicians."

    That goes both ways: One roundtable attendee said the language barrier works both ways: “I think there would be an appetite for an all-Spanish version of this show for the communities that can only speak Spanish and would otherwise not be able to engage in the story fully,” she said. González took that to heart and said he will consider producing an all-Spanish version of the script.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Who is the play for? After an earlier public reading, Vásquez was greeted by a young woman who told him, “I have never seen myself represented on stage. I see movies or TV shows or plays, and it's never about me. This was about me." "She walked out feeling like she had a place in the world," Vásquez said, "which I think is a testament to the play Jose has written.” But González was quick to add that American Mariachi is not only about these young women finding their voices. “It's also about families dealing with Alzheimer’s and other issues we are all dealing with in our own communities,” he said.

    The aftermath:
    After the creators’ presentation, DCPA staff asked their guests for their questions and concerns. One intrigued attendee said American Mariachi may well be seen as an effective counter in communities that still have a stigma about the relevance of the arts. Among the other concerns: A possible price barrier, getting the word out to the people who might most be interested in this story, and the cost of downtown parking. DCPA representatives told them they are committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to see the play has an opportunity.

    “You can open doors,” the DCPA's Nataki Garrett said, “or you can remind people that the doors are open.”

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


    American Mariachi: Ticket information

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

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 26 through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Video: José Cruz González at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit



    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

  • Lights, Camera, Theatre: 'Macbeth' at the movies

    by John Moore | Oct 06, 2017

    Get out the popcorn for flicks that mimic the sound and fury of Shakespeare’s tragedy on our stage

    By Carolyn Michaels
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    By now you’ve probably heard that The DCPA Theatre Company's presentation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Director Robert O’Hara is retelling the classic with a staging where “sex and tragedy meet in a mosh pit” – a difficult image to clearly understand until you see it for yourself.

    For those in need of a primer before your performance or who are hungry for similar fare after the curtain call, here are five films that hearken to the themes, artistic elements or straight-up source material that continues to inspire storytellers to this day.

    Macbeth (2015)

    As one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, it’s no surprise that there have been many, many Macbeth adaptations for stage and screen over the centuries since it was written. But if you’re looking for a true-to-form telling that blends historically accurate elements with gorgeously modern visuals, look no further than the 2015 movie by Justin Kurzel. His filmography often centers around intense human stories set against bleak backdrops, so it comes as little surprise that he would choose a story set in 11th century Scotland. Gorgeous costumes by Jacqueline Durran mimicked simplistic fabrics, forms and techniques that would be natural in the frontier society in which the story was set – a far cry from the futuristic leather-clad lads you’ll ogle in the DCPA’s present production. But the treatment of grand fights as gripping slow-motion action sequences holds true to both takes, and sometimes it’s nice to refresh your memory of the play’s original form before diving into to something completely new.

    The Neon Demon (2016)

    What do an aspiring model and an aspiring king have in common? A lot more than you’d think! Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s take on the cutthroat world of fashion follows a seemingly innocent young woman as her quick rise to fame and recognition feeds the jealousy of others, as well as her own appetite for power. Stylistically, the two pieces feel like sisters from another mister. As with the DCPA’s Macbeth, conflicts in Demon reach their bloody ends with some suspiciously witchy elements at play. Both feature hypnotic moments filled with thumping music and geometric neon lights, some enviably hip parties and forward-thinking fashion straight out of Vogue. The film is abstract, raw, sexual and symbolic. It may be too much to take in for your average moviegoer, just like Macbeth may surprise and startle the average Shakespeare fan. If you don’t think you’ll be dipping your toes into the glitter anytime soon, at least listen to Sia’s slow burn track written for the end credits.


    While the departure from having actual kings played a role in America’s independence, we’ve had our fair share of mini-monarchies that have made their way into our history books and pop culture canons. One sector in particular has basked in the glow of Hollywood for their moments of high glamour dissolving into unflinching violence: The Gangster. And no film seems to embody the story of a simple man’s ruthless rise to power quite like Scarface. Tony Montana’s ride to the top is glorious, but as our drug-and-dancing-infused Macbeth can attest, a leader getting too wrapped up in cocaine, tigers and babes (oh, my!) is liable to lose his footing and temper faster than you can say “yayo.” If you want to enjoy the story with less f-bombs and more beer, try the tamer 1932 version of the film, which feels more like an unlicensed story of Al Capone over the modern movie it later inspired.

    Romeo + Juliet (1996)

    Hollywood in the late 90s and early 2000s was all about sneakily making Shakespeare’s stories cool with the kids. 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s The Man, O, Romeo Must Die and Get Over It slyly cast teens as players on the grand stage of high school as they loosely get tangled in the drama and comedy of The Bard’s source material. But one standout jumped on the bandwagon while leaving the text perfectly intact – Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. He knew that iambic pentameter always goes down sweeter when it’s sprinkled in between kisses from Leo DiCaprio, interrupted with interludes of high-gloss trippiness and sped up in zippy, quick-cut gun fights. O’Hara’s world in the DCPA’s production attempts a similar feat of world-building, injecting the untouched words of the original play with a visual feast of bright lights, thumping remixes and diction that smacks of the present day. You won’t see Leo on the stage, but there are plenty of gorgeous guys worthy of a spread in Tiger Beat magazine.

