• The 2018 Scenesters: Micah James Wilborn

    by John Moore | Jan 12, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Micah James Wilborn

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    • Class: Senior
    • School: Air Academy High School, Colorado Springs
    • Teacher: Susan Manst
    • Your play title: A World Out There
    • What is your play about? Jack is a young boy orphaned by a sickness that also  took many others. When Brooke comes across his makeshift home, a newfound friendship is born and they begin to learn more about themselves than ever before. Only with each other's help can they overcome their greatest obstacle: Their pasts.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? A couple of close friends inspired the characters, while the storyline comes from a dystopian take on our world today. Some of the main characters' interactions are based off conversations I have had or overheard while writing this.
    • Daniel_HuttlestoneFavorite word that appears in your scriptQuarantine!
    • Killer casting: Daniel Huttlestone as Jack. Though it wouldn't be the first time he's played a "Jack," this role might show some differences from the Jack he played in Into the Woods! He seems the perfect age, and his image is actually what I had in my head while working on my Jack's character.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? That my own ideas can grow into something so much bigger, if I let them. This started out as a sentence and grew into a full-blown one-act musical. That is because I had an idea, and I stuck with it and, with some nurturing, of course, let it grow. For that opportunity alone, I am eternally grateful.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Quote Micah Scenesters

    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2016 True West Award: Beth Beyer

    by John Moore | Dec 05, 2016

    30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS

    Day 5:
    Beth Beyer and Into the Woods

    The evocative sounds of the forest as you entered the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse signaled to all who entered that this production of Into the Woods was going to be special. Even before salad.

    Director Donald Berlin’s opulent production had it all – an elaborate scenic design, beautiful live music, colorful costumes, detailed prosthetics, delightful choreography, moody lighting and a list of accomplished actors every bit as deep as the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl roster.

    And for the first three weeks, it even had Debby Boone.

    Yes, the Debby Boone, who lit up America with the biggest-selling pop single of the 1970s, played The Witch for a limited run. And she was the first to flatly admit that Beyer was better in the role than she was.

    "I'm a pop singer," Boone said. "But these guys here at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse all have had training, and they have these huge vocal ranges. I have to say, they have assembled the most gifted, talented cast here that I could ever hope to be among.”

    True West Awards Beth BeyerInto the Woods is Sondheim – meaning it's music that wasn’t meant to be sung by mortal voices. Byers grew up in Colorado Springs and logged 15 years in New York City and around the country in national tours including The Sound Of Music with Marie Osmond and Camelot with Robert Goulet. Like many New York-caliber performers, she chose to raise her family in Colorado (in this case, Loveland), and Colorado audiences from the Country Dinner Playhouse to Lone Tree Arts Center to the Candlelight have been the beneficiaries ever since.

    (Pictured above and right: Tracy Warren, Matt LaFontaine and Beth Beyer in Candlelight's 'Into the Woods.' Photo by Rachel Graham/RDG Photography.)

    Hiring Boone to open Into the Woods was a delicious opportunity to bring unprecedented attention to Colorado’s now 8-year-old and largest remaining dinner theatre, located 40 miles north of Denver at Johnson’s Corner. The plan from the start was to have Boone guest star for three weeks, then cede the role to the gracious hometown girl.

    Read our interview with Debby Boone

    But when Beyer's turn came to take over the role, she really completed the story.

    True West Awards Beth Beyer QuoteOn the surface, that delightful story intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella. The plot is tied together by the plight of a childless baker, his wife and their infertile interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them. When done really well, however, Into the Woods should leave the audience a bit shaken by the musical’s unexpectedly deep and dark exploration of the consequences of getting what it is we think we want. And that's Beyer’s bailiwick, says Berlin.

    “As a director, one of the best things you can do is work with Beth Beyer because she works on the authenticity and truth of every single moment,” said Berlin. The storybook witch is evil, to be sure. But part of what makes Into the Woods so provocative is the fact that life has wounded her, and she wreaks her havoc on others in part out of a sense of love and protection for her own daughter.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “That character has experienced an incredible amount of heartbreak,” said Berlin. "She acts out of pettiness of ugliness, but there is also a loneliness about her, so the audience sympathizes with her plight. Beth made her eminently relatable, to everyone’s surprise." 

