Bonus photos: My night at Buntport Theater’s ‘Wake’

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By John Moore
Jan. 31, 2013

Here are some bonus images from my night visiting the cast of Buntport Theater’s ambitious original play, “Wake.” It’s a Beckett-like reimagining of “The Tempest,” in which the storm and subsequent shipwreck that drive Shakespeare’s love story never come. Featuring Erik Edborg, Erin Rollman, Brian Colonna and Adam Stone, with off-stage contributions from SaManTha Schmitz, Hannah Duggan and Evan Weissman. Through Feb. 23 at 717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or www.Buntport.Com. All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org.Thanks SamAnTha Schmitz and Hannah Duggan.

To see the full, official 2013 photo series bringing you one intimate, iconic snapshots from more than a dozen Colorado opening nights (so far), click here.

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Erin Rollman: The actor prepares. 

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Brian Colonna: The actor prepares.

 

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Musical director Adam Stone, who also plays Ariel, plays a nonstop sort of improvisational classic music on the piano from the moment the house is opened until the play begins, about 40 minutes.

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Bonus photos: My night at Longmont Theatre Company’s ‘Over the Tavern’

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From left: Beau Wilcox, Marian Bennett and Peter Cabrera after the opening curtain call.

 

By John Moore
Jan. 30, 2013

Here are some bonus images from my night visiting the cast of the Longmont Theatre Company’s “Over the Tavern,” a bittersweet family story about growing up poor and Catholic in 1959 Buffalo. Featuring Peter Cabrera, Marian Bennett, Krystal Jakosky, Greg Winkler, Beau Wilcox, Montana Lewis and Ben Neufeld. Through Feb. 9 at 513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or www.longmonttheatre.org. All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks Tracy Cravens, Dalin Forschler, Judy Ernst, Chris Porter and Jim Grimsley.

To see the full 2013 photo series bringing you one intimate, iconic snapshots from more than a dozen Colorado opening nights (so far), click here.

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Video: The Skype Sessions: Constantine Maroulis of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’

By John Moore
Jan. 28, 2013

www.CultureWest.Org introduces our newest video innovation: Live on Skype. Episode 2: Constantine Maroulis talks from Tulsa on his way to Denver to star in the national touring production of “Jekyll and Hyde” with Deborah Cox from Jan. 29-Feb. 10 at the Buell Theatre. Run time: 7 minutes. Thanks: Heidi Bosk.

Ticket information: 303-893-4100, www.DenverCenter.Org

Arvada-bound Philip Sneed: The entrance/exit interview

The Arvads Center's new top two -- artistic director Rod Lansberry and executive director Philip Sneed, at Tuesday's opening-night performance of "Blithe Spirit." Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org

The Arvada Center’s top two — new executive director Philip Sneed, right, and continuing artistic director Rod Lansberry, at Tuesday’s opening-night performance of “Blithe Spirit.” Sneed doesn’t see the Arvada Center’s theater division to be in much need for change. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org

 

By John Moore
Jan. 27, 2013

Philip Sneed loves the symmetry of it all: His first two professional jobs were with the Arvada Center and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Fast-forward more than 30 years, and now his two most recent jobs are with the Arvada Center and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Although his professional career as an actor began at the Arvada Center, Sneed didn’t get cast in the first production there in 1976 — it was for the musical “Anything Goes” — because, he says, “I couldn’t tap dance.” Ironic, given that Sneed’s ability to tap dance Colorado Shakes through the six worst economic years in the nation since the Great Depression helped him land the job as executive director of the Arvada Center, which he officially assumes this coming week.

In a wide-ranging interview, the now former producing artistic director of the 55-year-old Colorado Shakespeare Festival offered up his opinions on a wide range of topics, from the precarious future of Shakespeare festivals as an entertainment industry, to why he pulled Colorado Shakes out of future consideration for Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Awards, to what kind of changes may (or may not) be in store for the Arvada Center. He also recalls his first unflattering review as an actor in The Denver Post. (Side note: I didn’t write it!)

Sneed, a graduate of Golden High School, performed for three seasons with Colorado Shakes in the late 1970s as a student at the University of Colorado. He returned in 2006 as boss of both the business and artistic divisions. His timing could not have been worse. As the world economy tanked, the festival lost nearly $1 million between 2007 and ’09. By 2010, Colorado Shakes was breaking even again, but Sneed admits the future sustainability of Shakespeare festivals as an industry factored into his decision to leave.

The numbers, both locally and nationally, are bleak for the festival industry: At its height, in 1994, Colorado Shakes drew 36,222. Last summer, it drew 21,703 in Sneed’s final season, a decline of 40 percent over nearly two decades.

The Arvada Center represents a significantly larger financial and artistic challenge for Sneed, including, as it does, all the major arts forms. Sneed goes from running Colorado Shakes with an annual operating budget of $1.3 million to helming a budget of $10.8 million at the Arvada Center, of which the theater division represents $5-6 million alone. Sneed talks about that and much more in the following exclusive conversation that serves as both his exit — and entrance — interview. True to form, Sneed didn’t shy away from any questions, including tough ones like, “As you walk away from Colorado Shakes, what would you say to those people who might be glad to see you go?”

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Philip Sneed says he was not looking for a new job. "If it hadn’t worked out (at the Arvada Center," he said, "I would have kept up the good fight at CSF." Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

Philip Sneed says he was not looking for a new job. “If it hadn’t worked out (at the Arvada Center),” he said, “I would have kept up the good fight at CSF.” Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

John Moore: I don’t think many people know that your move to the Arvada Center is also a return to your roots.

Philip Sneed: Yes, we moved here to Colorado from South Carolina in November of 1971. I was 13. My parents liked Arvada, and they decided to get an apartment on a short-term lease while they looked for a house. It was a brand new, three-story brick apartment building near the corner of 68th and Wadsworth, across the street from the property that became the Arvada Center five years later, in 1976. That apartment building is still there. So every day when I go to work at the Arvada Center, I will be looking at the place where I first lived in Colorado 41 years ago. The following summer, in 1972, we found a house in Golden, so I went to Arvada Junior High School first, then to Golden High School, where I graduated in 1976. I knew I was going to the University of Colorado for a theater degree, but I started auditioning for the Arvada Center before they were even open. I didn’t get cast in the first play they ever did — it was “Anything Goes” — because I couldn’t tap-dance. But I got cast in the second play they ever did. It was in 1976, “The Contrast” by Royall Tyler. It is considered the first American play. It predates the Revolution, even. I got my first review in The Denver Post. They called me “a distracting element.”

Moore: Well, I hear they are tough.

Sneed: I still have that review. And I still have the paystub from my first paid gig as an actor. I was 17 years old.

Moore: Why do you keep that review?

Sneed: I keep all my reviews. Even all the bad things you said about me.

Moore: I can’t remember a thing. … So what did it mean for you to come back and become the producing artistic director at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 2006?

Sneed: It was a terrific opportunity to return to a place I loved, which is Boulder, in particular, and Colorado, in general. I first auditioned for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 1977, but did not get in. I later did three seasons there, so it was a chance to work with a company that had meant so much to me when I was a young actor. And it was a chance to get back to producing Shakespeare, which is something I was doing part-time in Lake Tahoe, California. It was just a great opportunity to come full circle. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the Arvada Center are the two places that gave me my start as an artist.

Moore: It feels like you were constantly confronting unexpected surprises, economic or otherwise. What was the biggest?

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Bonus photos: My night at the Denver Center’s “Grace, Or the Art of Climbing”

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By John Moore
Jan. 26, 2013

Here are some bonus images from my night visiting the cast of the Denver Center Theatre Company’s world-premiere staging of “Grace, or the Art of Climbing” on Jan. 24. In the story by Lauren Feldman, rock climbing serves as both metaphor and call-to-action for a reluctant young athlete named Emm. It stars Julie Jesneck with John Hutton, Christopher Kelly, Alejandro Rodriguez, Emily Kitchens, M. Scott McLean and Dee Pelletier. Directed by Mike Donahue. Through Feb. 17 at the Space Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the denver center’s home page. All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Kent Thompson, Paul Behrhorst, Stephen D. Mazzeno, Alexandra Griesmer, Brianna Firestone, Rachel Ducat, Bruce Sevy.

