• Bobby G Awards Outstanding Chorus nominee: Regis Jesuit High School

    by John Moore | May 23, 2018
    Regis Jesuit High School Bobby G AwardsRegis High School's 'Fiddler on the Roof'


    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Each year, we single out one category for further recognition on the NewsCenter. This year, we are spotlighting the five schools nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Chorus with a Q&A with each school's Choral Director. Next up: Regis Jesuit High School's Fiddler on the Roof in Aurora.

    REGIS JESUIT HIGH SCHOOL

    Fiddler on the Roof
    Karen Wuertz, Choral Director and Performing Arts Department Chair

    • Karen Wuertz quoteHow does one become a Choral Director, anyway? Typically, by studying choral music in college. I have a Bachelor of Music Education degree with an emphasis in Choral Music, and a Masters in Music Ed. It would be hard to be a choral director without having formally studied choral music and vocal technique. Also, our Choral Director is chosen from within our performing-arts department. We rotate every year.
    • Which singing range is hardest to find at your school? We have lots of sopranos, tenors and baritones, but true basses and altos are hard to come by when working with teenagers. 
    • What is the value that a full and robust (and on-key) chorus brings to an overall production? A more authentic sound, especially when supported by a pit band.  Being able to spread the chorus out all around the stage depends on singers being able to stay in tune and keep their parts.
    • What’s the one thing you wish people knew about the chorus of a high-school musical production? The quality of the chorus really makes or breaks any show. Also, that rehearsals with the music is constant from beginning to end. We make time every rehearsal to sing.
    • What do you say to a student who is disappointed to be 'only' a chorus member? The chorus is so much fun! You’re on stage a lot, and you get costume changes. Also, we are an ensemble company here at Regis Jesuit. No matter how big or small the role, it is a privilege to be in the show in the first place. Although there are always a few who are disappointed. I encourage them by telling them: "Enter the process with an open mind and open heart — you will make some of the best friends you will ever have. Make the best of it. 

    • What is the greatest chorus performance you have ever witnessed? Hamilton on Broadway (above).

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What does it mean to your kids to be nominated for a Bobby G Award as a choral ensemble? It shows that our ensemble is tight and strong. And that their hard work paid off.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of music education and extracurricular activities at your school? They give kids incredible ways to discover themselves, and to connect with one another and with the world.

    Video produced by Jorge Paredes '18 of RJ Media

    Regis

    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    Our series of featured Outstanding Chorus nominees

    Meet our nominated Outstanding lead actors and actresses:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • DCPA’s Off-Center names Colorado writers selected for micro-theatre project

    by John Moore | May 22, 2018
    BITE SIZE. Micro-theatre. Off-CenterClockwise from top left: Selected 'Bite-Size' playwrights Edith Weiss; Theatre Artibus and Grapefruit Lab; Jeffrey Neuman; co-writers Kristen Adele Calhoun and Theo E.J. Wilson; and Sean Michael Cummings.

    Five Bite-Size selections will be presented at BookBar along with a reading series featuring 12 additional finalists

    A whole mouthful of bite-sized theatre is coming to northwest Denver.

    Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional line of programming, today announced its selections for Bite-Size, an evening of original short plays and performance pieces by Colorado artists — all with bookish twists — to be performed environmentally this fall at BookBar, an independent book store and wine bar in the Tennyson Street Arts District.

    Seam Michael Cummings in District Merchants at Miners Alley Playhouse. Sarah Roshan Photography.Each of the five selected works will be awarded $1,000 and produced as part of a full evening of micro-theatre that will run for 24 performances from Oct. 23-Nov. 18 at 4280 Tennyson St.

    “Micro-theatre is essentially short pieces with incredibly intimate audiences of 10 to 15 people," said Off-Center Curator Charlie Miller. “It is a unique approach to performance that is popular internationally, and we are excited to produce it with local artists in Denver.”

    Bite-Size is conceived and will be directed by 2017 True West Award winner Meridith Grundei, also one of Westword’s 2017 Colorado Creatives.

    (Pictured: Selected writer Sean Michael Cummings is currently performing in 'District Merchants' at Miners Alley Playhouse. Sarah Roshan Photography.)

    “This was an incredibly competitive process with 213 eligible submissions from 101 Colorado zip codes,” said Miller. “Every script was read by at least three different readers in a blind process that ensured the works were judged on their own merits, with the identity of the playwright hidden. The reading and selection committees were impressed with the depth of talent and quality of work that has come out of our vibrant creative community."

    honorable-disorder-erica-brown-theo-wilson-celia-herreraurbn-brandsStill, several prominent members of the local theatre community emerged from the anonymous selection process, including award-winning actor and director Edith Weiss; 2016 True West Award winner Jeffrey Neuman; poet and actor Theo E.J. Wilson, who recently starred in the Emancipation Theatre's Honorable Disorder; 2016 True West Award winner Miriam Suzanne; Kristen Adele Calhoun of Curoius Theatre's In the Red and Brown Water; and Sean Michael Cummings, currently performing in Miners Alley Playhouse's District Merchants.

    (Pictured: Erica Brown and Theo E.J. Wilson in 'Emancipation Theatre's recent production of Honorable Disorder.' Photo by Celia Herrera/URBN Brands.)

    "Choosing only five for production was heartbreaking, so we have selected 12 additional pieces to be part of a post-show reading series at BookBar," Miller said. "This gives our finalists the opportunity to hear their work out loud and share their wonderful pieces with the community.”

    Micro-theatre: It's the next big thing in theatre

    In addition to Colorado-based playwrights and creators, Off-Center also plans to hire all performers and other collaborators locally, Miller said.

    Each evening of Bite Size will feature the five selected original works performed in a different indoor or outdoor space simultaneously. Groups of 10 will see each piece in different orders. During scheduled breaks between performances, audiences will drink wine, eat tapas and socialize. In all, each evening will accommodate around 70 audience members.

    bookbar-denver-bookstore-wine-bar
    BookBar is located at at 4280 Tennyson St. Photo courtesy BookBar website.

    The selected plays

    A Pocket Full of Dandelions

    • By Kristen Adele Calhoun and Theo E.J. Wilson
    • Directed by Ashley Hamilton
    • While rebellion thrashes outside, in the library of Denver's maximum security prison, two women struggle to decide if liberty and justice is indeed for all. Along the way, they find an unlikely accomplice in this powerful and poetic drama. 

    Holy Couch

    • By Edith Weiss
    • Directed by Geoffrey Kent
    • The face of none other than Jesus Christ appears on the couch of a well-to-do suburban couple in this hilarious and surprisingly relevant comedy.
    true-west-jeffrey-neuman-800Marginalia
    • By Jeffrey Neuman
    • Directed by Mare Trevathan
    • In this charming, intimate and sly play, a reticent customer at a used bookstore is confronted by the shop’s manager when caught defacing some books.

    Outside the Room

    • Created by Theatre Artibus (Buba Basishvili and Meghan Frank) and Grapefruit Lab (Julie Rada, Kenny Storms, and Miriam Suzanne)
    • Conceived with writing by Larry Mitchell
    • A family struggles to find humanity and normalcy in a world made uncertain and strange after the transformation and “othering” of one of their own. This physical theatre piece imagines what happens on the other side of the iconic room in Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

    Toxoplasmosis (or) High Strangeness

    • By Sean Michael Cummings
    • Directed by Meridith C. Grundei
    • After the (maybe) accidental cremation of a cat and the discovery of a mysterious book, Ali and Hannah are thrust into quantum uncertainty. They'll have to bridge social, generational and metaphysical chasms if they want to escape this veterinarian's office intact.

    The finalists

    These 12 additional plays will be featured as part of a post-show reading series on Fridays and Saturday nights through the run. Specific dates and times to be announced:
    • Malum by Ashley Rice
    • Antiquarian by Jeff Carey
    • Help – Not Just Anybody by Leslie C. Lewis
    • Impact by Lorraine Carter-Larocque
    • Rats Who Eat Butterflies by Katherine Millett
    • Reindeer Cupcakes by Jennifer Faletto
    • Something to Read at the End of the World by Maureen Biermann
    • The F Word by Claire Caviglia
    • The Lotus Eaters by Travis Duncan
    • The Missing Piece by Christina Miller & Addie Levinsky
    • The Playdate by Rachel Hecker
    • This Side of the Room by Dakota C. Hill

    The semi-finalists

    • Allegory of a Library by Kenzie Kilroy
    • Alice by Michael Bouchard
    • Another Day by Kenneth Wajda
    • Easy Slow Cooker Recipes for the Whole Family by Colette Mazunik
    • Finally by Pamela Nocerino
    • Happy Birthday by Tara Rynders, Lia Bonfilio, and Elizabeth Carena
    • Mommy Digital by Warren Epstein
    • More Than Daisy Dares by Ethelyn Friend
    • Once Upon a Time There Was a Children’s Book Author by Lucy Wright
    • Once Upon a Midnight Dreary by Katy Williams
    • Primordial Soup(ish) by Peter Nemenoff
    • Roach by Regan Linton
    • The Black Square She Wears by Eddy Jordan
    • The Distance, in Five Parts by Anne Penner
    • The Forgetful Storyteller by Royce Roeswood
    • The Interview by Robert Garner McBearty

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Bite-Size: An Evening of Micro Theatre: Ticket information

    • Created and Directed by Meridith C. Grundei
    • Dramaturgy by Heidi Schmidt
    • Oct. 23-Nov. 18
    • At BookBar, 4280 Tennyson St.
    • Tickets can be purchased later this summer at denvercenter.org, 303-893-4100 or in person in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at 14th and Curtis streets

    More about the selected writers:

    Kristen Adele Calhoun (A Pocket Full of Dandelions) is an actor, writer and organizer. She is currently co-writing Canfield Drive, a play about Ferguson, Missouri under the commission of 651 ARTS and The St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre through the support of the National Performance Network. Other writing credits: "Aint Gonna Let Nobody: Songs and Stories of the Civil Rights Movement" under the commission of the NAACP; and "With These Hands - The Dr. Justina Ford Story" under the commission of Denver's Black American West Museum. A native of Dallas, Texas, she is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Rutgers University. www.KristenAdele.net

    Sean Michael Cummings (Toxoplasmosis (or) High Strangeness)  is a playwright, actor, director, juggler, comedian and native of Colorado. Sean’s plays have been produced by Colorado State University, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Zing! Theatre Company, Poudre High School, Denver Academy and Noco Arts Alliance. Recent acting credits include District Merchants, The 39 Steps, (Miners Alley Playhouse) White Rabbit Red Rabbit (Pipedream Productions, True West Award), and Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (Alamo Drafthouse Littleton). Sean is a proud alumnus of the KC/ACTF Playwriting Intensive and the Orchard Project Core Company, and was the 2017 recipient of the Orchard Project Fellowship for Playwriting.

    Grapefruit Lab (Outside the Room) is the combined vision of long-term collaborators Julie Rada, Kenny Storms, and Miriam Suzanne — creating cross-media and community-embedded performance. Grapefruit Lab made its debut in February 2018 with Jane/Eyre— a queer adaptation of the classic novel, featuring music by Teacup Gorilla and members of Artibus. Previous works (performed as Vicious Trap) include: The In-Between (2016), Glass (And Other Imponderables) (2011), Missa Populi (2010), and A Murder One Less(2009).

