• Curious' 'The Body of An American' a snapshot into Coleman's vision

    by John Moore | Nov 17, 2017
    A Body of an American Michael Ensminger Sean Scrutchins, left, as playwright Dan O'Brien, and Michael McNeill as war photographer Paul Watson in Curious Theatre's 'The Body of an American,' playing through Dec. 9. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    DCPA Theatre Company's new Artistic Director gave searing new war play its first life in Portland

    Playwright Dan O'Brien and celebrated war photographer Paul Watson are in Denver this weekend talking about how their friendship became the basis for a play.


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The list of rising and established American playwrights new DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman has nurtured over the years is long and eclectic, but one name jumped out at his introduction this week for its current proximity to Denver: Dan O’Brien.  

    O’Brien (pictured at right) is the author of The Body of An American, a searing look at the psychological impact of post-traumatic stress currently being staged in its regional premiere by the Curious Theatre Company. And he is in town this weekend to talk about it.  

    A Dan OBrien Playwright 160 fullFor 17 years, Coleman was the Artistic Director at Portland Center Stage, which is known for its incubation of new American plays. Among the many rising playwrights Coleman has nurtured along their paths are Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee, whose latest plays Zoey’s Perfect Wedding and The Great Leap, respectively, will be on the DCPA Theatre Company’s stages this winter. Coleman's roster also spans Jason Grote (DCPA’s 1001), Ntozake Shange, Luis Alfaro, Melanie Marnich, Constance Congdon, Dael Orlandersmith and many more.

    But Coleman cites developing and premiering The Body of An American as among his favorite accomplishments. And after arriving in Denver this week, he was tickled to learn the play is getting its regional premiere less than a mile from his new place of work.

    The Body of an American is a play that I love and I am very, very proud that we premiered,” Coleman said of the script, which won the PEN Center USA Award for Drama, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama and the Horton Foote Prize for New American Plays.

    This true story tells how one stark photograph in 1993 reshaped the course of global events. It shows the body of Staff Sergeant William David Cleveland as he was dragged from the wreckage of a Blackhawk helicopter and through the streets of Mogadishu. The famous image won celebrated Canadian war photographer Paul Watson the Pulitzer Prize. But Watson was haunted, not only by that single shutter click, but from bearing witness to 30 years of devastating scenes around the world. And in Somalia, the ghosts of all those accumulated tragedies were bearing down on him.

    “Just as he was taking that picture, Paul heard a voice say, ‘If you do this, I will own you forever,’ ” O’Brien said. “And he believes it was the voice of this dead soldier.”

    O’Brien, who was struggling with personal ghosts of his own at the time, reached out to Watson after hearing his story on NPR. In the unlikely friendship they forged, the two men found a way to reckon with the traumas consuming their lives. And that is what O’Brien’s intimate play is really all about, he says: “True friendship.”

    Coleman introduced the play at Portland Center Stage’s 2011 new-play festival and gave it a full production the next year as part of the company’s 25th anniversary season. It was soon snatched up by the Gate Theatre in London, Hartford Stage and Primary Stages in New York City.

    “That play has been successful all across the country now, but I will tell you, we had a hell of a time finding an audience for it at first,” Coleman said. “It’s brilliant writing, but it is tough subject matter, especially when you describe the premise to someone.”

    Coleman said one of his hardest jobs in developing topical, resonant and relevant stories is also navigating the audience’s capacity to absorb it. “It’s a fine line,” Coleman said, “especially in the moment we are living in politically today.”

    In her review of Curious Theatre’s new production, Denver Post Theatre Critic Joanne Ostrow said current events make this the perfect time to be staging The Body of an American, which she says is being given a "muscular and thoroughly haunting" staging by director Chip Walton and actors Sean Scrutchins and Michael McNeill. It continues through Dec. 9.

    The Body of an American: Weekend events with Dan O’Brien and Paul Watson

    • Performances at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, at Curious Theatre Company, 1080 Acoma St.
    • Playwright Dan O’Brien and photographer Paul Watson will participate in the audience talkback following tonight’s (Nov. 17) performance.
    • Inside the Artists’ Mind: Director Chip Walton will interview O’Brien and Watson at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 18) at Venue 221, 221 Detroit St., in Cherry Creek. Tickets $25. Click here.
    • Note: The Body of an American continues in performance through Dec. 9. Call 303-623-0524 or go to curioustheatre.org

     A Body of an American Chris Coleman 800 John Moore

     

  • 'RENT' and more: No day like Tuesday at the Denver Center

    by John Moore | Nov 15, 2017
    Rent Cast Denver Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore
    Original 'RENT' cast member Rodney Hicks, front, joins the ensemble performing the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour playing at the Buell Theatre through Tuesday, Nov. 21. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Original cast member meets the newest crop of stage squatters, capping a Tuesday that's one to remember

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    “No day but today,” the cast sings at the finale of RENT, which opened in Denver on Tuesday night. But there was no day quite like Tuesday at the Denver Center in recent memory.

    The day began early with the morning introduction to employees of Chris Coleman as the DCPA Theatre Company’s fourth Artistic Director. Coleman, who has led Portland Center Stage for 17 years, was accompanied by husband Rodney Hicks, who originated the role of Paul and others when RENT debuted on Broadway in 1996.

    Tuesday was a homecoming for Hicks, who played Edmund in the DCPA Theatre Company’s King Lear in 2007. Coleman said Hicks was encouraging about the potential new job in Denver based on his brief experience here. "He told me, ‘What’s possible in that performing-arts complex is very unique in the American theatre,’ ” said Coleman.

    Chris Coleman Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore. Coleman also told the gathered company members a personal story that elucidates why storytelling means so much to him. It happened when his sister died quickly and unexpectedly, he said, from a burst clot that stopped her heart.

    “What that solidified for me is that we know not the hour or the day,” Coleman said. “We do know that the universe calls to each of us to carve out meaning in the time that we have together on this planet.”

    (Pictured right: Chris Coleman and his husband, Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    At the same time Coleman was being introduced, DCPA Education was staging a morning performance of its inaugural Theatre for Young Audiences offering, The Snowy Day, in the Conservatory Theatre.

    That evening, as RENT was opening its 20th Anniversary touring production to screaming fans in the Buell Theatre, the the Garner Galleria Theatre was hosting a preview performance of the homegrown musical First Date, featuring a cast of all-local actors. Over in the Ricketson Theatre, the Theatre Company's smart comedy Smart People was playing out. It's the story of four young Harvard intellectuals who collide over race and sexual politics.

    Breaking: Coleman DCPA Theatre Company's new leader 

    Following RENT, Hicks and Coleman were taken backstage along with DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden and Broadway Division Executive Director John Ekeberg. The cast and crew gathered in the green room to meet Hicks, trade some stories and take a group photo.  

    Hicks told the newest RENT squatters their performance transported him right back into his 21-year-old shoes, and that at intermission, he texted superstar Anthony Rapp (the original Mark Cohen) to tell him all about it. Hicks, who has several other Broadway credits, most recently Come from Away, returned to the RENT family in 2007 to play Benny, the conformed ex-roommate who is now evicting his penniless old bohemian friends “for their own good.” Hick spoke to the cast of the ongoing influence the late RENT composer Jonathan Larson has on his life.

    Back in the Buell, four cast members regaled a few hundred audience members who stayed for a post-show Q&A — and some in the crowd returned the favor. One woman told the story of having been in attendance at RENT’s first pre-Broadway performance (and that this touring cast compared quite favorably). Another thanked the cast for bringing the show back to life with this touring production, and revealed a RENT shoulder tattoo that takes its inspiration from the show.

    A Rent Lyndie Moe 400The audience was also delighted to learn that actor Lyndie Moe, who plays the demonstrative performance artist Maureen in RENT, is a Colorado native and granddaughter of beloved former Denver Nuggets coach Doug Moe. She was asked how the loveable, legendary old coach liked seeing her perform the evocative role created by Idina Menzel. “I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about that — but he actually really liked it, thank God,” said Lyndie, whose sport of choice was volleyball through high school and college.

    (Here is a video of Lyndie Moe performing the national anthem at a Nuggets game at McNichols Sports Arena in 2006. Photo at right.)
     

    One young audience member asked what advice the cast has for aspiring performers such as herself.

    “Well, RENT was my first audition in New York — and I got it,” said Moe. “So my advice is to just go for everything, because you can never know what you are going to get.”  

    All in all, “today” was one very full day at the Denver Center, one that was unique in many ways but at the same time representative of the non-stop activity that both surrounds and fuels the Denver Performing Arts Complexon a daily basis. 

    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.

    RENT: 20th Anniversary Tour: Ticket information200x200-rent
    At a glance: This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters.

    • National touring production
    • Performances Nov. 14-21
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more CLICK HERE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of RENT:
    Two decades later, RENT still comes in on time
    RENT announces daily Denver lottery for $20 orchestra seats
  • Chris Coleman promises a DCPA Theatre Company that's robust and resonant

    by John Moore | Nov 14, 2017
    Chris Coleman named A.D.
    Photos from today's announcement of Chris Coleman as just the fourth Artistic Director in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The longtime Portland leader champions a range of voices from George Bernard Shaw to Lauren Gunderson, who says: 'Denver is so lucky to get him.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Chris ColemanWhen the Managing Director at Portland Center Stage learned that longtime Artistic Director Chris Coleman was being hired away by the DCPA Theatre Company, she shook her head and said, “Denver, I hope you know you just won the lottery.”

    “Chris Coleman is not only a gifted theater artist, he's one of the best community connectors I've ever worked with,” a resigned Cynthia Fuhrman added from Portland. “That is a rare combination.”

    Coleman was introduced this morning as only the fourth Artistic Director in the nearly 40-year history of the DCPA Theatre Company. For the past 17 years, the Atlanta native has led a company with many of the same sensibilities as his new one. Portland Center Stage offers up to 12 offerings each season ranging from classics to contemporary works to homegrown musicals on two stages while also hosting an annual new-play festival, education programs and an array of community events. All of which sounds a lot like the mission of the DCPA Theatre Company. With one big difference: Twice as many performance spaces, and more financial resources. 

    “There is not another theatre in the country with the same administrative and physical infrastructure inside one organization,” said Coleman, who also will oversee the company’s burgeoning line of Off-Center programming — the kind that takes place in non-traditional performance spaces ranging fro the Stanley Marketplace to the streets of Denver.

    Asked to name one dream offering that might help elucidate his artistic sensibilities, Coleman mulled the possibilities before offering this tantalizing prospect: “One of my fantasies would be to go back to the beginnings of the company and remount The Caucasian Chalk Circle and engage DeVotchKa to write a score for it,” he said. “I just think that would be so cool.”

    Coleman clearly has studied up on his Denver Center history. The Theatre Company launched on New Year’s Eve 1979 with Bertolt Brecht’s modernist masterpiece, starring Tyne Daly. And just last year, Colorado’s own Grammy-nominated gypsy-punk band DeVotchKa not only experimented with Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Sweeney Todd score, but the band members got their necks at every performance.

    Shawn King Devotchke Sweeney Todd. Photo by John MooreColeman lists Brecht as among his favorite playwrights — and it is a wildly eclectic list that includes William Shakespeare, Luis Alfaro, Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel and the playwright Coleman has directed more than any other: George Bernard Shaw. Under Coleman, 52 of the new plays Center Stage helped in their gestation have been performed at 115 theatres around the country. One he is most proud of is Dan O’Brien’s Body of an American, about how a photograph of an American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu haunted the photographer who took it. (It is currently being presented by Denver’s Curious Theatre).

    Among the many rising playwrights Coleman has nurtured along their paths are Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee, whose latest plays Zoey’s Perfect Wedding and The Great Leap, respectively, are coming up soon on the Theatre Company’s current season.

    (Pictured above and right: Shawn King of DeVotchka in 'Sweeney Todd' in 2016. Photo by John Moore.)

    In announcing the appointment, DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden cited Coleman’s “commitment to artistic excellence, community engagement, new-play development, crowd-pleasing musicals and discovery of new voices” — all of which she said will resonate throughout the region, and will further the DCPA’s efforts to diversify its audience. Coleman said his priorities also include local storytelling, giving voice to underserved communities and building a robust collaboration with the DCPA’s Education division.

    Chris Coleman and husband Rodney Hicks. Photo by John Moore.  “I am super-interested in figuring out how we put the most resonant work on stage we can,” Coleman said. “And by that I don’t necessarily think every play has to be topical to be resonant. I mean work that really lands emotionally for people. So much so that audiences feel compelled to reach out and let us know that we affected them, and that the work has stayed with them.”

    (Pictured at right: New Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman with his husband, Rodney Hicks, at today's announcement. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Coleman says he is not only a fan of the Theatre Company's annual Colorado New Play Summit, one of the signature programs launched by his predecessor, Kent Thompson, he sees it as the company’s greatest drawing card, along with the $1.4 million Women’s Voices Fund, which supports plays written and directed by women. “I am eager to connect great artists with the larger conversation Denver is having about its future right now,” he said. “I am interested in telling big stories — both from cultures that haven’t found their way onto our stages yet, and those that are waiting to burst out of the mind of the young playwright down the street.

    “I don't think there is any reason we shouldn't be one of the top institutions for producing new work in the country.”

    ‘He sure can pick em’

    At Portland Center Stage’s 2002 equivalent of the Colorado New Play Summit, Coleman had a hunch about a submission from a budding 18-year-old playwright. So he took the extraordinary step of giving the young woman a featured slot in the festival alongside, among others, a comparatively grizzled 25-year-old named Itamar Moses. His latest play, The Band’s Visit, opened on Broadway just this past Thursday.

    Chris Coleman quote 8 LAUREN GUNDERSONThe teenager’s play was called Parts They Call Deep, about three Southern women in a Winnebago. Now for the kicker: The playwright was Lauren Gunderson, who, fast-forward 14 years, wrote the Denver Center’s red-hot world-premiere The Book of Will and is now the most-produced playwright in America for the second year running. “It has been amazing to watch her rise,” Coleman said. 

    “Yeah, he sure can pick ’em,” Gunderson said with a laugh.

