Photos: My night at Buntport’s ‘A Knight to Remember’

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Brian Colonna’s adventures are subtitled, “My Quest to Gallantly Recapture the Past.”

 

By John Moore
April 30, 2013

Welcome to my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore copyright 2013 for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 60: Buntport Theater’s “A Knight to Remember”: In what could have served as a perfect companion piece to the Arvada Center’s recent “The Man of La Mancha,” Denver’s fearlessly (and endlessly) inventive Buntporters are currently taking up an uncommonly self-referential comic, Quixotean quest. Ever-amiable actor Brian Colonna takes audiences on a trip back to the fourth grade, where he explores his childhood dreams of knighthood. Snarky squires Erin Rollman and DJ Hannah Duggan join in on Colonna’s self-examination to determine whether he ever truly possessed the characteristics necessary to become a knight in the first place. (Here’s a hint: Spelling apparently isn’t one of the essential ingredients.) This is a comedy about honor, love … and what was up with that pretty girl in the class picture who looks like, in the absence of her knight, has been left to hold her own hand alone. As usual, the Buntporters play with the unusual in employing charmingly simple storytelling techniques. But for as cheeky as this latest original effort is, it’s an intimate and honest look into the life and psychology of one of Denver’s most endearing young actors. Starring Brian Colonna as Brian Colonna in a full suit of armor (imported from … well, Denver, but via India). Through May 11 at 717 Lipan St. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; also 3 p.m. Sunday, May 5. 720-946-1388 or buntport’s home page

The following gallery is just one chapter in my ongoing photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 61 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

 

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Brian Colonna hangs out in the parking lot as his public begins to arrive at the Buntport Theater warehouse.

 

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This show must be real: Brian has his own show shirt.

 

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DJ Hannah Duggan may appear to be playing a Colombian miner, but in reality, she is wearing a headlamp so she can see backstage.

 

 

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Has any other show ever sported Ramen, wigs and medieval youth literature on same prop table?

 

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Theater marketing at its best. (That line never gets old to me.)

 

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Erin Rollman helps prepare Brian Colonna for the battle of live performance. Good thing for the camera flash, because they are doing all of this in near total darkness.

 

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And I thought the ladies had it tough in their high heels.

 

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “A Knight to Remember.”)

10 years and 2 days later, the first openly gay athlete in team sports history

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By John Moore
April 29, 2013

TMOTODDTMOGRACEIt’s hard for me to believe it was 10 years and 2 days ago that I wrote the following story about the new Broadway play “Take Me Out,” which imagined the serious repercussions of the first openly gay male athlete in the history of team sports. As of today, there is one: Jason Collins, who says in the May 6, 2013, issue of Sports Illustrated: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” 

Here’s a link to this historic story.

In many ways, the story I wrote a decade ago put me on the map as a serious theater reporter. I had originally returned to Denver as a sports editor asked to imagine how The Denver Post might cover its first-ever major-league baseball team. So later, when I was the still the green new theater critic at The Post, and playwright Richard Greenberg wrote “Take Me Out,” it was natural for me to explore the very consequential reasons this had never happened before in real life – and was unlikely to anytime soon. Look no further than Colorado Rockies pitcher Todd Jones’ quote, which made a little bit of history of its own at the time:

I wouldn’t want a gay guy being around me. It’s got nothing to do with me being scared. That’s the problem: All these people say he’s got all these rights. Yeah, he’s got rights or whatever, but he shouldn’t walk around proud. It’s like he’s rubbing it in our face. ‘See me, Hear me roar.’ “

On the day my story came out, it was the lead item on both espn.com and gay.com at the same time. Fairly certain that has never happened before, or since — until today. By the time I finally saw (and wrote about) “Take Me Out,” the play had been open for several months. My favorite response to the story came from the play’s New York publicist, Juliana Hannett. “I can’t believe no one here (in New York) ever thought to write about that before you got here,” she told me then. One year ago, she wrote me: “That was such a wonderful and important piece. I just went back into the archives to read it again, and the years have given a fresh perspective on the kind of dialogue we were able to create with that show – and your dedication to continuing it. I wish, as a nation of sports fans, we could have put this particular prejudice in the past by now. But, alas, it seems we still have a lot of ground to cover on that front.”