    Jeffrey Neuman (Marginalia) is an award-winning playwright whose work has been performed at theaters and festivals across the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. His plays have been produced and/or developed by Emerging Artists Theatre, LaMaMa, National Public Radio, Edinburgh Fringe, FUSION Theatre Company, and the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, among others. He is a Heideman Award Finalist, cofounder of Rough Draught Playwrights, and a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. www.theaterbyjeff.com.

    Theatre Artibus (Outside the Room), founded in 2017 by Meghan Frank and Buba Basishvili, is an international team of theatre makers dedicated to strengthening community through the experience of live performance. Through laughter, wonder and curiosity, Artibus strives to dissolve barriers and create connection. Current original works include: Oops, a family show about the glories of failure, and Tea Time, an absurdist comedy that explores power and the folly of hope.

    edith weissEdith Weiss (Holy Couch) was hired in the 1982/83 season as a writer and actor for the original show produced by the Denver Center, Is Denver Burning? No need to do the math, who's got time for that?  Suffice it to say that from then to now she has been acting, directing, and writing in theaters all over Denver. She's done improvisation professionally in Denver and around the country, and toured with her stand up around the country and internationally for the military. Her plays for children, for educational theater, and for community theaters have been published by Dramatics, Pioneer, Brooklyn, Heuer, Eldridge, and Big Dog Publishers.  Her short plays have been produced in competitions in New York, Chicago, Kansas City, and Boston.

    Theo E.J. Wilson (A Pocket Full of Dandelions) is a founding member of the Denver Slam Nuba team, who won the National Poetry Slam in 2011. Theo attended Florida A&M University, where he obtained his B.A. in Theater Performance. He returned to Denver and is now the Executive Director of Shop Talk Live, Inc. In 2013, Theo began speaking with “Rachel’s Challenge.” In 2015, Theo went undercover online in the Alt-Right to investigate the roots of racial hatred in millennials. His TED talk on the topic has since received more than 11 million views.

    About Off-Center

    As the most unconventional line of programming of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Off-Center specializes in unexpected experiences such as Sweet & Lucky, the first large-scale immersive show in Denver and The Wild Party, a decadent 360° party set in the Roaring 20s.  An Off-Center show is like no other theatre experience—by design. Off-Center focuses more on connecting people and upending expectations than on adhering to tradition. If you leave the show thinking “I’ve never seen anything like it,” then Off-Center has done its job. We want you to lose yourself, to welcome surprise and to remember that life is better when you live it Off-Center.

    About BookBar

    BookBar is a community bookstore wine bar for the whole family, featuring a highly curated selection of titles for all ages. Enjoy many local and house crafted hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer, coffee, tea and desserts at our bar. We are proud to host hundreds of literary events per year including author readings, story times, and book clubs.

    Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and at the DCPA’s online News Center.

  • Bobby G Awards Outstanding Chorus nominee: Chaparral High School

    by John Moore | May 22, 2018
    Chaparral High School Bobby G Awards CinderellaChaparral High School's Rodgers + Hammerstein’s 'Cinderella'


    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Each year, we single out one category for further recognition on the NewsCenter. This year, we are spotlighting the five schools nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Chorus with with an Q&A with each school's Choral Director. Next up: Chaparral High School's Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella in Parker.

    CHAPARRAL HIGH SCHOOL

    Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
    Luke Tredinnick, Choral Director

    • Luke Tredinnick Bobby G Awards ChaparralHow does one become a Choral Director, anyway? I performed in my first musical when I was 5 and sang in choir, band, orchestra and every musical-theater performance I could from elementary school through high school. I loved it so much that I went to college to study vocal (and instrumental) music performance and education. After performing in college, community theater and even some professional summer-stock performances, I began directing musicals as both the vocal and pit director. Now I teach choir full time at Chaparral, and along with that, I direct the vocal music for all our musicals.
    • Which singing range is hardest to find at your school? It varies each year, but typically male voices — especially in the tenor section— can be a bit more tricky to come by. That said, we have had several incredible male singers in my three years here.
    • What is the value that a full and robust (and on-key) chorus brings to an overall production? The chorus truly sets the tone for the show and establishes the overall quality of the production. Cinderella is a perfect example, as it begins with the chorus setting a storybook-like theme with a rich and magical quality.
    • What’s the one thing you wish people knew about the chorus of a high-school musical production? That it is so difficult. I would argue that the majority of the time, singing the chorus and ensemble parts is more difficult to sing than some of the principals' tracks. Mostly because singing harmony and blending is not easy to come by. Also, in the majority of modern shows, male chorus voices tend to constantly sing in their upper registers, which can be very trying for our high-school-aged guys. 
    • What do you say to a student who is disappointed to be 'only' a chorus member? I would say that it is a misconception to feel that way, and that each role is as big as you make it. In our shows, we really stress the importance of the whole group that puts so much work into making our productions what they are. 
    • What is the greatest chorus performance you have ever witnessed? What comes to mind is a performance I saw when I was younger of a group called the King’s Singers. They are a small group of male voices (from England) who are able to sing in the full Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass range, and do so exceptionally. They talk about how many of their vowel shapes and ways of blending are considered “wrong” by many standards, but it works for them. Their live performances are perfectly balanced, and the blend is so incredible that it often sounds too good to be true.

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What does it mean to your kids to be nominated for a Bobby G Award as a choral ensemble? It's such an honor. We begin our long rehearsal period for every show by working with the choir. They are the backbone of the show and add so much. Our kids work really hard, and the level of growth I observe in them is truly inspiring.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of music education and extracurricular activities at your school? They show how powerful the performing arts can be in all of our lives. Our entire performing-arts department comes together to work on these shows, and they spend so much extracurricular time perfecting things. It is an honor to work with my fantastic colleagues and these amazingly talented students. When those last few weeks get really draining, that’s a major force that keeps us working to reach our full potential.
    • Anything else you want to add? I would like to especially thank our amazing accompanist Mrs. Karen Hearn for her support of the singers — and myself. She has been a literal one-person orchestra in many of our rehearsals. She’s the best.

    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    Our series of featured Outstanding Chorus nominees

    Meet our nominated Outstanding lead actors and actresses:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Bobby G Awards Outstanding Chorus nominee: ThunderRidge High School

    by John Moore | May 20, 2018



    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Each year, we single out one category for further recognition on the NewsCenter. This year, we are spotlighting the five schools nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Chorus with a selfie video shout-out (above), along with an Q&A with each school's Choral Director. Next up: ThunderRidge High School's Bring it On: The Musical in Highlands Ranch.

    THUNDER RIDGE HIGH SCHOOL

    Once Upon a Mattress
    Kylene Hurley, Director

    • Hurley, Kylene Bobby G Awards How does one become a Choral Director, anyway? I'm the theatre teacher, but the music director is a man who is involved in many musicals around the area. He played piano for PACE center musicals, Magic Moments, his church, many other high schools, Colorado School of Mines musicals and more. He was out in NY for many years doing this professionally.
    • Which singing range is hardest to find at your school? In our theatre department, we have very few baritones.
    • What is the value that a full and robust (and on-key) chorus brings to an overall production? They are the meat of the production. They are the energy of the production. When the energy is elevated by the ensemble, the whole production is elevated in quality.
    • What’s the one thing you wish people knew about the chorus of a high-school musical production? How much work goes into being in the chorus. There is a perceived lack of importance, but really they work just as hard as everyone else. 
    • What do you say to a student who is disappointed to 'only' be a chorus member? I would tell them, 'Every single one of you contributes because you all get to create your own characters.' I also would talk to them about the many times I walked away from a show remembering a chorus member over a lead performer. 
    • What is the greatest chorus performance you have ever witnessed? We just saw The Who's Tommy at DCPA. The chorus is imperative to the plot line. They play multiple different characters throughout the play.  Without the chorus, Tommy's storyline does not exist. They play doctors, family members, fans, and more — all supporting Tommy in his ups and contributing to his downs.

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What does it mean to your kids to be nominated for a Bobby G Award as a choral ensemble? They are so excited. This is our first nomination. They can't wait to get dressed up and go to the Denver Center. I think they'll have a blast, win or lose.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of music education and extracurricular activities at your school? They are so important. The performing-arts department is a place where everyone is welcome, and everyone has value. 

    ThunderRidge High SchoolThunderRidge High School's 'Once Upon a Mattress'

    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    Our series of featured Outstanding Chorus nominees:

    Meet our nominated Outstanding lead actors and actresses:

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Bobby G Awards Outstanding Chorus nominee: Fairview High School

    by John Moore | May 20, 2018



    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Each year, we single out one category for further recognition on the NewsCenter. This year, we are spotlighting the five schools nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Chorus with a selfie video shout-out (above), along with an Q&A with each school's Choral Director. Next up: Fairview High School's Bring it On: The Musical in Boulder.

    Janice Vlachos QuoteFAIRVIEW HIGH SCHOOL

    Bring it On: The Musical
    Janice Vlachos, Director

    • How does one become a Choral Director, anyway? I was inspired by my junior high conductor (who just passed away this week). He made choir a safe place to be and encouraged self-expression and a love of music. I wanted to provide that setting for others.
    • Which singing range is hardest to find at your school? It depends on the year. This year we have fewer basses than in years past.
    • What is the value that a full and robust (and on-key) chorus brings to an overall production? A good chorus is essential for a good show. Every single member of the chorus needs to know who they are and what the offer to the overall production. They need to be passionate and believable. The chorus brings energy to the production.
    • What’s the one thing you wish people knew about the chorus of a high-school musical production? Every single person cast in a chorus is essential. There are no gratuitous parts. The members of the chorus are as important as the leads.
    • What do you say to a student who is disappointed to 'only' be a chorus member? I understand your initial reaction and I am sorry for your disappointment. I hope you can take your passion and energy and create a dynamic character within the chorus.
    • What is the greatest chorus performance you have ever witnessed? Les Misérables in London

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What does it mean to your kids to be nominated for a Bobby G Award as a choral ensemble? The students are very proud of the work they put forth to pull off a show like this. Much of the experience (cheerleading and stunting) was foreign to them. They had a blast and expressed such joy. Getting recognition for all their efforts is the cherry on top.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of music education and extracurricular activities at your school? I don’t think the value of music education should need to be justified. All one has to do is come see a show to realize its value. Where else do students have the opportunity to work together to create such a masterpiece?
    Fairview High School 800

    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    Our series of featured Outstanding Chorus nominees:


    Meet our nominated Outstanding lead actors and actresses:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Bobby G Awards Outstanding Chorus nominee: Brighton High School

    by John Moore | May 19, 2018



    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Each year, we single out one category for further recognition on the NewsCenter. This year, we are spotlighting the five schools nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Chorus with a selfie video shout-out (above), along with an Q&A with each school's Choral Director. First up: Brighton High School's Once on This Island.

    Jane Archuleta BRIGHTON HIGH SCHOOL

    Once on This Island
    Jane Archuleta, Overall Director

    • How does one become a Choral Director, anyway? At our school, we are really fortunate that our Choir Director usually is our "person" who works with our program. We have had productions where we have not been able to use that person, and in our community we are lucky to have musicians and experienced people who are committed to our school and our program and they have helped. While the Choir Director directs the music, our whole team encourages and works with the chorus — always focusing on making them the core and heart of our shows.
    • Which singing range is hardest to find at your school? Boys in general.
    • What is the value that a full and robust (and on-key) chorus brings to an overall production? We value our ensemble and chorus very highly.  This is the piece of a stage production that adds to your overall production atmosphere. The chorus brings out the emotion of the show.
    • Brighton High SchoolWhat’s the one thing you wish people knew about the chorus of a high-school musical production? Their work is harder because that they have to coordinate with each other and everyone and usually they are busy running around backstage more than others. They have to be at every rehearsal and have a commitment to the entire show even when they aren't on stage and in the spotlight all of the time. It takes dedication to be in the chorus.
    • What do you say to a student who is disappointed to 'only' be a chorus member? First of all, we truly believe if you can't be part of the whole, you will never be very good alone. We value this at our school and in our program. Leaders take on many different roles — we even have an award at the end of the year for the outstanding 'extra.'


