2015 Colorado Shakes: Tried and true; black and blue-blooded


The Colorado Shakespeare Festival opens its 58th season on Saturday night with a slate that features the tried and the true, the black and the blue-blooded. And once again, the acclaimed repertory company in Boulder will be populated with many recognizable faces from the Denver Center who will join with notable actors from the local and national theatre communities.

DCPA audiences who visit Boulder this summer may recognize Sam Gregory, Larry Hecht, Geoffrey Kent, Benjamin Bonenfant, Peter Simon Hilton, Rodney Lizcano, Mare Trevathan, Benaiah Anderson and Martha Harmon Pardee from past Theatre Company shows.

Schedule And many other members of this year’s company have deep roots in the local theatre community, including: Casey Andree (Town Hall’s Melchior in Spring Awakening), Jenna Bainbridge (Luisa in Phamaly’s The Fantasticks), Sean Scrutchins (Curious Theatre’s 9 Circles – and a DCPA Teaching Artist), Chris Kendall (Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Hysteria), Rachel Turner (Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s Singin’ in the Rain) and Gregg Adams (Next Stage’s Assassins). Siblings Sam and Anne Sandoe, children of Colorado Shakes founder James Sandoe, have regularly performed at the fest since 1970.

The season opens Saturday in the majestic Mary Rippon Outdoor Amphitheatre with the comedy Much Ado About Nothing, which the company last staged in 2009. It stars real-life couple Vanessa Morosco and Peter Simon Hilton (who played Claudius in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Hamlet) as sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick.

Sam Gregory, who most recently soared in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike in Denver, will be playing Desdemona’s father Brabantio in Othello, and will serve as the narrator for Henry V.

Longtime DCPA Fight Director Geoffrey Kent, who has blossomed as a director throughout the local theatre community (Aurora Fox’s Metamorphoses and She Kills Monsters) is also a Colorado Shakes veteran actor best known for his comic roles. But this summer, he will take on the monstrous role of the monster Iago in Othello. And in a fun twist, Kent also will play Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing after having played Benedick the last time around in 2009.

Benjamin Bonenfant and Jamie Ann Romero in Colorado Shakes' 2011 production of 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photo by Glenn Asakawa. Likewise, 2015 looks to be a defining moment for actor Benjamin Bonenfant, who has been building up an award-winning body of work from Colorado Springs to Denver for more than seven years. He just triumphed as a grief-stricken bicyclist in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s 4000 Miles after having appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Benediction. Bonenfant played Romeo for Colorado Shakes in 2011, but this summer will afford him both his greatest challenge and opportunity to date when he stars in Shakespeare’s epic war story Henry V. The role of the maturing young British king is one that has been played across the pop-culture spectrum by everyone from Laurence Olivier to Kenneth Branagh.

(Pictured: Benjamin Bonenfant and Jamie Ann Romero in Colorado Shakes’ 2011 production of “Romeo and Juliet.” Photo by Glenn Asakawa.)

Lawrence Hecht (Head Of Acting)The 2015 Colorado Shakes season also will serve as Lawrence Hecht’s bittersweet Colorado farewell. Hecht, DCPA Education’s Head of Acting, has been teaching with the DCPA for 18 years, including having a major role on the faculty of the now-closed National Theatre Conservatory. He and wife Ashlee Temple (a DCPA Teaching Artist and local director) are retiring at the end of the DCPA’s summer education session and moving to California. In the meantime, Hecht (pictured at left) will be starring as Doctor Faustus in Wittenberg, among other roles. Wittenberg reunites him with Bonenfant, his co-star in Curious Theatre’s multiple award-winning Red.

The summer slate also includes Colorado Shakes’ first production of Othello since 1996 (and third since film and TV star Jimmy Smits played the role in the summer of 1984). Playing the Moor this summer is Yale-trained Guest Artist Peter Macon, who performed on Broadway in Regina Taylor’s Drowning Crow.

Wittenberg is an acclaimed new comedy by Colorado playwright David Davalos that imagines Doctor Faustus and reformer Martin Luther as professors battling for their star student’s soul – a “dazed and confused” kid named Hamlet. Yes, that Hamlet. Wittenberg is a comic prequel to Shakespeare’s tragedy, and the New York Times called it a play that “bursts with a Stoppardian eagerness to tickle.”