To see the official 2013 photo series bringing you one intimate, iconic snapshot from more than a dozen Colorado opening nights (so far), click here.

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Bonus photos: My night with the Arvada Center’s ‘Blithe Spirit’

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Actor Mark Rubald emerges from backstage following the opening performance of the Arvada Center’s “Blithe Spirit” on Jan. 22.

 

By John Moore
Jan. 24, 2013

Here are some bonus images from my night visiting the cast of the Arvada Center’s “Blithe Spirit,” the classic Noel Coward comedy playing  at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. The cast includes Leslie O’Carroll, Kate Berry, Steven Cole Hughes, Heather Lacy, Boni McIntyre, Mark Rubald and Alex Ryer. Directed by Rod Lansberry. Through Feb. 17. 720-898-7200 or www.ArvadaCenter.Org. All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Melanie Mayner, Rod Lansberry, Lisa Cook and Lisa Kurtz.

To see the official 2013 photo series bringing you one intimate, iconic snapshots from more than a dozen Colorado opening nights (so far), click here.

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From left: Leslie O’Carroll, Kate Berry, Heather Lacy and Steven Cole Hughes meet early to run lines in the studio theater lobby.

 

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Bonus photos: My night with Phamaly’s “The Foreigner”

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Director Edith Weiss, who had to miss the opening performance of Phamaly’s “The Foreigner” on Jan. 19 because of illness, texted her final words of encouragement to her cast via actor Jeremy Palmer’s cell phone. Photo by John Moore.

 

By John Moore
Jan. 20, 2013

Here are some bonus images from my night visiting the cast of the Phamaly Theatre Company’s “The Foreigner,” playing through Feb. 2 at the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. (303-739-1970); and Feb. 22-24 at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. (720-898-7200). Or go to www.Phamaly.Org. Photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Bryce Alexander, Gloria Shanstrom, Chris Silberman.

To see the official 2013 photo series bringing you one intimate, iconic snapshots from more than a dozen Colorado opening nights (so far), click here.

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Actor Kathi Wood, who plays Georgia innkeeper Betty Meeks in “The Foreigner,” is interviewed before the opening-night performance by video blogger Carri Wilbanks of CatchCarri.Com. Check out her Phamaly report here.


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Daniel Traylor, left, has been paired opposite Jeremy Palmer in several Phamaly productions including “The Diviners,” also at the the Aurora Fox.

 

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Actor Kathi Wood left words of encouragement on the men’s dressing-room mirror with her lipstick. Her message: “Yay! We did it! Way to go. Love, Kathi.” That’s actor Michael Leopard in the lower mirror. 

 

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Actors Jaime Lewis, Daniel Traylor, Trenton Schindele, Don Gabenski and Jeremy Palmer make final dressing-room adjustments before the opening performance.

 

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Veteran Phamaly actor Don Gabenski, who has written several comedy sketches about his life with cerebral palsy, waits out the opening curtain in the Aurora Fox green room.

 

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Cast and crew were presented named spoons as opening-night gifts. The character of Betty collects unique spoons in “The Foreigner.” The spoon above was named for property master Becky Toma.

 

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 It may be winter, but the Aurora Fox dressing room was hot enough to require a fan for actor Daniel Traylor.

 

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Actor Kathi Wood, below, puts a unique spin on the character of innkeeper Betty Meeks, who is written to be played by a white woman. Now as a black Georgia innkeeper under threat by the Ku Klux Klan, Betty’s wall includes a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr., above.

 

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Longtime Phamaly favorite Jeremy Palmer plays Charlie Baker, a socially awkward Brit so afraid of social interaction his friend tells guests at the local inn that he speaks no English. 

 

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 Actor Don Gabenski.

 

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 Actors Daniel Traylor and Lyndsay Palmer, wife of Jeremy Palmer.

 

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Actor Jaime Lewis, who contracted polio in 1961, plays the bumbling head of a Georgia chapter of the racist Ku Klux Klan.

 

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Jeremy Palmer leads the Phamaly cast and crew in a pre-curtain ritual they call “Zap.” As if there weren’t enough energy in the air already, members of the circle are told to buzz. The vibration builds, the cast screams “ZAP!” in unison, and then there is nothing but sudden, solemn silence. The next spoken word is not to be uttered by anyone until the actors hit the stage.

Phamaly mourns death of actor Ray Angel

Ray Angel, left, joined fellow blind actors Linda Wirth, Julie Melton and Henry Reyes in "Urinetown" in 2007.  File photo by Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post.

Ray Angel, left, joined fellow blind actors Linda Wirth, Julie Melton and Henry Reyes in “Urinetown” in 2007. File photo by Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post.

By John Moore
Jan. 22, 2013

Ray Angel, blind since birth, joined Denver’s handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company for one reason:

“My wife and I were so darn shy, and we thought Phamaly would help us get over it,” Angel told me in a 2007 interview. “And it did.”

Angel has passed away, it was announced today on Phamaly’s facebook page:

Known by fellow actors as a sweet and caring man, Ray appeared in numerous Phamaly productions, including ‘Man of La Mancha’ ‘Anything Goes’ ‘Kiss Me Kate,’ ‘Damn Yankees,’ ‘Once Upon A Mattress,’ ‘The Pajama Game,’ ‘Guys & Dolls,’ ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ and ‘Urinetown.’

After Angel’s wife, Debbie, died in 1999, their daughter urged Ray “to get back on the stage … and back into contact with life,” he said.

And he did.

Angel was one of eight blind actors cast in Phamaly’s 2007 staging of “Urinetown.” It’s a cuttingly clever musical satire of corporate greed, set in a drought-plagued city where water is so precious, you must “pay to pee” – or else.

Director Steve Wilson had the epiphany to cast all his rich characters – the ones who profit off the suffering of the poor – with visually impaired actors. Call it a case of the blind leading the backed-up.

A grave side memorial service will be held for Angel at 10 a.m. Feb. 8 at Golden Cemetery, 755 Ulysses St., Golden. Pot luck to follow at the family home.

Phamaly is the only theater company in town that is so often touched by death that it maintains a memorial list in its programs. In addition to Debbie Angel, the names include Paul Bilzi, Greg Britton, Caroline Buhr, Daniel Cohen, Dan Davidson, Chaz Jacobsen, Diana Kurlyak, Devry Leeds, Judi Myers, James McKenna, Kurt Niblack, Chris Robinson, Christopher Simmons and Mike Spoomer.

Here is the official obituary for Ray Angel.

 

Bonus photos: My night with “Motherhood Out Loud”

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By John Moore
Jan. 20, 2013

Here are some bonus images from my night visiting the cast of The Avenue Theater’s “Motherhood Out Loud,” a series of comic and poignant vignettes authored by 14 writers from the fields of journalism, fiction, TV and theater. Starring Mehry Eslaminia, Megan Heffernan, Jane Shirley, Cindy Laudadio-Hill, LuAnn Buckstein and Jeff Kosloski. Directed by Robert Wells. Through Feb. 23 at 417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or www.avenuetheater.com. Photos by John Moore.

To see the official 2013 photo series bringing you one intimate, iconic snapshots from more than a dozen Colorado opening nights (so far), click here.

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Actors (from left) Mehry Eslaminia, Megan Heffernan, Jane Shirley, Cindy Laudadio-Hill, LuAnn Buckstein and Jeff Kosloski, have their official, opening-night iPhone portrait clicked by Avenue Theater director of operations Colin Elliott. Photo by John Moore.

