• A man among women: My night at 'Girls Only'

    by John Moore | Sep 18, 2017

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    I am not afraid of the alternate uses for this feminine product as suggested to me by the women of "Girls Only." Looking forward to it, in fact. Photobombing: Carla Kaiser Kotrc.

     

    What happens when a man ignores the writing on the wall?

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    (Note: This essay was originally published in 2014. Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women' returns to the Galleria Theatre from Sept. 21-Oct. 22, 2017.)

    This doesn’t happen every night at the theatre: At intermission, a kindly female usher came up to me at my seat and asked if I intended to use the men’s room during the break. I did a quick mental bladder assessment and determined … OK, pretty sure I'm good. … Why?

     “Well, then – with your permission – we are going to open up the men’s room for the ladies to use,” she said.

    I never thought I would ever hold such power.  But I was raised by a good woman. I knew what was good for me. I gave my blessing.

    Girls OnlyThat’s just sensible strategy, I thought. After all, in a room with more than 200 audience members, I was the only one – presumably – sporting the anatomical equivalent of a caveman’s club.

    Sunday night was my first time seeing Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women. That makes me no different from almost every other man in the world. But for the longest time, this fact has separated me from the more than 110,000 women who have seen Girls Only since 2008.

    That made this a theatregoing night six years in the making.

    You have to understand that I was the theatre critic at The Denver Post when noted local improv comedians Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein debuted their modest little slumber-party comedy at The Avenue Theater. At the time, I tried to see just about every local production I could fit into my schedule, and certainly any original work created by local actors. It was an immediate hit that ran for an extended seven-week run. But, like feminine wiles, Girls Only remained largely a mystery to me.

    The exclusionary nature of the title aside, I did want to go. And I would have, but, in those early days at The Avenue, they weren’t kidding with that title. I was not allowed in. No guy was. Once again, here I was: A middle-aged white man on the wrong end of the discrimination and exclusion propagated by the women who have long controlled this country.

    But I relented.  I didn’t even try to dress up and sneak in. We sent a female staff writer to review the show for The Denver Post instead. Soon the show was building so much momentum, it was picked up for a run here at the Denver Center’s Garner-Galleria Theatre. That was a history-making moment. The Denver Center's Broadway division had never before optioned a locally grown play for a full production in the big house. Or in this case … the big cabaret house. Girls Only ran continuously in The Garner-Galleria for more than two years. Additional productions have sprung up in Des Moines, Charlotte, Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Houston and others. The show has grossed more than $2.5 million in ticket sales.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Now, I’m not the kind of guy who likes being kept in the dark. My brothers did that to me enough times as a kid whenever they got bored and locked me in a closet. I did due diligence by writing with regularity about the show and its progress. But still, I had not seen it for myself. Later on, I learned that the Denver Center, being much more mindful of, you know – the law – than my friends at The Avenue Theater, never actually forbid men from seeing the show. Some men, I hear told, have come back to see it several times.

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    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein singing 'Up With Puberty' from 'Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.

     

    Fast forward to the recent re-opening night of Girls Only at the Galleria Theatre. By now, I was long gone from The Denver Post. Last August, I was scooped up by the Denver Center, where my job is that of an in-house journalist. My delicious duties now include snapping photographs backstage before every Denver Center opening.

    Which brings us to “The Night of Jan. 16.” (That’s also the name of a play, you may know. I played the judge in a high-school production. The audience jury decides if the femme fatale is guilty of murder. But no matter how they voted, I got to scold the jury for making an obviously idiotic decision. That training well-prepared me for my future life as a theatre critic. But I digress …)

    So here I was in the cramped backstage dressing room with my camera and my Girls (Only). I was trying to be a proper gentlemen despite the, shall we say … “casual nature” of my photo subjects. When Barbara and Linda began to undress right in front of me, I, of course, excused myself. They said they would call me back in when they were changed into their proper costumes. And they did just that. I walked back in to the sight of two women wearing nothing but bright, colorful bras and panties (with carefully hidden mic pacs!) … and grins from ear to ear. They snickered. I was blood in the water. My face was hot-pinker than Barbara’s bra.

    “OK, you got me,” I said. “Now call me back in when you put some clothes on.”

    But no, it was not a put-on. It was a take-off. “This is what we really wear to start the show,” Linda insisted.

    And it was!

    I promised to come back soon, see the show and write this manly first-person essay about the experience. They made me promise to bring women along. Lots of them. “You’ll need them for protection,” Barbara teased. Made sense. I didn’t want any women coming to the theatre to giggle about all things girly with their girlfriends to be made in any way self-conscious by the creepy old man sitting alone in the corner. I have my front porch for that.

    Which brings us to Sunday night.

    “Be afraid,” my friend Amy Board said on our way into the theatre, along with the rest of my distaff “Gaggle of Girls,” Carla Kaiser Kotrc and Sharon Kay White. I also had actor Amie MacKenzie, who understudies both of the women who act in the play, one row behind us, watching my back.

    To this point, I really didn’t know what the big deal was. Sure, the evening comes with a warning: “This show contains feminine subject matter including teenage diaries, breast feeding, tampons, shadow puppets, pantyhose, menstrual cycles, slumber parties, menopause and maxi pads.”

    What was on that list for ME to worry about?

    Turns out, not much. Because I think a few of the actual ladies in the house were more uncomfortable than I was with the prospect of using the sticky side of your maxi pad as the equivalent of a waxing agent.

    But man, were those women giggling from the first line to the final bow, both for the evident comic agility on display by these two actors, but for the rabbit hole they sent the audience down, right back into their own girlyhoods.

    The night begins with the aforementioned bra-clad Gehring and Klein revisiting one of their childhood bedrooms. The women read for a bit from their actual journals, comically revealing the universal gawky, geekiness of being a teenager. Who can’t relate to a girl who formed her own one-woman club, but only had enough self-esteem to elect herself  vice-president? I once formed my own political party. I called it the Antisocial Party – “No Other Members Allowed” – but, jeez, at least I elected myself president.

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    Audience members are encouraged to leave their thoughts in a diary kept at the Galleria Theatre.

     

    The night soon turns into a series of relatable comedy sketches very much in league with Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy’s Parallel Lives, or a guy-less I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change  These included sweet, sentimental and, occasionally taste-boundary-pushing revelations that were not just for the women in the house. When Linda pulled out her childhood Walkie Talkies, I was right back patrolling my home street of Dudley Court.

    The audience loved a bit called The History of Women, as told by shadow puppets, and recoiled with a reminder of the way women were depicted in 1950s TV commercials. There was some soft political humor. While discussing our societal obsession with boobs, Barbara says, “We even elected one once.” To which, as if on cue, pretty much the entire audience answered back with incredulous spontaneity … “ONCE???”

    The ex-theatre critic in me appreciated Girls Only most for the truly improvised moments. In one sketch, the women snag the purses of two unsuspecting women in the audience, and then build an original story out of whatever objects they find inside. They also make up parody songs on the spot. I can tell you that of all the performing arts, there is nothing more painful to sit through than improv comedy that is tentative, unsure or unclever. Girls Only makes plain that these two actors are among the best you will ever see at thinking on their feet.

    As the only man, I was occasionally called out for not comprehending the meaning of the words Girls Only. But, it turns out, I was not alone. Not really. After all, there was a poster of Shaun Cassidy on the bedroom wall staring back at us like a little lost lamb. 

    Read our Q&A with Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein

    Girls Only strikes me as gateway theatre. Not the kind of show that attracts a regular theatregoing crowd. But the kind of show that might help turn them into more regular theatregoers.

    I see about 160 plays a year, and I can tell you that I feel comfortable in any theater where people are laughing, engaged and having a good time. So rest assured, my dangling caveman club aside, I was one guy who felt right at home at Girls Only.

    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.

    Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women: Ticket information
    At a glance: Girls Only is an original comedy that celebrates the honor, truth, humor and silliness of being female with a two-woman cast and a mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation, and hilarious songs and videos.

    • Presented by DCPA Cabaret
    • Playing Sept. 21-Oct. 22
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre at the Denver Performing Ats Complex
    • Tickets start at $39
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    • For more, go to the Girls Only website

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    My Gaggle of only 'Girls': Carla Kaiser-Kotrc (back), Sharon Kay White (left) and Amy Board. Photo by Randy Dodd.

     

     

     

  • Video: Ariel Shafir on the new warrior face of 'Macbeth'

    by John Moore | Sep 12, 2017

    'We're getting a taste of where theatre has evolved, and Robert O'Hara is at the finger's edge of all this," Ariel Shafir says of his 'Macbeth' director. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


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


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Actor Ariel Shafir is well aware that when most people imagine the face of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, they likely conjure a face like, say, Patrick Stewart’s or Kelsey Grammer’s as the great killer Scot. “It’s usually some 60-year-old, very WASPy looking guy,” Shafir said with a laugh.

    Ariel ShafirBut nevertheless, the decidedly younger Shafir is preparing to play the iconic embodiment of bloodthirsty ambition for the DCPA Theatre Company. And he thinks he’s just right for the role.

    “Macbeth is not one of these old generals in some back room,” Shafir said. “He’s on the battlefield. He’s the greatest warrior they have. So when you see someone like me playing Macbeth, you can see how far we are veering from the typical playbook. Already you are getting a different energy, a different look, a different feel for Macbeth.”

    Director Robert O’Hara is telling the tale of Macbeth from the point of view of a coven of shamanic warlocks. In his world, these warlocks are getting together years later and performing the story of Macbeth as a kind of passion play.

    There are purists who believe Shakespeare should not be tinkered with, even in concept. Shafir challenges that notion. “It is important to note that this is going to be the exact text Shakespeare wrote,” Shafir said. “But instead of relying on the template of productions past, I think Robert is actually probing deeper into the script and striking much closer to the heart of Shakespeare’s actual play.

     “We are delving into some of the darkest shadows of human psychology, and I think I directors sometimes tiptoe that line. But not Robert. There are so many things in our production that many others don’t ever deal with. There are just so many things about our own shadow selves that we need to embrace, and I think we do.”

