2017 True West Award: The Tramps



Day 1: The Tramps

Michael Bouchard and Sean Scrutchins
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Sam Gregory and Timothy McCracken
Waiting for Godot
Arvada Center

Scholars have long connected the lineage of the tramps from Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead back to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, though all winding, endless roads begin with Shakespeare’s Hamlet. And all four were brought to brilliantly funny and heartbreaking life this year by four of Denver’s leading actors.

WaitingForGodot400In both plays, two bewildered men bide their pointless time in a theatrical void while the real action unfolds somewhere … off-stage. Each play presents two insignificant tramps pondering the philosophies of a universe full of fear and uncertainty. These are plays that unravel in worlds where we are told “nothing ever happens,” and yet — quite a lot happened in these kindred stagings, thanks to the work of this powerhouse foursome. 

Theatre of the absurd, once so shocking for its subversion of theatre’s traditional values, often leaves modern audiences baffled and scratching their heads. These four brought clarity to the incoherence with precise physical and tongue-twisting comedy.

And to further muddy the absurdist bloodlines: Gregory also appeared in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (as The Player) and Scrutchins likewise appeared in Waiting for Godot (as The Boy). Not to menton: Bouchard, Scrutchins and Gregory all appeared in Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Hamlet (as Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and The Ghost) — because apparently all of this wasn’t meta enough.

What they are saying:

  • Timothy Orr, director, ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’: “Any good comedy team, from Laurel and Hardy to the Blues Brothers, needs to have this psychic connection between them, and Sean and Michael had it. They were connected. They were breathing the same air. And as actors, they were both playing the funny and the straight man at the same time, which is extremely difficult to do.”
  • RosencrantzGuildenstern-CSF17-JMK-1842Geoffrey Kent, Director, ‘Waiting for Godot’: “Nothing helps a pairing like friendship, and Sam and Tim are old friends. They met on the Denver Center’s 1994 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I watched from the audience. Didi and Gogo are introduced to the audience in the middle of a 50-year old conversation, and that personal history helps. In addition, Sam and Tim are the best listeners I know, intuitively and honestly reacting to each other from line to line. A truly fearless pair of actors.”
  • Gary Zeidner, Boulder Weekly: “Whether they’re flipping quarters, forgetting which is Rosencrantz and which is Guildenstern, or delivering Stoppard’s sterling dialogue (like, “Who is the English King? Depends on when we get there”), Bouchard and Scrutchins are two of the most interesting and talented younger actors working the Front Range today. Like a modern-day Abbott and Costello, they are more than a pleasure to watch.”
  • Joanne Ostrow, The Denver Post: “The power of Beckett’s words beams through, thanks to fine, bittersweet performances by Sam Gregory and Timothy McCracken knocking about as perfect vaudevillians. The actors’ chemistry is first-rate, finding desperation beneath the comedy that doesn’t dilute the profound despair at the heart of the play. The production packs a wallop.”

A look back at the history of the True West Awards

Michael BouchardMichael Bouchard 2017:

  • Ensemble, Jesus Christ Superstar, Arvada Center
  • Rosencrantz, Hamlet, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • Rosencrantz, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • Northumberland, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • David, The SantaLand Diaries, BETC and DCPA Off-Center, through Dec. 24

Sam Gregory 160Sam Gregory 2017:

  • Dr. Lyman, Bus Stop, Arvada Center
  • Vladimir, Waiting for Godot, Arvada Center
  • Ghost/The Player, Hamlet, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • The Player, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, DCPA Theatre Company, through Dec. 24

Timothy McCrackenTimothy McCracken 2017:

  • Estragon, Waiting for Godot, Arvada Center
  • Brian, Smart People, DCPA Theatre Company
  • Scrooge understudy, A Christmas Carol, DCPA Theatre Company, through Dec. 24
  • Head of Acting, DCPA Education

A Sean Scrutchins 160Sean Scrutchins 2017:

  • Bo, Bus Stop, Arvada Center
  • Boy, Waiting for Godot, Arvada Center
  • Guildenstern, Rosencrantz and Are Dead, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • Guildenstern, Hamlet, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • Frank, Appropriate, Curious Theatre
  • Dan (mostly), Body of an American, Curious Theatre, through Dec. 9

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. 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. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

The 2017 True West Awards


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