    Gunderson calls Coleman a mentor who helped her to visualize a possible life in the theatre for herself – when she was 12. Her hometown is also Atlanta, where in 1988 Coleman founded Actor’s Express, dubbed Atlanta's "gutsiest and most vital theatre."

    In those tender years, Gunderson fancied herself an actor, and she was cast as the kid in two mainstage productions there — The Philadelphia Story and Approaching Zanzibar — and she absorbed everything. “That’s the first time I realized that people actually sit down and write plays,” Gunderson said. “By just watching Chris, I started to see all of these other avenues for a life in the theatre for me.”

    Coleman, whose family's Atlanta roots go back to 1804 ("But we were poor dirt farmers," he says), was a bit of a star of the stage himself in those days. How big of a fan was Gunderson of his work? “My 14th birthday party was taking my girlfriends to see Chris Coleman play Hamlet,” she said. “I loved it, and I will never forget it.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    While at Portland, Coleman also produced or directed plays by Sophocles, Molière, Anton Chekhov, Edward Albee, August Wilson, Tennessee Williams, Ntozake Shange, Dael Orlandersmith, David Henry Hwang, John Patrick Shanley, Naomi Wallace, Sam Shepard, Douglas Carter Beane, Martin McDonaugh and Amy Freed — among others.

    “He just has such a knack for championing a remarkably wide variety of voices in the new-play world,” Gunderson said. “I think that’s because he has such a variety of experiences himself as a director, playwright, actor and artistic leader. What makes him a genius is that he knows every aspect of the creation of art first-hand. He has nonstop incredible ideas.” 

    Chris Coleman Introduction PhotoColeman is something of a renaissance man. Before he leaves Portland, he will direct a two-part epic he adapted himself called Astoria, featuring a cast of 16. Based on the best-selling book by Peter Stark, it tells of the harrowing but little-known journeys west undertaken by President Thomas Jefferson and millionaire John Jacob Astor that served as turning points in the conquest of the North American continent. It’s a story Coleman imagines might be of interest to Denver Center audiences because it taps directly into the spirit of the west.

    (Pictured at above and right: Chris Coleman with husband Rodney Hickst o his right and, to his left: DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden, and Chairman Martin Semple. Photo by Brittany Gutierrez for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    But his acting days are likely behind him, he says. These days, he is far more interested in ballot measures and fundraising and other administrative duties (he swears). He led the design and construction of Portland Center Stage’s new home in the 122-year-old Historic Portland Armory. That experience will be critical as the DCPA prepares to renovate both its Stage and Ricketson theatres within the next four years.

    Under Coleman, who earned his BFA from Baylor University and his MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, annual attendance at Portland Center Stage increased from 77,000 to 139,000. The average age of the audience dropped from 64 to 48. The company brings in about 7,600 students a year to see its plays.

    Coleman will direct his two-part adaptation of Astoria, followed by Major Barbara at Portland Center Stage before moving to Denver with his husband, Rodney Hicks, in May. In the meantime, he will work with DCPA Managing Director Charles Varin and Associate Artistic Directors Nataki Garrett and Charlie Miller to finalize the 2018-19 season selection.

    “I just think he is a great voice for the American theatre as a whole, and I can’t wait to see what he does to continue Kent’s legacy," Gunderson, said. “Oh my God, Denver is so lucky to get him.”  

    Video above: A 2015 interview with Portland Center Stage Artistic Director Chris Coleman.

    7 QUICK QUESTIONS WITH CHRIS COLEMAN:

    NUMBER 1Rodney Hicks King Lear Terry ShapiroHey, we already know your husband here in Denver: Rodney Hicks played bad-boy Edmund here in Kent Thompson’s 2007 production of King Lear. He was in the original Broadway cast of Rent and Come from Away. Is it safe to say he will be an active member of our acting community? It is not safe to say that. Rodney is totally excited about coming to Denver, and he wants to figure out what engaging with the artistic community here might look like for him. But his focus right now is primarily on film and television and his budding writing career. Rodney had a big career before we met, and there’s every reason to believe he will have a big career for the rest of his life. So while I think you will see him around Denver a lot, I am not sure you are ever going to see him onstage at the Denver Center.

    Pictured above right: Rodney Hicks as Edmund and Markus Potter as Edgar in the DCPA Theatre Company's 2007 production of 'King Lear.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.)


    NUMBER 2What was your introduction to theatre as a kid? It was my mom, who was trained as an actor. She started a drama ministry at our Southern Baptist church in the 1970s. So literally from the time I can remember, I was dragging angel wings around or operating a dimmer board or giving the actors their lines. So it's always been a part of my life. During my senior year in high school, it became clear that's what I wanted to pursue. And when I got to Baylor University I very quickly realized, 'This is what I want to do. This is the room I want to be in. This is my tribe of people.' 

    NUMBER 3How do you plan to move the dial when it comes to the national problem of equity, diversity and inclusion in the American theatre? As a gay man, I am on the bandwagon. I absolutely agree with the movement, and I believe it is high time for there to be opportunities for lots of different kinds of people in leadership roles. And I think there is a lot that any artistic leader can do to make positive changes, no matter that leader's gender and skin color. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is more passionate and committed to move us forward on that front. That certainly was the case in Portland, and I expect that only to increase in Denver.

    NUMBER 4You may have heard that Denver Center audiences are passionate about their Shakespeare. Will there be a continuing commitment to Shakespeare? And if so — what kind of Shakespeare? There absolutely will be a continuing commitment to Shakespeare. Now, over the years, I have done every kind of radical Shakespeare reinvention you can possibly imagine. But then about four years ago, I thought: 'You know what would be really radical? To do a Shakespeare play in the period when it was actually written. That would be radical.’ I expect that I am probably more of a centrist when it comes to Shakespeare at this point in my life. What I value most is truthfulness, authenticity and the ability for an audience to engage emotionally. I just want audiences to take the whole ride and not sit back.

    NUMBER 5Should the DCPA Theatre Company be actively responding to the political polarization of the country right now? I think if you are doing interesting new plays, then that happens, whether you want it to or not. Politics tends to show up whenever you are talking about the things that are happening in our world. For example, when we programmed a new play we are staging right now called Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, we already knew of course that immigration is a big issue in this country. But we had no idea how searingly hot it was going to be by the time we opened the play. It is delightful that Luis Alfaro’s play engages with the issues of the current moment, but that’s not why we did it. We did it because we liked the play. But the issue allowed us to build community partnerships around the play that are absolutely conscious of engaging with the conversation of the moment. For example, we have two symposiums in partnership with Catholic Charities that will include our attorney general, a leading immigration attorney, the deputy director of I.C.E. and two Dreamers. That kind of thing is totally in our zone. It’s not just pushing one point of view. It’s bringing together many sides and deepening the conversation you just experienced on the stage.

    NUMBER 6george-bernard-shaw-9480925-1-402So what’s with your love for George Bernard Shaw? I will tell you: The play we are doing this season that most directly engages the executive leadership of this country is Major Barbara — which of course never refers to America or our current president because it was written in 1907. But the themes are uncannily resonant.

    NUMBER 7Is there a place for current DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett on your team? I have actually known Nataki Garrett for 20 years because she stage-managed a show I acted in back in Atlanta. I have enormous respect and fondness for her, and I was delighted when she was hired to be the Associate Artistic Director here. I anticipate that she will continue in that role until she decides she doesn’t want it anymore. I also know there are a lot of people around the country who have noted Nataki's leadership capabilities, so I suspect there are people knocking at her door.

    NUMBER 8DCPA Education just launched its Theatre for Young Audiences program with a production of The Snowy Day that is directed at pre-kindergarten through third graders, and it was made in full collaboration with the Theatre Company's design staff. How important is it for the Theatre Company to have a strong relationship with the Education division? It's critical to me. One, because we have to prepare future audiences. It is so easy today to walk through life without any real cultural participation of some kind. So I think it's critical that we create, invent and provide as many on-ramps as we can. So education, outreach, and using every opportunity we can to build community relationships with people is just huge.

    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.

  • What a wonderful world it was with Daniel Langhoff

    by John Moore | Nov 12, 2017

    Video above: Daniel Langhoff sings 'What a Wonderful World' at an April benefit concert for the Denver Actors Fund. Video provided by Eden Lane and Sleeping Dog Media.

    The busy actor, husband and father fought cancer like the errant knight he played in Man of La Mancha. He was 42.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When award-winning Denver actor Daniel Langhoff was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2015, the first-time father dreamed what most every doctor told him was an impossible dream: To beat an unbeatable foe. And yet, over the next rocky and remarkable two and a half years, he reached star after unreachable star.

    Daniel LanghoffThe cancer was discovered just a few months after Langhoff and wife Rebecca Joseph welcomed daughter Clara into the world. Langhoff then fought the disease with the same earnest fortitude and blind optimism as Cervantes, the playwright who defends his life through storytelling in the classic Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. That's a bucket-list role Langhoff somehow found the mettle to play last year during a brief cease-fire with his disease, which would make a raging comeback only a few months later.

    In April, doctors discovered a second, more virulent form of cancer in Langhoff’s abdomen, and it was everywhere. The Langhoffs were told it would be a matter of months. Not that the diagnosis changed Langhoff’s attitude one bit. He fought on with grit, optimism and no small share of Quixotic delusion.

    “Dying never entered his mindset,” said Langhoff’s best friend, Brian Murray. “He always thought he would beat it.” It was only recently in the hospital, when Langhoff was no longer able to eat and fluid was filling his lungs that the impossible dreamer offered Murray this one slight concession to his adversary: “The prognosis is not good,” he told Murray.

    DanielLanghoffFacebook“Daniel fought the cancer by trivializing it — like it was just this little thing to be taken care of,” Murray said.

    Rebecca Joseph, known as R.J. to friends, gave birth to a second daughter, Naomi, on Nov. 2. It happened that day because Joseph made it happen that day. She had doctors induce labor to make certain Langhoff would be alive to see Naomi born. A few days later, Langhoff was admitted to Denver Hospice, where he again defied experts' expectations by fighting on for days until there was no fight left in him.  

    Langhoff died at precisely midnight today, peacefully and as his wife held his hand. He was 42.

    When he left, he was different from the man who married R.J. in 2015. During the ensuing years, as cancer gradually robbed his life, life in turn gave him everything to live for: A wife, two daughters, and the seminal roles of his acting career.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Daniel Langhoff Find an extensive gallery of Daniel Langhoff photos at the bottom of this report.


    A punctilious punster

    Langhoff was born in Denver on Nov. 8, 1975, and has been a performer since the third grade. He graduated from Cherry Creek High School and the University of Northern Colorado, and has been working steadily at theatres all over Colorado since 1999.

    He was known as a consummate actor with a quirky sense of humor; a way with a guitar, a song and a terrible pun; a geeky affinity for sci-fi films ...  and a massive collection of inappropriate T-Shirts.

    One of his favorites said: “When I die, I am going to haunt the (bleep) out of you.”

    "That was Daniel," his wife said.

    "Daniel was into weird science fiction, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, anything counter-culture and all manner of useless knowledge," said his frequent co-star and sometimes director, Robert Michael Sanders. "We had a shared love for underrated big-hair metal bands and Alien movies." 

    In the dressing room, Langhoff was a serial punster who was known for running exasperated castmates out of the room with his wit. But on stage, Sanders describes Langhoff as an intelligent, steady actor who could only be distracted from his task by perhaps, say … a random reference to Ridley Scott (maker of Alien).

    He was also one of the most dependable and pragmatic friends you could ever have, said Murray, who has been friends with Langhoff since appearing in Company together at the Town Hall Arts Center in 2008. 

    “I always called him my Vulcan,” said Murray, currently starring in Town Hall’s Seussical. “He was Spock, and I was Kirk. I was the emotional one, and he was the logical one."

    Ironically, Langhoff was the human being Murray turned to when he needed one most.

    "When I was going through a divorce in 2009, the only thing that helped me get by was playing video games with Daniel until 3 in the morning and telling him the same stories all over again," Murray said. "He would say to me, 'Brian, this thing happened. It was outside of your control. Now what you have to do is move through it and move on from that." 

    Perhaps the greatest testament to any man's character, Murray said: "Daniel was kind to everyone — even to the people who annoyed him." (Although, to be fair, Langhoff also loved to quote Tom Waits' life philosophy: "Champagne for my real friends ... and real pain for my sham friends.")

    Traci J. Kern was a real friend. For 22 years, Langhoff has been her constant. "Soon after our meeting, Daniel proclaimed himself the little brother I never wanted," she said. "Anytime I needed him, he was there. No questions asked, because it didn’t matter. Dan lived his life full of passion. Whether it was talking about music, theatre, movies, Stephen King novels, sports, his family, his babies or his wife — he spoke with such enthusiasm, you couldn’t help but be drawn in."

    A life on every stage

    Daniel Langhoff was, simply put, “the most consistent actor ever,” said Sanders. He was also just about the most consistently working Denver actor ever. The list of area theatre companies Langhoff has performed with reads essentially like the list of all area theatre companies. You would be hard-pressed to find a person or company whose path has not, at some point, crossed with Langhoff's on a Colorado stage.

    Dan Langhoff DCPA Love Perfect Change Shanna Steele Robert Michael Sanders Lauren Shealy“Once Daniel got it right, he went out and nailed it at that level every night," Sanders said. "You never had to worry what he was going to do, whether it was for one person or 100. Even for dumb stuff like Guys on Ice – he would find moments that mattered.”

    Langhoff made his Denver Center debut in 2010 in the musical comedy Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre, followed by a stint in a revival of the longest-running musical in Denver history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. He also performed in the DCPA Theatre Company’s seasonal stagings of A Christmas Carol in 2014 and 2015. The latter staging was right when Langhoff was starting his cancer fight. He had surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes – then immediately joined the cast, fitting rounds of chemo into 10-show weeks at the Stage Theatre.

    Langhoff’s substance and versatility put him in an elevated class among local performers: He was a nuanced dramatic actor with a rich singing voice — and an uncommon knack for comedy and children’s theatre. He could glide from playing the conflicted pastor fomenting the Salem witch trials in Firehouse’s The Crucible, to Coolroy in the Arvada Center’s children’s production of Schoolhouse Rock Live, to the long-suffering husband of a bipolar housewife in Town Hall’s Next to Normal.