  • What is the greatest chorus performance you have ever witnessed? Les Misérables in London (above)
  • Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What does it mean to your kids to be nominated for a Bobby G Award? We were nominated the first year we applied three years ago, but we were not nominated last year. This was a goal they set for themselves early on. They have reached their goal for this year, and that means so much to them. This goal motivated them throughout all of our rehearsals.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of music education and extracurricular activities at your school? In a high-school world where there is so much recognition for sports and for other areas, having this recognition for the arts is outstanding. We are so proud to be a Bobby G Awards nominee and so appreciative of this program and all the work that goes into the process.

    Brighton High School Bobby G Awards


    Selected
    recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    Our series of featured Outstanding Chorus nominees:


    Meet our nominated Outstanding lead actors and actresses:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Aaron Posner on revisiting ‘The Merchant of Venice’: To be or not to be?

    by John Moore | May 17, 2018

    Cast of The Merchant of Venice Sarah Roshan The cast of Miners Alley Playhouse's 'District Merchants,' which reimagines 'The Merchant of Venice' in 1870s America. Photo by Sarah Roshan.

    Rather than foreclose on The Bard's problem play, playwright gives it a new lease on American life in District Merchants

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Merchant of Venice, with its legendarily merciless Jewish money-lender who demands his pound of flesh and receives not one ounce of mercy in return, has not stood well the test of time. In these contemporary times, Shakespeare’s blatantly anti-Semitic leanings have even led some to suggest the play should no longer be performed at all.

    Aaron Posner, one of the leading imaginers and re-imaginers in the American theatre today, is not one of them. Which is not to say he likes the Bard’s problematic play.

    Aaron Posner Quote“I had known The Merchant of Venice for a long time, but I never wanted to direct it because I couldn't find a way to make the play, as it existed, interesting to me,” said Posner, who sustains multiple careers as playwright, adaptor, educator, company leader and acclaimed director in Washington D.C. “But I knew that if I was going to push it around too much, it ceases to be ‘the play’ for me. So I began to think: ‘Maybe I should use it as a launch-pad for a brand-new play.’ And that's what I did.” That brand-new play is District Merchants, which opens in its regional premiere tonight (May 18) at the Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden.

    District Merchants uses The Merchant of Venice as a jumping-off point to explore the complex relationship between blacks and Jews in America after the Civil War — without cleansing the troubling ethnic undertones of the original story.  

    “For all of his genius, Shakespeare was still a product of his time,” said Posner. “And while he was forward-thinking in a number of ways, he was still limited by those times. Thank goodness, civilization has progressed over the past 400 years.”  

    For centuries, many regarded The Merchant of Venice to be a harmless romantic comedy with a happy ending for all — save for that unforgiving and unforgiven Jew. “I actually think a lot of that play really is interesting and engaging and true and human,” said Posner. “But it has its darker side, too.

    “What's tricky is that I don’t have a problem with the darker sides of the play. I just think they are not explored fully enough in the play to make it clear to us what Shakespeare was really up to — or to make it resonant for us. You have to keep in mind that, for all his genius, Shakespeare was writing 300 years before Freud. He was not asking deep questions about relationships between his characters that we do today, because he didn't have that vocabulary. He doesn't care why this person falls in love with that person. He's not asking about what psychological wounds might be driving this person, or what kind of emotional healing needs to happen between those people. He was talking about incredibly interesting universal truths. But I wanted to engage with the issues of that play in a way where I could make it speak to people today.”  

    Posner easily could have taken inspiration from today’s headlines and set his modern variation in the offices of, let’s say, any the five largest banks in the United States, whose assets equal 60 percent of the U.S. economy. He wanted to create some distance instead. “Because the moment you see a guy named Shylock walking around the streets of D.C., and it’s today, and he's on his cellphone, you are in danger of becoming really kitschy really quickly,” he said.  

    Instead, Posner found “really fertile ground” exploring relations between blacks and Jews during the Reconstruction. He cites lines in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice that bluntly equate slavery to personal property. “That hit a chord with me,” said Posner. “And that led me to the Civil War, which circuitously led me to the setting of my play. And then the play quickly became about the relationships between blacks and Jews, which was very interesting and historically fraught.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    In District Merchants, set in the 1870s, Shylock is an immigrant who has fled ethnic cleansing in the Ukraine. Antonio — the unfortunate merchant of Shakespeare’s title — here becomes Antoine DuPre, a freeborn black man who unwisely borrows money from Shylock to help pal Benjamin Bassanio win Portia's heart and fortune. The play also has its modern, 21st-century meta-theater moments as well, simultaneously making the setting Shakespearean, post-Civil War and present-day — all at the same time. Think of it as two pasts make a present.

    “There has been an uneasy and complicated relationship between blacks and Jews in this country for years,” said Posner, who took inspiration from a book called Blacks and Jews by Nathan Lerner and Cornel West. “Of course, they have been allies at times. But there also have been times when they should have, and could have, been stronger allies. Instead, there is still some essential distrust between those communities to this day. It really piqued my interest to think about these historical relationships between oppressed peoples in this country where there should be natural affinity, and often instead, there is actually animosity, for a variety of interesting and compelling reasons. All of that is in the play to some extent.

    “But really, for all of the political and social aspects of the play, I'm always most interested in individual human beings and the complicated relationships they make. To me, District Merchants ends up being more a story of people coming together across difference, trying to build bridges, trying to reach out to each other, and looking at the things that divide us.”

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    District Merchants Miners Alley Playhouse Photo by Sarah Roshan
    Chris Kendall and Cris Davenport in Miners Alley Playhouse's 'District Merchants,' opening Friday. Photo by Sarah Roshan.


    And what has all of that to say about the rampant corruption in today’s banking industry, the lives left ruined in its wake, and the ongoing ideological polarization that seems to have America in a vice?

    “I guess the play is asking, as you look at such a divided society: Is it possible to come together across distrust, suspicion and genuine difference? Particularly after genuine, deep and abiding harm has been done? You can't pretend damage hasn’t been done. But how do you move forward anyhow?”

    But, just to clarify: Posner swears District Merchants is also a very funny play. Really.

    “If you come to it with an open mind, I think there's a lot there,” he said. “I don't think it takes sides in any one direction. It's just trying to engage people with questions about power and privilege. And if people are open to that story, I think that is a worthwhile story to tell.”

    The year of Aaron Posner in Colorado theatre

    Posner is on the verge of becoming much more known to Colorado theatre audiences, starting with Friday’s opening of District Merchants at Miners Alley Playhouse. Cherry Creek Theatre will stage Posner’s My Name is Asher Lev in October, and the Aurora Fox will stage Life Sucks, his hilariously titled variation on Chekhov Uncle Vanya, in February. 

     Jacqueline Garcia, Curtiss Johns, Albert Banker in My Name is Asher Lev. Photo by Sarah Roshan My Name is Asher Lev, an adaptation of the popular novel by Chaim Potok, follows the journey of a young Jewish painter torn between his Hassidic upbringing and his desperate need to fulfill his artistic promise. When his evident artistic genius threatens to destroy his relationship with his parents and community, young Asher realizes he must make a difficult choice between art and faith.

    (Pictured: Jacqueline Garcia, Curtiss Johns and Albert Banker in Miners Alley Playhouse's 2015 staging of 'My Name is Asher Lev.' Photo by Sarah Roshan Photography.)

    “It’s just a great story,” Posner said. “I already had adapted Chaim's novel The Chosen, (directed by new DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman in 2010 at Portland Center Stage), and I began meeting people who told me that Asher Lev had really changed their lives. It’s the story of growing up in a family that doesn't seem to be yours, or being pulled between your community and something else that is deeply important to you.”

    And while District Merchants and Life Sucks are very much Posner’s singular versions of their source stories, “Asher Lev is not my story,” he said. “This is Chaim Potok’s story. I'm very much the midwife trying to tell his story as best I can. I do think it is a deeply universal, very relatable story regardless of whether you've ever met a Jew.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    In Life Sucks, a group of old friends, ex-lovers, estranged in-laws and lifelong enemies grapple with life’s thorniest philosophical questions and stumble their way toward the inevitable conclusion that, yeah, life pretty much sucks. “It's one of my favorite things I’ve ever written, and maybe one of the closest to me,” Posner said. "Because while Stupid F***ing Bird (a meta takeoff on Chekhov’s The Seagull) is a young person's play in its core sensibilities, Life Sucks is more of a middle-aged play, which is where I sit in my life right now.”

    While The Merchant of Venice is steeped with villains, Posner said, there are no evil-doers here. “I'm much more interested in good people doing their best and still messing things up,” he said. “That's what Chekov tends to do, and that's what I apparently am building of off in Life Sucks. It’s people struggling to do their best and (bleeping) it up on a regular 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.

    District Merchants Miners Alley Playhouse Sarah Roshan Photography

    Candace Joice as Portia and Sinjin Jones as Benjamin Bassanio in 'District Merchants' at Miners Alley Playhouse. Sarah Roshan Photography.


    Aaron Posner at a glance

    Aaron Posner, born in Eugene, Ore., has built a thriving career as a theater administrator, playwright, and a freelance director of award-winning productions in the Washington, D.C. area and throughout the country with an emphasis on Shakespeare and literary classics. A graduate of Northwestern University with a B.S. in Performance Studies, Posner is an Eisenhower Fellow whose plays and productions have been seen at more than one-third of all LORT theatres in the country. He was a founding Artistic Director of Arden Theatre in Philadelphia, directing more than 35 productions there and Aaron is an Associate Artist at the Folger Theatre and Milwaukee Rep.  Posner has won four Helen Hayes Awards for Best Director for work at the Folger, including: Measure For Measure, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Cyrano, He also won the 2014 HHA -The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play along with two Barrymore Awards (A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Best Director), and The Chosen (playwright), both at the Arden.

    District Merchants: Ticket information

    • Presented by Miners Alley Playhouse
    • Performances May 18-June 24
    • Written by Aaron Posner
    • Directed by Len Matheo
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
    • Tickets: $15-$38
    • At 1224 Washington Ave., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com.
    • The play runs 2 hours and 30 minutes

    District Merchants Miners Alley PLayhouse, Sarah Roshan PhotographyCast

    • Cris Davenport as Antoine Dupree
    • Chris Kendall as Shylock
    • Amy Elizabeth Gray as Jessica
    • Sinjin Jones as Benjamin Bassanio
    • Sean Michael Cummings as Finn Randall
    • Candace Joice as Portia
    • Kristina Lorice Fountaine as Nessa
    • Isaiah Kelley as Lancelot
    Aaron Posner's work in Colorado:
  • Meet 2018 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress nominee Isabella McArdle

    by John Moore | May 17, 2018
    Isabella McArdle Bobby G Awards

    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Today we continue our daily rollout of the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actress. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA).