    But she didn’t do it alone. Here is a list of the primary cast and crew who made Candlelight's Into the Woods one of the most satisfying theatregoing experiences of the year in Colorado:

    Director: Don Berlin
    Musical Director: Phil Forman
    Scenic Design: Michael R. Duran
    Costume Design: Laurie Klapperich, re-staged by Rae Case
    Prosthetics and FX makeup: Todd Debrecini
    Sound Design: Mark Derryberry
    Lighting Design: Shannon Johnson
    Choreography: Bob Hoppe
    Technical Director: Dave MacEachen

    The Witch: Debby Boone and Beth Beyer
    Narrator/Mysterious Man: David L. Wygant
    Cinderella: Rachel Turner
    Jack: Kalond Irlanda
    Jack’s Mother: Melissa Swift-Sawyer
    The Baker: Matt LaFontaine
    The Baker’s Wife: Tracy Warren
    Cinderella’ Stepmother: Alisha Winter-Hayes
    Florinda: Allison Hatch
    Lucinda: Katie Burke
    Cinderella’s Mother: Maggie Tisdale
    Little Red Ridinghood: Sarah Grover
    Rapunzel: Sarah DeYong
    Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf: Markus Warren
    Rapunzel’s Prince: James Francis
    The Royal Steward: Eric Heine
    Snow White: Taylor Lang
    Sleeping Beauty: Lyndsay Krausa

    Beth Beyer/At a glance

    • Born in Colorado Springs
    • Graduated from Coronado High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder
    • Lives in Loveland
    • Favorite roles have included include Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone (Broadway workshop), Pam in The Full Monty with Sally Struthers (Pittsburgh CLO), Lina in Singin' In The Rain (Walnut St. Theatre, Barrymore Nomination), Adelaide in Guys & Dolls (International Music Festival, Macua China), Audrey in Little Shop Of Horrors (Maine St. Theatre).
    • Local favorites have included Nellie in South Pacific (Country Dinner Playhouse), Ilona in She Loves Me (Candlelight Dinner Playhouse). Guys & Dolls in Concert (Lone Tree Arts Center) and Violet in 9 to 5 (Candlelight Dinner Playhouse

    The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. 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. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
    Day 3: After Orlando
    Day 4: Michael Morgan
    Day 5: Beth Beyer
    Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
    Day 7: donnie l. betts
    Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
    Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
    Day 10: Jason Sherwood
    Day 11: Leslie O'Carroll and Steve Wilson
    Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
    Day 13: Jake Mendes
    Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
    Day 15: Patty Yaconis
    Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
    Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
    Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
    Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
    Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
    Day 21: Jeff Neuman
    Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
    Day 23: Matthew Campbell
    Day 24: Sharon Kay White
    Day 25: John Hauser
    Day 26: Lon Winston
    Day 27: Jason Ducat
    Day 28: Sam Gregory
    Day 29: Warren Sherrill
    Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
    Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride
  • Debby Boone takes a wicked turn 'Into the Woods'

    by John Moore | May 18, 2016
    Debby Boone Candlelight Dinner Playhouse Into the Woods

    Iconic 1970s pop singer Debby Boone plays The Witch in Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's 'Into the Woods' through June 5.

    Debby Boone, the singer who lit up the 1970s with the biggest-selling hit of the decade, has spent much of her adult life playing against type. She toyed with her wholesome image by playing the promiscuous Rizzo in a Broadway revival of Grease. At the height of her pop popularity, she switched over to country music. And now she's in Johnstown to play the misunderstood Witch in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.

    Debby Boone? A witch?

    “Yeah, I think this is the furthest from type I have gone so far,” Boone said with a laugh while preparing for tonight’s opening in Johnstown, located 40 miles north of Denver. “Playing Rizzo was a blast for me. And it was scary as all get-out to go out and do that on a Broadway stage. But this is so much more challenging.”

    Debby Boone Quote Into the woods CandlelightAnd she’s the first to admit: When she got the call asking her to join the company in Colorado, “My jaw hit the floor like everybody else,” she said.

    But this isn’t your typical stunt casting. While Boone is not a formally trained classical singer, she’s got training in her DNA. Her maternal grandfather is country music star Red Foley. And her father, Pat Boone, was second only to Elvis Presley in record sales in the late 1950s. Debby Boone began touring in gospel shows with her parents at age 14 along with her three sisters. The deeply religious Boones were essentially America's Von Trapps.

    Debby made her Broadway debut in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1982 and has performed around the world in productions of The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Meet Me in St. Louis, Camelot and even Human Comedy by Galt MacDermot, the man behind Hair. At a proud 59, the pop star has more than credibly crossed over into musical theatre.

    But, c’mon. This is Sondheim.

    “Yes, and this is so much harder than anything I ever imagined,” said Boone, who deep down wanted nothing more than to bite into the juicy role of the infamous witch who is not good, not nice but rather – “I’m just right.” Still, the singer who sold 4 million singles in 1977 alone had a crisis of confidence when she was asked to take on the role The Witch.

    “Hey I know that, on many levels, it's a stretch,” she admitted. “I asked myself, ‘Can I do this?’ Because honestly - it's really scary.”