    Ariel Shafir. Photo by John MooreThere’s a reason Macbeth remains a popular story after 400 years. Shafir says it’s the same reason we love Halloween and horror movies.

    “What is this darkness in ourselves that we need to embrace in the nighttime so that we can go out and be productive in the daylight hours?” he said.

    “This play is reaching forward in time and, at the same time, reaching back. There will be an interesting tension between the classic Jacobean style, while also having this completely futuristic feel as well. There are so many parts of this play that I think will be illuminated for the first time for people.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Ariel Shafir: At a glance
    At the Denver Center: Debut. Other regional credits: John Proctor in The Crucible (Playmakers Rep), Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare), Axel Fersen in Marie Antoinette (Steppenwolf), Uzi in Captors (Huntington), John in A Life in the Theater (Alliance), among many others including most recently Isaac in the China Tour of Disgraced. TV/Film: "Orange is the New Black," "30 Rock," "Army Wives," I Love You ... but I Lied," "M'Larky," "What Happens in Vegas" "Bride Wars" "Don Peyote," "What Happens Next," "Hysterical Psycho." Winner of a Suzi Bass Award, Jeff Award and Barrymore Award.

    Macbeth: Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.
    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 'The Rape of the Sabine Women' and 'The Toxic Avenger Musical'

    by John Moore | Sep 09, 2017
    For 10 days, the DCPA NewsCenter has offered not just 10 intriguing titles to watch on theatre stages throughout Colorado. This year we expanded our preview by featuring 10 musicals AND 10 plays. Today is Day 10.

    PLAY OF THE DAY: Local Theater Company's The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias


    Featured actor in the video above: Mare Trevathan, who says of 'The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias': 'The play explores consent and campus assault and rape culture, particularly as it relates to football. And yet it is very funny – until it’s not.’


    • Oct. 27-Nov. 19
    • Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    • Rape of the Sabine Women Mare Trevathan303-440-7826, or go to localtheaterco.org
    • Playwright: Michael Yates Crowley
    • Director: Christy Montour-Larson

    The story: Jeff and Bobby are stars of the gridiron, ready to lead the Springfield High Romans to Homecoming victory. But standing in front of the end zone is Grace B. Matthias, who has accused the two football heroes of rape. A story about truth and deception using the myths of the Roman Empire to explore what it means to love — and turn your back on — someone.

    But what is it about? This fast-paced comedy (until it isn’t) examines rape culture and sexual assault in America. Perhaps there is no better time to address these issues in Boulder, particularly with new allegations that a former assistant football coach at the University of Colorado abused a woman, and his boss did nothing about it. Theater is an opportunity to address of-the-moment issues and can be a catalyst for action, and for change. (Provided by Local Theater Company.)

    Note: As part of this production, Local Theater Company will be hosting a series of conversations with community experts around rape culture and sexual assault.

    Cast list:

    • Peter Henry Bussian
    • Erik Fellenstein
    • Cajardo Lindsey
    • Rodney Lizcano
    • Adeline Mann
    • Matt Schneck
    • Mare Trevathan
    • Brynn Tucker

    Rape of the Sabine Women Clockwise from lower left: Adeline Mann (twice), Erik Fellenstein and Cajardo Lindsey. Photos by George Lange.    


    MUSICAL OF THE DAY: Thin Air Theatre Company’s The Toxic Avenger Musical


    Featured actor in the video above: Kevin Pierce. Will you like 'The Toxic Avenger Musical’? Pierce says to ask yourself: ‘Do you like love stories? Do you like scrawny superheroes? Do you like stories about toxic waste?’


    • Sept. 29-Oct. 28
    • Butte Theatre, 139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek
    Toxic Avenger Kevin PierceCall 719-689-3247 or go to thinairtheatre.com
    Written by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) and David Bryan (keyboardist for Bon Jovi)
    • Director: Chris Armbrister
    • Music Director: James Mablin

    • The story:
    The Toxic Avenger Musical takes place in the recent past in Tromaville, N.J., a toxic-waste dump just off the Jersey Turnpike. When a well-meaning geek named Melvin Ferd III is dropped into a barrel of toxic waste by the town bullies, he vows to get his revenge  - and the girl - by cleaning up the town. Melvin is out to save N.J., end global warming and woo the prettiest blind librarian in town. Five actors play a multitude of characters in this PG-13 rock-musical comedy based on the 1985 cult classic film. (Provided by the Thin Air Theatre Company.)

    • What's the big deal? The Toxic Avenger became the talk of the 2017 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards when a production by the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre pulled a coup by winning both the Outstanding Actress (Colby Dunn) and Supporting Actress (Megan Van De Hey) awards. While this is a completely independent staging, the summer accolades left a lot of Henry Award wondering what all the mountain buzz was about. Thin Air Theatre Company's upcoming production provides audiences another opportunity to see the musical for themselves.  

    Cast list:
    Melvin Ferd III: Kevin Pierce
    Mayor" Sarah Brittany Ambler
    Babs Belgoody and Ma Ferd: Kelly Hackett
    White Dude: Nick Madson
    Black Dude: Vincent Hooper

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview:

    Day 1: Curious Theatre's Appropriate and BDT Stage's Rock of Ages
    Day 2: The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now and Rocky Mountain Rep’s Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's General Store and Town Hall Arts Center's In the Heights
    Day 4: Avenue Theater’s My Brilliant Divorce and the Arvada Center’s A Chorus Line
    Day 5: Bas Bleu’s Elephant’s Graveyard and Evergreen Chorale’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Day 6: Firehouse Theatre’s The Mystery of Love and Sex and the Aurora Fox’s ‘Company’
    Day 7: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s The Revolutionists and Off-Center’s The Wild Party
    Day 8: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Pretty Fire and the Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie
    Day 9: Edge Theatre Company’s A Delicate Balance and Midtown Arts Center’s Once.

    This 2017 Colorado fall preview was compiled by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore as a service to the Colorado theatre community. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011 and is the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.
  • 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 'General Store' and 'In the Heights'

    by John Moore | Aug 31, 2017
    For 10 days, the DCPA NewsCenter is offering not just 10 intriguing titles to watch on theatre stages throughout Colorado. This year we are expanding our preview by featuring 10 musicals AND 10 plays. Today is Day 3.

    PLAY OF THE DAY: Creede Repertory Theatre's’ General Store

    Featured actor in the video above: Logan Ernstthal

    • Now through Sept. 16
    • 124 Main St., Creede, located 250 miles southwest of Denver
    • 719-658-2540 or go to creederep.org
    • Playwright: Brian Watkins
    • Director: Christy Montour-Larson

    A Creede Repertory Theatre 400The story: General Store, first presented at Creede Rep's 2016 Headwaters New Play Festival, is set in rural Colorado. Mike is determined to keep his faltering general store up and running, and he’ll let nothing get in the way: Not his two wily daughters, the trucker who thinks he’s dead, the rancher who thinks he’s dying or even the blizzard outside. But something mysterious is under the floorboards. And it’s getting louder and hungrier. Can Mike save his American Dream from the ravenous creature beneath his store? Or should he just save himself instead? Part Sam Shepard, part Stephen King, Watkins is an innovative playwright with an American voice all its own. This one of the most technically challenging plays Creede Rep has ever brought to its stages, and it will grip you until the final blackout.

    But what is it about? General Store is about what happens when your way of life is being devoured by forces you can’t control. Mike’s American dream is literally and figuratively crashing down around him. (Provided by Creede Repertory Theatre.)

    • Of special note to travelers: Creede Repertory Theatre has worked out some special lodging deals for September to make it easier for visitors from around the state to see General Store as well as Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly. If you mention the Colorado Theatre Guild when orderering, you get the senior ticket price. (Call 719-658-2540.) And the following hotels are offering discounts of 10-15 percent on lodging: Antlers Rio Grande Lodge, Finding Gems and Aspen Inn, Blessings Inn, Blue Creek Lodge, Cascada (weekdays only), Club at the Cliffs, Creede Snowshoe Lodge, Dragonfly Flats, Big Country Fun Outdoor Adventures, The House on Old Mill Road, Windsock Acres, Windsor Hotel and The Soprano Suite.

    Cast list:
    • Logan Ernstthal: Mike
    • Ben Newman: Jim
    • Stuart Rider: Rick
    • Caitlin Wise: Nikki
    • Bethany Eilean Talley: Greta

    More creatives:
    Scenic Design: Robert Mark Morgan
    Costume Design: Clare Henkel
    Lighting Design: Jacob Welch
    Sound Design: Jason Ducat
    Production Stage Manager: Devon Muko

    A Creede Repertory Theatre 610 2
    Of 'General Store,' Logan Ernstthal (left) says, 'It’s as if Sam Shepard, the Coen Brothers and Stephen King had a love child. And it’s got a huge metaphor hiding under the floorboards.' Photo by John Gary Brown.


    MUSICAL OF THE DAY: Town Hall Arts Center’s In the Heights


    Featured actor in the video above: Jose David Reynoza

    • Sept. 8-Oct. 8
    • 2450 W. Main St., Littleton
    Town Hall In the Heights303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org
    • Director: Nick Sugar
    • Music director: Donna Kolpan Debreceni

    • The story: In the Heights is set in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood – a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions to take with you, and which to leave behind. This music was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who just won the Pulitzer Prize for Hamilton.

    • Why should I see it? The live music: In the Heights blends rap, hip-hop, merengue and salsa. The humor: If you want to laugh out loud, witty lines abound. The story: In the Heights is a fantastic piece of musical theatre, but also a beautiful story that leaves you feeling happy and uplifted. Three more words: Lin-Manuel Miranda. (Provided by Town Hall Arts Center.)