There also will be two “Original Practices” performances of Henry VI, Part 1, in early August. To speed his stated goal of completing the entire Shakespeare canon twice, Colorado Shakes Artistic Director Timothy Orr is ticking unproducable titles off the list by presenting them in limited engagements as they were first presented in Shakespeare’s day. “Original Practices” means no lighting, no set and no electronic sound enhancement. The actors are not given full scripts but rather manuscripts that include only their individual cues and speaking lines. Henry VI, Part 1, is the rarely produced saga of Henry V’s son, and it features none other than Joan of Arc. Colorado Shakes fully staged the play in 1967.

DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director and Bard aficionado Kent Thompson has long said the number of Shakespeare titles that can be slated for full production anymore with a reasonable expectation of commercial success has dwindled over the past several decades to fewer than 10. “Original Practices” is an intriguing way for Colorado Shakes to introduce lesser-known titles to audiences without committing to the expense of a full staging.

Here’s a quick rundown of the DCPA’s roster of actors at Colorado Shakes:

Benaiah Anderson: You know him from Romeo and Juliet and The Three Musketeers. He’s playing Don John in Much Ado About Nothing; and Sir Thomas Grey and Captain Gower in Henry V.

Benjamin Bonenfant: You know him from Benediction, Hamlet, A Christmas Carol and When We Are Married. He’s playing King Henry the Fifth in Henry V; Hamlet in Wittenberg; and Charles in Henry VI.

Sam Gregory: You know him from more than 40 DCPA productions, most recently in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and The Most Deserving. He’s playing Brabantio in Othello and the Narrator (called “Chorus”) in Henry V.

Lawrence Hecht: You know him from A Skull in Connemara, The Pillowman, Glengarry Glen Ross, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and many more. He’s playing Doctor Faustus in Wittenberg; Captain Fluellen in Henry V; and Earl of Warwick in Henry VI.

Peter Simon Hilton: You know him from Hamlet. He’s playing Signor Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and Charles the Sixth and Captain Jamy in Henry V.

Geoffrey Kent: You know him from Richard III, Hamlet and others. He’s playing Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing; Charles Delabreth and Michael Williams in Henry V; and Lord Talbot in Henry VI, Part 1. Also: Fight Director for all productions. 

Rodney Lizcano: You know him as a graduate of the DCPA’s National Theatre Conservatory, and appearances in Hamlet, A Christmas Carol and others. He also just starred in the Arvada Center’s The Archbishop’s Ceiling. He’s playing Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing; Roderigo in Othello and Montjoy in Henry V.

Martha Harmon Pardee: You know her from Pride and Prejudice. She’s playing Ursula in Much Ado About Nothing, and Nell (formerly Mistress Quickly) in Henry V.

Mare Trevethan: You know her from The Sweetest Swing in Baseball. She’s playing all four female roles in Wittenberg.

Many of the DCPA Theatre Company’s core technicians will be summering in Boulder as well:

Jason Ducat: Sound design for all productions
Matthew Campbell: Stage Manager for Much Ado About Nothing and Othello
Paul Behrhorst (who has recently accepted a new job at the Arvada Center): Stage Manager, Wittenberg; Henry V; and Henry VI, Part I
Kristen Littlepage, Assistant Stage Manager, Wittenberg; Henry V; and Henry VI, Part I 

2015 Colorado Shakes ticket information:
Tickets are available at coloradoshakes.org or by calling 303-492-8008.
The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located in the University Club on the CU-Boulder campus.


Much Ado About NothingShakespeare’s comedy about the trials and errors of being in love. To pass the time before their wedding day, lovers Claudio and Hero conspire with Don Pedro, the prince of Aragon, to trick their friends, Beatrice and Benedick, into confessing their love for one another. The prince’s bad brother, Don John, however, plans to sabotage the coming wedding. Throughout the antics, Shakespeare asks you to consider who’s more important: Your true love, or your friend.

Dates: June 5-Aug. 9 in the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre

Artistic Crew
Director                                              Jim Helsinger
Scenic Director                                  Caitlin Ayer
Costume Designer                             Hugh Hanson
Lighting Designer                              Shannon McKinney
Sound Designer                                Jason Ducat
Fight Director                                    Geoffrey Kent
Choreographer                                  Vanessa Morosco
Assistant Director                              Jordan Deffenbaugh
Dramaturg                                         Sarah Johnson
​Stage Manager                                  Matthew Campbell
Assistant Stage Manager                  Jonathan D. Allsup

