Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 10 shows to watch

Town Hall Arts Center's 'West Side Story.'

Town Hall Arts Center’s ‘West Side Story’ opens Sept. 11.

Theatre never takes a rest in the busy Colorado theatre community, but September is always considered the traditional launch of the theatre season. The NEA recently ranked Colorado first in the nation in per-capita theatre attendance, and while the Denver Center for the Performing Arts plays a major part in that success, so does the work of the approximately 100 theatre companies of all sizes throughout Colorado, as new President and CEO Scott Shiller acknowledged at a local theatre forum on Monday.

Continuing a September tradition that goes back 16 years, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore will help mark the opening of the theatre season by offering a quick overview of all DCPA fall shows, as well as 10 intriguing titles on the upcoming theatre calendar outside the arches of the DCPA. These are not the 10 “best”; just 10 intriguing titles that have caught John’s eye as a former Denver Post theatre critic.

OUR COMPLETE LIST OF SEPTEMBER THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO

Before we dig in, the 10 fall DCPA offerings (with links to more information on each):

Through Sept. 13: The Book of Mormon, Buell Theatre
After record-breaking engagements in 2012 and 2013, the hilariously profane Denver-born tour is back by popular demand for a limited engagement.

Through Oct. 11: Defending the Caveman, Garner Galleria Theatre
Enduring,insightful comedy about the ways men and women relate to each other in the  ongoing battle for understanding between the sexes.

Sept. 9-20: Matilda The Musical, Buell Theatre
An extraordinary girl, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her destiny.

Sept. 11-Oct 11: Lookingglass Alice, Stage Theatre
Imagination soars and laughter and awe abound in this Chicago-born, gravity-defying hit inspired by Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories.

Sept. 25-Nov 1: As You Like It, Space Theatre
Banished lovers Orlando and Rosalind become entangled in a beguiling game of mistaken identity when Rosalind disguises herself as a man.

Oct. 9-Nov. 15: Tribes, Ricketson Theatre
Meeting Sylvia causes Billy, deaf since birth, to question what it means to be understood.

Oct. 13-25, 2015: If/Then, Buell Theatre
In this tour launch, Broadway superstar Idina Menzel (Wicked, Rent, Frozen) will reprise her acclaimed role alongside other original cast members

Oct. 21-Feb 13, 2016: Cult Following, The Jones
Off-Center’s signature night of unrehearsed, unscripted theatre features the  quick-thinking talents of some of Denver’s best improv performers.

Oct. 27, 2015-Feb 21, 2016: Murder For Two, Garner Galleria Theatre
 A musical murder mystery comedy with a twist: One actor investigates the crime, the other plays all of the suspects – and they both play the piano.

Nov. 4-29, 2015: Disney’s The Lion King, Buell Theatre​
More than 70 million people have now experienced the Julie Taymor phenomenon. The national tour debuted in Denver a decade ago.


Any Given Monday
Vintage Theatre
Sept. 4-Oct. 25
Directed by Sam Gilstrap (pictured)
Sam GilstrapOn the surface, this play sounds like it could be a trifle – it’s described as “a comedy for the men who love football and the women who despise it.” Yet it’s written by Bruce Graham – the same guy who wrote one of the most unsettling plays of the past 20 years in Coyote on a Fence, which was about a racist death-row inmate. So maybe this football romp has some bite. It’s about a good guy whose life is shattered when his wife leaves him for a smooth-talking lothario. A development that doesn’t sit well with his best friend, who takes matters into his own hands.

More Bruce Graham: Graham’s biggest success outside Coyote on a Fence has been The Outgoing Tide, a “death with dignity” dramedy about a man who wants to ensure his family’s security before his mind is consumed by Alzheimer’s disease. It’s playing Sept. 11-Oct. 12 at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins. 


American Girls
The Edge Theatre
Sept. 4-27
Directed by Angela Astle
Edge Theatre In a very celebrity-driven culture, two God-fearing teenage girls have their sights set on much bigger things. They want fame, even if it means selling their souls to the devil in the name of the Bible. Their naiveté leads them down a dark and seedy path, forcing them to grow up much too soon. A regional premiere written by Hilary Bettis

(Photo: Bethany Richardson and Alexis Robbins.) 


The Flick
Curious Theatre Company
Sept. 5-Oct. 17
Directed by Chip Walton
John Jurcheck, left, and Laura Jo Trexler. Photo by Michael Ensminger. Polarizing playwright Annie Baker has been called everything from America’s next “it” playwright to the world’s next Harold Pinter. Which means she writes a lot of pauses. The Flick, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize, is a short play – on paper – that lasts 3 hours in performance. That’s because Baker is known for writing giant intentional silences into her scripts that seem bent on forcing audiences to confront their discomfort with silence. But is that entertainment … or a psychological experiment? You decide as you follow three sad sacks who work at a run-down old movie house in Massachusetts. This play has been hailed as “an hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world.” Featuring Christopher Hayes, John Jurcheck, Royce Roeswood and Laura Jo Trexler.
(Pictured: John Jurcheck, left, and Laura Jo Trexler. Photo by Michael Ensminger.)