Here’s a look back at how this highly volatile issue was shaping up in 2003. At the time, it was difficult to imagine a player coming out in the almost organically supportive manner Collins’ news is likely to be received. That’s due in large part to historically rapid recent shifts in public opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage, and the laws that are coming with that. Back then, a much lonelier, frightening and inescapably violent landscape appeared to await whoever Jason Collins turned out to be. Even Collins says in his essay today, “I’m glad I’m coming out in 2013 rather than 2003. The climate has shifted; public opinion has shifted.”

But in the story, actor Daniel Sunjata, who plays a Derek Jeter-like player who comes out as gay, said of the play: “It encourages the times to catch up a little bit.”

Just now, Denver Nuggets player Kenneth Faried Tweeted: “Wow this is amazing. All smiles. So, so happy Jason Collins came out & announced he was openly GAY. ALL SUPPORT OVER HERE.”

I think the times just did.

 

Fear and loathing in America’s locker rooms

Why Broadway’s portrayal of openly gay ballplayer runs counter to reality

By John Moore
The Denver Post
April 27, 2003

NEW YORK – In the few first seconds of the most controversial new play on Broadway, a young, handsome and cocky major-league baseball superstar casually and unashamedly mentions to the media and his teammates that he is gay. His talents are so god-like, his life to date so charmed and insulated from hatred, it never occurs to him to care what anyone else might think about that.

Art, in this case, certainly does not imitate life. Because in the entire history of the four major American professional team sports, not one player ever has come out as a homosexual while still collecting paychecks and banking endorsements.

In the real world, this is what really happens when an athlete turns out to be gay:

Last year, when retired NFL player Esera Tuaolo revealed his homosexuality, Sterling Sharpe told a national television audience that his 6-foot-3, 300-pound former teammate would have been hated and “eaten alive” by his own kind, had they known. Tuaolo would have been “taken out” on a Tuesday, Sharpe vowed, before he could
ever make it to a game on Sunday.

How ironic that Richard Greenberg’s Pulitzer-nominated new play is titled “Take Me Out” as both an homage to America’s pastime and a reference to the lead character’s sexuality. Like a baseball triple play, Sharpe’s attitude reveals an unintended third entendre that speaks to the consequences any real-life ballplayer might face: He would be taken out.

“I think it would be an enormously difficult thing to do,” said Greenberg, “and I think it will probably be hellish for whoever does it, no matter who he is. There is nothing but disincentive.”

Not only would the player likely lose endorsements and face tension in his own locker room, he would be hounded by the media in every city he visited, and he would be constantly subjected to verbal and even physical abuse. Last year, a father and son rushed the field in Kansas City just to attack an opposing base coach.

“You can imagine what a gay player would be up against,” said Greenberg, an openly gay man. “You’re endangering his life.”

The only incentive for doing it anyway, he said, “is if the player just can’t stand it anymore. When living the lie becomes impossible.”

An irony is that even a terrified player taken to the brink and involuntarily shoved off likely would land in a vast safety net held up by supporters he cannot possibly yet imagine, and not just from the gay community. A lifetime of celebrity and speeches would follow, as well as mail from suicidal gay teens crediting him with saving their lives. That doesn’t qualify as incentive, but it would certainly counter the inevitable negative fallout.

Greenberg grew up on Long Island with no interest in baseball until the 1998 World Series, when, at age 38, with the help of his fanatical brothers, he became intoxicated with the New York Yankees and baseball’s ability to reveal the heart and mind of America.

His play gets to the heart of America’s love for the game (“baseball is unrelentingly meaningful”) but also shows how it can be unrelentingly mean (the protagonist gets a fan letter from a father who would be proud to have him as his son’s scoutmaster or teacher … “but do you have to play baseball?”).

New York Empires ballplayer Darren Lemming’s teammates are fairly accepting of his homosexuality, but that might be because they are so enormously dependent on his talent. What stirs up the chalk line is the promotion of a minor-league pitcher named Shane Mungitt, who sounds like John Rocker and looks libelously like menacing mullet-head Randy Johnson. The conflict builds to a violent end, and not just for the two antagonists.

In real life, a hostile reception of some degree certainly awaits whatever player decides to become the gay equivalent of Jackie Robinson – if the decision is actually his.

Colorado Rockies pitcher Todd Jones, a 6-foot, 3-inch pitcher from Marietta, Ga., said an openly gay player would create a hostile locker-room environment, and that opposing pitchers would likely throw intentionally at his head.