Cast list
Leonato, Governor of Messina – Chris Kendall
Hero, daughter to Leonato – Rachel Turner
Beatrice, niece to Leonato – Vanessa Morosco
Balthasar, an attendant to Don Pedro – Bjorn Arvidsson
Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon – Geoffrey Kent
Signor Claudio, a lord of Florence – Casey Andree
Signor Benedick, a lord of Padua – Peter Simon Hilton
Don John, illegitimate brother to Don Pedro – Benaiah Anderson
Conrade, companion to Don John – Tait Petersen
Borachio, companion to Don John – Sam Hardy
Antonio, brother to Leonato – David Savidge
Margaret, waiting woman to Hero – Stephanie Spector
Ursula, waiting woman to Hero – Martha Harmon Pardee
Dogberry, master constable – Rodney Lizcano
Verges, a headborough – Sam Sandoe
Members of the Watch – Bjorn Arvidsson, Elisabeth Collins, Sean Scrutchins, Michael Witherell
Friar Francis – Sean Scrutchins
Francis Seacoal, a sexton – Benaiah Anderson
Soldiers, Messengers, Musicians, Servants, Guests — Elisabeth Collins, Robert Wester, Sean Scrutchins, Sergio King 

WittenbergTo believe or not to believe? That is the question when Prince Hamlet, a dazed-and-confused senior at Wittenberg University in Germany, circa 1517, is caught in the crossfire between two giants of philosophy — and ego: The free-thinking skeptic Dr. Faustus, and stuffy, guilt-ridden Martin Luther. David Davalos’ mash-up has been called equal parts Tom Stoppard, campus caper and metaphysical mind-trip. A Colorado premiere.

Dates: June 11-Aug. 8 in the indoor University Theatre

Artistic Crew
Director                                               Timothy Orr
Scenic Director                                    Caitlin Ayer
Costume Designer                               Hugh Hanson
Lighting Designer                                Jason Banks
Sound Designer                                   Jason Ducat
Fight Director                                      Geoffrey Kent
Assistant Director & Dramaturg          Wesley Longacre
Stage Manager                                  Paul Behrhorst
Assistant Stage Manager                    Kristen Littlepage 

Cast list
John Faustus, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Th.D., a doctor — Lawrence Hecht
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, a senior, major undecided — Benjamin Bonenfant
Rev. Fr. Martin Luther, D.D., a professor and a confessor — Howard Swain
The Eternal Feminine — Mare Trevethan
            Gretchen, a working girl
            Helen, a lady of pleasure
            Mary, the Mother of God
            Lady Voltemand, an ambassador

In a country at war, Othello the Moor commands with authority and nobility of spirit, drawing strength from his bold and beautiful young wife, Desdemona. But he has placed his trust in one of Shakespeare’s most sinister villains, Iago, who would sow seeds of doubt and destruction in the garden of their love. Passion, jealousy and murder explode in a sexy theatrical thriller that tumbles toward a diabolical finale.

Dates: June 26-Aug. 8 in the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre

Artistic Crew
Director                                              Lisa Wolpe
Scenic Director                                  Caitlin Ayer
Costume Designer                             Hugh Hanson
Lighting Designer                              Shannon McKinney
Sound Designer                                 Jason Ducat
Fight Director                                     Geoffrey Kent
Choreographer                                  Donna Mejia
Assistant Director                              Audrey Rumsby
Dramaturg                                         Bianca Claire Gordon
Stage Manager                                  Matthew Campbell
Assistant Stage Manager                  Jonathan D. Allsup

Cast list

Iago – Geoffrey Kent
Roderigo – Rodney Lizcano
Brabantio – Sam Gregory
Othello – Peter Macon
Cassio – Peter Simon Hilton
Gratiano – Sam Sandoe
Duchess of Venice – Anne Sandoe
Desdemona – Laura Baranik
Lodovico – Gregg Adams
Montano – Sam Gregory
Emilia ­– Vanessa Morosco
Bianca – Satya Jnani Chavez
Senators of Venice  – Michael Witherell, Bjorn Arvidsson
Soldiers – Benaiah Anderson, Casey Andree, Michael Witherell
Cypriots – Bjorn Arvidsson, Michael Witherell
Messenger, Herald, Officers, Gentlemen, Musicians and Attendants – Benaiah Anderson, Casey Andree, Sean Scrutchins, Sam Hardy, Elisabeth Collins, Sergio King, Bjorn Arvidsson, Stephanie Spector

Henry VEngland’s crown rests on the head of the once wild and undisciplined acolyte of Falstaff, Prince Hal, now a wise and noble monarch leading his country into war with France. Henry V raises questions about leadership in a troubled world that in many ways echoes our own. 