    Langhoff’s breakout year was 2016, which began in triumph and ended in terror. It started with Performance Now's Ragtime. As Langhoff was continuing his initial chemotherapy, when he called Director Kelly Van Oosbree to express his interest in playing Tateh.

    “I remember thinking, ‘How in the hell is this going to happen?’ ” Van Oosbree said. “I couldn’t wrap my brain around it because if were in the same situation, I wonder how I would even cope. But Daniel did not let cancer stop him from doing anything.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Langhoff had strong sentimental and professional reasons for wanting to play Tateh. He had played the homegrown terrorist known as “Younger Brother” in a remarkable production of Ragtime for the Arvada Center in 2011, and he wanted to complete the circle by playing Tateh — also a dreamer, also a new father — for Performance Now. “Tateh was a role that spoke to him,” said Van Oosbree said.

    Dan Langhoff Sunglasses project. Photo by John MooreIn the summer of 2016, doctors declared Langhoff cancer-free. He celebrated by performing for the Arvada Center (40th anniversary concert), Firehouse (The Crucible) and Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Every Christmas Story Ever Told). He began 2017 by reuniting with Van Oosbree to play the chivalrous and insistent dreamer in Man of La Mancha. These were perfect bookend roles, said Van Osbree: Both Tateh and Cervantes are kind, inventive men who see the world not as it is, but how it should — or could — be. “They are both Daniel,” she said.

    But just as Man of La Mancha was to begin rehearsals, Langhoff noticed another abnormality in his abdomen, and doctors soon discovered a new, more prevalent and more vicious strain of cancer in his abdominal walls. Langhoff began a second round of chemo just as he had been cast to perform in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Arvada Center, followed by Ring of Fire at Vintage Theatre. This time, he would not be well enough to play either role. And he again downplayed the challenge. “I am just more physically compromised than I was before,” he conceded at the time.

    The great work of helping others

    Langhoff was known for helping out any company or cause that needed a hand — or a voice. Back in 2010, he joined the volunteer cast of Magic Moments' The Child. That's an annual musical revue where up to 200 disabled and able-bodied performers perform together, many for the first time. Langhoff played a war veteran opposite a devil character played by Drew Frady, his castmate back in the Arvada Center's 2008 staging of Les Miserables. Langhoff had been recruited as a late replacement for another actor. On his first day, the stage manager ended her introduction of Langhoff by saying, to his horror, “He loves hugs.” And, he later said with a laugh, “I didn’t really have the heart to correct her.”

    Over the next few months, Langhoff said, he learned to love hugs.

    “This is the kind of place where you can still be 5 minutes late for rehearsal, even if you show up on time, because there is a 5-minute gantlet of hugs to navigate,” he said.

    Daniel Langhoff, Laura Mathew Siebert and Nate Siebert. Photo by John Moore. Throughout his cancer ordeal, Langhoff was both a beneficiary of, and great champion of, The Denver Actors Fund, which in three years has made $133,000 available to Colorado theatre artists in situational need. Between direct aid and targeted donations, the theatre community has so far made more than $14,000 available to help the Langhoff family with medical bills, along with practical volunteer assistance. And Langhoff has given back at every opportunity, performing at five DAF fundraising events over the past three years.

    In April, a weakening Langhoff made a galvanizing appearance at United in Love, a benefit concert staged by Ebner-Page Productions that raised $40,000 for the Denver Actors Fund at the Lone Tree Arts Center. (See video at the top of this page.) 

    Dan Langhoff. Annaleigh Ashford. RDG PhotographyLanghoff sang a heart-rending version of What a Wonderful World to acknowledge the support and love he has received from the theatre community throughout his medical ordeal. “All of these performers, this stunning audience, all of these donors make me feel like my fight ahead is just a matter of logistics,” he said.

    (Photos at right, top: Photographer Laura Mathew Siebert, with son Nate Siebert, raised money for Langhoff's cancer fight in 2016 by taking portraits and donating the proceeds. Photo by John Moore. At right: Broadway's Annaleigh Ashford with Langhoff at Klint Rudolph at the April 'United in Love' concert for the Denver Actors Fund. RDG Photography.)

    His final performance was on Sept. 25 at Miscast, a popular annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, and it was one for the ages. Langhoff, Jona Alonzo and Norrell Moore, all actors in the midst of their own cancer journeys, performed a variation of the song Tonight, from West Side Story, that was written by Langhoff and his (pregnant) wife, who also choreographed. It was essentially a rousing declaration of war against cancer, and it brought the Town Hall Arts Center audience to their feet. The trio were immediately dubbed "The Cancer Warriors."

    (Story continues below the video.)

    Daniel Langhoff, Jona Alonzo and Norrell Moore perform Sept. 25 at 'Miscast,' a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund, at the Town Hall Arts Center.


    The impact of family


    Everyone close to Langhoff says the courage and unyielding optimism he has shown since his diagnosis can be explained in three simple words: Rebecca, Clara and Naomi. "Those three were everything to him," Murray said. "They were his life."

    He met his R.J.  in a theatre, but Langhoff wasn't on the stage; he was a member of the audience. Joseph caught Langhoff's eye after a performance of Vintage Theatre’s Avenue Q. Langhoff noticed the assistant stage manager — usually one of the most invisible jobs in all of theatre. She eventually agreed to a late-night date at the Rock Bottom Brewery that almost didn’t happen because she was running late. Langhoff was appearing in, ironically, the dating comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Denver Center's Galleria Theatre. She was attending Red at the Curious Theatre, which ran longer than she was expecting. Luckily, he waited. Sanders later married the couple in a ceremony at the Town Hall Arts Center.

    Langhoff recently helped Sanders in a profound creative way when the singer-songwriter went into production on his second solo album (under the name Robert Michael). In 2013, Sanders was the victim of a botched shoulder surgery that partially paralyzed his arms and left him unable to play the guitar. Sanders now writes new music through the help of friends who act as his fingers. Langhoff co-wrote the lyrics and music to a track called Forever that Sanders says is informed in part by their own personal experiences:

    You found your forever. You put your hand in his.
    He pulled you close to him, gave you that forever kiss.
    You found your forever, now you'll wake up every day.

    With him smiling back at you, and you have no words to say.

    And that's OK.
    You found your forever. 

    (To listen to 'Forever' on Spotify, click here. Backing vocals by Daniel Langhoff and Norrell Moore.)

    As the theatre community struggles to process the news that Langhoff is gone, his friend Murray was asked what Langhoff himself might say to bring comfort to those he leaves behind. His response:

    "I think the Vulcan in Daniel would say to us exactly what he said to me: 'This thing happened. It was outside of everyone's control. I did everything I could to make it not happen, but it still happened. Now what you have to do is move through that and try to move on from that.' "

    In addition to his wife and daughters, Langhoff is survived by his parents, Jeannie and Charlie Langhoff, and his sister, Amy Langhoff Busch.

    After an intimate family service later this week, a larger celebration of Daniel Langhoff's life will be announced in the coming weeks.

    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.

    Here's how to help Daniel Langhoff's family:
    The Denver Actors Fund is accepting targeted donations that will go 100 percent to Rebecca Joseph to help with medical, funeral and expenses. Any eventual excess funds will go toward the future educational needs of daughters Clara and Naomi. Here's how it works: Click here. When prompted, "Where do you want your donation directed?" choose from the pulldown: "For the family of Daniel Langhoff." The Denver Actors Fund will absorb all transactional fees.) If you prefer to mail a check, the address is P.O. Box 11182, Denver , CO 80211. Separately, if you are motivated to start your own campaign to proactively raise additional funds for the Langhoffs, you can create your own personalized fundraising page on the Langhoffs' behalf. To do that, just click on this (different) link. Choose "Start a fundraiser." Follow the instructions from there.

    Photo gallery: A look back at the life of Daniel Langhoff

    Daniel LanghoffTo see more photos, click on the photo above to be taken to our full Flickr album.


    Daniel Langhoff/Selected shows and companies

    • High School: Cherry Creek
    • College: Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • Denver Center for the Performing Arts: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Five Course Love at the Galleria Theatre; A Christmas Carol for the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Arvada Center: A Man of No Importance (Breton Beret), Ragtime (Younger Brother), A Man for All Seasons, A Wonderful Life, The Crucible, Man of La Mancha, Miracle On 34th Street Les Miserables. Children's shows: Charlotte's Web, Lyle the Crocodile, Schoolhouse Rock
    • Town Hall Arts Center: Next To Normal (Dan), Annie (Daddy Warbucks), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Company, Batboy! The Musical
    • Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company: Every Christmas Story Ever Told
    • Firehouse Theatre Compay: The Crucible (Rev. Hale)
    • Miners Alley Playhouse: Pump Boys and Dinettes
    • Performance Now: Man of La Mancha (Cervantes), Ragtime (Tateh)
    • Aurora Fox: Spamalot (King Arthur)
    • Vintage Theatre: Hamlet, Prince of Pork, 18 Holes (Lyle)
    • Next Stage: Assassins (The Balladeer)
    • Magic Moments: The Child
    • Hunger Artists
    • Film: Bouquet of Consequence, Why There Are Rainbows

    Video: Daniel Langhoff presents Community Impact Award to Denver Actors Fund:

  • Tony winner on Denver playwright Max Posner: 'I want him to be heard'

    by John Moore | Nov 08, 2017
    Max Posner. Deanna Dunagan. The Treasurer. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'I did it because I believe in Max,' says Deanna Dunagan, creator of Violet Weston in August: Osage County

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver native Max Posner's new off-Broadway play The Treasurer closed on Sunday after an extended run, full houses and great critical acclaim. 

    Max Posner. The Treasurer. Playwrights HorizonsAnd the 29-year-old Denver School of the Arts grad is the first to admit that all of that was in large part due to the play being directed by David Cromer, presented by New York’s esteemed Playwrights Horizons, and starring Tony Award winner Deanna Dunagan and Peter Friedman, who played Tateh in Broadway's Ragtime.

    But Dunagan, whose life and career are based in Chicago, said on closing weekend there was only one reason she accepted the role: Max Posner.

    "It was because I believe in Max, and I wanted to help him get started," said Dunagan, who previously originated the epic, acidic role of Violet Weston in Tracy Letts' August: Osage County in both Chicago and on Broadway.

    "He is going to be an important playwright in the American theatre, you mark my words," Dunagan told the DCPA NewsCenter. "I want him to be heard."

    (Pictured above: Peter Friedman and Deanna Dunagan in 'The Treasurer,' courtesy Playwrights Horizons.)

    The Treasurer, which opened Sept. 22, is a darkly funny portrait of an elderly mother and her aging son. Ida Armstrong, who abandoned her husband and three sons when they were teenagers, is now broke, lonely and facing encroaching dementia in Albany, N.Y. Her 60-something son (who goes without a specific name but lives at a Denver address that matches Posner's childhood home), is then forced into the unfair and unwanted role of “The Treasurer."

    New York Magazine called The Treasurer "an invaluable new play." Ben Brantley of The New York Times called it tender and unforgiving. "Mr. Posner has a precocious feeling for the harshness with which people often judge themselves as they approach the midpoint of their lives," Brantley wrote. "His writing is often effectively double-edged, an amalgam of 21st-century casualness and cadenced lyricism. Mr. Posner has a sharp and original ear for the tension between what is spoken and what is not." 

    Our interview with Max Posner about The Treasurer

    Max Posner. The Treasurer. Curious New VoicesAnd to think he started out as a teenager in the inaugural class of young writers in the first Curious New Voices summer playwriting program started by Dee Covington of Curious Theatre Company in 2004. Posner's play was called Counting to Infinity. And it turns out that the director of that play (Laura Tesman Gillette) and one of his actors (Gary Culig) were at the final Saturday matinee performance of The Treasurer in New York (pictured right).

    Posner said of his overall experience with The Treasurer: “It’s a total fantasy realized." 

    The Treasurer also featured Marinda Anderson and Pun Bandhu, who starred in the DCPA Theatre Company's The Catch in 2011. Bandhu was also one of the original producers of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening

    Posner had his first New York production in 2015 with Judy, which is set in the winter of 2040. Posner called Judy “a subterranean comedy about family life when technology fails and communication breaks down."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Critics were not as kind to Judy. So what did it feel like to be understood and championed by New York critics this time around?

    "It was the feeling of not being murdered," he said with a laugh.

    Moving in next to the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre just vacated by The Treasurer is Mankind, written by Robert O'Hara and featuring Ariel Shafir. O'Hara directed just directed a rousing reimagining of Macbeth for the DCPA Theatre Company. Shafir played the title role.   

    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.

    Max Posner. The Treasurer. Photo by John Moore.
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    From the video archive: Our 2015 interview with Max Posner

    Watch our video interview with Max Posner from May 2015 in New York City. Video by John Moore.

    Selected previous coverage of Denver's Posner family:
    Max Posner's The Treasurer to be staged at Playwrights Horizons
    Denver playwright Max Posner scores first New York production
    Jessica Posner's triumphant tale is a world-changer and a page-turner
    Jessica Posner: Changing lives in a hell on Earth
    From 2006: Max Posner one of Colorado's "Can't Miss Kids"

    Max Posner/At a glance
    Max Posner’s play Judy premiered Off-Broadway in 2015 (Page 73, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll). Recent productions include Snore (Juilliard, directed by Knud Adams), Sisters on the Ground (Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll), and Gun Logistics (Drama League, directed by Knud Adams). He is the recipient of the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, the Heideman Award from Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, the P73 Fellowship, and two Lecomte du Nouy awards from Lincoln Center. Max is a Sundance Institute Theatre Fellow, a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, and was the Writer-In-Residence at Williamstown. He's an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Ars Nova's Playgroup, The Working Farm at Space on Ryder Farm, and I-73. He contributed to John Early's episode of The Characters (Netflix) and is working on a libretto for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus with composer Ellis Ludwig Leone. Max's plays have been developed by Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, Page 73, Clubbed Thumb, Williamstown, The Atlantic, Ars Nova, The Bushwick Starr, NYTW, American Theater Co., The Juilliard School, and Space on Ryder Farm. He is a frequent volunteer at Manhattan's 52nd Street Project. He studied writing as an undergrad at Brown, and recently completed a two-year Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship at The Juilliard School. Max was born and raised in Denver and lives in Brooklyn. 