 

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Megan Heffernan and Jane Shirley run through a scene before the opening-night audience is let in.

 

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LuAnn Buckstein, Mehry Eslaminia and Jane Shirley run through a scene before the opening-night audience is let in.

 

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Mehry Eslaminia makes final backstage preparations.

 

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Director Robert Wells has final advice for actor Cindy Laudadio-Hill.

 

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John Elway makes an appearance – sort of – in “Motherhood Out Loud.” That’s Jane Shirley at the mirror.

 

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Director Robert Wells addresses the opening-night audience.

 

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The opening-night curtain call.

 

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At the opening-night talkback, several audience members cited an emotional connection to a scene involving a mother who sends her son off to war.

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The opening-night audience talkback.

 

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The opening-night audience talkback.

 

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The opening-night audience talkback.

 

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Actor Mehry Eslaminia is greeted by her mother and grandmother after the opening-night performance.

Bonus photos: My night backstage with Lake Dillon’s ‘Sleuth’

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By John Moore
Jan. 20, 2013

Here are some bonus images from my night visiting the cast of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s “Sleuth” on Jan 17. Starring Joel Rainwater and Tom Borrillo. Directed by Alan Osburn. Through Feb. 10 at 176 Lake Dillon Dr., about 70 miles west of Denver. Call 970-513-9386 or www.LakeDillonTheatre.Org. Photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Christopher Alleman, Joshua Blanchard and Nikki Lalonde.

To see my official 2013 photo series bringing you one intimate, iconic snapshot behind the scenes on opening nights from more than a dozen Colorado theaters (so far), click here.

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These four agents will all clean out your system, in their own ways.

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Actors Tom Borrillo, left, and Joel Rainwater prepare backstage.

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The view from the booth, with four closed-circuit monitors.

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Lake Dillon Theatre director of development Mari Geasair prepares to open the box office using a tablet after cold temperatures injected unwanted set delays, electrical hassles and computer problems into the usual opening-week preparations. That remaining drill at the box office is a reflective of last-minute set preparations.

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Lake Dillon tradition calls for an opening-night champagne toast with the entire audience, which comes early for both a pre-show prep discussion led by artistic director Christopher Alleman, and stays late for a post-show talkback with the cast.

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Actors Joel Rainwater, left, and Tom Borrillo conduct an opening-night audience talkback following their chess-like staging.

 

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Artistic director Christopher Alleman leads the opening-night audience talkback.

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Director Alan Osburn speaks during the post-show audience talkback.

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Whiskey, guns and cocktail spillage: The aftermath of “Sleuth.”

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Sunset over Lake Dillon.

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Photo Gallery: My night backstage with “Maple and Vine”

By John Moore
Jan. 17, 2010

Here are some images from my night visiting the cast of the Curious Theatre’s 1950s parallel-universe comedy “Maple and Vine,” just before their opening-night performance on Jan. 12. Starring Josh Robinson, C. Kelly Leo, Karen Slack, Dale Li and Stuart Sanks. Through Feb. 23 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or www.CuriousTheatre.Org. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Kate Marie Roselle and Chip Walton.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 27 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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Curious Theatre company members Jada Roberts, Brian Landis Folkins, Josh Hartwell and Jim Hunt meets hours before the opening performance to prepare food for the eventual afterparty. Photo by John Moore.

Curious Theatre company members Jada Roberts, Brian Landis Folkins, Josh Hartwell and Jim Hunt meet hours before the opening performance to prepare food for the eventual afterparty. Photo by John Moore.

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Breaking news: Phil Sneed leaving Colorado Shakes for Arvada Center

Karen Slack and Philip Sneed in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's 2008 "Macbeth."

Karen Slack and Philip Sneed in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 2008 “Macbeth.”

By John Moore
Jan. 14, 2013

Colorado Shakespeare Festival producing artistic director Philip Sneed announced today he is leaving the nation’s second-oldest Shakespeare festival after seven years to succeed Gene Sobczak as executive director of the Arvada Center for Arts and Humanities. That’s the money job. Rod Lansberry remains the Arvada Center’s artistic director. But now he works for Sneed.

Sneed joined the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 2006 after serving for 12 years as artistic director of the Foothill Theatre Company in Nevada City, Calif. He also played the title role in Colorado Shakes’ 2008 production of “Macbeth.”

For Sneed, a graduate of Golden High School, coming to the Arvada Center is a homecoming.  He received his first paycheck as a working artist  in 1976, performing in the second play ever produced at the Arvada Center.

“I am deeply honored to come back to Arvada and to be entrusted with the leadership of a cultural organization that supports artists and offers a creative place for the community to experience the arts,” he said.

Sneed succeeded Richard Devin at Colorado Shakes with the doubled charge of running both the festival’s financial and artistic engines. One of his artistic accomplishments was initiating a cultural-exchange program with the Maxim Gorky Theatre of Vladivostok, Russia. That resulted in seven projects, including a bilingual “Hamlet” in Russia (in which Sneed played the title role), and a Colorado Shakes co-production of “The Inspector General” in Boulder in 2011.

Sneed also introduced modern classics into the Colorado Shakes canon. Ironically, perhaps the most fully realized production of his tenure was not Shakespeare at all but rather the Harper Lee Southern courtroom classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 2009. He was known for competent if not mind-blowing Shakespeare, hitting his stride in 2011 with the best-received title of his tenure, “Romeo and Juliet.”  This past summer, Sneed hosted Tina Packer and Nigel Gore for her rolling, five-part weekly look at the females in Shakespeare’s canon, “Women of Will.” It was performed in its entirety in Boulder for the first time outside of Massachusetts.

The affable Sneed was known for always mixing things up in an ongoing effort to find just the right way of producing a Shakespeare festival in a shattered economy. He cut rehearsal time, slashed payroll and staff sizes, restructured performance schedules and drastically reduced the number of outdoor performances, all in an effort to maximize available personnel and ever-dwindling resources. He  even introduced a resident theater company, a concept that began with eight actors but is now down to five: Geoffrey Kent, Karen Slack, Jamie Ann Romero, Sam Sandoe and Stephen Weitz (recently named CultureWest.Org’s 2012 Theater Person of the Year).

Kent already has been enlisted to replace Sneed in directing the 2013 summer staging of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in the outdoor Mary Rippon Amphitheatre. “I’m excited and a little intimidated to step into a directing role at CSF,” Kent said, “but I also think ‘Midsummer’ was practically written for the Rippon.”

The general consensus of all of Sneed’s necessary experimentation: That he is one of the classiest and most caring leaders of any arts organization in Colorado. But his tenure was a time of great financial instability, and as a result, many of his productions came off as under-rehearsed.

The festival lost nearly $1 million between 2007 and 2009, a time when the entire economic world was collapsing. At that point, the University of Colorado’s College of Arts and Sciences stepped in with both emergency funds and  increased financial  oversight. By 2010, the fest was breaking even again, in part thanks to increased patron donations.

“Philip was dedicated to building a stronger and more versatile acting company, and truly succeeded on that account,” Kent said. “Some of my favorite performances and productions have happened under his leadership.”

Sobczak made his greatest impact on the Arvada Center by retooling the schedule to highlight popular musicals, a strategy  that paid off in box-office blockbusters like “Les Miserables” and “Miss Saigon.” He left last year to attempt a rescue of the financially troubled Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Sneed will be replaced on an interim basis by associate producing director Timothy Orr, who has been with Colorado Shakes as a performer since 2007 and joined the staff in 2011. As an actor, he has appeared at numerous theaters across California and was a resident artist with Sneed at the Foothill Theatre Company. He holds degrees in music and arts management from Cal State Sacramento, an MFA in theater from the University of California at Davis, and was Fellow with the League of American Orchestras.

