Photos from Brenda Billings’ Life Celebration. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by Sarah Roshan and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. (Read Roshan’s accompanying blog here).
On April 19, an overflow crowd gathered at Denver School of the Arts to honor Brenda Billings, who was the co-Artistic Director at Miners Alley Playhouse, President of the Denver Actors Fund and a longtime contributor to Colorado’s non-profit community. Brenda Billings died April 13 of complications from a sudden brain hemorrhage. She was 57.
Billings will be remembered as an intuitive director, a ferociously free spirit and a mother to hundreds. She was feted with stories and songs from family and friends, including Tony-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford, who considers Billings a second mother. Ashford sang both “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and “For Good” from Wicked.
Another surprise came when a video was shown featuring members of the cast of the Broadway phenomenon Hamilton. Much was made of not only Billings’ love for the show, but also for her personal directing mantra: “Are we telling the story?”
Several Hamilton cast members made a selfie video singing “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?” from the show. Its lyrics include: “But when you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame?”
The evening ended with “Song of Purple Summer,” from Spring Awakening, led by Billings’ daughters Jacquie Jo and Jamie, as well as nephew Tucker Worley, family and friends.
They were backed by the cast of Denver School of the Arts’ Spring Awakening, which soon will travel to a national high-school competition as one of only two invited productions.
Look for video highlights in the days to come.
“Be Brave,” on Tuesday, May 10, will be a night of songs from musicals directed by Billings featuring returning cast members from Hair, Hairspray, The Fantasticks, Godspell, Songs For a New World and more. The Emcee will be Paul Dwyer and the Musical Director will be Mitch Samu. Detals below. Tickets $25 and advance purchase is strongly recommended: Maximum capacity is 150.