• Video: Your 'First Date' with Director Ray Roderick

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2018

    In the video above, Director Ray Roderick talks about the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' production of the musical comedy First Date, which he calls a "super-funny, modern love story" that follows two characters as they go through their first date at a busy New York restaurant.

    First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowAs the date unfolds, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this unpredictable evening. "It reminds people of what it was to be in love for the first time," Roderick said.

    The all-local cast includes Adriane Leigh Robinson, Seth Dhonau, Steven J. Burge, Jordan Leigh, Lauren Shealy, Barret Harper and Cashelle Butler. (Pictured at right:  Dhonau and Robinson, by Emily Lozow.)

    First Date performs through April 22 at the Garner Galleria Theatre.

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

    Meet the cast: More fun to read than any dating profile!

    First Date: Ticket information
    First DatePerformances through April 22
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    At the Garner Galleria Theatre

    The book is written by by Austin Winberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Orchestrations by August Eriksmoen. Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements by Dominick Amendum.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of First Date:
    Understudies talk about their unique role in First Date
    Video: Photos: Your first look at First Date
    Check out the all-local cast of the Denver Center's First Date

    Ray Roderick
  • 'First Date' understudies will take center stage at Denver Actors Fund screening

    by John Moore | Jan 18, 2018
    Understudies Cashelle Butler and Barret Harper. First Date Photo by John Moore
    First Date understudies Cashelle Butler and Barret Harper. Photo by John Moore

    Unsung heroes will get their chance to sing out at Monday's benefit screening of 500 Days of Summer at Alamo

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Understudies are among the many unsung heroes of the theatre — especially on long-running shows such as DCPA Cabaret’s romantic musical comedy First Date at the Galleria Theatre. All the more so during the ongoing cold and flu epidemic in Denver.

    We talked about it with Cashelle Butler and Barret Harper, who on Monday will be performing songs from First Date before a screening of the popular film 500 Days of Summer at the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund, which, in four years, has made more than $200,000 in medical relief available to members of the Colorado theatre community. Alamo donates 50 percent of all ticket proceeds from this fun monthly film series, which cleverly pairs a popular movie with a live appearance by a local theatre company staging a related musical.

    Cashelle Butler First Date QuoteFirst Date, which performs at the Galleria through April 22, follows a blind-date newbie who is set up with a serial dater. The audience follows along as a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a comically high-stakes dinner.

    We asked Butler and Harper about the life and challenges of an understudy, the importance of The Denver Actors Fund and Monday’s upcoming appearance at the Alamo.

    “I always find it an honor to be cast as an understudy,” said Butler, who attended Cherry Creek and Cherokee Trail high schools and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. “They are trusting me not only to know multiple roles, but to be able to come in at the last minute and keep the show running.”

    Butler was called on to perform in First Date just last week. “My castmates were all so supportive, helpful, trusting and incredibly fun to be on stage with,” she said. “They are a great group. You should all go see them shine, because they are truly amazing performers and human beings.”

    Harper, who graduated from Littleton High School and the University of Colorado Boulder, said understudies make it so that the lead actors don’t have to take unnecessary health risks for the sake of a single performance. “When an actor knows he has an understudy, he or she generally does a better job and is less likely to get sick because it removes the stress from feeling like they have the weight of the show resting on the unpredictable nature of human health,” he said. “They can focus on their craft with the confidence someone has their back.” 

    Choose your 500 Days of Summer screening seats here

    Join Butler and Barrett Monday for their live appearance at the Sloan’s Lake Alamo Drafthouse, hosted by film series emcee (and, coincidentally, First Date castmate) Steven J. Burge.

    In the meantime: Don’t forget to hug an understudy … but only if you’re healthy.

    Question: How is the importance of understudies heightened during cold and flu season?

    Cashelle Butler: That’s when understudies are especially vital. As a performer, you want to know that if you have to go out of the show, you aren't letting anyone down. Having an understudy gives you the peace of mind to know you can take the time you need to heal your body without any guilt. I want everyone to be healthy and happy and to never need me. But should that day come, I want to make sure nobody on stage has to worry about me or the show.

    BARRET HARPER QUOTE FIRRST DATEBarret Harper: Working as an understudy during cold and flu season requires extra vigilance and discipline. Your chances of performing skyrocket, but you are equally at risk for illness yourself. So staying fresh on the material and staying healthy are paramount.

    Question: What does it mean to you to help support The Denver Actors Fund on Monday?

    Cashelle Butler: It is both an honor and a privilege. While being an artist is incredibly rewarding, fun and exciting, it does not always afford us the stability and comfort that other jobs have. Life happens, and nobody should have to face life's worst turns alone. The Denver Actors Fund is there when you are going through your darkest days, offering help, support, hope and a reminder that this community is there for you and you are not alone. I feel so lucky to be a part of such a kind, supportive, genuinely caring community of humans and artists, and to be able to support the Denver Actors Fund is such a rewarding treat.

    Barret Harper: The Denver Actors Fund is the lifeline that connects the entire Colorado theatre community. It sends a message to the artists in this community that helping each other in our time of need makes our community and our art stronger. Individual actors generally don’t have the means to help others in a meaningful financial way, so the DAF provides a mechanism to transform our magnanimous spirit into something more tangible. It means the world to me to support an organization that has helped so many of my brilliant coworkers and friends over the past few years. 

    Question: Why should people come to see the screening of 500 Days of Summer on Monday?

    First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowCashelle: Everyone should hang out with us on Monday! When you support The  Denver Actors Fund, you are supporting Denver's community of actors. And you get to hear a few songs from First Date. Plus, Steven J. Burge is the funniest, most lovely and prettiest human around. He will make you laugh so hard you will leave with a washboard stomach. You also get to ogle Barret Harper and listen to his gorgeous voice. You'll get to eat popcorn and drink beer and watch one of the cutest movies of all time — which is not coincidentally quite similar to First Date. You get to escape the world for a few hours and hide in a movie theatre and believe in love.

    (Pictured: Seth Dhonau and Adriane Leigh Robinson in the DCPA's 'First Date.' Photo by Emily Lozow.)

    Barret Harper:  People should come knowing they will be contributing to an organization that is dedicated to directly helping the local theater community. You can see your donated money in action every time you see the actors perform. You become a part of the art in a meaningful way.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist. He is also the founder of The Denver Actors Fund.

    Meet the cast: More fun to read than any dating profile!

    500 Days of Summer: Benefit film screening:
    What: Denver Actors Fund screening of the film 500 Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel
    Who: Live pre-screening entertainment from DCPA Cabaret's First Date.
    When: Monday, Jan. 22: Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7
    Where: Sloan's Lake Alamo Drafthouse, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com

    First Date: Ticket information
    First DatePerformances through April 22
    Tickets: Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    At the Garner Galleria Theatre

    The book is written by by Austin Winberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Orchestrations by August Eriksmoen. Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements by Dominick Amendum.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of First Date:
    Video: Photos: Your first look at First Date
    Check out the all-local cast of the Denver Center's First Date

    Video bonus: Cashelle Butler visits Cherry Creek High School:

  • Study: There's a lot of Denver in Denver Center casts this fall

    by John Moore | Dec 13, 2017

    Fall Casting 800 Photos by Adams Viscom

    Survey of DCPA cast lists shows 56 percent of all available jobs this fall have gone to actors who live in Denver area 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    There has been a lot of Denver at the Denver Center this fall. An analysis of cast lists for the eight shows presented since the start of September shows that 56 percent of all actors who have taken to a DCPA stage also call Denver home.

    That doesn’t even include the eight child actors who currently populate the Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol. And when you add in all the actors who grew up in Colorado but are now based elsewhere, the number of actors with local connections jumps to 67 percent.  

    “The Colorado acting community is such a multi-talented group, and that is evident in all the amazing work featured across the entire state and on every one of our stages at the DCPA this fall,” said DCPA Director of Casting Grady Soapes.

    The survey includes all homegrown programming offered by the DCPA, totaling 73 adult actor slots. Much of the local infusion this year can be traced to Off-Center’s immersive musical The Wild Party at the Stanley Marketplace, as well as DCPA Cabaret’s newly launched musical First Date at the Galleria Theatre, both of which cast entirely local actors.

    First Date Fall Casting Photo by Emily LozowFirst Date director Ray Roderick, who is based out of New York, is responsible for the longest-running musical in Colorado Theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, also at the Galleria, as well as The Taffetas, Five Course Love and many others. And while he is always empowered to cast actors based anywhere around the country, he almost always fills his Denver cast lists with Denver actors. Why? Because he can, he says.

    (Pictured above and right: Local actors Seth Dhonau and Adriane Leigh Robinson will be taking their 'First Date' through April 22. Photo by Emily Lozow.)

    “There is no question that there is a wealth of talent here in Denver,” Roderick said. “When I work at other regional theatre centers and I choose my cast, I’m often told, 'Well what have they done on Broadway?’ I never get that here at the Denver Center. The fact is, when you are casting a show, what matters is the story, period. And we have beautiful storytellers in Denver. That they happen to live in Denver has nothing to do with their level of talent.”

    It was the Denver Center’s Jeff Hovorka who convinced then-DCPA President Randy Weeks that the first staging of the Galleria Theatre’s Always…Patsy Cline back in 1997 could be effectively cast with local actors. Melissa Swift-Sawyer and Beth Flynn made Denver musical-theatre history when their show ran for three and a half years, only to be surpassed by I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, another all-local show that opened in 2000 and became Denver’s longest-running musical by 2004.

    “The three biggest successes in the Galleria Theatre history, including Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women, all have had local casts,” said Hovorka, now the DCPA’s Director of Sales and Marketing for Broadway and Cabaret. “Denver always has had an incredibly strong talent base, and we are always proud to celebrate the homegrown talent we have in this city.”

    Check out the all-local cast of DCPA's First Date

    The Wild Party Director Amada Berg Wilson, also the founder of a Boulder theatre company called The Catamounts, put 15 local actors to work on Off-Center’s risky plunge into immersive musical theatre, which was attended each night by 200 live party guests.

    “Having an all-local cast is evidence that we really do have the talent right here to pull off a show like this,” said Wilson. “And I think it is great that as the Denver Center continues to experiment with immersive theatre, we are developing a base of talent right here who have the tools and the vocabulary to make this specific kind of work. We are discovering that audiences are really hungry for more of it, and now we have the people here to do it.”

    michael-fitzpatrick-leslie-ocarroll-photo-credit-adamsviscom_24874516748_oThe list of local actors working for the Denver Center this fall spans beloved veterans such as Leslie O’Carroll, who is again playing Mrs. Fezziwig in the Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol, to first-timers such as longtime BDT Stage favorite Wayne Kennedy and Adriane Leigh Robinson, who just played Sally Bowles for the Miners Alley Playhouse’s Cabaret.

    (Leslie O'Carroll, right with 'A Christmas Carol' castmate Michael Fitzpatrick, is now the longest-tenured actor in the DCPA Theatre Company.)

    Longtime Galleria Theatre favorites Jordan Leigh and Lauren Shealy, now appearing in First Date, have built sustainable acting careers around steady work at the DCPA, including occasional crossover roles in Theatre Company productions. Shealy, headlined the Lone Tree Arts Center’s summer production of Evita that was nominated for Outstanding Musical by the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards.

    Colorado theatre favorite Steven J. Burge, who joined the Denver Center earlier this year to play none other than God in the long-running Galleria Theatre hit An Act of God, is back in First Date, which runs through April 22. This is a job, Burge says, “that I would not quit even if I won the lottery, because I love it so much.”