Lonny (Sean Riley) and Dennis (Joel Adam Chavez) in 'Rock of Ages' at the Midtown Arts Center.
Lonny (Sean Riley) and Dennis (Joel Adam Chavez) in “Rock of Ages” at the Midtown Arts Center.

Rock of Ages
Midtown Arts Center, Fort Collins
Sept. 10-Nov. 29
Directed by Kurt Terrio
Midtown is well-known for being first to locally stage some of Broadway’s most popular musicals. In this jukebox musical lark, Aqua Net, Lycra, lace and liquor freely flow in 1987 at one of the Sunset Strip’s last legendary rock venues. A small-town girl (natch) and a big-city rocker fall in love to rock legends of the ’80s such as Styx, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Journey and more.


Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story
BDT Stage
Sept. 11-Nov. 14
Directed by Wayne Kennedy
Brett AmblerThis easygoing bio-musical Starring Brett Ambler (pictured) tells the true and tragic story of the bespectacled Buddy’s rise to fame, from the 1957 day when “That’ll Be The Day!” hit the airwaves, through his tragic death less than two years later – a moment forever immortalized by Don McLean as “The Day The Music Died.” The score includes 20 Holly hits including: “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy,” “Rave On” and “Raining in My Heart.”


Saturday Night Fever
Arvada Center
Sept. 11-Oct. 4
Director: Rod Lansberry
Shannan SteeleThe end of the Arvada Center’s summer musical tradition was an unsettling development, but Broadway spectacle – along with big hair, bell-bottoms and platform shoes – make a big comeback with the regional premiere of the stage adaptation of the classic John Travolta film. Featuring the music of the Bee-Gees, Saturday Night Fever brings back the zeitgeist and volatility of American pop-culture in the 1970s. Starring Ian Campayno and McKayla Marso as Tony ‘n Stephanie Mangano, and featuring local favorites including Emma Martin, Damon Guerrasio, Steven Burge, Tom Borrillo, Sharon Kay White, Adam Estes, Michael Bouchard, RJ Wagner, Shannan Steele (pictured right), Heather Doris, Sarah Rex, Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, Jenna Moll Reyes and more. Costume design by Mondo Guerra.


West Side Story
Littleton Town Hall Arts Center
Sept. 11-Oct. 11
​Directed by Nick Sugar
Nick SugarTown Hall is revisiting Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece 10 years after a staging that launched Elizabeth Welch (Maria) on her way to The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. This production stars Carolyn Lohr and Jared Ming as the fated lovers, and brings back from 2005 director Nick Sugar, Ronni Gallup (Anita), Kent Randell (Bernardo) and Tim Howard (Riff).

Northside West Side: The Candlelight Dinner Playhouse is also presenting West Side Story in Johnstown, about 45 miles north of Denver, from Sept. 24 through Nov. 15.

Still more Sondheim: The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center becomes just the second Colorado company to ever stage Putting It Together (Sept. 10-27), and the Cherry Creek Theatre Company presents Sondheim on Sondheim from Oct. 2-25.


Emily Paton Davies and DCPA Head of Acting Tim McCracken will star in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Copmpanys 'Outside Mullingar' opening Sept. 17. Photo by Michael Ensminger
Emily Paton Davies and DCPA Head of Acting Tim McCracken will star in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s ‘Outside Mullingar’ opening Sept. 17. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

Outside Mullingar
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
Sept. 17-Oct. 11
Directed by Rebecca Remaly Weitz
Timothy McCrackenBetsy (the colloquial name for BETC) is the first of what is sure to many companies staging John Patrick Shanley’s latest comedy, which has been described as an Irish Moonstruck. It’s about two stubborn, feuding neighbors who put down their pitchforks and take a chance on later love. Featuring a stellar cast of Emily Paton Davies, DCPA Head of Acting Tim McCracken (pictured right), three-time 2015 Henry Award winner Billie McBride (DCPA’s Benediction) and Chris Kendall.  

More Mullingar: OpenStage & Company of Fort Collins will also stage Outside Mullingar in January.



Baby with the Bathwater
Phamaly Theatre Company
Oct. 8-25 at the Avenue Theater
Directed by Warren Sherrill
 Trenton SchindeleChristopher Durang’s 1983 absurdist comedy is about parents who are so clueless about even the most basic parenting skills, they think it’s a good idea to give their baby Nyquil. These two are too polite to check the child’s sex (it’s a boy) so they name him Daisy – which leads to all manner of future emotional and personality problems. Phamaly exists to provide performance opportunities to persons with disabilities. The cast includes Micayla Smith, Trenton Schindele, Daniel Traylor, Kimberlee Nanda and Kenzie Kilroy.


The Explorers Club
Lone Tree Arts Center
Oct. 15-24
Directed by Randal Myler
photo of Sam GregoryNeil Benjamin’s wildly funny comedy features the madcap adventures of eccentric London-based explorers who are members of a prestigious club. And the looming possibility of a woman assuming the presidency of this club threatens to shake the foundations of the British Empire. This Colorado premiere features a notable cast filled with DCPA favorites including Brad Bellamy, Stephanie Cozart, Sam Gregory, Mark Rubald, Colin Alexander, Randy Moore, Director Randal Myler and Costumer Kevin Copenhaver.  

OUR COMPLETE LIST OF SEPTEMBER THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO

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