“I wouldn’t want a gay guy being around me,” Jones said. “It’s got nothing to do with me being scared. That’s the problem: All these people say he’s got all these rights. Yeah, he’s got rights or whatever, but he shouldn’t walk around proud. It’s like he’s rubbing it in our face. ‘See me, hear me roar.’ We’re not trying to be close-minded, but then again, why be confrontational when you don’t really have to be?”

That kind of attitude “speaks volumes about America,” said actor Daniel Sunjata, a Jeter lookalike who plays Lemming in “Take Me Out.” “Sports are the last bastion of sanctioned homophobia in this country. The fact that something like sexual preference can so adversely affect your career and your income is depressing. If I were a pro baseball player, and I was gay, I might not come out, either, for those exact reasons.”

Mark Grace, a 38-year-old first baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks, said most ballplayers are less threatened by the idea of a gay teammate. “I’ve played for 16 years, and I’m sure I’ve had homosexual teammates that I didn’t know about,” he said. “If one out of six or seven men are homosexual – do the math.”

Any problem, Grace said, would manifest itself not so much in the field but in the locker room and in the showers – where, not coincidentally, the majority of “Take Me Out” takes place.

“I think the perception in the clubhouse would be one of, for lack of a better word – fear,” Grace said. “Fear that they’d be stared at or (that a gay player might fall) in love with them. But I think if you’re intelligent at all, you’d understand that homosexuals are just like us. They don’t think everybody’s attractive. Just because this guy’s homosexual doesn’t mean he’s attracted to me.”

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our story on the Broadway play “Take Me Out.”)

Photos: My night at square product’s ‘The Ding Dongs’

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The world might run a little more peaceably if people only respected other people’s door signs.

 

By John Moore
April 28, 2013

Welcome to my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 59: square product theatre’s “The Ding Dongs, Or What is the Penalty in Portugal?”: When a sweet-faced young couple shows up on a suburban doorstep somewhere nearabouts, say, “Arlington Road,” an unsuspecting homeowner finds himself the victim of a surreal home invasion. Using wit and wordplay to counter a more evidently sinister threat, man and couple wage a battle over indigenous property rights from the most unlikely of places … an ordinary American suburban living room. A comedy (yes, comedy) written by Brenda Withers (“Matt & Ben”). Directed for the lower-cased square product theater company by Rand Harmon. Featuring Emily K. Harrison, Jason Maxwell and Jack Wefso. The subtitle is a reference to a line made by author Howard Zinn in “A People’s History of the United States,” in a section about differing notions of property rights. The artistic company of the theater that premiered this play in Boston is Zinn’s son, Jeff, so the otherwise obscure subtitle stuck. Plays through May 4. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays at the Laundry on Lawrence, 2701 Lawrence St., 303-442-0234 or square product’s home page. Thanks: Josh Nelson.

The following gallery is just one chapter in my ongoing photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 59 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

 

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The playwright Brenda Withers is scheduled to attend the May 3 performance and take questions from the audience after the show. She collaborated with actor Mindy Kaling (of “The Office” fame) on the writing of another play, “Matt & Ben,” produced a few years ago at the Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden. Withers is also an accomplished actor, having appeared in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Pride & Prejudice.”

 

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Emily K. Harrison and Jason Maxwell rehearse a key scene before the play’s opening performance in Denver after a short premiere in Boulder. Natalie and Joe are not your average suburban couple. No, they are a couple of serious Ding Dongs.

 

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Theater marketing at its best.

 

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Now that’s what I call a snack bar.

 

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Backstage with actor Jason Maxwell.

 

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Actor Jack Wefso and stage manager Josh Nelson grab some fresh air before the evening’s bell-ringing begins.

 

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Each performance features a guest cameo UPS deliverer. Director Rand Harmon, who teaches at the University of Colorado-Boulder, put one of his students to work, left, on opening night.

 

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “The Ding Dongs.”)

Photos: My Night at ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’

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If you’ve ever been backstage at the Mary Miller Theatre, you know the largest single space back there is the bathroom. So that’s where I gathered the eight members of director Ian Gerber’s cast for this portrait, which sort of seems appropriate for a play as hilariously pocked with potty language as David Mamet’s profanity-laced 1984 Pulitzer-winner. And you’ll notice, it was so tight in there, we couldn’t even fit poor Dean Espitallier (the cop) into the frame.