    Each May, the Denver Center holds three days of “general auditions” that are open to local actors to sign up for. This year a record 100 union and 275 non-union actors participated, directly resulting in many of the fall hirings.

    Many of the Denver Center’s current crop of actors have tentacles that reach throughout the Colorado theatre community from Creede Repertory Theatre (Diana Dresser and Emily Van Fleet) to Phamaly Theatre Company (Leonard E. Barrett), which exists to create performance opportunities for actors with disabilities.

    Michael Bouchard and Luke Sorge, the two actors playing David in Off-Center’s The SantaLand Diaries, are both company members with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, which was co-founded by occasional DCPA Theatre Company actor and Director Stephen Weitz.  

    The Theatre Company’s season-opening production of Macbeth included local playwright Steven Cole Hughes, also a longtime Teaching artist for DCPA Education and graduate of the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory. Robert O’Hara’s cast was a Denver Center reunion of sorts that also brought home Colorado natives Gareth Saxe, Erik Kochenberger and Skyler Gallun.

    Skyler GallunSaxe, a graduate of Colorado College and Denver East High School, played Scar for two years on Broadway in Disney’s The Lion King, but his DCPA Theatre Company roots go back to Cyrano de Bergerac in 2001. Kochenberger also graduated from East High School — but his was in Pueblo. Gallun, who previously appeared in Lord of the Flies, led a talkback with students from his alma mater, George Washington High School, after one Macbeth matinee (pictured at right by John Moore).

    DCPA Education head of acting Timothy McCracken, who has recently performed with both BETC (Outside Mullingar) and Local Theatre company (The Firestorm), landed this fall in both the Theatre Company’s Smart People and A Christmas Carol. His Smart People co-star Jason Veasey graduated from Coronado High School in Colorado Springs and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. His many past local credits include playing Jesus in Town Hall Arts Center’s Godspell.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This fall also has brought the launch of DCPA Education’s new Theatre for Young Audiences program. The three-person cast of The Snowy Day who performed Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved story for 19,000 pre-kindergarten through third-graders included longtime DCPA Teaching Artist Rachel Kae Taylor (also an NTC grad with three Theatre Company credits) and Robert Lee Hardy, who was recently seen in Vintage Theatre’s A Time to Kill In Aurora.  

    finalpdheadshots0005-web“This has been an exciting year not only for the local actors but for myself and the DCPA,” Soapes (pictured right) said of his local casting. “The dedication this organization has made to further highlighting the talent we have here in Denver has also deepened our appreciation for the artists who are working hard every day to entertain our audiences —  my hat goes off to them,” he said.

    Soapes said his top priority always will be to cast the best person for every role, regardless of ZIP code.

    “We here at the DCPA are excited to continue to tap further into the local talent pool, open our doors wider and show the entire industry why Denver is a destination for quality theatre,” Soapes said.

    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.

    Grady Soapes Quote

    Denver Center Fall 2017 Casting:

    Macbeth: 17 actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Steven Cole Hughes as Doctor of the Psychic/Ensemble)

    Actors from Colorado:

    • Skyler Gallun as Donalbain/Ensemble
    • Erik Kochenberger as Hecate Two/Ensemble
    • Gareth Saxe as Duncan/Ensemble)

    'A Snowy Day. Rachel Kae Taylor, Robert Lee Hardy. Zak Reynolds. Photo by Adams Viscom.The Snowy Day:
    Three actor jobs

    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Rachel Kae Taylor as Archie, Amy, Mom and others
    • Robert Lee Hardy as Peter

    Smart People: Four actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Timothy McCracken
    Actors from Colorado:
    • Jason Veasey

    The Wild Party: 15 actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Brett Ambler as Gold
    • Leonard Barrett Jr. as Oscar D’Armano
    • Allison Caw as Sally
    • Laurence Curry as Black
    • Diana Dresser as Miss Madelaine True
    • Katie Drinkard as Mae
    • Trent Hines as Phil D’Armano
    • Drew Horwitz as Burrs
    • Wayne Kennedy as Goldberg
    • Sheryl McCallum as Dolores
    • Jenna Moll Reyes as Nadine
    • Marco Robinson as Eddie Mackrel
    • Emily Van Fleet as Queenie
    • Aaron Vega as Jackie
    • Erin Willis as Kate

    Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women: Three actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Barbara Gehring
    • Linda Klein
    • Amie MacKenzie

    A Christmas Carol (through Dec. 24): 21 adult actor jobs; eight youth jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Sam Gregory as Ebenezer Scrooge
    • Chas Lederer as Swing
    • Kyra Lindsay as Martha Cratchit/Ensemble
    • Chloe McLeod as Swing
    • Timothy McCracken as Ebenezer Scrooge understudy
    • Leslie O’Carroll as Mrs. Fezziwig/Ensemble
    • Jeffrey Roark as Jacob Marley/Ensemble
    • Shannan Steele as Ensemble
    • Marco Robinson as Ensemble

    A Michael Bouchard 800The SantaLand Diaries (through Dec. 24): Two actor jobs
    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Michael Bouchard as David
    • Luke Sorge as David understudy
    First Date (through April 22): Eight actor jobs

    Actors living in Colorado:

    • Adriane Leigh Robinson as Casey
    • Seth Dhonau as Aaron
    • Steven J. Burge as Man 1
    • Aaron Vega as Man 2 (Nov. 11-Dec. 3)
    • Jordan Leigh as Man 2 (Dec. 5-April 22)
    • Lauren Shealy as Woman 1
    • Barret Harper as Male Understudy
    • Cashelle Butler as Female Understudy
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'First Date'

    by John Moore | Nov 16, 2017

    Video by David Lenk.

    Here is your first chance to see video and photos from the new musical comedy opening Friday at the Galleria Theatre

    Here is your first look in video (above) and photos (below) at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' new staging of First Date, opening Friday, Nov. 17,  and running through April 22, 2018, in The Garner Galleria Theatre.

    When blind-date newbie Aaron is set up with serial-dater Casey, a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a comically high-stakes dinner. As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this unpredictable evening.

    The director is Ray Roderick, and the all-local cast includes Adriane Leigh Robinson, Seth Dhonau, Steven J. Burge, Aaron Vega, Jordan Leigh, Lauren Shealy, Barret Harper and Cashelle Butler. (Vega plays the "Man 2" role from Nov. 11-Dec. 3. Leigh plays Man 2 from Dec. 5-April 22.)

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced that it is dedicating the opening performance and the entire run of First Date, opening Friday, as well as the entire run of A Christmas Carol, to Daniel Langhoff, who died last week from cancer. Read more here.

    Meet the cast: More fun to read than any dating profile!

    Full photo gallery: First Date production photos

    First Date

    Photos from the making of 'First Date.' To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Photos by Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    First Date: Ticket information
    First DateNov. 11, 2017, through through April 22, 2018
    Tickets : Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Garner Galleria Theatre

    The book is written by by Austin Winberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Orchestrations by August Eriksmoen. Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements by Dominick Amendum.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Our Souls at Night' released today on Netflix

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

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

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Check out the all-local casting for DCPA's 'First Date'

    by John Moore | Jul 12, 2017

    First Date

    The cast of 'First Date,' top row from left: Steven J. Burge, Seth Dhonau, Jordan Leigh and Lauren Shealy. Second row: Adriane Leigh Robinson, Cashelle Butler, Barret Harper and Director Ray Roderick. (Note: Aaron Vega plays Jordan Leigh's role from Nov. 11-Dec. 3.)

    Returning Galleria faces among the all-Colorado cast are Jordan Leigh, Lauren Shealy and Steven J. Burge

    By John Moore and Heidi Bosk
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced an all-local cast for its  upcoming production of First Date, playing The Garner Galleria Theatre from Nov. 11, 2017, through April 22, 2018.

    When blind date newbie Aaron is set up with serial-dater Casey, a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a comically high-stakes dinner. As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this unpredictable evening. In an unexpected twist, Casey and Aaron’s inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines. Can this couple turn what could be a dating disaster into something special before the check arrives?

    Directed by Ray Roderick (The Last 5 Years, The Taffetas, Five Course Love and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change), First Date features both returning Denver Center favorites and exciting new faces:  
    • Adriane Leigh Robinson – Casey
    • Seth Dhonau – Aaron
    • Steven J. Burge – Man 1
    • Aaron Vega – Man 2 (Nov. 11-Dec. 3)
    • Jordan Leigh – Man 2 (Dec. 5-April 22)
    • Lauren Shealy – Woman 1
    • Barret Harper – Male Understudy
    • Cashelle Butler – Female Understudy

    The First Date creative team includes Martha Yordy (musical direction), Lisa M. Orzolek (scenic design), Charles R. MacLeod (lighting design), Meghan Anderson Doyle (costume design) and Craig Breitenbach (sound design).

    The book is written by by Austin Winberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Orchestrations by August Eriksmoen. Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements by Dominick Amendum.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    (Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for this productions in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.)

    First Date: Meet the cast

    Adriane Wilson 160ADRIANE LEIGH ROBINSON (Casey) is overjoyed to be making her Denver Center debut in this production of First Date. Before migrating to Colorado, Adriane performed internationally with a number of Air Force troupes and with James Madison University’s Children’s Playshop in Harrisburg, Virginia. Since graduating from The University of Northern Colorado, Adriane has appeared on the stages of Little Theatre of the Rockies and Miner’s Alley Playhouse, where she recently played Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Adriane was the recipient of Best Actress in a Musical at The European Toppers Awards in Heidelberg, Germany for her role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (Aviano Theatre) and an Irene Ryan Awards nomination for her performance as Laurie Williams in Oklahoma (University of Northern Colorado).

    Adriane WilsonHometown: Aviano, Italy. I spent the ity of my high-school years there, and consider it the place where I truly began finding myself as an adult.
    • College: University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • What's your handle? @little.adriane.leigh on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: I am a Pit-bull-loving, cheese-devouring, Harry Potter enthusiast. I was raised in a military family, so I had the opportunity to live and perform all over the country, and overseas. In my free time, I am a princess impersonator with a fabulous company called Wands and Wishes Occasions, in addition to running a photography business with my partner called Marco Robinson Photo. I am happiest when I’m reading, cooking, and playing with my two handsome puppies.
    • The role that changed your life? I recently played Sally Bowles in Cabaret with Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden (pictured above.) Sally was by far the most challenging and enjoyable character I’ve had the opportunity to tackle in a long while. She is such an iconic persona in the musical theatre world, and it was an honor to put my own spin on her manic yet lovable personality.
    Ideal scene partner: Steve Carell. I am such an enormous fan of his work; his range is so vast, and he seems like such a friendly person.
    What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope they walk away understanding that the presence of love in one’s life should stand above all other things. Professional success, material possessions and good looks all fade away at some point. But the one thing that has been proven to stand the test of time is love. Love deserves our attention, respect and dedication.
    Your worst first-date story: When I first arrived in Colorado in 2011, a friend set me up with one of his classmates. Let’s call him Ryan. Ryan seemed cute and sweet, so I agreed to the date. As a surprise, Ryan set up a horse-riding excursion for us in Colorado Springs, but we got hit by a terrible rainstorm, so that was no longer an option. I was new to the area, so I had no ideas, and neither did Ryan. Things were a little awkward as we sat in his car, trying to make small talk. Then things got very weird very fast. As our conversation started to dwindle, I realized we had nothing in common, especially when he started telling me about the demons that possess him. That’s right … demons. He went into great detail about the personalities of his demonic captors, and how they affected his daily life. Needless to say, there was no second date. I haven’t heard from Ryan or his demons since.
    Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... safety, good health, and happiness for those I love. Oh, and for my Hogwarts letter to arrive.
    Anything else you want to add?
    Enjoy the show, folks!