    Throne of Blood (1957)

    Even if you’ve never seen a film by director Akira Kurosawa, you’ve probably felt his influence somewhere else. His revolutionary artistry impacted the language of film forever and often drew from Shakespearean elements. He is best known for his prolific creation of samurai epics – stories of honor, revenge and retribution in feudal Japan. A lifelong student of drama, Kurosawa believed Scotland and Japan in the Middle Ages shared similar social problems and set out to adapt Macbeth in his wheelhouse. While elements of modern dance and choreography make the entire room pulsate with life in The Space, Throne of Blood draws from Japan’s traditional noh theatre. Masked characters, an emphasis on body language and open staging add a beautiful minimalism to the film while peppering in battles of a massive scale. It is considered one of his greatest films, and for many critics, the greatest adaptation of Macbeth ever seen on screen. If you’re okay with spoilers, the finale (and how it was made), is the perfect example of his creativity.

    carolyn_profilepicAbout the Author: Carolyn Michaels

    Carolyn Michaels is the copywriter for the DCPA’s Marketing Department, acting as voice of the organization through everything from Facebook posts to mail via snail and internet. Though she works for the stage, she is a cinephile at heart, spending her free time badgering friends to watch arthouse films that could change their lives (if they would just stay awake until the end).

    Macbeth: Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Director Robert O'Hara: Can Macbeth transcend gender?

    Tattoos, video and opening-night Macbeth photos
    Video, photos: Your first look at Macbeth
    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Video bonus: DCPA Theatre Company's Macbeth:

  • October: Here's what's coming this month in Colorado theatre

    by John Moore | Oct 05, 2017
    A October 610

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Five intriguing titles for October:

    NUMBER 1DCPA October. Something RottenEdgar Allan Poe Is Dead and So Is My Cat. The newest creation from the all-original Buntport Theater Company ensemble will open the company's 17th season of toying with theatrical conventions in absurd, playful and often hilarious ways. Despite the title, this new comedy is unlikely to be spooky. A guy lives in his sister's basement, recording podcast episodes dedicated to his hero, the Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe. Much to his sister's dismay, he takes very little interest in anything else. But change is on the way, coming in the unlikely form of a thrift-store suit. Oct. 27-Nov. 18 at 717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    NUMBER 213, The Musical. What do most kids do when they want to raise money for charity? Set up a lemonade stand, or organize a car wash? This group of 13 Denver-based teenagers who have grown up on professional stages throughout the metro area are putting on this musical that Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years) wrote specifically for and about teenagers in transition. The cast is fully self-producing the production with help from some of the local theatre community’s biggest names, including Robert Michael Sanders, Piper Arpan and Paul Dwyer.  All proceeds go to The Denver Actors Fund. Two performances only: 2 and 7 p.m. this Sunday (Oct. 8) at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., ticketor.com/13themusicalforthedenveractorsfund

    NUMBER 3La Carpa Aztlán presents: I Don't Speak English Only. Su Teatro brings back its homegrown classic dystopian comedy that rises from the past to imagine a future world where all diversity is prohibited and any expression of 'the other' has been forced underground. The play with music, written by Artistic Director Anthony J. Garcia, is based on the Mexican "tent-show tradition," which emerged during the 1920s in small towns across the Southwestern United States and Mexico. Carpas were looked at as lower-class entertainment, but some of Mexico's greatest performers came out of the carpa tradition, including the man Charlie Chaplin called the world's greatest comedian: Mario Moreno, better known as Cantinflas. Oct. 12-28 at 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org.

    NUMBER 4A Kenny MotenAurora Fox Cabaret series. The local theatre scene has long been lacking a late-night, New York-style cabaret component, but not for lack of trying. The Aurora Fox is giving it its best shot by committing to an entire year of cabaret in its smaller studio theatre, with featured local luminaries who will get up close and personal enough to tickle your ivories. Each featured performer will present an evening of songs curated by the artists themselves. Kicking off the new series is Denver and Fort Collins favorite Kenny Moten (Oct. 27-28) with his show 12 O’Clock Tales: An Evening of Songs and Stories. It's comprised of jazz and musical theatre classics, with a sprinkling of poems and personal stories. The Denver Dolls will follow with their USO/Andrews Sisters tribute, performed in the style of The Manhattan Transfer. The Dolls are led by frequent DCPA performer Heather Lacy, currently starring as Joanne in the Aurora Fox's production of Company.  9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org

    NUMBER 5Arvada Center The Foreigner. Matthew GaleThe Foreigner. Denver audiences might not know that Colorado Springs actor Sammie Joe Kinnett is one of the funniest comic performers in the state. They will after they see him in Larry Shue's reliable comedy The Foreigner, which launches the Arvada Center's second season of repertory plays performed by a resident company of actors. It's the story of a painfully shy Brit who pretends not to speak English awhile visiting a rural Georgia hunting lodge and soon knows way more about his fellow travelers than is good for his health. The cast includes  Edith Weiss, Greg Ungar, Lance Rasmussen, Jessica Robblee (DCPA's Frankenstein), Josh Robinson (DCPA's All the Way) and Zachary Andrews. The director is Geoffrey Kent (DCPA's An Act of God). Oct. 13-Nov. 18 at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org