 

By John Moore
April 26, 2013

Welcome to my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 58: Theatre Company of Lafayette’s “Glengarry Glen Ross”: David Mamet’s profanity-laced 1984 Pulitzer-winner has come to Lafayette. It’s the story of cutthroat real-estate salesmen who, well, cut throats to win a very consequential sales contest. Lies, blackmail, burglary, desperation, double-crossing — and a set of steak knives — lurk behind the brittle, brutal confidence of these veteran hucksters. Starring, above, from left: Jon Gregory, Joel Silverman, Blake Curton, Michael Occhiuzzo, Wade Livingston, former Boulder Daily Camera theater critic Mark Collins and Patrick Collins. Also featuring Dean Espitallier. Directed by Ian Gerber. Strong language. For mature audiences. Through May 18. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 29; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5, at 300 E. Simpson St., 720-209-2154 or theatre company of lafayette’s home page Thanks: Jeanie Balch, Tina Kruse, Marta Occhiuzzo and Don Thumin.

The following gallery is just one chapter in my ongoing photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 58 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

 

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The Mary Miller Theatre is home to the Theatre Company of Lafayette.

 

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Native New Yorker and new Coloradan Michael Occhiuzzo (Moss) grabs a smoke before Wednesday’s invited preview performance. And unlike the cigarettes on stage – that ain’t no electric cig.

 

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Director Ian Gerber addresses the cast before the performance.

 

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Joel Silverman (Rick Roma).

 

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Former Boulder Daily Camera theater critic Mark Collins (George Aaronow) is now one of the busiest actors in the metro area.

 

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Jon Gregory as Williamson.

 

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Backstage greetings from a previous staging of “Becky’s New Car.”

 

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “Glengarry Glen Ross.”)

Photos: My night at the Aurora Fox’s ‘The Color Purple’

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By John Moore
April 25, 2013

Welcome to my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 57: The Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”: The musical stage adaptation of Alice Walker’s epistolary novel follows Celie Johnson as she struggles throughout her life in the early 1900s. Over 40 years, Celie is married to a brutal man named “Mister” who abuses her, neglects her and covets her sister. Mister’s lover, Shug Avery, befriends Celie and helps her to understand the power of her womanhood, leading to a heart-tugging reunion. The book was written by Marsha Norman (” ‘Night Mother”), and you can read my 2009 interview with Norman here. Directed by donnie l. betts. Starring SuCh with De Thomas, Anna High, Krisangela Washington, Ashlie-Amber Harris, Tyrell D. Rae. Also featuring Leonard Barrett Jr., Erica Lyn Cain, Jada Roberts, Matthew D. Peters, Noah Lee Jordan, Martell Harding, Faith Angelise Goins, Liam Speros, Maddie Atuire, Samuel L. Davis, Kim Dawson, Rae Klapperich, Audrey Gachire, Summer Dion, Lonnie McCabe, Jontae Piper, Cicely O’Kain, Matt Laughlin, Nadiya Jackson and Richard Williams. Musical director David Wohl. Through May 12 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora. Showtimes 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. 303-739-1970 or www.aurorafoxartscenter.org Thanks: Patricia Wells, Lindsay Sullivan and Charles Packard.

The following gallery is just one chapter in my ongoing photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 58 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

OPENING 57
There was an onstage marriage proposal after Monday’s performance. John Salazar proposed to actor Erica Lyn Cain, who plays (an adorable) Squeak … and she said yes! But we’ll get back to this later in our gallery.

 

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Finishing touches on the set, designed by Jen Orf, before the show.

 

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SuCh, left, an accomplished national singer who makes an emphatic introduction to Colorado audiences playing Celie, arrives at the Aurora Fox with Krisangela Washington, who plays her sister, Nettie.

 

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Oh, Erica Lyn Cain, are you in for a surprise.

 

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At the pre-show fight call, actors De Thomas (“Mister”), Krisangela Washington and SuCh (unseen) brush up on all staged violence to protect the safety of the actors.

 

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Leonard Barrett has long been a big deal on Denver stages, mostly for his work with the handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company. Here he plays four roles, notably a devout preacherman.

 

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Tyrell D. Rae plays Harpo, a husband under the thumb of his strong-willed wife, Sofia (Anna High).

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “The Color Purple.”)