    Check out the all-local casting for DCPA's The Wild Party

    Seth DhonauSETH DHONAU
    (Aaron). Since moving to Denver last year, Seth has been seen in several productions including Red Hot and Cole (Cherry Creek Theater, pictured below right) and Evita (Lone Tree Arts Center). Previously he lived in New York and sang with some of the top choirs in the area, appearing at both St. Patrick's Cathedral and Carnegie Hall. Seth studied opera, theater and economics at Northwestern University where he appeared in Bernstein’s Mass, The Waa-Mu Show and multiple productions with the American Music Theatre Project. 

    Seth DhonauHometown: Fond du Lac, Wis.
    • College: Bachelor of Music (Voice and Opera) from Northwestern University
    • What's your handle? @Deathsono on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Connoisseur of film, literature, music, wine and cowboy boots.
    • The role that changed your life? George in Sunday in the Park with George. It wasn’t until I took on this role that I realized the power of storytelling on stage. To me it’s the ultimate confluence of music and art and the attending emotions that each brings about in us.
    Ideal scene partner: Joaquin Phoenix. I’m absolutely transfixed when he’s on screen; whether he appears to be digging into some unfathomable, wild place or just … being.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope our show reminds our audiences to take chances, and to not focus too much on the stuff you can’t change. There’s a big world out there if you allow yourself to go find it.
    • Your worst first-date story: Back in college, during the dark ages of Facebook (temporally, not socio-politically), I attempted to use my cell phone to look up an acquaintance with whom I’d be going on a first date that evening. Instead of typing her name into the search bar, I accidentally posted it, like a total creep, prominently atop my profile page where it remained for the duration of a recital I had just stepped on stage to perform. The post got no ‘likes,’ and I don’t think there was a second date.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... for people to slow down!”

    A Steven J. Burge 160STEVEN J. BURGE
     (Man 1) is thrilled to be back and treading the Denver Center boards again after making his Galleria debut last season as God in An Act of God (pictured below right). He made his Colorado debut in 2003 as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors following the national tours of … And Then They Came for Me and A Christmas Carol. Since then, this award-winning character actor has appeared on stages throughout the Denver metro area including the Denver Center, Arvada Center, Curious Theatre, Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret and many others. Steven was the recipient of The Denver Post Ovation Award for Best Solo Performance in Fully Committed (Aurora Fox), a one-man show in which Steven portrayed more than 30 different characters. Steven has also been recognized for his work in Contrived Ending (Buntport Theatre) and Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (Avenue Theatre).

    Steven J. Burge, Erik Sandvold, Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God. Photo by John Moore. Hometown: Martelle, Iowa. There's a sign on the city limits that reads "Welcome to Martelle! The small town with a big heart!" And it very much lives up to that hype. When my family moved there just after my seventh birthday, the town claimed fewer than 300 people. But I remember them as being the nicest 300 people on Earth. 
    • College: Theatre and Communications at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa
    • What's your handle? I don't do the Twitter or the Instagram. But you should totally feel free to "friend" me on the Facebook if you'd like. It's my most favorite way to waste time.
    • The role that changed your life? In 2003, a tour I was doing ended and I came to Denver to take a three-month contract playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. The plan was for me to do the show and hit the road again. But Colorado was so beautiful, and the people were so great, that I just kept on not leaving. Thirteen years later, I consider myself a proud Denverite. I guess that role didn’t just change my life; in some ways it sort of created it.
    Ideal scene partner: I don't need to look beyond Colorado to find a scene partner who will excite me or challenge me or inspire me. The artist community here is vibrant and relevant and I, for one, am so grateful to the Denver Center’s producers and subscribers and individual ticket-buyers for giving so many local theatre artists the opportunity to work where we live. That is a great gift. … OK, also Cassandra Peterson, a k a Elvira Mistress of the Dark. She's hilarious and she has been my comic hero since I was 10 years old. And guess what? She’s also from Colorado, kind of. Colorado Springs. But that counts.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? Kissed. I hope you come to the show with someone you have a big ol' crush on ... whether it's a brand new crush or someone you've loved and married and crushed on for 50 years. I hope you sit in the audience together and get all twitterpated and nervous and get that "barfy" feeling. (It's a great feeling, isn't it?) And then I hope you get kissed. Every single one of you. 
    • Your worst first-date story: Ohmigosh, you guys, no lie: When I read this question, I immediately started to sweat. Then I briefly thought about quitting this show so I could avoid thinking about my dating life and answering this question. Then I recognized I was being a crazy person so I spent the better part of an hour Googling therapists in my insurance network and late-night delivery restaurants in my neighborhood. Then I watched a couple episodes of Dateline on Investigation Discovery because I find that when you're reflecting on your dating history, more often than not an episode of Dateline will remind you that no matter how bad you think it is, your taste in men could be worse. Pass.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... a room somewhere.
    Far away from the cold night air.
    With one enormous chair.

    (That's from My Fair Lady. Because I am a #MusicalTheatreNerd)
    • Anything else you want to add?
    Fine! Tell you what. ... If you REALLY want to hear my dating horror stories, find me after the show and I'll tell you over dessert. (It's a first date!) <3

    Jordan LeighJORDAN LEIGH
    (Man 2 from Dec. 5-April 22) couldn’t be happier to be back on the Garner Galleria stage for a fifth time after his record-setting run in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (1,731 performances), Five Course Love, The Doyle and Debbie Show and Forbidden Broadway. A proud Denver native, he has appeared on stages across the city for 20 years, including his co-starring role with the DCPA Theatre Company as the Apostle, Matt in 2015’s The 12 (pictured below right) and in front of capacity crowds at The Buell while co-starring in the DCPA Theatre Company’s, White Christmas. An award-winning film actor as well, (three-time Best Actor-48 Hour Filmmaking Project/Special Screening Cannes), he recently appeared alongside Hollywood legends, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, in the Netflix feature Our Souls at Night. Proud 17-year member of Actors Equity Association. Much love to Hannah.

    Jordan Leigh The 12Hometown: Denver. I am a third-generation Coloradan!
    • College: BA in Theatre and Masters Acting Intensive from UCLA School of Theatre (magna cum laude)
    • What's your handle? @JordanLeighActs on Twitter; @ThatActorGuyJordan on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Buddhist Jew who loves Jesus. And Science. And South Park. And Animals. Hopes we can find a way to cut through all this worldly Mishegas (Yiddish for “insanity”). 
    • The role that changed your life? I regularly find that the roles I play reflect aspects of my own life journey that I'm experiencing right then and there. I'm constantly reawakened to how this craft is somehow esoterically and intimately intertwined with my own life experience. Well that, and playing Danny Zuko my senior year in high school. Because, well... Danny Zuko.
    Ideal scene partner: I love the idea of discussing the fact with Hugh Jackman that he can pull off playing both Wolverine and Jean Valjean. That seems pretty ideal from an acting standpoint.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? When I am affected by the truth of human connection in this life, it restores my faith in our common journey on this planet. When I'm able to be a part of making others feel that way through theatre, it makes me all warm and fuzzy. That's what I'm hoping this show will do to the good folks who continue to support this ancient form of storytelling. Oh, and I hope that at least one person laughs hard enough to pee a little.
    • Your worst first-date story: When she said, “I'm not a big reader. My favorite book is Hop on Pop." No offense to Dr. Seuss, but I'll just leave that there.
    • Your best first-date story:
    Driving down to Albuquerque to meet the woman with whom I now love and share my life. Hooray for internet dating!
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... for all sentient beings to be free from suffering.” (That is the goal of Buddhist philosophy.)
    • Anything else you want to add?
    I have been so fortunate to call the Denver Center (and especially The Galleria Theatre) my theatre home for 17 years now. I feel truly blessed to have been able to do what I do so frequently at this incredible place. To all at the DCPA who have placed your professional faith in me all these years, you have my undying gratitude.

    Lauren ShealyLAUREN SHEALY
    (Woman 1) DCPA Cabaret: Forbidden Broadway (Woman 2), The Doyle and Debbie Show (Debbie), I Love You, You’re Perfect… (Woman 2). DCPA Theatre Company: Sweeney Todd (Swing), A Christmas Carol (Ensemble). Off Broadway: Lingoland (Lauren), How to Succeed In Business... (Rosemary). The Arvada Center: White Christmas (Betty), A Man Of No Importance (Mrs. Patrick), Curtains (Georgia), Miracle On 34th Street (Doris), 1940’s Radio Hour (Anne). Lone Tree Arts Center: Evita (Eva, pictured below right), South Pacific (Nellie). National Tour: South Pacific (Nellie). Other Theaters: Jekyll and Hyde (Lucy), Tick, Tick…Boom (Susan), Phantom (Christine). Training/Awards: NYU, Tisch; 2015 CTG Henry nomination for Best Actress in a Musical; Westword’s Best Actress in a Musical for 2013. 

    Lauren Shealy. Photo by Danny Lam. EvitaHometown: Littleton
    • College: BFA Drama from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts
    • What's your handle? I am not that cool.
    • Twitter-sized bio: Lover of life, stories, music, family, heavy weights, hikes, hugs and cake pops. Habitual bath taker, banana bread maker and horror movie watcher.
    • The role that changed your life? My role as a mother changed me as a performer. My heart underwent profound renovations; the current model has no walls, many doors and seriously leaky faucets. Every day I wrestle with a delightful and terrifying mix of fear, love, and humility. I am often raw, I doubt my goodness, question my strength … but I am strangely more brave.
    Ideal scene partner: Emma Thompson. I want to work a scene with her, follow her around for a week, peek in her freezer. She’s so yummy to watch – fully present, strong and beautifully vulnerable. She is so smart! – she adapted the script for the Ang Lee version of Sense and Sensibility – it’s perfection.  
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope the audience laughs and releases the stress of the day. I hope that they make a connection ... to me, to each other, and to the role that love/attraction plays in their lives.
    • Your best first-date story:
    In the summer of 2011, friends set me up on a blind date with Bret Hipsher. I had reservations. I was casually dating a photographer and felt conflicted about going on a date with someone else. My father encouraged me to go. “Lauren, you have nothing to lose and you never know ... this guy could be the love of your life," he said. I kept the date. When Bret arrived, I opened the door and promptly lost the ability to speak coherently. There was something about his easy smile, beautiful blue eyes and delicious smell that rendered me useless for a short time. Once I recovered, I found myself more at ease with Bret than I had ever been with another man. I loved talking to him. I stared at his forearms. I felt his kindness washing over me at regular intervals. I watched the breeze play with his hair. I marveled at his exceptional intelligence and great sense of humor. He had his stuff together. I knew he was important. After he kissed my cheek that night, I called the photographer and wished him well. I married Bret a year later.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "… what I have.”

    Aaron VegaAARON VEGA
    (Man 2 from Nov. 11-Dec. 3)
    DCPA Off-Center: The Wild Party. Aaron has performed in theaters across the country and after many years in New York City moved to Colorado with his dog. He has adapted and directed Shakespeare, staged rock and symphony concerts, is a founding artist and board member for the puppet and mask ensemble The Zoot Theatre Company, is the Artistic Director for Eureka Suitcase in New York and is the Executive Producer for The People’s Theatre of Denver.

