• '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

    READ KENT HARUF'S FINAL INTERVIEW HERE


    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


  • Search is on for two young Denver actresses to perform in 'Waitress'

    by John Moore | Sep 29, 2017
    Waitress. Jesse Mueller. Photo by Jeremy Daniel
    The DCPA will present the Tony-nominated musical 'Waitress' at The Buell Theatre from Dec. 19-31. The Broadway production (above) originally starred Jessie Mueller. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

    Two local girls no older than 5 years, 3 months, can audition to play LuLu while the musical visits Denver.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The search is on for two young local girls to perform the role of “Lulu” for the duration of the Denver engagement of Waitress.

    “Lulu” is a sweet and carefree young girl aged 4-5 who appears in the production’s finale.

    Auditions will be held in two sessions on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Newman Center for Theatre Education, located at 1101 13th St. The first session will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The second session will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Those auditioning need only attend one session

    To sign up for an audition or get more information, parents or guardians can visit denvercenter.org/auditions.

    Young girls who would like to audition should be no older than 5 years and 3 months, and be less than 4 feet 2 inches in height. Each audition will take approximately five minutes, and each child will be asked to read two lines from the show. Individual applicants are welcome, as are sets of twins or siblings. If possible, parents should bring a current head shot and resume for each child. Prior acting experience is not required. Sign-up is on a first-come basis with a maximum of 40 slots.

    Waitress is the new Broadway musical from Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles inspired by Adrienne Shelly's 2007 motion picture.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Waitress_3x3.375_Show Tile_UPDATEBrought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles ("Brave," "Love Song"), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), choreography by Lorin Latarro (Les Dangereuse Liasons, Waiting for Godot) and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland). Paulus launched the national tour of Pippin in Denver.
     
    Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna - a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

    Waitress cast includes local favorite Lenne Klingamann

    "It's an empowering musical of the highest order," said the Chicago Tribune.

    The national tour of Waitress premieres in Cleveland, on Oct. 17. It visits Denver's Buell Theatre from Dec. 19-31. Single tickets are on sale at denvercenter.org.



    Waitress in Denver: Ticket information

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


    dcpa.org
  • Guns and broses: Tattoos, video and opening-night 'Macbeth' photos

    by John Moore | Sep 28, 2017
    Macbeth: Opening-night photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

     

    The photos above are from Opening Night of the DCPA Theatre Company's production of Macbeth on Sept. 22. To see more photos in the gallery above, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears.

    The evening marked the official reopening of the renovated Space Theatre and was capped by a party in the Seawell Ballroom. Backstage and party photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Photo-booth photos by Bamboo Booth.

    Making of Macbeth video: Actor Skyler Gallun's tattoo application:


    This short, fun time-lapse video shows DCPA Theatre Company makeup artists Taylor Malott and Robin Appleton applying opening-night tattoos to actor Skyler Gallun, who plays poor Donalbain, the hunted son of murdered King Duncan, in Shakespeare's bloody tragedy.

    Some of the 17 actors are naturally tattooed, but the artists say those who are having theirs applied can have them last anywhere from a day to almost a week. Gallun says he has been having his reapplied about every three days. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Macbeth. Nataki Garrett

    Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett addresses those gathered after the Opening Night performance of 'Macbeth,' with some cast members behind her. Photo by John Moore.


    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
    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
    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. 

  • Second time around, actor Rae Leigh Case kisses today hello

    by John Moore | Sep 27, 2017

    A Chorus Line Rae Leigh Case
    Rae Leigh Case in the Arvada Center's 'A Chorus Line,' playing through Sunday (Oct. 1). Matthew Gale Photography.

    Arvada Center's Rae Leigh Case returns to role she first played in 25th anniversary production of 'A Chorus Line' 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    A Chorus Line tells the story of how eight dancers are exactingly chosen to perform in a Broadway production over one exhaustive and emotionally invasive audition.

    Funny, but 19-year-old Rae Leigh Case was cast to play Connie Wong in the 25th anniversary production of A Chorus Line over dinner.

    "Yep. It was a Korean bar-be-cue in New York," she said with a laugh.

    Suckers.

    Chorus Line Rae Leigh Case OK, so she did go through an audition first. "And I guess I did a good job," she said of her big break in 2004. But get this – it was her first audition. For anything. Ever. She had been in a few local shows as a kid, but she never had to work for it.

    This bears repeating: Rae Leigh Case’s first audition in her life got her a leading role in the 25th anniversary production of A Chorus Line that originated in Houston.

    "Yes, sir," she said matter-of-factly. And at the time, Case was by no means thinking, “God, I hope I get it.” Instead, she was thinking, “Great. I get to go to New York and hang out with Uncle Mike.”

    (Pictured above and right: Rae Leigh Case in 2004 and 2017)

    Uncle Mike is not her blood uncle. Michael Gorman is a former Colorado choreographer who by 2004 was the assistant to Baayork Lee, who was an original Broadway cast member originating the role of Connie, a character based on Lee’s own life story. A year after A Chorus Line opened in 1975 and won every prize that can be bestowed upon a musical (including the Pulitzer), creator Michael Bennett turned the whole franchise over to Lee, and overseeing it has been her life’s mission ever since.

    By 2004, Lee’s alter ego, Connie, was known throughout the world as the petite sparkplug from Chinatown who wanted to be a ballerina but stopped growing at 4-foot-10.

    And somebody was going to have to play her. Gorman knew who it should be.

    Bonus: Our 2008 interview with Baayork Lee

    Gorman had known Case since she was a 5-month-old baby adopted from Korea by Laurie Klapperich, who has designed costumes for more than 200 local theatrical productions over the past three decades. “He called me out of the blue and said, ‘Hey, you're a tiny Asian, and you are a dancer – is this something you would be interested in?’ Case said. And she casually replied … “Sure, what the hell?” After all, it would be the first time she ever had a hotel room to herself.  

    After the audition, Lee and Gorman invited Case to join them for dinner. There was some table talk about who might play some of the other roles, but there was never a doubt that Case would play Connie.

    “I was a tiny Asian after all,” she said with a laugh.

    Fast-forward 13 years and Case, now 32, is playing Connie again in a lauded production of A Chorus Line that runs through Sunday at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. It is directed by Rod Lansberry, otherwise known to Case as Uncle Rod.

    “My second day in America after my parents brought me over from Korea. I was at the Arvada Center sitting in Rod’s lap,” Case said. “By then my mother was the resident costume designer there, so I have spent many a time in Rod's lap over the years.”

    Case was cast in Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s The King & I when she was 8 (without an audition). She admits it all came a little easy for her, without a whole lot of hustle.

    A Chorus Line Tour Rehearsal“I didn't have a care in the world when Michael called me,” she said. “I just happened to be an OK dancer and was in the right place at the right time.”

    And soon Case was in the presence of Baayork Lee.

    Now, when it comes to A Chorus Line, Bennett was, is and always will be . . . the “One.” But it was Lee, who herself made her Broadway debut at age 5 in The King & I, who was by Bennett’s side from the time they took dancing lessons together at age 12 to his death in 1987. And since then, it has been Lee working to preserve both his legacy and that of the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.

    (Pictured right: Baayork Lee and Michael Gorman lead a rehearsal for the 25th anniversary touring production of 'A Chorus Line' in Houston in 2004.)

    In Houston, where the anniversary tour originated in 2004, Case got a first-hand look at the woman she would essentially play on the road. So did Alicia Albright, currently in Denver as a member of the company introducing the world to Disney’s Broadway-bound musical Frozen at the Buell Theatre. Thirteen years ago, Albright was Case’s castmate, and one of Lee’s chosen dance captains.

    “Baayork very much has that hardcore ballet mistress mentality, and I dig that,” Case said. “She's really intense and critical – in the best way. Her key phrase was something like, ‘Dig nails!' and she just shouts it at you. She left no stone unturned, and I loved it. There was always a reason for everything, like why you rotate your elbow in a very specific way during the song ‘One.’ She even has a specifically designed warm-up for every show that she teaches the dance captains to pass on.”

    If Case only knew then what she fully understands now about Lee, she would have been as nervous playing Connie in 2004 as she truly is now in 2017. The script for A Chorus Line was derived from extensive interviews by Bennett and others with real-life dancers, including Lee. But Lee was the only original cast member who was hired to play her own story in the original Broadway production. That only adds to the self-imposed pressure the more enlightened Case puts on herself now.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "I am playing a person who is alive and well, so I feel a daily responsibility to not (bleep) up,” she said.

    The challenge, she said, is that Connie is cheerful, funny and liked by everyone. “And in truth, I'm a little more like Sheila in real life,” Case said of the sassy, sexy and  aging dancer with … a bit of an attitude. I am constantly reminding myself that Connie is Baayork through and through, and to leave myself out of it.”

    Now 32 and happily married to Aurora Fox Technical Director Brandon Case, Rae Leigh Case brings a whole new level of understanding – to her Arvada Center experience.

    “I hate to admit this, but back then, I didn't even understand what the song ‘What I Did for Love’ even meant," she said. Because I didn’t love it yet. Not really. I wasn't really sure that I wanted this life until my later 20s. This career is so much more important to me now because of what I have put into it, and what my family has put up with, and everything that goes along with it.

    All that ‘What I Did for Love' nonsense? Now it’s real.

    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.

    A Chorus Line: Ticket information:
    • Sept. 12-Oct. 1
    • Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
    • Call 720-898-7200 or go to arvadacenter.com
    Conceived and originally directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett
    • Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante
    • Music by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban

     

    Video bonus: Matthew Dailey of the Arvada Center's A Chorus Line:




  • Denver Film Society joins antitrust lawsuit against Landmark Theatres

    by John Moore | Sep 27, 2017
    Sie

    The Denver Film Society assumed its three-screen space at 2510 E. Colfax Ave. in 2010 after the original owners were done in by an inability to compete for first-run films

    Lawsuit claims Landmark uses its market dominance to eliminate local competition for films

    Today the Denver Film Society joined with three independent film exhibitors in filing a lawsuit against Landmark Theatres, claiming that the nation's largest chain of specialty film theaters has denied them access to films they sought to exhibit in violation of federal antitrust law.

    Cinema Detroit, West End Cinema and the Avalon Theatre (the latter two of Washington D.C.) are also seeking relief from what it calls Landmark’s "unlawful anti-competitive practices." Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that Landmark uses its market dominance to demand exclusive rights to screen specialty films, resulting in no local competition for those films despite consumer demand. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Washington D.C.

    In Denver, Landmark operates the Esquire, Mayan and Chez Artiste theatres, as well as the Landmark Theatres in Greenwood Village.