    Cast list:
    Usnavi de la Vega: Jose David Reynoza
    Vanessa: Sarah Harmon
    Nina Rosario : Rose Van Dyne
    Benny: Randy Chalmers
    Sonny de la Vega: Chris Castaneda
    Daniela: Chelley Canales
    “Abuela” Claudia: Margie Lamb
    Kevin Rosario: Anthony Rivera
    Camila Rosario: Nancy Begley
    The Piragua Guy (Piragüero): George Zamarripa
    Carla: Destiny Walsh
    Graffiti Pete: Joseph Lamar Williams
    Ensemble: Andy Nuanhngam, Cassie Lujan, Gabriel Morales, Jenny Weiss Mather, Jordan Duran and Tashara May

    The band:
    Donna Kolpan Debreceni: Keyboards
    Austin Hein: Bass
    Scott Smith: Guitars
    Larry Ziehl: Drums and Percussion
    Dustin Arndt: Percussion
    Rob Reynolds: Trumpet and Flugelhorn

    More creatives:
    Scenic Designer: Tim Barbiaux
    Costume Designer: Linda Morken
    Lighting Designer: Seth Alison
    Sound Designer: Curt Behm
    Props Designer: Becky Toma
    Production Stage Manager: Steven Neale
    Technical Director: Mike Haas
    Assistant Choreographer: Jenny Weiss Mather
    Dialect/Cultural Awareness Coach: Olga Lopez

    Town Hall Arts Center In the Heights Jose David Reynoza says 'In the Heights’ represents a culture that isn't often seen on stage. It really is an honor to be a part of a story that portrays a large part of who I am here in the United States,’ says Reynoza, himself an immigrant. From left: Jenny Weiss Mather, Andy Nuanhngam, Anthony Rivera, Reynoza and Nancy Begley. Photo by Becky Toma. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Our complete 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview:

    Day 1: Curious Theatre's Appropriate and BDT Stage's Rock of Ages
    Day 2: The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now and Rocky Mountain Rep’s Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's General Store and Town Hall Arts Center's In the Heights
    Day 4: Avenue Theater’s My Brilliant Divorce and the Arvada Center’s A Chorus Line
    Day 5: Bas Bleu’s Elephant’s Graveyard and Evergreen Chorale’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Day 6: Firehouse Theatre’s The Mystery of Love and Sex and the Aurora Fox’s ‘Company’
    Day 7: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s The Revolutionists and Off-Center’s The Wild Party
    Day 8: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Pretty Fire and the Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie
    Day 9: Edge Theatre Company’s A Delicate Balance and Midtown Arts Center’s Once.
    Day 10:  Local Theater Company’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias and Thin Air Theatre Company’s The Toxic Avenger Musical

    This 2017 Colorado fall preview is compiled by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore as a service to the Colorado theatre community. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011 and is the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.
  • 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview: 'You on the Moors Now’ and 'Almost Heaven'

    by John Moore | Aug 30, 2017
    For 10 days, the DCPA NewsCenter will offer not only 10 intriguing theatre titles to watch on theatre stages throughout Colorado. This year we are expanding our preview by featuring 10 musicals AND 10 plays. Today is Day 2.

    PLAY OF THE DAY: The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now

    Featured actor in the video above: Anastasia Davidson

    • Sept. 8-30
    • At the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    Catamounts. Anastasia Davidson 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org
    • Playwright: Jaclyn Backhaus
    • Director: Amanda Berg Wilson

    The story: You on the Moors Now features iconic characters from 19th-century novels Jane Eyre, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. Set in the mythical land of Moors, our four heroines have run away after shockingly rejecting the suitors who ardently loved them. Stung by the spurning, the men wage war on the women.

    But what is it about? This timely feminist romp juxtaposes the romantic confines of the past with present ideas of courtship and playfully examines women’s perennial quest to be valued as men’s equals, the ancient interconnectedness of love and loss, and the contemporary recognition that humans must find their own way before finding one another.

    Cast list:

    Catamounts. You on the Moors NowElizabeth Bennet: Anastasia Davidson
    • Cathy: Laura Lounge
    • Jo March: Alaina Beth Reel
    • Jane Eyre: Alex Forbes
    • Fitzwilliam Darcy: Brian Kusic
    • Heathcliff: Matthew Blood-Smyth
    • Laurie Laurence: Joe Von Bokern
    • Mr. Rochester: Jason Maxwell
    • Player 1: Caroline Bingley, Amy: Luciann Lajoie
    • Player 2: Mr Bingley, Old Grandpa Laurence: Jihad Milhem
    • Player 3: Nelly Dean, Beth, Jane Bennet: Maggie Tisdale
    • Player 4: Joseph, Mrs. March: Sam Gilstrap
    • Player 5: St. John Rivers, Bhaer, Edgar Linton: Austin Terrell
    • Player 6: River Sister, Meg: Joan Bruemmer-Holden


    MUSICAL OF THE DAY: Rocky Mountain Rep’s
    Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver

    Featured actor in the video above: Matilde Bernabei

    • Sept. 1-30
    • 800 Grand Ave in Grand Lake, located 100 miles northwest of Denver
    Grand Lake. Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. Matilde Bernabei970-627-3421 or rockymountainrep.com
    • Director: Jeff Duke
    • Music director: Michael Querio

    • The story: Almost Heaven is a revue of John Denver songs in wonderfully creative new arrangements, connected with words and thoughts from the artist, about the artist and placing the songs' creation in context of our country's history. This musical was premiered by the DCPA Theatre Company in 2003 and was extended for nine months. 

    • But what is it about? While the songs are certainly well-known, hearing them performed surrounded by the beauty of Grand Lake will be special. The musical also emphasizes John Denver's work as an environmentalist and social activist.

    Cast list:
    Jack Bartholet
    Matilde Bernabei
    Suzanna Champion
    Paige Daigle
    Jens Jacobson
    Kyle Ashe Wilkinson
    Jeff Duke
    Michael Querio

    Grand Lake. Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. Almost Heaven. John Denver.

    The cast of Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre's 'Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver' has a little fun at rehearsal in Grand Lake. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Our complete 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview:

    Day 1: Curious Theatre's Appropriate and BDT Stage's Rock of Ages
    Day 2: The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now and Rocky Mountain Rep’s Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's General Store and Town Hall Arts Center's In the Heights
    Day 4: Avenue Theater’s My Brilliant Divorce and the Arvada Center’s A Chorus Line
    Day 5: Bas Bleu’s Elephant’s Graveyard and Evergreen Chorale’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Day 6: Firehouse Theatre’s The Mystery of Love and Sex and the Aurora Fox’s ‘Company’
    Day 7: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s The Revolutionists and Off-Center’s The Wild Party
    Day 8: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Pretty Fire and the Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie
    Day 9: Edge Theatre Company’s A Delicate Balance and Midtown Arts Center’s Once.
    Day 10:  Local Theater Company’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias and Thin Air Theatre Company’s The Toxic Avenger Musical

    This 2017 Colorado fall preview is compiled by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore as a service to the Colorado theatre community. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011 and is the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.
  • 2017 Colorado Fall Preview: 'Rock of Ages' and 'Appropriate'

    by John Moore | Aug 29, 2017
    Continuing a tradition dating to 2002, for the next 10 days, we will offer 10 intriguing theatre titles to watch on theatre stages throughout Colorado. Only this year we are expanding our coverage by offering 10 musicals AND 10 plays here on the DCPA NewsCenter

    PLAY OF THE DAY: Curious Theatre's Appropriate

    Featured actor in the video above: Sean Scrutchins


    Featured Actor Sean ScrutchinsSept. 2-Oct. 14
    • 1080 Acoma St.
    • 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org
    • Playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

    The story: Three adult children descend on a crumbling Arkansan plantation to liquidate their dead patriarch’s estate. There, they find a gruesome Southern relic that causes them to question their family's history.

    But what is it about? Appropriate is a challenging play on racial legacy that is "right on time" as our country grapples with how to handle Confederate relics like statues. Appropriate asks us how we explore our own history with race and how we should progress as a society.

    Cast list:
    Jamil Jude: Director
    Jada Dixon: Assistant Director
    Dee Covington: Toni
    Erik Sandvold: Bo
    Mare Trevathan: Rachel
    Sean Scrutchins: Frank
    Alec Sarché: Rhys
    Rhianna DeVries: River
    Audrey Graves: Cassidy
    Harrison Lyles-Smith: Ainsley


    MUSICAL OF THE DAY: BDT Stage's Rock of Ages

    Featured actor in the video above: Tim Howard


    Featured actor Tim HowardAug. 25-Nov. 11
    • 5501 Arapahoe Ave.
    • 303-449-6000 or bdt’s home page

    • The story: It’s the end of the 1980s, and the party is raging. Aqua Net, Lycra, lace and liquor flow freely on L.A.’s Sunset Strip. Rock of Ages is a mix-tape compilation including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “We Built This City” by Starship and Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is,” set to a story about pursuing dreams.

    • But what is it about? Rock of Ages is about following your dreams even when there are giant egos blocking your path. It’s about being loud when your heart speaks the truth. This is a poignant musical that finds that fighting spirit with anthems that make you want to jump out of your seat and show the world you still know how to rock.