    Isabella McArdle Bpbby G Awards quoteISABELLA McARDLE

    Ella in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
    Liberty High School in Colorado Springs
    Class of 2018

    • Twitter bio: Just a regular shmegular girl with a heart for the Lord and His people. I love to bring joy and laughter into the lives of others and that’s exactly why I fell in love with theatre.
    • College plans: I am excited to pursue a nursing degree at George Fox University located in the beautiful and quaint town of Newberg, Ore. One day, I hope to work at a children’s hospital where I will heal and care for the little ones.
    • First role: My theatre debut was my 8th-grade musical, Don’t Say No to the USO. I was featured as the infamous Carl (which still gives me nightmares to this day). I was honored to have the opportunity to take on the essence that is Carl, and despite his being a boy, I learned a lot about myself: 1. I will never look good with a bowl cut. And 2. My tremendous love for theatre.
    • Why do you perform? Performing in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella opened my eyes to the beauty of theatre. When I performed the dress transformation — that my Fairy Godmother made, of course — and heard all of the “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd, knowing we brought someone to believe in fairy-tale magic is so incredible. I remember coming out after the show in my ball gown to greet the children and watched as their faces lit up. That is why I love to perform: Because you get to be a part of someone’s joy and be the reason for their happiness. That feeling absolutely makes all of the hard work we put into the show worth it. After hugging, taking pictures and talking to the kids, they were bursting with excitement. They truly believed they were talking to a real-life Cinderella — and that is the magic of theatre. I love creating a space for pure imagination and childlike wonder. Theatre allows you to bring magic to life. The joy of the audience is so worthwhile.
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: Hands down: When Teresa Giudice flipped the dinner table on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." That was the best moment on reality TV. Teresa is my role model as far as theatrics go, and I learned much about how to be a proper drama queen.
    • Ideal scene partner: Ben Platt because, I mean, Ben Platt. Ben, Benjamin, Benny, the guy from Pitch Perfect, whatever name you know him by, you definitely know him by his stage name, Evan in Dear Evan Hansen. He is charming, funny and an all-around great guy who I would absolutely love to work with.

    • What's playing on your Spotify right now?  “Beyond” by Leon Bridges. His voice is like butter. Or just really good chocolate cake.
    • Favorite moment from your show: Charlotte’s shoe throw in “Stepsister’s Lament.” We would wait offstage for her to chuck the shoe at us, and whoever caught it would win. We had even created a “catch record” on a whiteboard where we tallied how many shoes were caught and missed. (Update: I only caught one shoe).  
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I am beyond honored. I was such a shy girl with crazy stage fright. However, this year I challenged the limits I had placed upon myself and found the courage and confidence inside me to perform for no one but the Lord and the joy of others. God has placed his hand over Cinderella, as it proved time and time again to be a show full of light, love and laughter. Our show was the most incredible journey, and now as I embark on another journey into the Bobby G Awards, the Lord has made it abundantly clear He supports me every step of the way. I am also honored to be working alongside so many incredibly talented Colorado student performers, and I have made many lasting friendships because of it.

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? I should have joined theatre earlier in my high-school career  — not senior year!  But I am so thankful to God for preparing me and leading me to where I am now. He has shown me this tremendous talent I didn’t even know I possessed, guiding me in strength and confidence. When I’m on stage, I take joy knowing I might bring joy to someone else. I couldn’t ask for anything more special than that. The friendships I have made during this process — directors, castmates, teachers and my fellow Bobby G Award nominees — is something so special to me. This is such a magical experience that I will truly cherish forever.

     Our featured nominated actors and actresses to date:

    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet 2018 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress nominee Daelyn Nace

    by John Moore | May 17, 2018
    Daelyn Nace Bobby G Awards

    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Today we continue our rollout of the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actress. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA).

    Daelyn Nace QuoteDAELYN NACE

    The Lady of the Lake in Spamalot
    Fort Collins High School
    Class of 2019

    • Twitter bio: Just a weird girl in a big world who tries not to freak out every time she sees a dog. Has a Husky named Sokka who with bad eyes so he sports dog goggles. Loves love camping and swimming and hanging out with absolutely insane friends. Movie and theatre nerd.
    • College plans: Not sure yet since I have an entire year until that scary stuff starts, but I’ve always dreamed of going to New York University for music theatre, or heading to California for film production and acting.
    • What's your handle? @daelynnace on Instagram
    • First role: I played Penelope Anne in Bye Bye Birdie at Midtown Arts Center. I was probably 8 years old and way too excited and awkward.
    • Why do you perform? Because being on stage surrounded by friends and being cheered on by an audience is an adrenaline high unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s almost like flying. I also found a family in the people I perform with that create bonds I couldn’t ever have imagined. But more than anything, performing  is something I can do to be creative. Stepping into another story and becoming another person who can do amazing things and act however they want is surreal and inexplicably freeing. I get to dress up and act like someone I’m not — and I don’t get called crazy. What’s better than that?
    • G.I.s and Saigon Bar Girls Keegan Flaugh Carousel Midtown Arts CenterOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: My dad, Keegan Flaugh, is an amazing performer and inspiration, One of the most surreal experiences I have ever had was when I went to see him play John in a 2004 production of Miss Saigon at the Carousel Dinner Theatre in Fort Collins, which is now the Midtown Arts Center. (Pictured top left.) When he walked out on the stage and sang the song "Bui Doi," about the children of Vietnam, I sat there so captivated by his voice and the story he was conveying that I didn’t even notice I had started crying. I don’t mean just a few tears. I was full-on ugly crying, almost to the point of shaking. It was like a sucker-punch to the gut. I had never been so moved before and as cheeseball as it sounds, it really did change my life.
    • Ideal scene partner: Ever since I saw the late Heath Ledger play The Joker in The Dark Knightand his absolutely phenomenal performance, I dreamed of even just meeting the guy, let alone actually doing a scene with him. I was heartbroken when I found out about his passing, but I’ll always remember the amazing things he did.

    • What's playing on your Spotify right now? I’ve recently become way too obsessed with the band AJR. They’re a little weird and a little racy but the music is a really cool style. But honestly, you can almost always find me listening to the original Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack.
    • Favorite moment from your show: I remember our last performance so vividly because of a hilarious little prank one of our best cast members pulled. There is a song in Spamalot where a boy named Herbert is helping the knight Lancelot come out as gay. All of the male cast members were in this number and one of them, during our last show, decided to bring an obscene amount of glitter on stage with him —  hidden in his shorts. The number ends very dramatically with all of the men striking very “vibrant” poses, and as the music struck its final chord, this guy yanked an entire handful of glitter out of his pants and threw it into the air before ripping his shirt open. I was backstage with all the other girls at the time and I tried so hard not to laugh that I choked on my own spit. I swear, I almost died.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? Absolutely surreal. It’s a dream come true. I can’t believe that it’s happening still. It hasn’t entirely sunk in, and on the night of the awards, I’m going to spontaneously freak out and scare all my friends and family.

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? It has made me realize how much of a family it’s become to me. Theatre is a place where we can all escape from real life and do things we’re so passionate about for a while. We all lean on each other and laugh together and are just always there for each other. Arts education is so important. I think the arts need to be appreciated more by schools.

    Our featured nominated actors and actresses to date:

    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet 2018 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor nominee Jeremiah Garcia

    by John Moore | May 17, 2018
    Jeremiah Garcia Bobby G Awards

    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Today we continue our rollout of the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actor. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA).

    JEREMIAH GARCIA

    Emmett Forrest in Legally Blonde
    Pomona High School
    Class of 2018

    • Twitter bio: Sagittarius and a tenor. Loves reality TV and long walks on the beach. Pretty loud but infectious laugh and a Vine obsession. Takes things one bag of hot Cheetos at a time. Have Fun, Be Young and Drink Pepsi.
    • College plans: I will be studying Musical Theatre in New York at Marymount Manhattan College in the fall
    • What's your handle? @liljaymiah on Instagram and Twitter
    • First role: I played The Cheese in our Kindergarten musical, It’s The Cheese If You Please
    • Why do you perform? To recognize peoples’ stories and struggles through my interpretation. Performing allows me to capture someone else’s story given my own experience in life. Overall, I enjoy exploring the many fascinating fathoms humanity has to offer.
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: It was 2013, in middle school, I had the opportunity to see the matinee of Pomona’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I was absolutely blown away and couldn’t wait to be on that stage myself. I went home that night and memorized all the music to the show so I could go back for the evening performance and sing along. It was a turning point for me that I will never forget.
    • Ideal scene partner: I am constantly in awe of Eva Noblezada, who played Kim in the 2017 Broadway revival of Miss Saigon. I’d love to share the stage with a powerhouse like her. I might just have the tiniest crush. No biggie.

    • What's playing on your Spotify right now? Childish Gambino, of course. I’d also recommend Post Malone’s new album if you’re feeling a little down. But you can never go wrong with the classics: Whitney Houston, Prince, Celine Dion, Diana Ross.
    • Favorite moment from your show: Without a doubt, it was the dog auditions. It was heaven. I may be allergic but that didn’t stop any of the belly rubs. And boy, did I give lots of belly rubs.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It is so humbling. I’ve stalked the nominees on social media since freshman year and dreamed of what this moment might be like. It’s been a dream come true to stand in the shoes of the talented young people before me. When I told my mom about it, we cried.

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? The experience of an arts education in a child’s life is irreplaceable. I’ve been blessed with a surplus of accessibility to arts education in my school and community, and that has helped me to be successful both academically and artistically. Arts education gave me the academic balance I needed and brought so much color to my world. I couldn’t be more grateful to the many exceptional theatre educators I’ve had the pleasure to work with in these short 18 years. We have to continue to fight for these opportunities to be provided to every student moving forward. Our future depends on it.

    Jeremiah Garcia Bobby G Awards


    Our featured nominated actors and actresses to date:

    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Owen Zitek on standing up for those who are thought of as lesser

    by John Moore | May 16, 2018
    Charl Brown as Captain Walker and Owen Zitek as Young in the DCPA Theatre Company's The Who's Tommy. Photo by Adams VisCom.
    Charl Brown as Captain Walker and Owen Zitek as Young Tommy in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Who's Tommy.' Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    After three seasons of A Christmas Carol, the kid comes into his own as young Pinball Wizard in The Who's Tommy 

    Owen Zitek QuoteMEET OWEN ZITEK
    Owen Zitek, a 6th-grader at Falcon Creek Middle School in Aurora, plays Youth Tommy (age 10) in The Who’s Tommy. He has been in the Theatre Company's past three stagings of A Christmas Carol, Other Theatres: The Hobbit (Aurora Fox Theatre), Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan (Classic Acts). Film: Deal, 12th, Halves & Quarter. Training: DCPA Education, Colorado School of Acting.