    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Oct. 5-Oct. 29: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Oct. 6-28: The Bug Theatre and Paper Cat Films’ Night of the Living Dead…Live! On Stage!
    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info

    Oct. 6-22: StageDoor Theatre's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Oct. 6-Nov. 5: The Edge Theater Company's A Delicate Balance
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Oct. 6-Nov. 10: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's The Vagrant 2011 REVIEW
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.com

    Oct. 6-Nov. 26: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Legally Blonde, The Musical
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    Oct. 7-29: Theatre Esprit Asia's Hearts of Palm
    At ACAD Gallery, 1400 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-492-9479, or theatre-esprit-asia.org

    Oct. 7-22: PopUp Theatre's On Golden Pond
    At The Masonic Temple, Blue Room, 225 W. Oak St., Fort Collins, eventbrite.com

    Oct. 7-Nov. 11: Denver's Dangerous Theatre's Medea
    2620 W. 2nd Ave, No. 1, Denver, 720-989-1764 or dangeroustheatre.com

    Oct. 12-31: Off-Center’s The Wild Party
    At The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St. Aurora, 303-893-4100 or wildpartydenver.com READ MORE

    Oct. 12-28: La Carpa Aztlan presents: I Don’t Speak English Only
    At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org

    Oct. 12-22: The Upstart Crow's Richard III
    Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave., Boulder, 303-442-1415 or theupstartcrow.org

    Oct. 12-29: Springs Ensemble Theatre’s Afterlife: A Ghost Story
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Oct. 12-21: Fountain Community Theatre's A Night of Dark Intent
    Dean Fleischauer Activities Center, 326 Alabama Ave., Fountain, CO, fountaintheater.org

    Oct. 13-Nov. 18: Arvada Center's The Foreigner (black-box theatre)
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Oct. 13-21: Platte Valley Players' To Kill a Mockingbird
    At The Armory at the Brighton Cultural Center, 300 Strong St., Brighton, 303-227-3053 or plattevalleyplayers.org

    Oct. 13-22: Town Hall Arts Center's The Lannie Garrett Revues
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.com

    Oct. 13-28: Longmont Theatre Company's The Rocky Horror Show
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    A October Night of the Living DeadOct. 13-Dec. 29: Arvada Center's A Year With Frog and Toad (children’s) 
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Oct. 13-Nov. 12: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Bunnicula  (children's)
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Oct. 13-31: Theatrix USA's Taking Tea with the Ripper
    Bovine Metropolis Theater, 1527 Champa St., bovinemetropolis.com

    Oct. 14-Nov. 11: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre and Theatre Or present Buyer & Cellar
    At the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Opening Oct. 14: Buntport Theater's Siren Song (ongoing children's series, second Saturdays through May 2018)
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Oct. 17-29: National touring production of Something Rotten!
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    A 800 BIRDS BOULDER ENSEMBLEOct. 19-Nov. 12: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Birds of North America
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    Oct. 19-Nov. 5: TheatreWorks' Wild Honey
    At the Bon Vivant Theatre, 3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Oct. 19-21: Millibo Art Theatre's The Long Way
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org

    Oct. 20-Nov. 19: DCPA Theatre Company's Smart People
    Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Oct. 20-Dec. 31: Avenue Theater's Comedy Sportz
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Oct. 20-29: Counterweight Theatre's Macbeth (cast of four)
    Oct. 20-22 at Switchback Coffee Roasters, 330 N. Institute St., Colorado Springs
    Oct. 27-29: at The Modbo, 17C E. Bijou St., Colorado Springs https://www.counterweighttheatre.com

    Oct. 20-Nov. 4: Iron Springs Chateau's Rocky Horror Picture Show
    444 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com

    Oct. 20-Nov. 1: Evergreen Players' The Explorers Club
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

    Oct. 20-Nov. 4: Coal Creek Theatre's Shining City
    At the Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    Oct. 26-Nov. 4: Phamaly Theatre Company's Vox Phamilia
    At Community College of Aurora, Fine Arts Building, 16000 E. CentreTech Parkway, Aurora, 303-340-7529 or brownpapertickets.com

    Oct. 27-Nov. 19: Local Theater Company's The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias
    At The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    Oct. 27-Nov. 18: Buntport Theater's Edgar Allan Poe Is Dead and So Is My Cat
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Oct. 27-28: Aurora Fox presents Kenny Moten’s 12 O’Clock Tales: An Evening of Songs and Stories (studio theatre)
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org

    Oct. 27-28: The Catamounts' FEED: Los Muertos
    At the Firehouse Art Center, 667 4th Ave., Longmont, 720-468-0487 or thecatamounts.org

    Oct. 27-Nov. 18: Theater Company of Lafayette’s Return to the Twilight Zone, a Parody
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org

    Oct. 27-Dec. 17: Anansi: The Itsy BiTSY Spider Stories
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    Oct. 28-Nov. 25: Openstage's Monty Python's Spamalot
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org



    Through Oct. 22: DCPA Cabaret's Girls Only - The Secret Comedy of Women
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through Oct. 22: Aurora Fox's Company
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org

    Through Oct. 28: Thin Air Theatre Company's The Toxic Avenger Musical
    Butte Theatre, 139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-3247 or thinairtheatre.com