Dates: July 16-Aug. 9 in the University Theatre

Artistic Crew
Director                                              Carolyn Howarth
Scenic Director                                  Caitlin Ayer
Costume Designer                             Hugh Hanson
Lighting Designer                              Jason Banks
Sound Designer                                 Jason Ducat
Fight Director                                      Geoffrey Kent
Assistant Director                              Hadley Kamminga-Peck
Dramaturg                                         Hadley Kamminga-Peck
Stage Manager                                  Paul Behrhorst
Assistant Stage Manager                  Kristen Littlepage

Cast list
Chorus – Sam Gregory
King Henry the Fifth – Benjamin Bonenfant
Duke of Gloucester, his brother – Tait Petersen
Duke of Bedford, his brother – Sam Hardy
Duke of Exeter, his uncle – Howard Swain
Earl of Westmoreland – Vanessa Morosco
Archbishop of Canterbury – Bjorn Arvidsson
Montjoy, the French herald – Rodney Lizcano
Nym – Michael Witherell
Bardolph – Sam Sandoe
Pistol – Rodney Lizcano
Nell (formerly Mistress Quickly) – Martha Harmon Pardee
A Boy, Falstaff’s page – Jenna Bainbridge
Henry, Lord Scroop of Masham – Sean Scrutchins
Richard, Earl of Cambridge – Sergio King
Sir Thomas Grey – Benaiah Anderson
Charles the Sixth, the French King – Peter Simon Hilton
Louis the Dauphin, their son – Sean Scrutchins
Charles Delabreth, the Constable of France – Geoffrey Kent
Captain Fluellen – Lawrence Hecht
Captain Gower – Benaiah Anderson
Captain MacMorris – Bjorn Arvidsson
Captain Jamy – Peter Simon Hilton
Governor of Harfleur – Laura Baranik
Princess Katherine, their daughter – Jenna Bainbridge
Alice, a lady attending on Princess Katherine – Martha Harmon Pardee
Duke of Orleans – Casey Andree
Sir Thomas Erpingham – Sam Gregory
Bates – Laura Baranik
Michael Williams – Geoffrey Kent
Monsieur Le Fer, a French soldier – Vanessa Morosco
Ensemble – Elisabeth Collins, Stephanie Spector, Sergio King, Tait Petersen, Sam Hardy, Michael Witherell

Henry VI, Part 1These two no-frills “Original Practices” performances will traverse the loss of England’s French territories and the political machinations leading up to the Wars of the Roses, as the English political system is torn apart by personal squabbles and petty jealousy.

Dates: Aug. 2 and 5 in the indoor University Theatre 

Artistic Crew
Director                                              Vanessa Morosco
Scenic Designer                                Inspired by Caitlin Ayer
Costume Coordinator                       Hayley Gocha
​Fight Director                                    Geoffrey Kent
Assistant Director                              Margaret Hee
Dramaturg                                         Hadley Kamminga-Peck
Stage Manager                                  Paul Behrhorst
Assistant Stage Manager                  Kristen Littlepage
Composer                                          David Willey
Prompter                                           Hadley Kamminga-Peck

Cast list
Duke of Bedford, Uncle to the King, and Regent of France – Sam Sandoe
Duke of Gloucester, Uncle to the King, and Protector – Howard Swain
Bishop of Winchester, Great Uncle to the King – Anne Sandoe
Earl of Warwick – Lawrence Hecht
Charles, Dauphin, and afterward King of France – Benjamin Bonenfant
Duke of Alençon – Sam Hardy
Reignier, Duke of Anjou, and titular King of Naples – Casey Andree
Joan la Pucelle, commonly called Joan of Aire – Vanessa Morosco
Mayor of London­ – Bjorn Arvidsson
Lord Talbot, afterwards Earl of Shrewsbury – Geoffrey Kent
Duke of Burgundy – Peter Simon Hilton
Richard Plantagenet, afterwards Duke of York – Laura Baranik
Earl of Suffolk – Peter Simon Hilton
Duke of Somerset – Casey Andree
Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March – Sam Sandoe
King Henry the Sixth – Stephanie Spector
Vernon, of the White-Rose or York Faction – Bjorn Arvidsson
Basset, of the Red-Rose or Lancaster faction – Sam Hardy
Sir William Lucy – Sam Sandoe
John Talbot, his Son – Casey Andree
Margaret, Daughter to Reignier, afterwards married to King Henry – Laura Baranik
Messengers, Soldiers, Attendants, and Fiends played by whoever happens to be available.

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