Denver Center joins celebration of landmark Supreme Court ruling

Love wins
Design by Carolyn Michaels for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling today that same-sex couples no longer can be denied the freedom to marry is being celebrated by the local, regional and national theatre communities.

Scott Shiller, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ new President and CEO, said today’s momentous decision “reaffirms the DCPA’s longstanding commitment to theatre that reflects our diverse community.

Scott Shiller“We endeavor to produce work that is thought-provoking, relevant and inspiring; theatre that changes minds and reflects the lives of our patrons on many levels,” Shiller said. “Over the years, the Denver Center has furthered dialogue about homosexual rights through ground-breaking new works including The Laramie Project, The Whale, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Appoggiatura and Benediction.”

The last four on that list were world premieres developed by DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson just within the past three years. But the commitment goes back decades.

“From addressing censorship stemming from gay parenting in Dusty and the Big Bad World to the politics of gay marriage in our presentation of 8 The Play, the Denver Center is proud of its contributions to furthering important conversations and inspiring thoughtful dialogue that is meaningful to our audiences,” Shiller said.
Throughout history, he  added, theatre has been a key driver of social change.

“Whether it was unionizing in the 1910s and ’20s, the fight for women’s voting rights, the civil-rights movement, and now marriage equality … theatre and theatre artists have been changing minds by telling important stories that bring social change.” 

That sentiment was echoed by Actors’ Equity Association president Kate Shindle.

“Finally,” she said in a statement. “With all the rhetoric and fearmongering surrounding the issue, it’s important to remember what this is really about: loving, consenting adults who want to commit their lives to each other. And that is always a good thing. Actors Equity is proud to be part of this tremendous, historic moment.”

Speaking to Playbill Magazine, Tony Award-nominated actor and Colorado native Beth Malone celebrated that her longtime marriage to wife Rochelle Schoppert will now be recognized in her home state.

“It’s all just been about trying to be seen,” Malone told Playbill’s Adam Hetrick. “Just see us. See us as we are right in front of you – as these couples who are going to live their lives side by side. That is who we are. That’s what this is. Now everyone will see that we are married just like you are married.”

Malone starred in the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown and went on to earn a Tony nomination for Fun Home on Broadway, playing the first lesbian protagonist in Broadway musical history. (See the Playbill video)

Broadway is known as “The Great White Way,” but today the theatre community has turned into the Great Rainbow Way. All over the country, theatres such as the Goodman Theatre in Chicago turned their marquees rainbow colors.

DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg said the Denver Center has long driven the conversation about issues that are vital to the gay community, including the Theatre Company’s presentation of The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde back in 1999 and predecessor Randy Weeks’ decision to bring the national touring production of Angels in America to Denver all the way back in 1995. 

“That was a big deal at the time,” Ekeberg said, “I was proud to work for an organization that wasn’t going to pre-judge the show on behalf of our audience.”

Since then, he added, “The Denver Center has never shied away from bringing shows that represent different walks of life,” citing Falsettos, La Cage Aux Folles and Priscilla Queen of the Desert among many others. 

In today’s majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: “It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

In Washington, President Obama declared, “This ruling is a victory for America.” And locally, the reaction was similarly euphoric. There is a sense, it has often been said today, that America has once again lived up to its promise.

“How does it feel? To live in a country that finally recognizes the legal equality of your friends and family that are gay and lesbian?” local actor GerRee Hinshaw posted on Facebook. “If it feels for you like it feels for me, I am weeping at the sudden understanding that this awful chasm of rights has closed. 

“All minds and hearts may not yet be open to them, but it doesn’t matter anymore,” added Hinshaw, a married mother and host of the Bug Theatre’s monthly Freak Train. “If someone tries to get between them and their rights to live a full, happy life, that someone is now a criminal. I feel so free from the haters right now. I really had no idea the impact this ruling would have on me, personally. But my family, my friends … they are protected. Finally.”

The DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere staging of 'Appoggiatura' addressed the death of a late patriarch who divorced his wife to live with a man. Pictured are Darrie Lawrence, Rob Nagle and Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen
The DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere staging of ‘Appoggiatura’ addressed the death of a late patriarch who divorced his wife to live with a man. Pictured are Darrie Lawrence, Rob Nagle and Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen


George Takei, Star Trek: Oh Happy Day! The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that marriage equality is the law of the United States. Yes, ALL of these United States. I have waited decades for this day, and my heart is full of joy and my eyes wet with tears. Let the celebrations begin, and may the happy couples live long and prosper together.

Broadway actor Rory O’Malley (The Book of Mormon) via Playbill: Today is a historic day and the Broadway community played an extremely vital part in making happen. I feel so honored that Broadway Impact gave me a front row seat to all of their passion, enthusiasm, and hope. We are a powerful group of artists and I can’t wait to see what kind of positive change we bring to the world next. 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell via Playbill:  I’m more emotional than I expected to be since it was predicted. I know the Right Wing will see it as some kind of Gay Pride agenda plot. John Roberts has the face of someone who knows that history will not honor his decision and I can’t help but think the timing was his little Easter egg. Sad. But I am now looking up at my late dad’s picture. He was against gay marriage for a long time, but seven years ago I told him that if he ever refused to come to my wedding I wouldn’t know what I would do. He looked at the tears streaming down my face and he said to me, “I will be there.”




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