    Through Oct. 28: Miners Alley Playhouse's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (children’s)
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Through Oct. 29: DCPA Theatre Company's Macbeth
    Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

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

    Through Nov. 11: BDT Stage's Rock of Ages
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Sept. 1-Nov. 11: Midtown Arts Center's Once
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

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

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter



    • Oct. 14: The Unpresidented Parodies with Sandy and Richard Riccardi
      401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org


    • Oct. 17: An Evening with the 17th Avenue All-Stars
      5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com


      • Saturday, Oct. 14: Season opener  of Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey (Monthly theatre for young audiences at 1 and 3 p.m.)
      • Tuesday, Oct. 17: The Great Debate (monthly)
      • Wednesday, Oct. 18: The Narrators (a monthly live storytelling show and podcast)
      • Friday, Oct. 27: Untitled (in the freight elevator at the Denver Art Museum, monthly)
      717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

      • Sunday, Oct, 8: 13 The Musical, self-produced by a group of 13 young, Denver-based performers, at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture. ticketor.com/13themusicalforthedenveractorsfund
      • Sunday, Oct. 15: Screening of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with live pre-screening entertainment for the cast of OpenStage of Fort Collins; upcoming stage production of the stage musical Spamalot. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7. At Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake. drafthouse.com

      • Sunday, Oct. 22: Childsplay presents Go, Dog. Go!
      • 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or Lakewood.org



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

      • Saturday, Oct 7: The Year of Magical Thinking (7:30 p.m. at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org)
      • Sunday, Oct. 15: The Year of Magical Thinking (1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org)
      Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month, actor Anne Penner reads Joan Didion's acclaimed memoir about the death of her husband.

      • Saturday, Oct. 28: An Evening with C.S. Lewis
        Shows at 3 and 7 p.m.; 5:15 p.m. High Tea and meet-and-greet between shows

      304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake, 719-481-0475 or trilakesarts.org

  • Robert O'Hara: Can 'Macbeth' transcend gender?

    by John Moore | Oct 04, 2017

    In the video above, 'Macbeth' director Robert O’Hara talks about the setting for his re-imagined Macbeth, why making his players warlocks necessitated an all-male cast and more. The play continues in the Space Theatre through Oct. 29. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Shakespeare needs to be alive, Macbeth director says,
    'Or you are just blowing wind into a corpse.' 

    John Moore: There is a conflict in the American theatre when it comes to Shakespeare. Traditionalists think of Shakespeare as a sacred cow and that it should be presented exactly as written. But when you want to attract younger generations to Shakespeare, is it no longer enough to let his words speak for themselves?

    Robert O’Hara: It’s still live theatre, and that means it needs to be alive. If you are just blowing wind into a corpse, then you just have the walking dead. I think you need to give it life, and the life comes from the people who are in the room right now.  

    John Moore: How does that affect your approach to Macbeth?

    Robert O’Hara: I don't want to go into a theatre and see a museum piece. I think there is an elitist quality to Shakespeare in this country, and I don't believe in elite theatre. Theatre is already elite, and I don't want to come in and put another level of elitism on top of that. So I tried to make this production as honest as possible, and to speak for now.

    John Moore: As a director, this is your first production of a Shakespeare play. Has that been a matter of preference or opportunity?

    Robert O’Hara: I have not been afforded opportunities to direct Shakespeare. African-Americans are not usually in the room directing Shakespeare. So when I was asked to direct Macbeth by the Denver Center, I was very intrigued. I thought, ‘Now I can have a conversation I have been waiting to have for a long time.'

    John Moore: Why have you not been afforded that opportunity before now?

    Robert O'Hara Quote MacbethRobert O’Hara: There is a Catch-22 in the American theatre. I am mostly considered a playwright and a director of new plays, right? So I don't usually get offered to direct classical work. The Catch-22 is that you won't get offered classical work because you haven't done classical work. But if you are not getting the opportunity to direct classical work, when can you ever do it? I think we categorize artists of color, because white people are allowed to do everything. They can do black plays, Latino plays, classical plays, new plays, whatever. But somehow I am only supposed to do one certain type of play. My entire career has been working against that. There are far more white people directing Shakespeare than people of color in this country. That's something important to acknowledge and be transparent about. I know that I am in Denver doing Macbeth and that this is the first time anyone has ever asked me to do Shakespeare. That is significant for me in my career, but I'm sure it is significant for the theatre community here, too.

    John Moore: How did that happen?

    Robert O’Hara: (DCPA Associate Artistic Director) Nataki Garrett called and asked if I would be interested in coming to Denver. It was sort of a fishing expedition. She was interested in a play I had done at Steppenwolf in Chicago, and I said, 'Well, I'm not so sure I want to go all the way to Denver to do something I have already done. What else do you have?' And she said they were thinking about Macbeth and a couple of other plays. And I was like, "Hmmm ... Macbeth! And that sparked a conversation that just kept going. I threw the book at her, because I don't want to go to any theatre just to be told, 'Don't be who you are, because this is Shakespeare!' So I said to Nataki, 'Can I do this and this and that?' And she kept saying yes.

    John Moore: What do you bring to Shakespeare that a white director might not?