    David Cromer/At a glance
    Recent credits include: Man from Nebraska (Second Stage Theater); The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company); The Effect (Barrow Street Theatre); Come Back, Little Sheba (Huntington Theatre); Angels in America (Kansas City Rep); and Our Town at the Almeida Theatre in London. New York Credits include: Women or Nothing at Atlantic Theater Company, Really Really at MCC, The House of Blue Leaves and Brighton Beach Memoirs on Broadway, When the Rain Stops Falling and Nikolai and the Others at Lincoln Center Theater. Also at the Barrow Street Theatre he has directed Tribes, Our Town, and Orson’s Shadow as well as Adding Machine, which was a BST production at the Minetta Lane. Originally from Chicago, his credits there include Sweet Bird of Youth (The Goodman); A Streetcar Named Desire, Picnic, and The Price (Writers Theatre); Cherrywood, Mojo, and The Hot l Baltimore (Mary-Arrchie); The Cider House Rules (co-directed with Marc Grapey at Famous Door); and Angels in America (The Journeymen); among others. For Michael Ira Cromer (1966-2015). 

  • DCPA's 25th 'A Christmas Carol' brims with mistletoe and milestones

    by John Moore | Nov 06, 2017
    Making of 'A Christmas Carol' 2017

    Above: Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'A Christmas Carol' last week. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Favorite Sam Gregory is back as Scrooge and, for the first time in Denver, a young girl has been cast to play Tiny Tim.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    When the DCPA Theatre Company presents the seasonal favorite A Christmas Carol later this month, it will be an offering filled with mistletoe and milestones. Check out the five things we learned at first rehearsal below.

    A Christmas Carol. Sam Gregory. The cast is again headed by Sam Gregory in his second season playing the miserly Scrooge. The most veteran member of the cast is Leslie O'Carroll, who has appeared in 19 of the Denver Center's 25 stagings, most as Mrs. Fezziwig.

    Back for her second year as director is Melissa Rain Anderson. She will again be staging the version adapted by Richard Hellesen, with music by the late David de Berry, as has been the DCPA tradition since 2006. "This is by far my favorite version," said Anderson, who has herself performed in this version of the story four times as an actor at theatres around the country. "I think it's the most Dickensian." Music Director Gregg Coffin has helmed this version of the show 22 times around the country.

    NUMBER 1LOOK WHO'S TWENTY-FIVE! A Christmas Carol is, no surprise, far and away the DCPA Theatre Company's most-produced show. This holiday season marks the company’s 25th presentation of the story dating to 1990 — having taken two years off along the way in favor of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. "That is a huge milestone," Anderson said. "It's a privilege to be a part of that legacy here at the Denver Center. With everything that is happening in the world, I am so happy to be in this room with all of these people and to be a part of telling this tale again as a true ensemble."

    NUMBER 2 A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim. Melissa Rain Anderson. Peyton Goosen.GOD BLESS THE GIRL. There have been 18 young Tiny Tims over the DCPA's first 24 years of A Christmas Carols. This year, for the first time, the role of the feeble boy whose death is imminent if Scrooge doesn't break down and finally offer his employee some health insurance, will be played by a girl. Anderson she credits DCPA Artistic Associate Grady Soapes with the idea to cast young Peyton Goosen. "I am always open to more females on the stage, so I was very for it," Anderson said. "Peyton is really smart, she is absolutely adorable and she is precocious. But most important, she was the best actor for the role."

    NUMBER 3KNOCK KNOCK. WHO'S THERE? A Christmas Carol has drawn 820,000 audience members since 1990, so if you live in Denver, chances are, you have seen it. But with 10,000 new residents moving into the city every month, it's become clear that thousands of audience members each year are experiencing A Christmas Carol for the first time "So many people love this production and count on it as a family tradition, but 40 percent of our A Christmas Carol audiences are new every year," said DCPA Associate Artistic Director Charlie Miller.

    NUMBER 4 SHE'S MIXING THINGS UP. Anderson introduced several changes last year, including, for example, introducing a grander sleigh for the Ghost of Christmas Present to ride in on. This year, she says audiences should keep an eye on the phantoms. "Their costumes are a little sleeker this year," Anderson said. "We are going to be able to see their bodies a little more, which I really like, because we have a really good dancers in our cast. I would like for people to see that they were once human."

    NUMBER 5WHO KNEW? Speaking of the creative vision, one of the most reliable aspects of the DCPA's production from year to year is the look of the set, originally designed by veteran Vicki Smith. We learned at first rehearsal that Smith's original inspiration was a Victorian Christmas card she came across.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    A Christmas Carol: Cast list

    • Hadley Brown (DCPA debut) as Belinda Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Latoya Cameron (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Cratchit/Ghost of Christmas Past
    • Kevin Curtis (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Dick Wilkins/Peter Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Michael Fitzpatrick (DCPA’s Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Mr. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Peyton Goosen (DCPA debut) as Tiny Tim/Ensemble
    • Sam Gregory (DCPA’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Hamlet, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Darrell T. Joe (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come/Ensemble
    • Chas Lederer (DCPA debut) as Swing
    • Kyra Lindsay (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Brody Lineweaver (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Swing
    • Timothy McCracken (DCPA’s Smart People, A Christmas Carol) as Ebenezer Scrooge understudy
    • Chris Mixon (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Old Joe/Ensemble
    • Grace Morgan (The Phantom of the Opera, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Belle/Fred’s Wife/Ensemble
    • Leslie O’Carroll (DCPA’s Benediction, A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Erik Pinnick (DCPA debut) as Ghost of Christmas Present/Ensemble
    • Daniel Plimpton (DCPA’s The Secret Garden) as Ensemble
    • Jim Poulos (Broadway’s Rent, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, DCPA A Christmas Carol) as Fred/Young Ebenezer/Ensemble
    • Max Raabe (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Tristan Champion Regini (DCPA debut) as Boy Ebeneezer/ Ensemble.
    • Augie Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Helen Reichert (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Fan/Ensemble
    • Jeffrey Roark (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, All The Way, A Christmas Carol) as Jacob Marley/Ensemble
    • Marco Robinson (Off-Center’s The Wild Party) as Ensemble
    • Christine Rowan (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, Animal Crackers, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Shannan Steele (DCPA’s Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Carol) as Ensemble
    • Jackie Vanderbeck (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Charwoman/Ensemble
    • Brian Vaughn (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Bob Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Owen Zitek (DCPA’s A Christmas Carol) as Edward Cratchit/Ensemble
    A Christmas Carol. Photo by John Moore.



    A Christmas Carol:
    Ticket information
    A Christmas CarolAt a glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here


    The SantaLand Diaries:
    Back for Year 9

    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisComAround the corner in the Jones Theatre, Off-Center’s seasonal co-production of The SantaLand Diaries again will be staged in partnership with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. The production will be essentially unchanged for 2017, with Michael Bouchard again donning the caustic candy-striped socks for a third time in David Sedaris’ comic monologue recounting his real-life experience working as a Macy’s Department store elf.

    Bouchard is a Denver Post Ovation Award-winning actor best-known to Colorado audiences from his time at the Arvada Center, the Creede Repertory Theatre and the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Luke Sorge will again serve as "Other David."

    This will be Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's ninth annual holiday staging of The SantaLand Diaries, and the fourth since it moved to the DCPA's Jones Theatre. The director is again Stephen Weitz, who directed the DCPA Theatre Company's Tribes.

    The SantaLand Diaries: Ticket information
    The SantaLand DiariesAt a glance: David Sedaris' off-beat tales from his stint as a Macy's elf in New York City is the sure cure for the common Christmas show.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • 5 things you don't know about Nataki Garrett

    by John Moore | Oct 26, 2017
    Nataki Garrett

     

    She's smart, in demand and making her Denver directorial debut with the Denver Center's Smart People.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    What you might not know about new Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett, who makes her Denver — and Denver Center — directing debut with Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People, playing through Nov. 19 in the Ricketson Theatre:

    NUMBER 1Macbeth. Nataki Garrett SHE'S SMART PEOPLE. Garrett attended California Institute of the Arts to study theatre and went on to become the associate dean and the co-head of the undergraduate acting program at CalArts’ School of Theater. She became the DCPA Theatre Company’s Associate Artistic Director in January. (She's pictured right at the recent opening of the DCPA's reimagined 'Macbeth.')

    NUMBER 2 SHE'S IN DEMAND. Garrett directed Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ celebrated antebellum melodrama An Octoroon last year for the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, a run that was so celebrated it was remounted in August. After her DCPA Theatre Company directorial debut, she will helm Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre’s staging of Aziza Barnes’ BLKS followed by Jefferson’s Garden at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. “These gigs confirm her status and the Denver Center’s place in the national conversation about theater’s future,” wrote Lisa Kennedy of The Denver Post.  

    NUMBER 3SHE'S ADMIRED. “She’s a breath of fresh air. I think she’s a strong, visionary artist and director,” DCPA CEO Janice Sinden told The Denver Post in February. “I think she’s going to inspire us. I think she has a great eye for how we can engage new and different audiences at the DCPA as well. I’m beyond excited.”

    NUMBER 4 SHE'S MIXING THINGS UP. Garrett has established close artistic relationship ties with some of the boldest new voices in the American theatre, including Jacobs-Jenkins (a MacArthur Fellow and Obie winner), Katori Hall (The Mountaintop), Timberlake Wertenbaker (Jefferson’s Garden), and Sigrid Gilmer. Who is Sigrid Gilmer? According to her own website, “she makes black comedies that are historically bent, totally perverse, joyfully irreverent and are concerned with issues of identity, pop culture and contemporary American society.”

    NUMBER 5SHE'S ON THE RISE. Garrett was highlighted in the November issue of American Theatre’s “Role Call: People To Watch.” In that feature, she was quoted as saying she’s attracted to “plays that seem impossible to stage, and to those which impact us in tremendous ways, chasing us out of our comfort zones. My mandate in the theatre is to give voice to the voiceless, and I am inspired by stories that expose the dark and discarded in the corners of our existence.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Smart People: Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    In Smart People, the race is on from the start
    Perspectives: Could racism be filtered out through genetics?
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
    Photos, story: Smart People opens rehearsals in full swing




  • 'Smart People': First-look video, Opening Night photos

    by John Moore | Oct 25, 2017
    Video:

    Video above: Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's Smart People, by Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. The cast includes, below from left: Jason Veasey,  Esther Chen, Director Nataki Garrett, Tatiana Williams and Timothy McCracken. Smart People runs through Nov. 19 in the Ricketson Theatre. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Photo gallery: Smart People Opening Night and more:
    Making of 'Smart People'
    Photos above from the making of Smart People, including the Opening Night celebration on Oct. 20, 2017. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Smart People: Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    In Smart People, the race is on from the start
    Perspectives: Could racism be filtered out through genetics?
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
    Photos, story: Smart People opens rehearsals in full swing
  • 'Smart People': The race is on from the start

    by John Moore | Oct 24, 2017
    Smart People
    Production photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Smart People,' directed by Nataki Garrett and featuring Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams Viscom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Playwright Lydia R. Diamond refutes the notion that bigotry is owned only by certain people. No one is exempt.

    By Sylvie Drake
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Smart People is a loaded title for a loaded play. 

    It opens with projected images: diverse people, young, old, rich, poor, engaged in various activities. When I asked the play’s author, Lydia R. Diamond, what these images meant, she thought for a moment.  

    Lydia_R._Diamond“I wanted to open with a sense of the diversity of the characters,” she said with gravitas. “I wanted to inspire the director in a certain direction. I write from a very visual place, particularly when it’s about race.” 

    And yes, Smart People is about race. 

    Diamond is meticulous when it comes to intent. Her talents now include writing for film and television as well as theatre, and she was in the middle of writing for Showtime’s The Affair when we spoke on the phone. This required that she pull her mind off that project to discuss her 2014 play. 

    Four complicated people vie for our attention in Smart People: Brian, a white, tenured Harvard professor of neuropsychiatry with an entitlement issue who’s pursuing a controversial project; Valerie, a young African-American struggling to break through as a professional actress; Ginny, a Chinese-Japanese-American professor of psychology at Harvard with a serious shopping habit who focuses on identity issues among Asian-American women; and Jackson, an African-American medical resident with an attitude, fresh out of Harvard Med and eyeing a career as a surgeon. 

    If these thumbnail descriptions sound rooted in academia, they are. 

    “My mother was a college professor,” Diamond offered. “I grew up in a family of academics.” 

    Her own career has included stints as a professor and, although they are now divorced, she was married to a Harvard professor with whom she has a son. “I was very aware of that self-congratulatory world,” she added, “and what shapes it.”

    Smart People was triggered by a Princeton study about how we, as a species, tend to dehumanize the lowest of the low. When the study’s focus group was confronted by images of indigent, homeless people, the group registered no reaction. That detail got Diamond’s attention. It confirmed for her that our preconceptions — how we see others — are where prejudice begins. 

    Nataki Garrett, who joined the DCPA Theatre Company as Associate Artistic Director in January, chose Smart People for her Denver directorial debut because she could relate, she said. Like Diamond, Garrett comes from an African-American family of academics. Except that she grew up in Oakland, Calif., in the 1980s. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “It was the middle of the Reagan scourge, the drug scene, the killings down the street from my house. That was my life,” Garrett said. With President Obama’s ascension to the presidency, “I was living in an extreme dichotomy with my sweet liberal friends because they were saying ‘racism is over,’ except it wasn’t. They weren’t listening to the wider world; they were listening to the sound of their own voice. Their sense of entitlement determined how the world was meant to be: my existence defined by your privilege. 

    SMART PEOPLE ADAMS_VISCOM“I wasn’t shocked by the (Trump) election and needed to ask myself why,” she continued. “Why wasn’t I…? And then I read Smart People and remembered how self-congratulatory my sweet liberal friends had been. This belief that you and I are alike just because we’re really good friends is an illusion. We’re not (alike). ‘Liberal’ does not protect you from bias; you have to go back to the beginning to understand how we got to here.”

