Photo series: My night at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s ‘Church Basement Ladies’

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Veteran actors Barb Reeves and Bren. (yes that’s a period) Eyestone Burron put on a bit of a rural midwestern church-like fashion show backstage in the moments before taking the stage in Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s regional premiere of the family musical, “Church Basement Ladies.” Hubba, hubba!

 

By John Moore
Feb. 27, 2013

Opening No. 33: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre has been pushing the envelope a bit of late with productions like “Avenue Q,” but “Church Basement Ladies” is a nostalgic new musical comedy for the whole family. It’s about four 1960s “steel magnolias” who prepare the food while confronting various events in a rural Lutheran church in Minnesota. It’s been much an homage to (as opposed to a satire of) those tireless women whose lives revolve around faith, service and (in one case) hot flashes. Featuring Barb Reeves, Ali Dunfee, Bren. Eyestone Burron, Heather Marie Doris and Wayne Kennedy. Directed by Curt Wollan. 5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or BDT’s home page. Photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Michael J. Duran, Neal Dunfee, cast and crew.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 33 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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An up-close-and-personal look at Barb Reeves’ circa 1964 socks.

 

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It may be an unknown title, but the BDT faithful packed “Church Basement Ladies” down to the last chair on Saturday.

 

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BDT favorite Wayne Kennedy was more than willing to be cast as a “Basement Drag Lady,” but this sweet family comedy is SO not that kind of show. So he had to settle for playing the lovable Lutheran Pastor Gunderson.

 

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The sign says 34, but it will soon be changed: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre is now celebrating 35 years in business.

 

OPENING 33
Boulder actor – and native – Barb Reeves takes a moment before Saturday’s performance of “Church Basement Ladies” to remember her mother, Betty Reeves. Barb is an original member of the Boulder’s Dinner Theatre ensemble, dating back 35 years. But her mother’s credits include the 1982 production of “Grease,” pictured above. Betty (middle row, second from right) played Miss Lynch.

 

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Not to be outdone, producer Michael J. Duran poses by the photo of his starring performance in the very first production ever staged at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre in 1978: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Haircut” … I mean, “Dreamcoat.”

 

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The front lobby is now dominated by the gigantic old plane that was an integral set piece for BDT’s recent staging of “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Michael J. Duran couldn’t bear to lose it, so he had it moved to the front lobby.

 

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Equinox, Sugar to honor Perkes by resuming “Bat Boy” performances

Nick Sugar starred with Jenny Hecht in a 2004 production of "Bat Boy, the Musical" for Theatre Group.

Nick Sugar starred with Jenny Hecht in a 2004 production of “Bat Boy, the Musical” for Theatre Group.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 26, 2013

Adam Perkes was expected to star in the irreverent musical "Bat Boy," through March 9 at the Bug Theater opposite Rachelle Wood.

Adam Perkes died after the opening weekend of “Bat Boy.” He is shown with Rachelle Wood.

No one can ever know for certain what the “right” thing to do is when faced with sudden and unexpected tragedy. But after a period of reflection, the Equinox Theatre Company has decided the best way for it to honor Adam Perkes, the late star of its current staging of “Bat Boy, the Musical,” is to resume the production that opened just four days before Perkes’ death.

And in a remarkable display of communion within the Colorado theater community, acclaimed theater artist Nick Sugar has agreed to join the aggrieved cast and step back into one of his signature roles.

“I think it is important to honor Adam, and his struggle,” said Sugar. “I don’t think anyone should ever have that much pain.”

Sugar won a 2004 Westword Best of Denver Award for his performance with Theatre Group as the misunderstood half-human, half-bat boy named Edgar. Five years later, Sugar directed an irreverent staging of the tabloid-inspired musical for Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center, starring Mark Lively.

Perkes was found dead Feb. 20 in a Glenwood Springs hotel room, after what authorities say appears to have been an overdose of drugs and alcohol. The production was placed on indefinite hiatus, but the cast and creative team have decided to return with performances on Fridays and Saturday nights March 8-9 and 15-16.

“If we walked away now, we would only look back on this whole experience with nothing but pain in our hearts,” said Equinox producer Deb Flomberg. “Instead, by coming together and creating art, we are finding a way to triumph over that pain.”

Perkes’ father, Brent, expressed both delight and relief today on hearing the news that “Bat Boy” will live on. “We were feeling bad about that, so my family will be happy to hear that,” he said after his son’s funeral service.

During the ceremony, Perkes’ uncle, David Bowman, read a message that Adam’s mother, Brenda, wanted delivered specifically to the “Bat Boy” family:

Adam’s family wants wants you to know, and he wants you to know, that he was totally committed to finishing the musical, and he was totally committed to everyone involved with it. He had every intention of seeing it through, despite the fact that he was really struggling with his illness. His trip to the Hot Springs was to try to relax and get a grip on the severe (panic) attacks that have been plaguing him. He simply made a poor decision in trying to stop an attack. Adam would be, and is, deeply sorry.”

Exiting the church, Brenda Perkes stopped and waved to the section of the church where Adam’s theater friends were seated. “Thank you for coming,” she silently mouthed as she walked out.

Flomberg and director Colin Roybal agonized over the decision to continue the show, then decided, with input from the cast, that if “Bat Boy” were to return, it would be best to have an accomplished actor with previous experience in the role. Sugar has won 10 Denver Post Ovation Awards and five Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards as actor, director or choreographer.

“He’s incredibly good at what he does,” Flomberg said.

sugarquote

Sugar understands all too well what the Perkes and Equinox families are going through. Sugar has lost three siblings, two in their 20s. His father died in 2000, his mother two months ago on Christmas day. And just last night, he had to put down his canine companion of nearly 15 years, Zucci.

“Anyone who has ever loved and lost knows that grief,” Sugar said. “I think it’s going to be a very healing process for all of us.”

Flomberg approached Sugar even though he has no personal affiliation with her small theater company. But Sugar, she said, understands the importance of the time-honored theater maxim: “The show must go on.”

“He doesn’t know us, and he doesn’t know me,” Flomberg said. “He’s used to working in bigger theaters with bigger budgets, so for him to step into our world and help us — it speaks to his giving nature, and it speaks to the giving nature of this community as a whole. The theater community has proven time and again that we are here to support each other.”

Sugar also expressed a desire to help in any way he can the two dozen or so cast and crew who are putting on “Bat Boy,” including Flomberg, who, as producer, had a significant financial investment in the show.

“This whole company of artists is hurting,” said Sugar, “and as a fellow artist, I feel an honor and a duty to do whatever I can to help them.”

Flomberg admitted it is with a sense of both awe and trepidation that she goes back into rehearsals tonight. No matter who assumed the role of Edgar, it will be impossible for anyone on her team to separate the character from the actor who originally played the role, if only for one weekend.

In the story, the town veterinarian brings the Bat Boy to his home, where he is accepted as a member of the family and taught to act like a “normal” boy. But in a wink at “Frankenstein,” the narrow-minded people of the small Virginia town eventually turn on him. The vet’s daughter (played by Rachelle Wood) sings the lyrics, “He never knew what he was worth. I could not stop his fall. But in his precious hours on Earth, he taught us all: Let go the fears to which you cling. And through your tears, you’ll hear him sing.”

Flomberg quoted those very words at Perkes’ wake on Saturday night.

“There are very close parallels between Edgar and Adam,” Flomberg said. “The message of the show is about a young man who is rejected by society and is ultimately very alone. In essence, that was Adam, too.”

Moving forward does not exactly feel right, she said. But moving forward with Sugar does not exactly feel wrong.

“It’s exciting, in a way,” she said. “It’s flattering that he would do this.”

Perkes will be buried beside his infant sister Natasha in Hyde Park, Utah, on Saturday, March 2.

The family has asked that memorial donations be made in Perkes’ name to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) at 1100 Filmore St., Denver, 80206.

Equinox’s “Bat Boy, the Musical”: Ticket information

Showtimes: No performances March 1-2; then 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays March 8-9 and 15-16

Location: At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St.

Information and ticket sales: 720-984-0781 or the Bug Theatre’s home page

Nick Sugar directed the Town Hall Arts Center's 2009 staging of "Bat Boy," starring Mark Lively.  A 2005 production in Dillon starred Joshua Blanchard.

Nick Sugar directed the Town Hall Arts Center’s 2009 staging of “Bat Boy,” starring Mark Lively. A 2005 production in Dillon starred Joshua Blanchard.

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Bobby G’s: Denver Center joins national awards program honoring high-school theater

Fairview High School's 2011 production of "All Shook Up."

Fairview High School’s 2011 production of “All Shook Up.”

 

By John Moore
Feb. 26, 2013

Robert Garner

Robert Garner

Denver Center Attractions has embarked on a major, ongoing commitment to honoring the best in Colorado high-school musical theater by joining up with the National High School Musical Theater Awards program based out of New York.

A team of local expert adjudicators is already scouring productions being staged this semester by more than 20 participating public and private high schools in the metro area. The highest score recipients will receive the first-ever Bobby G Awards, named after pioneering local theater producer Robert Garner, who died last year. The parent national awards program is known as “The Jimmys,” after Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander.

The categories will be patterned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, with honors going to best actors, actresses, directors, student designers and many more. The nominees will be announced in early May, and the winners at a gala awards ceremony May 30 that will include performances by all the nominated “best productions.” The students named outstanding actor and actress by the Bobby G’s will then move on to the Jimmys — otherwise known as the NHSMTAs (whew!), a week-long awards program that runs from June 26 through July 2 in New York. In all, more than 50,000 high-school students participate in the national awards program each year.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts president Randy Weeks said the Bobby G’s are a fitting way of honoring Garner, who founded what later became Denver Center Attractions (the Denver Center’s Broadway division).

“Sending two kids to New York for excellence in musical theater?” Weeks said, “I mean, how much would he have loved that?”

Normally, a newly added region must be phased in for one year before its winners advance to nationals. But Denver is being fast-tracked, Weeks said, in part because of the credibility that the Denver Center brings to its regional program. That is thanks in part, Weeks said, to local actor David Cates, who brought the idea to him when he moved here from California. Cates, one half of the “He Said/She Said” local theater critics team, had been a judge in California’s awards program, and proposed its expansion into Colorado via Denver Center Attractions. Weeks since has hired Cates on a contract basis to administer the awards locally.

David Cates

David Cates


“He has direct experience managing one of these programs,” Weeks said, “so he brings us right up to speed with everyone else relatively quickly.”

The launch of the Bobby G’s dovetails nicely with Denver Center Theatre Company artistic director Kent Thompson’s new playwriting program that he is bringing into area high schools. “This is all coming together rather nicely,” Weeks said. “We are doing what we are supposed to be doing: Promoting and exposing the high-school kids to theater.”

The first round of Bobby G adjudicators are made up of a wide variety of professional theater artists, including Weeks himself, as well as acclaimed area actors Nick Sugar, Barbra Andrews, Michael Stricker, Scott Rathbun, Matt LaFontaine and Thadd Krueger; Channel 12 arts host Eden Lane (“In Focus with Eden Lane”); the “He Said/She Said” team of David Cates and Kateri McRae; Northglenn Youth Theatre director Kim Jongejan; and myself (founder of the arts web site CultureWest.Org, former theater critic at The Denver Post and creator of a lamented web site dedicated to all things Colorado high-school theater called “Standing O”).

“With the arts in schools receiving less and less funding, the Bobby G’s can only help encourage those amazing students who are doing the extra work it takes to participate in the performing arts,” said Lane, who wishes there had been a similar program when she was in high school. “In my day, a program like this certainly would have solidified the idea in my mind that this can be more than a hobby — that you can have a career in the performing arts.”

That the new program is being administered by a major regional theater company such as the Denver Center — “and a Tony-winning company at that,” she said, “certainly gives this new program all the credibility it needs.”

A major component of the Bobby G’s program is feedback. Every adjudicator numerically scores each school’s achievement in various categories but also offers detailed, constructive reaction and advice on all aspects of every production, using standards set by the national program, as well as their own professional experience. Participating schools will eventually receive each adjudicator’s comments, praise and constructive criticism — all designed to recognize success and encourage future growth.

“This is serious stuff,” said Weeks.

It is hoped that the Bobby G’s will help counter the decades-old disproportion in attention and value our society has placed on those kids who excel in sports over those who pursue careers in the performing arts.

“That has been an ongoing consideration for decades, but I think things are changing,” Weeks said. “Because of social media, the kids in the drama department have the ability to find their own voices now. The Bobby G’s is just another way of supporting the kids who don’t always get the attention.”

National awards president Van Kaplan said Denver Center Attractions is a welcome addition to the National High School Musical Theater Awards. “As one of the country’s foremost professional theaters, it is uniquely positioned to be a leader in supporting young performers and the outstanding work taking place in high schools in Colorado,” he said.

While this year’s lineup of participating schools is set, interested high schools may apply for future Bobby G Awards consideration by going to www.BobbyGAwards.org. The registration fee is $200 per school. All fees go directly back into funding and growing the program.

 

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Photos: My night at Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5”

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The opening night curtain call for the “9 to 5” cast on Feb. 22, 2013.

 

The crew were presented employee badges as opening-night gifts at the opening of Town Hall Arts Center's "9 to 5" - including former cast member Shelly Bordas, who was unable to attend because of a chemo session. Photo by Kelly Kates.

The crew were presented employee badges as opening-night gifts at the opening of Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5” – including former cast member Shelly Bordas, who was unable to attend because of a chemo session. Photo by Kelly Kates.

By John Moore
Feb. 26, 2013

Opening No. 32: The Littleton Town Hall Arts Center cast and crew had to work some overtime to pull off its regional premiere of  “9 to 5,” the stage adaptation of the 1980 hit film. But come together they did, from uncommon staging challenges to the departure of cast member Shelly Bordas, whose cancer battle forced her to leave the show. “9 to 5” is the (thankfully) retro tale of three secretaries who conspire to take control of their company and learn there’s nothing they can’t do in a man’s world. Featuring Margie Lamb, Alison Mueller, Lisa Finnerty, Seth Caikowski and Jona Alonzo. Directed by Christopher Willard. 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or town hall’s home page. Photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Cheryl McNab, Leslie Rutherford, cast and crew.

Bonus video coverage: Here is a link to Part 1 of our video series bringing you the Shelly Bordas Story. And here’s how you can help defray her medical costs.

Note: A benefit concert for Shelly Bordas and her son will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at Columbine United Church, 6375 S. Platte Canyon Road, Littleton, 80123. And proceeds from a special performance of “9 to 5” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 4, at Town Hall Arts Center, also will be donated to Bordas. Call 794-2787 for reservations.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 33 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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Director Christopher Willard and musical director Donna Debreceni hug it out on the stage an hour before the opening performance.

 

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Stage manager Karin Carter and musical director Donna Debreceni work out the final touches on the recorded musical tracks.

 

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Ensemble member Rae Klapperich stretches out during physical warmups before Friday’s opening performance.

 

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The cast gathers on the Town Hall stage for vocal warmups, above, and a group hug, below, before Friday’s opening performance of “9 to 5.”


OPENING 32

 

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Pump and Dump: Moms, comedy and cocktails

Three funny Denver  moms (from left, Karen Slack, Shayna Ferm and Tracey Tee) host a monthly comedy show by moms for moms called "Pump and Dump" at the bar Local 46. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

Three funny Denver moms (from left, Karen Slack, Shayna Ferm and Tracey Tee) host a monthly comedy show for moms called the “Pump and Dump” at the bar Local 46 in northwest Denver. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

By John Moore
Feb. 22, 2013

The Pump and Dump is a new monthly “parentally incorrect” live comedy talk show where moms dish the diaper-doo … and the men? Well, the lady with the mic playfully refers to the few outnumbered guys hanging awkwardly near the back as “the mother (bleepers). She’s not so much being cruel as … literal. After all, if it weren’t for these (and other) husbands and fathers, none of the women here would even be mothers. And almost all of them are.

This is a freelance story I wrote to lead Friday’s Denver Post entertainment section. Click here to read the whole thing, and to find information about Wednesday’s next gathering of the Pump and Dump.

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Photo series: “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theater”: To see my ongoing gallery featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from more than 30 opening nights (and counting), click here.

Death of actor Adam Perkes: ‘He had so much left to share’

Adam Perkes was expected to star in the irreverent musical "Bat Boy," through March 9 at the Bug Theatre opposite Rachelle Wood.

Adam Perkes was expected to star in the irreverent musical “Bat Boy,” through March 9 at the Bug Theatre opposite Rachelle Wood.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 21, 2013

Adam Perkes, a gifted young stage actor best known for his comic swagger on stage and his deep sensitivity off it, has died at age 27, the Garfield County coroner confirmed today.

Adam Perkes

Adam Perkes

In a recent playbill, Perkes used the space normally reserved for actors to talk about their own stage accomplishments as an opportunity to remind anyone in his audience “that all good things stem from simple acts of love.” He went on to express a deep sadness for the victims of the Aurora cinema shootings.

“The next time you feel like the world done you wrong,” he wrote, “eat a glazed donut.”

Perkes was found dead at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the bathtub of a room at the Hot Springs Lodge in Glenwood Springs. Police Chief Terry Wilson told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent there were indications that Perkes had consumed alcohol and pills before he died, and that foul play is not suspected. Wilson said he is awaiting a coroner’s report to determine if the death will be ruled as suicide or accidental.