    Aaron Vega. The Wild Party. Adams VisComHometown: I grew up in Amish country in north central Ohio. A little rural town called Mansfield
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: I graduated from high school early so that I could get a degree at Wright State University's Professional Actor Training Program
    • What's your handle? @bardgeek on both Twitter and Instagram
    • Website: AaronVega.com
    • Twitter-sized bio: Freelance actor and director who is committed to bringing the audience's imagination into the theatrical process. Also an over-eater of pizza and hummus.
    • The role that changed your life? I played John Harrower in an unknown musical by Ricky Ian Gordan and Tina Landau called States of Independence. That was the moment I realized that musical theatre could be something deeper and more meaningful than I previously thought. And that I didn't have to choose between being an actor and being a musical-theatre performer.
    • Ideal scene partner: Laurence Olivier. He was the perfect blend of technique, imagination, grace and courage.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? A sense that the world is not as scary as prime-time TV would have us believe. That there is love in the world and that the only thing separating us from it is our frantic mind.
    • Your best first-date story: I've been incredibly lucky, and I've never been on Tinder so ... I'm good.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …”:
    "... for the world to create more and destroy less."
    • Anything else you want to add? I have the index page of Shakespeare's Folio tattooed on my forearm. Whenever I'm feeling to big for my britches I can just look down and be reminded of what true genius is, and it motivates me to keep working harder. Kaizen! (That's the Japanese word for "change for better.")

    Barret HarperBARRET HARPER
    (Male Understudy) Denver Center debut. Barret has performed across the country in New York, Arizona and Florida, but is thrilled to return to Denver, which he considers home. He was most recently seen as Lonny in Rock of Ages at BDT Stage after two regional premieres of the production in Colorado and Arizona. Other favorite roles include Cornelius in Hello, Dolly!, Jinx in Forever Plaid, Mark in Altar Boyz, and Link in Hairspray. Regional: Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Arvada Center, Central City Opera, Arizona Broadway Theater, Broadway Palm Theater and Colorado Light Opera. Thanks to friends, family, and my beautiful wife for always encouraging me to dream.

    Barret Harper Forever PlaidHometown: Littleton 
    • College: BFA in Theater Performance, BA in Biochemistry, Minor in Chemistry from the University of Colorado Boulder 
    • What's your handle? @BarretHarper on Twitter; @grin.and.barret on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Barret. Beets. Battlestar Galactica
    • The role that changed your life? Jinx in Forever Plaid (pictured right at the Town Hall Arts Center). He is this quiet and shy person the audience gets to see come out of his shell, exposing so much heart. Everyone loves an underdog, and Jinx is the perfect personification of one. I love the journey he takes and his uncompromising nerdiness, which makes him incredibly endearing. If given the chance, I would play that role forever. 
    Ideal scene partner: Tom Hanks is a master of subtlety and nuance. His attention to small details makes his characters so vibrant and rich. I would love to watch him work and play off of that energy.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope the audience walks away with a renewed faith for the human spirit. In recent times, I have sensed that we have lost touch with the ability to find common ground as a source of compassion for people with different views. This show is about two impossibly matched people who find that deep down they are looking for the same thing. My hope is that we all find that common ground and a compassion for one another. 
    • Your worst first-date story: That would have to be the time I thought I would impress the girl with some culinary skills. The plan was to make a Greek-themed meal complete with homemade baklava, since she had never eaten any Greek food before. As we finished eating, she had a few bites of the baklava before her face started to flush and swell. I had never thought to ask her if she had a nut allergy, and the baklava was stuffed with finely crushed walnuts. Luckily, she realized what was happening and stopped eating the deadly dessert before it got any worse. We later laughed about my unintentional attempt at murder, but at the moment it happened I was sure I had blown it. 
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... a room somewhere. Far away from the cold night air.” That’s from My Fair Lady. The world could use a little more of the kind of joy that musical theater celebrates. 

    Video above: Watch as Cashelle Butler returned to her Cherry Creek High School stomping grounds when she was in Denver for the farewell tour of 'Mamma Mia!' Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    CashelleButlerCASHELLE BUTLER (Female Understudy) is thrilled to be back in her hometown of Denver following two years playing Tanya on the national tour of Mamma Mia!. Other credits include: Young Frankenstein (Elizabeth, Westword Best of Denver Award), The Marvelous Wonderettes (Cindy Lou, pictured below right at the Town Hall Arts Center), Parade (Lucille) and Legally Blonde (Paulette). University of Northern Colorado. Former DCPA Education student. Immense gratitude to DCPA, the cast, and the creatives. Love to Mom, Dad, Shea and Aaron.

    • Hometown: Denver
    • College: BA in Musical Theatre from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley
    • What's your handle? @cashellebutler on Twitter and Instagram
    • Website:
    • Twitter-sized bio: Lover of conversation, family, naps, music, coffee, cute animal photos and Chipotle.
    Chashelle Butler. Town Hall Arts Center. The role that changed your life? Playing Tanya in the Farewell Tour of Mamma Mia! The character is so fun and comical that it was a blast to be able to go to work every night and just be silly and laugh. However, it was also amazing discipline, doing the show for two years straight and staying truthful and genuine every night. It is crazy to think that live theatre can ever become muscle memory, but after a long run it is so important to be present every single night. The role was life-changing, but so was the lifestyle that went with it. Seeing the country while doing what I love was an incredible opportunity, and it was so wonderful to be able to perform in amazing theatres in awesome cities. (My favorite was Denver). It was such a whirlwind.
    Ideal scene partner: I really love Rachel Bay Jones, who is currently appearing in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway). She is so versatile and such a strong actress. I’ve seen her in a few different shows, and every character she plays is just so genuine and believable. She's funny and fierce and vulnerable all in one, and I would love to work a scene (or 20) with her and learn from her.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing First Date? I hope the audience is able to laugh, enjoy, and escape the world, I think First Date has a little bit of something for everyone. The story is so easy to connect with, and the music is so great that I think it’s an awesome way to spend an evening.
    • Your worst first-date story: One first date suggested we go on a hike and, in retrospect, it’s kind of creepy going off into the woods with a stranger. He said he was going to bring his dog, and I love dogs, so that really sold me. I met him at the trail thinking we will get to know each other while we leisurely walk. Instead, the guy broke into a full uphill sprint. What followed was two breathless hours of me trying to keep up on the trail run with this man and his dog. I tripped a lot, sweat a lot - and all we got to know about each other was our very different fitness levels.
    • Complete this sentence: “All I want is …"
    "... Happiness for myself and all those around me. Also music, Chipotle, and endless photos of baby animals.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    First Date: Ticket information
    First DateNov. 11, 2017, through through April 22, 2018
    Tickets : Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Garner Galleria Theatre

    The book is written by by Austin Winberg. Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Orchestrations by August Eriksmoen. Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements by Dominick Amendum.

  • Lake Dillon Theatre Company strikes gold in Silverthorne

    by John Moore | Jun 24, 2017
    Silverthorne Performing Arts CenterPhotos from Friday's grand opening of the new $9 million Silverthorne Performing Arts Center. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Lake Dillon makes big splash with three new theatres that are already stimulating Summit County economy

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    They call it the $9 million email, and it is now framed in the lobby of the new Silverthorne Performing Arts Center that opened to great fanfare last night with the opening performance of Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s Sister Act, The Musical.

    It’s a remarkably ordinary email dated Aug. 15, 2013, written by Artistic Director Christopher Alleman confirming an upcoming meeting with Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland.

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake Dillon“The truth is, it was a really boring email,” Hyland said. But the drama hidden between the keystrokes was anything but. The acclaimed Lake Dillon Theatre Company, which had been presenting award-winning theatre in Dillon’s original, teeny-tiny Town Hall cabin since 1995, would soon be made homeless. The town of Dillon planned to redevelop the historic site, so it was time for the theatre company to find a new home.

    That boring email was the start of a beautiful relationship with the girl, er, town next door. And that partnership culminated Friday with the grand opening of the $9 million Silverthorne Arts Center. The new 16,000 square-foot jewel brings the cultural heft of three performing spaces to a town best known for its sprawl of irresistible outlet shops about 70 miles west of Denver.

    (Pictured above right: Curtain call after the inaugural performance of 'Sister Act.' Photo by John Moore.)

    The deal called for Silverthorne to kick in $6.3 million and the theatre company $2.7 million. “This was the smartest thing we could have ever done,” Hyland said.

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake Dillon“It is supporting arts and culture, which is such an incredibly enriching tool for our community, particularly our youth. But it is also absolutely an investment in economic development. It’s not some wild idea to say that that if you bring culture to a downtown, you can generate economic activity. It’s been proven. And this performing-arts center will be a catalyst for big things to come in this downtown.”

    (Pictured above right, from left: Ryan Hyland, Chris Alleman and Joshua Blanchard. Photo by John Moore.)

    When the cultural partnership was announced two years ago, Hyland said, investors immediately started to look at Silverthorne differently. “Before the first shovel went into the ground, we secured a 32-unit condo development across the way that I can attribute directly to this partnership,” Hyland said. “There is also a brewery and a new restaurant coming, so we haven't even started yet.”

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake DillonThe Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, located in the Town Center at 4th Street and Blue River Parkway, is anchored by a still-intimate 165-seat mainstage theatre called The Flex, where Sister Act opened Lake Dillon’s 23rd season on Friday and plays through Aug. 13. To maximize space, the orchestra performs live in a specially constructed studio next to the backstage dressing rooms.

    The 60-seat studio theatre next door will remind faithful Lake Dillon theatregoers of the company’s longtime cramped cabin home just a mile up Highway 6 in Dillon. That opens with the musical adaptation of the movie Ghost on July 1, running through Aug. 27. There is also a small classroom theatre that will host the company’s Lab Solo Series – successive one-actor plays Buyer and Cellar (June 30-July 9), Grounded (Aug. 11-20) and Pretty Fire (Sept. 15-24).

    Grand Lake's Rocky Mountain Rep opens 50th season

    When Ghost and Buyer and Cellar open, the company will have productions running in all three of its performance facilities. On most days of the week, theatregoers will have two of them to choose from.

    And just outside the entrance to the very mod arts center, designed by Denver’s Oz Architecture, is an outdoor music pavilion that will bring Hazel Miller (July 8), Chris Daniels and the Kings (July 15) and comedian Jim Breuer (Sept. 13), among many others, to Summit County this summer.

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake DillonThe Lake Dillon Theatre Company was conceived by Lennie Singer (mother of Denver actor Jordan Leigh) and B.J. Knapp in 1993. Alleman joined in 2002 with his partner, future Executive Director and actor Joshua Blanchard, who is nominated for a 2017 Henry Award for his performance in last year’s Cabaret. Together they have grown the organization from a $140,000 annual budget to $1.4 million. The company has maintained  a remarkably steady annual growth rate of about 13 percent.

    Today the fully professional company supports nine full-time employees and an extensive theatre education program. The full summer company of actors, crew, staff and apprentices numbers 72. The company also includes Arvada Center favorite Adam Estes, who directed Sister Act and stars in Buyer and Cellar, Colorado Shakespeare Festival Henry Award nominee Hunter Ringsmith, and widely acclaimed area designers including Nick Kargel, Brian Mallgrave, Vance Mackenzie and Andy Bakehouse.

