The new Denver Actors Fund: A Q&A

By John Moore
May 31, 2013

Tomorrow night, many of you in the Colorado theater community will be joining us for a late-night gathering of karaoke silliness at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse to raise seed money for the new Denver Actors Fund. Since announcing the new initiative last month, I’ve fielded many questions about my goals for the fund, who will benefit from it, and just exactly how funds will be distributed. The following Q&A should give all of you a better idea of how it will work.

Q: What is the Denver Actors Fund?
A: The Denver Actors Fund will be a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in great and sudden medical need. It is not intended to be a cure-all or a replacement, but rather a safety net to help families tackle small problems in times of crisis or sudden transition.

Q: For example?
A: When Robert Michael Sanders’ routine shoulder surgery left his hands partially paralyzed, there was some talk that he would not be released from the hospital without rails being installed in his bathroom and stairways. It didn’t go down that way, but if it had, I would have been right over to Home Depot that very same day with a few handymen in tow. We would have paid for the rails through the Denver Actors Fund, taken them to his residence and installed them, all on the same day … crossing one thing off his family’s list of immediate concerns. Similarly, if Shelly Bordas finds herself unable to fill her life-saving prescriptions for her terminal brain cancer, we will write the check to fill them. In most cases, money will not directly change hands.

Q: Are you creating the fund in response to the sudden rash of incidences within our community this year?
A: Not specifically. The need for this fund became absolutely clear to me last year, when I was recovering from my own emergency colon surgery. I was well-provided for, and wanted for nothing. But I received a random Facebook message of support from Frank Oteri, a local playwright, stage manager and military vet who had been fitted with a colostomy long before I had. His story deeply affected me. I learned that Frank’s long-awaited “takedown” surgery (which puts you all back together again) was delayed when hospital administrators learned he had not yet fully paid his bill from the first surgery. His innsurance had all but run out. Because he was not expected to still be carrying his colostomy bag at this point, Frank had run out of supplies. I asked him what he was doing for colostomy bags, which must be replaced every 4-7 days, or the patient risks severe skin infection. He had none left, and the bag he had on his belly, he had been carrying for 30 days. I didn’t know Frank then, but I asked where he lived, jumped in my car and delivered him my leftover bags. Had the Denver Actors Fund existed last year, I simply would have gone online, ordered him some bags and overnighted them to his door. As I sat on Frank’s porch handing mine over to this brother I never knew I had, I thought, “There should be a funding source where we can help each other in times like this.” I don’t expect the Denver Actors Fund to be so well-endowed that we ever could have paid Frank’s overdue hospital bill. But I do think we should be in a position to help the next Frank with essential supplies.


Photos by John Moore, Kevin Lowry and Daniel Langhoff.

Q: What kind of things WON’T the Denver Actors Fund support?
A: It won’t pay your rent if you can’t find a job. We can’t help you square a gambling debt. Really no matter the individual circumstances, this will not be the Denver Foundation or the SCFD of medical funds. We won’t be able to completely resolve anyone’s medical crisis. This will offer relief a few hundred dollars at a time in response to medical emergency situations.

Q. What is the benefit of giving to the Denver Actors Fund instead of deciding who gets my money myself?
A: People WILL continue to start Kickstarter campaigns for the next Robert Michael Sanders. And they should. Hopefully we will be in a position contribute to those as well. But wouldn’t it be nice to know that you have already helped start a fund that can help that person on the day of his or her crisis, even if it’s just paying for the patient’s transportation home, rather than that person having to wait for an online campaign to pay out? And wouldn’t it be nice knowing you did something to help start a fund that will be helping a variety of people on an ongoing basis … people you have never even met? You will still have to decide whether every care page that gets started online is something you want to contribute to. But this already will be in place, and ready to help immediately.

Q: What if the medical emergency is death?
A: In the event of a qualifying person’s death, the Denver Actors Fund will be authorized to contribute to any memorial fund or beneficiary designated in that person’s name. That could mean a performing-arts scholarship; a fund to provide for the decedent’s children’s education; or a contribution to, say, the American Cancer Society or a suicide-prevention organization. These decisions will be made by the executive director, who will be accountable to the board for his or her decisions (details below).

Q: Do you have to be an actor to qualify for relief?
A: No, but for legal purposes, I have been (somewhat regrettably) advised to create a specific definition of who qualifies — namely to protect myself from personal legal action should anyone who is turned down for funding decide to sue.

Q: So how are you defining who qualifies?
A: Upon the advice of counsel, we are initially proposing that a recipient must have resided within the seven-county metro-area for at least three months. But a recipient can be anyone who has worked in any creative capacity (onstage or backstage) with a Denver-metro theater company within the past five years. In other words, their name just has to have appeared in a program. Any program. Playwright, director, stage manager, costumer, whatever. And the executive director (me) will reserve the right to make exceptions that might expand the pool on a situational basis. If, say Henry Lowenstein needs a hand, we aren’t going to quibble because he hasn’t worked on a show in five years.