    Robert O’Hara: What Shakespeare means to me is going to be different from what Shakespeare means to a lot of other people, just based on who I am. James Baldwin once said that when African-Americans speak Shakespeare, it changes the meaning of Shakespeare’s words. The language becomes universal when it is spoken out loud by people who were never supposed to speak it.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: How is this Robert O'Hara's Macbeth?

    Robert O'Hara: It’s not. It's Shakespeare's Macbeth. Robert O'Hara is simply interpreting it. What I love is that Shakespeare allows you the interpretation. There is nothing that I am going to do that is going to destroy Macbeth. I don't have that power. But I think this production allows me the freedom to actually be fully who I am.
    John Moore: So what is your concept?

    Robert O'Hara: The concept comes out of a simple question that I asked myself when I was reading the play, and it sounds crazy. But I thought, 'Why are you talking to witches?' In what society does one see three witches in a field and he just goes up to them and is like, 'Hey, what's up?' If I see three witches, I am going to run, jump out the window, race, scream, pray, whatever. But these guys are just rolling up on witches, and they don't seem to be afraid of them. That in itself tells me that this is a play that is fantastical. That is has the imagination at its core. This is a world where people and witches can interact freely. And that started me thinking about the way we deal with otherness in our culture. At the same time we denigrate 'the other,' we also praise them. We go to the shaman or the witch doctor or the medicine man to help us root out the evils in our lives - and then we will burn them at the stake. I have always thought the witches are unfairly blamed for what Macbeth does. And so I thought, what if we told this story from the witches' perspective? What if a bunch of witches got together and said, ‘Why don't we do the story of Macbeth?’ They don’t change the story. The idea is that these characters are being played by people with supernatural powers. By people who are actually talked about in the play.

    John Moore: And in fact, you set the play in the Pit of Acheron.

    Robert O'Hara: Yes, and the Pit of Acheron is an actual setting in Shakespeare’s play. The warlocks take Macbeth there, and that is where our play takes place.

    John Moore: How is this relatable to today?

    Robert O'Hara: They have just built an arts complex on the 9/11 memorial site at the World Trade Center. And I am assuming there will be plays staged there that have something to do with the 9/11 tragedy. And I think to and set this play at a place that is actually in the story gives it a different life.

    John Moore: What about the idea to make it an all-male cast?

    Robert O'Hara: That comes from the Banquo line, when he says something like, ‘You should be women, but you have beards.’ When I read that, I was like, 'What if they are men?' Of course, all of Shakespeare's plays were originally performed by men. I wanted to explore what that means. 

    John Moore: Lady Macbeth has been called the most bloodthirsty character in all of Shakespeare – including her husband. Does that fact that she was created by a man in patriarchal Jacobean times tell us more about her – or about Shakespeare? 

    Robert O’Hara: Here we have this legendary character of Lady Macbeth, and she is demonized and deified and everything in between. But it's essentially a character written by a man and at the time played by a man, and most of the audiences then were probably men. It’s exciting for me to put a bunch of men in a room and we deal with that dynamic. It's exciting to explore how one feels about that.

    John Moore: How is she presented?

    Robert O’Hara: We are not making Lady Macbeth a man, we are just having her be played by a man. So we’re not doing a drag show.

    (Story continues below the photo)

     Macbeth Adam Poss. Photo by Adams Viscom

    John Moore: And what is your take on her now?

    Robert O’Hara: Look, she doesn't even have a name. Her name is ‘Lady.’ Right there, she is a symbol for something. I feel like she is just as important as the title character of Macbeth. That in fact you can't have Macbeth the play without Lady Macbeth. To me, they are one and the same. When I see Lady M on stage, they usually remove all femininity from her. She is basically a masculine, evil, unsexed woman. But I think she is no more evil than anyone else in the play. Remember the witches don't actually tell Macbeth to kill anyone. They just say, 'You are going to be the king.' And then he and his wife start reaching for daggers. What women goes, ‘I would dash the brains of this kid?' That sounds crazy. Especially a woman who has lost a child. And yet she is saying this to encourage Macbeth to kill someone.

    John Moore: What is Shakespeare's complicity in all of this?

    Robert O’Hara: There are no examples that I know of in Shakespeare of a man pretending to be a woman - as a serious plot point. There are tons of examples of a woman pretending to be a man, and everyone accepts it. But where is the play where a man pretends to be a woman, and everyone in the world of the play accepts it? That’s because nobody wants to be a woman in this sexist society. Women should want to be men. That says something about the society these plays are written in. 
    John Moore: Are you worried about an anti-feminist response by removing the female voice?

    Robert O’Hara: I contend that there was never a woman's voice in Macbeth. I want to explore the idea of what happens when you get a bunch of men in a locker-room setting, if you will, they begin to deal with a heterosexual relationship. What does that reveal? I am less interested in what happens if you remove the female voice because I am not doing a play in which there ever was a female voice. I am doing a play in which there was a male voice inside of a female character who acts, for the most part, as if she were a man. But just because I am doing men with all men does not mean that I’m not interested in women. I want to see what 17 male actors will make of some of the places in the play that are very vulnerable and emotional - on top of all the violence. Because violence is easy. But can we have a relationship between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, and even between Macbeth and Banquo, that transcends gender?

    John Moore: Is there a statement in all of that?