    The mood at Friday night’s opening celebration was euphoric. But a better description for Alleman and Blanchard might be exhausted. “I’ve gotten eight hours of sleep in the past three days,” said Alleman, whose fundraising work is not yet done.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Our capital campaign is actually for $3.8 million,” he said. "That includes the $2.7 million we put into the building, but also a $500,000 reserve fund, plus the cost of fundraising. We're at $3.2 million right now, so we're not all said and done just yet.”

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake DillonJuliana Davis Ditmyer performed in Lake Dillon Theatre Company's first show under Alleman back in 2002, And the World Goes Round. She now lives in Florida, but came back this summer to be part of this new chapter in the company’s history. She’s choreographing Ghost.  

    “I was dying to be here for this," Davis said. "When I moved to Colorado, I was still not sure what I wanted to do with my life. I was living in Leadville when I stumbled across that little barn theatre in Dillon one day. I had no idea the impact it would have on me. This has not only been an artistic outlet for me but an artistic home. And although the building and surroundings are new, the heart is the same."

    Bob Moore, who has performed at theatres across Colorado since 1965, has appeared in 17 Lake Dillon Theatre Company shows, including the Monsignor in Sister Act. Make that 18 when he joins daughter Missy Moore in Noises Off, opening Sept. 1. (The director is his wife and her mother, Wendy Moore.)

    “This is now a destination facility, both for audiences and actors,” Bob Moore said. Missy Moore, who won the 2017 Henry Award for the Edge Theatre’s Getting Out, said, “Lake Dillon is absolutely bringing theatre in this part of Colorado to the next level.”

    Recent True West Award winner Sharon Kay White, who plays Mother Superior in Sister Act, is among many professional actors from Denver who find the mountain employment with Lake Dillon to be both rewarding and fulfilling. Among Colorado theatre companies, only the Denver Center and Arvada Center make more professional contracts available to Denver actors each year, Alleman said.

    “It's such an honor to be in the inaugural show in this beautiful space lovingly built by this city that embraced this theatre company that was made suddenly homeless,” said White, who previously played Sister Mary Patrick in the Arvada Center’s production of Sister Act last year. “And my goodness: This city is so beautiful. My plan was to drive home to Denver once a week all summer, but now I think I'm just staying up here all the time.”

    Our statewide Colorado summer theatre guide

    She said the quality of theatre in Silverthorne “fares great” in comparison to Denver’s best theatres. “It’s just bustling with activity. Everything feels new.”

    But while the summer of 2017 may be all about the new, Bob Moore says not everything has changed.

    “I would describe backstage at the old theatre as … very tight,” he said with a smile.  I mean, you really got a chance to know your fellow actors there. I remember a couple of times changing my clothes in the car.”

    And the new place?

    “Well, I would describe backstage at this theatre - for this particular show - as the same. But here’s the difference: There are 22 cast members in the show.” 

    That’s new.

    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.

    SILVERTHORNE. Lake Dillon

    The opening-night afterparty following 'Sister Act.' Photo by John Moore.


    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne, 970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org
    Through Aug. 13: Sister Act
    June 30-July 9: Buyer and Cellar
    July 1-Aug. 24: Ghost
    Sept. 1-17: Noises Off
    Aug. 11-20: Grounded
    Sept. 15-24: Pretty Fire

  • Photos: Opening Night of 'The 12'

    by John Moore | Apr 07, 2015

    It took seven years to bring The 12 to the stage. On April 3, the new rock musical had its world-premiere performance by the DCPA Theatre Company. Here are photos from backstage before the show, the curtain call, and at the Opening Night afterparty.

    Robert Schenkkan, Richard Seyd and Neil Berg. Photo by John Moore.  The gallery continues with various shots taken during the rehearsal process. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    To access these photos in a free, downloadable format from our Flickr gallery, click here.

    The 12 covers perhaps the three most impactful days in the history of man, and remarkably little is known about them: the 72 hours between Jesus’ crucifixion and what Christians believe was his resurrection. The 12 imagines what those three days must have been like for his closest followers in the immediate, dangerous aftermath of Jesus' death. The disciples were being hunted and went into hiding. Nothing is historically known of what happened in that room, but we do know the disciples emerged both determined to spread the gospel that would become the birth of Christianity, and that they did so knowing they faced certain death for doing so.

    The 12 is written by composer Neil Berg (music and co-lyrics) and Robert Schenkkan (book and co-lyrics) The director is Richard Seyd (pictured above). The cast includes Terence Archie (John), Mike Backes (Swing), Jeannette Bayardelle (Mother Mary), Anthony Fedorov (Andrew), Colby Foytik (Jimmy), Colin Hanlon (Pete), Jordan Leigh (Matt), Andrew Mayer (Bart), Christina Sajous (Mary Magdalene), Maximilian Sangerman (Thad), Heath Saunders (Swing), Jordan Barbour (James), Brad Standley (Phil), Gregory Treco (Simon), Tony Vincent (Tom), and Erin Willis (Swing). 

    'The 12' band: Justin Francoeur, Blake Eberhard, Todd Talbot, Jim Harvey and conductor Michael Mancini. Photo by John Moore.

    The unsung heroes of 'The 12': Band members Justin Francoeur, Blake Eberhard, Todd Talbot, Jim Harvey and Mikey Smith. The conductor is Michael Mancini. Photo by John Moore.

    The women of 'The 12': Erin Willis (Swing), Jeannette Bayardelle (Mother Mary) and Christina Sajous (Mary Magdalene). Photo by John Moore.
    The women of 'The 12': Erin Willis (Swing), Jeannette Bayardelle (Mother Mary) and Christina Sajous (Mary Magdalene). Photo by John Moore.

    Actor and Fight Captain Andrew Mayer having some pre-show fun with castmates Tony Vincent and Gregory Treco. Photo by John Moore.
    Actor and Fight Captain Andrew Mayer having some pre-show fun with castmates Tony Vincent and Gregory Treco. Photo by John Moore.


    The 12
    : Ticket information

    Through April 26
    Stage Theatre
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Toll-free: 800-641-1222 | TTY: 303-893-9582
    Groups of 10 or more: 303-446-4829
    ASL interpreted, audio described and open-captioned performance: 1:30 p.m. April 26

    Our previous coverage of The 12:
    Robert Schenkkan's Opening Night reflections
    Neil Berg and the rockin' roots of The 12
    Video montage: Your first look at The 12
    The 12: Three days that rocked the world
    Watch short video samples of 'The 12' songs from the first sing-through
    Video: Robert Schenkkan introduces The 12
    The 12 opens rehearsals with a mandate to 'dig deep'
    Full casting announced for The 12
    Final offering of Theatre Company season: Rock musical The 12
  • Photos: 'The 12' opens rehearsals with a mandate to 'dig deep'

    by John Moore | Mar 05, 2015

    First rehearsals for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The 12'. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter.

    When Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson was considering The 12 to fill the final slot of the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2014-15 season, he knew the new musical would make for a unique and unusual choice and that the story would be compelling, and the music engaging.

    “And, I figured it would be great to rock out at the end of our season,” he told cast members to cheers as they gathered last week to begin rehearsals for the upcoming world premiere of this highly anticipated new rock musical.

    Christina Sajous, Tony Vincent and Colin Hanlon of 'The 12.' Photo by John Moore.  The 12, with a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Schenkkan and composer Neil Berg,imagines what might have happened in the three days after Jesus’ crucifixion from the point of view of the disciples, along with Mary Magdalene. (Pictured above right: Christina Sajous, Tony Vincent and Colin Hanlon. Photo by John Moore.) 

    “Although it picks up where Jesus Christ Superstar ends up in terms of the story,” Thompson said, “very little information is known about what happened between the crucifixion, the tomb opening and the resurrection.”

    Schenkkan told the gathering of artists, crew, staff, ambassadors and Theatre Company fans that the journey to The 12’s first preview performance on March 27 has been a long one. “And while I am not necessarily one who believes that everything happens for a reason, I am sure that we are in the right place with the right people here at the Denver Center,” he said.  

    “We have a lot to say with this piece,” Berg added. “Why do we lose faith? How you get it back? This is an exploration of the story that has become the biggest revolution that mankind has ever known.”

    Schenkkan introduced The 12 by saying: “Act I begins with a famous tableau in which one essential figure is missing, indicated by a chair. The pain of that absence haunts everyone. In Act II, a new absence is announced — the empty tomb — and, it, too, haunts everyone. It is between these two poles — between despair and the possibility of hope – that The 12 lives. And, I would argue, that all of us live.”

    Schenkkan pointed out that the 12 disciples  were ordinary men living ordinary lives that they abandoned completely in service to … something unknown.

    The 12 quote. “They weren’t entirely sure what that was, but it promised them something greater, and it raised them to exalted heights,” Schenkkan said. “And then, as we see at the beginning of The 12, it came crashing down upon them.

    “You don’t have to be a believer to have experienced disappointment, betrayal and despair. You only have to be human. What is yours? How did you pull yourself out from that?”

    Berg said rock was the natural musical vehicle for The 12 because, “for me, rock music is a natural voice of revolution.. So it’s a great vernacular to use. It’s also great for (expressing) anguish and pain.”

    Schenkkan closed by saying, “Every new theater piece exists between the tension of each artist’s individual exploration, which is intensely private, intensely personal and simultaneously and ironically, the giving over of that to the creation of a new community.

    “That’s especially true of The 12. In this journey that we begin today, our mandate is to dig deeply and to love one another.”

    The 12 performance schedule:

    • Opens for previews March 27. Opening night April 3. Runs through April 26
    • Performances 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; plus 1:30 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday.
    •  Tickets may be purchased online at www.denvercenter.org, by phone at 303-893-4100 or at Denver Center Ticket Services in the lobby of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. No children under 4 admitted.

    Our previous coverage of The 12:
    Full casting announced for The 12
    Final offering of Theatre Company season: Rock musical 'The 12'

    THE 12:
    Cast list

    Written by Robert Schenkkan and Neil Berg
    Director: Richard Seyd

    Terence Archie (John)
    Mike Backes (Swing)
    Jeannette Bayardelle (Mother Mary)
    Anthony Fedorov (Andrew)
    Colby Foytik (Jimmy)
    Colin Hanlon (Pete)
    Jordan Leigh (Matt)
    Andrew Mayer (Bart)
    Christina Sajous (Mary Magdalene)
    Maximilian Sangerman (Thad)
    Heath Saunders (Swing)
    Jordan Barbour (James)
    Brad Standley (Phil)
    Gregory Treco (Simon)
    Tony Vincent (Tom)
    Erin Willis (Swing)

    Choreographer: Connor Gallagher
    Music Director: Michael Mancini
    Music Supervisor: Wendy Bobbitt Cavett
    Scenic Designer: John Iacovelli
    Costume Designer: Denitsa Bliznakova
    Lighting Designer: Lap Chi Chu
    Sound Designer: Zach WilliamsonDirector: Richard Seyd
    Choreographer: Connor Gallagher
    Music Director: Michael Mancini
    Music Supervisor: Wendy Bobbitt Cavett
    Scenic Designer: John Iacovelli
    Costume Designer: Denitsa Bliznakova
    Lighting Designer: Lap Chi Chu
    Sound Designer: Zach Williamson

    The 12. Photo by John Moore.

    The cast of 'The 12' at the first read-through, above and below. Photo by John Moore.

    'The 12' rehearsal. Photo by John Moore.
  • Video: Last call for 'Forbidden Broadway' in Denver

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2015
    Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

    William Selby. Photo by John Moore. In the video above, William Selby, director of Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!, talks about how the popular franchise, now in its 32nd year, is all-new for Denver.