    Boone found the strength to say yes from two past experiences: One was when her famous father was turning 60 (as she will this coming September), and he starred in a production of The Will Rogers Follies, without any previous musical theatre experience. “He had to learn how to do all of those complicated rope tricks and other things that were so completely foreign to him,” Boone said. “All my life, I have watched him just fearlessly move into things he doesn't necessarily have the background for, but he just goes for the challenge.”

    The other was her own decision to play Rizzo in a 1996 Broadway revival of Grease. This wasn’t Boone’s first time on Broadway stage. After having toured Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for a year in preparation for Broadway, the show was savaged by the New York Times and closed after two weeks. Why would she open herself up to that kind of pain again?

    “Because the only reason not to do it would have been fear,” she said. “And I just don't want to live that way.”

    She ultimately said yes to Candlelight, she said, “because I really wanted to take this on as a challenge and as a growing experience. “

    Boone wasn’t nervous last month when she joined the 20-plus actors who had already been working on Into the Woods for a week before her arrival. She was terrified. Asked whether the locals geeked out just a little bit when Debby Boone first walked into the room, she said, “I think it was the other way around. I was shaking in my boots with intimidation.

    “Listen, I have had many opportunities to do musicals, but I always come in feeling like I am the odd man out, because it's true,” she said. “I don't have training. I never went to a college that has a music program. I've hardly studied voice. I'm a pop singer. But these guys here at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse all have had training, and they have these huge vocal ranges. I have to say, they have assembled the most gifted, talented cast here that I could ever hope to be among.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    She thanks the cast for welcoming her, and especially the “most wonderful” Musical Director, Phil Forman. “This is a very tiring role vocally, and he really worked with me,” said Boone. “He showed me how not to waste my voice when I don't need to -  and when I really have to bring it.”

    She’ll be bringing it, all right, starting tonight and for the next three weeks, through June 5. After that, Into the Woods continues through July 10, with Beth Beyer playing The Witch – an actor Boone says flatly is better in the role than she is.

    Boone, whose husband, Gabriel Ferrer, is an Episcopal priest and the son of legendary crooner Rosemary Clooney, is the mother of four and also a first-time grandmother. She had plenty more to say about Beyer; the song that put Boone the musical map; the single she’d rather you listened to; who the ‘You’ is in You Light Up My Life; and a juicy little story about the songwriter who induced an honest-to-goodness profanity out of that squeaky-clean mouth. Read on.

    John Moore: Take us back to 1977. It’s the height of disco. You’re 21 years old. You have never sung solo - and the songwriter Joseph Brooks asks you to record the title track to his film, You Light Up My Life.

    Debby Boone: It’s funny because the way things are now, with shows like American Idol and The Voice, 21 is like an old hag. And I felt so young. I was still living at home. Going into that studio in New York to record You Light Up My Life, for me, was the exciting beginning of what I call the long, hard climb. I had no anticipation that the song would ever be heard by anyone other than the people who were there in the studio. I did not see it as a hit record. And so no one was more shocked and surprised by what happened than I was.

    Debby Boone Quote Into the woods CandlelightJohn Moore: Did that song ever come to feel like a burden or a curse?

    Debby Boone: Oh yeah. Especially early on. When you are young and you have a big start like that, you are kind of naive. I had been part of The Boone Family Show. I had never been out there on a stage by myself. So I felt very unprepared for what was coming my way. It was really kind of scary. And after that song came out, it was the only song anyone wanted to hear. Everywhere I went, that song had to be done. Of course, you get sort of sick of singing the same thing over and over and over - and you want people to know there is more to you. But I got over that really quickly as I became a little more seasoned. I realized there was no reason to be anything but grateful for people wanting to hear you sing. The kind of emotion that song brings up for people, and the stories they have told me over the years of what that song has meant in their lives personally, has made me realize what a gift and a blessing it is. When I begin to sing that song, it's palpable in the room, and that is a tremendous feeling to experience.

    John Moore: So Joseph Brooks wrote the song. But to you, who is 'You' in You Light Up My Life?

    Debby Boone: When I first decided how that lyric struck me, I never thought anybody was ever going to ask me that question. It really took me off-guard the first time. I couldn't do anything but tell the truth, even though sometimes in print it looks like I had an agenda, which I certainly did not. But, for me, those words really lent themselves to becoming a prayer. I always think of my relationship with God in terms of love and light - of being alone, and God filling that place. Now, the guy who wrote the song was not a very nice man. Somebody asked him in an interview about how Debby Boone said she sang his song to God, and his eloquent response was, 'Bull(bleep!).'