    Robert O’Hara: I'm not really interested in making statements. I am really interested in asking questions about our value systems, and what we accept in male behavior that we don't accept in other behaviors. I am interested in the nature of being complicit in a society, because Macbeth gets away with a lot of stuff before they kill him. I am interested in exploring the idea of reaping what you sow. Because Macbeth's death is going to be brutal. I think about a dictator like Muammar Gaddafi and how he was killed and dragged through the streets. The message is: When you radicalize a group of people, be careful because they will turn on you. That is central to what I am exploring. When you do a play that has an act of violence as its central core, that dagger, if you will, may come and slit your own throat.

    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.

    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage

    Tattoos, video and opening-night Macbeth photos
    Video, photos: Your first look at Macbeth
    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Video: Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's Macbeth:

    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

  • In the Spotlife: Monica​ ​Joyce​ ​Thompson of 'South Pacific'

    by John Moore | Oct 02, 2017
    Monica.Joyce.Thompson. South Pacific
    Monica Joyce Thompson backstage after opening weekend of 'South Pacific,' which plays in Parker through Oct. 15. Photo via Instagram.

    Nellie Forbush In Inspire Creative's South Pacific at the PACE Center in Parker. 

    • Monica.Joyce.Thompson. South PacificHometown: Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., though I grew up in Colorado.
    • Home now: Centennial
    • High school: Grandview High School
      in Aurora
    • College: Honors Double Major in Vocal Performance and Music Theatre from Oklahoma City University
    • What have you done for us lately? I played Presendia in the 2011 opera Dark Sisters, which centered around polygamy, for the Oklahoma City University's Bass School of Music.
    • Twitter-sized bio: Jesus-loving, Colorado-living actress who just wants to listen and tell stories. Find me hiking, reading, writing, eating (because, food) and squeezing the best moments out of life. 
    • What's your handle? @BitOfMonica on Twitter and Instagram
    • Do you blog? Find me at alittlebitofmonica.blog
    • The role that changed your life: I played Mother in Ragtime my senior year at Grandview High School. It was a full-circle experience because my freshman year, I auditioned for the musical and did not even get a called back. I was so incredibly shy and nervous to sing in front of anyone. Not only did this role teach me a lot about myself, but it gave me a deep desire to pursue a career in acting. Our show was selected out of all the high schools in Colorado to perform at the Colorado State Thespian Conference in downtown Denver. I performed in front of 5,000 people, and I will never forget the feeling of finally overcoming my fear.
    • audra_mcdonaldIdeal scene partner: I trained in classical singing like Audra McDonald, but I also consider her to be an incredible storyteller. That’s where my heart is when I perform. Plus, she has six Tony Awards, so she must be doing something right.
    • What is South Pacific all about? South Pacific is about two love stories set on the backdrop of an island in the South Pacific during World War II. But at its core, the story is really a drama about where our prejudices come from and questions if love can overcome all.
    • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: Nellie Forbush is such a likeable character; a cockeyed optimist, if you will, which is the fun part to play. But she also is a racist and it is a huge challenge playing someone so deeply affected by those prejudices. I had to find Nellie’s redemption journey under her many layers. She truly grows into a woman in this show and allows herself the freedom to love.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing your show? South Pacific is powerful in every day and age - that’s why it is a classic. But I believe its message is especially poignant in this day and age. In the song You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught, human prejudices are brought into question. I hope the audience leaves with a deeper understanding of what it means to love - to love deeply and fully.
    • What don't we know about you? This past June, I was first runner-up for the title of Miss Colorado. I also won the Miss America Community Service Award for raising more than  $20,000 and dedicating hundreds of hours of community service to my platform, “Building Strong Girls.” I am very passionate about growing the next generation of women to be strong, confident, and healthy.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? My favorite animal is a chicken - for real - but I also eat chicken. It confuses people.

    South Pacific. Inspire Creative.

    South Pacific:
    Ticket information

    South Pacific was written shortly after World War II ended; its message of unity and its confrontation of racial stereotypes through the all-too-familiar lens of the war was poignant to the audiences of the time. Hailed as a landmark musical is still relevant to this day.

    • Composed by Richard Rodgers; lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    • Directed by Ralph Neumann
    • Through Oct. 15
    • At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker
    • Tickets $20-$29
    • For tickets, call 303-805-6800 or go to parkerarts.org

    Remaining performances:
    • Friday, Oct. 6: 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, Oct. 7: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, Oct. 8: 2 p.m.
    • Friday, Oct. 13: 2 p.m. (reduced price Friday matinee)
    • Friday, Oct. 13: 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, Oct. 14: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, Oct. 15: 2 p.m.

    2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County

  • 'Cancer Warriors' bring powerful inspiration to 'Miscast 2017'

    by John Moore | Oct 01, 2017
    Miscast 2017
    Photos from 'Miscast 2017,' which raised nearly $7,000 for the Denver Actors Fund on Sept. 25 at the Town Hall Arts Center. To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are directly downloadable and may be freely used on social media. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Three actors battling cancer help Denver Actors Fund raise almost $7,000 with help from dozens of local theatre artists

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Last year, Miscast 2016 gave birth to the Killer Kids. This year unleashed the Cancer Warriors.

    Miscast, a popular annual community-wide benefit held Sept. 25 at the Town Hall Arts Center, raised $6,842 for the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief when members of the Colorado theatre community find themselves in situational medical need.