Perkes was the star of the Equinox Theatre’s current staging of “Bat Boy, the Musical,” which had been scheduled to run through March 9 at the Bug Theatre. An announcement from the company will be made soon on whether the rest of the run will happen.

“My first thought was how much of a loss this is for the entire theater community, because he had so much left to share,” said Equinox Theatre Company producer Deb Flomberg.

The family has announced that a funeral service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 27) at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 9277 W. Dartmouth Place in Lakewood. A viewing will be held at the same address before the service from noon to 1 p.m.

Perkes, also a gifted pianist, was nominated for a 2010 Denver Post Ovation Award as best supporting actor in a comedy for his performance in the Miners Alley Playhouse’s “Habeas Corpus” in Golden. A bespectacled Perkes was remarkable in playing a doctor’s grotesquely awkward – and libidinous – son.

Kestrel Burley, Adam Perkes and Theresa Reid in the Miners Alley Playhouse's "Habeas Corpus" in 2010.

Kestrel Burley, Adam Perkes and Theresa Reid in the Miners Alley Playhouse’s “Habeas Corpus” in 2010.

Wrote Juliet Wittman of Westword: “Where did they get the expectorating Adam Perkes? He cuts loose only once or twice as Dennis, but when he does, his lunacy is inspired.” Added Craig Williamson of the North Denver Tribune: “Adam Perkes captures the pimple-faced hypochondriac son with an appropriate amount of whining and sniveling.”

Perkes also played Leonard Irving in Equinox’s production of “In the Next Room, or The Vibrator play,” and as Modred in Performance Now’s “Camelot” at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

More recently, Perkes took on the monster role of the barber Pirelli in the Ignite Theatre’s ambitious and bloody “Sweeney Todd.” In his program bio, Perkes said he was “tickled red” to be playing the role in one of his favorite musicals.

His bio goes on to say:

“Acting is perhaps his second favorite activity in all of London and he is grateful and proud to be able to be given the opportunity. He would like to thank his friends for their emotional support and his family for keeping him alive. Adam would like to remind his audience that all good things stem from simple acts of love. His heart and prayers go out to everyone directly (and indirectly) affected by The Century 16 shootings. Enjoy the show and next time you feel like the world done you wrong, eat a glazed donut.”

“This is a crushing shock,” said Boni McIntyre, who played Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd.” “I can’t seem to stop the tears right now.”

McIntyre said Perkes was the most patient actor she has ever met. “He would sit through hours of rehearsal for his one moment to shine,” she said. “He never complained, and he was always spot-on and hilarious. He was someone you wanted to be around because he had such great energy. The twinkle that was always in his eye seemed irrepressible.”

Theater blogger David Marlowe wrote of Perkes’ performance in “Sweeney Todd”:  “Adam Perkes’ Pirelli is yet another in a string of superbly crafted manic characterizations.” Added Michael Mulhern of BroadwayWorld.com: “Adam Perkes stole the show with his over-the-top, hilarious interpretation of Pirelli.”

Adam Michael Perkes was born Nov. 25, 1985, to parents Brent and Brenda Sue, and was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Bear Creek High School. “His commencement speech had us all on the floor at Red Rocks,” said Connie Helsley, owner of the Heritage Square Music Hall in Golden and mother to one of Perkes’ close high-school friends. He will be so missed.”

Perkes went on to graduate from the University of Colorado-Boulder with honors from the English department specializing in creative writing.

Recently, Perkes submitted an audition tape to the Starz/Encore Network for an upcoming reality show. Here’s how he described himself: “Generally, people like me. I have pretty good fashion sense … and I look really good in hats.” (See video below.)

Flomberg said Perkes was particularly relishing the opportunity to play the Bat Boy because it was one of his first opportunities to play a leading role in the Denver theater community. That – and because the job got him recently featured in the infamous Weekly World News tabloid. “Bat Boy Spotted in Denver Theatre,” the headline screamed.

“My nipples have been featured in a tabloid,” Perkes wrote on his Facebook page. “I have reached the top.”

“Bat Boy” is an irreverent musical inspired by the very same tabloid’s account of a half boy/half bat creature discovered in a cave near Hope Falls, W.V. In the story, the town veterinarian takes the Bat Boy into his home as a member of the family — until the narrow-minded people of the town turn on him.

Wrote “The Playwright Priest,” Patrick Dorn: “Perkes is uncanny as Bat Boy. His character arc and transformation from a terrified cave creature to a Milton-esque superman/monster is phenomenal.”

Perkes was raised Mormon and often wrote with equal parts cleverness, humor and poignance about his life and personal struggles on Facebook. In one section, he teases God for not making him a lesbian. “I’m deeply disappointed by my sexual interest in men,” he wrote. During Facebok’s recent “Doppelganger Week,” Perkes replaced his profile picture with that of actor Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”).

On a more serious note, Perkes quotes Oscar Wilde in his “about me” description, saying, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

Perkes is survived by his parents, siblings, Skyler James (23), Chorus Ann (15), Charity Rose (12) and Sean David (8); grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. He was preceded in death by his sister, Natasha.

“The family will greatly miss his dramatic flair and sharp wit,” Perkes’ funeral-home obituary says. “Adam was, and is, greatly loved by many. He will be deeply missed until we meet again.”

Perkes will be buried beside his infant sister Natasha in Hyde Park, Utah, on Saturday, March 2.

The family has asked that memorial donations be made in Perkes’ name to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) at
1100 Filmore St., Denver, 80206.

 

Adam Perkes’ audition video Starz/Encore:


Adam Perkes submitted this video to apply to be on an upcoming road trip reality show. In it, he explains that he normally has “gorgeous blonde, curly hair,” but that he shaved it to star in the Equinox Theatre’s current production of “Bat Boy, the Musical.”

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Video: The Shelly Bordas Story, Part 1: “Tit for Tot”

By John Moore
Feb. 21, 2013

In this ongoing video documentary, veteran journalist John Moore chronicles Denver actor and mother Shelly Bordas’ journey since being diagnosed – for a second time – with Stage 4 breast cancer that has now spread to her brain. Run time: 6 minutes.

Previous reporting on this story:
The initial CultureWest.Org news report on Shelly’s story


The Bordas fund reaches $10,000 in first 24 hours

Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts hit $20,000 after first week


Kirk Montgomery’s “E-Block” report on Channel 9

Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”

Note: the coordinator of all Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts is Kelly Kates. Her email is kateshouse@earthlink.net

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Photo series: “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theater”: To see my ongoing gallery featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from more than 30 opening nights (and counting), click here.

Curious Theatre’s new season: Dietz, “Good People” and “Venus in Fur”

"Venus in Fur" on Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Venus in Fur” on Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Steven Dietz

Steven Dietz.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 21, 2013

Curious Theatre Company’s 16th season will further its “always new to Denver” mantra to include the premiere of a “new to everyone” original work by Denver native Steven Dietz.

The most recognized titles on the new season announced today are two recent Tony-nominated best plays — “Venus in Fur,” David Ives’ story of a beleaguered playwright who is desperate to find an actress to play the female lead in his adaptation of the classic sadomasochistic tale of the same name; and “Good People,” David Lindsay-Abaire’s tale of a down-on-her-luck Boston “Southie” who thinks an old fling might be her ticket to a fresh new start.

But Curious is also understandably jazzed about presenting the “rolling world premiere” of Dietz’s “Rancho Mirage.” It’s about six longtime friends gathering for one final dinner party.

Curious is part of the National New Play Network, an alliance of 26 professional nonprofit theaters that champion the development, production and continued life of new plays. Selected works are guaranteed three separate stagings by member companies throughout the nation. Curious gets the fourth and final shots at “Rancho Mirage,” so what it presents will be the one that’s most closely released to the world for future productions.

The season also includes “After the Revolution” by Amy Herzog, Matthew Lopez’s “The Whipping Man,” “Good People” (Tony Award nominated for Best New Play), and Venus in Fur (Tony Award nominated for Best Play).

Curious Theatre’s 2013-14 season
(All content below provided by Curious Theatre press release)

“
AFTER THE REVOLUTION
”
By Amy Herzog
Sept. 7-Oct. 19, 2013
The passionate, brilliant Emma Joseph proudly carries the torch of her family’s long-held Marxist traditions by devoting her life to the memory of her legendary blacklisted grandfather. When a stunning revelation uncovers a dark secret, each member of the family must reconcile everything they thought they stood for with the shadowy truth of history.

“RANCHO MIRAGE
”
By Steven Dietz
Nov. 2-Dec. 7, 2013
When six longtime friends gather for a one final dinner party, the evening unfolds with comic surprises, alarming secrets and shocking bombshells that none of them will soon forget. From the playwright of “Yankee Tavern.” Dietz’s dark comedy asks what remains between us when our youth, our dreams and our last bottle of wine is gone?

“THE WHIPPING MAN
”
By Matthew Lopez
Jan. 11-Feb. 15, 2014
In the aftermath of the Civil War, a Jewish Confederate soldier returns home to discover his two former slaves living in the ruins of his family’s once grand plantation. Bound together by faith, they reunite to celebrate Passover and confront their past, present and future. “The Whipping Man” is a hauntingly powerful drama about new-found freedom and the painful legacy of slavery.

“GOOD PEOPLE
”
By David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed Christy Montour-Larson
March 8-April 19, 2014
In South Boston, good people lean on their neighbors in tough times, nights are spent playing Bingo at the local church, and they live from paycheck to paycheck. Falling on hard times, Margie looks up a former boyfriend hoping to turn her luck – and her life – around. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire explores how a twist of fate can change your life and whether you can ever escape your circumstances without abandoning your roots in this humor-filled story about society and class.

“
VENUS IN FUR”
By David Ives
Directed by Chip Walton
May 3-June 14, 2014
In this darkly seductive tale, a sexy and mysterious actress shows up hours late for her audition, and knows that she may have blown her chances at the role of a lifetime. But she slowly turns the tables into an erotic and electrifying game of cat and mouse that changes all the rules. Nominated for the 2012 Tony Award for best play, award-winning playwright David Ives’ new play blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction and power, and love and sex.

Season subscriptions  range from $75-$210 and go on sale starting March 1, 2013, at www.curioustheatre.org. All performances are held at 1080 Acoma St., Denver, 80204.

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Photo series: “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theater”: To see my ongoing gallery featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from more than 30 opening nights (and counting), click here.

Photos: My night at the Aurora Fox’s ‘Consider the Oyster’

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A view of the opening-night party from behind the “Consider the Oyster” set, shot through the cut-out window of a Detroit skyscraper. Very cool set design by Shaun Albrechtson.

By John Moore
Feb. 19, 2013

Opening No. 30: “Consider the Oyster” is a gender-bending comic fantasy developed by Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Theatre Company in Michigan. Playwright David MacGregor’s tale trades on two little-known facts: That all oysters are born male and turn female. And that cutting-edge doctors now use oyster shells to speed the repair of broken human bones. In the story, the perennially hapless Detroit Lions actually win a Super Bowl title. (Go with us here.) In the euphoria of the celebration, super-fan Gene Walsh (Ben Dicke) impulsively proposes marriage to his girlfriend (Rachel Turner), immediately breaks his leg, and, well … they can take it from here. Ironically, director Bev Newcomb-Madden had her own foot surgery just four days after opening night. “Let’s hope they didn’t use oyster shell!” said producer Charles Packard. Also featuring Jude Moran, Rhonda Brown and Ali Frances. Through March 10 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or the Aurora Fox’s home page. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Charles Packard, Lindsey Sullivan, Patricia Wells, cast and crew.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 31 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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Randy, rowdy Rhonda Brown plays a considerably more uptight character on stage – a sharkish attorney who is out to score millions of dollars.

 

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Rachel Turner plays the confounded finace Marissa, whose intended is no longer the man she thought he was.

 

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Ben Dicke, left, and Jude Moran play roommates Gene and Eliot.

 

OPENING 30
Director Bev Newcomb-Madden is the most prolific female director in Colorado theater history, with nearly 300 productions to her name, dating back to the old Bonfils Theatre in the 1960s. Here, in a backstage dressing room at the Aurora Fox, she greets the women who appear in her latest effort, from left: Rhonda Brown, Rachel Turner and Ali Frances.

 

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Photos: My night at LIDA Project’s ‘R.U.R./lol’

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By John Moore
Feb. 19, 2013

Opening No. 29: Denver’s oldest and really only true experimental theater company is the LIDA Project. Its newest original work, “R.O.R./lol,” picks up where Czech playwright Karel Capek’s 1920 science-fiction play “Rossum’s Universal Robots” ends. That play is actually  where  the word “robot” was introduced into the lexicon.

LIDA’s theatrical exploration is set “at the end of humanity,” and it’s up to four deliciously attractive fembots to protect what remains of the planet from catastrophe. I was stuck by the part when the desperate robots consider that perhaps the only way to save the world might be by “creating something new.” (I believe that was the same call to action in the Mark Rothko play “Red”). Capek always used scientific miracles as a means for affirming his faith in human values. But LIDA’s P.O.V. is, not surprisingly … somewhat more cynical (lol).

“R.U.R./lol” marks LIDA’s most ambitious multimedia effort to date, which is saying something. It features 13 live-feed projectors running in real time. The cast includes Laura Lounge, Hart DeRose, Heidi Pachner and Rhea Amos. Directed by Lorenzo Sariñana, who along with David Lafont, Tommy Sheridan, Kenrick Fischer, Dustin Lacy and Brian Freeland, play “Controllers.” Through March 2 at 2701 Lawrence St., 720-221-3821 or the LIDA Project’s home page. All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Brian Freeland, cast and crew.

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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The sign talks a good game, but the robots in the play really do sort of care about your fate, if not your petty feelings.

 

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Backstage, actor robot Heidi Pachner helps castmate Lounge with her hairspray.

 

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LIDA Project founder Brian Freeland prepares the machinery for one of his most ambitious technical undertakings to date.

 

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Heidi Pachner gets ready to play. For much of the evening, the women playing the robots lie on their backs, as if docked. They each stare directly into a video camera that allows the audience to consider their enhanced, projected form in a compelling new way.

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2013 theater photo series: It’s Opening Night in Colorado

By John Moore
Jan. 1, 2014

Welcome to my 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. This series includes one representative shot from 151 of the performances we saw 2013. The intent was to allow the reader a window into a part of the creative process they are not often allowed to witness. The result was awide swath of public and private moments backstage, onstage and outside of the stage entirely. In addition to this primary series, we dedicated a gallery of outtakes to most every production we visited as well. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To inquire about reprints, email culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Most recent entry:

OPENING 151
At the end of their final performance last night, it was only fitting that, from left, Scott Koop, Alex Crawford, Amie Rau, Johnette Toye, Annie Dwyer, Rory Pierce, T.J. Mullin (and, unseen, musicians Randy Johnson and Eric Weinstein) had no choice but to stand silently while the overflow cheering crowd stood for several minutes  thanking them not just for an evening of entertainment, but for a quarter century of laughs, songs, terrible puns  and heart-tugging moments.

Opening No. 151: Heritage Square Music Hall’s “Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Goodbye”: It seems only appropriate that the final entry in our “opening nights” photo series was, in fact, a closing night. And what a closing night it was for the Heritage Square Music Hall: A New Year’s Eve celebration, followed by a midnight toast, live band and dancing into the wee hours. For this wasn’t just the end of a show for the Golden institution. That was closing night … period. And not just for T.J. Mullin and his venerable cadre of triple-threat performers. No, this was the end of the kind of entertainment Heritage Square has been providing audiences since Mullin bought the Heritage Square Music Hall from the legendary Bill Oakley in 1988. The Music Hall stopped being an old-fashioned house of melodrama long ago. It evolved into a place that offered blue-collar, comfortable, throwback fun. Clean, family entertainment (the hardest kind of comedy to pull off) that was both ridiculous and impeccably delivered at once. The Music Hall became best-known for its “Loud” shows, a series of pop radio hits performed by a cast that never got the credit it deserved for being among the most talented performers on any Denver stage. That final cast was Alex Crawford, Johnette Toye, Annie Dwyer, Rory Pierce and T.J. Mullin, with musicians Randy Johnson, Eric Weinstein and Crawford, with help from the booth from Scott Koop and Amie Rau. Merry Christmas indeed, Heritage Square Music Hall. And to all of you: Goodbye. Until we see you again. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Connie Helsley. Look for a full photo gallery from the final night in the coming days, as well as a video podcast that will include cast and audience interviews, and some performance highlights.