    This comic roast of Broadway has just two weeks left in its return run to Denver with a fresh view of the highs and lows of recent Broadway shows. It features outrageous costumes, comic rewrites of classic showtunes old and new, and dead-on impressions by a stellar, all-Colorado cast of Lauren Shealy, Sarah Rex, Jordan Leigh and Chad T. Reagan. "You talk about Colorado Pride: I am super-proud of this group. One of the best I have ever worked with," said Selby, who has directed 18 iterations of Forbidden Broadway. The Musical Director is Denver's Martha Yordy.

    There show plays only through March 1 at the Garner Galleria Theatre. Appropriate for children 8+. 303-893-4100 or go to the DCPA's web page.

    Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!: Ticket information
    Performances run through March 1
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission
    Performances daily except for Monday
    Tickets: Start at $25
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    Our previous coverage of Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!
    Go to the show page
    Video: Jordan Leigh's fresh take on Adam Sandler's 'Hanukkah Song'
    Opening Night performance coverage
    Jennifer Schmitz is an unsung hero of Forbidden Broadway
    Download the program
    Meet the homegrown cast of Forbidden Broadway

    Photos by Terry Shapiro for the DCPA.
  • Video: Fun highlights from the DCPA's Holiday Box Office

    by John Moore | Dec 13, 2014

    Here are performance highlights from the first weeks of the DCPA’s new Holiday Box Office, an innovative, interactive storefront in Cherry Creek North that offers holiday shoppers musical numbers; actor interviews; a behind-the scenes look at one of the leading arts centers in the nation; and plenty of activities for kids, including origami, storytelling, a stage to play on, props to play with and costumes to try on.

    It's all a fun respite from the hubbub of shopping. And there are no fees on any tickets or gift certificates purchased at the store through Dec. 23.

    Featured guests in this video include cast members from Forbidden Broadway (Katie Drinkard, Jordan Leigh, Sarah Rex and Lauren Shealy); Jersey Boys (Shaun Taylor-Corbett and Nicolas Dromard); How The Grinch Stole Christmas (The Grinch); A Christmas Carol (Elias Harger); and Off-Center @The Jones' Perception (Tom Hagerman). Also: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, DCPA Director of Marketing and Media Jeff Hovorka; and Visit Denver's Richard Scharf. Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

    For ticket information, call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org.


    DCPA Holiday Box Office: At a glance

    Our previous coverage from the Holiday Box Office:
    Here's our news story announcing the store opening
    Mayor, Grinch, help DCPA launch new storefront
    Video: Watch Jordan Leigh's fresh take on Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song in full
    Video: Interview with Shaun Taylor-Corbett of Jersey Boys

    Holiday_Box_Office_800_JerseyThe cast of Jersey Boys greets a fan at the DCPA's Holiday Box Office. 

    Let's play!

  • Video: Jordan Leigh's fresh take on Adam Sandler's 'Hanukkah Song'

    by John Moore | Dec 09, 2014

    Actor Jordan Leigh, now appearing in DCPA Cabaret's Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking! at the Garner Galleria Theatre through March 1, debuted his new take on Adam Sandler's cult-comedy fave Hanukkah Song when the cast appeared at the DCPA's Holiday Box Office storefront to sing seasonal songs for patrons and passersby.

    Calling his version of the song Jew.0, Leigh updates Sandler's list of more recently famous Jewish pop-culture stars. That includes Seth Rogen, Daniel Day-Lewis and Jonah Hill. But Peyton Manning, Jewish Broncos fans? Um ... Sorry, that's a no, Leigh sings.

    The DCPA Holiday Store is open in Cherry Creek North Fridays through Sundays (plus Dec. 22-23) through Dec. 23 at 2771 E. 1st. Ave. It's a place where shoppers can be entertained by singers and storytellers, do activities, get an inside look at costumes and sets, and purchase tickets or gift certificates (with all fees waived). 

    Forbidden Broadway is a comic roast of Broadway shows including "Pippin," "Kinky Boots" and "The Book of Mormon." The show features outrageous costumes, rewrites of popular showtunes. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.DenverCenter.Org.

    Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!: Ticket information
    Created by Gerard Alessandrini
    Playing through March 1
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission
    Tickets: Start at $25
    Age recommendation: Appropriate for children 8+
    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or DenverCenter.Org

    Our previous coverage of Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!
    Meet the homegrown cast of Forbidden Broadway
    Photos: Denver opening of 'Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking'
    Our Flickr gallery of downloadable Opening Night photos

    Jordan Leigh in "Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking." Photo by Terry Shapiro.

    Jordan_Leigh_Forbidden_Broadway_Hanukkah_Song_800_2Jordan Leigh performs his own "Hanukkuah Song" at the DCPA Holiday Box Office storefront in Cherry Creek North. Video above. Photo by Emily Lozow.

  • Photos: Denver opening of 'Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking'

    by John Moore | Nov 23, 2014
    The cast and crew of the DCPA's world premiere of 'Forever Broadway" Alive and Kicking' gathered at LImelight for a post-show celebration. Photo by John Moore.

    Here are photos from Friday's opening performance of the brand new Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!, which plays at the Garner Galleria Theatre through March 1. To see our complete gallery of downloadable Opening Night photos, click here

    Forbidden Broadway is a comic roast of Broadway that has picked up nine Drama Desk Awards, a special Tony Award, an Obie, a Lucille Lortel and Drama League Award. This New York sensation returns to Denver with an all-new, fresh view of the highs and lows of recent Broadway shows. It pays special attention to shows that Denver audiences have recently seen: Pippin, Kinky Boots and The Book of Mormon.

    The show features outrageous costumes, rewrites of popular showtunes  and celebrity impressions by an all-Denver cast of Lauren Shealy, Sarah Rex, Jordan Leigh and Chad T. Reagan. The director is Bill Selby, who also celebrated his birthday on Opening Night. The musical director is Martha Yordy. 

    Photos by John Moore. To see our complete gallery of downloadable Opening Night photos, click here

    Opening night was also Director Bill Selby's birthday. Photo by John Moore.

    A scene from the show: Here are Jordan Leigh and Chad T. Reagan sending up 'The Book of Mormon.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.

    More photos:
    To see our complete gallery of downloadable Opening Night photos, click here

    Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!: Ticket information
    Created by Gerard Alessandrini
    November 15 through March 1
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission
    Tickets: Start at $25
    Age recommendation: Appropriate for children 8+

    Our previous coverage of Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!
    Meet the homegrown cast of Forbidden Broadway

    Scenes from 'Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking.' Video by David Lenk.
  • Randy Weeks celebration draws 1,500 to recall a singular friend in story and song

    by John Moore | Nov 05, 2014

    A month before Randy Weeks died in a London hotel room, he mailed his godson a random greeting card that said: “Life is not measured by how many breaths we take, but in the number of moments that take our breath away.”

    That was but one of many poignant remembrances peppered between showstopping musical numbers at a bittersweet public celebration on Monday afternoon for the President of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, who died in his sleep Oct. 9 while attending a conference of theatre presenters. He was 59.

    It was delivered from the Buell Theatre stage by Jimmy Calano, who was Weeks’ pledge son 40 years ago at the Kappa Sigma fraternity at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Later, Calano asked Weeks to be the godfather to his own son.

    “Although Randy was cheated out of his fair share of breaths, he took our breath away by the power of his friendship, by the way he made us feel special, and by how he flat-out took care of us,” Calano told a crowd that was estimated at 1,500 by the city of Denver.

    Video: Cast members from 'Kinky Boots' sing 'Give My Regards to Broadway' to honor the late Randy Weeks. To see our entire downloadable photo gallery from the Randy Weeks celebration, click here.

    Attendees included family and friends; DCPA employees past and present; theatre audiences; more than 100 fraternity brothers; and members of the local and national theatre communities including theatre owners, producers, presenters, booking agents, press agents and representatives from both The Broadway League and the Independent Presenters Network.

    Dean Singleton, chairman of The Denver Post and a member of the DCPA’s Board of Trustees, said, “We have lost one of the greatest minds in theatre. Not only did Randy bring Broadway to Denver, but he made Denver the first stop for some of the greatest productions leaving New York. Randy had the unique ability to convince people that Denver was the right place for a first stop -- and he delivered.”

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_Quote_2

    In his 23 years as the Executive Director of the DCPA’s Broadway division, Weeks presented more than 400 shows that served 11.6 million patrons. In his tenure, Denver hosted the launches of 10 national touring productions, including The Lion King, The Book of Mormon and, most recently, Pippin. Representatives from those shows and more flew to Denver to attend Monday’s classy send-off. The program culminated with University of Northern Colorado freshman Abby Noble singing “One (Singular Sensation)” from A Chorus Line alongside nearly 30 members of the Denver School of the Arts’ recent production of Hairspray.

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_1

    Abby Noble of Grandview High School and the University of Northern Colorado, right, performing with students from Denver School of the Arts. Photo by John Moore. To see more photos, click here.

    In May, Noble was named Outstanding Actress in a Musical at the Bobby G Awards, which honor achievements in Colorado high school theatre. The program was spearheaded by Weeks in 2012 and quickly became his greatest professional joy. He also served on the Friends Foundation at Denver School of the Arts.

    Two of Monday’s performers were DSA students Jimmy Bruenger and Madison Kitchen, who fell in love with Broadway musicals by watching productions that Weeks brought to the Buell Theatre stage. Monday’s celebration afforded both the opportunity to perform on that same stage for the first time. Even in death, Bruenger said, Weeks was making dreams come true.

    “When I found out we were being asked to perform here, I started hyperventilating,” Kitchen added. “Both of us saw Kinky Boots here just last night. And so to be on that stage for the first time today? It’s incredible.”

    Video: Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actress Abby Noble sings "One" with students from Denver School of the Arts.

    The Pippin tour has recently bestowed upon Weeks what is believed to be an unprecedented honor: The entire tour has been dedicated to Weeks, who will now be acknowledged in programs in every city Pippin visits. The idea was suggested by Kathleen O’Brien, Weeks’ counterpart with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

    “This has been the best tour-opening experience in my 27 years out on the road, and Randy is the reason,” said Pippin national press rep Anita Dloniak, citing the camaraderie and professionalism he inspired in his staff. “And he throws the best parties,” she added. Honoring Weeks, she said, was one way for the Pippin family to grapple and cope with their grief over his sudden death. 

    “He is just a wonderful force to be reckoned with,” Dloniak said. “A giant ... but a gentle giant.”

    Nancy Gibbs attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver and has since produced many major theatricals including Wicked; I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (the longest-running show in Denver theatre history); Traces; Next to Normal, and Peter and the Starcatcher, which launched its first national tour in Denver in August.

    “Randy was a leader,” Gibbs said. “Once he stepped up to the plate, he knocked it out of the ballpark.”

    David Turner, General Manager for The Book of Mormon, said it was Weeks who convinced producers that Denver was the only place for that tour to launch.

    “Randy was the one who knew that the writers (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) were from here, and he really wanted us to make that connection,” Turner said.

    The Book of Mormon launch in Denver sold all 51,000 available tickets in less than five hours. Turner called that an “extremely important” validation of the show.

    “For everybody who wasn’t sure how The Book of Mormon would be received outside of New York, that was an incredible vote of confidence,” Turner said. 

    Weeks was respected by his colleagues for his uncanny ability not only to maximize blockbuster, popular fare, but to predict the next big thing. One of the most poignant moments in Monday’s celebration came when seven members of the 2013 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Kinky Boots took the stage to sing “Give My Regards to Broadway” in Weeks’ honor. The show is currently playing in Denver through Sunday (Nov. 9).