    • Hometown: Aurora
    • School: Falcon Creek Middle School
    • What's your handle? @OwenZitek on Twitter
    • Twitter-sized bio: 6th-grader who loves acting, reading, running, singing, drawing, playing games with family, camping, climbing 14ers and snowboarding
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would probably be a singer or an Olympic track runner.
    • Bucket-list role: Any role in Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago or Hamilton.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: In January of 2017 I was cast as Michael Darling in Peter Pan, which I was really excited for except the people who were cast as Wendy and John were only 2 or 3 inches taller than me. So after the play, people came up to me and said, “Are you and John supposed to be twins?” or, “You’re his older brother, right?”
    • elphabaWhat's playing on your Spotify? I am currently listening to the Black Panther soundtrack, SZA, The Greatest Showman soundtrack and, of course, Beyoncé
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: The first time I saw Wicked in Denver and Elphaba flew up into the sky during Defying Gravity. Her cape began to enlarge, and it appeared as if she were floating. That moment was inspirational and one of the main reasons I wanted to be an actor.
    • One thing most people don't know about you: I was born in Ethiopia, and I am adopted.
    • Owen Zitek A Christmas Carol 2016. Photo by John MooreOne thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? We, as a cast, should make sure we are making a difference. If we do a stellar job, then audience members might even want to pursue theatre, too.
    • What is The Who's Tommy about? It's a musical by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff based on The Who's classic 1969 rock opera. Tommy retreats from the world after a traumatic incident, but a newfound talent for pinball introduces him to fame and fortune.
    • Why does The Who's Tommy matter? It shows that everyone is amazing in their own special way no matter what obstacles you face.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing The Who's Tommy? I hope the audience leaves feeling they are special and that they should stand up for those who are seen as lesser in society’s eyes.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Sometimes I forget left from right.

    Pictured at right: Owen Zitek on opening night of 'A Christmas Carol' 2016. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Owen Zitek Photo by John MooreOur Pinball Wizard, Owen Zitek, backstage before the opening performance of the DCPA Theatre's Company's 'The Who's Tommy.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. See more here.


    The Who's Tommy:
    Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:
    Photo gallery: The making of The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center:

    The making of 'The Who's Tommy'
    The photos above are from the making of the DCPA Theatre Company's new production of The Who's Tommy, spanning the first day of rehearsal on March 13 to the Opening Night performance on April 27. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos.

  • Meet 2018 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor Nominee Will Warner

    by John Moore | May 16, 2018
    Will Warner Bobby G Awards


    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Today we continue our rollout of the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actor. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA).

    Will Warner QUOTE 2WILL WARNER

    Tommy Korman in Honeymoon in Vegas
    Lakewood High School
    Class of 2018

    • Twitter bio: Just a regular guy who wants to make an impact. I do every single activity I set my eyes on, and the one that has captured my heart is theatre.
    • College plans: I will be attending the University of Oklahoma to pursue a BFA in Acting.
    • First role: My theatre debut was Puck in the children’s version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream
    • Why do you perform? To make an impact. I enjoy seeing people leave the theatre with more insight and perspective than when they entered. It is the power of this art form to change minds and drive the American culture to a more equitable place.
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I saw The Woman in Black in London before my junior year, it was like watching magic. The two actors drew me into the story and took me on a roller coaster that changed my whole goal for my craft. I wanted to make magic like they did because it impacted me so much.
    • Ideal scene partner: Eva Noblezada, who played Kim in the 2017 Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

    • What's playing on your Spotify right now? “Take it Easy” by The Eagles
    • Favorite moment from your show: I enjoyed seeing people who came in with frowns leave with smiles.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I feel very honored to be recognized, especially considering how talented some of the actors were in other productions I saw.

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? My experience in high-school theatre has taught me how an arts education goes beyond the knowledge developed in core classes in order to develop the individual. Arts education builds character, empathy and accountability, which are all core attributes of leaders. Acting and working on shows has made a leader of me, and I think that it prepares students to graduate high school ready for anything life throws at them.  

     Our featured nominated actors and actresses to date:

    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet 2018 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress nominee Coco Justino

    by John Moore | May 15, 2018
    Coco Justino Bobby G Awards Denver School of the Arts


    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Today we continue our daily rollout of the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actress. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA) in New York City.


    Coco Justino Bobby G Awards quoteCOCO JUSTINO

    Rosario in In the Heights
    Denver School of the Arts
    Class of 2018

    • Twitter bio: Believes that aliens are totally real and that every dog is The Best Dog. Coco because a cousin couldn't say 'Nicole' as a baby.
    • What's your handle? @awkward.at.best on Instagram
    • College plans: I'll be at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle next year pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre.
    • First role: My theatre debut was playing Snoopy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown
    • Why do you perform? Performing makes my heart feel full. I've always been a person who finds other people's stories to be super valuable. Theatre is such a beautiful way to immerse the public in stories. The prospect that I might be able to help spread empathy to the world makes me happier and more fulfilled than anything else in the universe.
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: A few years ago at a theatre summer camp, I got to be an audience member in an original short-play festival. While watching my peers, I was hit with an epiphany about why I love this art form so much. I was able to experience the realities of each of the playwrights in a way that I don't think I could through any other medium.
    • Ideal scene partner: This is silly, but honestly, Tyra Banks. She is so eccentric in "America's Next Top Model." She just goes with whatever crazy thing she thinks up. I feel like she'd be a blast to do improv with.

    • What's playing on your Spotify right now?  I'm obsessed with both "Lover, You Should've Come Over" by Jeff Buckley, and "Gossamer Thin" by Conor Oberst (above). They are so lyrically beautiful and tell their stories so well.
    • Favorite moment from your show: There is a scene where the whole cast comes together as a community for a funeral. While it is the most somber moment of the show, it's also when I felt most connected to all of the elements around me. At one point during our opening performance, the actor who played The Piragua Guy (who was a good four years younger than me) put his head on my chest and cried. I wasn't expecting it, and my first genuine reaction was to hold him like a mother-figure. The in-the-moment connection I made both with him and the actor who played Camila felt like magic.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? I am so extremely elated. Theatre is one of the most important things in my world, and to have people recognize how much I care about it and how much work I put into it is so special. It makes me want to cry happy tears.

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? This show has taught me so much respect for all of the people involved in putting on a production. Arts education is an extremely big component in that. I cannot imagine In The Heights having been such a great experience without the help of my dedicated and wonderful arts teachers. Mr. Brandon Becker, our director and one of our resident theatre teachers at DSA, was so phenomenally artful in how he conceptualized the show. He was so supportive and proved to be a great person to learn from. I know so many kids are learning amazing and valuable life lessons from teachers like him every day. Arts education, without any doubt, helps to improve our society.

    Our featured nominated actors and actresses to date:
    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet 2018 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actor nominee Travis Turner

    by John Moore | May 15, 2018
    Travis Turner Bobby G Awards


    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Today we continue our daily rollout of the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actor. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA) in New York City.

    Travis Turner Bobby G Awards QuoteTRAVIS TURNER

    Edward Bloom in Big Fish
    Fossil Ridge High School, Fort Collins
    Class of 2018

    • Twitter bio (to a sick rap beat):
      Song Singing Fellow, Dancing like some Jell-o.
      Acting like I'm mellow, on stage cause I love it.
    • What's your handle? travisj.turner on Instagram
    • College plans: I will attend the University of Northern Colorado to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre
    • First role: In eighth grade, I performed the role of Horatio Miles in And Then There Was One.
    • Why do you perform? As an audience member, I know the feeling I get when I watch a production. The sense of awe and amazement in how the show is performed and how the performers showcase their perfected art. As an actor, that is what I want to give to an audience. I perform so that I can showcase my best work and to tell a story that people will love and remember after they leave the theatre.
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I had the chance to see Disney’s Aladdin, both on Broadway and the touring production. This show is truly a technical work of art. The Genie’s appearance was one of the best visual parts of the show. I found myself at the edge of my seat in excitement for whatever scene was going to come next. Of every show I have ever seen, I have enjoyed Aladdin the most.
    • Ideal scene partner: My favorite TV show of all time is “The Office.” Watching this show, I gained an immense amount of respect for Steve Carell. His ability to portray the challenging role of Michael Scott is so inspiring to me. It would make my life if I could act in a scene with him. I feel like lines and reactions would be so easy to bounce off him. 

    • What's playing on your Spotify right now?  I really love listening to John Mayer and Jack Johnson. Any kind of relaxing tunes. Though, when I want to sing, I love to listen to showtunes — anywhere from Memphis to Newsies.
    • Favorite moment from your show: The night Big Fish ended, as heart-wrenching as it was. That's when I truly realized that all the work we put into show had paid off. I was overwhelmed with gratitude, and before I knew it I was in tears. I was sad the show had ended, but so happy it went as well as it did.
    • How does it feel to be nominated? It has literally been a dream come true. It is such a special feeling knowing I have been recognized for my hard work and determination. I am beyond thankful for the Bobby G adjudicators for giving me this experience that I will remember for my entire life.

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? It has taught me to appreciate the opportunities we are given, especially in this state. Colorado has a very connected group of high-school performers. You meet people at Thescon and they are the same people you see at Colorado All-State Choir. I love that the arts have brought me so close to the whole community of artists.

    Our featured nominated actors and actresses to date:
    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet 2018 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress nominee Abby Lehrer

    by John Moore | May 13, 2018
    Abigail Lehrer. Bobby G Awards


    The Bobby G Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in Colorado high-school musical theatre. The sixth annual awards take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Buell Theatre. (Reserve your seat here)

    Today we begin our daily rollout of the five students who are finalists for Outstanding Lead Actress. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at The Jimmy® Awards/The National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA).

    ABBY LEHRER

    Eponine in Les Misérables
    Castle View High School in Castle Rock
    Class of 2018

    • Abby Lehrer QuoteTwitter bio: Hello everybody! My name is Abby Lehrer, but Abs or Balou work too:) I adore talking to people. Every story is a good story, so if you've got one to share, I would love to listen!  //redeemed//
    • College plans: I am taking a gap year during which I can work and take more time to look for colleges so I can be solid and confident in my choice.
    • First role: My theatre debut was playing Molly in Annie
    • Why do you perform? That’s a packed question. I perform because it is where I find I am most strong at leaving an impact on the most people. There are so many stories to tell that can inspire or change lives, and having that power and using it for a purpose bigger than yourself is so fulfilling. I find that music speaks to almost everyone, so using the gift I’ve been given to impact others and being able to get lost in the moment at the same time is simply incredible to me. I do it to glorify God!
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I remember looking for a song to sing for an audition in Oklahoma City when I came across “Not a Day Goes By” from Merrily We Roll Along, and Bernadette Peters was singing. I remember being blown away because of the real, raw talent she shared with the audience. I watched it over and over because I felt like she was sharing a piece of herself with everyone, and that we were so lucky to get to witness her story. Her acting was flawless, and it inspired me to really strengthen my storytelling.


    • Ideal scene partner: Either Barbra Streisand, Meryl Streep or Jeremy Jordan
    • What's playing on your Spotify right now? Jon Bellion or Steffany Gretzinger. A good song I listen to is “Guilty” by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb.
    • Favorite moment from your show: Our final performance of “One Day More” sent shivers through everyone’s spines, and it was the moment we as a cast understood just how important and powerful our show really was. We went off stage and the crowd kept cheering. We felt so unified.  
    • The complete list of 2018 Bobby G Awards nominees

    • How does it feel to be nominated? It is an honor and a privilege that I am beyond thankful for. I remember always being inspired by the nominees each year and just hoping and praying I would get the chance to perhaps inspire others on the same stage. I still can’t really believe it.
    • What has this experience taught you about the value of arts education and extracurricular activities at your school? They make people feel important and heard. They create lasting friendships and stories that will never be forgotten. They help kids find their purpose and, with the right coaching, give them a goal to strive for. They tells student they can leave a lasting impact on those around them.  