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OPENING 148

Opening No. 150: Vintage Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein”: The final opening night of our 2013 series has Mark Shoney jumping for joy. Actually Shonsey, who plays Igor, was pumping himself up during warmups for Friday’s opening-night performance in Aurora. This wickedly inspired re-imagining of the classic Mel Brooks movie follows young Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (“that’s Fronkensteen!”) as he attempts to create a monster, just like his uncle Victor – but not without comic complications. The brains behind the laughter is the mad genius himself – Brooks wrote the music and lyrics and co-wrote the book. This production is the first since renovations to the Vintage Theatre stage that lowered the playing area, allowing for greater vertical playing space. There is also increased wing space that allows for larger sets and larger live orchestras. Musical director Hunter Hall sports a merry band of 11 for “Young Frankenstein.” Starring Seth Maisel (Frederick Frankenstein), Mark Shonsey (Igor), Kristi Siedow-Thompson (Inga), Mike Keinker (The Monster), Shahara Ostrand (Elizabeth), Barbara Porecca (Frau Blucher), Patrick Brownson (Hans Kemp), Chris Gallegos (Victor), Richard-Curtis Simpson (Harold the Hermit) and Zach Nick (Ziggy), with an ensemble of Matt Cantwell, Matt Davis, Steffan Scrogan, David Ballew, Teig Stanley, Preston Britton, Kathi Wood, Kaitlyn Althoff, Bianca Hinchley and Nicole Giordano. Directed by Deb Flomberg. The show plays through Feb. 2. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays at 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintage’s home page . Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Aran Peters, Deb Persoff and Craig Bond.

 

OPENING 149

Opening No. 149: Starkey Theatrix’s “Home for the Holidays 2013″: For theater audiences, and the actors who perform it, a play or musical is an everyday, scheduled, temporary escape. But there are days when there is no escape from the unexpected barbarities the real world has been visiting upon Colorado with cruel regularity over the years: Chuck E. Cheese. Columbine. Platte Canyon. Aurora Century Cinemas. Multiple award-winning actor Margie Lamb (“Next to Normal”) sang and danced in the opening performance of Starkey Theatrix’s “Home for the Holidays 2013″ in Lone Tree on Thursday night. Now just try to imagine her horror when, at 12:36 p.m. the next afternoon, she received the text pictured above from her son, Blake. He’s a junior at Arapahoe High School. That text came in just a few minutes after fellow Arapahoe student Karl Pierson allegedly sought revenge against a teacher by opening fire with a shotgun at the school before taking his own life, police believe. What does a son do in those first few moments of inescapable, indescribable panic? Blake took out his phone and wrote his mom to make sure his parents knew, no matter what might happen next, that he loves them. Lamb immediately rushed from her downtown job to the school in Littleton, where she was reunited with her son, who by then was safe. Together, they became part of the lockdown that kept them both at the school for several more hours. And then, because the clock never stops, there was another show scheduled for Lamb to perform that night. And Lamb, being the pro that she is, went on. The show is a talent-laden bouquet to family audiences, a high-energy trifle meant to lift the community’s spirits during the holiday season. So what better way to stand up to violence and fear than to sing and dance? The musical revue offers some of the most popular holiday music from the past and present, much of it recast with cleverly altered lyrics to suit any given situation. And a wide variety of dancing styles, including gymnastics and a pulse-racing break-dance segment. The narrator is an elf played by Sarah Rex, alongside a deep ensemble made up of some big names in the local theater community including Lamb, Kenny Moten, Randy St. Pierre, Stephen Bertles, the very busy young Alejandro Roldan (“In the Heights” and “Next to Normal”) and Starkey’s founders, Chris Starkey and Ronni Gallup. The ensemble includes Rae Klapperich (who made the more than 100 costumes with her mother, Laurie Klapperich), Wyatt Baier, Hula-Hooper extraordinaire Ambrosia Brady, Olyvia Beyette, Cole Emerine, Erica Lloyd, Britni Girard, Jennifer Lynne Jorgensen, Anne Terze-Schwartz, Kristi Vogel and Tess Williams. In addition, there are special appearances by — I kid you not — members of the Denver Broncos Stampede Drumline, a competitive jump-roping team called the Jumping Eagles, and a dance company called Hip Hop Theatre. Not to mention 14 children and a live orchestra of six. Directed by Paul Dwyer, best known from his days as an actor at the now-closed Country Dinner Playhouse. The music director is Trent Hines; the Choreographers are Matthew D. Peters and John Gilette. Modifications have been made to make this show more accessible to individuals on the autism spectrum, who have learning disabilities or a variety of sensitivities. The show ran from through Dec. 22 at the Lone Tree Arts Center, 10075 Commons St. That’s just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000, or go to Lone Tree’s home page. Thanks: Heidi Echtenkamp.

 

OPENING 148
At its best, live theater in schools empowers young student performers with self-confidence and a sense of both camaraderie and shared accomplishment. At any level, live theater at its best moves audiences … and these two young audience members were clearly moved to, well, move during the Willow Creek Elementary School’s musical, “Dear Edwina Junior.”

Opening No. 148: Willow Creek Elementary School’s “Dear Edwina Junior”: This middle-school fave follows the adventures of plucky advice-giver Edwina Spoonapple as she directs the neighborhood kids in a series of production numbers as part of the latest edition of her weekly “Advice-A-Palooza” extravaganza. Written in the episodic style of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Dear Edwina Junior” takes turns showcasing different members of its young cast. In the case of the fifth-grade musical at Willow Creek Elementary School, one of those cast members was my nephew, Aiden, who played a vampire named Frankenguest. It must be in the (vampire) blood. Aiden his made his stage debut with the school’s “Madd Hatters” group two days shy of his 11th birthday.

 

OPENING 147Young Catamounts cast member Quinn Hirschland jumps for joy – and casts a long shadow – during a pre-show rehearsal for Feed.”

Opening No. 147: The Catamounts’ “Feed: Short and Sweet”: Boulder’s The Catamounts performance collective reference food in their slogan: “Theatre for the Adventurous Palate.” So it’s feeding, I mean fitting, that Amanda Berg Wilson’s young team has turned its unique “Feed” series into its signature offering. “Feed” offers audiences professional storytelling paired with specialty beer and locally sourced food. In this case: A roster of Sanitas beers paired with hand-crafted desserts from Kim and Jake’s Cakes; Sweet Cow Ice Cream; and pastry chefs Dorian O’Connell and Kathy Moore.) They perform while you nosh in the back brewing room at Sanita’s Brewing Company. The food and the theater fare serve as equal partners in creating a cohesive narrative here. The common ingredient for this round of stories: Each evokes sweet moments that arise from The depths of the coldest and hardest times of year, when the days are shortest and challenges the biggest. The Catamounts’ aforementioned Amanda Berg Wilson, Joan Bruemmer-Holden, McPherson Horle and Jeremy Make are joined by guest storytellers Heather Grimes (from Boulder’s “Truth Be Told” story slam) and a boy named Quinn HIrschland to perform a mix of monologues, adapted short stories and real stories from Boulder’s recent floods. There’s some A.A. Milne (“A House is built at Pooh Corner for Eeyore”) in there, with a taste of former Colorado Mines engineering student turned celebrated fiction writer George Saunders (“Tenth of December.”) A second “Feed” has been scheduled to accommodate demand at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. at Sanitas, 3550 Frontier Ave. (off Foothills Parkway and Pearl Street). Tickets are $30. Call 720-468-0487 or go to The Catamounts’ home page.

 

OPENING 146
Introducing one of the lesser-known Knights of the Round Table: Sir Fabio. Scott Severtson, who’s not normally this … maned … plays Sir Dennis, a k a Galahad.

Opening No. 146: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Monty Python’s Spamalot”: Monty Python has come to Boulder to taunt poor King Arthur, the principled if idiotic leader of the quest for the Holy Grail. Why God the all-knowing has misplaced a cup is anyone’s guess. “Spamalot,” the Tony Award-winning best musical of 2005, lovingly rips off the beloved, warped source film, with its full allotment of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and that one snickeringly legless fightin’ knight. While the plot loosely follows the same course of events as the film, the stage equivalent is very much its own sacrilegious thing, so do not come expecting a carbon copy. We open in Finland, after all. I mean, this is a bona fide Broadway musical, so it’s got to have some actual women too. And here those women are Laker Girls. For real. Starring Wayne Kennedy as the utterly guileless King Arthur, with Alicia Dunfee as his Lady of the Lake. The ensemble includes Brett Ambler, Scott Beyette, Brian Cronin, Barrett Harper, Jessica Hindsley, Bob Hoppe, Brian Jackson, Norrell Moore, Brian Norber, Joey Revier, Scott Severtson, Burke Walton, Tracy Warren, Tracey Zimmerman and … STG … Jerry Lewis (the real Jerry Lewis) as the Voice of God. Directed by Piper Lindsay Arpan, who appeared in the Broadway production of “Spamalot.” Showtimes: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 7:45 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 1:30 and 7:45 p.m. Sundays (dinner service 90 minutes before) through March 1 at 5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or BDT’s home page Thanks: Michael J. Duran, Seamus McDonough, cast and crew.

 

OPENING 145
Noal Blessing, left, and Everett Ediger show off their varying flying machines backstage on opening night. Noal sports a Lego spaceship; Everett sends his paper airplane aloft just as the shutter is snapped. Noal, who has Spastic Cerebral Palsy and a progressive hearing deficit, and Everett, who has Spina Bifida, play the sons of George Bailey. The Phamaly Theatre Company prides itself on adding new levels of complexity and meaning to any production it takes on by virtue of the evident disabilities its actors incorporate into their stage characters. So what we have here is a George Bailey driven to the brink of suicide, only here he’s leaving behind four handicapped kids, two of them young boys in wheelchairs. That certainly adds layers to the emotion-laden issue of suicide. There are those who intractably believe that any act of suicide, for any reason, is inherently selfish and/or sinful. So the very idea of George leaving a wife behind to care for four (adorable) handicapped children here no doubt makes actor Jeremy Palmer’s challenge in playing him sympathetically that much more difficult. But young Jeremy is up to the task. It should be noted that directors Steve Wilson and Bryce Russell Alexander do not have Palmer utter the second half of Jimmy Stewart’s most chilling line of the famous source movie, which he blurts when George is at the depth of his anger and despair: “You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?”

Opening No. 145: Phamaly Theatre Company’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”: This is the acclaimed local handicapped theatre company’s first-ever holiday presentation. The story of George Bailey and his not-so-wonderful life in Bedford Falls (he thinks) remains a timeless fable of dreams, disillusionment and, ultimately, the power of love. The cast includes Jeremy Palmer (George Bailey), Lyndsay Palmer (Mary Bailey), Trenton Schindele (Clarence), Michael Leopard (Mr. Potter) and an ensemble that includes Daniel Traylor, David Wright, Lucy Roucis, Edward Blackshere, Ashley Kelashian, Jaime Lewis, Twanna Latrice Hill, Kim Jackson, Cassie Ferro, Amber Marsh, Tammy Davison, Noal Blessing, Everett Ediger, Lily Blessing, Harper Ediger, Shannon Wilson, Alicia Young, Eric Richerson and Edric Richerson. Co-directed by Steve Wilson and Bryce Alexander. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; plus 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16 and Thursday, Dec. 19. Through Dec. 22 at the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-575-0005 or phamaly’s home page. Thanks: Gloria Shanstrom, Chris Silberman, Grace Hartke and Danielle Rankin.

 

OPENING 144
Pssst …. Look who’s REALLY playing the Baby Jesus bundle of joy in Su Teatro’s holiday pastoral? Yes … It’s Minnie Ratón! I think that kid’s got a future in show biz. That’s Jessica Portillo as Proud Mary.

Opening No. 144: Su Teatro’s “La Pastorela”: “The Shepherd’s Play” recounts the epic battle between the dark angel Luzbel (Jesse Ogas and minions) and the sword-swinging San Miguel (Amy Luna). Luis Valdez’s retelling of this centuries-old folktale is a family friendly comedy that follows the trek of humble shepherds as they encounter the Angel of the Lord, who announces the birth of the Redeemer in Bethlehem. Embarking on their spiritual journey in search of the Holy Child, the scruffy shepherds find themselves beset by the demonic followers of Lucifer and Satan, who waylay them with obstacles born of their own human frailties. This adaptation is no sleepy drummer-boy version of the Nativity: it is a pageant of passion, excitement, action, adventure, music and comedy. Valdez, considered “the father of Chicano theatre,” attended Saturday’s performance. It was`his first visit to Su Teatro, though his brother, Daniel, has contributed original music for Su Teatro productions for years. Daniel is the music director of “La Pastorela.” He is in residence at Su Teatro for the next two years, to develop new work with artistic director Anthony J. Garcia as part of a two-year innovation grant from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. In the fields of rural California, without financial backing and using farm laborers as actors, a 25-year-old Luis Valdez singlehandedly created a movement that has since become international in scope. “La Pastorela” is also performed as part of the St. Cajetan’s Reunification Project, an annual event in which Su Teatro and the community recognize the Chicano residential community that was displaced in 1972 for Auraria to be built. Also featuring Lorenzo Gonzales, Charlie Romero, Jaycee Sanchez, an ensemble of dozens and a live band of six. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees (Dec. 15 is reserved solely for AARP members and their families). Through Dec. 22 At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or su teatro’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Mica Garcia de Benavidez.

 

OPENING 142
You know what I was thinking before the opening performance of “A Christmas Carol”? It’s too bad these kid actors are so darned shy. Clockwise from center, that’s Max Raabe (nephew, I found out last night, of longtime Denver Post reporter Steve Raabe),Sam Modesitt, Edwin Harris and Connor Nguyen Erickson

Opening No. 143: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “A Christmas Carol”: The Denver Center Theatre Company’s holiday tradition turns 21 this year with a return to its opulent musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. Twenty-one? That’s older than, like, every kid in this picture combined. The story, of course, traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s overnight journey to redemption. This timeless tale illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. Again starring Philip Pleasants as Scrooge, with Phamaly Theatre Company’s Leonard E. Barrett as the Ghost of Christmas Present, John Hutton as Marley, Jeff Cribbs as Cratchit, Stephanie Cozart as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Douglas Harmsen as Fred, M. Scott McLean as Young Ebenezer, Michael Fitzpatrick as Fezziwig, Leslie O’Carroll as Mrs. Fezziwig, Leslie Alexander as Mrs. Cratchit and Charlie Korman as Tiny Tim. (Check out our short video interview with Charlie here. It’s worth the two minutes, I promise). They are backed by a huge ensemble that includes Colin Alexander, Benjamin Bonenfant, Michael Bouchard, Kathleen M. Brady, Courtney Capek, Jenn Miller Cribbs, Connor Nguyen Erickson, Michael Gaessler, Tanner Gardner, Edwin Harris, Gabe Koskinen-Sansone, Kyra Lindsay, Amelia Modesitt, Sam Modesitt, Gabriel Morales-Gonzalez, Tricia Moreland, Mackenzie Paulsen, Jeffrey Roark, Christine Rowan, Thomas Russo, Maggie Sczekan, Lauren Shealy, Jake Walker and Christopher Wells. Showtimes: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays; 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. Also: 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 24. No performance on Wednesday, Dec. 25. No evening performance on Sunday, Dec. 29. At the Stage Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the denver center’s home page

 

OVER THE TAVERN
Bas Bleu Theatre co-founder Wendy Ishii, right, greets the cast in the dressing room before they face their first audience, a sold-out house in Fort Collins. From left, Thomas Borrillo, Billy Dean Allen and Ailie Holland.

Opening No. 142: Bas Bleu Theatre’s “Over the Tavern”: This bittersweet period comedy looks back at family living over a blue-collar bar in 1959. Four children are caught between the claustrophobic authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic Church and an emotionally abusive father. Only their mother keeps this family afloat. At the center of the piece is precocious 12-year-old rebel named Rudy, who goes knuckle-to ruler-with his formidable teacher, Sister Clarissa, in the questioning of his beliefs. The cast features Thomas Borrillo as Chet (revisiting the bad-dad role he played at the Arvada Center in 2006) Ailee Holland as embattled wife Ellen and Deb Note-Farwell as old-school nun Sister Clarissa, a character who bears a striking resemblance to battleaxe Sister Aloysius in “Doubt.” Director Jonathan Farwell (he won the recent Henry Award for his performance in “Amadeus”) has gathered some fine teen and teen(ish) actors in August Slaughter (perhaps the greatest not-even-fake stage name in stage history), Billy Dean Allen as Georgie, Miles Chandler Horne as Eddie and Erin Johnson as Annie. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. 5 at 401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or bas bleu’s home page. Thanks: Wendy Ishii, Tricia Navarre and Amy Mills. More “Over the Tavern” photos will be posted in the coming days.

 

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Among this lovely crowd of sock-puppets and do-gooders are “Balls” cast members GerRee Hinshaw, Melanie Owen Padilla, Mare Trevathan and Jim Ruberto, as well as staff members from the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, including executive director Erin Jemison and program manager Karen Moldovan.

Opening No. 141: “Balls V! A Holiday Spectacular”: For the fifth straight year, a trio of “Balls Babes” and a standing bass player joined forces to present a rollicking benefit variety show that included audience sock puppet sing-alongs, spontaneous haikus and worthless prizes. “Balls” is slightly bonkers, mostly heartwarming with an emphasis on fun. It played Dec. 1 and 2 this year at Lannie’s ClockTower Cabaret. It again starred GerRee Hinshaw (host of The Bug Theatre’s “Freak Train”), Melanie Owen Padilla (of the Cedar Avenue Blues Band) and local actor Mare Trevathan of Boulder’s Local Theatre Company. Musical accompaniment by Jim Ruberto. Rotating special guests included John Common and Jess DeNicola, Lannie’s emcee Naughty Pierre, comedian Matt Monroe, singing comedian Shayna Ferm and juggler Reid Belstock. This year, proceeds went to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a non-profit promoting safety, justice and healing for survivors of sexual violence. If you missed this year’s “Balls,” you can still make a donation to CCASA here.