    Sie quote“We did not reach this decision lightly,” said Andrew Rodgers, Executive Director of the Denver Film Society. “After years of trying to work within the system and talking with partners and peers about how we can overcome the unfair competition we face from Landmark, we have come to the painful conclusion that this is a nationwide problem that affects the entire independent film community. The deck is stacked against community theaters like ours, and the only way we can solve the problem we all face and serve our audiences properly is to seek a remedy through the courts.”

    The following excerpted explanation was provided by the Denver Film Society. This article will be updated when a statement from Landmark Theatres becomes available:

    To exhibit a film, a movie theater must obtain a license from the film’s distributor, which is responsible for marketing the film and acting as a middleman between the production studio and the theater.

    The suit claims that Landmark’s business practice of “clearing” films – an agreement limiting a film distributor’s ability to provide other theaters with a license to screen a desired film to the public – is harming marketplace competition by excluding independent movie theaters from screening the specialty films necessary to their competitive success. In addition, the process is reducing output, restricting price competition, and denying moviegoers their choice of theaters to see select films.

    Landmark, a private corporation that forms part of a group of companies owned by venture capitalist Mark Cuban, is the self-described dominant theater chain, with a nationwide circuit dedicated to exhibiting specialty films in the United States. The company operates 51 theaters with 242 screens in 22 major metropolitan areas, including theaters in each of the plaintiff’s local markets.

    Landmark controls most theaters and screens showing specialty films in the plaintiffs’ locations – and uses its national “circuit power" to prohibit independent theaters from showing those films. The result is that these independent theaters, many of them run as non-profits, are often prohibited from showing the high-profile specialty films its audiences want to watch, injuring the theaters’ economic prospects.

    In Washington D.C., Landmark repeatedly blocked West End Cinema from showing films at the same time as its own theaters, forcing the theater to shut down in 2015. One month after West End Cinema closed, Landmark acquired the building lease and opened its own theater.

    “After more than four years of unrelenting anti-competitive squeezing by Landmark, I was forced to close West End Cinema on March 29, 2015 – which was followed less than one month later by an announcement that Landmark was leasing the space and ‘reopening’ it as the Landmark West End Cinema,” said Josh Levin, a co-founder of West End Cinema. “So they killed me and my business, then moved into my house.”

    The other three theaters represented in the suit allege that Landmark’s anti-competitive practices and the continued use of its national "circuit power" prevent them from obtaining desirable specialty films.

    In Washington D.C., the Avalon Theatre has faced significant competitive challenges with Landmark since the Avalon opened as a nonprofit in 2003.

    In Denver, since it opened the Sie FilmCenter in 2010, the nonprofit Denver Film Society has been unable to book a single film that Landmark was also showing locally at one of its theaters.

    (Editor’s insert: In 2010, the Denver Film Society assumed the three-screen space created and formerly occupied by the Neighborhood Flix Cinema and Café in the former Bonfils Theatre retail center. The operation was done in, Neighborhood Flix owners said, by an inability to compete for first-run films. “Landmark and Regal Cinemas just would not let us have a seat at the table,” said Michele Dorant, one of the original theatre’s three owners. A Denver Post report today points out that in August 2016, Landmark sued national exhibitor Regal Entertainment for similar distribution tactics. In this case, however, Landmark is the one accused of monopolistic practices. In Detroit, the local Landmark and Cinema Detroit are the only two theaters that show specialty films. Although the theaters are more than 11 miles apart, Landmark still prevents Cinema Detroit from showing almost every specialty film.

    “I wish that this legal action was avoidable,” said Paula Guthat, co-founder of Cinema Detroit. “Unfortunately, Landmark actively engages in unfair business practices that limit our ability to screen certain types of films in the metro Detroit market. It’s unfair to us as a business and to our patrons who look for Cinema Detroit to offer the best in independent films and documentaries.

    Last year, Landmark filed a similar lawsuit against Regal Entertainment Group, another national theater chain, accusing Regal of similar anti-competitive conduct aimed at Landmark with respect to commercial films.

    “Landmark went to court to fight against clearances for the films it wanted to show,” said Bill Oberdorfer, Executive Director of the Avalon Theatre. “We are doing the exact same thing and simply asking for the same opportunities with respect to specialty films.”

    The suit seeks monetary damages and an injunction prohibiting Landmark from seeking clearances against plaintiffs’ theaters. The plaintiffs are represented by Hausfeld, a global litigation firm with expertise in antitrust law.

     

    Additional statement from the Denver Film Society:

    Also today, the DFS emailed the following statement from Board President Robert Clasen:

    Bob-Clasen-HeadshotSince opening the Sie FilmCenter seven years ago, we have been blocked from booking and showing countless films that our audiences have requested due to Landmark’s practice of enforcing “clearances.” These clearances are restrictions that Landmark imposes on the film distributors it works with, preventing other theaters in an area from showing a film simultaneously to them. In fact, NOT ONCE has DFS been allowed to show a film simultaneously to Landmark at the Sie FilmCenter – as they have enacted a complete and total blockade on our ability to show films that you and many others in our Denver film community want to see.

    They can demand this from distributors because they have significant clout as a national chain and – we believe – abuse that clout to get what they want. Landmark currently operates 51 theaters with 242 screens in 22 major metropolitan areas, making them the largest of the chains that show independent movies in communities around the country. Most of their competition comes from small mom-and-pop theaters or nonprofits like the Sie FilmCenter.

     Quite understandably, many small businesses and non-profits are nervous to put up a fight against the 800-pound gorilla in their industry. But after years of trying to work within the system and talking with partners and peers about how we can overcome the unfair competition we face from Landmark, we have come to the conclusion that this is a nationwide problem that affects the entire independent film community and must be addressed. And because the deck is stacked against community theaters like ours, the only way we can serve our audiences properly and solve this problem that plagues our industry is to seek a remedy through the courts.

     For us, this is a principled stand. Through this action, we hope to help effect a change in our industry that will benefit filmmakers and film-lovers alike.

     DFS, along with the other plaintiffs, in this case, is being represented by a well-known law firm – Hausfeld – with deep experience in antitrust litigation, which is taking this case on a contingency fee basis. Consequently, it is important for you to know that DFS will not be using ANY of the contributions we receive from our members, donors, foundations (including the SCFD) or sponsors, to pay for legal fees in this litigation.

     We have considered this action for several years and it was a difficult decision to finally make. That said, we are confident that the filing of this lawsuit and the potential positive outcome will be a critical step toward ensuring a long and healthy future for the Denver Film Society and similar independent film organizations across the country.

    Note: Robert Clasen is a retired media and entertainment executive whose career has included President and CEO of Comcast Cable and later Comcast International, CEO of Starz Entertainment, Division President at McCaw Cellular, and Executive VP of US Operations for Rogers Communications. Currently he serves as Chairman of the Colorado Creative Industries Council.
  • Remembering when Lex Ishimoto was our 'Billy Elliot'

    by John Moore | Sep 26, 2017

    Lex Ishimoto. Billy Elliot. Doug BlemkerLex Ishimoto, right, was one of four young actors who played the lead role in the 2011 national touring production of 'Billy Elliot the Musical' that visited Denver. On Monday, he was named 'America’s Favorite Dancer' for Season 14 of 'So You Think You Can Dance.' From left: Giuseppe Bausilio, Kylend Hetherington, Daniel Russell and Lex Ishimoto. Photo by Doug Blemker.


    'America’s Favorite Dancer' of So You Think You Can Dance played the title role in the 2011 tour that visited Denver.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The world at large met Lex Ishimoto this summer on So You Think You Can Dance, culminating with his being crowned "America’s Favorite Dancer" for Season 14 last night. 

    But Denver Center audiences know the California Kid as British Billy Eliot. Ishimoto was one of four young Billys who played the lead role of the coal-mining kid who just wanted to ballet in the hit Broadway tour of Billy Elliot the Musical that visited Denver and other cities in 2011. 

    Lex Ishimoto. Billy Elliot. Doug BlemkerIshimoto came to Denver as a 13-year-old Asian-American hip-hopper from Irvine, Calif. The creative team was so taken with Ishimoto, they rearranged the Elton John song "Electricity" as a hip-hop ballet that was performed that way only on the nights Ishimoto played Billy.

    By 2011, Ishimoto already had been dancing for six years. But he had never performed in a  musical and he hadn't seen the 2000 source film when he was asked to audition. When he was cast, he told me in a 2011 interview, "At first, I didn't believe one word of it. I thought they were playing with me. I didn't think it was an important thing, and now I'm here, and it's such a fun and amazing experience for me."

    In that same interview, Ishimoto said his biggest shock was realizing the national touring production wasn't for TV but was rather ongoing performances in front of live audiences.

    More than 3,500 qualified youngsters were seen for the title role in three North American productions of Billy Elliot the Musical. And only 28 ultimately got to play a role that requires proficiency in ballet, tap, singing, acting, acrobatics and dialect — by age 11.

    Finding Nemo was easier than finding Billys with the skills that role requires. "It's mind-boggling to think about what Billy has to do in three hours on that stage," said Billy Elliot the Musical children's casting director Nora Brennan. When the Broadway production opened in 2008, all three original Billys shared the Tony Award for best actor in a musical.

    Director Stephen Daldry firmly believed that Billy could be played by anyone of any look, as long as he was short, had an unchanged voice and could meet the demands of the role. So the four touring Billys ended up being an Australian, a Swiss, a Michigander and Ishimoto. Brennan called her quartet "a United Benetton of Billys."

    So what kind of kids are these, really? The kind who know exactly what they want at such an early age, and work with unchanging focus to achieve it?

    "It takes tenacity and determination to do this, and that really has to come from the boy," Brennan said. "A kid can't get there if he's doing it for somebody else. You can tell when they are little and you are watching them in their ballet classes. You can tell the ones who are so focused that their little legs are shaking because they are trying so hard. They are the ones who are going to stick to it until it's perfect. Those are the ones who are going to get there."

    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.

    A Lex Ishimoto Billy Elliot Quote
  • Editorial: 2B or not 2B? There is no question

    by John Moore | Sep 25, 2017
    Sweeney Todd Opening Night. Photo by Adams Visual Communications

    Funds from 2B would help fund the renovation of the Stage Theatre, shown here hosting opening night of  the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Sweeney Todd' in 2016. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    'Our Denver' bond would help the region’s leading cultural organizations, which combined serve 6.6 million each year

    By Suzanne Yoe
    DCPA Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs

    Every 10 years, the City of Denver has the opportunity to invest in its infrastructure and enhance the facilities that are central to the fabric of our diverse communities. In 2007, voters approved the "Better Denver Bond" program, and projects were completed in neighborhoods dotting the city from new animal shelters, libraries and recreation centers to playground, road and fire-station improvements.