In addition to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the Colorado Shakes’ 2013 season will include “Macbeth,” “Richard II,” “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged),” the return of “Women of Will” and a new-play reading of “Making America: No Little Rebellion.”

Here is the full text of Sneed’s email to friends:

I am writing to inform you that I have tendered my resignation as Producing Artistic Director of CSF to accept the position of Executive Director of the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. This is an extraordinary opportunity: the Arvada Center is a major regional arts center with an annual operating budget of $10.8 million (of which amount the theatre division alone is a $5-6 million operation), a year-round staff of about 40, and an outstanding facility. It is also one of the largest multi-disciplinary arts centers in the country.The College of Arts and Sciences has offered Timothy Orr the position of Interim Producing Artistic Director, effective February 1, and he has accepted.

This is a move I strongly recommended and which I wholeheartedly support.  I have recommended that the College conduct a national search for a new PAD, with the goal of having someone in place by the end of the 2013 summer season.My last day will be January 31st, and while I plan to take one or two vacation days between now and then, I will remain on the job, fully engaged, and fully supportive of Tim and the rest of the staff. In addition, I have told the College and Tim that I will be available after the end of the month to answer questions or otherwise consult, for as long as I might be needed. I am highly motivated to do everything I can to support the company during this transition and to help ensure that 2013 will be a successful season in every way.

Arvada made me the offer late Thursday afternoon, at the end of the second day of the Shakespeare Theatre Association conference in Pennsylvania, and I have been working on transition plans ever since. I had to keep this news confidential for a few days, in order to respect the desire of both the City of Arvada and CU to be able to issue an appropriate public announcement.  I believe that this announcement will be released to the press on Tuesday or Wednesday. In the meantime, the City of Arvada staff plans to inform the Arvada City Council tonight.

I have enjoyed working with all of you, and despite the tremendous opportunity I have been given, this is a painful transition for me.  I love CSF, and as many of you know I earned some of my first paychecks as an actor with the Festival almost 35 years ago.  I will miss all of you, but I promise to continue to be a supporter and a fan of CSF, and I hope that the collaboration between CSF and the Arvada Center can continue.  Lastly, I want to thank all of you for your support of me – and I know that you will give Tim the same support as he leads the festival through this transitional season.

With great respect,
Philip C. Sneed

My Top 10 Films of 2012

By John Moore
Jan. 13, 2013

PerksFor what it’s worth (which is nothing), here is my list of the top 10 films of 2012. And while I’m not usually in sync with “The People,” The People’s Choice Awards last week agreed with my choice for No. 1, which went completely ignored by the Oscars:

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
2. Django Unchained
3. Argo
4. The Impossible
5. Seven Psychopaths
6. The Sapphires
7. Life of Pi
8. Lincoln
9. Zero Dark Thirty
10. Moonrise Kingdom

Honorable mention:
The Hunger Games
We Need to Talk About Kevin

Due diligence: I have not yet seen the following:
Les Miserables
Amour
The Master
Rust and Bone
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Biggest disappointments based on media expectations/Hollywood hype:
Silver Linings Playbook
Hitchcock

Final thought:
Watch “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” back to back. Ezra Miller, just 20 years old, may be the best new actor of his generation.

 

Photo gallery: My night backstage at Town Hall’s ‘Forever Plaid’

By John Moore
Jan. 11, 2010

Here are some images from my night visiting the cast of the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center’s “Forever Plaid” just before their first performance in front of an audience. Starring Tim Howard, Barret Harper, Mark Middlebrooks and Jacob Villareal. Through Feb. 10 at 2450 W. Main St., 303-794-2787 or www.townhallartscenter.com. Photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Nick Sugar, Steven Neale, Leslie Rutherford.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 27 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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Mark Middlebrooks, Tim Howard, Barret Harper  and Jacob Villareal do vocal warmups where they find the best acoustics - in a backstage stairwell art Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org.

Mark Middlebrooks, Tim Howard, Barret Harper and Jacob Villareal do vocal warmups where they find the best acoustics – in a backstage stairwell at Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

 

The actors' entrance to the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org.

The actors’ entrance to the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

 

Donna Debreceni and the crew prepare to take the stage. Photo by John Moore.

Donna Debreceni and the crew prepare to take the stage. Photo by John Moore.

 

Music director Debra Donnaceni. Er, Donna Debreceni. Photo by John Moore.

Music director Debra Donnaceni. Er, Donna Debreceni. Photo by John Moore.

 

Photo by John Moore.

Photo by John Moore.

 

The cast prepares for its first appearance in front of an audience. Photo by John Moore.

The cast prepares for its first appearance in front of an audience. Photo by John Moore.

 

Cast member Mark Middlebrooks has a pre-show shave. Photo by John Moore.

Cast member Mark Middlebrooks has a pre-show shave. Photo by John Moore.

 

Director Nick Sugar offers some pre-show advice. Photo by John Moore.

Director Nick Sugar offers some pre-show advice. Photo by John Moore.

 

Jacob Villareal, Tim Howard and Barret Harper go over a number before the audience is allowed into the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

Jacob Villareal, Tim Howard and Barret Harper go over a number before the audience is allowed into the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

 

The cast goes over a number before the audience is allowed into the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

The cast goes over a number before the audience is allowed into the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

 

Production stage manager Steven Neale. Photo by John Moore.

Production stage manager Steven Neale. Photo by John Moore.

 

Director Nick Sugar offers some final suggestions before the first audience is allowed into the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

Director Nick Sugar offers last-minute suggestions before the audience is allowed into the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

 

Director Nick Sugar offers last-minute suggestions before the audience is allowed into the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

Director Nick Sugar offers last-minute suggestions before the audience is allowed into the Town Hall Arts Center. Photo by John Moore.

 

At the Town Hall Arts Center, patrons who can't take the stairs go up by elevator. They then enter the theater through the backstage area, sometimes encountering cast members such as Tim Howard of "Forever Plaid." Photo by John Moore.

At the Town Hall Arts Center, patrons who can’t take the stairs go up by elevator. They then enter the theater through the backstage area, sometimes encountering cast members such as Tim Howard of “Forever Plaid.” Photo by John Moore.

 

The first audience for Town Hall's "Forever Plaid" begins to gather. Photo by John Moore.

The first audience for Town Hall’s “Forever Plaid” begins to gather. Photo by John Moore.

 

Tim Howard makes some last-minute adjustments before taking the stage. Photo by John Moore

Tim Howard makes some last-minute adjustments before taking the stage. Photo by John Moore

 

Patrons depart the performance by elevator backstage at the Town Hall Arts Center, escorted by Drew Kowalkowski. Photo by John Moore.

Patrons depart the performance by elevator backstage at the Town Hall Arts Center, escorted by Drew Kowalkowski. Photo by John Moore.

 

Director Nick Sugar offers feedback after the first performance before an audience. Photo by John Moore.

Director Nick Sugar offers feedback after the first performance before an audience. Photo by John Moore.

 

Long after the audience has left, the cast decides to try one more run-though of the final number, "Love is a Many Splendored Thing." Photo by John Moore.

Long after the audience has left, the cast decides to try one more run-though of the final number, “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.” Photo by John Moore.

 

Long after the audience has left, the cast decides to try one more run-though of the final number, "Love is a Many Splendored Thing," with director Nick Sugar. Photo by John Moore.

Long after the audience has left, the cast decides to try one more run-though of the final number, “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” with director Nick Sugar. Photo by John Moore.

Photo gallery: My day backstage at “War Horse”

By John Moore
Jan. 10, 2013

Here are some images from my day visiting the cast of the national touring production of “War Horse,” playing through Jan. 20 at the Buell Theatre. 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org

 

A cast member takes a moment to prepare and reflect moments before the audience is allowed into the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

A cast member takes a moment to prepare and reflect just before the audience is allowed into the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

 

Local NBC anchor Kirk Montgomery interviews cast members Angela Reed and Mat Hostetler, who graduated from Colorado high schools. Photo by John Moore.