    In just three years, this grassroots nonprofit has distributed more than $128,000 in direct aid to help local artists.

    More than 30 local actors performed in roles they would never normally be cast to perform. The event was hosted by Steven J. Burge and Eric Mather, and directed by Robert Michael Sanders, who has produced and presented Miscast in its entirety for four years as his personal contribution to the Denver Actors Fund. Since 2014, Sanders' efforts have now raised $20,011 for the grassroots nonprofit. 

    The most inspiring moment of this and perhaps any other Miscast took place when actors Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles, performed an original variation of the song "Tonight," from West Side Story. The number was put together by Langhoff and his (pregnant) wife, Rebecca Joseph.

    Miscast 2017. Photo by John Moore.

    The evening included the return of "The Killer Kids of Miscast," who were given that name after a remarkable performance at last year in which they performed a twisted variation of "The Cell-Block Tango" from Chicago, accompanied by Donna Debreceni. Most of the kids played a traditional storybook characters such as Little Orphan Annie and Peter Pan. In the year since the performance, a video of that performance has been viewed nearly 500,000 times on YouTube and Facebook. 

    A Miscast. Killer Kids. Photo by John MooreThis time, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hanna Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel performed a more Denver-centric parody of "Hey Officer Krupke" from West Side Story, in which the same storybook characters sing of getting older and lament not yet being seriously considered for adult roles. (Photo at right by John Moore. Video to come.)

    Those same six kids - and seven others - are also preparing to present a fully stage, self-produced staging of Jason Robert Brown's 13 the Musical, entirely as a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund. Brown also wrote The Last Five Years. Performances are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 8, at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. Information.

    The hosts also engaged audiences in participatory games including Match Game and The Dating Game (with Guest Host Avery Anderson, a college journalist from The Met Report). As guests entered the Town Hall lobby, they were asked if they wanted to be entered into a drawing to play in several on-stage games. Those who did paid $5 - sparing audience members with no desire to leave their seats.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Abner Genece, an actor from the Arvada Center, delivered remarks on behalf of The Denver Actors Fund. In June, Genece was in a life-threatening car accident that resulted in many surgeries and left his 12-year-old son with a broken neck. The Denver Actors Fund has provided more than $6,000 to the Genece family, and volunteers have helped him with groceries and household chores as he recovers.

    Many area merchants and theatre companies, including the nearby Melting Pot restaurant and iN-TEA shop in Littleton, contributed more than $1,000 in prizes for the event. Participating theatre companies included included the Denver Center,  Arvada Center, Aurora Fox, Benchmark Theatre, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre, Cherry Creek Theatre Company, Creede Repertory Theatre, Miners Alley Playhouse, Midtown Arts Center and Performance Now.

    For more information on the Denver Actors Fund and its services, or to donate, go to DenverActorsFund.Org.

    MISCAST 2017:

    Steven J. Burge
    Eric Mather
    Shannan Steele


    • Steven J. Burge, Eric Mather, Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van De Hey, “The Circle of Life,” from The Lion King
    • Jackson Garske, "Waiving Through a Window," from Dear Evan Hansen, as a Starbucks barista
    • Destiny Walsh, “Whatever Happened to My Part,” from Spamalot
    • Jalyn Courtenay Webb and Rylee Vogel, "I Know Him So Well,” from Chess, as a (surprise) love song to Denver Actors Fund founder John Moore
    • Jeremy Rill, “Everybody’s Girl,” from Steel Pier
    • Reace Daniel, “Out Tonight,” from Rent
    • Jose David Reynoza and Randy Chalmers competing for the lead role in Funny Girl
    • Hope Grandon, Kenny Moten and Margie Lamb as the three Fionas singing “I Know It’s Today,” from Shrek the Musical
    • Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, singing a variation of “Tonight" from West Side Story as a battle cry against cancer, altered lyrics written by Daniel Langhoff and Rebecca Joseph. Directed and choreographed by Rebecca Joseph.
    • Killer Kids of Miscast: Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein, Hannah Meg Weinraub and Rylee Vogel singing a variation of “Hey Officer Krupke,” from West Side Story, about coming of age in the local theatre community. Choreography by Piper Arpan
    • Group finale, “I Will Survive”

    Video: The Cancer Warriors at Miscast 2017:

    Performing here are Jona Alonzo, Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore, all at various stages of their personal own cancer battles. Video by John Moore.

  • 'Our Souls at Night' released today on Netflix

    by John Moore | Sep 30, 2017
    Jordan Leigh. Our Souls at Night
    'Our Souls at Night' reunites Robert Redford and Jane Fonda nearly 50 years after 'Barefoot in the Park.' Here they visit an animal-shelter adopter played by DCPA actor Jordan Leigh. Photo by Netflix.

    Gentle film caps Kent Haruf's career, reunites Fonda and Redford, and employs Colorado film and theatre artists

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The film version of Our Souls at Night, the final book by acclaimed Colorado novelist Kent Haruf, was released today on Netflix. It stars Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, and features a bevy of local actors.