 

OPENING 139

Opening No. 140: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “The SantaLand Diaries”: National Theatre Conservatory graduate and Wheat Ridge native Matt Zambrano has constructed a dressing-room tribute to all of the recent Denver actors who have played Crumpet before him. That’s Geoff Kent’s head on the golden reindeer, and a Bille Holiday-ish Gary Culig with an elfin Bernie Cardell atop the clock radio (surrounded by, you know, Merlins and action figures). Zambrano is donning the candy-cane tights for a second straight holiday season telling David Sedaris’ real-life story of working as an elf in the New York Macy’s SantaLand display. Kent preceded Zambrano for three Decembers at the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company; Culig played the caustic elf for 10 straight years at the Vintage Theatre; and Cardell starred for Vintage Theatre. This staging is a co-production with Denver Center Attractions, which is presenting the show in its Garner-Galleria cabaret bar. Directed by Stephen Weitz. Contains adult subject matter and explicit language. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org. (Look for a full, dedicated gallery of “SantaLand” opening-night photos to come). Thanks: Heidi Bosk, Anja Hose Jess Buttery and Maxie Beth Bilyeu. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Tuesdays; also 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. No performances on Wednesdays. No performance on Tuesday, Dec. 3. At the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the Denver Center’s ticketing page

 

OPENING 138

Opening No. 139: Arvada Center’s “A Christmas Carol”: Emily Ann Luhrs accepted two marriage proposals on Tuesday. First, as herself, she agreed to marry longtime boyfriend and “A Christmas Carol” castmate Ben Dicke, mutton chops and all. Ben (star of the self-produced “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson last year at the Aurora Fox), presented the ring at a private dinner before last night’s opening performance. Just an hour or so later, Emily, playing a character named Emily (!), accepted another marriage proposal from young Ebeneezer Scrooge. One not being played by Ben Dicke. Nervy! (In her defense, she does give THAT ring back.) The Arvada Center’s version of “A Christmas Carol,” back after a year off, is the 1994 musical adaptation of Dickens’ classic story, written by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens, featuring music by Alan Menken (Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”). The cast features Richard White as Ebenezer Scrooge — he was the voice of Gaston in the “Beauty and the Beast” animated film), Cole Burden (Bob Cratchit), Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck (Ghost of Christmas Future), Megan Van De Hey (Ghost of Christmas Past), Stephen Day (Ghost of Christmas Present) and Brad Nacht (Jacob Marley). The ensemble members also include Joanie Brosseau-Beyette, Stephen Cerf, Rob Costigan, Jennifer DeDominici, Maddie Franke, Kaden Hinkle, Tim Howard, Hannah Katz, Charla Mason, David Miller, Julia Perrotta, Katie Phipps, Gregory Price, Parker Redford, Vincent Rodriguez, Mark Rubald, Robert Michael Sanders, Nate Patrick Siebert, Jacob Lewis Smith, Ron Tal, Rachel Turner, Kira Vuolo and Sharon Kay White. Directed by Gavin Mayer. Showtimes through Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 1 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. No performance on Thanksgiving (Nov. 28). At 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or the Arvada Center’s home page. Thanks: Melanie Mayner, Rod Lansberry, Pat Payne, Lisa Cook, Lisa Kurtz, cast and crew.

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Opening No. 138: Equinox Theatre Company’s “Carrie: The Musical:” This musical takes a legit stab at adapting Stephen King’s novel for the musical stage. Carrie White is a misfit. At school, she’s an outcast who’s bullied by the popular crowd, and virtually invisible to everyone else. At home, she’s at the mercy of her wacko, overprotective mother. But Carrie has just discovered she’s got a special power, and if pushed too far, she’s not afraid to use it… And you already know she does: When Carrie is humiliated at the prom, she wreaks havoc on everyone and everything in her path. Audiences should know that unlike recent stagings of “Night of the Living Dead” and “Evil Dead” at the Bug Theatre, “Carrie” is not a campy satire. It is written very much in the vein of traditional Broadway fare. “Carrie” stars Haley DiVirgilio, Terra Salazar, Shahara Ray, Dana Hart Lubeck, Devin Bustamante and Ember Everett; and features Chris Arneson, Joseph Graves, Savannah Lake, Chelsea Winslow, Ashley Brown, Taylor Sommer, Chris Riney, James L. Crapes and Zach Nick. Directed by Colin Roybal and Hunter Hall. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 30 at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page. Thanks: Lauren Meyer, Deb Flomberg, Leticia Bisgard, cast and crew.

 

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Opening No. 137: Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Misérables”: This production closed on Saturday night, but the buzz on it was so strong all the way down from Fort Collins, I wanted to see it — and represent it in our photo series — before it was too late. And it lived up to its billing. They may have been prodded, but it didn’t take much cajoling to get the screaming dinner patrons to wave their red napkins at the curtain call in support of the rebellion — and the production they had just seen. In all, more than 9,000 attended “Les Misérables” during its 12-week run, making it the second-most attended show in Midtown (formerly the Carousel Dinner Theatre) history. No. 1: “Shrek, the Musical.” “Les Misérables” featured a cast made up of both established local actors and a few who were brought in from New York. It starred David Ambroson as Jean Valjean and featured Brandon Schraml as Javert, Amy Madden Copp as Fantine, Nigel Huckle as Marius, Colleen Johnson as Eponine, Lisa Carter as Cosette, Colin Morgan as Enjolras, Michael Lasris as Thenardier and Jalyn Courtenay Webb as Mrs. Thenardier. The directors were Kurt Terrio, Jalyn Courtenay Webb (vocals) and Casey Cropp (orchestra). Thanks: cast and crew.

 

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Opening No. 136: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Jackie & Me: Linda G. Alvarado, co-owner of the Colorado Rockies baseball team, congratulates 22-year-old actor Aaron Davidson for his opening-night performance by allowing him to wear her 2007 World Series ring. Davidson, a Colorado native and graduate of the Denver School of the Arts, plays Joey Stoshack, a 12-year-old boy who is bullied because of his Polish descent. When the boy goes back in time to 1947, he not only witnesses Jackie Robinson break the baseball color barrier, his own skin color changes in the process, giving him a whole new perspective on prejudice and discrimination. Alvarado is president and CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc., which built Sports Authority Field at Mile High. She is also a member of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and was named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business Magazine. When the Rockies were awarded a franchise, Alvarado became the first Latino owner, male or female, in Major League Baseball history, and the second female owner in the big leagues. “Jackie & Me” is written by Denver native Steven Dietz, who also wrote “Rancho Mirage,” which is presently being performed by the nearby Curious Theatre Company through Dec. 7. “Jackie & Me” is directed by Stephen Weitz. Also starring William Oliver Watkins (top right of photo) and featuring Michael Santo, Kristen Adele, Ryan Wuestewald, Diana Dresser, Timothy McCracken, Leigh Miller, John Jurcheck and Justin Walvoord. It runs through Dec. 22 in the Space Theatre. Showtimes are variable because of a preponderance of student matinees during the week. Generally there are public performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 1:30 p.m. Sundays. Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site. Thanks: Lyle Raper, Alexandra Griesmer.

Video: Watch as the cast of “Jackie & Me” takes a field trip to a Lakewood batting cage, and gets a tour of Coors Field.

 

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Pictures of pictures of cast members arranged on a lit lobby tree. Not pictured: Kevin Lowry.

Opening No. 135: Betsy Stage’s “The Travesty of Lear”: There’s a new theater sheriff in town, and she’s doing things a little differently. Shannon McAndrews is the general manager of the Betsy Stage (not to be confused with Boulder’s BETC, also colloquially referred to as “Betsy”) and get this — the shows are all free. Always. And the actors get paid. Decently, even. How do they do it? There’s a benefactor, McAndrews says. A Lear with a kingdom, apparently, to partition out, only for the making of art. The company’s mission is to “adapt Elizabethan theater for a new audience.” Here, Shakespeare’s “King Lear” is set in the Old West. Lear is the owner of the Scarlet Slipper Saloon. Here he divides his kingdom by putting his three favorite prostitutes to the test. The script is rife with one-liners, but sticks to the Shakespeare in tone. They call in “Shakespeare spiked,” but it’s more like Shakespeare with a “Deadwood” ear. You may recognize some of the names — Phil Luna and Kevin Lowry, for example, but even those you might not recognize make for a pretty decent ensemble. Starring Michael Vasicek as Lear and also featuring Patti Murtha, Brooks Mullen, Michal Andrea Meyer, Jacob Abbas, Todd Simmonds, Elinor Reina, Jeannie Saracino, Jim Hitzke and R.J. Harris. Directed by Samantha McDermott. Again, all tickets are free … really … the bar is even run on an honor system. But please call for reservations, or email Lear@Betsystage.com (though you won’t be turned away if you don’t). “The Travesty of Lear” plays through Jan. 25. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays at 1133 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or go to betsy’s home page. Thanks: Jennifer McCray.

 

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Erik Edborg, left, and Andrew Horwitz backstage before Buntport’s “Electra Onion Eater.” Some photos … some completely candid photos … require no explanation.

Opening No. 134: Buntport Theater’s “Electra Onion Eater”: “Hilarious. Squeamish. Incorrigible … Sunburnt.” Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have stumbled upon Buntport Theater’s new slogan. Buntport kicks off its 13th season of innovative, organic and original collaboration with a modern adaptation of Sophocles’ classic yarn. Set in the kitschy pop-culture world of the 1970s, Electra waits patiently for her studly, sunburned brother (a hybrid of Selleck, Reynolds, Hasselhoff and Hutch, to return home in order to enact revenge on their mother for killing their father (who had killed their sister — you know, just the usual family dynamic). With nothing but time on her hands, Electra watches soap operas, cuts patches in her scalp and makes onion pies as offerings to the gods. Also featuring Erik Edborg, Hannah Duggan and guest star Drew Horwitz as … Bruce. And Samantha Schmitz pushing all the right buttons. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 23 at 717 Lipan St. Call 720-946-1388 or go to Buntport’s web page.

 

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Brian Landis Folkins puts one of his core performing skills — juggling — to useful use before a performance of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Edge Theatre.

Opening No. 133: The Edge’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”: Brian Landis Folkins plays the boozy, brutal and broken Brick, who is tormented by the death of his best friend (and the incriminating inferences made about that friendship) in Tennessee Williams’ uncompromising tragedy, presented here in its ugly, unedited glory by director Angela Astle. In the tradition of O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” the play follows one long day of a Southern family in inebriated crisis. (But which came first? “Long Day’s Journey” was written 13 years earlier, but wasn’t published until a year after “Cat” won Williams a Pulitzer Prize in 1956.) The story is set on the night of a gathering at the family estate in Mississippi to celebrate the birthday and apparent good health of patriarch Big Daddy Pollitt (Russell Costen). Much like “Death of a Salesman,” the story is a constant joust between appearances and delusion and the malleable, elusive truth. And starving in the corner of this house of malice and death is a wounded, feral alleycat named Maggie (Maggy Stacy). Also featuring Emma Messenger, Marc Stith, Kelly Alayne Dwyer, Ryan Goold, Bob Byrnes, Geri Crawley, Banji Osindero, Sonsharae Tull, Amelia Modesitt, Sam Modesitt, Aliza Fassett and Pace Becker. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 17 at 1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or the edge’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Amelia Retureta, Rick Yaconis, Patty Yaconis. To see the entire “Opening Nights” photo series, click here: www.culturewest.org/?p=6068.

 

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Dawn Bower, left, and Sasha Fisher put the dancing in the “Dancing at Lughnasa” during a pre-show “dance call.”

Opening No. 132: 11 Minutes’ ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’: 11 Minutes Theatre Company’s “Dancing at Lughnasa”: The 11 Minutes may be one of the area’s newest theater companies, but they perform in the historic and cozy Arvada Festival Playhouse, believed to be the oldest building in Arvada. The company is the work of Janine Ann Kehlenbach, who has put together a tight and talented “Dancing at Lughnasa,” Irish playwright Brian Friel’s answer to “The Glass Menagerie.” It’s a memory play told intermittently through a narrator (a wonderful Andrew Uhlenhopp) as he remembers one summer in 1936 with his mother and four aunts. As he recounts the story, we go back in time and watch as these five feisty women confront their loves, hardships and a society whose customs are not changing fast enough. Also featuring Margaret Amateis Casart, @Sasha Fisher, Janet Mylott, Sara Michael, Dawn Bower, Kevin R. Leonard (“Sordid Lives”) and Charlie Ault as the uncle missionary who has just returned from an African leper colony with malaria. Ault’s family started the Festival Playhouse’s resident company (the Festival Players) nearly 80 years ago. Their next offering is “Somethin’ Special for Christmas,” opening Nov. 19. “Lughnasa” plays through Nov. 16. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; also 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 at 5665 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., 303-422-4090, or go to the Festival Playhouse’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Janine Ann Kehlenbach, Amy Hanselmann and Donna Ault.

 

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“It’s been a year … did you miss me, Denver?” “Rancho Mirage” marks oft-honored freakyman actor Bill Hahn’s return to the stage since last appearing at Curious in “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.” Here, he plays a freakily normal-seeming suburban husband. Which, for Bill, is, you know … freaky.

Opening No 131: Curious Theatre’s “Rancho Mirage”: Colorado native Steven Dietz’s latest play continues Curious’ entire season of evident if perhaps unintentional looks at dysfunctional family relationships. Here, six longtime “friends” (?) gather for one final dinner party. The evening unfolds with comic surprises, alarming secrets and near-farcical bombshells. Also featuring Erik Sandvold, Emily Paton Davies, C. Kelly Leo, David Russell, Karen Slack and Devon James. Directed by Christopher Leo. Dietz is now the most produced playwright in Curious history. Dietz also wrote “Jackie & Me,” which will be performed by the Denver Center Theatre Company, opening Nov. 15. “Rancho” showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 7 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or Curious’ web page. Thanks: Sean Cummings, Kate Marie.

 

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Oooh, Edgar Allan Poe, he’s so scary, can’t you tell? From left: Nancy Flanagan, Seth Maisel, Kristin Mair and Michael Gurshtein yuk it up before one of the Byers-Evans House Theatre Company’s final performances before the troupe moves to RiNo as the new Ripple Effect Theatre Company.

Opening No. 130: Byers-Evans House Theatre Company’s “Evermore”: Maggie Stillman’s company, which specializes in the period macabre, is presenting its final show in the environs of the Byers-Evans House. She’s renaming her troupe the Ripple Effect Theatre Company and moving into a bona-fide theater in RiNo that is about to be vacated. (We’ll leave it to you to connect those dots.) Her goodbye to the museum tells the romantic whims and publishing difficulties of Edgar Allan Poe. We open October 1849. Poe has recently died, and his literary executor is compiling Poe’s works for posthumous publication. Memories of Poe’s final years full of love, hate, loss, and literature are played out through the memories of Dr. Griswold and Poe’s mother-in-law, Maria Clemm. Poe’s best-known tales and poems are woven into the dialogue. Featuring Seth Maisel, Kristin Mair, Michael Gurshtein and Nancy Flanagan. Directed by Ed Berry. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 16 at 1310 Bannock St., 303-620-4933. Thanks: Dana Huss, Orianna Keating and Maggie Stillman. Click here to see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series.

 

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Burke Walton works hard for your money … so you better treat him right.
Opening No. 129: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Full Monty”: The photo above shows a side of working the dinner-theater circuit that most audiences don’t see: The actors settling up at the end of each performance. (Most times they don’t do it in robes, but most times, it’s not “The Full Monty,” hah.) Most actors also bus tables for the tips that, combined with their acting stipends, help make for something approximating a liveable wage doing what they love to do on the stage. It’s a good opportunity to remind readers that when you attend theater that involves personal service, the performers are primarily working for your gratuity. OK, so back to “The Full Monty”: Based on the popular British film, this now ubiquitous tale has five unemployed steelworkers (moved for the stage to Buffalo) who come up with a bold way to make some quick cash: By taking off their clothes. In the process, they find renewed self-esteem and the importance of friendship. “The Full Monty” stars Seth Caikowski as Jerry, the gruff but well-meaning dad who’s desperate to make some cash to keep visitation rights with his son. Also featuring Joel Adam Chavez as Dave; Scott Beyette (also the director) as Harold, Burke Walton as Ethan, Brett Ambler as Malcolm, and longtime big-time vocalist Robert Johnson (17th Avenue All-Stars) as Horse. The cast also includes Alicia Dunfee, Shelly Cox-Robie, Amanda Earls, Jason Vargas, Joanie Brosseau, Scott Severtson, Tracy Warren, Jessica Hindsley, Norrell Moore, Bob Hoppe (alternating with Matthew D. Peters), and young Thomas Russo as Nathan (alternating with Kaden Hinkle). Showtimes: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 7:45 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 1:30 and 7:45 p.m. Sundays (dinner service begins 90 minutes before) through Nov. 9 at 5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or go to BDT’s home page. Thanks: Michael J. Duran, Seamus McDonough, Neal Dunfee and Brian Jackson.