Local NBC anchor Kirk Montgomery interviews cast members Angela Reed and Mat Hostetler, both of whom graduated from Colorado high schools, in the lobby of the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

 

Television cameras set up on stage for an appearance by the "War Horse," Joey. Photo by John Moore.

Television cameras set up on stage for an appearance by the “War Horse” himself, Joey. Photo by John Moore.

 

Douglas County native Angela Reed, who plays Rose Narracott, Albert's mother, has a moment with Joey. Photo by John Moore.

Douglas County native Angela Reed, who plays Rose Narracott, Albert’s mother, has a moment with Joey. Photo by John Moore.

 

Joey, and the three puppeteers who operate him, make an appearance for the media. Photo by John Moore.

Joey, and the three puppeteers who operate him, make an appearance for the media. Photo by John Moore.

 

Joey, and the three puppeteers who operate him, make an appearance for the media. Photo by John Moore.

Joey, and the three puppeteers who operate him, make an appearance for the media. Photo by John Moore.

 

Colorado cast members Mat Hostetler and Angela Reed are interviewed by Adam Goldstein of the Aurora Sentinel. Photo by John Moore.

Colorado cast members Mat Hostetler and Angela Reed are interviewed by Adam Goldstein of the Aurora Sentinel. Photo by John Moore.

 

Joey's handlers Jessica Krueger, Patrick Osteen and Jon Riddleberger talk about bringing the horse to life on the Buell Theatre stage. Photo by John Moore.

Joey’s handlers Jessica Krueger, Patrick Osteen and Jon Riddleberger talk about bringing the horse to life on the Buell Theatre stage. Photo by John Moore.

 

Joey's handlers Jessica Krueger, Patrick Osteen and Jon Riddleberger talk about bringing the horse to life on the Buell Theatre stage. Photo by John Moore.

Joey’s handlers Jessica Krueger, Patrick Osteen and Jon Riddleberger talk about bringing the horse to life on the Buell Theatre stage. Photo by John Moore.

 

The Buell Theatre's stage door. Photo by John Moore.

The Buell Theatre’s stage door. Photo by John Moore.

 

Angela Reed signs in for the evening performance. Photo by John Moore.

Angela Reed signs in for the evening performance. Photo by John Moore.

 

Mat Hostetler backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

Mat Hostetler backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

 

Every show that plays the Buell Theatre gets an honorary spot for cast autographs on the backstage walls. Angela Reed, who plays Rose Narracott in "War Horse," previously appeared in the touring production of "Spring Awakening." Photo by John Moore.

Every show that plays the Buell Theatre gets an honorary spot for cast autographs on the backstage walls. Angela Reed, who plays Rose Narracott in “War Horse,” previously appeared in the touring production of “Spring Awakening.” Photo by John Moore.

 

A crew of about eight costumers iron, steam, clean and repair costumes backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

A crew of about eight costumers iron, steam, clean and repair costumes backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

 

Backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

Backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

 

Mat Hostetler, who plays Veterinary Officer Martin, among other roles, shows off his guns backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

Mat Hostetler, who plays Veterinary Officer Martin, among other roles, shows off his guns backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

 

Angela Reed backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

Angela Reed backstage at the Buell Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

 

The cast circles up for a vocal warmup onstage at the Buell Theatre moments before the audience is allowed in. Photo by John Moore.

The cast circles up for a vocal warmup onstage at the Buell Theatre moments before the audience is allowed in. Photo by John Moore.

 

The cast circles up for a vocal warmup onstage at the Buell Theatre moments before the audience is allowed in. Photo by John Moore.

The cast circles up for a vocal warmup onstage at the Buell Theatre moments before the audience is allowed in. Photo by John Moore.

 

Veteran Richard Callan helps out the ushers by passing out programs to arriving guests moments before the presentation of the Color Guard. Photo by John Moore.

Veteran Richard Callan helps out the ushers by passing out programs to arriving guests moments before the presentation of the Color Guard. Photo by John Moore.

 

Veteran Richard Callan takes a moment to check his glove moments before the presentation of the Color Guard. Photo by John Moore.

Veteran Richard Callan takes a moment to check his gloves moments before the presentation of the Color Guard. Photo by John Moore.

 

A presentation of the Color Guard by local veterans preceded the start of the performance. The group includes Harry Giglio, Harry Ciruli Jr., Chick Blemler and Richard Callan. Photo by John Moore.

A presentation of the Color Guard by local American Legion veterans preceded the start of the performance. The group includes Harry Giglio, Harry Ciruli Jr., Chick Blemler and Richard Callan. Photo by John Moore.

 

A presentation of the Color Guard by local veterans preceded the start of the performance. Photo by John Moore.

A presentation of the Color Guard by local American Legion veterans preceded the start of the performance. The group includes Harry Giglio, Harry Ciruli Jr., Chick Blemler and Richard Callan. Photo by John Moore.

 

A presentation of the Color Guard by local veterans preceded the start of the performance. The group includes Harry Giglio, Harry Ciruli Jr., Chick Blemler and Richard Callan. Photo by John Moore.

A presentation of the Color Guard by local veterans preceded the start of the performance. Photo by John Moore.

 

Once the show begins, the volunteer ushers gather around a closed-circuit television in the lobby to watch the opening scene. Photo by John Moore.

Once the show begins, the volunteer ushers gather around a closed-circuit television in the lobby to watch the opening scene. Photo by John Moore.

Live theater ranks among 10 worst industries for 2013

liberal_artsBy John Moore
Jan. 9, 2013

As Stephen Sondheim might say, “Isn’t it rich?”

When it comes to a life in the arts, no. When it comes to irony, well, very much so.

A pair of independent and anachronistic new studies similarly point out just how tough a life in the arts continues to be.

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has determined that the arts and humanities constitutes the fourth most demanding area of study for college students today. (Please hold the tired old liberal arts jokes. Anyone who has actually undertaken a humanities degree can attest to the merit of the claim.) Survey  says:

Crave a little more creativity in your major? Then you’ll likely want to check out the halls of the arts and humanities departments. And while you might not burn as much midnight oil to prepare for classes as those in engineering or physical sciences, you’ll still study more than the average student. But it’s what you’ll study that is very different. Arts and humanities students usually learn everything from philosophy to languages to literature, according to the College Board. And courses could include more artful fare, such as music and drama.

And yet, wouldn’tcha know, the industry-research firm IBISWorld now ranks live performance theater as No. 8 on its list of the 10 industries that are expected to shrink the most in 2013. That’s No. 8 among more than 1,000 industries surveyed in terms of percentage of jobs most likely to be gained or lost over the next 12 months. IBISWorld estimates live theater will undergo a 5 percent retraction in 2013, with the caveat:

“The show might go on, but with cutbacks in government funding and penny-pinching theatergoers, there’s less money for everything, from cast and crew to props and promotional fliers.”

The academic study was intended to help students decide which major might best fit their lifestyle.  It surveyed 416,000 full-time, first-year students and seniors attending 673 colleges and universities during 2011.

So in conclusion … If you want a life in theater, prepare to work your butt off so that you can graduate into a diminishing field with ever-shrinking employment opportunities.

But things could be worse. If you’re me.  The newspaper industry ranks even higher — No. 5 — on the list of 10 worst for 2013.

 

Audience plants: The scourge of the American theater

Overeager hand-clappers make me want to kill. Not clap.

Overeager hand-clappers make me want to kill. Not clap.

 

By John Moore
Jan. 8, 2013

It’s been a year since I’ve been on the record with a critical theater review, and I am (perhaps ill-advisedly) celebrating my anniversary of not having to go on the record saying something that might unilaterally anger the entire local  theater community … by going on the record saying something that might unilaterally anger the entire local theater community. But damn the torpedoes, someone has to speak out for the people, people!