    (Pictured right: Timothy McCracken and Tatiana Williams in 'Smart People.' Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Before coming to Denver, Garrett racked up solid credits working in various capacities with a broad range of the country’s best resident theatre companies and schools, most recently California’s CalArts. She was highlighted in American Theatre magazine last year as a person to watch and admits she favors doing cutting edge work by emerging artists. 

    “My mandate in the theatre is to give voice to the voiceless. I’m attracted to plays that seem impossible to stage and that chase us out of our comfort zones,”  she said.

    Garrett selected Efren Delgadillo Jr. to design the sets for Smart People because, she said, “he favors clean lines and uncluttered spaces. Nothing’s hidden. A neutral place, so we can hear the words.”  

    And Diamond’s words do demand to be heard, because Diamond is an equal-opportunity indicter. She refutes the notion that bigotry is owned only by certain people. As demonstrated by her stark 2008 play Stick Fly, racism cuts all ways. No one is exempt. 

    Her “smart people” have issues with the wider world, but they also have a hard time talking to each other. Their anger simmers under a fragile surface that erupts easily. As the world’s playwrights all know, communication is mainly miscommunication — a human failing, regardless of the color of one’s skin, yet made worse by it.

    “I knew Brian had to be a white man,” said Diamond, whose protagonist is “a neuroscientist out to prove that white people are biologically racist. No, that’s not what I believe,” she added quickly. 

    It was a way to jump-start the discussion.

    “I didn’t know what or who the characters around this man would be,” she said. “Creating characters is part of a process that’s purposeful, but also organic. It has a spiritual component. I discover things as I go along.” 

    That the play takes place in the weeks leading up to President Obama’s inauguration is a component that wasn’t there when she started thinking about Smart People. Yet when his presidency became reality, it played into her premise, helping to shape it.  

    As for the steady stream of controversial statements regarding race that have come from  Obama’s successor, Diamond said only: “I always thought that I would rather people be outspoken about their ideas — but I find it frightening."

    Sylvie Drake is a translator, former theatre critic and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, contributor to culturalweekly.com, American Theatre magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and is the DCPA's former Director of Media Relations and Publications.

    Lydia_R._Diamond SMART PEOPLE ADAMS_VISCOM

    Clockwise from top left: Esther Chen, Timothy McCracken, Tatiana Williams and Jason Veasey in 'Smart People.' Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Smart People
    : Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Written by Lydia R Diamond
    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    Perspectives: Could racism be filtered out through genetics?
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
    Photos, story: Smart People opens rehearsals in full swing

    Photo gallery: The making of Smart People

    Making of 'Smart People' Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Smart People,' directed by Nataki Garrett and featuring Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

  • Perspectives: 'Smart People' and the constant search for 'yes'

    by John Moore | Oct 18, 2017
    Making of 'Smart People' Photos from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Smart People,' directed by Nataki Garrett and featuring Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    Five things we learned about the Theatre Company’s new comedy at our ongoing series of free conversations.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People, opening Friday in the Ricketson Theatre, is a play that takes its premise from an idealistic, real-life Princeton University neuropsychologist named whose research led her to believe that there is an identifiable gene in the bodies of white people that causes them to be racist. “Idealistic” because, in this emerging era of gene manipulation, the possibility might then exist that racism could one day be filtered out of human existence.

    It’s also a funny comedy about four impossibly smart and impossibly beautiful young people embroiled in America's often comically self-deluded conversations about gender and race at the hopeful dawn of the first Obama administration.

    When Diamond read the article about Fiske's quest to solve the problem of racism by locating that elusive gene, she knew she wanted to write a play about it. In an interview with the Huntington Theatre Company, Diamond said: "The genesis was a paper by Susan Fiske, who studies the roots of stereotyping based on race, gender and age. My husband, a sociologist, happened upon the article and said, 'You may want to look at this.' It kind of jolted me and made me think, 'What would be the ramifications of that line of inquiry? I started to see that across disciplines, studies about race aggressively worked to talk around race; I imagine because it’s such a powder keg."

    Here are five things we learned about the DCPA Theatre Company’s production of Smart People at Perspectives, an ongoing series of free conversations with audiences held before the first preview performance of most every Theatre Company offering. The panel featured Garrett and her entire four-actor cast of Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen, as well as Lighting Designer Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew.

    Join moderator Douglas Langworthy next at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 19 in the Jones Theatre for a talk on Matthew Lopez’s world-premiere comedy Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.    

    NUMBER 1Jurassic-ParkHow did this play come about? “It’s a real study,” Smart People Director Nataki Garrett said of Fiske's research. “You can download that article on the internet right now.” And if you read it, she said, “What you will find is this person's earnest desire to create change. That is a symptom of this idealistic time we were in just after Barack Obama was elected. The character in our play who is pursuing this idea really does want to help humanity.” But Colorado Springs native Jason Veasey (pictured below right), who plays a different character in the play, says beware of the story’s Frankenstein overtones. “The problem with human beings' pursuit of knowledge to the furthest extremes, even with the best intentions, is that there will always be other human beings who want to take that knowledge and do something bad with it,” Veasay said, “whether it be trying to identify a gene that makes people racist — or creating a park with real live dinosaurs. Look what happened when they did that!

    NUMBER 2 Smart People. Jason Veasey. Photo by John MooreHigh hopes and high I.Qs. The play is intentionally set just as the country was electing its first African-American president, said Garrett, also the Theatre Company’s Associate Artistic Director. “That was a very optimistic time in our county — for some people,” she said. “There was this revelry around the idea that we were participating in something that was happening for the first time. Because whenever you embark on something for the first time, then what you are probably doing is changing the world. These people meet at a time when they, too, are embarking on something new — with the election, with each other and with their ideas. What they are looking to discover is something about who we are as a nation."

    NUMBER 3Double vision: It is believed that Smart People is the first time the Denver Center's tiny Ricketson Theatre has ever accommodated a double-decker set. That means it has two floors, courtesy of Scenic Designer Efren Delgadillo Jr., with input from Garrett, who initially was told the Ricketson had never been bisected horizontally because the former movie theatre just doesn't have the height. Which set Garrett’s curiosity on a quest to find out if it could be done. That didn't surprise her actors, who call working with Garrett what they call “The Search for Yes.” “I Iike to be told what I can't do, and then ... I just have to see for myself,” Garrett said to laughter. “We jigsaw-puzzled ideas for days looking for ways to make is happen” – and with help from the DCPA design team, they did. The result, Garrett said, is an intentionally spare set made up of extremely clean and efficient lines. “I needed a space where the playwright’s words are most prominent, unfettered by other scenic elements,” she said.


    Smart People. Photo by John Moore

    NUMBER 4 What is ‘The Search for Yes’? When design artists come to Denver, one thing they quickly discover, Garrett said, “is that the team from the Denver Center can do anything. If you say to the people who put their hands on the stages here that you have this really crazy idea, the answer is almost always, exclusively, going to be ‘yes.’ They will do whatever it takes to make it happen." As an example, she asked those in attendance to pay particular attention to the use of projections in Smart People. “How they did what they did in that teeny space is amazing to me,” Garrett said. Added Veasey: “It feels like you are on the inside of a TV.”

    NUMBER 5What is ‘color-blind casting’? Diamond’s script very specifically calls for an  African-American woman who in turn plays an aspiring actor. At one point in the story, she is asked about her current role in a production of Julius Caesar, and specifically whether her casting in the traditionally white Shakespeare play is the result of “color-blind casting” — one of the most polarizing issues among real-life actors. Garrett was asked to define the term, and say whether she advocates for it. After a deep breath, she accepted the challenge:

    “So … ‘color-blind casting’ is an idea that is born out of the age of multiculturalism, where you might take a play that historically was connected to just one culture and cast it instead in a way that is inclusive of several cultures or identities,” she said. “Color-blind casting sometimes works and sometimes it doesn't. I believe that when it doesn't work, it is because of an earnest desire to create a world in which color does not exist — as opposed to creating a world in which color and race and identity are actually tangible things that we hold dear. Where it is important for us to have and embrace difference, as opposed to homogeny. Often, color-blind casting can further marginalize people of color because the question usually comes with the inference that, ‘You were not supposed to be doing this.’ That means you were given an opportunity that doesn't actually belong to you. I believe in casting that allows for people to be considered for roles based on their skills and for their density and for their ability and depth and knowledge — not based primarily on their identity. So I am not a ‘color-blind caster.’ I would say that I am a ‘color-conscious caster.’ I am very aware of the people in the bodies of the people I work with, and I honor them in their bodies, and I need them to be who they are."

    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.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Smart People: Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
    Photos, story: Smart People opens rehearsals in full swing

  • 'American Mariachi': Community conversation begins

    by John Moore | Oct 09, 2017
    Making of 'American Mariachi'Photos from the Sept. 21 roundtable conversation on 'American Mariachi,' opening Jan. 26. To see more photos, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Playwright, director introduce coming world premiere that will tell a pioneering story from Denver to San Diego.


    By John Moore
    Senior Ats Journalist

    The DCPA invited members of various local Latino communities to join them on Sept. 21 for a roundtable conversation on American Mariachi, the Theatre Company’s upcoming world premiere musical play by José Cruz González.

    American Mariachi Students from three local colleges, teachers, mariachi players and members of the Mi Casa Resource Center were among the two dozen who joined the playwright, director James Vásquez and members of the DCPA staff for a free-form introduction to the play, followed by an open discussion on how the Denver Center might best engage the community around this high-profile staging.

    American Mariachi is a first for the DCPA Theatre Company: It is being created as a co-production with the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. That means the story is being brought to life here in Denver from Jan. 26-Feb. 25 as a featured attraction of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. And once it closes here, the entire production will be transported to San Diego for a second run opening March 23 – sets, actors and all.

    González and Vásquez gave the roundtable audience their enthusiastic accounts of the play’s history, inspirations, logistical challenges and potential audience impact. “I think this play is ultimately going to have a beautiful, brilliant life all around the country,” Vásquez said.

    But first González, who previously debuted September Shoes (2005) and Sunsets and Margaritas (2009) at the Denver Center, wants to make sure as many people from all economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds see the play when they have the opportunity in Denver. Here’s some of what they told those gathered:

    What’s the story? American Mariachi is set in the 1970s American southwest. It follows the journey of a young woman, Lucha, who has become the caretaker for a mother suffering from dementia. As a girl, Lucha’s father and his best friend were part of a mariachi band, and their home was filled with life and music. But something happened that tore the band apart, after which the mother began to lose herself. Now years later, Lucha and her cousin find a record of a mariachi song that briefly brings the mother back to life. Lucha is then determined to learn how to play this magical song for her mother before it is too late. But as the young women set out to start their own mariachi band (something unheard of in that day), everyone around them discourages them because they are women – including Lucha’s father. But they do it anyway.

    American Mariachi. Summit Are they any good? In a word, no. “They're The Bad News Bears of mariachi bands,” González said. “They're not great. But they find their path, and they learn the song. And along the way they find their voices - and their places in the world.”

    (Pictured right: Elia Saldana and Sal Lopez in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit reading of 'American Mariachi.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 

    Will the play include live music? The cast of nine not only must act and sing, they will play live musical instruments. In addition, five mariachi musicians will make up the orchestra.

    The music: About 14 songs will be performed in American Mariachi. González wrote three, including the poignant ballad song at center of the plot. The rest are traditional songs.    

    American Mariachi The development: American Mariachi was commissioned by the DCPA Theatre Company in 2014 and was presented as a featured reading at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. It has been honed through two workshops since, most recently in Los Angeles this past summer. At the Colorado New Play Summit in 2016, "it was 150-page play,” González said. "We're now down to 95 pages. So it's now very lean, and it moves like gangbusters.”

    (Pictured right: The cast of the DCPA's 'American Mariachi' at a workshop in Los Angeles in July. Photo provided by Douglas Langworthy.)

    Is there a language barrier? “The script is 95 percent English, with a smattering of Spanish here or there,” Vásquez said. And pains will be taken to convey the meaning of any Spanish word, through physical gestures or outright translation. “Now, the traditional songs are in Spanish,” Vásquez said. “But I think their meaning is something our audience will understand through the sheer theatricality of the musicians."

    That goes both ways: One roundtable attendee said the language barrier works both ways: “I think there would be an appetite for an all-Spanish version of this show for the communities that can only speak Spanish and would otherwise not be able to engage in the story fully,” she said. González took that to heart and said he will consider producing an all-Spanish version of the script.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Who is the play for? After an earlier public reading, Vásquez was greeted by a young woman who told him, “I have never seen myself represented on stage. I see movies or TV shows or plays, and it's never about me. This was about me." "She walked out feeling like she had a place in the world," Vásquez said, "which I think is a testament to the play Jose has written.” But González was quick to add that American Mariachi is not only about these young women finding their voices. “It's also about families dealing with Alzheimer’s and other issues we are all dealing with in our own communities,” he said.

    The aftermath:
    After the creators’ presentation, DCPA staff asked their guests for their questions and concerns. One intrigued attendee said American Mariachi may well be seen as an effective counter in communities that still have a stigma about the relevance of the arts. Among the other concerns: A possible price barrier, getting the word out to the people who might most be interested in this story, and the cost of downtown parking. DCPA representatives told them they are committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to see the play has an opportunity.

    “You can open doors,” the DCPA's Nataki Garrett said, “or you can remind people that the doors are open.”


    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.

     

    American Mariachi: Ticket information

    160x160-amercian-mariachi-tempAt a glance: Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in 1970s’ Denver, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music..

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 26 through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Video: José Cruz González at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit

     

     

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

  • Lights, Camera, Theatre: 'Macbeth' at the movies

    by John Moore | Oct 06, 2017
    macbethatthemovies_header

    Get out the popcorn for flicks that mimic the sound and fury of Shakespeare’s tragedy on our stage

    By Carolyn Michaels
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    By now you’ve probably heard that The DCPA Theatre Company's presentation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Director Robert O’Hara is retelling the classic with a staging where “sex and tragedy meet in a mosh pit” – a difficult image to clearly understand until you see it for yourself.

    For those in need of a primer before your performance or who are hungry for similar fare after the curtain call, here are five films that hearken to the themes, artistic elements or straight-up source material that continues to inspire storytellers to this day.