 

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The cast of the Evergreen Players’ “All My Sons” circles up for one last bit of bonding before taking the stage. Joe Wilson, left, had just left the pre-show ritual to take a final solitary moment in the dressing room before the play began. He plays Joe Keller.

Opening No. 128: Evergreen Players’ “All My Sons”: Arthur Miller wrote “All My Sons” as a final attempt at writing a commercially successful play. If the play failed to find an audience, he had vowed “to find some other line of work.” What resulted was perhaps his masterpiece. “All My Sons” is based on a true story a child who informed on her father who had sold faulty parts to the U.S. military during World War II. Asked in a TV interview what about the story had inspired him, Miller said, “I was fascinated by the idea that a child could have this kind of moral courage.” When asked why he changed the gender of the character for his play, Miller said, “At the time I didn’t understand women very well.” The cast features Joe Wilson, Jacquie Jo Billings, Jennifer Condreay, Jordan Crozier, Cindy Laudadio Hill, Brandon Palmer, Ken Paul, Eric Ritter, JR Cody Schuyler, and young Spencer Coffey as young Bert. Directed by Len Matheo. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 10 at Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or go to the Evergreen Players’ home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Rachael Henney. To see the entire “Opening Nights” series to date, click here.

 

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Among the many ridiculous tasks contestants must endure is having a salad tossed … onto your head. For starters.

No. 127: Off-Center @ The Jones’ “Wheel of Misfortune”: This new theatrical adventure from is billed as “the scariest game show ever.” It invites audience members to compete in everyday tasks that Vanna’s … er, Bruce’s magic Wheel of Misfortune makes terrifyingly difficult. Competitors must master trivia, solve puzzles and surmount ridiculous physical obstacles — all for your enjoyment. (If you are not one of the contestants). The two finalists will go head-to-head in a lightning round designed by the LIDA Project’s Brian Freeland. (He’s not only the purveyor of some of the freakiest theater in town, he’s moving to New York after all of this is over — so he has nothing to lose.) To maximize the contestants’ humiliation, “Wheel of Misfortune” is being videotaped, as any game show should be, for later airing as an online web series. They are touting “Wheel of Misfortune” as “the show that everyone might one day be possibly raving about.” The hosts are Bruce Montgomery, Mark Sonnenblink and Emily K. Harrison. The second of two initial tapings is at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 at The Jones, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1101 13th St. (Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street), 303-893-6090 or off-center’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Jane McDonald, Charlie Miller, Emily Tarquin. To see the entire “Opening Nights” series to date, click here. Read my profile of game-show host Bruce Montgomery here.

 

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Opening No. 126: Phamaly Theatre Company’s “Vox Phamalia: G.I.M.P. Nation”: Who’s a douchebag? According to the Disability News Team (Daniel Wheeler, left, who has Crohn’s Disease, and Stewart Caswell, who has cerebral palsy), it’s the CEO of Goodwill Industries, who lobbied for legislation that allows businesses to pay the handicapped a fraction of minimum wage based on their performance on a test that measures their ability to complete ordinary tasks against able-bodied people. That’s one example of the cutting but good-natured comedy that director Edith Weiss gets out of her cast for this annual sketch-comedy revue. This year’s show features all-new material including “Sex and the Pity,” “Suicide Hotline” and “Your Own Private Hell.” Plus, they explore the subject of dwarf-tossing. Vox Phamalia is the result of an annual writing-to-performance development workshop with Weiss, designed for Phamaly members. The cast includes 15 actors with disabilities, including veterans Lucy Roucis, David Wright, Amber Marsh and James Sherman, along with new or near-new faces Harper Liles, Dominique Frary, Daniel Wheeler, Jeff Zinn, Khea Craig, Paul Migliorelli, Stewart Caswell, Kim Jackson and Naomi Morrow. Intended for audiences 16 and older. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays at 2 p.m.; also 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 28) at the Laundry on Lawrence, 2701 Lawrence St., 303-575-0005 or phamaly’s home page. Thanks: Jean Egdorf and Gloria Shanstrom.

 

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There’s nothing elder about A.J. Holmes and Nic Rouleau, the young actors who play the idealistic Elders Cunningham and Price in the national touring production of “The Book of Mormon.” They are pictured here after the official opening night of the Tony-winning musical’s second national touring stop in Denver on Oct. 23. The party location was Pizza Republica.

Opening No. 125: National touring production of “The Book of Mormon.” When the first “Book of Mormon” national touring production debuted in Denver last year, the 51,000 available seats moved in five hours. By the time the longer return engagement opened here on Tuesday, nearly all of the 111,506 seats already were snatched up. Broadway’s 2011 Tony-winning best musical has moved from the Ellie Caulkins Opera House into the Buell Theatre, opening up about another 600 seats per performance. Like the first national company a year ago, the Denver engagement launches the second national tour with a new cast headed by Nic Rouleau, who plays Elder Price, and A.J. Holmes, who plays Elder Cunningham. The musical tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda, where a brutal warlord is threatening the local population. Naive and optimistic, the two missionaries try to share their scriptures – which only one of them knows very well – but have trouble connecting with the locals, who are more worried about war, famine, poverty and AIDS than about salvation. This profane, witty religious satire lampoons organized religion and traditional musical theater. It was written by Colorado natives Trey Parker and Matt Stone (“South Park”) with Robert Lopez (“Avenue Q”). The cast includes Tallia Brinson, who appeared in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Ruined.” Directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker. There are scattered single tickets remaining, and a daily lottery for 24 discounted, front-row seats will be held 2 1/2 before every performance. Contains explicit language. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 24. At the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the denver center’s home page. Photo by John Moore. Thanks: Heidi Bosk.

 

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Pals and co-stars Steve Emily, left, and Matt Radcliffe enjoy a lighthearted backstage moment (Matt is pretending to toss scalding coffee in his partner’s face) before a recent performance of “A Steady Rain” in Colorado Springs.

Opening No. 124: “Springs Ensemble Theatre’s “A Steady Rain”: If you loved “The Shield” on FX, you are certain to get Vic Mackey flashbacks while watching the equally round-headed rogue cop played by Steve Emily in this uncompromising crime drama by Keith Huff. In the story, two cops are longtime partners, best friends since childhood … and seriously flawed human beings. One is single, a recovering alcoholic and lonely. The other is married with children, but there are clearly … shades of Mackey. What begins as a routine domestic disturbance call snowballs into an uncompromising downfall that tests their loyalties. For mature audiences. Through Oct. 27. Starring Steve (Vic Mackey) Emily as Denny and Matt Radcliffe as Joey. Directed by David Palmbeck. Remaining showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, plus 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at 1903 E. Cache La Poudre in Colorado Springs. Call 719-447-1646 or go to springs ensemble’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.. Thanks: Keri Pollakoff and Keegan Jenney.

 

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Opening No. 123: The Catamounts’ “Failure,” A Love Story”: Meredith C. Grundei, playing one of the fated Fail Sisters, goes for a pre-show swim practice safe in the arms, er, feet, of castmates Ed Cord, front, and Ryan Wuestewald. Her character swims the Chicago River. “Failure” is a fanciful musical fable about the triumphs, aspirations and untimely demises of three Chicago sisters who never saw death coming. Set in 1928 in a clock shop on the edge of the Chicago River, this wistful comedy that tells the stories of all three sisters, and the one man who loved them all. “Failure” also features Joan Bruemmer, Ed Cord, Crystal Verdon Eisele, Michelle Hurtubise, Trina Magness, Jeremy Make and Jason Maxwell, with Nina Rolle providing live various music (which includes a bell on her head). There are four remaining performances, at 8 p.m. tonight (Oct. 21, all ticket sales will go toward flood relief in Boulder County), Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Oct. 26) at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. The Saturday performance will be preceded by a community meal from a menu inspired by the play. Call 303-440-7826, or go to the The Catamounts’ home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.. Thanks: Andy Bakehouse

 

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Opening No. 122: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Most Deserving”: Hold that tiger! Or should I say, “Hold that, Tiger?” Sam Gregory wants you … to see him (very nearly ALL of him) in the Denver Center’s world premiere comedy about amateur art and amateur politics in a tiny West Kansas town. The local arts council has $20,000 to award to a hometown artist with an “under-represented American voice.” Should they choose the son of a town big-shot, thus guaranteeing their continued funding; or the mentally unstable, self-taught “Trash Man” who creates religious figures out of rubbish? Gregory, believe it or not, is NOT playing the unstable Trash Man. Rather, he’s a ponytailed British beatnik on the lookout for a shag. (And a member of the town arts council.) The play explores how gossip, politics and opinions of art can decide who is “the most deserving.” Also featuring Jeanne Paulsen, Judith Hawking, Rebecca Miyako Hirota, Craig Bockhorn and Jonathan Earl Peck (who once played Othello at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival). Written by Catherine Trieschmann. Directed by Shelley Butler. “The Most Deserving” runs through Nov. 17 at the Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets. Showtimes: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. Sundays. Call 303-893-4100 or go to the denver center’s home page. Thanks: Rachel Ducat, Mariah Becerra.

 

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Julia Hemp as Belle and Mateo Correa as Belle and Lumiere in the Denver School of the Arts’ no-holds-barred fall musical, “Beauty and the Beast.”

Opening No. 121: Denver School of the Arts’ “Beauty and the Beast”: Denver School of the Arts is an arts magnet school that serves grades 6-12 in the Denver Public Schools. It regularly produces such top-notch theater kids that recent graduate Gabriel Ebert just won the Tony Award as best supporting actor in a Broadway musical (for “Matilda”) — and he never even did musicals back at DSA. Saturday’s first-ever DSA Friends Foundation gala showed off students in every discipline, but centered on a no-holds-barred performance of “Beauty and the Beast.” Sporting a cast of more than 80, an orchestra of 25 and production values professional companies would theatrically die for, the students managed to produce a staging that, while still very much educational theater, managed to meet or exceed any reasonable professional expectations in several areas. DSA teacher Shawn Hann directed the spectacle (her first at the school in three years), and the endlessly creative choreography was by Brandon Becker. (“Be Our Guest” pulled a mid-show standing O — and it deserved it.) The results were so stirring, we can forgive the director for her absolutely adorable sucker-punch: Casting her cutey-pie 5-year-old daughter Tihun Hann as the Dinner Bell. The show starred Julia Hemp as Belle, Austin Marquez as the Beast, Logan D. Snodderly as Gaston, Jimmy Bruenger as Lefou (he played the spunky, doomed Gavroche in the Arvada Center’s “Les Mis” back in the day), Mateo Correa as Lumiere, Jeremy Willis as Cogsworth, Taylor Bowman as Mrs. Potts, Madison Kitchen as Bebette, Randy Ho as Maurice, Jackie Smook as the Wardrobe, and dozens more. Saturday’s performance was preceded by the presentation of the school’s first Community Arts Leadership Award, which went to “Just Like Us” author Helen Thorpe. The stage adaptation of Thorpe’s book opens for previews on Oct. 4 by the Denver Center Theatre Company. The award presenter was Susan Daggett, an environmental attorney, DSA mom and wife of Colorado Senator Michael Bennet. (Their daughter made a video appearance in the Denver Center’s production of “The Giver” last season.) Also in attendance was Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Read more about that here.

 

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Opening No. 120: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Seminar”: John Ashton capped a crazy week with a triumphant opening performance on Friday night. Three days before the opening performance, Ashton was deployed by his day job, FEMA, to working 12-hour daily shifts in response to the flooding in Boulder. The extra busy-ness didn’t seem to affect his performance. He’s pictured above before the show, running through a tense scene opposite stage manager Maxie Beth Bilyeu. In Theresa Rebeck’s latest exploration of nasty human behavior, four aspiring young novelists find themselves in over their heads when they sign up for private writing classes with Leonard, a force of nature and washed-up international literary figure (Ashton). Under his reckless instruction, the wordplay is not the only thing that turns vicious. Recommended for 16 and older. Featuring Matthew Blood-Smyth, Devon James, Mary Kay Riley and Sean Scrutchins. Directed by Stephen Weitz. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; plus 4 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 20 at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc’s home page. Thanks: Maxie Beth Bilyeu, Rebecca Remaly Weitz.

 

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Opening No. 119, Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Death of a Salesman”: Some call this the most important play ever written, and after actors Mike Hartman and Lauren Klein conquered the iconic roles of Willy and Linda Loman on opening night, the real-life married couple deserved a party. Though they settled for a seat. Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning drama is the story of an aging, deluded and failing salesman who cannot accept that his dreams for his family are no match for the sad realities of their ordinary lives. This heartbreaking indictment of the American Dream is an actor’s dream. Showtimes: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 20 at the Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

 

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Opening No. 118: National touring production of “Sister Act”: Kingsley Leggs plays bad-guy Curtis Jackson on stage, but in real-life, nice guy Kingsley makes the painfully early morning rounds with local radio stations, pictured here with KOOL 105’s Kris and Kelly, and later with KEZW’s Rick Crandall. Denver audiences know Kingsley from the extended world premiere of “Almost Heaven: Songs and Stories of John Denver” with the Denver Center Theatre Company. Now he’s playing in the movie-turned-musical that Whoopi Goldberg made famous. “Sister Act” tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look — a convent. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 6 at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

 

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Opening No 117: The Wit Theatre’s “Edges: A Song Cycle”: The Wit Theatre Company executive director Kristin Honiotes congratulates the cast of “Edges, A Song Cycle” with a toast before the opening performance. That’s Alex Evert and Blake Nawa’a to her left. This non-traditional musical follows burgeoning adults sorting through classic coming-of-age questions. The songs cover universal issues such as love, commitment, identity and meaning. Characters confront emotions, escaping expectations and deciphering complicated relationships. Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, recipients of the 2006 Jonathan Larson Award. Directed by Valerye Rene and featuring Marissa Romer, Blake Nawa’a, Tyler Nielson, Alex Evert, Erica Trisler, Nancy Begley, Juliet Garcia, Christopher Galinski and Chris Arneson. Showtimes: 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 5 at the Crossroads Theater, 2590 Washington St., 303-296-3798 or wit’s ticketing page at http://thewittheatrecompany.ticketleap.com/edges. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here: www.culturewest.org/?p=6068

 

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Opening No. 116: Starkey Theatrix’s “Bingo, the Musical”: This audience-included musical comedy is about a group of die-hard Bingo players who let nothing get in the way of their weekly game. Best girlfriends Vern, Honey and Patsy brave a terrible rainstorm (life imitating art?) to get to their game. As the storm knocks out power at the Bingo hall, audiences learn of an another ominous night 15 years before that created a still-unresolved conflict. In-between the number-calling, superstitious rituals and fierce competitions, long-lost friends reunite. Audiences play three games of Bingo along with the cast. Directed by Ben Dicke and featuring Jona Alonzo, Sarah Grover, Lacey Connell, Jennifer Lynne Jorgenson, Alannah Moore, Laura Presley Reynolds and Josh Nelson. This special engagement runs this weekend only. Remaining showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Friday (Sept. 13); 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 14); 2 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 15). At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or PACE’s ticketing page. Thanks: Shaun Albrechtson and Ronni Stark.

 

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Opening No. 115, Arvada Center’s “Camelot”: A shy young Nate Patrick Siebert, one of two boys who play Tom of Warwick, prepares to present castmate David Bryant Johnson, who plays King Arthur, with flowers at the cast party following Tuesday’s opening performance. This classic Lerner and Lowe musical focuses on the love triangle between King Arthur of England, his feisty Queen Guenevere; and the invincible French knight, Sir Lancelot. With one glimpse at the lovely Guenevere, Lancelot falls hopelessly in love, and the story becomes one of tragic consequence. Numbers include “The Lusty Month of May” and “If Ever I Would Leave You.” Directed by Rod Lansberry. Musical director David Nehls. Starring Johnson, Melissa Mitchell (Guenevere), Glenn Seven Allen (Lancelot), William Thomas Evans (Merlyn, Pellinore), Aaron M. Davidson (Mordred), Jennifer DeDominici (Nimue), Jeffrey Roark (Sir Dinadan), Michael Bouchard (Sir Sagramore), Matt LaFontaine (Sir Lionel) and Megan Van De Hey (Morgan Le Fey). Ensemble members are Stephen Day, Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, Karen M. Jeffreys, Heather Lacy, Daniel Langhoff, Ian McCauley, Rebekah Ortiz, Parker Redford, Lauren Shealy, Jacob Lewis Smith, Bethany Swiontek, Rachel Turner and Benjamin Wood. Young Brady Dalton and Nate Patrick Siebert alternate as Tom of Warwick. Their show only just opened and it already has been extended to Oct. 6. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Matinees 1 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or the arvada center’s home page. Thanks: Melanie Mayner, Pat Payne, cast and crew.

 

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Is it Flash — ah-ah — savior of the universe?! Or Todd Black just being a big (non-strip) tease backstage before Monday’s performance of “Next Fall?”

Opening No. 114: Firehouse Theatre’s “Next Fall”: Luke is devoutly religious. Adam is an atheist. This Broadway play by Geoffrey Nauffts recounts the ups and downs of an unlikely gay couple’s five-year relationship, leading to an explosive familial confrontation following a critical accident. Starring Mark Lively and Todd Black, featuring Michael Leopard, Judy Phelan-Hill, Brian J. Brooks and Johanna Jaquith. Directed by Steve Tangedal. Co-produced by Theatre Out. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6:30 p.m. Sundays Through Sept. 28 at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehouse’s home page . Thanks: Andrew Hunter, Helen Hand.