This is a rant about my biggest pet peeve in all of theater. Worse than ringing cell phones. Worse than old ladies draping their coats over their chairbacks and into my lap. Worse than candy wrappers, open-mouthed gum-chewing and the occasional production that goes through its paces with complete seeming ambivalence. OK, not worse than that.

Audience plants are the scourge of the American theater. And I’m here to tell all of you directors and producers out there that when you plant a seed, er, seat, in your audience,  you only succeed in burying your production six feet into the ground.

You know what I’m talking about: The impossibly over-eager audience-member (often the director himself), who starts leading rounds of maniacal clapping two beats before every single scene or song in a show is even over.

This ploy is meant to cajole or trick the audience into believing that perhaps something remarkable has just occurred, whether it actually has or not, and you should be joining in on the fervid acknowledgement of that fact. And you just know the person is a plant because anyone who is experiencing a powerful moment in the theater for the first time could not possibly have processed an honest reaction that quickly. And because the clatter is emanating high in the balcony, or deep in a vom near the exit. You can spot a plant a mile away. They laugh louder (and more quickly) at the jokes, even when the line isn’t even really a joke. Before the last line of the heroine’s intimate ballad is even sung, these vermin are smacking their hands together like they are crawling with red ants.

Whether audiences should even be clapping at scene changes is another rant for another day, but here’s one thing I can tell all  you directors: When you plant someone in the audience to lead the clapping and cheering, YOU DESTROY THE AUTHENTICITY OF OUR OWN PERSONAL RESPONSE TO WHAT JUST HAPPENED. And not only do I refuse to participate in it, you instead instill feelings of enmity and contempt deep inside me, rather than appreciation. So you are working against your own best interests.

When I hear a song, and it moves me, my hands instinctively move to clap together at a reasonable decimal. But before I even get my hands off my lap, the overeager rat-a-tat-tat begins, and that automatically sends my hands back to my sides. I don’t want to be a part of it. So I don’t clap at all. I cross my arms and seethe a little bit. And that’s not fair to the actors who deserve at least some honest response. But I just can’t do it when I feel like I’m being led off a plank into shark-infested waters at gunpoint. I want to take the fake-clappers’ hands and grind them into a blender.

And that’s not what live theater is supposed to be all about, now, is it?

Here’s a thought: Trust your actors. Trust your audience. If there is a silence where you think there should be noise, consider it  just may be that silence is the most appropriate response for the moment. It doesn’t mean we aren’t appreciative. It means we are reflecting, processing. You’ll get your appreciation in the end. Denver audiences are generous to a fault that way.

I just don’t understand why directors and producers are so afraid of honest quiet. All I know is that when you create an artificial response, you destroy the art you  hoped to create.

Now … knock it off!

This rant was brought to you by the silent majority who really appreciate what you do. Believe us. We just weren’t on the cheerleading squad in high school.

 

 

Video: The Skype Sessions: Angela Reed and Mat Hostetler of ‘War Horse’

By John Moore
Jan. 7, 2013
Introducing: The Skype Sessions. Fun conversations taped, on, yes, Skype. Episode 1: Coloradans Mat Hostetler and Angela Reed talk from Chicago about their return to Denver this week in the national touring production of “War Horse.” Run time: 9 minutes.
And here’s our 2009 feature story on Mat Hostetler, “Conservatory pushes actors to the limit.”

Presenting: ‘The Autobiography of Scott the Parrot, a Psychological Triller,’ as penned by 26 odd birds

It all began many miles away, when something crawled to the surface of a dark Scottish Loch. Illustrations nd photos by Galen Shoe, Mitch Slevic and Jessica Robblee.

It all began many miles away, when something crawled to the surface of a dark Scottish Loch. Illustrations and photos by Galen Shoe, Mitch Slevc, Jessica Robblee and Samantha Schmitz.

 

By John Moore
Jan. 2, 2013

For the past eight years, a giant Scottish parrot psychologist named Scott has joined in with a band of endearing young superheroes whose crime-fighting escapades have been lovingly chronicled in “Trunks,” Buntport Theater’s award-winning, bi-weekly live comic-book serial for all ages.

Through more than 100 episodes, audiences have become as helplessly smitten with Trixie Truddfelt, Walter Cosmic and Scott the Parrot as the poor people of Dendiggityopolis trying to overcome the current epidemic of antibiotic-resistant bacteria with … antibiotics. Resistance is futile.Scottcredits

In honor of the beloved series’ upcoming final three episodes — Jan. 12, Jan. 26 and Feb. 9, CultureWest decided it was (flying) high time to ferret the parrot. I mean, ferret out the story of Scott the Parrot, the most mysterious and least-fleshed of all the series regulars.

And like any good journalists, we went straight to the source. We requested an interview with Scott the Parrot, only to discover that there are at least 36 shady characters out there who claim to be “the real” Scott Parrot. Or at least to have donned the famous Parrot head in an episode of “Trunks.”

Thus began the long, arduous task of compiling the autobiography of a single bird – who lives in the wings of 36 humans. Some of those birds have flown south for the winter (which does not mean they are necessarily dead; we just could not find them.) But we did cage 26 Scotts long enough to get enough autobiographical details out of each to piece together a pretty fair fowl life story; one filled with wonder, frequent-flier miles, and ultimately … true love.

So here, for the first time anywhere, we present … the absolutely true, unverified, unvetted, completely ridiculous and unauthorized autobiography of … Scott the Parrot:

 

“THE STORY OF SCOTT … A PSYCHOLOGICAL TRILLER”

Many miles away, something crawled to the surface of a dark Scottish Loch. (author: Walter Cosmic, a.k.a., Mitch Slevc)

Scottinspace copyThe wee creature shook itself from head to foot, flinging off the muck of the deep. Just as the scrappy bairn gulped its first, delicious breaths of foggy air … (Jessica Robblee)

… a thought popped into his newly formed mind: (Evan Weissman)

“To properly fight crime, I will need an awesome nickname.” (Geoff Kent)

His eyes narrowed and scoured the unfamiliar landscape for inspiration, unaware of the gigantic figure just beginning to break the surface of the water right behind him. (Sean Mellott)

Just as he was thinking, “Foggy Air is not as catchy as I want it to be” … (Erin Rollman)

… the figure behind him whispered — a low, guttural, LochNesian sound.  “SCOTT.” …

“Honk?” (Josh Hartwell)

“Honk, honk, honk. Honk….honk, honk. Honk! Honk!” (Brian Colonna)

“I am so confused by my own muteness, that I don’t know whether I said, “Honk,” or the figure behind me said, “Honk,” but I DO KNOW that SCOTT is a great name.” And with that thought, the newly christened Scott the Parrot took wing and bade farewell to the goose or Nessie — or whatever that thing was behind him. (GerRee Hinshaw)

He felt so free flying through the jetstream, free as a crime-fighting bird brought up in the halls of Scotland Yard one might say, until a stray spitball from a middle-school lunchroom pelted his wing, and sent him hurtling toward Earth … (Tyee Tilghman)

… in a breakneck spiral.  Scott was confused, as centrifugal force had not been properly explained to him, yet he remained calm and righted his path. It was then that the young parrot understood the concept of courage.  He continued his flight and pondered this notion, which was a mistake as Scott should have been watching out for …  (Mike Marlow)

Now arriving in Dendiggityopolis!

Now arriving in Dendiggityopolis!