    GO Bond LogoThis November, voters will have the same opportunity before them — the opportunity to approve seven ballot measures representing 460 projects that will improve and transform communities in our area. Known as “Our Denver,” voters will be asked to allow the city to assume debt to cover capital improvements, which are paid back over time from existing property taxes without raising taxes. The sum total of the package is $937 million and will appear on the ballot as measures 2A-2G.

    Among the "GO Bond" initiatives is 2B — a request for more than $112 million in funding for capital improvements for the region’s leading cultural organizations, which collectively serve more than 6.6 million guests each year. These would help fund the renovation of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Stage and Ricketson theatres to implement critical life-safety improvements, preserve the Denver Art Museum’s iconic North Building, replace a 50-year-old animal hospital at the Denver Zoo, build a new education center at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and address deferred maintenance projects at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Passage of 2B comes with a financial obligation from each of the recipient cultural organizations.

    While funding from our voter-approved Scientific and Cultural Facilities District is essential to providing access and education, enabling growth and stability, and elevating programming and artistic success, those funds are restricted and cannot be used for building maintenance and new construction projects.

    For detailed information on the projects included in “Our Denver” including the cultural initiatives outlined in measure 2B, please visit OurDenver2017.com.

    Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs Suzanne Yoe has been working for the DCPA for 23 years.

  • 'Smart People' opens rehearsals in full swing

    by John Moore | Sep 21, 2017
    Making of 'Smart People'

    Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Smart People,' which features 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.

    Sharp comedy takes on the ways in which racism pervades American culture just as the national pendulum swings.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Smart People is a thought-provoking new comedy about all the ways in which racism pervades American culture. And it took playwright Lydia R. Diamond eight years to finish it.

    Imagine taking on that incendiary subject just as Barack Obama was about to assume the presidency, and completing it the same year he would cede it to Donald Trump.

    "She started the play at one time in our collective zeitgeist, and she finished it at a completely different time in our collective zeitgeist,” DCPA Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett said Tuesday at the opening rehearsal for Smart People, which marks her Denver directorial debut. 

    Smart PeopleThe collective national pendulum, as gravity seemingly demands, had fully swung. And Garrett believes the only way today’s highly polarized Americans are ever going to find common ground and genuine connection again is if they slow down and stop talking long enough to meet somewhere in the middle.

    "What's so awesome about something swinging wildly back and forth is the part that's in the middle," said Garrett. "Not the extremes where we all seemingly live now, but the space where we do come together and we are able to find intersection.”

    And that’s what Diamond butts up against in her critically acclaimed, four-person comedy that has its first performance Oct. 13 in the Ricketson Theatre.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Diamond’s story, set on the eve of Obama’s historic 2008 presidential election, centers on four "smart people" with Harvard connections: A surgeon, an actress, a psychologist and a neuro-psychiatrist who is studying how the brain responds to race. As their relationships evolve, the four discover that their motivations and interpretations are not as pure as their wealth of knowledge would have them believe.

    Diamond was inspired to write Smart People by a news report about an actual neuroscientist who was studying the potential link between bias and brain chemistry. He hypothesized that a person's chemical composition can cause him to be biased, prejudiced or racist.

    "For me, the play is kind of like going back to the scene of the crime: Going back to the beginning of something to try to figure out where we are now," said Garrett.

    “This play intersects with these four highly intellectual people who keep smacking up against each other like two rocks trying to make a spark. They are trying figure out, 'Well why don't you believe what I believe? Because if I believe that something is really important and true, then you should also have that belief.’

    “That's what sparks the comedy: You have these four sexy, crazy people who are almost too smart for their own good all colliding around these ideas. But if they could just stop talking and give in to each other's ideas, they might actually be able to hear something.

    “I think ultimately, Smart People is a call for people to listen."

    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.  

    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
    • First performance Oct. 13, 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
  • Meet Zak Reynolds of 'The Snowy Day': 'A fan of being happy'

    by John Moore | Sep 21, 2017
    Zak Reynolds, Rachel Kae Taylor and Robert Lee Hardy. Snowy Day.

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


    MEET ZAK REYNOLDS
    Zak Reynolds 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, located in the Newman Center for Theatre Education. 

    At the Denver Center: Debut. National tours: A Year with Frog and Toad. Regional: World premiere of Bella: An American Tall Tale (Dallas Theater Center); Spamalot, Les Miserables, Schoolhouse Rock Live! (Casa Mañana), Go Dog, Go!, Skippy Jon Jones, A Wrinkle in Time (Dallas Children's Theater), Dogfight (WaterTower Theater), The Liar, Less Than Kind (Theatre 3). Named Best Actor 2014 by D Magazine.

    • Zak Reynolds. Snowy DayHometown: Fort Worth, Texas
    • Training: Circle in the Square Theatre School, New York
    • Twitter-sized bio: I am always psyched to be consistently moving and working on something new or innovative. Challenging myself keeps me on my toes. I’m a fan of forming new relationships. I love being happy, and I feel that I can be a role model for young actors looking to find their own light, whether in theater or any other lifestyle.
    • What was the role that changed your life? When I did Dogfight at the WaterTower Theater, it was a difficult time for me. I had just joined the union at the beginning of that year, and began to lose my hair due to Alopecia right before the production went into rehearsals. That role challenged me to stay patient with my aspirations because no matter what I looked like on stage, hair or no hair, I knew I still could be successful, even with mental barricades in the way. It took a while to be comfortable, but looking back on that time it is something that I will never forget, and I am now grateful for.
    • Why are you an actor? Acting is a way to be free for a few hours a day. It takes me out of whatever I may be facing in real life and lets me portray another set of challenges in someone else’s shoes. It’s so rewarding to expose theater to children. I grew up around a theatrical family. It is in my blood to make sure future generations are just as inspired by theatre as I was.
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? I’m always up for the service industry. As crazy as this might sound, I love the high-end restaurant world. Or I would be a nurse. A nurse would be neat.
    • Ideal scene partner? Alan Langdon. When I went to school at Circle in the Square, he was always the teacher I never understood completely but I feel like I didn’t free myself enough to the work as much as I wanted to at 18 years old. He questioned every single moment of my scene work, no matter the text. He was definitely a mentor who challenged all of my senses, and I thrived.
    • Why does The Snowy Day matter? Because even though a kid might be timid or a little less animated than others it’s totally OK to be that way - and also have tons of fun. Peter is a kid who wants to go on adventures and play all of the time, but he still has a quiet, thoughtful side to him. We can all connect with learning how to whistle or finding out who our first crush is. No matter how hard a journey may be, this is a story that shows everything ends up just fine.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I want them to feel chills leaving the theater, having seen something they might never have seen before. I hope they all feel connected by the notion of learning to whistle or dealing with mom making you put on your PJs. As long as they connect in some way, then we actors have done a great job.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      " ... for people to chill out, look on the bright side of life, and know that someone is always there for you when hard times arise."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on 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

    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
  • 'Girls Only': Where secrets go to die laughing

    by John Moore | Sep 20, 2017

    image

    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein of "Girls Only" believe a young girl today should get off her laptop and go back to writing in a diary ... with a lock!" Photo by Terry Shapiro.


    'There is a magical energy in the room when the audience is all women, laughing knowingly at themselves'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women
    has to be the most successful locally produced play in Denver theatre history ... that half the population has pretty much never seen.

    But many of those on distaff side of the gender scale have seen it so many times, they've more than made up for the AWOL men among us.

    “No, we don’t see a lot of men at the show,” creators Linda Klein and Barbara Gehring say on their web site. “Not because they don’t get the humor, and not because there’s any ‘man-bashing’ going on. But more because women really appreciate it the most.”

    Girls Only began as a kind of comedy experiment at the Avenue Theater in 2008. After a sold-out run, it got picked up by the Denver Center's Garner-Galleria Theatre, where it was a two-year hit and has since expanded nationally faster than that killer plant in Little Shop of Horrors. It returns to the Garner-Galleria for a fourth run Thursday (Sept. 21) and parties on there through Oct. 22.

    Born of the earnest and sweetly absurd writings these two comics discovered they had written into their junior high-school diaries, Girls Only is a slumber party – minus the sleeping. It celebrates sweetly ridiculous rites of passage like boys, puberty and general girliness. It’s a mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation and comic songs and videos that remind the disparate women who gather of the many similarities they share.

    A man among women: My night at Girls Only

    The show has now been seen by more than 200,000 women (and a few token dudes) in 30 productions around North America. A New York producer is touring the show. The future is limited only to "where there are women,” Gehring says.

    To commemorate the return of the original "dia-ramic" duo to Denver, we posed these five (mostly) silly questions to the creators, who teamed with the DCPA earlier this year on a new comedy called Travelers of the Lost Dimension, which was performed in and around the shops at Stanley Marketplace.

    John Moore: So, seriously … what do you girls have against boys?

    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: Nothing, really - and you'd know that if you read our diaries, hah. But seriously, there is a magical energy in the room when the audience is all women, laughing knowingly at themselves. It's not that men don't "get it." It's just they have never experienced first-hand what goes on in the show. Men do like the show, but it’s really meant for women who remember being girls. It has been likened to a “girlhood reunion.” We have had guys come who have sisters, and they really get it. Once it was a guy who started the standing ovation. We have a disclaimer for our show that reads: 


    "Warning: This show contains feminine subject matter including teenage diaries, breast feeding, tampons, shadow puppets, pantyhose, menstrual cycles, slumber parties, menopause and maxi pads."


    The show has the spirit of a 12-year-old's slumber party. So, sure, a guy could come … but would he really want to?"

    John Moore: Where do you suppose you'd be right now if you had never bothered to keep childhood diaries?

    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: The show would still exist, because reading our diaries was only one of the dozens of ideas we had when we sat down to create a show. But we are glad we did keep them, because they were the inspiration to create this show. We read our childhood diaries to each other one afternoon, and we became better friends in those few hours. We knew something magical would happen if we shared them with other women ... publicly.

    Girls OnlyJohn Moore: Do you think young girls today are maybe expected to share too much of themselves in this age of social media? In other words ... Wasn't the lock on the diary the best part about having a diary? 