    Cast list:
    Director: Scott Beyette
    Choreographer: McKayla Marso
    Drew: Tim Howard
    Dennis: Scott Beyette
    Lonnie: Barret Harper
    Franz: Brian Cronan
    Hertz: Brian Burron
    Stacee: Scott Severtson
    Sherrie: Olyvia Beyette
    Regina: Valerie Igoe
    Waitress: Tracey Warren
    Constance: Danielle Scheib
    Justice: Joanie Brosseau
    Groupies: Jessica Hindsley, Alyssa Robinson
    Ensemble: Brian Jackson, Alejandro Roldan, Leo Battle

    RockofAges_GlennRoss 610

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Our complete 2017 Colorado Fall Theatre Preview:

    Day 1: Curious Theatre's Appropriate and BDT Stage's Rock of Ages
    Day 2: The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now and Rocky Mountain Rep’s Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver
    Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's General Store and Town Hall Arts Center's In the Heights
    Day 4: Avenue Theater’s My Brilliant Divorce and the Arvada Center’s A Chorus Line
    Day 5: Bas Bleu’s Elephant’s Graveyard and Evergreen Chorale’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Day 6: Firehouse Theatre’s The Mystery of Love and Sex and the Aurora Fox’s ‘Company’
    Day 7: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s The Revolutionists and Off-Center’s The Wild Party
    Day 8: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Pretty Fire and the Aurora Fox's Hi-Hat Hattie
    Day 9: Edge Theatre Company’s A Delicate Balance and Midtown Arts Center’s Once.
    Day 10:  Local Theater Company’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias and Thin Air Theatre Company’s The Toxic Avenger Musical

    This 2017 Colorado fall preview is compiled by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore as a service to the Colorado theatre community. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011 and is the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.
  • Video: The 'Frozen' interviews, Part 3: Thomas Schumacher

    by John Moore | Aug 18, 2017

     


    Disney's Thomas Schumacher: 'Frozen is not a musical film. It’s a theatrical musical on film.'

    In advance of the Denver debut of the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen on Aug. 17, we present you with this series of interviews with members of the cast and creative team.

    Thomas-Schumacher-denver-center_frozen_photo-by-jenny-andersonPart 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, who talks about his company’s special relationship with the city of Denver, and what makes Frozen the perfect choice for a musical stage adaptation.

    “At its core, Frozen is not a musical film. It’s a theatrical musical on film,” Schumacher said. “The characters tell the stories with their songs. The songs turn the corner for the story action. Music propels it forward. And that’s why it wants to be on the stage.”

    Interview by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Frozen plays in Denver through Oct. 1.

    (Pictured above from left: Director Michael Grandage, Thomas Schumacher and Scenic and Costume Designer Christopher Oram. Photo by Jenny Anderson.)

    The full Frozen video series:
    Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin
    Part 2: Director Michael Grandage
    Part 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
    Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Production
    • Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • Video: The 'Frozen' interviews, Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    by John Moore | Aug 16, 2017

     


    The choreographer calls the new Broadway musical's mingling of old and new songs 'seamless'

    In advance of the Denver debut of the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen on Aug. 17, we present you with this series of interviews with members of the cast and creative team.

    Travis Patton, Rob Ashford & James Brown III Photo by Jenny AndersonPart 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford, who says the mingling of old and new songs is surprisingly seamless. "When I first heard all the new music, I was like, ‘Is that a new song? I’m not sure.’ Because they all feel like they could have absolutely been in the film."

    Ashford says he had something of a blank slate because there is not much dancing in the animated source film. He's points to the Coronation Ball as an example of a scene he thinks the movement really works. "Anna sees Elsa across the room and she is thrilled to see her sister again, but doesn’t know how to approach her," said Ashford," and so all of those things are done through dance." He calls choreographing Frozen "a joy and a privilege."

    Interview by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Frozen plays in Denver through Oct. 1.

    (Pictured above, from left: Travis Patton, Rob Ashford and James Brown III. Photo by Jenny Anderson.)

    The full Frozen video series:
    Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin
    Part 2: Director Michael Grandage
    Part 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
    Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    • Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • Video: The 'Frozen' interviews, Part 2: Director Michael Grandage

    by John Moore | Aug 13, 2017

     


    Frozen director: 'The vision is to honor the film but at the same time give it its own identity.'

    In advance of the Denver debut of the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen on Aug. 17, we present you with this series of interviews with members of the cast and creative team. Second up: Director Michael Grandage.  

    Frozen Michael Grandage "The vision is to honor the film but at the same time give it its own identity. We can do a lot onstage that you can’t do otherwise," Grandage says. 

    As for his own hopes for the audience, he added: "I’ve always found that if you can have your life changed just a little bit by watching theatre, and it can really make a difference in your life, then I think we have done our job. I hope Frozen does that.  

    Interviews by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Frozen plays in Denver through Oct. 1.

    Pictured above from left: Patti Murin, Michael Grandage and Caissie Levy. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

    The full Frozen video series:
    Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin
    Part 2: Director Michael Grandage
    Part 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
    Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    • Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • Video: The 'Frozen' interviews, Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin

    by John Moore | Aug 11, 2017

     


    Frozen stars: 'It's great that this is the city Disney trusts to give them a valid and educated response.'

    In advance of the Denver debut of the upcoming new Broadway musical Frozen on Aug. 17, we present you with this series of interviews with members of thA Frozen. Rehearsale cast and creative team. First up: Caissie Levy (Elsa) and Patti Murin (Anna).  

    Says Levy: "I think you are going to mostly see the show that will arrive on Broadway, but you get to see it first here in Denver, which is cool - and you will know all those insider tweaks that happened. I think that's why we are excited to be here, because this is such a savvy theatregoing city."

    Read more: First interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin

    Says Murin: "Any changes that are made between Denver and New York are going to be because of how the Denver audience reacts. And so it's great that this is the city Disney trusts to give them a valid and educated response." 

    Interviews by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    Frozen plays in Denver through Oct. 1.

    The full Frozen video series:
    Part 1: Caissie Levy and Patti Murin
    Part 2: Director Michael Grandage
    Part 3: Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
    Part 4: Choreographer Rob Ashford

    Frozen: Ticket information

    FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.
    • Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
    • Aug. 17-Oct. 1
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Single tickets are onsale now. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY NOW
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Photo gallery: Making of Frozen

    Frozen
    'Frozen' photo gallery in Denver. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Rehearsal photos by Jenny Anderson.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
    Our exclusive first interview with Caissie Levy, Patti Murin
    Frozen performance added for Friday, Aug. 18
    Don't get scammed buying your Frozen tickets
    Video: Your first look at Frozen in Denver
    Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
    Meet the entire cast of Frozen
    Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
    Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
    Denver dates for Frozen announced
    2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


  • Photos: Phamaly Theatre Company's amazing Opening Night tradition

    by John Moore | Aug 01, 2017
    Phamaly: Opening Night of 'Annie' Photos from Opening Night of Phamaly Theatre Company's 'Annie,' playing through Aug. 6 at the Denver Center's Stage Theatre. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The pre-show ritual is called 'Zap,' and it infuses the cast and crew with energy and focus.

    By John Moore
    Senor Arts Journalist

    In the minutes before the opening performance of Phamaly Theatre Company's Annie, actor and founding company member Mark Dissette gathers the cast of 36 actors, each with widely varying disabilities, along with crew and volunteers, for one of the most electrifying pre-show rituals in the local theatre community.

    They form a circle. Those who can stand, stand. Those who cannot roll up in their wheelchairs. Those who can clasp hands, clasp hands. Those with missing or disfigured hands make contact with their neighbors as best they can. They all close their eyes in reverence as Dissette calls out from memory the agonizingly long list of company members who have passed away during the 28 years that this unique company has been creating performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Dissette then begins the ritual they call "Zap." As if there weren't enough energy in the air already, the group begins to buzz. Literally. "This is our dream - get a little louder," Dissette orders. And they do. "Bzzz." "This is our vision - get a little louder." And they do. "BZZZ." After more exhortation, the vibration builds to a deafening climax.

    "1-2-3 ..." Dissette shouts, and all voices scream in unison, "ZAP!"

    Now there is nothing but sudden, solemn silence. The next spoken word is not to be uttered until the actors hit the stage. For a company whose actors are blind and deaf, with disabilities ranging from stroke to spina bifida to multiple sclerosis to AIDS, it is both the beginning and the culmination of an extraordinary opening-night journey. 

    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.

    Phamaly Theatre Company's Annie: Ticket information
    • Through Aug. 6
    • Stage Theatre Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets: $20-$37
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Accessible performance: Aug. 3

    Selected recent NewsCenter coverage of Phamaly:
    The triumph of Phamaly's not-so-horrible Hannigan
    Pop-culture Annie, from comics to Broadway to Jay-Z
    Phamaly gala, campaign raise $200K, ‘save the company’
    Phamaly launches emergency $100,000 fundraising campaign
    Regan Linton accepts Spirit of Craig Award
    Regan Linton returns to lead Phamaly in landmark appointment

    Phamaly
  • Photos: 2017 Denver Post Underground Music Showcase

    by John Moore | Jul 28, 2017
    2017 Underground Music Showcase

    Our photos from The Denver Post's 2017 Underground Music Showcase, otherwise known as "The UMS." To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Now in its 17th year, The UMS is Denver’s largest homegrown, indie-music festival, featuring 400 performances over four days at more than 25 venues on a 10-block stretch along South Broadway in the Baker neighborhood.

    The UMS continues Friday, Saturday and Sunday - actually until 2 a.m. early Monday. For information on bands, venues and tickets, click here

    All photos by Denver Center for the Performing Arts Senior Arts Journalist John Moore, who founded The UMS in 2001. Read more.


    Video bonus:

    Tyler Despres, co-founder of the popular Denver band Gin Doctors, died of an aortic aneurysm in November 2016. He was 34. On the final day of the 2017 Denver Post Underground Music Showcase (The UMS), headliner Esmé Patterson sang a song dedicated to (and written by (Despres), backed by Jessica DeNicola, Maria Kohler and her band. Her is a portion of that song.

    Lyrics:

    “You coulda rode you shoulda rode the waves, you coulda walked yah you shoulda walked the beaches, but now you’re an angel floatin downstream — oh now you’re the cosmos in a beautiful beam.”

    Video bonus 2:

    This is what happened when Benjamin Booker took a liking to a superfan named Ford at the 2017 Denver Post Underground Music Showcase (The UMS). The music is not Benjamin Booker's because, you know ... YouTube and copyright and all. But it's fun. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

  • Photo coverage: 2017 Henry Awards

    by John Moore | Jul 26, 2017
    2017 Henry Awards

    Our complete photo gallery from the Colorado Theatre Guild’s 2017 Henry Awards ceremony held July 17 at the PACE Center in Parker. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos may be instantly downloaded and shared with proper photo credit. All photos by Brian Landis Folkins and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The Henry Awards honor outstanding achievements by member companies. To read our full report, click here. The photo above shows hosts Steven J. Burge and GerRee Hinshaw at the PACE Center in Parker.