… highway signs. Crash! Scott found himself sitting by the side of the road, looking dizzily at a green rectangle. Den… the letters slowly, spinningly resolved themselves… Dendigitty … He knew this place. In his heart, he knew what the letters would someday mean to him… Dendigittyop… He knew more things, too. Dendigittyopolis. He knew how to read. He knew how his mind worked. Dendigittyopolis… He knew the deepest secrets of criminal psychology: What makes some people super-villains, some super-heroes. Dendigittyopolis … He knew himself. He knew this place. Dendiggityopolis… He was home. (John Kissingford)

Now, to find food. Somehow in the many hours since his birth, he had kept the instinct to scavenge for sustenance at bay. All at once, he heard it; a primal yet bird-like bellow, welling up from within:  “SCOTT, WWAPPD?” (What Would An Amazonian Parrot Psychologist Do?) Looking down at his right wing, he found he was clutching a little toy horn, his only means of communicating with the outside world. But communicate he must, if he was to survive. (Kate Kissingford)

The “Star Wars” theme song began to play, and with slow-motion movements that filled the air with tension and deep meaning down to the tip of each faux fur feather, he raised his toy horn as high as his short wings would allow. Then, with a boldness unseen in any parrot that had come before him, and a fierceness no parrot would possess after him, Scott squeezed that purple toy horn with a clarity and precision that shook the world over. His message? “Bring me a Hostess Twinkie before they disappear from this Earth forever! Only Hostess can aid me in the crime-fighting crusade Fate has laid down before my webbed feet!” (Adrian Egolf)

And from the void, summoned by Scott, as if on a mission from Fate … Not one, not two, but three delicious baked golden snack cakes appeared.  The creamy-white filling called out to the famished parrot with a sweet siren song that sounded like …  (Stuart Sanks)

… the pure rhythms of sweet, perfect love. In his heart, the familiar refrain began: “She’s just a small-town girl, living in a craaazzyyy woooorrrllld.” So overcome was Scott by this tsunami of passion, tears welled in his eyes. He grew verklempt; his throat closed up, his eyes clouded and he gave an involuntary sniffle, as if he was about to sneeze. “I can help you with that sniffle,” spoke a sweet, gentle voice. Scott looked up from his reverie to see the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes upon. She was tall and striking, voluptuous and sensual. Her hair shimmered in the moonlight. (He had been lost in thought a long time, and night had fallen), and she stood like the alabaster goddess of a long forgotten religion. And standing next to this incredible, perfect specimen was Trixie Truddfelt. The woman of his dreams. Scott Parrot was in love. “Honk?” he stammered, offering Trixie a snack-cake. (Jack Wefso)

Trixie looked at the gift, reached out her hand, and then stopped.  “Wait!” she said.  “Are those gluten-free?” she queried. “Cuz I’m on this diet where I can’t have gluten and starch and stuff. Last night, I had steak and pickles but I can’t have bready things, like … Never mind.” She finished and took the snack from Scott’s outstretched claw, stuffing the whole treat into her mouth. … (Drew Horwitz)

…And right then and there, as she skillfully consumed the soon-to-be extinct Twinkie in one colossal bite, he knew his life had been changed forever… (Laura Jo Trexler)

No longer would Scott be tempted by outdated pastries.  He would dedicate his life to truth, justice and a chain of truck-stop locations throughout the Midwest specializing in hot coffee and good service, and they would be called “Scotty Barns.”  Although he would always feel he could have thought of a better name. (Erik Edborg)

As per his usual morning ritual, he would dump out the used coffee grounds into the compost bin in the alleyway behind the original Scotty Barn, now a Dendigityopolus historical landmark. As he was heading back into his office to reprimand Johnson for not cleaning his corner, something struck Scott’s head and sent him spinning. The last thing he could remember was a droning, BEEP BEEP BEEP sound — and the letters T.R.O.Y. Could a starship be nearby? (Marc Hughes)

Scott opened his eyes to see tiny versions of himself circling around his own throbbing head.  He blinked to clear his vision, and saw he was no longer behind his beloved Scotty Barn.  Jumpin’ Sugarjets!  He’d woken up in the Badlands! Lands that were home to the really, really bad … (Lindsey Pierce)

… which is the kids’ way of saying “good” … Vision Quest! Could it be true? Was Scott to remain here seeking answers to the deepest questions within himself, and therefore, the universe? And if he was gone for an extended period of time, who would man the Scotty Barns or keep Johnson in his corner? After several intense days, he knew what was required of him: First, he should change coffee suppliers because there was something really strange in that last cup of coffee he drank. And second, while Scotty Barns were important, crime-fighting needed him, too. He was to be part of a team. Soon, with the help of his superpowers, newly found wisdom and spirit guide MacCaw, he knew he must return to Dendigittyopolis once again. But how? (Laura Norman)

Scott the Parrot, Mitch Slevic as Walter Cosmic and Jessica Robblee as Trixie Truddfelt.

Scott the Parrot, Mitch Slevc as Walter Cosmic and Jessica Robblee as Trixie Truddfelt.

As one might expect in the Badlands, there was also no WiFi. Scotty noticed a strange device strapped to his lack-of-wrist and suddenly remembered the BEEP BEEP BEEP sound.  “Dunno what this Beepy-Beepy is exactly, but my parrot-sense tells me it’s for communication, and now it doesn’t work!”  Despondent, Scott sadly sank his beak into another golden snack cake.  As he morosely chewed the dearly departed delicacy, he was suddenly inspired again by its  fluffy filling: Of curse … The Cloud!  “If my Beepy-Beepy can’t reach The Cloud via the traditional route, surely I can use my uniquely avian prowess to fly the contraption itself directly into The Cloud!” (Catnip Frederick)

But just as Scott began to flap his green, fluffy wings towards The Cloud … “Scott!” a golden voice cried out that could only belong to that golden haired, golden tight-wearing, golden goddess of goldiness.  “Trixie!” Scott honked. But as he turned to greet his beloved he saw another figure there as well. Standing beside Trixie was an impossibly good-looking good guy. Scott knew immediately that a man with a great head of hair like that could only have one name. “Scott, I’d like to introduce you to…” “…Walter.” Scott finished. (Jamie Ann Romero)

And then, by means of fate, impossible coincidence or the overlapping of parallel universes, all three heroes began to speak the exact same words at the exact same time: “Guys, we should totally form a super-team together. “Whoa! I was thinking the same thing, and then you said it at the same time as me!”  “Whoa! You did it again!” “This is super weird!” “Stop talking at the same time as me!” “No, YOU stop!” “No, YOU!” The three looked at each other with a knowing … understanding of purpose, much akin to the first man who stood with a knife and a loaf of bread and thought, “Hhmmm … What if I sliced this?” Walter thrust his right hand into the circle and declared, “I’ve really got to go to the bathroom. But first, how about we call ourselves the CRIME-” … Trixie placed her hand on top of Walter’s, and confidently exclaimed, “FIGHTING-” … They both looked to Scott, who placed his right wing on top of the other two hands, took a deep breath, and honked, “CRUSADERS!!!” Scott would remember many things about that moment: The hot Badlands breeze kicking sand around his ankles. The feeling that he was now a part of something legendary. The sound of a marching band in the distance … But most of all, he remembered her hand. Her sweet, nerdy little hand.  (Matt Zambrano)

Many a feathered polly hath swooned but all in vain for in the history of love, there was never a love so strong and pure than that love between the sweet Scottish bird and his Germy super girl. (Rhaetia Hanscum)

Together, along with a host of superheroes and sidekicks, they would fight in the name of truth, justice and all things Shiny. And sometimes, when the moon is at its highest point in the sky, and the smell of the cracker factory wafts throughout the Dendiggityoplis Valley … you can hear the sound of bagpipes being gleefully bellowed until the wee hours of the morning. And you think to yourself, “That sounds like it’s coming from a 6-foot-tall Amazonian-Scottish-Parrot Pyschologist.”