My review of the Broadway production of “Next Fall”

Quote: “You don’t have to believe in hell to walk around believing that you are going to burn in it.”

This riveting, familiar family tragedy starts with a car accident that leaves a strapping young man comatose and clinging to life. But the real collision is about to come down between his lover and the encroaching fundamentalist family who never knew — or at least acknowledged — that their son is gay. Rife for the possibility of cliche, Geoffrey Nauffts’ drama instead deftly weaves one of the hot-button social issues of the day into an understandable and achingly unwinnable conflict between flawed, knowable characters on both sides of the family tree. Zigging from past to present (as most new plays now seem to do), we see how this unlikely romance bloomed between a spiritual (yet still closeted) southern Christian hunk and the jaded — and refreshingly kind of jerky — older New Yorker he somehow fell in love with.

The playwright raises fair points about the inherent contradictions of fundamentalism and the sadly nonexistent place a gay man has in making critical medical decisions for a loved one. But it’s flawed — it’s too long and gets ideologically confused by the unnecessary presence of one support character. It’s most compelling because the two immoveable forces here — the young man’s racist, homophobic father and his intractable lover — are both obstinately set in their ways. Still, I can’t remember the last new play I’ve seen that had audiences openly sobbing by the end. My main misgiving: The story ends in the only way you can imagine it might, and I was hoping the playwright might instead invoke his right to mess with our minds. That might have changed the questions we’re left with after an ending that, as written, leaves little doubt about who was right all along.

 

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Opening No. 113: Curious Theatre’s “After the Revolution”: Sisters! Lauren Bahlman, right, tries to get a rise out of Jessica Robblee before the opening curtain. In this new play by Amy Herzog, a passionate young woman named Emma Joseph proudly carries the torch of her family’s long-held Marxist ideals by devoting her life to the memory of her legendary, blacklisted grandfather. When a stunning revelation uncovers a dark secret, she and her entire family must reconcile everything they thought they stood for with the shadowy truth of history. Featuring Lauren Bahlman, Anne Oberbroeckling, Jessica Robblee, Mark Collins, Dee Covington, Jim Hunt, Matthew Block and Gordon McConnell. Curious Theatre has a resident company of more than 30 actors, but director Chip Walton has always had an open-door policy, and he proves it again here: Five of the eight actors are making their first appearances for Curious in “After the Revolution.” Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; also 2 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 19 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or Curious’ home page.

 

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This theatergoer, surrounded by cast members Chris Arneson, Jason Lythgoe and Patrick Brownson (and presumably, a friend!), looks like she’s not completely sure where the play ends and the real world begins.

Opening No. 112: Equinox Theatre’s “Evil Dead, the Musical”: The bloodletting spills out onto the streets in front of the Bug Theatre following every performance of “Evil Dead.” Meaning the eviscerated cast joins departing theatergoers for photo opportunities with chain saws and all manner of fake gore. This campy musical is based on Sam Raimi’s 1980s cult classic film. The story is the one you remember: A boy and his friends take a weekend getaway at an abandoned cabin. The boy expects to get lucky, but instead unleashes an ancient evil spirit. When his friends turn into Candarian Demons, the boy fights until dawn to survive. The score features comic numbers like, “All the Men in my Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons,” “Look Who’s Evil Now,” and “Do the Necronomicon.” (Take THAT, “Rocky Horrow Show.”) The show stars Jason Lythgoe as the smoldering Ash, with help from Chris Arneson, Erica Trisler, Savannah Lake, Natasha Gleichmann, Preston Adams, Ember Everett, Eli Stewart, Patrick Brownson, David Ballew and Aran Peters. The director is Deb Flomberg; musical direction by Hunter Hall. Just two performances remain, and they’ve been selling out: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13-14, at 3654 Navajo St. 720-984-0781 or Equinox’s home page. If you can’t get in, you’ll have a second, and third chance to get your taste of blood. Next up at the Bug is “Night of the Living Dead” (Oct. 4-26), followed by “Carrie, the Musical” (Nov. 8-30). Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here: http://www.culturewest.org/?p=6068. Thanks: Kate Blair.

Click here to see our full gallery of “Evil Dead” photos.

 

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Opening No. 111: National touring production of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”: Well, with some photos, black-and-white is just not an option. Sept. 3 wasn’t just opening night of the national touring production of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” at the Buell Theatre. It was also Drag Night, with many of Denver’s top entertainers attending, bringing both vibrant color and the same air of freedom and tolerance the popular film, and now stage musical, espouses. Audiences were invited to have make-up makeovers. Audience members stopped some of Denver’s very tallest tall Drag Queens (in heels, many reach 6 1/2 feet in height) asking for everything from photos to make-up tips for advice on how to talk to loved ones. One Denver Drag said afterward she never felt more validated as an entertainer than she did in the lobby chatting with friendly, curious “Priscilla” audiences. The musical is the uplifting story of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus to cross the Australian outback. It features more than 500 Tony-winning costumes. All the songs are familiar dance-floor hits, including “It’s Raining Men” and “I Will Survive.” Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 15. Also: Special Thursday matinee: 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the Denver Center’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here: http://www.culturewest.org/?p=6068. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Heidi Bosk, Emily Lozow. Click here to see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date.

 

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Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts hit $20,000 after first week

Shelly Bordas with former "9 to 5" castmate Norrell Moore. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org.

Shelly Bordas with former Town Hall Arts Center “9 to 5” castmate Norrell Moore. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org. All rights reserved.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 18, 2013

When it was first suggested a week ago that friends of Shelly Bordas kick in a few bucks to send the cancer-stricken actor on a Disney Cruise with her son, they were simply asked to mail checks to the Town Hall Arts Center, where Bordas teaches youth theater classes and was set to perform in the upcoming musical “9 to 5.” That was, until her diagnosis was changed to terminal after it was discovered her breast cancer had spread to her brain.

What a week it has been.

Since then, her friend Sarah Roshan has created an online fundraising page that, as of midnight tonight, rested at $15,675 (not including PayPal processing fees). Now we have our first reports that about $4,500 already has been sent to Town Hall through the mail, bringing the total raised to help the beloved actor and mother to just more than $20,000 – “and more cards are coming in every day,” said “9 to 5” choreographer Kelly Kates.

“I am blown away,” Bordas told me in response. “Somewhere in my childhood, I must have done something right.”

On her Facebook page, Bordas added the following message:

First of all, that loud thump you heard was me fainting to the floor. I have no words. But second, I need you to know that I have 37 voice messages and over 400 emails to read and respond to. I want to get to you all, so please be patient as I get through these. My heart aches with love and gratefulness. Thank you, you incredible community. I love you so much.

Roshan has since raised the online goal to $25,000, and there is plenty of need for it. With the start of the new year, Bordas has a huge new annual health-insurance deductible she must start to chip away at, when her only present source of income is the classes she can teach at Town Hall only when she is strong enough to do so. And she just has started a demanding new round of chemo.

Bordas also has been told that, after nearly four years and 15 surgeries to combat cancer, she is rapidly approaching her “lifetime insurance payout cap” — meaning that at some point, her insurance company will cut her off.

Some of the money raised also will be set aside to establish a college trust for Bordas’ 3 1/2-year-old son, Nathan.

“Donors can rest assured that any money raised in excess of the vacation costs is still very necessary and will absolutely be put to good use,” said Bordas’ friend, actor Steve Burge.

Direct link to the Shelly Bordas fundraising page

Note: the coordinator of all Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts is Kelly Kates. Her email is kateshouse@earthlink.net

Previous reporting on this story:
The initial CultureWest.Org news report on Shelly’s story

The Bordas fund reaches $10,000 in first 24 hours


Kirk Montgomery’s “E-Block” report on Channel 9

Information on other upcoming fundraising efforts

*Voodoo Comedy Playhouse is donating all proceeds from its three shows on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to Shelly Bordas. Admission is $5. 1260 22nd St. in LoDo.

*Dani Nelson Everson, a hair stylist who has never met Bordas, owns a salon in the Highlands neighborhood. She will host a cut-a-thon, with all proceeds to benefit Bordas, from 4-6:30 p.m. on March 8 at Clementine’s Denver, 2009 W. 33rd Ave. Phone: 720-328-3594.

*The Town Hall Arts Center has announced a “pay what you can” performance of “9 to 5” on Monday, March 4, with all funds going to Bordas. Call 303-794-2787 for reservations.

Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”

Photos: My night at Heritage Square’s ‘One Enchanted Evening’

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Heritage Square Music Hall co-owner T.J. Mullin told the opening-night audience of “One Enchanted Evening” that the company’s 25th season will be its last in Golden.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 16, 2013

Opening No. 28: The Heritage Square Music Hall opened its 25th and, sadly, final season on Valentine’s Day. Co-owners Connie Helsley and T.J. Mullin have decided to close the venerable theater on Dec. 31, 2013, citing declining attendance and an aging audience base among the reasons for ending a quarter-century era of family friendly, blue-collar and often silly entertainment out of a classic Victorian theater nestled in the Heritage Square amusement park and shopping village in Golden.

Because the Music Hall traditionally closes in January so that it can operate uninterrupted the rest of the year, Thursday’s opening night — Valentine’s Day — was the first time the cast had gathered since news of the closure became public. Because they have performed “One Enchanted Evening” before, it took only one brush-up rehearsal in the afternoon to have the cast ready to go.

The final season has been rejiggered to reflect a mix of old favorites and new shows. In “One Enchanted Evening,” Grandpa falls asleep reading bedtime stories to the kids, and his dreams take him to visit Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and other famous fairy-tale characters. The cast includes T.J. Mullin, Annie Dwyer, Alex Crawford, N. Randall Johnson, Rory Pierce, Johnette Toye, Scott Koop, Robert Wagner and Eric Weinstein. Through March 3 at 18301 W. Colfax Ave., Golden, 303-279-7800 or heritage square’s home page.

Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Amie Rau, Scott Koop, Connie Helsley, T.J. Mullin, cast and crew.

Read our exclusive news report about the impending closure of the Heritage Square Music Hall.

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.

Click here to subscribe to the CultureWest.org Monthly E-Newsletter

 

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The Music Hall, formerly the Heritage Square Opera House, anchors the popular Golden amusement park and shopping village. There is no word yet on how the theater’s closing will affect surrounding business, all of which are individually owned.

 

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The Music Hall is big on acknowledging birthdays and anniversaries.

 

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Heritage Square is one of the last remaining diner theaters in the metro area. Patrons eat in the tasty bufet line above the Victorian theater, then go downstairs for the show. The difficulty in navigating both the amusement park’s sloping incline at the entrance, and so many steps once inside, is one reason attendance is down among the Music Hall’s graying regular audience base, co-owner Connie Helsley believes.

 

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Assistant stage manager Amie Rau distributes cards for the cast sent, as the do most opening nights, by the Zernows. They are one the Music Hall’s most loyal patron families.

 

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It doesn’t take long for Annie Dwyer to transform from herself, above, into her comically tacky garb for “One Enchanted Evening,” in which she plays one hot grandma, below.

 

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Photos: My night at Germinal’s ‘Spoon River Anthology’

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Actor Jim Miller made spoons adorned with individual faces as opening-night gifts for every cast and crewmember working on the Germinal Stage-Denver’s “Spoon River Anthology.”

 

By John Moore
Feb. 15, 2013

Opening No. 27, Feb. 10: Germinal Stage-Denver’s final season in its longtime northwest Denver home continues with its third staging of “Spoon River Anthology,” Edgar Lee Masters’ look at small-town America through the eyes and epitaphs of its dead people. The building has been sold and will be renovated into mixed retail space after Germinal finishes there in August. After that, the company plans to occasionally perform in rented theaters around the city. “Spoon River Anthology” features Leroy Leonard, Jennie McDonald, Deborah Persoff, Jim Miller, Lisa Mumpton and Michael Gunst. Directed by Ed Baierlein. Through March 17 at 2450 W. 44th Ave., 303-455-7108 or germinal’s home page. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Ed Baierlein, Sallie Diamond, Tad Baierlein and Andrew Parker.

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.

Click here to subscribe to the CultureWest.org Monthly E-Newsletter

 

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The familiar and well-trod back entrance to the venerable Germinal Stage-Denver in northwest Denver. Open the door and you are welcomed by a waft of signature pipe smoke that has seeped into the walls over the years. The photo of founder Ed Baierlein working the box office, below, offers a major clue as to the origin of that.

 

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The note that connects the two photos that hang above Germinal founder Ed Baierlein’s desk reads, “There are always two points of view regarding any proposition.” That’s a photo of a young Baierlein on the left. No word on the source of the photo on the right.

 

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Prominent on the Germinal’s wall of past production photos is one from the first time Germinal staged Edgar Lee Masters’ “Our Town”-like classic, “Spoon River Anthology,” in October 1980.

 

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The 2013 cast just happened to be rehearsing the very same seance scene that is depicted in that 1980 photo above.

 

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Breaking news: Heritage Square Music Hall will close at end of year

"The Pinch Hitter," from 1997. The Heritage Square Music Hall will close on Dec. 31.

“The Pinch Hitter,” from 1997. Sixteen years later, six of the eight actors shown above are still performing at the Heritage Square Music Hall, which will close on Dec. 31.

 

Bonus coverage: See my full photo gallery from my night at Heritage Square Music Hall’s “One Enchanted Evening,” part of my ongoing photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado 2013.”

By John Moore
Feb. 14, 2013

There’s a reason the venerable Heritage Square Music Hall will finish the year with the poignantly titled, “Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night.”

That holiday production will be the Music Hall’s last, ending a 25-year era of providing family friendly, blue-collar and often outrageously silly musical and comedy entertainment out of a classic Victorian theater nestled in the Heritage Square amusement park and shopping village in Golden.

Annie Dwyer and T.J. Mullin in "Who Done In Belle Star?" in 2004.

Annie Dwyer and T.J. Mullin in “Who Done In Belle Star?” in 2004.

Connie Helsley, who co-owns the business but rents her theater space from Martin Marietta Materials, cited the economy, location and an aging demographic among the many factors for the decision to shutter the business on Dec. 31. The closure will leave the Denver metro area with only two regular dinner theaters — Boulder’s Dinner Theatre and the Adams Mystery Playhouse.

“It’s just too tough,” said Helsley. “We’re hoping for a full year of seeing a lot of returning customers. But if you want to see us, you have to come and see us now.”

The Music Hall is located at 18301 W. Colfax Ave., just west of I-70.

Helsley estimates that audiences and revenue have fallen 40 percent over the past three years. In its heyday in the mid-’90s, the Music Hall would draw upward of 40,000 people a year. Last year, Helsley estimates attendance was about 18,000.

“I think we offered the best family entertainment in town; the best value for the money in town; and we were the most involved with our customers,” said Helsley. “But they are getting older; we are hard to get to; and we’re located on a steep incline. We’re just not in people’s line of sight anymore.”

Popular veteran actor T.J. Mullin, the face of the company on-stage and the vice-president and co-owner of the company off-stage, opened the Music Hall on June 1, 1988. Previously the theater had operated as the Heritage Square Opera House, traditional melodrama entertainment run by William Oakley. While never fully abandoning that dying art form, Mullin opened up the theater fare to include comic adaptations of classic tales, while ushering in a wildly popular era of pop-musical spoofs called the “Loud” series.

“There is a great amount of sadness,” said Mullin. “I don’t know what I will do if I’m not performing.” At the same time, though, this will be Mullin’s 40th year on area stages. “I am going to be 65 this summer,” he said, and some things aren’t coming as easily.” (Here is our report from Mullin’s 60th birthday celebration in 2008: : “The Loudest Quiet Man on Colorado stages”).

The Music Hall offered among the most consistent year-round entertainment in all of Colorado theater. Regulars Mullin, Alex Crawford, N. Randall Johnson, Rory Pierce, Johnette Toye and comedian extraordinare Annie Dwyer have more than 140 performing years among them on the tiny Heritage Square stage. That’s 140 years of singing, dancing, silly vaudevillian bits … and thousands of bald heads embossed with Dwyer’s lipstick. Performing alumni include Oscar-winning actor Amy Adams.

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Photos: My night at Performance Now’s ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

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Laura Kimberlin brings beauty down to her fingertips to the orchestra pit at the Lakewood Cultural Center. She plays woodwinds as part of a seven-piece live orchestra for “Once Upon a Mattress.”

 

By John Moore
Feb. 11, 2013

“Once Upon a Mattress” is the classic musical retelling of “The Princess and the Pea,” in which there are no measures the inappropriate Queen Aggravain won’t take to keep her son, Prince Dauntless, all to her herself. Starring Sarah Grover as Winnifred the Woebegone and Zachary Stailey as Dauntless. Featuring Carla Kaiser Kotrc, Carolyn Lohr, Andy Sievers, Adam Luhrs, Josh Rigo, Craig Ross and Matt Maxwell. Directed by Britta Laree. Through Feb. 24 at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or performance now’s home page. All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Ken Goodwin, Tim Hoffman, Karen Lemmer, Heather Early, Kelly Van Oosbree, cast and crew.