    Reserve your seat for the May 24 Bobby G Awards

    Our featured nominated actors and actresses to date:

    Selected recent coverage of the Bobby G Awards:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • It's Mother's Day! Here are 10 of the worst in theatre history

    by John Moore | May 12, 2018
    August Osage County Annie Butler Creede Repertory Theatre Photo by John Gary Brown.Annie Butler as Violet Weston in Creede Repertory Theatre's 2015 production of 'August: Osage County.' Photo by John Gary Brown.


    If you had, have or are a good mother, this list of 10 terrible moms ought to make you feel good about yourself today

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Who are your choices for bad theatre moms? Add them as a comment at the bottom of this story. And Happy Mother's Day!  

    NUMBER 1August Osage County OpenStage. Denise Freestone and Sydney Smith. Photo by Joe Hovorka.Violet Weston from August: Osage County. At the center of Tracy Letts’ modern Dust Bowl is this poisonous, pill-popping matriarch. Her worst sin? Perhaps it was allowing her husband to commit suicide when she could have done something to prevent it. Perhaps. (It’s a long list.) Violet has cancer of the mouth — medically and metaphorically. She has no switch to stop her from blurting the most vicious things that come to mind. She pops out furious epithets — most aimed at her own adult daughters — as quickly as she pops in pills. Her spawn all bear varying degrees of inherited burns they surely will pass on to their own children. How evil is Violet? Why, she even blasts Colorado. "It's not hard to do!" she says in the play. Sorry, Vi, but that makes you The Worst. (Pictured: Denise Freestone and Sydney Smith in OpenStage Theatre's 2017 production of 'August: Osage County' in Fort Collins. Photo by Joe Hovorka.)

    NUMBER 2Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van de Hey in Gypsy for Town Hall Arts Center 2009Mamma Rose Hovick from Gypsy. A rose is a rose is not always a rose. Take thorny Mamma Rose, whose name has become synonymous with “bad show-biz mom.” Rose (a real person) is a domineering mother with an insatiable drive to make stars out of her two daughters, whether in vaudeville, burlesque or strip-tease. (Hey there’s nothing humiliating about stripping as long as you are the star, she comes to believe.) Broadway fans have seen some of the great actors of our time take up the maniacal mantle, from Ethel Merman to Angela Lansbury to Patti Lupone to Tyne Daly to Bernadette Peters. Gypsy drives one daughter away and debases the other until in the end, even she admits: “I did it for me!” Frank Rich called Gypsy “nothing if not Broadway's own brassy, unlikely answer to King Lear.” (Pictured: Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van de Hey in Town Hall Arts Center's 2009 production of 'Gypsy.')

    NUMBER 3Emily Paton Davies as Maureen, Emma Messenger as Mag Photo 3_ Emma Messenger as Mag, Emily Paton Davies as Maureen Photo credit_ Rachel D GrahamMag from The Beauty Queen of Leenane. The New York Times’ Ben Brantley called Martin McDonagh’s satantically funny Irish mother-daughter tandem of Mag and Maureen Folan “one of the nastiest family units ever to grace (or disgrace) a stage.” Housebound (or is she?) Mag is “a maddening model of passive aggression” who destroys any chance her spinster daughter has for happiness out of her own selfish desire not to die alone. Any trace of love has long ago giving way to spite, resentment, hatred and casual violence. Ah, the Irish. (Pictured: Emma Messenger as Mag and Emily Paton Davies as Maureen in The Edge Theatre's 2014 production of 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane.' Photo by Rachel D. Graham.)

    NUMBER 4piper-laurie-carrieMargaret White from Carrie the Musical. Carrie's overprotective and abusive mother is a religious zealot. Although she loves Carrie and wants to protect her from the world, her fanaticism often drives her to, well, torture her daughter. After Carrie develops telekinesis and goes to the prom against her mom's wishes, Margaret comes to believe that killing Carrie is the only way to save her from damnation. Like you moms do. But Carrie uses her powers to stop her mother's heart after being stabbed by her. All’s well that ends well. (Pictured: Piper Laurie in the original 'Carrie' film.)

    NUMBER 5 Jan Giese as Mae Peterson; Stacie Jackson as Rosie Alvarez and  Jim Miller as Albert Peterson for Town Hall Arts Center's 'Bye Bye Birdie' in 2006. Mae Peterson from Bye, Bye Birdie. The original 1958 script describes Albert's mother as “the quintessential mamma,” to which I say, “No.” But, it’s a just a harmless musical comedy, you say. To which I say, “No.” But she loves her Sonnyboy. “No.” Mae Peterson is a controlling, selfish mother who not only is constantly interfering in Albert’s budding relationship with his secretary, she has emasculated Albert, leaving him neurotic, weak, easily manipulated and incapable of a grown-up relationship (even though Albert is in his 30s and should have been freed from his mother’s emotional clutches years ago.) Worst: She’s an unabashed racist, constantly denigrating Albert’s long-suffering significant other for no apparent reason other than she’s not white. Psst, Albert: Throw Mamma from the train! (Pictured: Jim Miller as Albert, Jan Giese as Mae and Stacie Jackson as Rosie in Town Hall Arts Center's 2006 staging of 'Bye Bye Birdie'.)

    NUMBER 6Erica Sarzin-Borrillo. Germinal Stage-Denver. Long Day's Journey Into Night. 2013Mary Tyrone from Long Day’s Journey into Night. The subtitle of Eugene O’Neill’s dysfunctional family classic could be: “Mary’s Magical Mystery Morphine Tour!” One of the many slowly unfolding mysteries of the play is what first set delusional Mary down the self-destructive path of her addiction, and it doesn’t speak well of her parenting skills that the answer seems to lie with son Edmund for the unforgivable crime of having been born. Mary believes Edmund’s birth was God’s punishment for first son Eugene’s death from measles. It’s all a big, tangled emotional web. And there’s nothing better for breaking down your tangled emotional webs like steady stream of legally prescribed morphine. (Wait, that’s not addictive, is it?) Ah, the Irish. (Pictured: Erica Sarzin-Borrillo in Germinal Stage-Denver's 2013 staging of 'Long Day's Journey Into Night.')

    NUMBER 7Mrs Wormwood. Cassie SilvaMrs. Wormwood from Matilda The Musical. On the badness scale, Matilda's mother pales in comparison to hers father and the evil Mrs. Trunchbull — but she’s awful nonrtheless. In the book, she plays Bingo five times a week. (In the musical, she’s obsessed with ballroom dancing.) Worst, Mrs. Wormwood doesn't give two hoots about her own daughter. She mocks Matilda's intellect and interest in books, telling her that looks are more important than getting an education. As a mom, she gets an F. (Pictured: Cassie Silva in the national touring production of Matlida The Musical.) 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 8Marge Lamb. Next to NormalDiana Goodman from Next to Normal. To be absolutely clear, she’s not bad. Just a bad mom. One of the worst, due mostly to her worsening struggles with bipolar disorder over 16 years. During the course of this wrenching, groundbreaking story, Diana visualizes her dead son alive and grown; she completely ignores her daughter who is very much alive; she slashes her wrists; she undergoes electroshock therapy; and ultimately, for her beleaguered husband’s own good (she says) she walks out on her family. And in a nice little closing twist, she somehow bequeaths her bipolar disease onto her husband, who soon starts to see their dead son, too. Couples should share everything. Just not visions of resurrected sons. And really ... so many sandwiches. (Pictured: Margie Lamb in 'Next to Normal' at the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins.)

    NUMBER 9Amnelia Pedlow nd Kathleen McCall. The Glass Menagerie in 2016. Photo by Adams Viscom Amanda Wingfield from The Glass Menagerie. So much to cover in such a short paragraph. Amanda is a delusional, nagging, controlling, egomaniac who lives in the past. That she loves her children is almost incidental to the crushing, suffocating damage she has imposed upon them since birth. Most debilitating: The constant reinforcement to daughter Laura that she is damaged goods, when the script gives every indication that whatever mobility issues the wounded bird had back in high school, they went mostly unnoticed by everyone but Amanda. (She's certainly well enough to walk the streets all day lying to her mother.) Now Laura is too messed up to hold down a job, much less a relationship. To be sure, Amanda is the result and personification of her gender-stilted times, but her legacy is two damaged children. The missing mystery character in this play is Amanda’s AWOL husband. But every time I see this play, I leave thinking he was lucky to get out alive. (Pictured: Amelia Pedlow and Kathleen McCall in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Glass Menagerie' in 2016. Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    NUMBER 10into-the-woodsThe Bad Mums from Into the Woods. Take your pick: Cinderella’s stepmother spawned two vulture daughters who find joy in abusing their stepsister; and now treats her dead husband's daughter like an abused servant. It’s been argued that the cursed Witch of this story is more misunderstood than evil, but, you know … she DID steal her neighbor’s newborn daughter and cursed the family to an infertile life. So at the very least needs to work on her conflict-resolution skills. Then there is Jack’s poor single mom, who means well but raises a clueless son whose best friend is an imaginary cow. She’s not a bad person, but she hasn’t exactly prepared her son to function well in the outside world. (Pictured: Beth Beyer as The Witch in 'Into the Woods' for Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in 2016.)

    Now who are your choices for theatre's worst moms? Add them as a comment at the bottom of this list. And have a Happy Mother's Day!

    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

  • 'Human Error': In comedy, your pain is our punchline

    by John Moore | May 12, 2018
    HUMAN ERROR ERIC PFEFFINGER QUOTE. Photo by John Moore


    With this new comedy about a botched embryo implant, playwright posits: To err is human ... to laugh divine

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere comedy Human Error, a young couple goes to what they think is a routine appointment at a fertility clinic only to discover that their fertilized embryo has been mistakenly implanted into somebody else. 

    So, obviously … it’s a comedy. 

    “You know: Another one of your standard-issue switched-fertilized-embryo farces,” jocular Midwestern playwright Eric Pfeffinger says with a laugh. 

    It’s a funny premise … but you haven’t even gotten to the punchline yet. 

    “So one couple are blue-state, latte-sipping, NPR-listening liberals,” Pfeffinger said. “And the other are NRA-cardholding, pickup-truck-driving, red-state conservatives.” 

    Human Error rehearsal. Photo by John MooreThat’s the punchline: Two couples who, under normal circumstances, would never choose to be in the same room with each other, now will have to spend nine months building some kind of a family — and hopefully not killing each other along the way. 

    As they say in comedy, your pain is another guy’s pleasure. 

    (Rehearsal photo, from left, Kimberly Gilbert, Marissa McGowan and Wayne Kennedy. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 

    Human Error is a comedy about the state of the nation currently and the political polarization we are all grappling with,” Pfeffinger said of his play, which was featured at the Denver Center’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit only a month after Donald Trump’s inauguration. And, well, there’s been a bit more rancor since then.  

    “If anything, Americans’ inclination to isolate ourselves within comfortable ideological silos has only increased,” Pfeffinger said back on an April day when the national headlines were dominated by the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress. 

    The bad news is: Political, social and cultural polarization is just a given in America right now.

    “But the good news is: The worse things get, the better it is for my play,” Pfeffinger said with a smile. “So … yay?”

    Geography, technology and social status have made it easy for Americans to isolate themselves from anyone who doesn’t already think the same way they do, Pfeffinger said. That means we are only rarely confronted with contradictory or challenging points of view. But Pfeffinger has the power of the playwright in his fingers: He can put any two people he wants face-to-face on a stage. Or, in this case, he can put any two couples he wants face-to-face in the same bumbling fertility doctor’s office.