    “During a very early preview performance of Kinky Boots, Randy ran up to me at the intermission and said, ‘Promise me this show will play Denver,’ ” said Kinky Boots’ Hal Luftig. “To a producer with a show still in previews, that meant the world to me. And now, here we are in Denver, playing to packed houses every night.”

    Weeks also was credited for his willingness to take risks both large and small. Weeks could have responsibly passed on important, challenging musicals with questionable commercial road potential, like Next to Normal (about a mother’s suicidal depression) and Spring Awakening (about 1890s German teens experiencing puberty in the complete absence of information). But when Weeks came across shows that had the potential to change audiences’ lives, he felt a deep obligation to schedule them.

    “He was so clearly willing to take risks here,” said The Book of Mormon’s Turner, “and over time, he developed an audience that was willing to take risks with him. That combination is very rare.”

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_2
    Actor Shannan Steele and director Ray Roderick banter with an aptly dressed Randy Weeks stand-in at Monday's celebration. Photo by John Moore. To see more photos, click here. 


    Added Ray Roderick, who directed large world premieres like I Love a Piano in the Auditorium Theatre and small cabaret shows in the Garner Galleria: “Randy saw the Denver community as one that was going to embrace good work no matter what it was. Denver is a very big demographic, and a very smart demographic, and Randy managed to please a lot of different kinds of people.”

    Weeks was remembered on Monday for far more than just his many professional successes. He was remembered as an uncommonly compassionate friend … and a most decidedly uncommon dresser.

    Weeks was known for wearing argyle sweaters and golfing pants adorned with animal prints only Rodney Dangerfield could love. The sweaters were a tribute to his late mentor, Robert Garner. “But the pants were all Randy,” said his longtime assistant, Claudia Carson, who directed the musical portion of Monday's celebration. Family members confessed that Weeks left seven pair of Brooks Brothers animal-print pants behind in his closet at home.

    “We’re going to miss Randy because he was always there with outstretched arms and a sweater that looked like something out of 1962 Paris Vogue,” joked Kris Andersson, otherwise known as Dixie Longate, whose Dixie’s Tupperware Party has played in the Garner Galleria Theatre four times. “It was so vogue that you probably wouldn’t want to dress that way. You’d look at it and go, ‘Really?’ But Randy owned it.”

    Andersson’s longtime manager Michele Helberg credited Weeks for “reinvigorating the Dixie brand” five years ago when he first brought the Tupperware Party to Denver. And Andersson credited Weeks for green-lighting last summer’s mouthful of a sequel, Dixie’s Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday.

    “He used his influence with other people in the industry to take a new artist and a new piece of work and move it forward further than if we had to do it on our own,” Helberg said. “If it hadn’t been for Randy and his Denver Center family, I don’t think we would be where we are right now.”

    "Randy used to say, 'It’s all about the fun,' ” Andersson added. “We get to have fun every day of our lives, and a really big part of that is because Randy looked at our show and said yes. And then, when the opportunity came along to do the new show, Randy put tickets on sale before I had even written it. He had that much faith in me.”

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_3

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_Quote_1

    Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein are two other performers whose lives were forever changed when Weeks decided to move their two-woman sleepover Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women from the Avenue Theatre to the DCPA.

    And here’s the thing: “He picked up our show without ever even seeing it,” Klein said. In those days, the title was truth in advertising: No men allowed.

    “He had heard about it, and he knew that women loved it, and so he just said, ‘Why aren’t we doing this?’ ” Klein said.  

     That came as no surprise to Ekeberg, Weeks' protege and successor.

     “Randy led with his heart, and he put his heart into everything,” Ekeberg said.

    Girls Only played at the Garner Galleria Theatre for two years and has now been seen by 250,0000 women … and a few men. “That’s not something Linda and I could have done on our own,” Gehring said.

    Girls Only is currently playing in Rochester, N.Y., but the Denver-based duo came home for Monday’s celebration.  “We had to,” said Klein. “We needed to grieve with our friends.”

    DCPA Chairman Daniel Ritchie welcomed Monday’s crowd, and the master of Ceremonies was CBS-4 Critic-At-Large Greg Moody. Speakers included all three of Weeks’ siblings -- Pam Weeks, Joel Weeks and Stephanie Gamble. Others included Al Nocciolino, representing the Broadway League and the Independent Presenters Network. He was with Weeks at the London conference. He told Monday’s crowd that Weeks spent his final day shopping, and bought a deck of cards adorned with vintage fighter planes for his history-buff dad. That night, Weeks attended a performance of the controversial new play King Charles III in London's West End. Afterward, Nocciolino said, “Randy was holding court and telling everyone he had just seen the best performance he had ever seen.” 

    Video: "I Love a Piano" performed by Shannan Steele, Lauren Shealy, Randy St. Pierre, Michael Gold, Sarah Rex and Jordan Leigh.

    The musical program included performers from some of Weeks’ favorite shows, including I Love a Piano and Forever Plaid. The first show Weeks ever presented in the Garner Galleria Theatre was Forever Plaid, and on closing night in 1992, cast members sang “Old Cape Cod” as a gift to him in honor of his New Hampshire roots. Michael Gold, Drew Frady, Randy St. Pierre and Scott Rathbun sang the song at Monday’s celebration.

    Shannan Steele credited Weeks for hiring local actors, citing the upcoming opening of Forbidden Broadway in the Garner Galleria Theatre, which has an all-local ensemble.

     “I think most of my career wouldn’t exist without his efforts and his vision for the local community,” Steele said. “If you ever got to work under Randy, it was always a huge employment opportunity – and a huge artistic opportunity.”

    Gold, who performed in Roderick’s I Love a Piano, has known Weeks since he joined the DCPA box-office team as a college student in 1978. “I remember seeing him run credit cards over carbon paper; it was that long ago,” Gold said.

    When Joel Weeks took to the podium at the Buell, he referenced Weeks’ eulogy to his mentor, Robert Garner. “In it, he said, ‘How can you know someone for such a long time and never fully comprehend how much they have become a part of your life?’ ” Joel Weeks said.

    “My journey will be an amazing one if I can just try to emulate a fraction of what my brother was.” 

    Ekeberg, the final speaker, said his boss’ true strength lay in one-on-one relationships. “He made you feel special; he made you feel heard, and he made you feel important,” Ekeberg said. To honor that spirit, he urged the crowd to heed the message of Pippin:

    “Find the simple joys,” Ekeberg said.

    Our coverage of the death of Randy Weeks:
    DCPA president Randy Weeks dies at London conference
    Video: Randy Weeks honored with dimmed lights, moments of silence
    Randy Weeks photo gallery
    DCPA to celebrate Randy Weeks' life on Nov. 3
    A look back at Randy Weeks' 'It Gets Better' video
    'Pippin' dedicates entire tour to Randy Weeks

    Video: Randy St. Pierre, Michael Gold, Drew Frady and Scott Rathbun sing 'Old Cape Cod.'


    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_3

    Randy _Weeks_Celebration_800_4


    Memorial Contributions
    Memorial gifts can be made to The Randy Weeks Memorial Fund for the Bobby G Awards, which supports the advancement of musical theatre for Colorado high school students. Please make checks payable to Denver Center for the Performing Arts and mail to: DCPA Development Office, 1101 13th Street, Denver, CO 80204.

  • Meet the homegrown cast of 'Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking!'

    by John Moore | Oct 01, 2014


    "Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking," a comic roast of Broadway, returns to the Garner Galleria Theatre on Nov. 15.  From left: Joshua Archer, Chad Reagan, Sarah Rex, Jordan Leigh and Lauren Shealy. Not pictured: Katie Drinkard. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA. To see our full, downloadable photo gallery with the cast of "Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!," click here.

    Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!
    skewers all things musical theatre, but you don’t have to be a Big Apple insider to enjoy it.

    “The writers seem to have figured out a way to make it work for rabid musical theatre fans and more casual fans alike,” said actor Jordan Leigh, who is part of an all-local ensemble who put the Denver in the Forbidden Broadway.

    This returning favorite has since 1981 offered an always fresh and always changing comic parody of recent Broadway shows and tried-and-true classics. The evening features outrageous costumes, hilarious rewrites of songs you already know well, and dead-on impressions of actors and characters who have become part of the pop-culture landscape.

    What shows will the writers take on specifically for Denver?

    That’s “forbidden” information, but it’s a good bet the cast will have some comedy “magic to do” regarding Pippin, which recently launched its first national tour at the Buell Theatre, as well as Kinky Boots, Matilda and The Book of Mormon. Every show in every city is different, but some of the Broadway classics that often pop up for parody include My Fair Lady, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King.

    Adding to the familiarity for Denver audiences will be a cast of performers who all call Denver home. Leigh was part of the longest-running show in Denver theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which ran for four years at the Garner Galleria Theatre. He’s also been seen at the DCPA in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Five-Course Love and The Taming of the Shrew.

    His castmates will include Lauren Shealy (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change; A Christmas Carol), Sarah Rex (Five Course Love) and noted opera baritone Chad Reagan. Their understudies are Joshua Archer, a University of Northern Colorado senior who just completed a busy summer with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and Highlands Ranch native Katie Drinkard.

    Leigh calls Forbidden Broadway a win-win for the local theatre community – and the audience.

    “I feel lucky to have the opportunity to be working at the highest level that Denver has to offer, and to share the stage with incredible talent,” Leigh said. “Plus, I think audiences like seeing actors they know.”

    See our full photo gallery:

    To see our full, downloadable photo gallery with the cast of "Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!," click here. All photos by John Moore.

    Meet the cast:


    Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_JordanJordan Leigh

    Hometown: Born in Denver, raised in Southern Cal … Broncos fan forever! (South Park premiered the year I returned to my Colorado birthplace and the Broncos won their first Super Bowl. Coincidence? I think not.)

    High School: Palm Springs

    College: UCLA, majoring in Theatre

    First Broadway musical you saw: Cats in 1985

    First musical you were in: Alice In Wonderland. I played the White Rabbit.

    Favorite charity: Anything having to do with helping animals!

    One thing you are forbidden from doing:  I'm a vegetarian, so I forbid myself from eating meat.

    One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: Well, not to avoid the question or anything, but I think the creators of Forbidden Broadway kind of have their finger on that pulse.  So I will say … all the musicals we satirize in our show! (And anything Disney).

    Name your own cologne, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
    I'm a natural-scent, animal-welfare kind of guy, so mine would be called: Eau de Forbidden Testing On Animals In Order To Cover Up Your Sickly Sweet Human Musk.

    Forbidden_Broadway_Poppins_Lauren_ShealyLauren Shealy

    Hometown: Centennial

    High School: Arapahoe

    College: Metropolitan State, majoring in Secondary English Licensure; BFA in Drama from NYU

    First Broadway musical you saw: The national touring production of The Secret Garden at the Buell Theater in 1993.

    First musical you were in: Santa Says No. I played Mrs. Claus.

    Favorite charity: The Girl Rising Fund, which aims to remove barriers to education faced by many girls in developing nations.

    One thing you are forbidden from doing: When I was a little girl, my parents forbade gum. My father was afraid my sisters and I would “aspirate” the treat.

    One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: Floyd Collins. I don't know if many people know this musical. The story draws directly from the entrapment and subsequent death of a miner inside a cave in 1925. The musical is absolutely genius, but the super-serious subject matter, Kentucky dialect and Adam Guettel's distinct musical style could provide the raw material for a great parody.