    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: Yes. The lock was the best part. And hiding the key. Secrets are so much fun when you’re young, but not for the keeping of them; for the devilment of sharing them, or having them discovered.  Wasn’t half the fun of making a secret club the possibly that someone might find out about it? Girls are still drawn to secrets, but many unfortunately don’t realize the life they live online isn’t private. Many think it is. We had one woman say that every time she comes to see the show she brings a different friend, and the innocence and camaraderie they experience always makes them open up and tell a little secret about themselves. This woman keeps learning new things about her friends as the spirit of the show unlocks something inside them. Online, you don't get to choose who you share your secrets with. We think girls should go back to a diary with a lock. Then they can always have a hard copy of something they can create a show with!

    John Moore: What’s one great anecdote that demonstrates how your show has impacted an audience member?

    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: Many ladies come up to us and share their stories after the show, but the most memorable ones are the women who have been truly moved by it. One gal not too long ago told us that she didn’t have a very good childhood, but after seeing Girls Only, she now feels like she did. A woman who was 87 told us that she had never laughed so hard in her life. That is saying something. In Minneapolis, there was a woman who was crying after seeing the show. She had such a good time and laughed so hard, so she was confused that she was crying. Then she blurted out, "I am so busy being a wife and a mother, and I had forgotten about that girl. Thank you for reminding me!"

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Weren't you just here like, five minutes ago? Kidding … But you obviously attract audiences who will keep coming back to see your show again and again. Me? I can't sit through a movie twice, so help me understand: Why do your most loyal audience members keep coming back to Girls Only

    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: We are so excited to be back in Denver, where it all began. The fact that this is our fourth time here speaks to the popularity of the show. Women love to share and bond. Girls Only offers an amazing opportunity for both. They come once with family and then want to share it with their book club, and then their church group. It goes on and on. Plus, the humor in the show is charming and never demeaning, which allows women to tap into the joyful innocence of girlhood they may have forgotten about. They can bring their daughter, their mother, their grandmother. We are able to entertain many generations. Another factor is that the show is the universal made personal. Women leave feeling the show is about them ...  So why wouldn't you want to see it again?

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

    Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women: Ticket information

    Girls Only – The Secret Comedy of WomenAt a glance: Girls Only is an original comedy that celebrates the honor, truth, humor and silliness of being female with a two-woman cast and a mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation, and hilarious songs and videos.

    • Presented by DCPA Cabaret
    • Playing Sept. 21-Oct. 22
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre at the Denver Performing Ats Complex
    • Tickets start at $39
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    • For more, go to the Girls Only website

     

     

     

  • Wonderbound 101: Where no one dances alone

    by John Moore | Sep 20, 2017

    Welcome back to the DCPA NewsCenter's continuing series called 'Get Arts Smart,' a fun introduction to a variety of cultural forms through the eyes of experts from local organizations. First up was Opera 101, with Central City Opera. Today: Wonderbound 101, which on Sept. 26 presents a preview of Garrett Ammon’s space-faring adventure, 'Celestial Navigation!' featuring live music by Ian Cooke Band. The full production will be presented Oct. 13-27.

    WONDERBOUND!

    'We must dream, we must work, we must be rigorous.
    Only then might we glimpse the true possibility that resides within us.’

    Evan Flood 800

    Look who's talking:
    Today's instructor is Wonderbound featured dancer Evan Flood, originally from Vineland, N.J. He has worked with LustigDanceTheatre in New Brunswick, N.J.. as well as Oakland Ballet Company, Molissa Fenley and Company and Zella Dance.


    So, what's your deal, Wonderbound? We are an American dance company that mingles very human dance with a live music element. One of our productions feels a little like a concert mixed with a musical mixed with raw emotion that will set your soul ablaze. Every Wonderbound performance features live music and collaborations with artists across Colorado. We have worked with illusionists, poets, actors, painters and more. We believe dance is for everyone and we believe in an open creation process. We invite anyone to join us for our free rehearsals - anytime.

    Read our Opera 101 primer from Central City

    Our productions offer something for everyone. Do you like magic? We have collaborated with illusionist Professor Phelyx in our circus themed A Gothic Folktale. If you’re a fan of spoken word, perhaps Gone West would interest you – it featured the beautiful poetry of Michael J. Henry from Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Would being immersed in a fairytale inspire you? Winter, which took place in our studio space in the heart of Denver, featured 3D projections by artist Kristopher Collins, scents by Michelle Roark of Phia Labs and food from restaurants around Denver. For those with varying musical tastes, we have also worked with bands across genres. Some examples include, Flobots (an alternative hip-hop band), Chimney Choir (gypsy folk-rock with an indie twist), Ian Cooke (pop + classical = popsical), Hal Aqua and the Lost Tribe (Klezmer) and the Colorado Symphony (classical).

     

    Video above: Wonderbound collaborated with Curious Theatre Company on an original live play with dance called 'Dust' in 2016.



    Origin of the species
    : Dance has always been there. As night fell around the cooking fires after a long day of hunting woolly mammoths and gathering herbs, we would let the magic of the stars above direct us in primal movements that bonded us as a community. As time went on, the art form evolved, gaining structure and pushing dancers into new feats of athleticism. Contemporary ballet as we know it is a mixture of classical ballet and modern dance. Originally danced only by men, classical ballet (something that every Wonderbound dancer has training in) really began to gain momentum with King Louis XIV of France who created, and starred in, several ballets, and formed one of the very first schools of dance. Contemporary ballet began to emerge on the scene when George Balanchine, the Father of American ballet, decided to start shaking things up and moving out of the neat boxes that classical ballet had put itself into. Today, Wonderbound ballets are visceral and powerful, focusing less on exact technique (although that is there) and more on raw emotions and fantastical storytelling. 


    Merce CunninghamYour greatest dead rock star: Merce Cunningham was a very talented American choreographer who died in 2009 at age 90. He was known for unique collaborations – something that really resonates with Wonderbound. Merce was one of the first to create ballets with with visual artists, architects, designers and musicians. His most famous collaborations were with musician John Cage and used chance in the creation process. Cunningham would flip a coin or roll a die with each side having a different meaning. For example, a six could mean six dancers, and a two could mean a certain series of pre-determined moves. At the same time, Cage would create a piece of music without seeing the dance. The first time the music and dance would come together would be on stage. This method was unique to Cunningham, who believed that music and dance did not have to be related.



    Crystal-PiteYour greatest living rock star: Crystal Pite is an insanely talented choreographer with Kidd Pivot in Canada. She’s done some amazing and weird things using different mediums. Dark Matters is a crazy piece that uses a marionette in the first act, and then has the dancers move in a similar manner in the second act. Her The Tempest Replica takes Shakespeare’s familiar story and tells it in two distinctly different ways using dance, projections and (in one act) strangely intense costuming. It’s a stunning way to shake things up while drawing audiences who know the play intimately.



    Up-and-comer:
    Justin Peck (see video above) is an amazingly inspirational human. He joined New York City Ballet in 2006 when he was 18 and was promoted to soloist in 2013, which is unheard of for someone so young. His performance career is already impressive, but in 2008 he choreographed his first ballet on the company and since then he's made 25 more. His work is bringing a new fresher, and younger voice to the New York City Ballet repertory. He is especially known for using unique and cutting-edge fashions in his ballets. He has collaborated with a lot of different designers and has worked with Vogue Magazine and Harpers Bazaar. In 2014, he was named Resident Choreographer at New York City Ballet, and is only the second person in the history of the organization to have that title. And he has done all this by the age of 30. Impressive.



    Garrett Ammon. Photo by Amanda Tipton.
    Photo of Garrett Ammon by Amanda Tipton.

    Who’s the biggest deal from Colorado?
    We may be biased, but we really think it is Wonderbound Artistic Director Garrett Ammon. His willingness to collaborate across art forms is gaining national attention, and his innovative productions are changing the way people see dance in Denver.


    CONTEMPORARY BALLET: A FIVE-WORD GLOSSARY

    PASDEDEUX

    Word 1The person who creates the dance moves you see on stage. Some ballet companies use multiple choreographers but at Wonderbound our ballets are either choreographed by Garrett Ammon or Sarah Tallman, who has been a member of the company for 13 years.

    Word 2Literally translates to an impolite way of saying “horse manure.” It’s what we say to each other before a show, and it takes the place of “break a leg,” which would be disastrous for a dancer. This originated back in the days of horse-drawn carriages. You knew it would be a great show if the piles of manure outside the theater were high, because that meant you had a full house.

    Word 3Our dancers rehearse eight hours a day, five days a week. And while we do perform contemporary ballet, our dancers take a classical ballet class each morning. The class is split into two parts. The first is barre, where the dancers stand at the long barres and do small foot exercises in place.

    Word 4This is the second half of the classical ballet class. This is the more exciting part of class, where the barres are moved out of the way and the dancers leap and spin across the floor in mind-boggling combinations.

    Bonus: Five Wonderbound phrases!

    • Mauve wall: One of Garrett Ammon’s signature dance moves, where a dancer will slide their straight arm up and in an arc as if they are standing next to a wall and their hand is brushing along it. It was originally created for Sarah Tallman, who got to pick the color.
    • Dawn Fay“PF!” (“Pelvis Forward!”): Ammon creates the ballets and then Wonderbound Producing Director Dawn Fay (pictured right) steps in and cleans everything up, making sure every move expresses exactly what they want it to say. You’ll often hear her shouting this to the dancers telling them to square their hips as they perform a certain dance phrase.
    • "Don’t be Extra”: Garrett says this to the dancers when he wants them to do something either very human or very simple, without any flourishes or fancy footwork.
    • “Take a risk" and "make a clear choice”: Garrett’s collaborative spirit extends to the dancers as well and he often gives them a lot of room to make a certain phrase of dance their own. The only thing he demands is that they are clear and deliberate about their choices. This is unique in choreographers but has the wonderful effect of letting you see a dancer’s personality come out on stage.
    • “Individuals, not Cookie Cutters”: Fay and Ammon use this phrase a lot when talking about the dancers. A lot of ballet companies are looking for a very specific body type. For example, Balanchine preferred dancers who were tall and thin. However, at Wonderbound, the dancers are all very different, and they bring unique skills to the table. The result is a stage filled with people of all different shapes and sizes who are good at drastically different things.



    What is the biggest stereotype about your field?
    We hear, “Dance isn’t for me,” or, “I don’t like dance,” far too often. Usually it is because the person has either never experienced dance or has only experienced only one performance in their lives. (Raise your hand if you’ve seen The Nutcracker.) Our productions are a world apart from what you think you know about dance. For anyone who is skeptical, I would encourage you to give it one more shot, come see a Wonderbound show. Or bring a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine (if you’re over 21) to our studio and check out one of our free live rehearsals. You won’t be disappointed.