 

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.

Click here to subscribe to the CultureWest.org Monthly E-Newsletter

 

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Queen Aggravain may send her subjects running for cover, but Performance Now’s actors are drawn to Carla Kaiser Kotrc. This photo, taken of Carla and Sarah Grover (Winnifred) during a break from pre-show vocal warmups on the stage, was shot from the catwalk at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

 

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The newest member of the Performance Now family is Mackenzie Landon, who is introduced by mother Heather, who usually plays the French Horn for company musicals, but is taking this show off for obvious reasons.

 

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What vocal warmups look like from the catwalk at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

 

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Jeffrey Parizotto and Gina Eslinger, above and below.

 

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Shelly Bordas supporters raise $10,000 in 24 hours

Shelly Bordas with her then infant son, Nathan. He's now 3 1/2.

Shelly Bordas with her then infant son, Nathan. He’s now 3 1/2.


UPDATE: As of 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, Shelly Bordas’ online fundraising page has raised $12,635 from 251 backers.

By John Moore
Feb. 13, 2013

Just 24 hours after the launch of an online fundraising page, friends and strangers have contributed more than $10,400 to help send Denver actor and teacher Shelly Bordas on a Disney cruise with her 3 1/2-year-old son, Nathan. And that doesn’t count checks that also may have been sent by mail.

Bordas, who has battled breast cancer since her pregnancy, was given a terminal diagnosis last week. “They can’t tell you that I am going to make it to next weekend. They can’t tell you that I am going to make a year,” she said. “But I am going to try.”

Bordas had been told in November that her tumors were shrinking, so she celebrated by auditioning for her first musical since her ordeal began in 2009 — landing the role of the drunk secretary in the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5,” opening Feb. 22.

But Bordas soon began to lose vision, which led doctors to discover the cancer had spread to her brain. Four tumors were affecting her vision and motor coordination. A new round of daily chemo was begun. Bordas had to be admitted to the hospital on Jan. 29 when her body completely immobilized. “Paralyzed, and literally turning to stone,” she said.

Turns out the port that was aiding in her chemotherapy (her fourth) was infected. That triggered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, which is a bacteria-filled blood clot in the lung. She then had port-removal surgery, her 15th surgery since her initial cancer diagnosis, and is now being given a round-the-clock barrage of antibiotics to fight the infection.

It was during that hospital stay that doctors gave Bordas the grim news that her remaining time is limited. She bade an emotional goodbye to her “9 to 5” castmates on Saturday, saying that her primary goal now is time with her son, notably taking him on a Disney cruise. “When it comes right down to it, it’s about time,” she said of her decision. “Near death brings you new goals.”

The theater community has responded. So too have many people who have never met her. The initial word of Shelly’s situation urged supporters to send checks addressed to Shelly Bordas to the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, CO, 80120.

Then, on Tuesday night, friend Sarah Roshan set up an account on the web site gogetfunding.com. And, as of 11 p.m. tonight (Feb. 13), 202 donors had pledged $10,400. “I am feeling good and thankful for this amazing community,” Roshan said.

The goal for the campaign has been increased to $15,000, for several reasons. Shelly will require up to four attendants to accompany her on any cruise (which she hopes to take in late March or early April). And the cruise is just one of many, many expenses she faces. Friends would also like to start a college fund for her son.

Bordas has not given up the fight. She has just started yet another new round of chemo. “What that is doing is buying me time,” she said. She has been overwhelmed by the response from the community. But she is having difficulty processing it all. Kelly Kates, her “9 to 5” choreographer, has taken on the role of trying to coordinate various efforts to help Bordas. Her email is kateshouse@earthlink.net.

Among the other ways in which people are helping:

*Voodoo Comedy Playhouse is donating all proceeds from its three shows on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to Shelly Bordas. The three scheduled “Voodoo Comedy Showcase” shows that night are “Humorous Harlots,” “Jump! Improv” and “Skintight Outrage.” Admission is $5 (but feel free to pay more). Voodoo is located at 1260 22nd St. in LoDo. This benefit is orgainzed by Kevin Lowry and Jessica Austgen.

*Dani Nelson Everson, a hair stylist who has never met Bordas, owns a salon in the Highlands neighborhood. As soon as she heard about Bordas’  fight, she announced a cut-a-thon, with all proceeds to benefit Bordas. Everson will have six stylists at the ready from 4-6:30 p.m. on March 8 at Clementine’s Denver, 2009 W. 33rd Ave. Phone: 720-328-3594. That was facilitated by Susan Lyles of And Toto Too Theatre Company.

*The mother of late actor Doug Rosen, a dear friend of Bordas’ who died on Sept. 5, 2009, has said she wants the balance of the fund his friends created to aid in Rosen’s own medical battle be transferred to Bordas. Rosen died before he could take full advantage of his friends’ generosity. That’s about $2,000 that will now go to Bordas.

*The Town Hall Arts Center has announced a “pay what you can” performance of “9 to 5” on Monday, March 4, with all funds going to Bordas. Call 303-794-2787 for reservations.

*Well-known area musical director Mitch Samu is planning a community-wide benefit concert to benefit Bordas. More details to come.

Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”

Note: I am preparing a video documentary on Shelly’s journey. When it is completed, you will see it here.

 

Shelly Bordas informed the cast of "9 to 5" that she would not be able to continue in her role on Feb. 9. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. All rights reserved.

Shelly Bordas informed the cast of “9 to 5” that she would not be able to continue in her role on Feb. 9. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. All rights reserved.

Photos: My night at Dangerous Theatre’s ‘Dark Wood’

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By John Moore
Feb. 11, 2013

The sign as you enter the Dangerous Theatre, above, means it: “Seriously! Lots of nudity. Not a quick peek. Full frontal nudity for the ENTIRE SHOW.” And it’s not just for titillation. Peter McGarry’s “Dark Wood” is a legitimate, serio-comic play that finds three apes together in a cage; two have been raised in captivity, one in the wild. What will they do when the possibility of freedom suddenly presents itself? The play asks: How are our perceptions of our world influenced by our surroundings? Are we humans any more free than the animals in a zoo? It performs on alternating nights with “Lysistrata.” “Dark Wood” (bravely) stars Patrick Call, Ben Pelayo and Brainard Starling. Directed by Winnie Winglewick. Through April 26 at 2620 W. 2nd Ave., 720-233-4703 or dangerous’ home page. Audience members, if naked, can watch the show for free on Feb. 22. All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to cast and crew.

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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IMG_5938Dangerous Theatre is located in an industrial warehouse row in the Denver neighborhood known as Valverde, about a mile south of Mile High Stadium. Why “Dangerous”? Founder Winnie Winglewick (pictured in the photo below) says: “First, it is a dangerous proposition to attempt to make a living producing theater. Second: Trying to get audiences to come see plays they have never heard of before is a dangerous proposition.”

 

IMG_5894As one elderly couple entered Dangerous Theatre on opening night, they were kindly asked, “You do know that the entire play is performed in the nude, right?” To which the woman replied, “Yes … That’s why we’re here!”

 

IMG_5796Luckily for my photo project, Patrick Call, left, Ben Pelayo and Brainard Starling (unseen), were running scenes before Friday’s performance while wearing robes that had just been presented to them as opening-night gifts from director Winnie Winglewick.

 

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David Sedaris: When your heroes (don’t) disappoint

David Sedaris

David Sedaris

By John Moore
Feb. 13, 2013

In January, Denverites were given the rare opportunity to see David Sedaris in process. Perhaps the nation’s foremost comic novelist came to the intimate Galleria Theatre to test out select readings that may (or may not) be included in his forthcoming book, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” due for publication in April.

The audience reaction would, we were promised, help determine the final edits before publication.

My friend Sarah Wells put that to the test. She is a big fan of the NPR contributor, and went to see him perform only expecting to savor this uncommon, close-up look at how Sedaris’ sardonic wit goes from his head to the page.

That’s why, on the evening of Sedaris’ very first performance on Jan. 21, Wells was so mortified that Sedaris chose to tell a story about … genital mutilation.

I’ll let Sarah tell the story from here:

When Your Heroes Disappoint:

I went to see David Sedaris tonight, at a pretty small theater in the Denver Center for Performing Arts. I’ve loved his work for a long time, and have considered him among my favorite writers.

Tonight he was reading parts of a book he’s sending to his publisher at the end of the week. He’s workshopping pieces and testing them out on audiences. I was excited to hear the new stuff.

Sarah Wells

Sarah Wells

One of his pieces was a monologue of a mother standing outside her daughter’s door after forcing her to have her clitoris removed. He made jokes about how much bleeding there would be. He called it a cliterectomy, or something close to that. The mother in his story said that it could have been worse, that she could have had it removed with the rusty lid of a can (to which the audience roared with laughter), and that ultimately the daughter would be saved from so many poor decisions because she wouldn’t be tempted by sex. What a hilarious joke about women and their silly sexual decisions! After he finished the piece, he compared female genital mutilation to testicular surgery.

What. The. F***. No, David Sedaris, women having their clits forcibly removed is not the same as testicular surgery. Maybe it’s the same as having your penis forcibly removed against your will.

I was bothered by this story for the rest of the evening, and decided to wait in the book signing line to tell him what I thought. After about 20 minutes in line I got to the front and said, my voice trembling:

“I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time. I’ve grown up with your work. I walked out of the theater and came back in because I need to tell you this. I need to tell you that the piece you wrote about the clitorectomy was insensitive, and borderline offensive. Female genital mutilation is a serious epidemic and I don’t feel you communicated the gravity in your piece. It’s comparable to joking about a mother having her daughter raped as a way to keep her from sexual exploits. I don’t think you treated the subject with the kind of context or seriousness it deserves, and I’m telling you now because I need to say it for all the women who have felt it but didn’t have the guts to tell you.”

“OK,” he said.

“OK,” I said. Then I walked out.

I hope he doesn’t publish the story.

I don’t know — maybe I just didn’t get the joke.

So that reaction did not sound promising. But, just for the heck of it, I sent Sedaris’ local producer, Nancy Rebek, a copy of Wells’ note. Her unexpected but welcome response:

“You need to tell her he took it to heart, and deleted the story from the forthcoming book.”

Well, what do you know?

Good on you, Sarah Wells. Good on you, David Sedaris.

Let’s leave the laughing at genital mutilation to “The Book of Mormon.”

Photos: My night with ‘The Seafarer’ at the Aurora Fox

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Booze: Beer, whiskey, poteen, you name it — is everywhere to be found on the set of “The Seafarer.”
 

By John Moore
Feb. 12, 2013

Here are bonus images from my brief visit backstage at Ashton Entertainment’s “The Seafarer” on Feb. 8 at the Aurora Fox. It was a long road bringing Conor McPherson’s drama about four Irish drinking buddies gathering to play poker on Christmas Eve to the stage. John Ashton, originally cast in Paragon Theatre’s scheduled production before the company folded last year, re-gathered much of the original team and is now producing the play himself at the Fox. Featuring Ashton, Brock Benson, Steef Sealy, Paragon’s Warren Sherrill and Kevin Hart. Directed by Paragon’s Michael Stricker. Through March 2 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or the Aurora Fox’s home page. Photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Charles Packard, cast and crew.

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.

Click here to subscribe to the CultureWest.org Monthly E-Newsletter

 

IMG_5703John Ashton, serving as both producer and actor, unloads his car of opening-night treats.

 

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The well-worn “Seafarer” script.

 

IMG_5758Jesus enjoys a space on the wall in the Aurora Fox men’s dressing room. He’s saying, “Break a leg, ye fecks! J.C.”

 

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Photos: My night at Backstage’s ‘Out of Order’ in Breckenridge

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By John Moore
Feb. 11, 2013

Here are bonus images from my night visiting the cast of the Backstage’s Theatre’s “Out of Order” after their first performance in front of an audience on Feb. 7. It’s a prototypical Ray Cooney farce harpooning a government official whose plans for an extramarital dalliance in a London hotel are thwarted by the discovery of a dead body — in his sixth-floor window. The week of hard work wiped out actor Kevin Lowry, shown above as the cast gathered for notes from director Seth Caikowski after the show. Starring Raja Salaymeh and featuring Eric Mather, Jenny Weiss, Owen T. Niland, Cathy Salaymeh, Mauri Cohen, Jason Tyler Vaughn, Joel Adam Chavez and Kevin Schwarz. Through March 23 at the Backstage Theatre, 121 S. Ridge St., Breckenridge, 970-453-0199 or www.BackstageTheatre.Org. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Christopher Willard, Torie Richardson-Salaymeh, cast and crew.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 26 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

Click here to subscribe to the CultureWest.org Monthly E-Newsletter

 

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Actor Kevin Schwarz went on as the abused “Dead Body” just three days after fracturing his toe while helping director Seth Caikowski move his car in the Breckenridge mountains.

 

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Director Seth Caikowski pauses for a chilly deep breath in front of the Backstage Theatre moments before the start of Thursday’s performance.

 

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Shelly Bordas: A story that’s just beginning

Shelly Bordas, with choreographer Kelly Kates, told her "9 to 5" castmates yesterday that she would no longer be able to continue with the show. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org

Shelly Bordas, with choreographer Kelly Kates, told her “9 to 5” castmates yesterday that she would no longer be able to continue with the show. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org.

 

UPDATE: It’s here … an electronic means for helping Shelly Bordas with a donation. There also will be a “pay-what-you-can” performance of “9 to 5” on March 4, with all proceeds going to Shelly. Call 303-794-2787.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 10, 2013

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For the past month, I have been following the very funny comic actress Shelly Bordas in her journey back to the stage after a 3 1/2 year battle with breast cancer that she was told in November was behind her.

Shelly celebrated the news by auditioning for the Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5,” and landed the comic role of the drunk secretary. We were both looking forward to soon bringing you my newest five-part video documentary on Shelly’s journey, culminating with her triumphant opening night on Feb. 22.

But the diagnosis quickly changed. The cancer had moved to Shelly’s brain. And so yesterday, after a 10-day hospital stay and her 15th surgery, Shelly told the cast that she could no longer continue in the show.

“The doctors don’t give me a lot of time,” she said. “… And every second I am at rehearsal is another second that I am away from my son.”

Her foremost goal now, she said, is to take her young son, Nathan, on a Disney cruise, she said, “because I need to see that happen.”

Shelly has appeared in dozens of plays around Colorado, but she is best known for her work with the now defunct Theatre Group, including memorable turns in “Cell Block Sirens of 1953,” “Bat Boy, the Musical” and, more recently, “Debbie Does Dallas.” She also has performed at the Arvada Center, the Avenue Theater, Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge and many others.

Shelly has been writing, teaching and directing youth theater for more than 15 years. She founded her own school, Acting Up, giving teenagers professional acting instruction. Many have gone on to work in New York. She has been teaching kids at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton for nine years. She has also been an instructor for Denver Public Schools, Gunnison High School, Stage Eleven and the Cherry Creek School District.

She left the cast on Saturday in typical good humor. “I am afraid I am going to leave you guys to deal with somebody who is never going to be near as good as me,” she said to laughs. “So that sucks for you guys.”

I will tell you that, despite her recent setback, Shelly’s story is just beginning. And we have agreed it should be chronicled. So, while I can’t say when, the video documentary will continue. When it is completed, you will see it here.

Help send Shelly and her son on a Disney cruise

To help Shelly defray the cost of taking her son on a Disney cruise, send donations addressed to Shelly Bordas to the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, CO, 80120.

Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”

Photos: My night at “Red” and “Prelude to a Kiss” in Colorado Springs

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By John Moore
Feb. 6, 2013

Here are bonus images from my night visiting the casts of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ “Red” and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Prelude to a Kiss.”

John Logan’s celebrated “Red” is a charged dialogue between the manic – and egomaniacal – abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, and his young whipping-boy of an assistant, Ken. The play is, in essence, a feisty two-year conversation about the natural order of life – and art, and how the usurper must eventually become the usurpee. Starring Jordan Coughtry and Joel Leffert, who took over the demanding role of Rothko just three days before opening. Directed by Joseph Discher. Through Feb. 17 at the Bon Vivant Theater, at the corner of Union and Austin Bluffs Parkway on the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs campus, 719-255-3232 or www.TheatreWorksCS.Org. Thanks to Caitlin Green, Denise Cardarelli, Murray Ross, Drew Martorella, Brantley Haines, cast and crew.

Craig Lucas’ “Prelude to a Kiss” is a kind of ruminative “Freaky Friday” for the 21st century.  A whirlwind romance is followed by a storybook wedding … and a kiss for the bride that changes everything. Starring Kyle Dean Steffan, Cynthia Pohlson and Sol Chavez. Featuring Adam Blancas, Hossein Forouzandeh, Jane Fromme, David Hastings, Jonathan Eberhardt, Kathy Paradise, John Butz and Miriam Roth Ballard. Director: Garrett Ayers. Through Feb. 17 at 30 W. Dale St., 719-634-5583 or www.CSFineArtsCenter.Org. Thanks to Scott RC Levy, Katy McGlaughlin, cast and crew.

All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org.

To see the the full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 22 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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OPENING 22It takes gallons and gallons of red to stage John Logan’s “Red.”

 

IMG_5021What might look like a paint sink backstage at any local theater is the actual sink used as part of Jonathan Wentz’s set design.