    Our Souls at Night nicely bookends the Hollywood superstars' screen lives 50 years after Barefoot in the Park debuted in 1967. In the classic Neil Simon comedy, the pair starred as young newlyweds. In Our Souls at Night, they play widowed neighbors who strike up a romantic relationship, hoping to make the most of the time they have left. The New York Times' A.O. Scott calls the couple "neighbors with benefits." And he calls the new movie: "As gentle as a moth’s wing, as soft and sweet as the flesh of a marshmallow."

    Our Souls At NightThe film also features such luminaries as Bruce Dern and Judy Greer. Colorado theatre and film audiences will recognize John Ashton (Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County), Jordan Leigh (DCPA's upcoming First Date) and film actor Brock DeShane, who has a small small part as a ballroom dancer at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. 

    "My junior-high drama teacher wrote, 'To the next Robert Redford' in my yearbook at the end of 7th grade," Deshane wrote on his Facebook page. "I don't think that's going to happen, but I'd like to think that, somewhere, my drama teacher is smiling."

    (Pictured above right: Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in 'Our Souls at Night,' directed by Ritesh Batra. Photo by Kerry Brown/Netflix. Below right: Fonda and Redford in 'Barefoot in the Park' 50 years ago.)

    'Our Souls at Night' will reunite 'Barefoot in the Park' stars Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.Leigh, who is an avid animal-rights supporter in real life, plays, appropriately enough, an animal-shelter worker who is paid a visit by no less than Redford and Fonda. Eagle eyes will notice an uncredited appearance by Su Teatro Artistic Director Tony Garcia.

    The director is Ritesh Batra. The screenplay is written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who also wrote Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, (500) Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now


    The film was largely filmed in Colorado Springs at the home of Colorado College professor David Hendrickson. The crew was based in Florence. The film was screened last night in Colorado Springs. Read the Westword report here.

    Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.The sale of the movie rights put the DCPA Theatre Company's plans to adapt Our Souls at Night for the stage on hold. The Theatre Company previously commissioned and presented Haruf's entire Plainsong Trilogy, which included Eventide and Benediction, in their world-premiere stagings.

    As his other novels were, Our Souls at Night is set in a fictional town on the Eastern Colorado Plains. In the final interview before his death, with the DCPA's NewsCenter, Haruf said the story is inspired by his story with his wife, Cathy Haruf.

    In 2014, Fonda told Vanity Fair's Krista Smith that of all the co-stars she’s had over her career, the one she really wants to work with again is Redford. “I just love him,” she said. “The only bad thing about Redford is that he doesn’t like to do love scenes, so the fact that he didn’t look forward to those always made me sad.

    "I thought maybe we could have gotten it on.”

    DCPA actors read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover in June. Photo by John Moore.
    DCPA actors read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover in June 2016. Above, from left: Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Cast list:
    • Jane Fonda: Addie Moore
    • Iain Armitage: Jamie
    • Robert Redford: Louis Waters
    • Judy Greer: Holly
    • Matthias Schoenaerts: Gene
    • Bruce Dern: Dorlan
    • Phyllis Somerville: Ruth
    • Leana Lewis: Actress
    • Michael Love Toliver: Actor
    • Audrey Walters: Realtor
    • Hawley Penfold: Cafe Teenager
    • Kyrannio Margaros: Actress
    • Anthoula Katsimatides: Nursery Cashier
    • Ted Maritz: Priest
    • Kathleen Timberman: Ballroom Patron / Dancer
    • Andy Hankins: Cafe Patron
    • Pam Renall: Actress
    • Sarah Novotny: Cafe Patron / Hotel Patron
    • Erick Yokomizo: Non-Surgical Doctor
    • Fred Osborne: Table Patron at The Brown Palace Hotel
    • Michelle Fish Ullmann: Mom / Driver (as Michelle Fish)
    • Jordan Leigh: Shelter Volunteer
    • Onder Asir: Ballroom dancer
    • Erin Fasano: Animal Shelter Adopter
    • Michael Douglas Miller: Street Patron
    • Amanda Kallander: Dancer
    • John C. Ashton: Rudy
    • Brock DeShane: Ballroom Dancer
    • Barbara Ellen Carpenter: Parade Goer
    • Marty Bechina: Teacher
    • Alayna Lewis: Actress
    • Michelle Penfold: Street Patron
    • Rachel Hergert: Hotel Patron / Dancer
    • Jordan Garner: Hotel Guest / Dance Table Patron
    • Jeremy Fink: Ballroom Dancer
    • Pamela Joye Miller: Street Patron / Parade Goer
    • Bruce Penfold: Stink Eye Man
    • Joshua Rotunda: Waiter
    • Scott Swaggart: friend of Louis
    • Dianne E. Butts: Cafe Patron, Parade Goer (uncredited)
    • Maetrix Fitten: Pedestrian (uncredited)
    • Lisa Kohlbrenner: Softball game spectator (uncredited)
    • Josh Outzen: Parade Goer (uncredited)
    • Randy Outzen: Parade Goer (uncredited)
    • Javana Richardson: Ballroom Patron (uncredited)
    • Antonino Garcia: Surgical Doctor (uncredited)

    Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage of Kent Haruf:
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    DCPA will adapt Haruf's final novel for the stage
    DCPA actors to read from Kent Haruf's final book
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    Benediction opens as a celebration of the 'Precious Ordinary'
    DCPA to celebrate Kent Haruf on Feb. 7
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71

    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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