    How is your dance different from other dance? While both Colorado Ballet and Wonderbound focus on excellence in dance, Wonderbound’s mission focuses more on deepening our human bond to dance, increasing accessibility to the art form and bringing together artistic disciplines throughout Colorado through our collaborations.



    A Wonderbound Ian Cooke 800

    Photo of Ian Cooke above by Amanda Tipton. 

    Wonderbound What would be my perfect introduction to Wonderbound? Two words: Sci-fi Ballet. Our season-opening production, Celestial Navigation, features all-new music from Ian Cooke and follows the adventures of our heroine, a space explorer who embarks on an Odyssey-like journey to the heavens in her trusty hot-air balloon. The costumes will be inspired by what people in the 1950s thought we would be wearing today. It’s going to be really fun. Celestial Navigation runs Oct. 13-27 at two Denver-area theaters. INFO


    Lastly, finish this sentence, Evan Flood: I love dance because … "Wonderbound productions have the ability to reach inside your chest and cause your heart to plummet or soar. They can make you cry like a baby or laugh uncontrollably all with little or no dialogue. The language of dance is visceral and beautiful and best of all, universal."

    SPECIAL THANKS TO WONDERBOUND
    COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER AMBER BLAIS



    WONDERBOUND/Upcoming schedule

    • Celestial Navigation, with Ian Cooke Band, Oct. 13-15, at Pinnacle Charter School, 1001 W. 84th Ave.

    • Celestial Navigation, with Ian Cooke Band, Oct. 21-22, at PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker

    • Snow, with Jesse Manley and His Band, Dec. 12-21, at Wonderbound Studio, 1075 Park Avenue West, Denver

    • Aphrodite’s Switchboard, with Chimney Choir, Feb. 9-11, at Pinnacle Charter School, 1001 W. 84th Ave.

    • Aphrodite’s Switchboard, with Chimney Choir, Feb. 17-18, at PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker

    • Madness, Rack, and Honey, with the Colorado Symphony, April 27-29, at Wonderbound Studio, 1075 Park Avenue West, Denver

    • Madness, Rack, and Honey, with the Colorado Symphony, May 5-6, at PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker



    WONDERBOUND/Ticket information

    Address
    : 1075 Park Avenue West, Denver, CO 80205 MAP IT GET DIRECTIONS
    Website
    : wonderbound.com
    Box office
    : 303-292-4700
    Twitter
    : @wonderbound_
    Instagram
    : @wonderboundco

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Video, photos: Your first look at DCPA's 'Macbeth'

    by John Moore | Sep 20, 2017



    Without changing a word of Shakespeare's text, DCPA Theatre Company Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into his raw reimagining of Macbeth, which will mark the grand reopening of the in-the-round Space Theatre. Video above by DCPA
    Video Producer David Lenk. 

    Production photos:

    Macbeth
    To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    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
    DCPA Macbeth. Adams Viscom. Scenie Design by Jason Sherwood.
    DCPA Theatre Company's 'Macbeth.' Scenic Design by Jason Sherwood. Photo by Adams Viscom.

    Macbeth
    : Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage

    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
    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

    Making of Macbeth: Backstage photo gallery

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. 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.
  • Perspectives: 'Macbeth' director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'

    by John Moore | Sep 19, 2017
    Perspectives Macbeth. Robert O'Hara. Steven Cole Hughes'Perspectives' is a series of free panel discussions held just before the first public performance of each DCPA Theatre Company staging. The 'Macbeth' panel included director Robert O'Hara and actor Steven Cole Hughes, above, as well as actors Alec Hynes and Kim Fischer (pictured below right). The moderator was Literary Director Doug Langworthy. The next 'Perspectives' will be held before the first preview of 'Smart People' at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, in the Jones Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'The Curse,' the costumes and the king obsessed with witches are all fair game at season's first Perspectives

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Macbeth An audience member before Friday’s first performance of Macbeth wanted to know: Is “The Curse” real?

    He was talking about the most famous – and famously respected – superstition in all of theatre: Say the word "Macbeth" inside a theatre, and you invite disaster. Better to say “The Scottish Play” or “Mackers.” Shakespeare’s play gets its evil reputation in part because of the witches in the story, and of course the legendary tales of misfortune that have been associated with hundreds of Macbeth stagings going back to 1606.

    Macbeth. Perspectives. Photo by John Moore. Robert O’Hara, who is directing Macbeth for the DCPA Theatre Company, says so far – knock on wood! – there have been no incidents attributable to black magic lurking under the brand-new Space Theatre floorboards. But he said things got super weird before rehearsals even began.

    O'Hara invited the actors playing Macbeth and Lady M (Ariel Shafir and Adam Poss) to his home a few months ago to talk about the play. As they were diving into the play, O’Hara looked outside and noticed an inexplicable pack of wild kittens loitering underneath his tree. He says they didn’t live in the neighborhood, and they all disappeared by the next morning. But that day, Poss’ simple plane trip home from Cincinnati to Chicago ended up taking nearly 24 hours to complete.

    Weird, sisters.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Here are five more things we learned about 'Macbeth at Perspactives:

    Macbeth set design by Jason SherwoodTrue blue: NUMBER 1 Macbeth is O’Hara’s first Shakespeare production as a director. And while he brings a different sensibility to this staging that is evident from costumes to clothing to music to movement, he’s not rewriting a word of Shakespeare’s language. “Nothing you see will defame Shakespeare,” O'Hara said. “I didn't come here to do Shakespeare in order to not do Shakespeare. I am a playwright, too, so if I wanted to do an adaptation of Shakespeare, I would have just written my own play. But at the same time, I don't want the audience to see a museum piece. I want them to see something that shows how elastic Shakespeare is. I am not interested in how Shakespeare is ‘supposed’ to be done. I am interested in how I meet Shakespeare’s language today.”

    (Pictured above and right: A look at the 'Macbeth' set design by Jason Sherwood.)

    NUMBER 2About those costumes: "We don't wear many. You're welcome,” actor Steven Cole Hughes said to laughs. O’Hara said it makes perfect sense for warlocks to live their lives more unencumbered by inhibition (and clothing) than humans. “Our show is essentially warlocks putting on a play, and these warlocks have a different sense of their bodies. They have a different sense of nakedness,” O’Hara said. "But when it comes time for the warlocks to put on Shakespeare’s play, they add some Jacobean clothing. They’re costumes. But underneath, they are still who they are.”

    NUMBER 3 What the Hecate? There is a character in the play who usually gets cut in contemporary stagings. Her name is Hecate, queen of the witches. Hecate says: 'Bring Macbeth to the Pit of Acheron,” and that’s where O’Hara has chosen to set this production. It’s years after the real-life story of Macbeth, the witches are all male warlocks, and they are performing the play as a kind of historical ritual. And here, we will meet Hecate. “Robert did some research that said Hecate is a three-headed witch, so there are three of us actors paying her,” said Hughes. “We had the freedom to create both how we move and talk as a trio. Hecate has a monologue, and we split it up between the three of us." 

    NUMBER 4And as for the music: “It's going to start loud, and get louder,” says Hughes. O’Hara only asks of his audience what he asked of his cast on the first day of rehearsal: "Invest in yes," he said. And if you do, he added, "you will be rewarded at the end.” The play is performed as a ritual not unlike the Catholic Church’s Stations of the Cross. And each ritual is accompanied its own music, movement and lighting scheme. These are transitions that act as a bridge between the scenes that Shakespeare wrote, and the hybrid world these warlocks inhabit at the Pit of Acheron.

    NUMBER 5Back to those those witches: Scotland’s King James I – yes, namesake of the King James Bible – was obsessed with the subject of witchcraft. There were 247 witch trials during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James, and he was a frequent instigator of them. Belief in witches was common at the time. James, who became the first king of both England and Scotland in 1603, even wrote a book on supernatural creatures and demons. James was also a big fan of live theatre, and he hired Shakespeare to write plays for him. The Bard wrote Macbeth specifically to please King James. In the play, quintessential good-guy Banquo is meant to represent James. And to please His Majesty, Shakespeare inserted more biblical imagery than in any of his other plays.

    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.

    Macbeth. Perspectives. Photo by John Moore.

    Actors Steven Cole Hughes and Kim Fischer demonstrate some of the choreography in 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore.


    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
    • First performance Sept. 15, 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
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    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

    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. 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.
  • Cast announced for DCPA's 'Smart People': Fresh and familiar

    by John Moore | Sep 19, 2017

    Smart People
    From left: Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen.


    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced the full cast and creative team for its upcoming production of Lydia R. Diamond's Smart People, featuring the Denver directorial debut of Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. The production includes:

    • Esther Chen as Ginny Yang
    • Timothy McCracken as Brian White
    • Jason Veasey as Jackson Moore
    • Tatiana Williams as Valerie Johnston

    McCracken, a graduate of the DCPA's National Theatre Conservatory and now the Head of Acting for DCPA Education, has previously appeared in Theatre Company productions of A Christmas Carol, Jackie and Me, The Giver and others.

    A Smart People 360 Jaso VeasayVeasey, a native of Colorado Springs, graduated from Coronado High School and the University of Northern Colorado. His local credits include playing Jesus in Town Hall Arts Center's Godspell in 2003 (pictured right), and the ensemble in the Arvada Center's Ragtime. Last year, he performed in the Henry Award-nominated Best Musical Motones vs. Jerseys at the Lone Tree Arts Center. He made his Broadway debut in the ensemble of The Lion King.

    Garrett was profiled in American Theatre as “One to Watch,” saying she is attracted to “plays that impact us in tremendous ways, chasing us out of our comfort zones.”

    Veasay, Chen and Williams will be making their DCPA Theatre Company debuts in Diamond's acclaimed new play, 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. Fiercely clever dialogue and energetic vignettes keep the laughs coming in a story that Variety calls “Sexy, serious and very, very funny.”

    Diamond’s award-winning plays have been produced throughout the country, including the 2011 Tony Award-nominated Broadway production Stick Fly.

    The creative team for Smart People will include:
    • Efren Delgadillo Jr. (Scenic Designer)
    • Lex Liang (Costume Designer, DCPA's Disgraced)
    • Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Lighting Designer)
    • Curtis Craig (Sound Designer)
    • Kaitlyn Pietras (Projection Designer)
    • Lyle Raper (returning longtime Theatre Company Stage Manager)
    • Corin Ferris (Assistant Stage Manager).
     