    Macbeth (2015)

    As one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, it’s no surprise that there have been many, many Macbeth adaptations for stage and screen over the centuries since it was written. But if you’re looking for a true-to-form telling that blends historically accurate elements with gorgeously modern visuals, look no further than the 2015 movie by Justin Kurzel. His filmography often centers around intense human stories set against bleak backdrops, so it comes as little surprise that he would choose a story set in 11th century Scotland. Gorgeous costumes by Jacqueline Durran mimicked simplistic fabrics, forms and techniques that would be natural in the frontier society in which the story was set – a far cry from the futuristic leather-clad lads you’ll ogle in the DCPA’s present production. But the treatment of grand fights as gripping slow-motion action sequences holds true to both takes, and sometimes it’s nice to refresh your memory of the play’s original form before diving into to something completely new.

    The Neon Demon (2016)

    What do an aspiring model and an aspiring king have in common? A lot more than you’d think! Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s take on the cutthroat world of fashion follows a seemingly innocent young woman as her quick rise to fame and recognition feeds the jealousy of others, as well as her own appetite for power. Stylistically, the two pieces feel like sisters from another mister. As with the DCPA’s Macbeth, conflicts in Demon reach their bloody ends with some suspiciously witchy elements at play. Both feature hypnotic moments filled with thumping music and geometric neon lights, some enviably hip parties and forward-thinking fashion straight out of Vogue. The film is abstract, raw, sexual and symbolic. It may be too much to take in for your average moviegoer, just like Macbeth may surprise and startle the average Shakespeare fan. If you don’t think you’ll be dipping your toes into the glitter anytime soon, at least listen to Sia’s slow burn track written for the end credits.


    Scarface
    (1983)

    While the departure from having actual kings played a role in America’s independence, we’ve had our fair share of mini-monarchies that have made their way into our history books and pop culture canons. One sector in particular has basked in the glow of Hollywood for their moments of high glamour dissolving into unflinching violence: The Gangster. And no film seems to embody the story of a simple man’s ruthless rise to power quite like Scarface. Tony Montana’s ride to the top is glorious, but as our drug-and-dancing-infused Macbeth can attest, a leader getting too wrapped up in cocaine, tigers and babes (oh, my!) is liable to lose his footing and temper faster than you can say “yayo.” If you want to enjoy the story with less f-bombs and more beer, try the tamer 1932 version of the film, which feels more like an unlicensed story of Al Capone over the modern movie it later inspired.

    Romeo + Juliet (1996)

    Hollywood in the late 90s and early 2000s was all about sneakily making Shakespeare’s stories cool with the kids. 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s The Man, O, Romeo Must Die and Get Over It slyly cast teens as players on the grand stage of high school as they loosely get tangled in the drama and comedy of The Bard’s source material. But one standout jumped on the bandwagon while leaving the text perfectly intact – Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. He knew that iambic pentameter always goes down sweeter when it’s sprinkled in between kisses from Leo DiCaprio, interrupted with interludes of high-gloss trippiness and sped up in zippy, quick-cut gun fights. O’Hara’s world in the DCPA’s production attempts a similar feat of world-building, injecting the untouched words of the original play with a visual feast of bright lights, thumping remixes and diction that smacks of the present day. You won’t see Leo on the stage, but there are plenty of gorgeous guys worthy of a spread in Tiger Beat magazine.

    Throne of Blood (1957)

    Even if you’ve never seen a film by director Akira Kurosawa, you’ve probably felt his influence somewhere else. His revolutionary artistry impacted the language of film forever and often drew from Shakespearean elements. He is best known for his prolific creation of samurai epics – stories of honor, revenge and retribution in feudal Japan. A lifelong student of drama, Kurosawa believed Scotland and Japan in the Middle Ages shared similar social problems and set out to adapt Macbeth in his wheelhouse. While elements of modern dance and choreography make the entire room pulsate with life in The Space, Throne of Blood draws from Japan’s traditional noh theatre. Masked characters, an emphasis on body language and open staging add a beautiful minimalism to the film while peppering in battles of a massive scale. It is considered one of his greatest films, and for many critics, the greatest adaptation of Macbeth ever seen on screen. If you’re okay with spoilers, the finale (and how it was made), is the perfect example of his creativity.

    carolyn_profilepicAbout the Author: Carolyn Michaels

    Carolyn Michaels is the copywriter for the DCPA’s Marketing Department, acting as voice of the organization through everything from Facebook posts to mail via snail and internet. Though she works for the stage, she is a cinephile at heart, spending her free time badgering friends to watch arthouse films that could change their lives (if they would just stay awake until the end).
     

    Macbeth: Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Director Robert O'Hara: Can Macbeth transcend gender?

    Tattoos, video and opening-night Macbeth photos
    Video, photos: Your first look at Macbeth
    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Video bonus: DCPA Theatre Company's Macbeth:

  • Robert O'Hara: Can 'Macbeth' transcend gender?

    by John Moore | Oct 04, 2017

    In the video above, 'Macbeth' director Robert O’Hara talks about the setting for his re-imagined Macbeth, why making his players warlocks necessitated an all-male cast and more. The play continues in the Space Theatre through Oct. 29. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Shakespeare needs to be alive, Macbeth director says,
    'Or you are just blowing wind into a corpse.' 

    John Moore: There is a conflict in the American theatre when it comes to Shakespeare. Traditionalists think of Shakespeare as a sacred cow and that it should be presented exactly as written. But when you want to attract younger generations to Shakespeare, is it no longer enough to let his words speak for themselves?

    Robert O’Hara: It’s still live theatre, and that means it needs to be alive. If you are just blowing wind into a corpse, then you just have the walking dead. I think you need to give it life, and the life comes from the people who are in the room right now.  

    John Moore: How does that affect your approach to Macbeth?

    Robert O’Hara: I don't want to go into a theatre and see a museum piece. I think there is an elitist quality to Shakespeare in this country, and I don't believe in elite theatre. Theatre is already elite, and I don't want to come in and put another level of elitism on top of that. So I tried to make this production as honest as possible, and to speak for now.

    John Moore: As a director, this is your first production of a Shakespeare play. Has that been a matter of preference or opportunity?

    Robert O’Hara: I have not been afforded opportunities to direct Shakespeare. African-Americans are not usually in the room directing Shakespeare. So when I was asked to direct Macbeth by the Denver Center, I was very intrigued. I thought, ‘Now I can have a conversation I have been waiting to have for a long time.'

    John Moore: Why have you not been afforded that opportunity before now?

    Robert O'Hara Quote MacbethRobert O’Hara: There is a Catch-22 in the American theatre. I am mostly considered a playwright and a director of new plays, right? So I don't usually get offered to direct classical work. The Catch-22 is that you won't get offered classical work because you haven't done classical work. But if you are not getting the opportunity to direct classical work, when can you ever do it? I think we categorize artists of color, because white people are allowed to do everything. They can do black plays, Latino plays, classical plays, new plays, whatever. But somehow I am only supposed to do one certain type of play. My entire career has been working against that. There are far more white people directing Shakespeare than people of color in this country. That's something important to acknowledge and be transparent about. I know that I am in Denver doing Macbeth and that this is the first time anyone has ever asked me to do Shakespeare. That is significant for me in my career, but I'm sure it is significant for the theatre community here, too.

    John Moore: How did that happen?

    Robert O’Hara: (DCPA Associate Artistic Director) Nataki Garrett called and asked if I would be interested in coming to Denver. It was sort of a fishing expedition. She was interested in a play I had done at Steppenwolf in Chicago, and I said, 'Well, I'm not so sure I want to go all the way to Denver to do something I have already done. What else do you have?' And she said they were thinking about Macbeth and a couple of other plays. And I was like, "Hmmm ... Macbeth! And that sparked a conversation that just kept going. I threw the book at her, because I don't want to go to any theatre just to be told, 'Don't be who you are, because this is Shakespeare!' So I said to Nataki, 'Can I do this and this and that?' And she kept saying yes.

    John Moore: What do you bring to Shakespeare that a white director might not?

    Robert O’Hara: What Shakespeare means to me is going to be different from what Shakespeare means to a lot of other people, just based on who I am. James Baldwin once said that when African-Americans speak Shakespeare, it changes the meaning of Shakespeare’s words. The language becomes universal when it is spoken out loud by people who were never supposed to speak it.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: How is this Robert O'Hara's Macbeth?

    Robert O'Hara: It’s not. It's Shakespeare's Macbeth. Robert O'Hara is simply interpreting it. What I love is that Shakespeare allows you the interpretation. There is nothing that I am going to do that is going to destroy Macbeth. I don't have that power. But I think this production allows me the freedom to actually be fully who I am.
    John Moore: So what is your concept?

    Robert O'Hara: The concept comes out of a simple question that I asked myself when I was reading the play, and it sounds crazy. But I thought, 'Why are you talking to witches?' In what society does one see three witches in a field and he just goes up to them and is like, 'Hey, what's up?' If I see three witches, I am going to run, jump out the window, race, scream, pray, whatever. But these guys are just rolling up on witches, and they don't seem to be afraid of them. That in itself tells me that this is a play that is fantastical. That is has the imagination at its core. This is a world where people and witches can interact freely. And that started me thinking about the way we deal with otherness in our culture. At the same time we denigrate 'the other,' we also praise them. We go to the shaman or the witch doctor or the medicine man to help us root out the evils in our lives - and then we will burn them at the stake. I have always thought the witches are unfairly blamed for what Macbeth does. And so I thought, what if we told this story from the witches' perspective? What if a bunch of witches got together and said, ‘Why don't we do the story of Macbeth?’ They don’t change the story. The idea is that these characters are being played by people with supernatural powers. By people who are actually talked about in the play.

    John Moore: And in fact, you set the play in the Pit of Acheron.

    Robert O'Hara: Yes, and the Pit of Acheron is an actual setting in Shakespeare’s play. The warlocks take Macbeth there, and that is where our play takes place.

    John Moore: How is this relatable to today?

    Robert O'Hara: They have just built an arts complex on the 9/11 memorial site at the World Trade Center. And I am assuming there will be plays staged there that have something to do with the 9/11 tragedy. And I think to and set this play at a place that is actually in the story gives it a different life.

    John Moore: What about the idea to make it an all-male cast?

    Robert O'Hara: That comes from the Banquo line, when he says something like, ‘You should be women, but you have beards.’ When I read that, I was like, 'What if they are men?' Of course, all of Shakespeare's plays were originally performed by men. I wanted to explore what that means. 

    John Moore: Lady Macbeth has been called the most bloodthirsty character in all of Shakespeare – including her husband. Does that fact that she was created by a man in patriarchal Jacobean times tell us more about her – or about Shakespeare? 

    Robert O’Hara: Here we have this legendary character of Lady Macbeth, and she is demonized and deified and everything in between. But it's essentially a character written by a man and at the time played by a man, and most of the audiences then were probably men. It’s exciting for me to put a bunch of men in a room and we deal with that dynamic. It's exciting to explore how one feels about that.

    John Moore: How is she presented?

    Robert O’Hara: We are not making Lady Macbeth a man, we are just having her be played by a man. So we’re not doing a drag show.

    (Story continues below the photo)

     Macbeth Adam Poss. Photo by Adams Viscom


    John Moore: And what is your take on her now?

    Robert O’Hara: Look, she doesn't even have a name. Her name is ‘Lady.’ Right there, she is a symbol for something. I feel like she is just as important as the title character of Macbeth. That in fact you can't have Macbeth the play without Lady Macbeth. To me, they are one and the same. When I see Lady M on stage, they usually remove all femininity from her. She is basically a masculine, evil, unsexed woman. But I think she is no more evil than anyone else in the play. Remember the witches don't actually tell Macbeth to kill anyone. They just say, 'You are going to be the king.' And then he and his wife start reaching for daggers. What women goes, ‘I would dash the brains of this kid?' That sounds crazy. Especially a woman who has lost a child. And yet she is saying this to encourage Macbeth to kill someone.

    John Moore: What is Shakespeare's complicity in all of this?

    Robert O’Hara: There are no examples that I know of in Shakespeare of a man pretending to be a woman - as a serious plot point. There are tons of examples of a woman pretending to be a man, and everyone accepts it. But where is the play where a man pretends to be a woman, and everyone in the world of the play accepts it? That’s because nobody wants to be a woman in this sexist society. Women should want to be men. That says something about the society these plays are written in. 
     
    John Moore: Are you worried about an anti-feminist response by removing the female voice?

    Robert O’Hara: I contend that there was never a woman's voice in Macbeth. I want to explore the idea of what happens when you get a bunch of men in a locker-room setting, if you will, they begin to deal with a heterosexual relationship. What does that reveal? I am less interested in what happens if you remove the female voice because I am not doing a play in which there ever was a female voice. I am doing a play in which there was a male voice inside of a female character who acts, for the most part, as if she were a man. But just because I am doing men with all men does not mean that I’m not interested in women. I want to see what 17 male actors will make of some of the places in the play that are very vulnerable and emotional - on top of all the violence. Because violence is easy. But can we have a relationship between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, and even between Macbeth and Banquo, that transcends gender?

    John Moore: Is there a statement in all of that?

    Robert O’Hara: I'm not really interested in making statements. I am really interested in asking questions about our value systems, and what we accept in male behavior that we don't accept in other behaviors. I am interested in the nature of being complicit in a society, because Macbeth gets away with a lot of stuff before they kill him. I am interested in exploring the idea of reaping what you sow. Because Macbeth's death is going to be brutal. I think about a dictator like Muammar Gaddafi and how he was killed and dragged through the streets. The message is: When you radicalize a group of people, be careful because they will turn on you. That is central to what I am exploring. When you do a play that has an act of violence as its central core, that dagger, if you will, may come and slit your own throat.

    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.

    Macbeth
    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage

    Tattoos, video and opening-night Macbeth photos
    Video, photos: Your first look at Macbeth
    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening


    Video: Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's Macbeth:



    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

  • 'Our Souls at Night' released today on Netflix

    by John Moore | Sep 30, 2017
    Jordan Leigh. Our Souls at Night
    'Our Souls at Night' reunites Robert Redford and Jane Fonda nearly 50 years after 'Barefoot in the Park.' Here they visit an animal-shelter adopter played by DCPA actor Jordan Leigh. Photo by Netflix.