    John Moore: Now I wish this were a podcast so people could have heard you say that word. So tell me this then: For those people who have never heard you sing another song, what’s another single I can point them to that you consider a favorite?

    Debby Boone: When I sang I'm So Lonesome by Hank Williams, I discovered a place in me I had never known was there. It brought together all of the musical influences of my life. My grandfather, Red Foley, was a big Country and Western gospel singer from the Grand Ole Opry and a contemporary of Hank Williams. It was on an album dedicated to Rosemary Clooney, who had also recorded that song. When we were putting the song together, I felt this country depth, as well as a kind of jazz fusion happen in the moment. It was magical. So that was a favorite for a really long time.     

    John Moore: Who do you love among today's country stars?

    Debby Boone: I am a huge fan of Alison Krauss.

    John Moore: You went from pop music to Broadway in 1982. Today, it has become common for performers from shows like American Idol to be cast in shows like Chicago and Rock of Ages. Is that good for Broadway?

    Debby Boone: I really feel for the people who have worked so hard to have a well-formed craft - like the very people I am working with at Candlelight right now. When they see somebody come in who has none of that kind of training or experience, they might see it as taking jobs from them – and I completely empathize with that. I really do. But I also think there are no jobs for those people if theatre continues to dwindle. So there is something to be gained when you have someone in your show who people will come to see – and wouldn't necessarily come if one of their favorite performers were not in it. And if they come, then you have introduced new people to musical theatre. And they may come back because you exposed them to something they didn't ever really notice before. And then there are shows like Hamilton that are not star-driven but they are so original that they draw new people in, too. So I say: Whatever works.

    John Moore: How's your dad?

    Debby Boone: He's great. He is inspirational in that he is 82 years old. He stays busy, and he's always wanting to learn and be involved and vibrant - and he can't stand the thought that he's 82. He still loves to get up on a stage and perform and meet people. There's a chance he may come out to Colorado to see this, but he just signed on to do another movie, so it's not looking like he might be able to get here. But he would love this.

    debby boone into the woodsJohn Moore: So, you … in Johnstown … performing Into the Woods: How did this happen

    Debby Boone: I was brought in about five years ago when they started to do personal-appearance concerts at Candlelight. I did a Christmas show. I was so impressed with the theatre and the quality of the sound. The whole environment was just lovely. It was my ex-manager who suggested to them that maybe they should ask known recording artists to come in and do some of the actual theatrical performances.

    (The photo at right comes from Debby Boone's Instagram account with the caption: "Got to wear my prosthetics for 'Into The Woods' today. We are making some color corrections, but the transformation begins!)

    John Moore: So tell us about The Witch.

    Debby Boone: I find her to be very identifiable. She's acting out of woundedness and insecurities, She has this daughter she loves and wants to protect. But she is in dreaded fear of losing her, and so she acts badly. I have four kids, and I know some of the worst mistakes I have ever made have been out of love and fear of them making their own mistakes.

    John Moore: Essentially she’s just a woman who has had a curse put on her, and she wants it to be lifted. And as we have seen from Beauty and the Beast to Wicked, there really is a human underneath the curse.

    Debby Boone: Yes, and when people hurt people, the circles keep growing and manifesting. Out of her own hurt she creates the same kind of imprisonment on her daughter that was also placed on her. That’s life. That is so much life.

    John Moore: When Meryl Streep played the role in the movie, she said Into the Woods is just a metaphor for how can we all just get along. 

    Debby Boone: I think so, too. And even broader than that, for everybody in this story, it's moving from fear to love.

    John Moore: So tell people why they should come see Into the Woods.

    Debby Boone: It is a magical night of theatre with the most talented cast that I could ever hope to be among. And I think it will be such a surprise to people who aren't familiar with this show. This is a beautiful piece. We are going to take audiences on a ride, and they are going to feel something.

    John Moore: You are performing through June 5, but the show goes on after that. Why should people still come even after you have left the building?

    Debby Boone: The woman who will also play this role is named Beth Beyer, and she is just fantastic. I certainly hope that no one who can't make it in the first three weeks might think they are going to see something ‘less than’ - because it really is quite the opposite.   

    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.

    Into the Woods: Ticket information

    • Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
    • 4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, CO 80534 MAP IT

      (I-25 at Exit 254, just south of Historic Johnson's Corner)

    • Performances through July 10 (Debby Boone appears through June 5)
    • Showtimes:

      Thursday through Saturdays: Dinner at 6 p.m., Show at 7:30 p.m.

      Saturday Matinees: Dinner noon, show at 1:30 p.m.

      Sunday Matinees: Dinner 12:30 p.m., show at 2 p.m.

    • Call 970-744-3747 or go to at www.ColoradoCandlelight.com


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.