    Name your own perfume, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
    Forbidden Donut

    Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_RexSarah Rex

    Hometown: North Reading, Mass.

    High School: North Reading

    College: Oral Roberts University, majoring in Music Education

    First Broadway musical you saw: Yul Brynner in the national touring production of The King and I in Boston. I can’t tell you what year it was. ... I just can’t.

    First musical you were in: Lil Abner in ninth grade. I was one of the scientists.

    Favorite charity: Susan G. Komen for the Cure, raising money to fight breast cancer.

    One thing you are forbidden from doing: Going near snake pits. I have a strange phobia of snakes.

    One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: Fifty Shades the Musical. I say, "Let's spoof the spoof!"

    Name your own perfume, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
    Forbidden Stank ... "You will stank no more with a spritz of Forbidden Stank. The odor of true love!"

    Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_ReaganChad Reagan

    Hometown: I am a third-generation Denverite, and fifth-generation Coloradan

    High School: Sheridan

    College: University of Northern Colorado majoring in Voice with a minor in Economics

    Graduate school at DU in Opera Performance.  

    First Broadway musical you saw: The national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera at the Denver Center in 1997

    First musical you were in: I was in Bye Bye, Birdie as member of the ensemble. The first actual role I had was as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls.  

    Favorite charity: I have always been a big supporter of Merkins for Hope. (Sorry, I couldn't resist a 30 Rock reference). … But actually, I have always tried to support the March of Dimes whenever possible.

    One thing you are forbidden from doing: Speaking to my wife in a German accent for more than five minutes in a day. ... Or in any accent, for that matter.  

    One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: It has to be Rocky. I mean, did you see the Tony Awards?!

    Name your own cologne, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
    This really funny, because in college I actually joked with my friends about my own line of cologne that nobody would actually want to buy under my "... by Chadwick" guise. Two of my favorites were Pittz and Hamper. I don't know either of those would sound following the word Forbidden: Forbidden PittzForbidden Hamper. Sketchy. But they sound hilarious when you whisper the words “by Chadwick” after you say them. Try it: Forbidden Pittzby Chadwick. Forbidden Hamper … by Chadwick. See what I mean? But I guess in semi-seriousness I would say Forbidden Opulence, because, well ... why not? I think it is good for people to know that I have a (not-so) secret desire to be an early era Hip-Hop artist, and that I know Rapper's Delight by heart.

    Forbidden_Broadway_Casting_ArcherJoshua Archer

    Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

    High School: Lady Bird Johnson

    College: Finishing up my senior year at the University of Northern Colorado, majoring in Musical Theatre

    First Broadway musical you saw: Once' in the summer of 2012

    First musical you were in: As a high-school freshman, I auditioned for West Side Story and I got the one Jet who doesn't have any lines. Correction: the only Jet with no lines. The character's name was Mouthpiece … and I'm not kidding.

    Favorite charity: Hope World Wide, I've worked them my entire life both in the U.S. and overseas. It is an incredible charity dedicated to ending the hardships of poverty around the world.

    One thing you are forbidden from doing: Nothing … so far!

    One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: The obvious answer is anything involving Mandy Patinkin. But I think Les Miserables, because even though it’s one of my all-time favorites, it also has got such high drama that it’s practically begging for us to make fun of it. 

    Name your own cologne, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
    Forbidden Chocolate. Oh, sorry that’s the forbidden snack I most want. I think I would call my cologne Forbidden Contact: It's got a dark, musky ... manly smell. I don't know. I think it would sell well though! 

    Forbidden_Broadway_Katie_Drinkard_300Katie Drinkard

    Hometown: Highlands Ranch

    High School: ThunderRidge

    College: Ithaca College Class of 2014, BFA Musical Theatre

    First Broadway musical you saw: Les Miserables in 2002

    First musical you were in: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I was in the chorus of children (rocking that colored T-shirt)

    Favorite charity: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

    One thing you are forbidden from doing:  I should be forbidden from going anywhere near a track-and-field hurdle course. My first track of meet of middle school, I attempted to compete in hurdles having never attempted the event before. It was truly a valiant and courageous effort, coupled with a lot of contact with the ground, and I don't think I will ever be the same.

    One musical that is rife for Forbidden Broadway satire: I can't think of one that fits the bill that hasn't already been Forbidden Broadway-ified. I think the shows that are most rife for satire are anything big budget or "epic" where mimicking the sheer enormity, scale, and drama of the production is inherently comical.

    Name your own perfume, starting with Forbidden (fill in the blank):
    OK, I will call it Forbidden Fantasy. ... I went for the alliteration. 

    Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!

    Created by Gerard Alessandrini
    November 15 through March 1
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission
    Tickets: Start at $25
    Age recommendation: Appropriate for children 8+


    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA. To see our full, downloadable photo gallery with the cast of "Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking!," click here.
  • Dickman's "Hanna Ranch" to make history at Denver Film Festival

    by John Moore | Nov 07, 2013

    “Hanna Ranch,” a poignant new documentary on the life and death of a beloved and bedeviled Colorado eco-rancher, will take its place in Starz Denver Film Festival history on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 9) when it is screened at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

    The thoughtful film by Denver’s Mitch Dickman will join “Bowling for Columbine” and “The Art of Conflict” as the only documentaries that have ever been designated as featured presentations in the 36-year history of the festival.

    “To get a slot at the Ellie is high praise for any film,” said Festival Director Britta Erickson. “ ‘Hanna Ranch’ deserves that platform. We think it is a real celebration of a Coloradan, and a Colorado way of life, and it fits in perfectly with what we are trying to do to champion our own Colorado filmmakers and Colorado stories.”



    Mitch Dickman at Wednesday's opening of the Starz Denver Film Festival. Photo by John Moore.


    Dickman, head of Listen Productions and husband of much-honored stage actress Karen Slack (now starring in Curious Theatre’s “Rancho Mirage”), said it was “incredibly special” to land a screening at the Ellie. “I am blown away, but confident that we have an audience that really wants to see this film,” he said.

    “Hanna Ranch” recounts the parallel tragedies of both an unsustainable life, and an unsustainable way of life.

    Hanna Ranch is a 4,200-acre ranch located 17 miles south of Colorado Springs along Fountain Creek. The documentary recounts three generations of Hannas but focuses on Kirk, a colorful, charismatic and complex visionary some felt was destined to become a Colorado senator before his grisly suicide in 1998.

    The Hanna story is filled with scandal and bitter family feuds, the largest of which stemmed from Kirk’s radical decision to try running Hanna Ranch in an environmentally conscious manner. That made him an unlikely hero to naturalists. But with the ranch facing significant external threats from encroaching tract housing, roadways, oil-drillers, racetracks and land erosion, Kirk’s principled attempt to keep the family property intact nearly tore the family apart.

    The man once hailed as the great unifier between local cattlemen and environmentalists grew despondent by his inability to bring his own family together. After fending off external incursions of all types, the charismatic cowboy could not ultimately fend off the incursion of demons in his own head.

    Dickman originally intended to create a narrative film hat would be inspired by Hanna’s life. But after interviewing family members, he knew the story had to chronicle Hanna’s exact story, and in the process pay visual homage to rural America itself. Dickman was so moved by Hanna’s legacy that he employed ecologically friendly in every facet of the production process, from employing renewable energy sources and hybrid production vehicles to filming with all-natural light.

    “Kirk Hanna was someone I respected so much, even though I never knew him,” Dickman said. “He was the embodiment of the motto, ‘Think globally; act locally.’ He had so much going for him, and I struggle with how he could do something like that to himself. I wish he were here. I wish I never had to make this film.”


    The lonely road to Kirk Hanna's suicide. Photo taken from "Hanna Ranch," courtesy Listen Productions. 


    “Hanna Ranch,” which has a second festival screening on Nov. 13, is one of a record 33 local films to be screened at this year’s festival, a total Erickson calls astonishing. One of them, “American Mustang,” is believed to be the first 3D film ever made by a Colorado filmmaking team.

    “Colorado's filmmaking scene continues to grow at an unprecedented pace,” Erickson said.

    She and Dickman both believe Colorado has had a talented filmmaking community for years, but until recently, the state has lacked competitive incentives to make it a viable industry here again. That has started to change since the appointment of Donald Zuckerman as Colorado Film Commissioner in 2011, and tide-turning legislation that was passed by the General Assembly in May 2012. The Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media now offers a 20 percent cash rebate for production costs taking place in the state. Dickman qualified for $17,000 to help complete “Hanna Ranch.”
    “Between the the state and the Starz Denver Film Festival and Donald Zuckerman and the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media, there is a lot of collective energy right now working toward a better community,” Dickman said.

    Erickson noted that part of that renewed energy in Colorado stems from local filmmakers like Daniel Junge choosing to stay living here in the state, even after winning Academy Awards (“Saving Face”). “Even when he goes off to shoot his documentaries in Pakistan, he is still coming home to Denver when he is done,” Erickson said.

    The incentive program covers feature films, TV pilots, television series (broadcast and cable), television commercials, music videos, industrials, documentaries, video game design and creation, and other forms of content creation.

    “Hanna Ranch” screening information
    3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House
    2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Sie FilmCenter
    Running time: 73 minutes
    Director: Mitch Dickman
    Producer: Karl Kister, Eric Schlosser
    Editor: Zachary Armstrong, Davis Coombe
    Cinematographer: Zachary Armstrong  
    Music: Denver band Wentworth Kersey

    The entire Starz Denver Film Festival lineup can be found online here, but here are a few more offerings with connections to the Colorado theater community (descriptions provided by the Starz Denver Film Festival):

    The Denver Actor Project:
    Brought to life by producer, writer, and director Brad Stabio, the Denver Actor Project showcases the talents of local actors as they perform a variety of monologues from films and plays juxtaposed with scenes of their own creation. Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, find six of these works scattered throughout the festival screening in front of these films:
    •    Jordan Leigh - screening prior to “A Field in England”
    •    Tracy Shaffer - screening prior to “The Truth About Emanuel”
    •    Chris Grundy - screening prior to “Cold Turkey”
    •    Paul Page - screening prior to “In the Name Of”
    •    Amie MacKenzie - screening prior to “Northwest”
    •    Jeff Kosloski - screening prior to “The Resurrection of a Bastard”

    “The One Who Loves You”

    Gloria, a mediocre singer with hopeless optimism, finds herself back in her small South Carolina hometown after trying to hit it big in New York City. She is received with mixed reactions—contempt from her sister for having delusions of grandeur, awe from townspeople for her has-been days. It soon becomes painfully clear that after someone leaves home to go out into the world, they change drastically, while back home, things are stagnant. You can never be on the same page again. Gloria meets Roy, who bounces from woman to woman. Roy tells Gloria he used to manage a popular country star and persuades her to give her career another shot. When he disappears, Gloria heads to Nashville to find him. Disappointment naturally follows, but rather than return home, Gloria finds new strength and thrives in a time when others would throw in the towel. Produced, directed by and starring Katharyn Grant, who most recently appeared in the Germinal Stage-Denver’s “Offending the Audience.” Casting by former Denverite Cathy Reinking.

    The cast of "The One Who Loves You" also includes Rhonda Brown, Megan Heffernan, James O'Hagan-Murphy, Deb Persoff, donnie l. betts, Judy Phelan-Hill, Candy Brown, Laura Norman, Tyee Tilghman, Martha Harmon Pardee and Jordan Leigh.


    4:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11
    9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12

    More information

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.

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