    Gentle film caps Kent Haruf's career, reunites Fonda and Redford, and employs Colorado film and theatre artists

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The film version of Our Souls at Night, the final book by acclaimed Colorado novelist Kent Haruf, was released today on Netflix. It stars Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, and features a bevy of local actors.

    Our Souls at Night nicely bookends the Hollywood superstars' screen lives 50 years after Barefoot in the Park debuted in 1967. In the classic Neil Simon comedy, the pair starred as young newlyweds. In Our Souls at Night, they play widowed neighbors who strike up a romantic relationship, hoping to make the most of the time they have left. The New York Times' A.O. Scott calls the couple "neighbors with benefits." And he calls the new movie: "As gentle as a moth’s wing, as soft and sweet as the flesh of a marshmallow."

    Our Souls At NightThe film also features such luminaries as Bruce Dern and Judy Greer. Colorado theatre and film audiences will recognize John Ashton (Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County), Jordan Leigh (DCPA's upcoming First Date) and film actor Brock DeShane, who has a small small part as a ballroom dancer at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. 

    "My junior-high drama teacher wrote, 'To the next Robert Redford' in my yearbook at the end of 7th grade," Deshane wrote on his Facebook page. "I don't think that's going to happen, but I'd like to think that, somewhere, my drama teacher is smiling."

    (Pictured above right: Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in 'Our Souls at Night,' directed by Ritesh Batra. Photo by Kerry Brown/Netflix. Below right: Fonda and Redford in 'Barefoot in the Park' 50 years ago.)

    'Our Souls at Night' will reunite 'Barefoot in the Park' stars Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.Leigh, who is an avid animal-rights supporter in real life, plays, appropriately enough, an animal-shelter worker who is paid a visit by no less than Redford and Fonda. Eagle eyes will notice an uncredited appearance by Su Teatro Artistic Director Tony Garcia.

    The director is Ritesh Batra. The screenplay is written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who also wrote Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, (500) Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now

    READ KENT HARUF'S FINAL INTERVIEW HERE


    The film was largely filmed in Colorado Springs at the home of Colorado College professor David Hendrickson. The crew was based in Florence. The film was screened last night in Colorado Springs. Read the Westword report here.

    Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.The sale of the movie rights put the DCPA Theatre Company's plans to adapt Our Souls at Night for the stage on hold. The Theatre Company previously commissioned and presented Haruf's entire Plainsong Trilogy, which included Eventide and Benediction, in their world-premiere stagings.

    As his other novels were, Our Souls at Night is set in a fictional town on the Eastern Colorado Plains. In the final interview before his death, with the DCPA's NewsCenter, Haruf said the story is inspired by his story with his wife, Cathy Haruf.

    In 2014, Fonda told Vanity Fair's Krista Smith that of all the co-stars she’s had over her career, the one she really wants to work with again is Redford. “I just love him,” she said. “The only bad thing about Redford is that he doesn’t like to do love scenes, so the fact that he didn’t look forward to those always made me sad.

    "I thought maybe we could have gotten it on.”

    DCPA actors read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover in June. Photo by John Moore.
    DCPA actors read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover in June 2016. Above, from left: Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Cast list:
    • Jane Fonda: Addie Moore
    • Iain Armitage: Jamie
    • Robert Redford: Louis Waters
    • Judy Greer: Holly
    • Matthias Schoenaerts: Gene
    • Bruce Dern: Dorlan
    • Phyllis Somerville: Ruth
    • Leana Lewis: Actress
    • Michael Love Toliver: Actor
    • Audrey Walters: Realtor
    • Hawley Penfold: Cafe Teenager
    • Kyrannio Margaros: Actress
    • Anthoula Katsimatides: Nursery Cashier
    • Ted Maritz: Priest
    • Kathleen Timberman: Ballroom Patron / Dancer
    • Andy Hankins: Cafe Patron
    • Pam Renall: Actress
    • Sarah Novotny: Cafe Patron / Hotel Patron
    • Erick Yokomizo: Non-Surgical Doctor
    • Fred Osborne: Table Patron at The Brown Palace Hotel
    • Michelle Fish Ullmann: Mom / Driver (as Michelle Fish)
    • Jordan Leigh: Shelter Volunteer
    • Onder Asir: Ballroom dancer
    • Erin Fasano: Animal Shelter Adopter
    • Michael Douglas Miller: Street Patron
    • Amanda Kallander: Dancer
    • John C. Ashton: Rudy
    • Brock DeShane: Ballroom Dancer
    • Barbara Ellen Carpenter: Parade Goer
    • Marty Bechina: Teacher
    • Alayna Lewis: Actress
    • Michelle Penfold: Street Patron
    • Rachel Hergert: Hotel Patron / Dancer
    • Jordan Garner: Hotel Guest / Dance Table Patron
    • Jeremy Fink: Ballroom Dancer
    • Pamela Joye Miller: Street Patron / Parade Goer
    • Bruce Penfold: Stink Eye Man
    • Joshua Rotunda: Waiter
    • Scott Swaggart: friend of Louis
    • Dianne E. Butts: Cafe Patron, Parade Goer (uncredited)
    • Maetrix Fitten: Pedestrian (uncredited)
    • Lisa Kohlbrenner: Softball game spectator (uncredited)
    • Josh Outzen: Parade Goer (uncredited)
    • Randy Outzen: Parade Goer (uncredited)
    • Javana Richardson: Ballroom Patron (uncredited)
    • Antonino Garcia: Surgical Doctor (uncredited)

    Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage of Kent Haruf:
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    DCPA will adapt Haruf's final novel for the stage
    DCPA actors to read from Kent Haruf's final book
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    Benediction opens as a celebration of the 'Precious Ordinary'
    DCPA to celebrate Kent Haruf on Feb. 7
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71


  • 'Smart People' opens rehearsals in full swing

    by John Moore | Sep 21, 2017
    Making of 'Smart People'

    Photos from the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Smart People,' which features Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Sharp comedy takes on the ways in which racism pervades American culture just as the national pendulum swings.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Smart People is a thought-provoking new comedy about all the ways in which racism pervades American culture. And it took playwright Lydia R. Diamond eight years to finish it.

    Imagine taking on that incendiary subject just as Barack Obama was about to assume the presidency, and completing it the same year he would cede it to Donald Trump.

    "She started the play at one time in our collective zeitgeist, and she finished it at a completely different time in our collective zeitgeist,” DCPA Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett said Tuesday at the opening rehearsal for Smart People, which marks her Denver directorial debut. 

    Smart PeopleThe collective national pendulum, as gravity seemingly demands, had fully swung. And Garrett believes the only way today’s highly polarized Americans are ever going to find common ground and genuine connection again is if they slow down and stop talking long enough to meet somewhere in the middle.

    "What's so awesome about something swinging wildly back and forth is the part that's in the middle," said Garrett. "Not the extremes where we all seemingly live now, but the space where we do come together and we are able to find intersection.”

    And that’s what Diamond butts up against in her critically acclaimed, four-person comedy that has its first performance Oct. 13 in the Ricketson Theatre.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Diamond’s story, set on the eve of Obama’s historic 2008 presidential election, centers on four "smart people" with Harvard connections: A surgeon, an actress, a psychologist and a neuro-psychiatrist who is studying how the brain responds to race. As their relationships evolve, the four discover that their motivations and interpretations are not as pure as their wealth of knowledge would have them believe.

    Diamond was inspired to write Smart People by a news report about an actual neuroscientist who was studying the potential link between bias and brain chemistry. He hypothesized that a person's chemical composition can cause him to be biased, prejudiced or racist.

    "For me, the play is kind of like going back to the scene of the crime: Going back to the beginning of something to try to figure out where we are now," said Garrett.

    “This play intersects with these four highly intellectual people who keep smacking up against each other like two rocks trying to make a spark. They are trying figure out, 'Well why don't you believe what I believe? Because if I believe that something is really important and true, then you should also have that belief.’

    “That's what sparks the comedy: You have these four sexy, crazy people who are almost too smart for their own good all colliding around these ideas. But if they could just stop talking and give in to each other's ideas, they might actually be able to hear something.

    “I think ultimately, Smart People is a call for people to listen."

    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.  

    Smart People: Ticket information
    SmartPeople_show_thumbnail_160x160Lydia R. Diamond. This acclaimed new play is a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Oct. 13, through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Smart People:
    Cast announced for Smart People: Fresh and familiar
  • Video, photos: Your first look at DCPA's 'Macbeth'

    by John Moore | Sep 20, 2017



    Without changing a word of Shakespeare's text, DCPA Theatre Company Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into his raw reimagining of Macbeth, which will mark the grand reopening of the in-the-round Space Theatre. Video above by DCPA
    Video Producer David Lenk. 

    Production photos:

    Macbeth
    To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Macbeth: Ticket information
    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    DCPA Macbeth. Adams Viscom. Scenie Design by Jason Sherwood.
    DCPA Theatre Company's 'Macbeth.' Scenic Design by Jason Sherwood. Photo by Adams Viscom.

    Macbeth
    : Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage

    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Making of Macbeth: Backstage photo gallery

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Perspectives: 'Macbeth' director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'

    by John Moore | Sep 19, 2017
    Perspectives Macbeth. Robert O'Hara. Steven Cole Hughes'Perspectives' is a series of free panel discussions held just before the first public performance of each DCPA Theatre Company staging. The 'Macbeth' panel included director Robert O'Hara and actor Steven Cole Hughes, above, as well as actors Alec Hynes and Kim Fischer (pictured below right). The moderator was Literary Director Doug Langworthy. The next 'Perspectives' will be held before the first preview of 'Smart People' at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, in the Jones Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'The Curse,' the costumes and the king obsessed with witches are all fair game at season's first Perspectives

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Macbeth An audience member before Friday’s first performance of Macbeth wanted to know: Is “The Curse” real?

    He was talking about the most famous – and famously respected – superstition in all of theatre: Say the word "Macbeth" inside a theatre, and you invite disaster. Better to say “The Scottish Play” or “Mackers.” Shakespeare’s play gets its evil reputation in part because of the witches in the story, and of course the legendary tales of misfortune that have been associated with hundreds of Macbeth stagings going back to 1606.

    Macbeth. Perspectives. Photo by John Moore. Robert O’Hara, who is directing Macbeth for the DCPA Theatre Company, says so far – knock on wood! – there have been no incidents attributable to black magic lurking under the brand-new Space Theatre floorboards. But he said things got super weird before rehearsals even began.

    O'Hara invited the actors playing Macbeth and Lady M (Ariel Shafir and Adam Poss) to his home a few months ago to talk about the play. As they were diving into the play, O’Hara looked outside and noticed an inexplicable pack of wild kittens loitering underneath his tree. He says they didn’t live in the neighborhood, and they all disappeared by the next morning. But that day, Poss’ simple plane trip home from Cincinnati to Chicago ended up taking nearly 24 hours to complete.

    Weird, sisters.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Here are five more things we learned about 'Macbeth at Perspactives:

    Macbeth set design by Jason SherwoodTrue blue: NUMBER 1 Macbeth is O’Hara’s first Shakespeare production as a director. And while he brings a different sensibility to this staging that is evident from costumes to clothing to music to movement, he’s not rewriting a word of Shakespeare’s language. “Nothing you see will defame Shakespeare,” O'Hara said. “I didn't come here to do Shakespeare in order to not do Shakespeare. I am a playwright, too, so if I wanted to do an adaptation of Shakespeare, I would have just written my own play. But at the same time, I don't want the audience to see a museum piece. I want them to see something that shows how elastic Shakespeare is. I am not interested in how Shakespeare is ‘supposed’ to be done. I am interested in how I meet Shakespeare’s language today.”

    (Pictured above and right: A look at the 'Macbeth' set design by Jason Sherwood.)

    NUMBER 2About those costumes: "We don't wear many. You're welcome,” actor Steven Cole Hughes said to laughs. O’Hara said it makes perfect sense for warlocks to live their lives more unencumbered by inhibition (and clothing) than humans. “Our show is essentially warlocks putting on a play, and these warlocks have a different sense of their bodies. They have a different sense of nakedness,” O’Hara said. "But when it comes time for the warlocks to put on Shakespeare’s play, they add some Jacobean clothing. They’re costumes. But underneath, they are still who they are.”

    NUMBER 3 What the Hecate? There is a character in the play who usually gets cut in contemporary stagings. Her name is Hecate, queen of the witches. Hecate says: 'Bring Macbeth to the Pit of Acheron,” and that’s where O’Hara has chosen to set this production. It’s years after the real-life story of Macbeth, the witches are all male warlocks, and they are performing the play as a kind of historical ritual. And here, we will meet Hecate. “Robert did some research that said Hecate is a three-headed witch, so there are three of us actors paying her,” said Hughes. “We had the freedom to create both how we move and talk as a trio. Hecate has a monologue, and we split it up between the three of us." 

    NUMBER 4And as for the music: “It's going to start loud, and get louder,” says Hughes. O’Hara only asks of his audience what he asked of his cast on the first day of rehearsal: "Invest in yes," he said. And if you do, he added, "you will be rewarded at the end.” The play is performed as a ritual not unlike the Catholic Church’s Stations of the Cross. And each ritual is accompanied its own music, movement and lighting scheme. These are transitions that act as a bridge between the scenes that Shakespeare wrote, and the hybrid world these warlocks inhabit at the Pit of Acheron.

    NUMBER 5Back to those those witches: Scotland’s King James I – yes, namesake of the King James Bible – was obsessed with the subject of witchcraft. There were 247 witch trials during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James, and he was a frequent instigator of them. Belief in witches was common at the time. James, who became the first king of both England and Scotland in 1603, even wrote a book on supernatural creatures and demons. James was also a big fan of live theatre, and he hired Shakespeare to write plays for him. The Bard wrote Macbeth specifically to please King James. In the play, quintessential good-guy Banquo is meant to represent James. And to please His Majesty, Shakespeare inserted more biblical imagery than in any of his other plays.

    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.

    Macbeth. Perspectives. Photo by John Moore.

    Actors Steven Cole Hughes and Kim Fischer demonstrate some of the choreography in 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore.


