The 2018 individual ‘Hattitude’ winners. Pictured above include Deborah Mueller Hruza, Regan Linton, Nathalia Fairbault, Cyndy Marsh, Toni Glynon, Ruby Houston and Diane Foster. Photo by Libby Nederman.
Annual multicultural celebration raises nearly $60,000 in support of raising women’s voices in American theatre
By John Moore
Senior Arts Journalist
The DCPA’s 13th annual ‘Women with Hattitude’ luncheon was held Thursday (May 3), in support of the DCPA Theatre Company’s ongoing mission to level the playing field for women playwrights and directors.
The Women’s Voices Fund is a national model that enables the Theatre Company to commission, workshop and produce new plays by women. Now valued at more than $1.5 million, the Women’s Voices Fund is one of the largest funds of any kind devoted to creating new works for the American theatre. Thursday’s luncheon was attended by 650 and raised nearly $60,000 for the cause.
“The Denver Center is promoting women’s voices all across the country and beyond,” said DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. “Gender equality in the American theatre is so important, and what a wonderful opportunity the DCPA has to shine such a bright light on it.”
With more than 130 individual donors, the Women’s Voices Fund has become a national model for female-centric theatre fundraising.
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Our 2018 ‘Women with Hattitude’ photo gallery:
Photos from the 2018 ‘Women with Hattitude’ luncheon. To see more, press the forward arrow on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. All photos can be downloaded for free. Photos by Libby Nederman and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. More photos will be added to this gallery later this week.
This season, the DCPA Theatre Company presented the world premiere of Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap; four of its nine directors were women. DCPA Education’s annual statewide youth playwriting competition produced 10 semifinalist plays this year – and for the second straight year, eight of them were written or co-written women. In July, Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel of Vista Peak Prep will get a full production of their play Technical Difficulties in the Conservatory Theatre.
Studies have shown that while women make up nearly 60 percent of all live theatregoing audiences nationwide, only about 25 percent of all plays and musicals staged in America are written by women. In its first 13 years, the Women’s Voices Fund made it possible for the DCPA Theatre Company to produce 33 plays by women, commission 20 female playwrights and hire 31 female directors. Further, the Fund also has contributed to 13 world-premiere plays by women.
“Today, much of the most exciting, innovative and imaginative writing for the theatre is being created by women,” said Christy Montour-Larson, who in 2017 directed the world premiere of Tira Palmquist’s Two Degrees. “We believe the Women’s Voices Fund both creates opportunities for some of America’s most exciting artists and leads to the creation of the theatrical classics of tomorrow.”
The ‘Hattitude’ party always culminates with a whimsical fashion show – each of the 58 tables nominates one woman (or man!) to walk down a runway and show off their hats. This year, University of Northern Colorado musical-theatre student Charlotte Movizzo led the parade while singing “On Your Feet!” from the upcoming touring musical of the same name, which visits Denver from Aug 8-19.
The DCPA also hosts the annual Bobby G Awards, which celebrate achievements in Colorado high-school theatre. Movizzo is a recent winner of the Bobby G Awards’ Outstanding Actress competition.
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Lulu Fall from the DCPA Theatre Company’s production of ‘The Who’s Tommy’ at ‘Hattitude.’ Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
Broadway actor Lulu Fall, who plays The Acid Queen in the DCPA Theatre Company’s crrent production of The Who’s Tommy, performed her signature song from the show that continues in the Stage Theatre through May 27.
“So many people talk about the importance of diversity in theatre and the arts,” Fall said, “but a lot of people tend to exclude women when it comes to diversity. Diversity is not just about your skin color or your creed. It’s also about gender.
“I am happy to say that I am slowly starting to see more women on creative teams, and that absolutely, directly influences the work that you are seeing on on stage, on TV, in film — everywhere.
The ‘Hattitude’ tradition began in 2005. It grew out of the Theatre Company’s presentation of Regina Taylor’s Crowns. Her musical play explores black history and identity, using an exquisite variety of hats to tell the shared history and rituals of African-American women, ranging in era from slavery to current fashion.
“Crowns deals with what it meant for a woman to have her head covered, and the statement that it makes,” international dance legend Cleo Parker Robinson said in a previous interview. “In the African tradition, when we wear head wraps, it’s almost a regal thing.”
Fall was not surprised to hear the ‘Hattitude’ tradition grew out of a local production of Crowns. She was in that show herself in 2009.
“Black women celebrate the importance of wearing hats, especially in the church. We also celebrate individuality and uplifting each other. I mean, look at me: I am a woman, I am African-American, and I embrace my individuality. I love jazz. I love musical theatre. I have red hair. I think us embracing how different we all are, as well as lifting other women up in this male-centric business, is very important.”
Robinson was part of the DCPA’s African-American Task Force that created ‘Hattitude’ in 2005. “It was very important for us to include all multicultural communities,” said Robinson. The annual ‘Hattitude’ luncheon, she added, was the perfect opportunity for women of all backgrounds to come together, share lunch and tell stories, while also raising money for the Women’s Voices Fund.
“This was one way to get out the African-American community. And you know – we sisters love to wear hats,” Robinson said. “Our hats make a cultural statement, and they make an age statement. It about her attitude — and her hattitude.”
The Platinum Sponsors of ‘Hattitude’ were Denver Center Alliance; Macy’s; and Jack and Adrienne Ruston Fitzgibbons.
The Gold Sponsors were Mariel, Ray and Denise Bellucci; Margot and Allan Frank; and Mariel Boutique. The Media Sponsor was Reign Magazine.
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.
Video highlights: Denver Center’s 2018 ‘Women with Hattitude’ luncheon
Video coverage of the 2018 ‘Women with Hattitude’ luncheon by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Just push play.
Individual hat winners:
Deborah Mueller Hruza: Vintage Beauty
Nathalia Fairbault: I Made it Myself
Cyndy Marsh: Fabulous Fascinator
Toni Glynon: High Society
Regan Linton: Wildly Whimsical
Ruby Houston: Exquisitely Elegant
Diane Foster: Best Derby Hat
Note: This year, all hat-wearers were awarded “Best in Show” by judge Judi Wolf