 

IMG_5067Jordan Coughtry, who has appeared with the Denver Center Theatre Company in “A Christmas Carol,” plays Ken, Mark Rothko’s assistant.

 

IMG_5040The green room at TheatreWorks’ is adorned with various busts of artistic director Murray Ross’ favorite playwright.

 

IMG_5045Little-known but strong words of advice from the TheatreWorks green room, should you ever find yourself a lost bear in the woods.

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Photos: My night at Boulder Ensemble’s ‘Ghost-Writer’

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By John Moore
Feb. 6, 2013

Here are bonus images from my night visiting the cast before the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s performance of “Ghost-Writer” on Feb. 2 at the Dairy Center for the Arts. In the play, a mystery set in 1919, Jim Hunt plays deceased novelist Franklin Woolsey, who may (or may not) still be dictating his final novel to his devoted typist, Myra (Laura Norman), from the grave. Also featuring Anne Sandoe. Directed by Josh Hartwell. Written by Michael Hollinger. Through Feb. 16 at 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or www.BoulderEnsembleTheatre.Org. All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Amanda Paswaters, Rebecca Remaly, Stephen Weitz, Amanda Clark, cast and crew.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 22 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

Click here to subscribe to the CultureWest.org Monthly E-Newsletter

 

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Laura Norman’s vintage L.C. Smith typewriter is one of the central characters in Michael Hollinger’s play. Norman has a brief “secret phrase” that she types over and over throughout each performance. Someone at every audience talkback to date has asked her what that phrase is she’s typing, but the team wants it to remain a secret within the cast and crew until after the show closes — so I’ve blurred it out above the “now is the time for all good men” words you still can see. (That’s not the secret phrase!)

 

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Jim Hunt.

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The Lumineers’ Colorado theater connection

Here’s a video I shot  of The Lumineers performing their encore from the balcony of the Bluebird Theatre in May 2012.

By John Moore
Feb. 6, 2013

Neyla Pekarek of the Grammy nominated group The Lumineers performed in the University of Northern Colorado's theater production of "The Tomato Plant Girl."  Photo by David Grapes.

Neyla Pekarek of the Grammy-nominated group The Lumineers performed in the University of Northern Colorado’s theater production of “The Tomato Plant Girl.” Photo by David Grapes.

It’s great to see all the love coming The Lumineers’ way, most recently today’s fine piece by the New York Times’ Jon Parales on the ever-blossoming Denver music scene: Go West, Young Band: The Lumineers’ strange road to the top.

The momentum is all building toward Sunday’s Grammy Awards, where the band will perform and is twice-nominated, for best new artist and best Americana album. That’s based largely on the ubiquitous radio hit, “Ho Hey.” The other new-artist nominees are Alabama Shakes, Fun., Frank Ocean and Hunter Hayes.

It’s a rare story about Denver that is actually reported from Denver. It’s funny that the writer opens with a scene from 2010 at the Meadowlark, an underground bar in RiNo that, from the moment I first saw it years ago, thought looked just like a New York kind of bar.

A few things I love: That the New York Times still quaintly refers to interview subjects by their titles, as in “Mr. Jeremiah Fraites”; and that we even get to claim the Lumineers as our own, when they really aren’t. Wesley Schultz and “Mr. Jeremiah Fraites” are New Jerseyans, and, as the story goes, they recruited Colorado cellist Neyla Pekarek through a Craigslist ad. They all lived here for a short time, but have since moved on.

But the Colorado theater community can proudly claim Ms. Pekarek as our own. The University of Northern Colorado certainly does. David Grapes, who runs the nationally regarded theater division there in Greeley, sent out a “before they were stars” photo to the media this week. It shows Ms. Pekarek performing — adorably — as “The Tomato Plant Girl” in a children’s production at the school.

With everyone’s blessing, we’re happy to bring that photo to you here now.

Pekarek earned her bachelor’s degree in Music Education from UNC in 2010. When she enrolled, she dreamed of performing in Broadway musicals. Instead she got “Saturday Night Live” (just off the Broadway theater district) and Sunday’s Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

It just goes to show you never know who is going to go from children’s theater one day to the Grammy Awards (airing Sunday on local CBS affiliates from 7-10) the next.

Wait: The Arvada Center’s “No Dogs Allowed” opens tomorrow. OK, Seth Caikowski, Cailin Doran, Rachel Graham, Sarah Grover, Sonia Justl, Norrell Moore, Matthew Peters and Tyrell Rae … Who’s next?

Read Dan England’s feature story on Neyla Pekarek in the Greeley Tribune.

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Who’s who at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit

"Grace, or the Art of Climbing" made the leap from the 2012 Colorado New Play Summit to its full world premiere presentation now being staged by the Denver Center Theatre Company. Above are Karen Pittman and Teresa Avia Lim at the 2012 Summit.

“Grace, or the Art of Climbing” made the leap from the 2012 Colorado New Play Summit to its full world premiere presentation now being staged by the Denver Center Theatre Company. Above are Karen Pittman and Teresa Avia Lim at the 2012 Summit.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 5, 2013

The Denver Center Theatre Company’s eighth annual Colorado New Play Summit is taking shape for this weekend (Feb. 8-10). The company will present five staged readings, a few of which will surely end up being chosen for full productions during the company’s 2013-14 season.

Ryan Wuestewald  recently starred in a Catherine Trieschmann drama in Boulder, but at the Summit he will appear in an adaptation of Helen Thorpe's "Just Like Us."

Ryan Wuestewald recently starred in a Catherine Trieschmann drama in Boulder, but at the Summit he will appear in an adaptation of Helen Thorpe’s “Just Like Us.”

With dozens of cast and crew needed to pull off the Summit, company stages will be peppered with Broadway and film veterans (such as André De Shields); Denver Center company  members past and present; as well as accomplished local actors who don’t otherwise get a chance to perform at the Denver Center. Familiar names to local theatergoers will include Kim Staunton, Jeanne Paulsen, Gabriella Cavallero, David DeSantos (“American Nights”), Kathleen McCall, Mercedes Perez, Laurence Curry, Jada Roberts, Allison Watrous, Brian Shea, Stephen Weitz, Jamie Ann Romero, Diana Dresser, Dena Martinez and Ryan Wuestewald, who will also star in the Catamounts’ upcoming “Jon.”

Selected playwrights include Cherry Creek High grad Laura Eason and Karen Zacarías, whose adaptation of former Colorado First Lady Helen Thorpe’s book, “Just Like Us” follows four Latina girls in Denver, two of whom are documented and two of whom are not, as they complete their final year of high school, then move through college and into the world. Thorpe is depicted in the play adaptation, played by McCall. Richard Azurdia plays controversial former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo.

Here’s who’s doing what, with play summaries provided by the Denver Center. Note: All casting is subject to change:

THE MOST DESERVING
Written by Catherine Trieschmann (“How the World Began”)
Directed by Shelley Butler
Dramaturg: Tom Bryant

Tasked with awarding $20,000 to a deserving and needy local artist who “demonstrates an underrepresented American voice,” a small town arts council in Ellis County, Kansas, comically erupts into chaos. Should the award go to a high school teacher/photographer of modest talent or to the self-taught African-American artist who creates controversial religious figures out of trash? “The Most Deserving” is a satirical, insightful look at how the arts collide with politics, self-interest, taste, relationships, egos, and gossip, written by Catherine Trieschmann, winner of the Weissberger Award, the Otis Guerney New Voices Playwriting Award from the Inge Theatre Festival, and the Edgerton New Play Award.

Cast:
Stephen Caffrey: Ted (“Longtime Companion” and “The Babe”)
Hawthorne James: Everett Whiteside (“Speed,” “The Color Purple,” Armistad”)
Judith Hawking: Jolene
Marissa Lichwick: Liz
Jeanne Paulsen: Edie
John G. Preston: Dwayne
Adrian Egolf: Stage Directions

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Sudden death of singer Angela Johnson has Northern Colorado reeling

Mikeal Macbeth has created this this video montage of Angela Johnson performances. Used by permission.

 

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By John Moore
Feb. 4, 2013

Though she was just a young woman, Angela Johnson was known as “the queen of community theater” in Northern Colorado. She was a classically trained vocalist who accepted any role given to her “happily and joyfully,” her friend and vocal coach Jalyn Webb said Monday night.

Angela Johnson. Photo courtesy Jayln Webb.

Angela Johnson. Photo courtesy Jayln Webb.

Friends far and wide are reeling from the shocking news that Johnson died overnight in her sleep Sunday. She was 34.

Johnson was known for posting positive “quote of the day” online affirmations. “She was the kind of person everybody aspired to be,” said Webb. “She was truly without a single thread of malice in her body.” Echoed friend Mickie Stevens in a Facebook post: “It’s impossible to comprehend the sudden and unexplainable loss of such a beautiful soul, but I do know that her singing, acting, cross-stitching, pirate celebrating, and yes, dancing, will live on in (our) memories.”

Johnson loved singing, acting and every other aspect of theater performance. She performed or worked with most every company in Northern Colorado, most recently as a box-office worker at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown.

Of all the companies she performed with, including the Loveland Community Theater,  Jesters Dinner Theater, Front Range Music Theatre, Union Colony Dinner Theatre and Up in Lights Productions, her work with the Loveland Opera Theatre dating to 2006 was probably most most special to her. Angela had two sides of her to her theatrical career, and with the Loveland Opera Theatre, she got to fully explore both. Angela was a performer and  administrative assistant to executive director Juliana Bishop Hoch, who calls Angela “the backbone of the company.” Hoch taught Angela as a vocal student for 10 years before hiring her on staff.

“She helped me with details of running the business and brainstorming ideas,” said Hoch, citing Johnson’s idea for a sold-out “Everybody Loves Puccini” gala. “We worked together as a dynamic team and there is a huge hole in my heart now that she is gone.”

On Thursday, Hoch announced that the Loveland Opera Company’s upcoming production of “La Boheme” (Feb. 15-24) will be dedicated to Angela. Hoch called her voice “angelic” and gorgeous.

“As long as I live, I will never forget her hysterical rendition of ‘As We Stumble Along’ from ‘The Drowsy Chaperone,’ which she performed at an LOT gala. It brought the house down. … We have lost a great friend, performer and talent in our musical community.”

Angela Johnson was born March 9, 1978, into a performing family. She is the daughter of Judy Johnson, a piano teacher, and father Murell Johnson, a music teacher. He taught high-school band and choir for nine years in Utah before moving to Colorado, where he has since participated in many musical events himself, from church choirs to high-school musical productions.

Angela’s  sister, Shauna, is the technical director at Candlelight, where Neal is a sound technician. Another brother, Craig, also performed in community theater before starting his own family.

“With my parents’ backgrounds, one can only imagine the environment my siblings and I grew up in,” Neal Johnson said. “Music was not a part of our lives — it was our lives. We all participated in music in school in one facet or another, spanning from all-state choir to high-school musicals to multiple state marching-band championships.”

Angela was an integral part of it all, Neal said, including being a drum major for the Loveland High School marching band. That began the family’s 14-year marching-band campaign, he said.

“We still sing as a family to this day,” Neal added. “You should hear our six-part harmony of ‘Happy Birthday.’ ”

Johnson, a mezzo soprano, graduated from Loveland High in 1996 and the University of Northern Colorado’s College of Music in 2000. One of her favorite on-stage roles was as Tzeitel in the Union Colony Dinner Theatre’s 2008 production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“What a sweet, gentle, loving person,” Cathy Monroe-Salaymeh, former owner of the Union Colony Dinner Theatre, wrote on Facebook.

“She was just a really sharp, invested, funny woman,” added Webb.

Johnson had a great fondness or the Up in Lights youth theater academy in Loveland. She is featured in a promotional video (posted at the top of this page) in which she espouses the merits of a company that allows young people to spread their joy for musical theater.

There is no word yet on a cause of death.

Services will be held as follows:

Thursday, Feb. 7, 5-7 p.m.: Visitation at Kibbey-Fishburn Funeral Home, 1103 Lincoln Ave., Loveland

Friday, Feb. 8, 8 a.m.” Visitation at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3800 Mountain Lion Drive, Loveland

Friday, Feb. 8, 9 a.m.: Funeral at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3800 Mountain Lion Drive, Loveland.

Angela’s immediate family also included sister-in-law Robin, wife of Craig (parents of Emily, Rebekah, George and Ben); sister-in-law Amanda, wife of Neal; grandmother Lois Milligan, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

The Johnson family. Photo courtesy of Neal Johnson.

The Johnson family. Photo by Kelsey Hansen, used courtesy of Neal Johnson.

 

More from Johnson’s online profile:

Angela’s love affair with musical theater began very early, as her family has been involved in theatre for many years. Her first role was Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at age 13. She went on to do plays and musicals at Bill Reed Middle School and Loveland High School. Since that time, she has performed with Loveland Community Theater, the Jesters Dinner Theater, Front Range Music Theatre, Loveland Opera Theatre, the Union Colony Dinner Theatre, Up in Lights Productions and the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.

Some of Angela’s favorite roles include: Rose in “The Secret Garden” (JDT, 2004), Tzeitel in “Fiddler on the Roof” (UCDT, 2008), Bloody Mary in “South Pacific” (JDT, 2009), Donna in “The Taffetas” (FRMT, 2009), Jessica Cranshaw in “Curtains” (UIL, 2009), and Mrs. Dilber in “Scrooge! the Musical” (CDP, 2011).

In addition to being an accomplished vocalist, Angela also plays the piano, organ, flute and piccolo.

Angela Johnson, far left, in 'The Taffetas.'

Angela Johnson, far left, in ‘The Taffetas,’ for the Front Range Music Theatre.

 


Angela Johnson espouses the merits of Loveland’s Up in Lights youth theater academy at about the 0:50 mark of the video above.

 

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Bonus photos: My day with Constantine Maroulis, Deborah Cox and ‘Jekyll & Hyde’

 

By John Moore
Feb. 2, 2013

Here are bonus images from my night visiting the cast of the Broadway-bound musical “Jekyll & Hyde,” featuring Constantine Maroulis (last seen here in “Rock of Ages”) and R&B star Deborah Cox, backstage at Denver’s Buell Theatre. This re-imagined production, which opens on Broadway on April 18,  fits best into the world of steam-punk. That’s a genre of fiction that typically plays out in an anachronistic, quasi-Victorian type of setting. Or, as urbandictionary.com puts it, “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” So you see the classic story of good and evil played out in a kind of industrial way, with Gothic video projections that are both Victorian and modern at once. But in the end, it’s still “Jekyll & Hyde” — the story of a good doctor who, while trying to cure his father of dementia, unwittingly unleashes his own dark side, wreaking havoc in the streets of late 19th century London as the savage Edward Hyde. And you still get the iconic songs “This is the Moment,” “A New Life” and “Someone Like You.”

“Jekyll & Hyde” runs though Feb. 10 at the Buell Theatre, 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 to Heidi Bosk, Eric Sprosty, Amy Katz, cast and crew.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 18 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

Bonus coverage: Watch my “Skype Sessions” interview with Constantine Maroulis on YouTube.

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 Deborah Cox stars as Lucy, the prostitute caught both in the web of “The Spider,” and in the evil clutches of Edward Hyde.

 

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Constantine Maroulis, of “American Idol” fame, stars as the doctor whose experiments seek to separate the good and evil that lurk within one man – every man.  

 

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“Jekyll & Hyde” marks the Denver return of actor Blair Ross, who has appeared in several Denver Center Theatre Company works, including “They Shoot Horses Don’t They” and “The Sirens,” and toured here in the Broadway production of “42nd Street.” Here, she plays the fated posh snot Lady Beaconsfield. 

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Bonus photos: My night at ‘Noises Off’ in Lone Tree

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 The opening night of “Noises Off” at the Lone Tree Arts Center had a well-known guest, and not just local actor Carla Kaiser Kotrc, left. Joining director Nick Sugar (center) was film and TV star John Carroll Lynch, a Denver native and Regis High grad who performed in plays and musicals with Sugar (and me) for a former citywide theater group called the Original Scene, which operated for 20 years near 19th Avenue and Logan Street. Lynch’s credits  include “Fargo,” “Shutter Island,” “Gran Torino,” “Crazy Stupid Love,” “The Drew Carey Show,” two summers with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and, now, the new NBC  drama “Do No Harm.”

By John Moore
Feb. 1, 2013

Here are some bonus images from my night visiting the cast of “Noises Off,” presented by Starkey Productions at the Lone Tree Arts Center. Michael Frayn’s celebrated farce (with its many, sardines) features Lauren Bahlman, Trina Magness, Michael Bouchard, Kurt Brighton, Evan Marquez, Ron Welch, Anna Gibson, Rachel Bouchard and Scot Cahoon. It is directed by Nick Sugar. Through Feb. 10 at 10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue in Lone Tree. 720-509-1000 or www.LoneTreeArtsCenter.org. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Lisa Rigsby Peterson, Mathew Kepler, Lindsey Benge and Katie Malties.

To see the full, official 2013 photo series bringing you one intimate, iconic snapshots from 18 Colorado opening nights (so far), click here.

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Members of the Lone Tree city council and other invited guests, below, are given a tour of the Lone Tree Arts Center facilities before the opening performance.

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