    Smart People: Ticket information

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Oct. 13, 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
  • A man among women: My night at 'Girls Only'

    by John Moore | Sep 18, 2017

    image

    I am not afraid of the alternate uses for this feminine product as suggested to me by the women of "Girls Only." Looking forward to it, in fact. Photobombing: Carla Kaiser Kotrc.

     

    What happens when a man ignores the writing on the wall?

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    (Note: This essay was originally published in 2014. Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women' returns to the Galleria Theatre from Sept. 21-Oct. 22, 2017.)

    This doesn’t happen every night at the theatre: At intermission, a kindly female usher came up to me at my seat and asked if I intended to use the men’s room during the break. I did a quick mental bladder assessment and determined … OK, pretty sure I'm good. … Why?

     “Well, then – with your permission – we are going to open up the men’s room for the ladies to use,” she said.

    I never thought I would ever hold such power.  But I was raised by a good woman. I knew what was good for me. I gave my blessing.

    Girls OnlyThat’s just sensible strategy, I thought. After all, in a room with more than 200 audience members, I was the only one – presumably – sporting the anatomical equivalent of a caveman’s club.

    Sunday night was my first time seeing Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women. That makes me no different from almost every other man in the world. But for the longest time, this fact has separated me from the more than 110,000 women who have seen Girls Only since 2008.

    That made this a theatregoing night six years in the making.

    You have to understand that I was the theatre critic at The Denver Post when noted local improv comedians Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein debuted their modest little slumber-party comedy at The Avenue Theater. At the time, I tried to see just about every local production I could fit into my schedule, and certainly any original work created by local actors. It was an immediate hit that ran for an extended seven-week run. But, like feminine wiles, Girls Only remained largely a mystery to me.

    The exclusionary nature of the title aside, I did want to go. And I would have, but, in those early days at The Avenue, they weren’t kidding with that title. I was not allowed in. No guy was. Once again, here I was: A middle-aged white man on the wrong end of the discrimination and exclusion propagated by the women who have long controlled this country.

    But I relented.  I didn’t even try to dress up and sneak in. We sent a female staff writer to review the show for The Denver Post instead. Soon the show was building so much momentum, it was picked up for a run here at the Denver Center’s Garner-Galleria Theatre. That was a history-making moment. The Denver Center's Broadway division had never before optioned a locally grown play for a full production in the big house. Or in this case … the big cabaret house. Girls Only ran continuously in The Garner-Galleria for more than two years. Additional productions have sprung up in Des Moines, Charlotte, Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Houston and others. The show has grossed more than $2.5 million in ticket sales.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Now, I’m not the kind of guy who likes being kept in the dark. My brothers did that to me enough times as a kid whenever they got bored and locked me in a closet. I did due diligence by writing with regularity about the show and its progress. But still, I had not seen it for myself. Later on, I learned that the Denver Center, being much more mindful of, you know – the law – than my friends at The Avenue Theater, never actually forbid men from seeing the show. Some men, I hear told, have come back to see it several times.

    image

    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein singing 'Up With Puberty' from 'Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.

     

    Fast forward to the recent re-opening night of Girls Only at the Galleria Theatre. By now, I was long gone from The Denver Post. Last August, I was scooped up by the Denver Center, where my job is that of an in-house journalist. My delicious duties now include snapping photographs backstage before every Denver Center opening.

    Which brings us to “The Night of Jan. 16.” (That’s also the name of a play, you may know. I played the judge in a high-school production. The audience jury decides if the femme fatale is guilty of murder. But no matter how they voted, I got to scold the jury for making an obviously idiotic decision. That training well-prepared me for my future life as a theatre critic. But I digress …)

    So here I was in the cramped backstage dressing room with my camera and my Girls (Only). I was trying to be a proper gentlemen despite the, shall we say … “casual nature” of my photo subjects. When Barbara and Linda began to undress right in front of me, I, of course, excused myself. They said they would call me back in when they were changed into their proper costumes. And they did just that. I walked back in to the sight of two women wearing nothing but bright, colorful bras and panties (with carefully hidden mic pacs!) … and grins from ear to ear. They snickered. I was blood in the water. My face was hot-pinker than Barbara’s bra.

    “OK, you got me,” I said. “Now call me back in when you put some clothes on.”

    But no, it was not a put-on. It was a take-off. “This is what we really wear to start the show,” Linda insisted.

    And it was!

    I promised to come back soon, see the show and write this manly first-person essay about the experience. They made me promise to bring women along. Lots of them. “You’ll need them for protection,” Barbara teased. Made sense. I didn’t want any women coming to the theatre to giggle about all things girly with their girlfriends to be made in any way self-conscious by the creepy old man sitting alone in the corner. I have my front porch for that.

    Which brings us to Sunday night.

    “Be afraid,” my friend Amy Board said on our way into the theatre, along with the rest of my distaff “Gaggle of Girls,” Carla Kaiser Kotrc and Sharon Kay White. I also had actor Amie MacKenzie, who understudies both of the women who act in the play, one row behind us, watching my back.

    To this point, I really didn’t know what the big deal was. Sure, the evening comes with a warning: “This show contains feminine subject matter including teenage diaries, breast feeding, tampons, shadow puppets, pantyhose, menstrual cycles, slumber parties, menopause and maxi pads.”

    What was on that list for ME to worry about?

    Turns out, not much. Because I think a few of the actual ladies in the house were more uncomfortable than I was with the prospect of using the sticky side of your maxi pad as the equivalent of a waxing agent.

    But man, were those women giggling from the first line to the final bow, both for the evident comic agility on display by these two actors, but for the rabbit hole they sent the audience down, right back into their own girlyhoods.

    The night begins with the aforementioned bra-clad Gehring and Klein revisiting one of their childhood bedrooms. The women read for a bit from their actual journals, comically revealing the universal gawky, geekiness of being a teenager. Who can’t relate to a girl who formed her own one-woman club, but only had enough self-esteem to elect herself  vice-president? I once formed my own political party. I called it the Antisocial Party – “No Other Members Allowed” – but, jeez, at least I elected myself president.

    image

    Audience members are encouraged to leave their thoughts in a diary kept at the Galleria Theatre.

     

    The night soon turns into a series of relatable comedy sketches very much in league with Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy’s Parallel Lives, or a guy-less I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change  These included sweet, sentimental and, occasionally taste-boundary-pushing revelations that were not just for the women in the house. When Linda pulled out her childhood Walkie Talkies, I was right back patrolling my home street of Dudley Court.

    The audience loved a bit called The History of Women, as told by shadow puppets, and recoiled with a reminder of the way women were depicted in 1950s TV commercials. There was some soft political humor. While discussing our societal obsession with boobs, Barbara says, “We even elected one once.” To which, as if on cue, pretty much the entire audience answered back with incredulous spontaneity … “ONCE???”

    The ex-theatre critic in me appreciated Girls Only most for the truly improvised moments. In one sketch, the women snag the purses of two unsuspecting women in the audience, and then build an original story out of whatever objects they find inside. They also make up parody songs on the spot. I can tell you that of all the performing arts, there is nothing more painful to sit through than improv comedy that is tentative, unsure or unclever. Girls Only makes plain that these two actors are among the best you will ever see at thinking on their feet.

    As the only man, I was occasionally called out for not comprehending the meaning of the words Girls Only. But, it turns out, I was not alone. Not really. After all, there was a poster of Shaun Cassidy on the bedroom wall staring back at us like a little lost lamb. 

    Read our Q&A with Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein

    Girls Only strikes me as gateway theatre. Not the kind of show that attracts a regular theatregoing crowd. But the kind of show that might help turn them into more regular theatregoers.

    I see about 160 plays a year, and I can tell you that I feel comfortable in any theater where people are laughing, engaged and having a good time. So rest assured, my dangling caveman club aside, I was one guy who felt right at home at Girls Only.

    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.

    Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women: Ticket information
    At a glance: Girls Only is an original comedy that celebrates the honor, truth, humor and silliness of being female with a two-woman cast and a mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation, and hilarious songs and videos.

    • Presented by DCPA Cabaret
    • Playing Sept. 21-Oct. 22
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre at the Denver Performing Ats Complex
    • Tickets start at $39
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    • For more, go to the Girls Only website

    image

    My Gaggle of only 'Girls': Carla Kaiser-Kotrc (back), Sharon Kay White (left) and Amy Board. Photo by Randy Dodd.

     

     

     

  • Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth

    by John Moore | Sep 17, 2017

    'I think a lot of women (who play Lady Macbeth) have to bring this masculine energy to it. But because I am a man with that masculine energy (my job is) to find what that feminine energy is," Adam Poss says of his role as Lady M  for the DCPA Theatre Company. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'When you see someone like me playing Macbeth, already you are getting a different energy, look and feel.'


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In one way, Director Robert O’Hara is telling the tale of Macbeth just as Shakespeare did — with an all-male cast. Not that anyone will mistake O’Hara’s staging with anything resembling Shakespeare as it was presented in Jacobean times.

    O'Hara is telling the tale for the DCPA Theatre Company from the point of view of a coven of shamanic warlocks. In his world, these warlocks are getting together years after the actual story and are now performing Macbeth as a kind of passion play. So the storytellers are all necessarily male.

    Adam Poss. Macbeth. But Adam Poss, the acclaimed Chicago actor playing Lady Macbeth, believes the female voice will come through loud and clear through this unusual telling, which he says is at once both historic and futuristic. "It's a great combination of old and new, and we're going to freak people out a little bit," he said with a laugh. 

    The strongest women of the time were polar opposites and deadly rivals, Poss said: "You have Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots and they both represented very different ideas of who women were. Queen Elizabeth was the virgin and Mary Queen of Scots was  bloodthirsty." Lady Macbeth was more of the latter, clawing her way to a place of power in the only way a woman could: Through her husband. "She could not be out there fighting, and taking on a kinship on her own," Poss said, "But she can make  things happen in her own way behind the scenes."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Poss said it will be both useful and relevant for a contemporary audience to see the story with women and witches who have facial hair. 

    "I think as we move forward, things are less binary in terms of what it means to be a man and a woman," he said. "Just because this is a company of men does not mean that there cannot be intimacy between men.

    "At its heart, yes, Macbeth  is a play about ambition and being bloodthirsty and taking people on to achieve what you want. But it’s also about a marriage, and a husband and wife doesn’t necessarily have to be a man and a woman. There can be partnerships between men that have love and care and tenderness but also violence and aggression and manipulation. That’s just human."  