Photos: My night at The Edge’s ‘The Shadow Box’

IMG_2203 Haley Johnson, left, with “Shadow Box” castmate Patty Ionoff.

 

By John Moore
April 24, 2013

Welcome to my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

 

OPENING 56

 

Opening No. 56: The Edge Theatre’s “The Shadow Box”: 9News entertainment reporter Kirk Montgomery, above, isn’t just making a quick cameo in Rick Yaconis’ staging of Michael Cristofer’s 1975 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about three hospice patients at a mountain retreat. Montgomery plays “The Interviewer,” an off-stage (but live) voice who serves, in effect, as a confessor to the patients and their families. It’s never made evident exactly why these dying patients have abandoned medical treatment in favor of The Interviewer’s psychological experiment, which only makes the underlying inevitability of their situations all the more more unsettling. John Considine played Montgomery’s role in Paul Newman’s 1980 made-for-TV film adaptation. Also featuring: Marc Stith, Paul Page, Carol Bloom, Haley Johnson, Brock Benson, Michelle Grimes, Patty Ionoff (Yaconis) and Paul Escobedo. Through May 19 at 1560 Teller St., Lakewood. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays. 303-232-0363 or the edge’s home page. Thanks: Rick Yaconis, Charles Cobb and Gloria Shanstrom.

The following gallery is one chapter in my ongoing photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 56 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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“The Shadow Box” is The Edge’s second offering since moving into its new theater space 2 miles to the east of its former home, at West Colfax and Teller Street in Lakewood.

 

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The walls of The Edge Theatre pay homage to iconic signs along Colfax Avenue, past and present.

 

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Backstage flowers for actor Michelle Grimes.

 

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A view of the set from behind the stage.

 

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Kirk Montgomery (above and below) sits in a booth unseen by the audience. He participates live in the play by interviewing several residents of a hospice retreat.

 

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(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “The Shadow Box.”)

Photos: My night at Ignite Theatre’s snowy ‘Cabaret’

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There’s a lot of touching in the Kit Kat Klub — and in the backstage area of the Aurora Fox — as actor Maggie Tisdale can attest. The Fox’s shop area has been converted into a temporary dressing room to accommodate the huge Ignite Theatre cast, which performs on the studio stage while another big musical, “The Color Purple,” plays on the mainstage.

 

By John Moore
April 18, 2013

Welcome to my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 55: Ignite Theatre’s “Cabaret”: Monday’s industry-night performance of Kander & Ebb’s classic musical drew a capacity crowd to the Aurora Fox despite a snowstorm. “Cabaret” follows an American writer who is coming of age in 1920s Berlin, when the end of an era of indulgence and sexual ambiguity paralleled the rise of the Nazi Party. It’s staged in-the-round in the Fox’s studio theater by director/choreographer Danny Harrigan, with drink service provided by the Kit Kat Boys during the show. Starring Matt LaFontaine as the Emcee, Lindsey Falduto as Sally Bowles, Marcus Turner as Clifford Bradshaw, Barbara Porreca as Fraulein Schneider, Brian Trampler as Herr Schultz, Rob Janzen as Ernst and Maggie Tisdale as Fraulein Kost. Featuring Stephanie Prugh, Cailin Doran, Mehry Islamminia, Norrell Moore, Brenna Thistle, Sadie Trigg, Joe Majestic, Alex Ambard, Tyler Nielsen, Rob Rehburg and Christopher Riney. Through May 5 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: 720-362-2697 or Ignite’s home page. Thanks: Keith Rabin, Mary Coan and Brandon Bill.

This gallery is one chapter in my ongoing photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 55 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

OPENING 56
Monday’s snowstorm sent star Matt LaFontaine (the Emcee) to the Aurora Fox’s back loading dock for what had to be a chilly a pre-show cigarette.

 

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Matt LaFontaine.

 

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Lindsey Falduto as Miss Sally Bowles.

 

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Director and choreographer Danny Harrigan.

 

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Brenna Thistle plays Fritzie.

 

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Tyler Nielsen’s back tattoo reads, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” — a powerful counter to the Nazi youth-like anthem, “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” that is performed in “Cabaret” in the style of a traditional German song.

 

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Director Danny Harrigan circles the cast and crew for a pre-show pep talk backstage. Harrigan introduced yoga and meditation techniques into the rehearsal process.

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “Cabaret.”)