    Read our full report: Henry Awards spreads love across state

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    2017 HENRY AWARDS. Stephen Day
    Stephen Day, who won Outstanding Actor in a musical, performs from the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's 'The Ma of La Mancha' at the Henry Awards. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Our 2017 Henry Awards memorial video:


    Video by John Moore. More video coverage from the event to come, including performances and acceptance speeches.

  • Community conversation on theatre criticism Monday at Denver Center

    by John Moore | Jun 17, 2017
    Rick Yaconis, Juliet Wittman and Michael J. Duran

    From left: Rick Yaconis, Juliet Wittman and Michael J. Duran.

    Everyone's a Critic ... Literally, will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, June 19, in the DCPA's Conservatory Theatre

    By Gloria Shanstrom
    Colorado Theatre Guild

    The Colorado Theatre Guild will launch its new series, called Community Conversations, this Monday night with a candid and constructive conversation about the changing face of arts journalism today. First up is Everyone’s a Critic: Literally.

    With the decline of full-time jobs at traditional media outlets throughout the country, there is growing concern among arts organizations about the future of theatrical criticism. This panel will discuss the state of criticism today, what the future might hold and offer proactive strategies arts groups might consider to get their own stories told.

    The conversation takes place at 7 p.m. Monday, June 19, at the Denver Center's Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, located at 13th and Arapahoe streets.

    John MooreThe panel will be moderated by John Moore, former longtime theatre critic at The Denver Post and now editor of a 4-year-old media outlet launched by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts as a shared asset for the entire Colorado theatre community. 

    Current panelists include Westword theatre critic Juliet Wittman, longtime blogger critic Patrick Dorn, The Edge Theatre Company Executive and Artistic Director Rick Yaconis and BDT Stage Producing Artistic Director Michael J. Duran. (Panel subject to change.)

    This Colorado Theatre Guild's new workshop and panel-discussion series, initiated by new CTG President Deb Flomberg, is aimed at Colorado theater producers, actors, designers, patrons and anyone wishing to get better insight into the process of creating and producing live theatre in Colorado. Attendees are asked to come with questions for this lively discussion.

    "Community Conversations are about one thing: Opening up the discussion to bring together the theatrical community in Colorado," Flomberg said.

    Everyone’s a Critic: Literally
    Newman Building

    • 7 p.m. Monday, June 19
    • At the Denver Center's Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education
    • 13th and Arapahoe streets
    • 1101 13th Street, Denver, CO 80204
    • Free to Colorado Theatre Guild members, and $5 at the door for non-members

    Panelist bios
    John Moore
    is an award-winning arts journalist who was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. His online innovations for The Denver Post prompted the Chicago Tribune to suggest that The Denver Post‘s online theater coverage was the best in the nation. In 2013, he took a groundbreaking new position as an in-house journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. His ongoing coverage of the entire Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org. He also started the Denver Actors Fund as a way of organizing community-wide responsive efforts when members of the local theatre community find themselves in immediate medical need. In just more than three years, the Denver Actors Fund has distributed more than $100,000 in direct financial relief to members of the Colorado theatre community. Last year John's full-length play Waiting for Obama was performed by an all-Colorado cast at the New York International Fringe Festival.

    Juliet Wittman studied acting while growing up in London (where she was privileged to see such greats as Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft onstage), and with Milton Katselas in New York. She has also worked in radio, off-off Broadway, summer-stock and repertory. As a graduate student in Colorado, she appeared at CU and the Nomad Playhouse and she also founded a feminist theatre company. For two years, she taught theater at the Colorado Women’s Correctional Facility: The inmates were allowed out of the prison several times to show their plays in Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver’s Changing Scene, where Al Brooks served them cappuccino in tiny, elegant cups. As a writer, she has had essays and short stories published in literary magazines and won several journalism awards. Her memoir, Breast Cancer Journal: A Century of Petals, received the Colorado Book Award and was named a finalist for the National Book Award. She has been reviewing theatre for Westword for more than 15 years, during which time she’s learned more about the art form than she can begin to express.

    Patrick DornPatrick Dorn abandoned his Actor’s Equity card and fled Los Angeles in 1980. He moved to Denver, where he earned a master’s degree in theatre from the University of Denver, with emphases in theatre history, dramatic theory and criticism, playwriting and children’s theatre. As an associate professor, he taught these subjects and more at Colorado Christian University for several years. Before becoming a critic, he was first reader and editor at Pioneer Drama Service, where he read and wrote rejection letters for thousands of play submissions. He served on the faculty and board of Colorado ACTS drama school, directing dozens of plays with children and teens, and a few shows for grownups. Patrick has more than 40 of his own plays published in the children’s and youth theatre market. Patrick has written play reviews for the Denver Catholic Register and the Intermountain Jewish News, and for seven years was the theatre critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, attending approximately 120 plays annually. He remembers liking more than 700 of them. After leaving the Daily Camera to become an Anglican priest and later a full-time chaplain, he is posting his reviews on various blogs.

    Michael J. Duran has been the Producing Artistic Director at BDT Stage (formerly Boulder’s Dinner Theatre) since 2003, following a successful 23-year career in NYC. His credits include: Broadway: The Music Man, Crazy For You, Me and My Girl, Into the Light, Annie 2 (Pre Broadway). London and National Tours: Damn Yankees with Jerry Lewis, Sunset Boulevard with Petula Clark, Bye Bye Birdie with Tommy Tune and Anne Reinking, Hello Dolly! with Carol Channing and On Your Toes directed by George Abbott. Television: Law and Order, Law and Order: SVU, Irving Berlin’s 100th Birthday Celebration at Carnegie Hall (CBS), and An Evening with Alan Jay Lerner for PBS Great Performances. He has worjed with Susan Stroman, Kathleen Marshall, Jack O’Brian, Jerry Mitchell, Mike Okrent, Gene Saks, George Abbott. During his tenure at BDT Stage, Michael has produced more than 53 shows and directed 17. He has received Denver Drama Critics Circle Awards, Top of the Rocky in 2005, Ovation and Henry Awards and was a 2015 recipient of The Dairy Center Honors for his contribution to the cultural life of Boulder through the arts.

    Rick Yaconis is the Executive and Artistic Director of The Edge Theater, which he founded seven years ago with his wife, Patty. Since then, he has produced nearly 50 shows and three new-play festivals. He has also directed 12 productions including The Nance and Murder Ballad in this past year and last year's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for which he was nominated for a CTG Henry award. Rick has acted in more than 10 Edge Theatre productions, most recently Misery and A View From the Bridge.

  • Video, photos: Denver Actors Fund's 'United in Love' concert

    by John Moore | May 04, 2017
    United in Love: Video highlights

    Video highlights from the 'United in Love' concert featuring, from left, Beth Malone, Annaleigh Ashford, Mara Davi and dozens more. Video edited by John Moore from footage provided courtesy of Eden Lane and Sleeping Dog Media.

     


    Ashford, Malone, Davi help raise $40,000 for nonprofit
    that helps local theatre artists in situational medical need


    Tony Award-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford (You Can't Take it With You) joined fellow Broadway veterans from Colorado Beth Malone (Fun Home) and Mara Davi (Dames at Sea) for United in Love, a sold-out concert event that raised $40,000 for the Denver Actors Fund on April 30 at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

    Denver Actors FundThe three headliners were "back to give back." They were joined by powerhouse singer, actor and First Lady of Denver Mary Louise Lee; Broadway’s Jodie Langel (Les Misérables); composer Denise Gentilini (I Am Alive) and Denver performers Jimmy Bruenger, Eugene Ebner, Becca Fletcher, Clarissa Fugazzotto, Robert Johnson, Daniel Langhoff, Susannah McLeod, Chloe McLeod, Sarah Rex, Jeremy Rill, Kristen Samu, Willow Samu and Thaddeus Valdez.

    Also joining the lineup were the casts of both The Jerseys (Klint Rudolph, Brian Smith, Paul Dwyer and Randy St. Pierre), and the upcoming all-student 13 the Musical (Rylee Vogel, Josh Cellar,  Hannah Meg Weinraub, Hannah Katz, Lorenzo Giovannetti, Maddie Kee, Kaden Hinkle, Darrow Klein, Evan Gibley, Conrad Eck and Macy Friday).

    (Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Annaleigh Ashford, Beth Malone, Mary Louise Lee and Mara Davi.)

    The purpose of the evening was to spread a message of love and hope while raising funds for the Denver Actors Fund, which has made $90,000 available to local theatre artists facing situational medical need. The concert was presented by Ebner-Page Productions.

    (Story continues below the photo gallery)

    United in Love: Complete photo gallery

    Denver Actors Fund United in Love Concert

    Photos by RDG Photography, Gary Duff and John Moore. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos may be downloaded and redistributed with credit.


    One of the most poignant moments of the evening came when actor Daniel Langhoff addressed the crowd, telling the story of his continuing fight against cancer, with assistance from The Denver Actors Fund. Langhoff was first diagnosed weeks after the birth of his first daughter. His recent recurrence coincides with news that his wife will give birth to their second child in the fall. (How you can help Daniel Langhoff.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The emcees were local TV arts journalist Eden Lane (also director of the Aurora Fox's current Priscilla Queen of the Desert), and actor Steven J. Burge, who recently starred in the Denver Center's An Act of God at the Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    The Music Director was Mitch Samu. The band included Tag Worley, Steve Klein, Andy Sexton, Scott Handler and Jeremy Wendelin.


    The photos above were provided by RDG Photography, Gary Duff and DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore, who is also the founder of the Denver Actors Fund. That is a 501c3 nonprofit, and all donations are tax-deductible. For more information, or to apply for aid, go to www.denveractorsfund.org.