    “None of the people in my play know anybody else like the other couple,” Pfeffinger said. “They don’t have to confront the reality of someone who thinks differently until they are thrown together by this clerical mix-up at the clinic.” The play is not so much about the ethics of fertility technology, Pfeffinger says — as dramatic as that can be. “It’s more about the echo chambers we Americans often find ourselves in, and the defense mechanisms we adopt when we are forced to step outside our comfort zones and acknowledge that there are other people in the world who are not just like us.”

    But remember, Pfeffinger said his play is not a Lifetime movie event. He said it was funny. And not nasty, David Mamet kind of funny. “It’s BIG funny,” he said. “When I first heard about this kind of thing actually happening at fertility clinics, my first response was, ‘Oh that sounds like an episode of Three’s Company: “Wait, that’s not your embryo — that’s my embryo!” And … cut to commercial.’

    Human Error draws explicit connections to various kinds of classic comedy, particularly the TV sitcom, which is what I grew up mainlining.”  

    So really, Pfeffinger had no choice but to take a comic approach to the subject. It’s all he knows. 

    Human Error: Five funs things we learned at first rehearsal

    “Everyithing I write is a comedy. That’s how I function,” said Pfeffinger, who has past lives as both an improv comedian and a newspaper cartoonist. “Let’s take this thing that does not seem particularly funny to the people it is happening to and find the humor n it.”

    And after all that prolonged division and unrest in the country, he said, now might be a really good time for us to laugh. 

    “A lot of people embrace comedy as an opportunity to escape from what is stressful about the world,” Pfeffinger said. “I happen to believe that comedy is one of the best ways to confront difficult ideas and to examine and articulate those ideas. Comedy lowers your defenses by making you laugh.” 

    Human Error castPfeffinger has continued to hone the play in the 15 months since the Colorado New Play Summit, in close consultation with director Shelley Butler and dramaturg Sarah Lunnie. But not with the intent of either making the play more overtly funny or politically relevant.

    “Tonally, structurally and thematically, the play is pretty much the same now as it was at the Summit,” he said. “It’s more a matter of helping the play to become more of what it’s already wanting to be. That includes making the funny stuff funnier and the human stuff, uh, human-er.”

    Human Error will become the first Theatre Company season offering ever staged in the Garner Galleria Theatre, which will provide an intimate, cabaret-like atmosphere that will be new for many Theatre Company audiences. 

    “This is a play where the comedy comes from the audience connecting with these very different, very recognizable people,” Pfeffinger said. “I think where the audience and the performers are palpably sharing the same space and breathing the same air, that’s where comedy thrives.”

    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.


    Human Error at Tommy Photo by John Moore
    From left: Kimberly Gilbert, Director Shelley Butler, Playwright Eric Pfeffinger, Joe Coots, and Marissa McGowan of 'Human Error,' at the opening of DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Who's Tommy.' Not pictured: Larry Bates and Wayne Kennedy. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Human Error: Cast

    Human Error: Creatives

    • Directed by Shelley Butler
    • Scenic Design by Lisa M. Orzolek
    • Costume Design by Sara Ryung Clement
    • Lighting Design by Charles R. MacLeod
    • Sound Design by Jason Ducat
    • Dramaturgy by Sarah Lunnie
    • Stage management by Christopher C. Ewing
    • Assistant Stage Management by D. Lynn Reiland
    • Casting by Elissa Myers Casting
    Video: Our interview with Eric Pfeffinger at the Colorado New Play Summit: 

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Human Error: Ticket information

    HumanError_show_thumbnail_160x160After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances May 18 through June 24
    • Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'School of Rock' true to Andrew Lloyd Webber's rocking roots

    by John Moore | May 11, 2018
    School of Rock. Rob Colletti and cast. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

    Rob Colletti and his young castmates in the national touring production of 'School of Rock',' coming to Denver starting May 29. Photo by Matthew Murphy.


    From Cats to kids: The knighted musical-theatre composer has long had a winning way with animals and children

    By Suzanne Yoe
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    It’s sometimes easy to forget how Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber got his start. After all, with a string of West End and Broadway hits including The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita and Sunset Boulevard among many others, rock 'n roll seems, well … a bit out of sync. 

    Yet this knighted composer — yes, he does bear the somewhat lofty title of “Sir” — is also considered the father of the rock musical. He actually got his start with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat followed closely by Jesus Christ Superstar.

    Andrew Lloyd Webber quoteFitting, then, that School of Rock, the 2003 Paramount Pictures film starring then little-known actor Jack Black, caught his attention.

    When down-on-his-luck rocker Dewey Finn can’t pay the rent, he poses as a substitute teacher at an elite private school. Not exactly the teacher type (and in need of a quick infusion of cash), he transforms these prep-school preteens into confidence-commanding rock stars who compete for $20,000 in the local Battle of the Bands competition.

    The plot of the musical hearkens back to Lloyd Webber’s professional beginnings. “I started with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which was a piece written for a school performance. And it’s taking me back to something that I really care very deeply about, which is the importance of music in schools and education.

    “It’s really about how music changes the lives of the kids in the show, and also changes the life of the leading man, because he finds himself, in a way, through the children and the music they’re making.”

    Even though the movie is about music performed by schoolchildren, there is really very little music in the film itself, which intrigued Lloyd Webber. “Originally, the idea was first mooted to me by my wife, Madeleine, who got the rights to the whole thing. I thought maybe it was something that we would flesh out with existing rock songs, because there were a few in the original movie. But when I got into it … there was only the song we all called ‘Teacher’s Pet’ and then ‘The Legend of the Rent.’ So, I thought that it really did need a score.”

    To fully flesh out the story for the stage, Lloyd Webber realized he needed a dramatist with a major career. Lloyd Webber tapped Julian Fellowes, whose career has spanned television (“Downton Abbey”), film (The Tourist) and theatre (Mary Poppins).

    Moving from what, to some, might seem more classical works into the world of rock, wasn’t an obvious transition. “It’s always good to do something that’s completely outside your kind of tame territory,” said Fellowes. “I was thrilled when Andrew asked me if I’d do it. Sometimes you have to talk yourself into things. But I knew I wanted to do it straight away.

    “I think my job was to give a kind of emotional imperative, a kind of emotional path, for all of the different characters, which is either suggested or pretty clearly delineated,” Fellowes said. “And then to add that to the central comedy of the situation. But I hope we’ve been very faithful to the film, too. I want people who adored the film to have a really good evening in the theater.”

    Lloyd Webber rounded out the team with Broadway lyricist Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid) and director Laurence Connor (Les Misérables), neither of whose credits might scream “rock 'n roll," either.

    School of Rock. Hernando Umana and Rob Colletti. Photo by Matthew MurphyWhile the creative team might seem anything but typical, what’s even more surprising is that, ultimately, the show’s success relies almost entirely on the talents of 9- to 13-year olds. The 12 children on stage who literally steal the show are required to be quadruple threats — act, sing, dance and play an instrument. More than 22,000 children responded to the original Broadway casting call.

    “We watched some incredible kids playing instruments,” said Connor. "But what we didn’t know was whether they would be cohesive as a band. So, in the end, we brought about 24 children into a room, and we set up some amps and plugged in some guitars and set up a drum kit, and they just played. The first band we put together just rocked. It was emotional. I mean, I think we all had little tears in our eyes. I think it really goes down as my favorite audition of all time.”

    (Pictured at right: Hernando Umana and Rob Colletti in the national touring production of 'School of Rock.' Photo by Matthew Murphy.)

    And they really can play," Webber said. "It’s extraordinary for their ages, just how great they are, and how together they play. I mean, you could close your eyes and say, ‘Oh gosh, this is a band that’s played together for years.’ You wouldn’t really think it’s 10- and 11-year olds.”

    Though W.C. Fields famously warned: "Never work with children or animals,” Lloyd Webber can say (somewhat tongue in cheek) that he’s done both and come out unscathed. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was first performed by 8- to 12-year-old boys. Then, he debuted Cats, which remains the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history. Now, he's bringing audiences the inspiring, fist pumping, heartwarming story in School of Rock — opening May 29 at the Buell Theatre.

    DCPA Director of Communications and Cultural Affairs Suzanne Yoe has been working for the Denver Center for 23 years.


    School of Rock:
    Ticket information
    school-of-rockBased on the hit film, this new musical comedy follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. This high-octane score features 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber, all the original songs from the movie and musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage.

    • National touring production
    • Sponsored in Denver by Hard Rock Cafe
    • Performances May 29 though June 10
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    School of Rock. Rob Colletti and Phoenix Schuman. Photo by Matthew Murphy. Rob Colletti and Phoenix Schuman in the national touring production of 'School of Rock.' Photo by Matthew Murphy.

    Hometown trivia:
    The original Broadway production co-starred Sierra Boggess as Rosalie Mullins. She is a Denver native and graduate of George Washington High School. (She is not appearing in the national touring production.)
  • 'Remote Denver': A completely unique way of seeing the city

    by John Moore | May 11, 2018
    Photo from a previous 'Remote' experience by Craig Schwartz.
    Photo from a previous 'Remote' experience by Craig Schwartz.

    Don’t think of it as theatre. Think of it as a 2 1/2-mile live art experience and guided audio tour of the unobserved.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The most exotic adventure yet from the Denver Center’s most adventurous line of programming will take fearless participants through the streets of Denver from May 22 through July 1. Off-Center is known for creating experiences that challenge conventions and expand on the traditional definition of theatre, and Remote Denver promises to be a walk on the wild side.

    Charlie Miller. Remote Denver. Photo by John Moore. Remote Denver, Off-Center Curator Charlie Miller says, “is an unexpected ramble through parts of Denver you probably haven’t seen before.” It’s an encounter with artificial intelligence. It’s both an individual and group social experiment.

    And here’s something you won’t hear very often: It’s not for everyone. Participants will walk for more than two hours. They will cover approximately 2 ½ miles on foot. The won’t finish where they start. There’s no sitting. Which means, Miller says, some theatregoers may want to sit this one out.

    Here’s the concept: You and a group of 50 don headphones and set off on a guided audio tour of hidden Denver that seems to follow you as much as you are following it. A computer-generated voice guides your movements in real time as you explore gathering spaces, back alleyways, unexpected passageways and public areas through a new lens.

    But you’re not just walkers — you’re the actors and spectators, the observers and the observed. You will make your own individual decisions and yet remain always part of the group. Along the way, your headphones will provide a soundtrack to the streets, sights, and rooftops of the Mile High City. “The sound in your headphones will totally alter your view of reality,” Miller said. “Walking through the streets of Denver with this computer voice talking to you is a completely unique way of seeing the city.”

    Don’t even think of it as theatre, Miller suggests. Think of it as a live art experience.

    Remote Denver comes from the creative Berlin braintrust known as Rimini Protokoll, the umbrella label for a group of multimedia artists including Jörg Karrenbauer and Stefan Kaegim, who have developed a tailored experience for Denver. Remote X, as the parent show is called, has now been developed in more than 20 different countries.

    Full guidelines: denvercenter.org/remote


    Remote Denver:
    Ticket and show information
    Remote Denver

    • Presented by Off-Center
    • May 22-July 1
    • Starts at Lincoln Park on the corner of 13th Avenue and Mariposa Street
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Remote. Photo by Craig Schwartz. Photo from a previous 'Remote' experience by Craig Schwartz.