Photos: Opening weekend of ‘Always … Patsy Cline’

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From left: Carla Kaiser Kotrc as Louise, music director Jalyn Courtenay Webb and Megan Van De Hey as Patsy Cline.

 

By John Moore
April 14, 2013

Opening No. 54: Starkey Theatrix’s “Always … Patsy Cline”: Photos from opening weekend, including an on-stage proposal! Starring Megan Van De Hey as Patsy Cline and Carla Kaiser Kotrc as Louise Seger. Also featuring the Bodacious Bobcats: Neal Dunfee, Dan Hoeye, Jason Tyler Vaughn, Bob Case and Scott Alan Smith. Directed by John Moore (Hey, that’s me!). Musical direction by Jalyn Courtenay Webb. Through April 20 at the PACE Center, 20000 E. Pikes Peak Ave., in Parker. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; also 2 p.m. Sundays, April 14. Tickets: 303-805-6800 or www.pacecenteronline.ticketforce.com. Thanks: Seth Caikowski, Shaun Albrechtson, Ronni Gallup, Chris Starkey.

This photo gallery is part of my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 54 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

OPENING 54
For my return to directing, I got plenty of advice from more experienced, well-wishing directors around town. Advice, such as: “Break their spirits.” (Turns out, the actual expression is, “Break a leg”). Also: “You must wear a beret and carry a riding crop.” (Who knew?) So before opening night, Carla Kaiser Kotrc (Louise) gave me just that, so I played along. As did co-star Megan Van De Hey (Patsy).

 

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Flowers for Carla Kaiser Kotrc on the VIP preview night.

 

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The Bodacious Bobcats, from left: Bob Case, Jason Tyler Vaughn, Scott Alan Smith, Neal Dunfee and Dan Hoeye.

 

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Drummer Dan Hoeye.

 

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Director John Moore and Megan Van De Hey (Patsy).

 

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Megan Van De Hey reflecting at sound check.

 

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The (at times persnickety) sound and video cues.

 

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Producer Ronni Gallup and stage manager Seth Caikowski.

 

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Guitarist Jason Tyler Vaughn: “I played my heart out for this show, and all I got was this lousy CD!”

 

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Bringing Schlitz back to cool, like it’s PBR.

 

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Taking a moment during sound check.

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from opening weekend of “Always … Patsy Cline”)

Photos: My night at the Arvada Center’s ‘The Man of La Mancha’

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William Michals, left, and Ben Dicke, who play Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, strike their pre-show poses.

 

By John Moore
April 1, 2013

Welcome to my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 53: Arvada Center’s “The Man of La Mancha”: The Arvada Center’s powerhouse new production, especially its vocals and set design, make for one of its strongest big musical efforts of the past several seasons. Directed by Rod Lansberry. Starring William Michals as Quixote, the operatic Jennifer DeDominici as the beguiling and beaten Aldonza/Dulcinea and Ben Dicke as Sancho. Featuring a cast filled with familiar local names including Mark Rubald, Craig Lundquist, Markus Warren, Rob Costigan, Robert Michael Sanders, Mercedes Perez, Jessica Hindsley, Daniel Langhoff, Jeremy Sortore, Kitty Hilsabeck, Sue Leiser, Tim Howard, Burke Walton, Andrew Diessner, Scott Severtson, Brett Ambler, Joanie Brosseau and Angela Mendez, as well as visiting actors Danielle Porcellini, Chris LeBeau, Lucas Coleman and Sidney Erik. The Arvada Center has scaled way back on its runs, and so this staging lasts only through April 14, with no transfer to the Lone Tree Arts Center as it has with several of its recent big musicals. Showtimes 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; also matinees 1 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or the arvada center’s home page. Thanks to Lisa A. Kurtz, Lisa Cook, Cynthia DeLarber and Melanie Mayner.

This photo gallery is part of my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 51 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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OPENING 53
Visiting lead actor William Michals offers a backstage sneak peek of the form if not the face of Don Quixote/Alonso Quijano/Miguel de Cervantes before Saturday’s performance of “The Man of La Mancha” at the Arvada Center.

 

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 Who is that masked, tongued man behind the “Lancome” magazine? …

 

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 Why that’s none other than William Michals (Don Quixote), having some fun before the Saturday night show.

 

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Opera singer/actor Jennifer DeDominici makes for a lovely Aldonza/Dulcinea. 