    The Presenting Sponsor of United in Love was Delta Dental of Colorado, which matched audience contributions at the end of the evening, turning about $2,200 in donations into more than $4,400. The Gold Sponsor was Kaiser-Permanente. Silver Sponsors were Billings Investments and the Alliance Insurance Group.

  • Authentic voices: 2017 student playwriting winners announced

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2017
    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Two student writers will have their one-act plays
    fully staged in public performances in June.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The mission of DCPA Education’s annual year-long student playwriting competition is to help high-school writers find and cultivate their authentic voices. And this year, for the first time, it has ultimately chosen to celebrate two.

    The winning plays of the fourth annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition are Dear Boy on the Tree, written by Jasmin Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak Preparatory Academy in Aurora, and Spilt Lava, written by Ryan McCormick of Fort Collins High School. Both plays will be given full productions in June, performed by DCPA Education’s summer teen company.

    Teen Playwriting QuoteBoth plays feature young couples exploring connection in unusual places. In Spilt Lava, a boy and girl float across each other on doors in a world where the floor is made of burning lava. Dear Boy on the Tree is a gender-reversed take on Rapunzel, featuring a boy hiding in a tree who is trapped by his fear until a girl named Willow happens along.

    “At the DCPA, we know it is so important to cultivate young playwrights,” said Director of Education Allison Watrous. “That's what this program is all about.”

    Each fall, DCPA Teaching Artists go out into schools statewide, deliver playwriting workshops and encourage students to write and submit one-act plays for the competition. This year, those Teaching Artists went to 46 high schools and delivered 138 workshops for more than 2,800 students. “We really want to encourage teenagers to tell amazing stories and put their plays out in the world,” Watrous said.  

    This year, 132 one-act plays were received and judged blindly. In January, 10 were named as finalists. Of those, four were chosen to have a workshop and staged reading by DCPA actors at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February. The process mirrors exactly what happens to the four new plays featured by the DCPA Theatre Company at each Summit. “It's really the first time these students have an opportunity to hear the play on its feet with a cast of actors,” Watrous said. “That gives the playwright the opportunity to really fine-tune the play as it moves to its next stage of development.”  

    IStudent Playwriting Ryan McCormickn previous years, one play has been ultimately chosen for a full summer production. This year, competition officials chose to advance both Lozano and McCormick’s scripts to full stagings.

    Lozano, a first-generation American whose parents do not speak English, asked her brothers if she was hallucinating when she read the email telling her she had been named a finalist.

    “I started crying right then and there because it was so emotional,” said Lozano. “Then my mom heard me crying and she said, 'What's happening? What's happening?' I explained everything to her in Spanish and then we all started crying, because we're a family of criers.

    Teen Playwriting Jasmin Hernandez LozanoLozano, who wrote her play in English, was born in a neighborhood “where I had a lot of limits,” she said, “so I would never assume I could win something like this. I don't have a family that has won a lot of awards. So winning this is one step toward getting out of that stereotype that Hispanic people can’t achieve as much as other people.”

    McCormick, now a senior, also was a top-10 finalist his sophomore year. He wrote Spilt Lava in part “because there was a girl I was trying to convince to date me, and she was reluctant,” he said. He credits the DCPA and his teachers for giving him the creative confidence to set his unlikely play on a floor of lava.

    “I've been working on it for a while, so it went through different phases,” he said. “As I got to higher English classes in high school, we started learning about postmodernism and the idea that if everyone believes something, then that is its own reality - and the lava floor is a perfect example of that. I wrote a love story where the floor happens to be lava.”

    Student Playwriting Allison WatrousThe winning plays will be performed back-to-back twice at 1:30 and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 16, in the DCPA’s Conservatory Theatre. Admission is free, and the public is welcome. Both will be directed by actor and published playwright Steven Cole Hughes.

    The other finalists were Parker Bennett of Fossil Ridge High School (Counting in Clay and Jessica Wood of Denver Christian School (Chill Winds). Wood is the first student in the competition's history to advance to the Colorado New Play Summit twice.

    “It was such an amazing experience last year to be able to see my play go through the workshop process and then have a staged reading,” said Wood. “I was so excited to come back and to experience that again. Programs like this just don't exist in very many places.”

    The four finalists each received personal mentoring from a professional playwright at the Summit, culminating in public readings that were attended by their families and friends alongside theatre professionals from all around the country. Last year, Wood was mentored by Lauren Yee, whose play Manford at the Line was developed at the 2017 Summit and will be fully staged as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s next mainstage season.

    “It was so amazing to be able to meet with someone who actually makes a living from playwriting,” Wood said of Yee. “Just to hear her say, 'Your play was really good' was an incredible feeling for me.”

    Student Playwriting Allison WatrousMcCormick said advancing as far as the Summit was all he could have hoped for. “To come here and just be able to rub shoulders with professionals and just be a part of this whole Summit has been crazy,” he said.

    In addition, each teacher of the four finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. And as an added bonus, the DCPA will publish all four of the finalists’ plays.

    “We do that so we can continue to create a volume of the plays each year and to really commemorate this work,” Watrous said. “Now these writers are now all published playwrights, which is very exciting.”

    Some of the 132 participating students may become professional playwrights someday. But the greater goal, Watrous said, is to advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication, which are skills that can help them in all aspects of their adult lives.


    Photo gallery: 2016-17 Student Playwriting

    2017 Student Playwriting

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for free and may be used for personal and social purposes with credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
     

    2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:
    Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School
    Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School
    Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    Samantha Shapard, Overland High School
    Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    Daniela Villalobo, York International
    Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School
  • Video: A talk with 'Disgraced' Costume Designer Lex Liang

    by John Moore | Apr 06, 2017

    Video above by Video Producer David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter. Interview by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.


    Ayad Akhtar’s celebrated play Disgraced is a controversial cultural study of an American, Muslim-raised corporate lawyer who has rejected Islam and embraced capitalism. What's not controversial is the work of Costume Designer Lex Liang, who helps bring out core character traits with clothing choices that reveal backgrounds, income and interests at a glance.

    "Amir is an individual who is desperately trying to fit into a world where society does not feel he belongs," says Liang, who works with LDC Design. You should be able to see that, he believes, just by looking at the suit worn by actor Dorien Makhloghi.

    The DCPA Theatre Company presents Disgraced through May 7 in the Ricketson Theatre. The Director is Carl Cofield, and the cast includes Benjamin Pelteson, Olivia Gilliatt, Dorien Makhloghi, Christina Sajous and Vandit Bhatt.

    Lex Liang
    'Disgraced' Costume Designer Lex Liang. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Disgraced
    : Ticket information
    DisgracedIn this raw new play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear.
    Through May 7
    Ricketson Theatre

    ASL and audio-described performance: 1:30 p.m. April 30

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disgraced:
    Perspectives: Disgraced is about starting, not finishing, conversations
    Video, photos: Your first look at Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Video: A talk with Disgraced Costume Designer Lex Liang
    Disgraced has been known to leave audiences gasping
    Disgraced Director promises to push your (empathy) button
    TED Talk: On the danger of a 'single story'
    Meet the cast: Dorien Makhloghi, who plays Amir

  • America: Hal Holbrook would like to have a little talk

    by John Moore | Mar 21, 2017
    Hal Holbrook. Photo by John Moore.

    Note: The following interview was first published in 2015. Holbrook returned to Denver for a 12th time in April to perform his signature show, 'Mark Twain Tonight.' Today (Sept. 14, 2017), Holbrook, at age 92, announced he will no longer play the role live onstage - after 63 years. In honor, we're re-posting our most recent interview.


    America: Hal Holbrook would like to have a little talk

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

    What we have here in America, the enduring actor Hal Holbrook believes, is a failure to communicate.

    It’s not that we’re not talking. It’s that we’re not talking to each other. Unless it’s to our own kind.

    “People are afraid to talk openly about politics today,” Holbrook told the DCPA NewsCenter. “We have become so nervous about offending anyone’s opinion. Plus, we have so many ridiculous opinions circulating on the cyber-circuits that to deal with political opinion today is not only chancy; you are just going to turn people off and scare them.” 

    But Holbrook, as the world has well-known these past 92 years, is not afraid to talk. Either as himself, or as the alter ego he has lived with for seven decades now. Holbrook returns to Denver on April 1 to perform for the 12th time Mark Twain Tonight, the second-most presented show in DCPA history (Sorry, Hal: You can’t touch A Christmas Carol. Yet.)

    Holbrook is talking, all right. Just as Twain might if he had not had the bad form to die as a whippersnapper of just 75. He’s talking about the gun culture. About religious hypocrisy. About racism. About abuse of power by police. (He’s experienced it, too, he says.) He’s even talking about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

    “What is going on in the world today is dangerous,” he says. And not just in Syria and France and Africa. Right here at home. But what’s most dangerous, says America’s modern-day Will Rogers, is what will surely come to pass if we don’t start talking about it openly. Forget congress. (They’re beyond hope, he says.) Forget the “yacky, yacky yack” televangical opinion-makers on Fox or MSNBC. (They are all talking so fast, you can’t follow them anyway,” he says.)

    No, the onus is on the real and regular people of America to start talking to one another again, Holbrook says. At the dinner table, in churches and at taverns. More important, we have to learn all over again how to listen.  Hal Holbrook Quote

    “We are living in a world where there is a terrible religious war underway, and it has been brewing for a long time,” Holbrook said. “And if we aren't able to talk about it without taking partisan sides, we're in deep trouble. Because we have something really golden in this country, which is the tradition of being able to have your own idea about something. And being able to express it. And if we go hiding that in the closet, and suppress it, you can just imagine what kind of world we are heading into.” 

    But into this culture of animosity and hostility and division, we still have, through Holbrook, an immortalized Mark Twain going out into every corner of America talking about who we were and what we were thinking 100 years ago. And in doing so, he is in some strange way touching on who we are and what we are thinking now.