    Adam Poss. Macbeth. Photo by John Moore.
    Adam Poss with his castmates at the first rehearsal for 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter


    Adam Poss: At a glance

    At the Denver Center: Debut. Other regional credits: Macbeth (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville), 2666, Teddy Ferrara, A Christmas Carol, The Magic Play, The Solid Sand Below (Goodman Theatre), Lot’s Wife (Kansas City Rep), The North Pool, The Lake Effect (TheatreWorks, Palo Alto) Other credits: 1984, Animals Out of Paper (Steppenwolf Theatre), The History Boys (Studio Theatre, D.C.). Oedipus el Rey, Queen (Victory Gardens Theater); The Lake Effect, Scorched (Silk Road Rising); The Beats (16th Street Theater). Television: Shameless, Empire, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Crisis, The Chicago Code, The Mob Doctor. Film: The Middle Distance, The Drunk, The King of URLS, Speed Dating.

    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
    • First performance Sept. 15, 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
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    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

    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. 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.
  • Colorado's connection to Harry Dean Stanton's final film

    by John Moore | Sep 16, 2017
    Harry Dean Stanton 800Photo from 'Lucky,' starring Harry Dean Stanton, which will be released in Denver on Oct. 20 at the Chez Artiste.

     

    Director John Carroll Lynch allows actor Harry Dean Stanton, who died Friday, to go out fully seen and heard

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Harry Dean Stanton does not go gentle into that good night. Rather, he goes thoughtfully, spiritually and with unflinching honesty, thanks to a triumphant capstone film called Lucky directed by Colorado native John Carroll Lynch.

    Stanton, who died Friday of natural causes at age 91, was nothing if not lucky, said Lynch, who also considers himself among the charmed for having had the opportunity to direct the iconic American actor in his final leading role. Stanton plays an ornery 90-year-atheist who drifts toward terms with his mortality in an off-the-grid desert town. The supporting cast includes Ron Livingston, Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant, James Darren, David Lynch — no relation but yes, that David Lynch — and Ed Begley Jr. "There went a great one," David Lynch wrote in a statement earlier today.

    Harry Dean Stanton 400Lucky is a film, John Carroll Lynch says, that allows the indelibly gaunt character actor whose face “was etched with loneliness,” one critic wrote, to go out fully seen and heard.

    “This is a performance you can only get to when you get there,” Lynch told the DCPA NewsCenter today. “And I think the role successfully encapsulates his particular world view.”

    Stanton’s breakthrough came decades into his film career in Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas. He was also known for Twin Peaks, Pretty in Pink, Repo Man and most recently a high-profile role as a manipulative cult leader in the HBO polygamy drama Big Love.

    This morning, Denver’s Alamo Drafthouse announced it will screen Repo Man in Stanton's honor on Saturday, Sept. 23, and donate a portion of the proceeds to the Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and practical relief to members of the Colorado theatre community facing situational medical need. Last year, Lynch made an appearance at his hometown Alamo to discuss his role in Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation.

    Lynch, a graduate of Regis Jesuit High School and a former member of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, is himself a veteran actor of more than 100 films and TV shows, most recently The Founder, Jackie and The Architect. He makes his directing debut with Lucky, which was rapturously received at the recent South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The film, written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja, will be showcased on Art House Theatre Day on Sept. 24 on the University of Colorado Boulder campus, and will be released in Denver on Oct. 20 at Landmark’s Chez Artiste movie theatre.

    “How lucky, no pun intended, we have this charming — with an edge — movie that has a terrific and humane performance from Harry Dean Stanton but is also infused with his view of the world, including his atheism,” contributing Denver Post film critic Lisa Kennedy told the NewsCenter today.  “It’s a gift, melancholy and affirming. It was that before news of his passing and even more so now.”

    Stanton’s character is the core of Lucky. He’s described as a lifelong smoker who is shaken by accident into tackling his inevitable death head-on. He searches for enlightenment against the backdrop of the desolate desert town, interacting and learning from those he encounters. Lynch said the character in the film was as much Stanton himself wrestling with his impending fate.

    “When you get older, you know you have fewer days, so you have no time to waste,” Lynch said. “Harry did not waste his days."

    Lynch said Stanton’s performance is no less than “(bleeping) awesome — and it is so vulnerably and humanly him. I hope people give it its due.”

    One of the producers of Lucky is familiar to DCPA Theatre Company audiences: It's actor Jason Delane Lee, who appeared in One Night in Miami and Two Degrees.

    Harry Dean Stanton: In theatres

    • Alamo Drafthouse will screen Repo Man in Stanton's honor at 7:20 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. BUY TICKETS
    • Lucky will be showcased on Art House Theatre Day at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24, in the Muenzinger Auditorium on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. BUY TICKETS
    • Lucky opens in full release Oct. 20 at Denver’s Chez Artiste movie theatre.


    Lucky: The official film trailer

    Video above: The trailer for 'Lucky,' starring Harry Dean Stanton, which will be released in Denver on Oct. 6 at the Chez Artiste.

    Lucky: What RogerEbert.Com had to say:
    "Let’s start at the top of the pile with the fantastic directorial debut of John Carroll Lynch, an actor who always struck me as someone who cared about who he worked with and clearly was paying attention to former collaborators like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and Joel Coen. Lynch knows how to frame a shot and tell a story that actually feels like the recent work of a filmmaker with whom he has yet to work, Jim Jarmusch. There’s a similar, shambling, everyday poetry to Lynch’s Lucky, a beautiful showcase for the 90-year-old Harry Dean Stanton, giving one of the best performances of his remarkable career. With supporting work from other icons as diverse as David Lynch and Tom Skerritt (Alien reunion!), Lucky is a film about both not much at all and, well, pretty much everything." — Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

     

  • 'The Wild Party': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Sep 15, 2017
    Making of 'The Wild Party'

    Photos from the first rehearsal for Off-Center's upcoming off-site, immersive production of 'The Wild Party.' 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 audience will become, like the characters in the play,
    'a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center is preparing to present 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 will be staged in what was once an airline hangar at the new Stanley Marketplace in the Stapleton neighborhood.

    And that is not at all how composer Michael John LaChiusa originally imagined his piece to be staged. Like most musicals, The Wild Party was first presented in front of an audience separated from the stage by theatre’s nearly ubiquitous, invisible “fourth wall.”

    There’s no wall here.

    “Our production is going to put our audience directly in the Jazz Age,” two-time True West Award-winning Director Amanda Berg Wilson said Tuesday at the company’s first rehearsal for the show opening Oct. 11.

    The Wild Party. Amanda Berg Wilson. Photo by John MooreThe DCPA’s adventurous Off-Center wing is known for creating original nontraditional work in nontraditional spaces, most notably last year’s sprawling Sweet & Lucky, which played out in a huge warehouse north of downtown. The Wild Party will be its first musical, and first scripted work.

    The musical is based on a scandalous, book-length poem written by Robert Frost protege Joseph Moncure March in 1926. It was described as “a kind of obscene, more destructive take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Scott Miller, Artistic Director of St. Louis’ New Line Theatre. The poem paints a vivid and decadent picture of Manhattan just before the market crash. It centers on the damaged, reckless relationship between a dancer named Queenie and a vaudeville clown named Burrs. The audience here will witness many personal dramas unfold up close and in three dimensions.

    The Wild Party. Allison Caw, Marco Robinson, Katie Drinkard and Jenna Moll Reyes. Photo by John Moore.“The audience is not going to be passive witnesses to the party,” said Wilson. “They are going to be integral components of the party – and its conspirators. So we are going to encourage them to help mix the bathtub gin; to console the coke-snorting wannabe starlet; to read love letters; to be pulled into boiler rooms for intimate moments; to see things they are not supposed to see.” In the end, the audience will become, like the characters in the play, "a roomful of strangers who call themselves friends." 

    Which helps explains why this is a 21-and-over evening. It’s a party, after all. And apparently a wild one.

    “Our goal with each audience member is that they are going to experience a kind of release that you only have when you have had a really wild night," Wilson said.

    Here are five more things we learned about 'The Wild Party' at the first rehearsal:

    NUMBER 1A Wild Party PoemThe source poem, which went virtually unread for two years because no publisher would touch it, inspired iconic beat writer William Burroughs to become a writer. “It is a witty and risqué poem about two vaudeville performers who fight, make up, throw a party and flirt with danger,” Wilson said. “It name-drops Martha Graham and Langston Hughes, and the book for the musical is by George C. Wolfe (the Public Theatre icon who first directed Angels in America). The story is set at a time when America was waking up to its identity as a wild and creative nation that was emerging into its own sense of self separate from Europe. That sense of self was really born in vaudeville and speakeasies and the avant-garde of the 1920s when jazz, arguably the most American of art forms, was being born. These are people who are not only trying to figure out who they love but who they are and who they will present as. Ambisextrous, Jewish, uptown, downtown, black and white identities are all explored in these jazz-soaked numbers.”

    NUMBER 2The audience will be encouraged (but not required) to dress up for the party. Says Costume Designer Meghan Anderson Doyle: “I think we get the best of the 1920s in this piece because we get the glitz and glamour of beaded dresses and tuxedos and dinner jackets and champagne, and then we get the soft sensuality and the vulnerability of stockings and garter belts and bathtub gin.”

    NUMBER 3The Wild Party. David Nehls. Photo by John Moore.The Music Director is David Nehls (pictured right),  who has helmed the music for most every musical at the Arvada Center for more than a decade. "I am very excited that we have an amazing, seven-piece live band," Nehls said. One of those players is Trent Hines, himself an active Music Director in the local theatre community. For this production, Hines is also being integrated into the story as an actor.

    NUMBER 4The cast is made up entirely of local actors. Wilson, also the founder of a Boulder theatre company called The Catamounts, performed in Sweet & Lucky alongside Diana Dresser, Jenna Moll Reyes and The Wild Party choreographer Patrick Mueller. “Having an all-local cast is evidence that we really do have the talent right here to pull off a show like this,” said Wilson. “And I think it is great that as the Denver Center continues to experiment with immersive theatre, we are developing a base of talent right here in Denver with an increasing set of tools and vocabulary so that we can keep making this kind of work. And we are discovering that audiences are really hungry for it.”

    NUMBER 5The man charged with turning the airplane hangar at Stanley Marketplace into a New York apartment is Jason Sherwood, who first came to the Denver Center in 2014 as an assistant on The Unsinkable Molly Brown and returned last year as the lead Scenic Designer for Frankenstein. This season, he will create the worlds for the Denver Center’s The Wild Party, Macbeth and The Who's Tommy.