 

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 Two-show Saturdays will take it out of a cast.

 

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 Robert Michael Sanders (Pedro) is a much nicer guy backstage than he is on.

 

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 Quixote’s infamous trunk of tricks.

 

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The Arvada Center employs some beautifully detailed, “War Horse”-like equines for Quixote’s mirror-delusion breakdown scene.  

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “The Man of La Mancha”)

Video: Oskar Eustis on the American theater: ‘The worst of both worlds is happening’

Video by John Moore for CultureWest.Org.

 

By John Moore
April 3, 2013

Public Theatre artistic director Oskar Eustis does not mince words when speaking about the state of the American theater. While in some ways it is healthier than it has ever been, especially in the areas of diversity and decentralization, he also says its health and vitality are endangered:

Nobody is paying living wages to actors, directors, writers, composers or designers. So you have this regional, non-profit theater movement that is simultaneously becoming more commercial and also less financially feasible for its artists. It’s actually the worst of both worlds that is happening. I envision it is going to be a very tough next generation for the American theater.”

Eustis and Michael Friedman — producer and composer of the Broadway musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” — took in a student production at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs on March 16, and the next day fielded a wide variety of questions in a 90-minute public forum.

While it’s not all bleak — Friedman believes one thing that is not crumbling is the desire of people to go out and see things that are live — the trend toward making non-profit theaters more entrepreneurial and less dependent on foundation and government subsidies is bringing dangerous, tangible consequences.

The Guthrie Theatre of Minneapolis, once the flagship of the American regional theater movement but now regarded by some as not much more than a live theater equivalent of a cineplex, is now producing “Charlie’s Aunt,” “The Sunshine Boys” and “Arsenic and Old Lace” — all in the same season, Eustis said.

“The shift toward needing to make earned revenue has produced an incredibly powerful commercial pull on theaters,” he said, resulting in an increasing homogenization of the American theater.

Watch my video at the top for elaboration. Overall, it’s not nearly as depressing as it sounds. And it’s worth it to watch what they have to say about the student production in Colorado Springs — which, both men pointed out, was the first “Bloody Bloody” staging either of them have seen since their own Broadway creation closed in 2010.

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PROLOGUEWATERMARK

Bonus coverage: Watch our video documentary on the making of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
Veteran arts journalist John Moore followed the making of Ben Dicke’s self-produced staging of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” in Denver over nine months in 2012, from inception to fundraising to rehearsals to an opening night postponed by a serious backstage accident that hospitalized Dicke, also the director and starring actor. Watch the remarkable story unfold here in five brief installments.

Outtakes: My night at ‘Tell Martha Not to Moan’

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By John Moore, March 24, 2013

Opening No. 52: Athena Project Festival’s “Tell Martha Not to Moan”:  The play, by Clinnesha D. Sibley, looks at the changing world through an African-American home in Detroit 2007. As the presidential campaign plays out on the national stage and the 40th commemoration of the Detroit Riot is marked, memories punctuate the journey of a devoted, elderly couple in their squalid living room. Starring Russell Costen and Adrienne Martin-Fullwood. Featuring Kathi Wood, Martell Harding and Don Randle. Directed by Melissa McCarl at the Aurora Fox studio theater. “Tell Martha Not to Moan” was the fully staged centerpiece of the Athena Project Festival, which included readings by female playwrights Erin Wagoner, Barbara Lhota, Catherine Wiley and Pat Montley. Click here for more info on the Athena Project.

This photo gallery is part of my ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 53 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

OPENING 52
Adrienne Martin-Fullwood greets her fans after a performance of the new play that was the centerpiece of the Athena Project’s new-play festival.

 

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 The crowd gathers outside the Aurora Fox studio theater before the performance.

 

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 The curtain call after Friday’s performance.

 

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 Don Randle plays a man who wants to marry the girlfriend of his best friend, who was killed in the Detroit Riot of 1967.

 

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 Russell Costen plays an 87-year-old who is slipping into dementia. Kathi Wood plays the former girlfriend of  his late son.

 

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In the past year Kathi Wood, left, has played Audrey in “Little Shop of Horrors,” an innkeeper warding off racists in “The Foreigner,” and now the caretaker to an elderly couple in the civil-rights drama “Tell Martha Not to Moan.” With star Adrienne Martin-Fullwood.

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