    When Holbrook walks out on stage sporting Twain’s trademark white suit, wild white hair and indelible witticisms, it’s like being sat down by your grandfather’s grandfather for a good talking to. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “I am so grateful that I still have this Mark Twain show; that I never gave it up; that I never got tired of it,” said Holbrook, who has performed Mark Twain Tonight nearly 2,600 times in all 50 states, 20 countries and behind the Iron Curtain. “It gives me a tremendous feeling of moving forward. It gives me energy. I love doing the show, and I love the challenge of trying to talk to people today about what is going on in our world.”

    Although the show is always 100 percent Twain, it is always changing. Holbrook promises Denver audiences will see some new material since his last visit here in 2015. For his 2013 visit, he added a new number from Huckleberry Finn that recounts the comic family feud between the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, who have been fighting for so long, no one can remember why it began in the first place. “Strangely enough,” Holbrook says, "it has something powerful to say about the gun culture today and our love affair with guns.

    Hal Holbrook“I have another new piece that I think was pretty chancy to add in, and that has to do with Mark Twain's thoughts on the Christian Bible. It’s about how people use the Bible without even understanding what Jesus is saying in it. And I am telling you, it is right on the nose. As a religious nation, we have a tremendous lack of understanding of what Jesus Christ is telling us. We turn it into something else and make a mess of it. That's what happens when you marry politics to religion. That’s what we’ve done, and it is creating a big problem in this country. Politics and religion do not go well together.”

    These are dicey, controversial topics of conversation. But no matter your politics, the dialogue somehow flows more easily when America’s most beloved, cigar-chomping humorist is leading it. Holbrook has voted for both Democrat and Republican presidents – and he’s been alive for every one of them since Calvin Coolidge. Growing up, his family was conservative. “But I was born with a question mark on my head, so I can't be a Republican,” he says. Like Twain, he hails from the party of common sense.

    And right now, his common sense is telling him that America will live in shame for decades for the way it has treated [now former] President Barack Obama. And he doesn’t exonerate the left in that assessment.

    “My thoughts begin with this powerful realization that Barack Obama was elected in 2008 with the largest number of popular votes ever given to any U.S. president (69.5 million). It was as close to a landslide as you can get,” he said. “The very next day, the opposing party announced very clearly and very prominently that their one goal in the next four years would be to get rid of the man we had just elected by the largest number of votes ever given to any president in U.S. history. That, to me, was unforgivable. Obama has been under a bombardment like no president I have ever seen. No one has ever been shot at and attacked the way he has.”

    What’s more important than Obama being picked on is the underlying reason Holbrook believes he is being picked on -- and how that unmasks the greatest problem facing America today.

    Hal Holbrook Quote“Obama has accomplished an amazing amount in the past six years – and nobody is talking about it," Holbrook said in 2015. "Not even the Democrats are standing up for him. And why is that? If this guy is achieving all this good stuff against such tremendous odds, why aren't the people in his own party standing up for him? There is one element that comes into this whole picture, which all of us try to put out of our minds, and that is racism. And the fact that President Obama is black.

    “There is such a powerful tide of racism in this country today, and I don't think we can blind ourselves to that fact.”

    It’s that kind of blood-pumping talk that keeps Holbrook getting up in the morning. That keeps him thinking about how to change and improve Mark Twain Tonight when he lies in bed at night. When he swims in the pool. 

    “I'm working hard, but when you are 90 years old, there all kinds of thoughts in your head that you'd really like to chase away,” he said. “You can’t sit there and linger on how old you are and worry about dying. You just have to pick up and go.”

    In the meantime, he is keeping the conversation going. He and Mark Twain.

    “I was writing my son the other day, who is very intelligent and very hard to argue with. He has very strong opinions. I was trying to tell him, 'David, I think what I have been trying to do with Mark Twain all my life is to make people say to themselves, 'Wait a minute. Let's not be too sure about that …’ " 

    The night before Holbrooks last appearance in Denver in  2015, he presented a documentary titled Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey at the Sie Film Center. The film shows performance excerpts from Mark Twain Live and includes interviews with Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Emile Hirsch, Cherry Jones and others.

    “It's really good, I have to say,” he said.

    Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!: Ticket information
    Saturday, April 1
    7 p.m.
    Buell Theatre
    Denver Performing Arts Complex
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    More words of wisdom from Hal Holbrook
    :

    Here are a few excerpts of Holbrook talking about other important subjects:

    ON RACE IN AMERICA
    “We are watching the whole racial thing happen again, over and over. We have done a great deal to try to solve it since the beginning 300 years ago ... but it ain't solved yet.

    ON HIS RECENT RUN-IN WITH POLICE
    I think there is as much racism in Missouri as in any state in the union. I know what it's like when you give some guy a uniform and a gun. I was totally humiliated by a young police officer in Springfield, Mo., just so he can be big stud making an old man go though a whole routine. He followed me because I took a wrong turn on a totally dark road around 11 at night. There was nobody on the road. No traffic. Nothing. He was accusing me of DUI. I hadn't been drinking for 20 years, and he made me do all kinds of stuff. It was really insulting. Now, if you happen to live in a state where there is a lot of racism when you were growing up, I think it would be childish to dream that a fellow who’s got a uniform on has not carried some of that racism into his adulthood.  We know that now from the actual facts that have come out of the city government in Ferguson. It's all proved now.

    Hal Holbrook QuoteON OBAMACARE
    He introduced a health-insurance program that was long overdue. Every civilized country in the world has had one for their people except the wealthiest country in the world. And then congress got a hold of this bill - and the lobbyists - and I  won't say they mutilated it, but they certainly made it a lot more complex than it originally was going to be. All that being said, yes, it's been a terrible mess. I have friends who hate it. But the upside of it is this: Eleven million people now have health insurance because of it. So you cannot dismiss the accomplishment. I think it’s quite extraordinary.

    ON CONGRESS
    These are basically very dumb people. They would sell their mother for a dollar, and they do it every day down there.

    ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
    I have voted Republican several times in my life. But they have taken this party and they have twisted it in ways that do not help us at all. Did you see the picture of the guy from Arkansas (Tom Cotton) who wrote the letter to the Ayatollah in Iran? Have you seen his picture? He looks like a 28-year-old kid. This guy is a thinker? This is somebody we are supposed to admire?

    ON THE LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA IN COLORADO
    People are not going to like hearing me say this, but it doesn't make sense to me to think that somebody who is smoking marijuana is not going to have his judgment affected somewhat - maybe a lot - while driving. I don't want to be killed, and I don't want my grandson who is just turning 18 in April and is going to be driving all the way across this country to live in California - to be killed. I want to tell you, the people in California are driving more and more crazy every day. They are doing things I have never seen done before. I'm not kidding. Now I don't know whether they are on some drugs or what, but they have no respect for the rules of the road anymore. I smoked pot a couple of times in my life, OK? I didn't like it. I was doing a show once when my second marriage was breaking up, and I was having an affair with this sexy girl who was on the show. She was much younger and she was into all kinds of things like EST. So another friend wanted us to come over and smoke marijuana, and I said, "I don't want to smoke marijuana.” They said, “Oh, Hal, you've gotta loosen up. We want you to take a few puffs of marijuana.” So I said, ‘Oh hell, all right, all right, all right, c'mon...” And I smoked a couple puffs. Now (my girlfriend) says to me, "I want us to tell the truth about what we feel about each other. Tell the truth about what you think of me, Hal!" And I said, "OK: I think you're a nut!" And she got mad and left the room.  So, that's what I think about marijuana: It'll free you up, all right. But it's not safe!”

    ON DCPA FOUNDER DONALD R. SEAWELL, WHO HAS SINCE DIED AT 103:
    He’s such a remarkable gentleman in the true sense of the word. He is powerful in his positive feeling about his ability to keep going. That is the best medicine you possibly can have when you start to get into your 90s.

    ON THE 2010 DEATH OF HIS WIFE, DIXIE CARTER
    I think of her every minute of the day. I can constantly hear her talking to me. And it's rearranging my idea of where heaven is. I think it's right around here. Her presence is constantly here in this house. And so, it’s very, very hard for me to make peace. Not only with losing someone you love. But it's very hard for me to make peace with how you justify taking someone away who was not only so full of life, but also all that talent and kindness and good feeling for people. But at the same time, I have to remember that Dixie was a very sincere Christian. She did not preach it. She just lived it. She respected everybody. That, to me, is the kind of Christian I like.     

    Hal Holbrook at the Sie Film Center in 2015. Hal Holbrook at the Sie Film Center in 2015. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Video: Tap master Savion Glover on America's call to arts

    by John Moore | Mar 14, 2017


    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. Interview by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Savion Glover on the importance of arts education, listening to your elders and 'the best show ever in Denver'

    Virtuosic tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover simply wasn't like other kids. He started dancing at 7 and was cast as Broadway's Tap Dance Kid at the tender age of 12. "But I was never braggadocios about it,” he says now, 31 years later. “I don't ever walk around saying, 'Oh I have a special gift.’ ” Glover sees his ability to dance as a gift that was given to him, much like a pair of socks on Christmas. But simply having a gift doesn’t make you special, he insists. Because every kid has his own pair of socks. It’s what you do with those socks that's your responsibility.

    "We all have a talent, and no matter what it is or where we are, whether it's on Broadway or the inner city ... it's our duty to continue to express that talent,” Glover told the DCPA NewsCenter just before his headlining performance before 800 helped raised a record $1 million for DCPA Education programs at the annual Saturday Night Alive benefit on March 4 at the Stage Theatre.

    Savion Glover. Photo by John Moore“I believe that once we learn how to express ourselves, whether through dance, art, writing, painting, construction or whatever … we find our voice. And once we are heard through our artistic expression, we are better understood,” he said. “Someone might be able to draw a painting that might express who they really are better than one might be able to articulate with words.”

    Glover is best known for works like Jelly's Last Jam and Bring in 'da Noise/Bring in ‘da Funk, which won him a Tony Award for Best Choreography. He was nominated again last summer for his work on Shuffle Along . He has been featured on the TV dance shows So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars.