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



    The Wild Party: Cast list

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


    The Wild Party:
    Ticket information

    The Wild 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 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
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons announced

    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
  • 'Frozen': Your first look at production photos

    by John Moore | Sep 14, 2017
    The video above captures the excitement from Opening Night of the pre-Broadway engagement of 'Frozen; in Denver on Sept. 14, 2017. The run continues at the Buell Theatre through Oct. 1 before the moving to Broadway in February 2018. 


    Your first look at Opening Night and production photos from the Denver debut of the upcoming Broadway musical

    The first production photos of Disney Theatrical’s new Broadway musical Frozen were released this morning. The pre-Broadway engagement at the Buell Theatre opens tonight (Sept. 14)  and continues through Oct. 1. Photos by Deen van Meer.
     

    Jelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Patti Murin (Anna) in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van Meer
    Jelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Patti Murin (Anna) in 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.



    Patti Murin (Anna) and John Riddle (Hans) in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van MeerPatti Murin (Anna) and John Riddle (Hans) in 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.


    Jelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Andrew Pirozzi (Sven) in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van MeerJelani Alladin (Kristoff) and Andrew Pirozzi (Sven) in 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.


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

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

    The Company of FROZEN. Photo by Deen van MeerThe Company of 'Frozen.' Photo by Deen van Meer.


    Video: Our interviews with stars, creative team:

    Video above: Our series of interviews with members of the cast and creative team from the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen, which continues in Denver through Oct. 1. Videos by David Lenk. Interviews by John Moore.

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    • Through Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Following its pre-Broadway engagement, Frozen will join Disney Theatrical hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway, beginning performances at the St. James Theatre on Feb. 22, 2018, and opening March 22. Tickets for Broadway performances are on sale now through Aug. 12, 2018. Visit FrozenTheMusical.com for more information.

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    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


     

  • Sir Peter Hall turned global theatre spotlight on Denver with 'Tantalus'

    by John Moore | Sep 13, 2017
    Tantalus

    Photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's historic 2000 co-production of 'Tantalus.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that
    appears. Photos by P. Switzer. 

    The co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company was 'an extraordinary, landmark event in world culture.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Sir Peter Hall, who co-starred in the greatest off-stage drama in the history of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, "was one of the pillars of postwar British theatre," Charles McNulty wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

    Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, made theatre history in 2000 when he directed the massive, 10-play epic Trojan War cycle Tantalus at the Denver Center. RSC artistic director Adrian Noble called his co-production with the DCPA "an extraordinary, landmark event in world culture." Hall died Monday at age 86.

    After Hall failed to woo European investors to premiere Tantalus in London, DCPA founder Donald R. Seawell not only came forward offering the services of the Denver Center, he seeded the endeavor with his own money, which some reports put as high as $8 million.

    Peter Hall. David Zalubowski“I call Donald Seawell my deus ex-machina,” Hall said at the time. “When I had failed to raise the money we needed, Donald came along with that rare mixture of madness and shrewdness which marks all good impresarios and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ He allowed us to dream our dream.”

    The subsequent play – which had been written by John Barton over 17 years, is still to this day billed as the largest undertaking in the 2,500-year history of theatre. “Nothing has come along like it, and it probably won’t ever happen again,” Seawell said before his death in 2015. “It brought more attention to the Denver Center than anything else we have ever done. It brought critics from all over the world. It brought people to Colorado from 38 states and more than 40 countries.”

    Tantalus, directed by Peter Hall and his son, Edward, and created by an international ensemble of artists, was an epic spectacle on-stage and off. The six-month rehearsal process and subsequent British tour is a tale of artistic squabbles, clashing egos, mounting tension, hurdles of time and money – and spectacular artistic achievement culminating in a standing-room only run at London’s Barbican Theatre.

    Tantalus chronicled the follies of war and mankind and for a short time placed Denver at the very heart of world theatre. But the creative process destroyed the friendship between Barton and Hall, who demanded rewrites. Instead Barton returned to London, where he sat as the Denver marathon was being rapturously received. Meanwhile, as opening approached, frustrated co-director Mick Gordon disappeared without a trace. The cast and crew told a documentary filmmaking team that Gordon’s flight was "no less than a ruthless, demoralizing act of abandonment.“

    Robert Petkoff TantalusActor Robert Petkoff, who appeared in Tantalus and returned in 2015 to star in the DCPA Theatre Company’s production of Sweeney Todd, said working on Tantalus "helped me understand the opening line in A Tale of Two Cities: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ ” he said. “There were moments that felt like agony and betrayal, and more moments that were sheer ecstasy and filled with the joy of storytelling in an exciting and original way.”

    Read The Los Angeles Times’ tribute to Sir Peter Hall

    Journalists from leading publications around the world covered the opening, including The London Times, The Independent, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The London Observer, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Toronto’s National Post, The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News.

    Sandra Dillard of The Denver Post called the staging, which was presented in three parts, “a triumph for all involved.” Mike Pierson of the Rocky Mountain News called ita play that must be seen to be believed.” Michael Kuchwara of The Associated Press called Tantalus “a corker of a tale.” And Time magazine listed the production among the top 10 best theatrical events of the year 2000.

    “With its sheer scope, size and level of ambition, Tantalus fulfilled The DCPA’s stated mission to present the best theatre in the finest facilities to the widest possible audience,” wrote former Los Angeles Times critic Sylvie Drake, then the DCPA's Director of Publications. "It was The Denver Center’s millennial gift to the city, and the crown jewel in its 22-year time-honored tradition of presenting award-winning theatre in the heart of downtown Denver.”

    Hall was born Nov. 22, 1930, and attended Cambridge University, where his classmates included eventual longtime DCPA Theatre Company member and teacher Tony Church. ("Well, that didn't harm my career a bit then, did it?" Church later joked.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    At age 29, Hall introduced Samuel Beckett to the English-speaking world with the British premiere of Waiting for Godot. “Nothing would be the same after his 1955 London production of Godot,” McNulty wrote. Leading Drama critic Kenneth Tynan said the production forced him “to re-examine the rules which have hitherto governed the drama; and having done so, to pronounce them not elastic enough.” Next, Hall set off “another revolution in dramatic possibility,” McNulty wrote, with Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming.

    Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 and went on to build an international reputation in theatre, opera, film and television. He was director of the National Theatre (1973-88) and artistic director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera (1984-90). He formed the Peter Hall Company (1998–2011) and became founding director of the Rose Theatre, Kingston in 2003. Throughout his career, Hall was a vociferous champion of public funding for the arts. He remained active as a director through 2011, when he was diagnosed with dementia.
    Sir Peter Hall NATIONAL THEATRE

    Many tributes have been paid to Hall since his death, among them:

    • Peter Brook: “Peter was a man for all seasons – he could play any part that was needed."
    • Elaine Paige: "Peter Hall had absolute authority and, as a heavyweight of the theatre, real presence."
    • Griff Rhys Jones: "Peter was an absolute smoothie, the most charming and diplomatic man.”
    • Samuel West: "Peter was an extraordinarily energetic, imaginative director – if you left him in the corner of a room he’d direct a play – but he was also a great campaigner. He never stopped arguing for the role of subsidized art in a civilized society and its ability to change people’s lives.”

    Hall was married four times, including for 10 years to actress Leslie Caron. He was married to Nicola Frei since 1990, He fathered four children: Christopher, Jennifer, Edward (one of the Tantalus directors), Lucy, Rebecca and Emma.

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

    This report was compiled from archives, original reporting and current news reports

    Sir Peter Hall’s Tantalus program bio in 2000:

    Born in Bury St. Edmunds in 1930, Peter Hall was educated at the Perse School, Cambridge, and St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. After University, a debut at Windsor as director of the Oxford Playhouse, Peter Hall ran the Arts Theatre in London where productions included the world premiere of the English-language version of Waiting for Godot.

    Peter Hall first worked at Stratford in 1956, returning in ’57, ’58, and ’59, when productions included Cymbeline with Peggy Ashcroft, Coriolanus with Laurence Olivier and A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Charles Laughton.

    In 1960 he founded the Royal Shakespeare Company, directing 18 plays at Stratford for the RSC, including The Wars of the Roses; David Warner’s Hamlet and premieres of plays by Harold Pinter, Edward Albee and John Whiting, establishing the London home of the RSC at the Aldwych Theatre.

    In 1973, Peter hall was appointed Director of the Royal National Theatre, a post he held for 15 years and during which he moved the company to the new premises on the South Bank. Productions for the RNT included John Gabriel Borkman, Happy Days, Hamlet, Tamburlaine the Great, Bedroom Farce, Amadeus, No Man’s Land, Volpone, The Oresteia, Antony and Cleopatra, Animal Farm, The Tempest, Betrayal, Cymbeline and The Winter’s Tale. He returned to the RNT to direct The Oedipus Plays by Sophocles which opened in Epidaurus as part of the Athens Festival.

    On leaving the RNT, he launched The Peter Hall Company with productions of Orpheus Descending with Vanessa Redgrave and The Merchant of Venice with Dustin Hoffman. Eighteen other productions followed including An Ideal Husband, The Master Builder, the Stephen Dillane Hamlet, Lysistrata, School for Wives, An Absolute Turkey and A Streetcar Named Desire with Jessica Lange playing in the West End, the regions, Broadway and Europe.

    The season of 13 plays at the Old Vic in 1997 was a landmark. In 1998 the company moved to the Piccadilly Theatre where Hall staged productions of Waiting for Godot, The Misanthrope, Major Barbara, Filumena and Kafka’s Dick. In the summer of 1999 he directed Measure for Measure and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson in Los Angeles where he also brought his remounting of Amadeus, a hit on Broadway in 2000.

    Since his debut in 1957 with The Rope Dancers, Peter Hall has worked frequently on Broadway, winning Tony Awards for The Homecoming and Amadeus. In February 1992 he directed the world premiere of John Guare’s Four Baboons Adoring the Sun. His production of An Ideal Husband transferred to Broadway in 1996. He received Tony nominations as Best Director for both of these productions.

    Peter Hall also has directed more than 40 operas all over the world including Glyndebourne Festival Opera (where he was Artistic Director, 1984-90), the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Geneva, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, The Metropolitan Opera House, New York and Bayreuth, where he directed a celebrated Ring Cycle.

    For television he has directed She’s Been Away, The Camomile Law (Channel 4) and Jacob for Turner TV/Lux. In 1996 he directed and produced The Final Passage a two-part series based on the award-winning book by Caryl Phillips.

    Films include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Three Into Two Won’t Go, The Homecoming, Akenfield and Orpheus Descending.

    His diaries about the opening of the new National Theatre were published in 1983 and his autobiography, Making An Exhibition of Myself, was published in 1993.

     

     

     

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

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