And you’d be right … (Group ending)

THE END

 

“TRUNKS”

Through Feb. 9: Buntport’s ongoing, award-winning, biweekly children’s serial about three young superheroes (and their giant Scottish parrot psychologist) cleaning up the streets of Dendiggityopolis is completing its final season. New episodes are written under a tight schedule and performed every other Saturday, based on audience suggestions. Featuring a rotating cast of guest stars. Next episode at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12. Recommended for ages 4 and up. Tickets $5-$7. Discounts if you come dressed as a superhero. No credit cards accepted.
717 Lipan St., Denver, 720-946-1388 or buntport’s home page

 

THE BIRD BRAINS
The following actors have donned Scott the Parrot head since 2005:

Broderick Ballantyne
Valerie Bustos
Brian Colonna
Hannah Duggan
Erik Edborg
John Felber
Catnip Frederick
Rhaetia Hanscum
Josh Hartwell
GerRee Hinshaw
Drew Horwitz
Marc Hughes
Misha Johnson
Geoff Kent
John Kissingford
Kate Kissingford
Appolonia Koleis
Jimmy Levy
Mike Marlow
Sean Mellott
Katie Micek
Laura Norman
Lindsey Pierce
Jessica Robblee
Erin Rollman
Jamie Ann Romero
Stuart Sanks
Mike Skillern
Mitch Slevc
Macarthur Stine
Tyee Tilghman
Laura Jo Trexler
Justin Webb
Jack Wefso
Evan Weissman
Matt Zambrano

THE WRITERS

The "Trunks" writing team: Josh Hartwell, Jessica Robblee and Mitch Slevc

The “Trunks” writing team: Josh Hartwell, Jessica Robblee and Mitch Slevc

My 2012 journo year in review: Highlights from a year on the cheap, er, brink

By John Moore
Jan. 1, 2013

A professional and personal look back at the year just past. (The unemployed year, that is):

 

Favorite writings:

Eden Lane. Photo by John Moore.

Eden Lane. Photo by John Moore.

1. Eden Lane: The first transgender journalist on mainstream TV opens up about her life and challenges (see bonus extract below)

2. Personal blog: My stoma: To Die and Live in L.A.

3. A look back at the era of yellow journalism, when The Denver Post was known as “The Bucket of Blood”

4. Iddo Netanyahu interview: Is there “A Happy End” for our troubled world?

5. My first-ever byline in the New York Times: For the Colorado Rockies, a four-man rotation by committee

6. That’s one way to recover from gut surgery: Visiting 30 Parks in 30 Days

7. John Moore and Mark Collins: Two ex-theater critics, sitting around having coffee

John Hutton talks about his role in "Lincoln." Photo by John Moore.

John Hutton. Photo by John Moore.

8. Actor John Hutton on Spielberg, “Lincoln” and on being invited to the party

9. What companies can learn from the reinvention of Curious Theatre Company

10. Launch of the 2012 True West Theater Awards

11. Remembering Michael Jackson as “Thriller” turns 30 (and I interview Quincy Jones)

12. Germinal Stage’s theater to close, but company will play on

And … just for fun:

My house under attack: A blog not at all for the squirrely

Some creative writing: My short story, “-30′-

 

Videos:

Five-part documentary: “The Making of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”

 

Accepting a Henry Award for journalistic excellence

Amy Board: 2012 Colorado Walk for Hemophilia

The wedding of Dan and Gary

Three minutes with … Pam Grier!

Launch party for “After the Darklights” video series

Phamaly’s Jeremy Palmer wins Denver Foundation volunteer award

Creede Rep says goodbye to Maurice Lamee

 

An added bonus: The deleted Eden Lane excerpt:

Sometimes you get lucky to find remarkable people who trust you to tell their remarkable stories. And, almost every time, some of the most remarkable parts get cut out from publication. Here’s my favorite part of the Eden Lane story. It got distilled into a few sentences in the version of the story that got published.:

 

    Sometimes the best way to know a person is through the person who loves them. Lane has been legally married for more than 10 years to a man named Don who never knew a gay person in his life until a fellow serviceman came out to him in the Air Force. His first thought: “Is he the same person he was two seconds ago? He was, of course. So I said, ‘OK, fine.’ ”

But it says much about the world we still live in that Lane’s husband cannot talk openly about his love for his wife — while also publicly revealing his last name.

The reason, Lane said, has nothing to do with shame or embarrassment. “It has to do with a safety concern for our daughter in high school,”  she said.

Because high schools still have Bunsen burners.

“I decided a long time ago there would always have to be a certain sense of guardedness,” her husband said. “I am protective to the point of overbearing. That was a decision I made early on, because I love my wife.”

Lane graduated from high school early and went off to New York, where she would later perform in one of the seminal productions in Broadway history. She doesn’t claim that experience on her resume, or her college degrees, because she did so under a name that no longer exists.

When Lane completed her gender realignment surgery, a process she finds as interesting as the details of your hip replacement, she took on her new name. She says Eden Lane “is both a way to honor my grandmother, and part of the name that I was given at birth.”

But she never tells that birth name, she said, “because it feeds into that idea that the identity I have now is somehow false.”

More than a decade ago, she moved to Colorado and began her TV career contributing to both the longtime PBS gay-issues news program Colorado Outspoken and CBS News’ Logo channel. Lane met her husband crossing paths at a 2000 charity benefit for Children’s Hospital she was covering. He was by then working in automotive sales management.

Dating for any transgendered person is fraught. The dating pool is much smaller. The danger is much higher. Lane was cynical at first, and Don knows why.  “Her cynicism was earned,” he said. “It has both protected her — and kept her safe.”

They each faced moments of truth — Eden had to tell him her story; he had to tell her he was a divorced man with joint custody of a toddler.  His opportunity came when Lane’s car broke down, and she needed help.

“I had decided that no matter who I was seeing, I wasn’t going to introduce them to my daughter until I felt some connectivity with that person,” her husband said. What better moment than to say, “Well, this is my daughter … Can you watch her while I work on your car?”

Lane never knows whether new people look at her and instantly know she’s different. She’s an evidently tall, buxom blonde who quotes Lenora Claire by saying: “I am more ample-size than sample-size.”

But do people know when they see her? Some do. Her husband didn’t.

Entertainment reporter Kirk Montgomery from KUSA Channel 9 did not know until someone from a focus group mentioned it, “and I spit out my coffee,” he said. I had no idea, and frankly it didn’t matter at all — I just felt like the last one to the party.”

Last month, Lane interviewed actor Ben Dicke, who was seriously injured just before the opening performance of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” at the Aurora Fox. Dicke watched Lane’s piece with his parents, telling them first, “I have a secret to tell you about Eden after the show.” When he told them, they were a bit baffled, these churchgoing folks who grew up in rural Kansas. “All they saw was someone who is successful, smart, well-spoken and in the spotlight,” Dicke said.

Lane has never made her medical history a secret. “To me, secrets are poison,” she said. But when it comes to a romantic entanglement, “there comes a point where you have to discern whether they know, because they deserve to know your history,” she said. “You certainly are not trying to fool anyone.”

But, she greatly understated: “Not every man can handle that sort of thing.”

Lane chose to tell her husband in what they now fondly call their “Taco Bell drive-through moment.”  She chose there because it’s a safe place. “You can get out of the car and get away if you need to,” she said.

She didn’t need to.

“For me, I was always looking  more at the person, and I liked what I saw,” her husband said. “I asked myself, ‘Now that I know the back story, do I still care about her?’ And the answer was yes.”

In the end, he decided, “People are people, and love is love.”

They have lost some friends. “But,” his wife adds, “we’ve made many more.”

 

A few favorite photos from 2012

Rose and Jim Engagement Shoot. Photo by John Moore.

Rose and Jim Engagement Shoot. Photo by John Moore.

 

My niece, Aaliyah. Photo by John Moore.

My niece, Aaliyah. Photo by John Moore.

 

Rhonda Brown on opening night of "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." Photo by John Moore.

Actor Rhonda Brown on opening night of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” Photo by John Moore.

 

Ben Dicke on opening night of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" ... my favorite photo of the year ,

Ben Dicke on opening night of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” … my favorite photo of the year ,