    Arts education is a continuing passion for both Glover and the Denver Center. The DCPA’s extensive educational programs reached more than 105,000 students last year. Glover, 42, established the HooFeRzCLuB School for Tap, and regularly visits schools across the country to spread his enthusiasm for dance and arts education. He was known to millions of Sesame Street fans for his appearances from 1990–95.

    Glover, who was born in New Jersey, was taught by tap legend Gregory Hines, who once said, "Savion is possibly the best tap dancer who ever lived." Glover calls his style "young and funk." When asked to describe what funk is, he says in his biography: "Funk is anything that gets one's head on beat. It is riding with the rhythm. It is a pulse that keeps one rolling with the beat."

    Here’s more of Glover’s conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore: (Story continues below photos.)

    Photo gallery: Savion Glover's Busy Day in Denver:

    Savion Glover in Denver The photo gallery above includes highlights from Savion Glover's performance and master class. To see more, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    John Moore: Your performance is going to help raise $1 million for education programs here at the DCPA. Why was it important for you to be here?

    Savion Glover: Once the schools started to eliminate arts funding, I made it a part of my journey to advocate for the arts. In many states, they are quickly eliminating arts programs. That's unfortunate because, in my opinion, the arts fuel the entire education system. The more kids are able to express themselves, the more we adults, educators and teachers are able to see what the future will hold.

    John Moore: How important then is it that there are places like the Denver Center to help fill the gap?

    Savion Glover QuoteSavion Glover: I honor and applaud organizations like this one, as well as individual educators who have stepped up because we do have a void to fill. Establishments like the Denver Center realize there is a need for arts in education to continue. I look forward to coming to venues like this where they realize the importance of self-expression and the importance of allowing children to know that it's still OK to express yourself in an artistic way.

    John Moore: This morning you taught a master class for wide range of dance students. Why was it important for you to fit that into your limited schedule here in Denver?

    Savion Glover: I love teaching the kids because when I teach, I learn myself. I look at the kids as the teachers. Little do they know ….

    John Moore: What was it like for you growing up in New Jersey?

    Savion Glover: I grew up in a house where you could taste the love in the food. Then you go somewhere else and you go, "There is no love in this food."

    John Moore: You aren’t like, well, many other kids. You were already on Broadway at age 12. So how do you relate to kids today who don't yet know what they want to be?

    Savion Glover: To be on Broadway was not a part of my plan. I started dancing when I was 7 years old and one thing led to another. I was playing in a band, and then my mom signed up myself and my two older brothers for tap classes. It was just something to do. After a year or so of classes, I got an audition. Once I got cast, my life began to change. Then I began to travel, and I met many wonderful men and women like Jimmy Slyde, Lon Chaney, Gregory Hines, all of these great contributors who later would become my mentors and educators and great friends. I have dedicated my life to them and their contributions to the art, and to humanity.

    John Moore: How important is it for young dancers to have mentors?

    Savion Glover: It is very important to have what I would call a human resource. We live in an era of technology. You need someone to confide in who will give you honest criticism. I have turned to older people. My mentors were 70 and 80 years old, and I just dug them so much as people. If there is someone available to tell you a story about what happened in the 1950s, and you hear it right from that person’s mouth, and you can feel that energy and their emotion, that might better allow you to express that story yourself. I am happy with the progress of technology, but there is nothing like hearing a story from someone who was there.     

    John Moore: You told your students today, “If you can imagine it, you can express it.” How do you teach a kid to do that?

    Savion Glover: I think there is a muscle that allows us to express what we see - we just have to be able to communicate what that is. My son is 12 years old, and he can draw these pictures through animation. I'm no artist in that way, but he just sees it in his mind, and he brings it to life. I believe we all have that ability. We can't all draw, but we all should be able to articulate what we can imagine in our own way, whether that is through dance, music, writing or other art forms.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: Congratulations on your latest Tony Award, for Shuffle Along. What was that experience like for you?

    Savion Glover: My time in Shuffle Along was one of my greatest experiences. (Director) George C. Wolfe is a genius. I respect him as a man and as an artist. He is one of the smartest human beings I know. He knows everything, and I am the type of person where if there is an opportunity to learn, I am going to take full advantage of that. I also had a ball just being a choreographer, and bringing the stories of these men and women to life who you would never know about if not for our version of Shuffle Along.  

    John Moore: So what’s next for you?

    Savion Glover: I continue to search and hone in on my craft. I have a mission. I am on a journey to continue what I do, and I am thankful for that.

    John Moore: Your show here at the Denver Center has been sold out for weeks. So for those people who can't get in, what kind of a show will you be putting on tonight?

    Savion Glover: For those of you who can't get in tonight, well, this is unfortunate. Because this is going to be the best show ever in Denver. You're just going to have to read about it, ask about it and wish that you were here. I can’t tell you how it’s going to start. I can't tell you how it's going to end. But when you hear about it, you are just going to say, "Oh, man."  

    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.


    Savion Glover. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Saturday Night Alive:
    Savion Glover to headline DCPA's Saturday Night Alive
    Photos: Saturday Night Alive 2017


    The Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Saturday Night Alive was BMW of Downtown Denver. Platinum Sponsors were the Salah Foundation and United Airlines. Emerald Sponsors were the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry, HealthOne, The Westin Hotel Denver. Gold Sponsors were Always Best Care Senior Services, Epicurean Catering, Kathie and Keith Finger, u.s. bank, Colorado State Bank and Trust, The Tuchman Family Foundation and Triptyk Studios. The Surprise Box Sponsor was Kendra Scott. The 2017 Event Chairs were L. Roger and Meredith Hutson.
  • Broadway's Ashford, Kelso and more in Denver benefit concert April 30

    by John Moore | Mar 13, 2017



    Tony Award-winning actor Annaleigh Ashford will reunite with her Kinky Boots co-star (and fellow Colorado native) Andy Kelso for United in Love, a special concert event presented by Ebner-Page Productions and benefiting the Denver Actors Fund on Sunday night, April 30, at the Lone Tree Arts Center. TICKETS HERE

    Joining the headliners will be Mara Davi (Dames at Sea, Smash, A Chorus Line), who grew up in Highlands Ranch. These three powerhouse Broadway performers are coming home to unite with local performers and spread a message of love and hope while raising funds for the Denver Actors Fund, which in three years has made $82,000 available to local theatre artists facing situational medical need. 

    Ashford, a graduate of Wheat Ridge High School, won the Tony Award for her work in You Can’t Take it with You and is currently receiving rave reviews with Jake Gyllenhaal in a limited Broadway engagement of Sunday in the Park with George. She also has appeared on Broadway in Sylvia, Hair, Wicked and Legally Blonde. Kelso, a graduate of Eaglecrest High School in Aurora, starred in Kinky Boots after a three-year run in Mamma Mia.

    Click here to choose your April 30 concert seats now

    The concert also will feature longtime Denver performer (and Denver First Lady) Mary Louise Lee, Broadway’s Jodie Langel (Les Misérables) and Denise Gentilini, composer of the Armenia genocide musical I Am Alive.

    “These stars are returning to their roots to support the theatre community they came from,” said Ebner, who conceived the United in Love concert with Paul Page. “They are examples to all of us for fulfilling their dreams while inspiring and encouraging others.”

    Additional appearances are scheduled from Denver favorites Jimmy Bruenger, Eugene Ebner, Becca Fletcher, Clarissa Fugazzotto, Robert Johnson, Daniel Langhoff, Susannah McLeod, Chloe McLeod, Sarah Rex, Jeremy Rill, Kristen Samu, Willow Samu, Thaddeus Valdez, and the casts of both The Jerseys and the upcoming 13 the Musical (featuring an all-student casts).

    The lineup is subject to change, and additional stars may be added.

    The emcees of the event will be performer and local TV arts journalist Eden Lane with actor Steven J. Burge, currently starring in the Denver Center's An Act of God at the Garner-Galleria Theatre.


    United in Love

    The Denver Actors Fund was founded in 2013 by former Denver Post Theatre Critic John Moore and actor/attorney Christopher Boeckx. The Denver Actors Fund  offers both financial assistance with medical bills, insurance, co-payments, supplies and more, as well as volunteer assistance ranging from meals to transportation to snow-shoveling. Recently the Denver Actors Fund has helped a young father undergoing chemotherapy, a director who had triple-bypass surgery, and the parents of a child who died with medical and burial expenses. An team of more than 60 volunteers have provided more than 250 hours of service.

    “We are a grassroots organization to the core, and we depend on the kindness of people like Eugene Ebner and Paul Page to organize events like United in Love on our behalf, and the incredible generosity of the performing community for pull nights like this off,” said Moore, the DAF’s Executive Director. “United in Love will be the biggest night in our history, and we are united in gratitude to everyone who is helping to make it possible.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Denver Actors Fund is a 501c3 nonprofit, and all donations are tax-deductible. For more information, or to apply for aid, go to denveractorsfund.org.

    The audience is invited to mingle with the performers at a post-show reception for additional $25. (There are only 100 full show/reception tickets available.)

    The Presenting Sponsor of United in Love is Delta Dental of Colorado. Silver Sponsors are Skyline Property Management and the Alliance Insurance Group.


    DAF Contest Lone Tree


    Front-row student social-media contest:
    The 14 front-row seats for the United in Love concert will be made available for $25 to seven students (high school seniors or younger) who make a 15-second video promoting the April 30 contest by professing their fandom for one of the performers on the lineup. Make a video and send it by Google Drive to denveractordfund@gmail.com. Deadline to submit: April 1. You will be notified if you are a winner. Two $25 tickets (face value $84 each) will be made available to the seven winners, along with free access to the post-concert reception. Questions, email denveractorsfund@gmail.com.

    Video bonus: Our 2014 interview with Ashford and Kelso at Kinky Boots:

    Look back on our backstage visit with Tony nominee Annaleigh Ashford and Andy Kelso, Denver-area natives with leading roles in 'Kinky Boots' on Broadway. Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

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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.