  • Andy Mientus: That deaf, dumb and blind kid is anyone who's been marginalized

    by John Moore | May 10, 2018

    Video excerpts from Andy Mientus' conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore about playing the title role in 'The Who's Tommy' for the DCPA Theatre Company through May 27.  

    Stage and TV star sees Tommy as a traumatized boy who is 'looking at his life through the wrong end of the telescope'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Who’s Tommy is a rock opera that tells the sad story of a traumatized little boy who's beaten, exploited and molested — and comes out of it a madly adored pop star. But while to some Tommy's operatic ordeal might sound a tad close to a tilt (to use pinball parlance), it all feels very real to actor Andy Mientus.  

    “I think Tommy becomes a stand-in for anybody who feels marginalized in any way — anyone who isn't seen or heard or felt or touched,” said Mientus, who plays the adored and idolized and ultimately discarded Tommy in the DCPA Theatre Company’s acclaimed new production playing through May 27 in The Stage Theatre.

    Sam Buntrock quote. Andy Mientus“When we get to see how that kind of upbringing affects him into adulthood, I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to,” said Mientus, who has starred on Broadway in Spring Awakening and Les Misérables, and had a featured role on NBC’s “Smash.”

    “It's definitely something I can relate to: That feeling of being an ‘other’ in your own community. Feeling you're the one who doesn't quite fit in, or you’re the one people don't see. That definitely speaks to me.”

    Director Sam Buntrock said Mientus fundamentally understands the fame aspect of Tommy’s story from his own experiences with celebrity.

    “I think what Andy brings — and I mean this as the utmost compliment —  is a simplicity and an innocence, but without being childlike,” Buntrock said. “His Tommy is very clear and very charismatic. But also, when Tommy has experienced the effects of being famous, Andy is playing that with an honesty and a brutality that's really, really arresting. And it's real.”

    Mientus has had a remarkable but indirect ascent in his performing career, having risen from a Spring Awakening groupie in Michigan to having a featured role on "Smash."

    “My story really goes to show that there is no set path,” he said with a laugh. (More on that path below.)    

    “As somebody who has been trying to make a living in performing arts for almost 10 years now, yes, it is very true that people are quick to lift an artist up, and quick to forget them and drop them,” he said. “That’s the fickle nature of fame. When finally you are heard and seen by masses of people, it becomes an addiction. It becomes a drug. And it can lead to some really destructive behavior. And then what happens when those people go away? That’s definitely something that I continue to feel.”

    Here are more excerpts from Andy Mientus’ conversation with Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:    

    John Moore: I'm guessing you have one of the most mispronounced names in show business.

    Andy Mientus: I do. Mee-en-tas. It's weird because it's not an actual name from an actual cultural heritage. There are a lot of consonants in our family name, and when my ancestors got to Ellis Island they kind of hacked it in half. So no one knows where to place its origin.

    John Moore: And where does it actually come from?

    Andy Mientus: It’s Polish. So it had lots of Cs, and Zs and other excitement in there. And now … it doesn't.

    John Moore: Tell us when we have seen you before in Denver.

    Andy Mientus: I was here in 2009 doing the first national tour of Spring Awakening at the Buell Theatre. I remember that it was the dead of winter, so I didn't get to see much of Denver. I'm very happy to be back and able to explore.

    Our deeper dive with Director Sam Buntrock

    John Moore: What was it about this show, this production and this director that made you want to come to Denver to do this?

    Andy Mientus: Tommy is definitely a bucket-list show and role for me. I really didn't grow up in a household where we listened to a lot of musicals. But our house was filled with music. There were always classic rock albums playing, soul records, country. So I grew up with “Tommy,” the album. I loved the tunes, and my family loved the tunes. It’s one of the things that bonded us. That’s one reason I’ve always wanted to play the role. But also because this genre of music is more my actual wheelhouse than some of the things I've done in my musical-theatre career. This is the kind of music I like to sing in the shower. So just to get to do the role is really exciting to me. And then, when I saw that Sam Buntrock was directing, I said, ‘Absolutely.’ Being aware of his other work, I just knew this was going to be unlike any production of Tommy I had ever seen before. When you think of Tommy on stage, you think of that iconic Des McAnuff Broadway production: Tommy, the wig, the white costume, the geometric shapes — just the sheer scale of that production. I just  knew that Sam was going to do something completely different. He is, and it's really thrilling.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Andy mientus quote. Photo by John Moore.

    John Moore: Recount for us how you went from a Spring Awakening groupie to being on national TV in Smash?

    Andy Mientus:  When I was a theater student, I fell in love with Spring Awakening, and I made a Facebook fan group for the show — back in the days when you could do that. A bunch of my friends had seen it over the summer and we were just buzzing about it, and making that page was just something I did one Saturday. And then a bunch of people started following it. And then one of the producers reached out and said they were exploring using social media, which was a very new concept for a Broadway show at the time. I already had all these Spring Awakening followers, so they said: 'Why don't we just make your page the show page?' And so I became one of the first-ever Social Media Managers for a Broadway show.

    John Moore: Did they know then that you could sing?

    Andy Mientus: They knew that I was a performer. So when (auditions) were coming up for the first national tour, they said, ‘Oh, you should go audition.' There's one in Chicago, and you're in Michigan. It's not that far.’ It actually is kind of far, but I drove there. I waited in line at 5 o’clock in the morning. I still know the guys who stood on either side of me in line — and we are all still in the business. Many callbacks later, and after many more twists and turns, I was cast in the national tour.

    John Moore: That's storybook.

    Video bonus: Andy Mientus sings acoustic 'Sensation'

    Andy Mientus: It was a really big, auspicious first gig to have. And so naturally I thought, ‘OK, you're in the national tour of a Broadway show — so, next you'll be in a Broadway show. And it will just sort of continue from there. And ... that's not how it works. I had some very quiet years when that was done. I was really hitting the pavement, doing little gigs, getting my name out there, playing any concert, working for free, seeing casting directors. But I just could not get cast in a Broadway show. But then I did get cast by NBC for "Smash" — which oddly enough was a show about Broadway. It took being on a TV show about Broadway to get cast, finally, in a Broadway show. That was Les Misérables in 2014. And it's just gotten weirder since then. I mean, there really is no linear path.

    John Moore: It’s crazy to think that one episode of Smash was seen by more people than could probably ever see you perform live on a stage over your whole lifetime.

    Andy Mientus: That’s true.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Can you relate any of the lessons learned through all of that to your performance now in Tommy?

    Andy Mientus: Oh, gosh, yes. I really relate to the part about Tommy growing up feeling isolated, feeling unseen, feeling unheard — and then suddenly, because of this one weird little talent he possesses, all these people want to be around him. I was so young during the Spring Awakening tour. I was away from home for the first time, and I was going through a really crazy time in my personal life. And suddenly there are all these people looking at you, and you think it's genuine. They've seen you on stage being vulnerable in front of an audience, and they are following what you're doing, and so they think that they know you. But they don't actually know you at all. There's this moment in Tommy where he brings all these people into his home and he thinks, ‘Oh, now I've filled the gap. I have this family.’ And then based on something Sally Simpson says, he quickly realizes that he had it all wrong. They don't really want to be around him — They want to be around the idea of him. That’s something I have encountered, that hunger for attention because of deep personal struggle. Yeah.

    John Moore: So here’s a practical actor question: How does one actually rehearse playing deaf, dumb and blind? Do you put on a blindfold and go, or do you go full-on Daniel Day-Lewis?

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    Tommy. Photo by Adams VisCom
    Andy Mientus and the cast of 'The Who's Tommy' for the DCPA Theatre Company, playing through May 27. Scenic Design by Jason Sherwood. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    Andy Mientus: I really just try to lock into Tommy's inner life. I can relate to what it feels like to be marginalized, so that's what I try to feel when I'm doing all of that. But there is one practical way: I actually have terrible vision if I take my contacts out. So I rehearsed without them for the first few days —  just to really get into that ‘Tommy Stare.’ In my head, I'm thinking that I'm in one of those horror stories where the anesthesia has kicked in just enough for you to be paralyzed and numb, but not enough to be unconscious. Tommy's in there watching it all. It's a bit like the movie Get Out when they go to the Sunken Place. Tommy’s looking at his life through the wrong end of the telescope. He's seeing it all. He’s taking it all in — but he has no control over it. I just try to think about the terror of that and the isolation of that and the sadness of that. And that's a lot to think about — so then it's easy to just go numb and catatonic.

    John Moore: What do you want to say to those people who already are familiar with Tommy, either the album or from seeing a local stage production of The Who's Tommy, and think they may already may know what they are in for when they come to see this show?

    (Pictured below and right: Andy Mientus with the other three actors who portray Tommy for the Denver Center: Samuel Bird, left, and Radley Wright play Tommy at age 4; Owen Zitek, front, plays Tommy at age 10. Photo by Bamboo Booth.)

    Andy Mientus Tommy. Bamboo Booth.Andy Mientus: I think that no matter what experience you bring into our production — whether you're a huge fan of the album or a huge fan of the Des McAnuff Broadway production — I think you are going to be incredibly surprised and, I hope, pleasantly surprised. I think the album fans will be surprised because we are telling a fully realized visual story based on this music that you already know and love. And the film fans will see it all in a way that's different from the movie, which is very much ‘of its time.’ Our version tells a more human story and a more relatable story and a much more realistic story. For all of its fantastical elements, we really have found a way, I think, to make the story feel plausible and realistic. If you were a big fan of the Broadway production, you think scale. You think of a large cast, the dancing, the lights. This is not like that. I feel audiences today are hungry for a more chamber, intimate, authentic experience like Next to Normal or Dear Evan Hansen — shows that really strip everything away and focus on storytelling. Our production's feels a lot more like that. And I think that’s going to let you hear a lot of these lyrics, in a new way.

    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.

    Bonus coverage: Andy Mientus, author of 'The Backstagers and the Ghost Light'

    John Moore: Tell us about your book.

    Andy Mientus: I have been tasked with writing a series of books based on this incredible comic series called The Backstagers and the Ghost Light. The publisher was looking to expand the original eight-comic arc into a series of books for 10- to 14-year-olds. And they hired me to do so. I've never written a novel before, but I've just turned in the first installment, which is called The Backstagers, and it comes out on Sept. 25 from Chronicle Books, which is an imprint of Abrams Books. It's available for pre-order now. And I'm already working on the second one, which am writing while I'm here in Denver. So I think it's going to be influenced by my experiences here, definitely.

    John Moore: What’s it about?

    Andy Mientus: It's about a group of kids who come together and make magic behind the scenes. And I think that's a really important story to tell.

    John Moore: Who is your target audience?

    Andy Mientus: I think the readers for this book are theater kids. It's a book I wish that I had growing up as a theater nerd. Because not only is it about theater and what makes theater cool and fun and exciting, it's about friendship and inclusivity.

    John Moore: What about theatre nerds who are older than 14 … like me?

    Andy Mientus: I've written it to be appropriate and clear for 10- to 14-year-olds. But if you're into any kind of whimsical, sci-fi magic stories that also have jokes about Hello, Dolly! in it, you'll love this. So middle-aged theater nerds shouldn't feel embarrassed to read it.

    Pre-order 'Backstagers and the Ghost Light' now


    The Who's Tommy:
    Ticket information

    Tommy_show_thumbnail_160x160Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive.
    • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through May 27
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Who's Tommy:

    Video: Your first look at The Who's Tommy at the Denver Center

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk,

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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.