    Macbeth: Ticket information
    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Cast announced for DCPA's 'Smart People': Fresh and familiar

    by John Moore | Sep 19, 2017

    Smart People
    From left: Tatiana Williams, Timothy McCracken, Jason Veasey and Esther Chen.


    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced the full cast and creative team for its upcoming production of Lydia R. Diamond's Smart People, featuring the Denver directorial debut of Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. The production includes:

    • Esther Chen as Ginny Yang
    • Timothy McCracken as Brian White
    • Jason Veasey as Jackson Moore
    • Tatiana Williams as Valerie Johnston

    McCracken, a graduate of the DCPA's National Theatre Conservatory and now the Head of Acting for DCPA Education, has previously appeared in Theatre Company productions of A Christmas Carol, Jackie and Me, The Giver and others.

    A Smart People 360 Jaso VeasayVeasey, a native of Colorado Springs, graduated from Coronado High School and the University of Northern Colorado. His local credits include playing Jesus in Town Hall Arts Center's Godspell in 2003 (pictured right), and the ensemble in the Arvada Center's Ragtime. Last year, he performed in the Henry Award-nominated Best Musical Motones vs. Jerseys at the Lone Tree Arts Center. He made his Broadway debut in the ensemble of The Lion King.

    Garrett was profiled in American Theatre as “One to Watch,” saying she is attracted to “plays that impact us in tremendous ways, chasing us out of our comfort zones.”

    Veasay, Chen and Williams will be making their DCPA Theatre Company debuts in Diamond's acclaimed new play, a biting comedy that follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. No matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life. Fiercely clever dialogue and energetic vignettes keep the laughs coming in a story that Variety calls “Sexy, serious and very, very funny.”

    Diamond’s award-winning plays have been produced throughout the country, including the 2011 Tony Award-nominated Broadway production Stick Fly.

    The creative team for Smart People will include:
    • Efren Delgadillo Jr. (Scenic Designer)
    • Lex Liang (Costume Designer, DCPA's Disgraced)
    • Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Lighting Designer)
    • Curtis Craig (Sound Designer)
    • Kaitlyn Pietras (Projection Designer)
    • Lyle Raper (returning longtime Theatre Company Stage Manager)
    • Corin Ferris (Assistant Stage Manager).
     

    Smart People: Ticket information

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Oct. 13, through Nov. 19
    • Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth

    by John Moore | Sep 17, 2017

    'I think a lot of women (who play Lady Macbeth) have to bring this masculine energy to it. But because I am a man with that masculine energy (my job is) to find what that feminine energy is," Adam Poss says of his role as Lady M  for the DCPA Theatre Company. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'When you see someone like me playing Macbeth, already you are getting a different energy, look and feel.'


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In one way, Director Robert O’Hara is telling the tale of Macbeth just as Shakespeare did — with an all-male cast. Not that anyone will mistake O’Hara’s staging with anything resembling Shakespeare as it was presented in Jacobean times.

    O'Hara is telling the tale for the DCPA Theatre Company from the point of view of a coven of shamanic warlocks. In his world, these warlocks are getting together years after the actual story and are now performing Macbeth as a kind of passion play. So the storytellers are all necessarily male.

    Adam Poss. Macbeth. But Adam Poss, the acclaimed Chicago actor playing Lady Macbeth, believes the female voice will come through loud and clear through this unusual telling, which he says is at once both historic and futuristic. "It's a great combination of old and new, and we're going to freak people out a little bit," he said with a laugh. 

    The strongest women of the time were polar opposites and deadly rivals, Poss said: "You have Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots and they both represented very different ideas of who women were. Queen Elizabeth was the virgin and Mary Queen of Scots was  bloodthirsty." Lady Macbeth was more of the latter, clawing her way to a place of power in the only way a woman could: Through her husband. "She could not be out there fighting, and taking on a kinship on her own," Poss said, "But she can make  things happen in her own way behind the scenes."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Poss said it will be both useful and relevant for a contemporary audience to see the story with women and witches who have facial hair. 

    "I think as we move forward, things are less binary in terms of what it means to be a man and a woman," he said. "Just because this is a company of men does not mean that there cannot be intimacy between men.

    "At its heart, yes, Macbeth  is a play about ambition and being bloodthirsty and taking people on to achieve what you want. But it’s also about a marriage, and a husband and wife doesn’t necessarily have to be a man and a woman. There can be partnerships between men that have love and care and tenderness but also violence and aggression and manipulation. That’s just human."  

    Adam Poss. Macbeth. Photo by John Moore.
    Adam Poss with his castmates at the first rehearsal for 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter


    Adam Poss: At a glance

    At the Denver Center: Debut. Other regional credits: Macbeth (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville), 2666, Teddy Ferrara, A Christmas Carol, The Magic Play, The Solid Sand Below (Goodman Theatre), Lot’s Wife (Kansas City Rep), The North Pool, The Lake Effect (TheatreWorks, Palo Alto) Other credits: 1984, Animals Out of Paper (Steppenwolf Theatre), The History Boys (Studio Theatre, D.C.). Oedipus el Rey, Queen (Victory Gardens Theater); The Lake Effect, Scorched (Silk Road Rising); The Beats (16th Street Theater). Television: Shameless, Empire, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Crisis, The Chicago Code, The Mob Doctor. Film: The Middle Distance, The Drunk, The King of URLS, Speed Dating.

    Macbeth: Ticket information
    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Sir Peter Hall turned global theatre spotlight on Denver with 'Tantalus'

    by John Moore | Sep 13, 2017
    Tantalus

    Photos from the DCPA Theatre Company's historic 2000 co-production of 'Tantalus.' To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that
    appears. Photos by P. Switzer. 

    The co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company was 'an extraordinary, landmark event in world culture.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Sir Peter Hall, who co-starred in the greatest off-stage drama in the history of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, "was one of the pillars of postwar British theatre," Charles McNulty wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

    Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, made theatre history in 2000 when he directed the massive, 10-play epic Trojan War cycle Tantalus at the Denver Center. RSC artistic director Adrian Noble called his co-production with the DCPA "an extraordinary, landmark event in world culture." Hall died Monday at age 86.

    After Hall failed to woo European investors to premiere Tantalus in London, DCPA founder Donald R. Seawell not only came forward offering the services of the Denver Center, he seeded the endeavor with his own money, which some reports put as high as $8 million.

    Peter Hall. David Zalubowski“I call Donald Seawell my deus ex-machina,” Hall said at the time. “When I had failed to raise the money we needed, Donald came along with that rare mixture of madness and shrewdness which marks all good impresarios and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ He allowed us to dream our dream.”

    The subsequent play – which had been written by John Barton over 17 years, is still to this day billed as the largest undertaking in the 2,500-year history of theatre. “Nothing has come along like it, and it probably won’t ever happen again,” Seawell said before his death in 2015. “It brought more attention to the Denver Center than anything else we have ever done. It brought critics from all over the world. It brought people to Colorado from 38 states and more than 40 countries.”

    Tantalus, directed by Peter Hall and his son, Edward, and created by an international ensemble of artists, was an epic spectacle on-stage and off. The six-month rehearsal process and subsequent British tour is a tale of artistic squabbles, clashing egos, mounting tension, hurdles of time and money – and spectacular artistic achievement culminating in a standing-room only run at London’s Barbican Theatre.

    Tantalus chronicled the follies of war and mankind and for a short time placed Denver at the very heart of world theatre. But the creative process destroyed the friendship between Barton and Hall, who demanded rewrites. Instead Barton returned to London, where he sat as the Denver marathon was being rapturously received. Meanwhile, as opening approached, frustrated co-director Mick Gordon disappeared without a trace. The cast and crew told a documentary filmmaking team that Gordon’s flight was "no less than a ruthless, demoralizing act of abandonment.“

    Robert Petkoff TantalusActor Robert Petkoff, who appeared in Tantalus and returned in 2015 to star in the DCPA Theatre Company’s production of Sweeney Todd, said working on Tantalus "helped me understand the opening line in A Tale of Two Cities: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ ” he said. “There were moments that felt like agony and betrayal, and more moments that were sheer ecstasy and filled with the joy of storytelling in an exciting and original way.”

    Read The Los Angeles Times’ tribute to Sir Peter Hall

    Journalists from leading publications around the world covered the opening, including The London Times, The Independent, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The London Observer, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Toronto’s National Post, The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News.

    Sandra Dillard of The Denver Post called the staging, which was presented in three parts, “a triumph for all involved.” Mike Pierson of the Rocky Mountain News called ita play that must be seen to be believed.” Michael Kuchwara of The Associated Press called Tantalus “a corker of a tale.” And Time magazine listed the production among the top 10 best theatrical events of the year 2000.

    “With its sheer scope, size and level of ambition, Tantalus fulfilled The DCPA’s stated mission to present the best theatre in the finest facilities to the widest possible audience,” wrote former Los Angeles Times critic Sylvie Drake, then the DCPA's Director of Publications. "It was The Denver Center’s millennial gift to the city, and the crown jewel in its 22-year time-honored tradition of presenting award-winning theatre in the heart of downtown Denver.”

    Hall was born Nov. 22, 1930, and attended Cambridge University, where his classmates included eventual longtime DCPA Theatre Company member and teacher Tony Church. ("Well, that didn't harm my career a bit then, did it?" Church later joked.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    At age 29, Hall introduced Samuel Beckett to the English-speaking world with the British premiere of Waiting for Godot. “Nothing would be the same after his 1955 London production of Godot,” McNulty wrote. Leading Drama critic Kenneth Tynan said the production forced him “to re-examine the rules which have hitherto governed the drama; and having done so, to pronounce them not elastic enough.” Next, Hall set off “another revolution in dramatic possibility,” McNulty wrote, with Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming.

    Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 and went on to build an international reputation in theatre, opera, film and television. He was director of the National Theatre (1973-88) and artistic director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera (1984-90). He formed the Peter Hall Company (1998–2011) and became founding director of the Rose Theatre, Kingston in 2003. Throughout his career, Hall was a vociferous champion of public funding for the arts. He remained active as a director through 2011, when he was diagnosed with dementia.
    Sir Peter Hall NATIONAL THEATRE

    Many tributes have been paid to Hall since his death, among them:

    • Peter Brook: “Peter was a man for all seasons – he could play any part that was needed."
    • Elaine Paige: "Peter Hall had absolute authority and, as a heavyweight of the theatre, real presence."
    • Griff Rhys Jones: "Peter was an absolute smoothie, the most charming and diplomatic man.”
    • Samuel West: "Peter was an extraordinarily energetic, imaginative director – if you left him in the corner of a room he’d direct a play – but he was also a great campaigner. He never stopped arguing for the role of subsidized art in a civilized society and its ability to change people’s lives.”

    Hall was married four times, including for 10 years to actress Leslie Caron. He was married to Nicola Frei since 1990, He fathered four children: Christopher, Jennifer, Edward (one of the Tantalus directors), Lucy, Rebecca and Emma.

    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.

    This report was compiled from archives, original reporting and current news reports

    Sir Peter Hall’s Tantalus program bio in 2000:

    Born in Bury St. Edmunds in 1930, Peter Hall was educated at the Perse School, Cambridge, and St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. After University, a debut at Windsor as director of the Oxford Playhouse, Peter Hall ran the Arts Theatre in London where productions included the world premiere of the English-language version of Waiting for Godot.

    Peter Hall first worked at Stratford in 1956, returning in ’57, ’58, and ’59, when productions included Cymbeline with Peggy Ashcroft, Coriolanus with Laurence Olivier and A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Charles Laughton.

    In 1960 he founded the Royal Shakespeare Company, directing 18 plays at Stratford for the RSC, including The Wars of the Roses; David Warner’s Hamlet and premieres of plays by Harold Pinter, Edward Albee and John Whiting, establishing the London home of the RSC at the Aldwych Theatre.

    In 1973, Peter hall was appointed Director of the Royal National Theatre, a post he held for 15 years and during which he moved the company to the new premises on the South Bank. Productions for the RNT included John Gabriel Borkman, Happy Days, Hamlet, Tamburlaine the Great, Bedroom Farce, Amadeus, No Man’s Land, Volpone, The Oresteia, Antony and Cleopatra, Animal Farm, The Tempest, Betrayal, Cymbeline and The Winter’s Tale. He returned to the RNT to direct The Oedipus Plays by Sophocles which opened in Epidaurus as part of the Athens Festival.

    On leaving the RNT, he launched The Peter Hall Company with productions of Orpheus Descending with Vanessa Redgrave and The Merchant of Venice with Dustin Hoffman. Eighteen other productions followed including An Ideal Husband, The Master Builder, the Stephen Dillane Hamlet, Lysistrata, School for Wives, An Absolute Turkey and A Streetcar Named Desire with Jessica Lange playing in the West End, the regions, Broadway and Europe.

    The season of 13 plays at the Old Vic in 1997 was a landmark. In 1998 the company moved to the Piccadilly Theatre where Hall staged productions of Waiting for Godot, The Misanthrope, Major Barbara, Filumena and Kafka’s Dick. In the summer of 1999 he directed Measure for Measure and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson in Los Angeles where he also brought his remounting of Amadeus, a hit on Broadway in 2000.

    Since his debut in 1957 with The Rope Dancers, Peter Hall has worked frequently on Broadway, winning Tony Awards for The Homecoming and Amadeus. In February 1992 he directed the world premiere of John Guare’s Four Baboons Adoring the Sun. His production of An Ideal Husband transferred to Broadway in 1996. He received Tony nominations as Best Director for both of these productions.

    Peter Hall also has directed more than 40 operas all over the world including Glyndebourne Festival Opera (where he was Artistic Director, 1984-90), the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Geneva, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, The Metropolitan Opera House, New York and Bayreuth, where he directed a celebrated Ring Cycle.

    For television he has directed She’s Been Away, The Camomile Law (Channel 4) and Jacob for Turner TV/Lux. In 1996 he directed and produced The Final Passage a two-part series based on the award-winning book by Caryl Phillips.

    Films include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Three Into Two Won’t Go, The Homecoming, Akenfield and Orpheus Descending.

    His diaries about the opening of the new National Theatre were published in 1983 and his autobiography, Making An Exhibition of Myself, was published in 1993.

     

     

     

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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.