Q: So this is a real fund? Or are you just going to be a guy with a checkbook?
A: It will be a real fund. This month, the Denver Actors Fund filed articles of incorporation with the Colorado Secretary of State, and we have begun the process of applying for 501(c)3 nonprofit status with the IRS. That way, those who make donations with checks will be able to deduct them from their tax returns. I am preparing the mission statement and the first draft of bylaws for the approval of our first board of directors.

Q: And how will that board be structured?
A: For the first year, the size of the board will consist of three people: The president, vice-president and treasurer. The board will serve in staggered, renewable terms. The president will serve an initial three-year term, the treasurer two years and the vice-president one year. Terms will be renewed only with the unanimous consent of the two other board members.

Q: Will you be one of those board members?
A: No, I will begin as the executive director, because I need to be fully accountable. I will field all funding requests and make immediate decisions so that funds can be made available on the same day as the crisis. All grants funded, once distributed, will be available to the public for review. Full disclosure. To the penny.

Q: So what will be asked of your board members?
A: The board will have two primary responsibilities: The first is to actively supervise the allocation of funds by the executive director according to established guidelines. Every quarter, the executive director will make an accounting of all grants given within the past three months. The board will review those grant decisions against the stated goals and parameters of the Denver Actors Fund, and vote whether to continue the executive director’s privilege of dispensing grants, or relieve him or her from that responsibility. In that case, the president of the board will be charged with finding a replacement, who must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the board.

Q: What are the other two primary board responsibilities?
A: To help replenish funds in the account as quickly as they go out. The board will be asked to actively fund-raise to keep the fund growing. If the fund ever drops to 80 percent of its overall balance from the start of any given calendar year, distribution of funds will be suspended until funds are raised to replenish the fund back over the 80 percent threshold.

Q: How much of this board is already in place?
A: Christopher Boeckx is largely responsible for the existence of the Denver Actors Fund as it exists to date, and so he will serve as the inaugural board president. We are actively seeking volunteers for the other openings.

Q: What other ideas do you have to replenish the fund?
A: With recurring, fun events aimed at building community. Also public and private donations. But because the fund is here to benefit the theater community, we will be turning to that very same community to help us raise money and keep momentum going on an ongoing basis. We have come up with a few ideas to help kick that off.

Q: Like what?
A: Chris Boeckx has forwarded two great ideas: First, we will ask every company presenting a show this summer to designate one evening to benefit Denver Actors Fund. Not for their ticket revenue, but rather, we will ask to deliver a curtain speech at some point during the run to educate the audience about the fund and ask for their support. Our equivalent of the Denver Actors Fund change jar will be a tap shoe. On “Denver Actors Fund” nights, we will ask each company to place a tap shoe in the lobby so that audiences can toss in dollars or quarters at intermission or on their way out the door. In addition, we will ask all theaters to designate a place for a permanent backstage tap shoe, where actors and crew can toss their change in the shoe for collection at the end of each run. We may have prizes for the companies that raise the most backstage change.

Q: I can’t attend your fundraiser tomorrow. How you can I help anyway?
A: Just go to our fundraising page here to contribute — with our humble thanks.

Q: But I’m young, strong and have never asked for, or needed help, from anyone. I like the idea of the Denver Actors Fund but, seriously, why should this be important to me?
A: Because you never know when the next person who finds him or herself in need … is you. One day, soon or far, it will be.

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STEP UP TO THE MIC/At a glance
An evening of karaoke and contests
A benefit to create the Denver Actors Fund
Saturday, June 1
10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, 1260 22nd St., downtown Denver (between Lawrence and Larimer streets)
Hosted by Kent Randell
Suggested donation: $5; cash only (ATM available)
Presented by John Moore and CultureWest.Org
More information: 720-231-7547 or email CultureWestJohn@gmail.com

Our all-star performing panel (to date):
(This list will continue to grow up to June 1. To volunteer to be added to this list, simply email John Moore at CultureWestJohn@gmail.com)

Joanie Brosseau
Steven Burge
Seth Caikowski
Joel Adam Chavez
Brian Colonna
Rich Cowden
Ben Dicke
Diana Dresser
Hannah Duggan
Aubrie Hamrick
Danny Harrigan
Anna High
GerRee Hinshaw
Tim Howard
Carla Kaiser Kotrc
Traci Kern
Geoff Kent
Matt LaFontaine
Daniel Langhoff
Trina Magness
Lauren Cora Marsh
Abby McInerney
Kent Randell
Rob Rehburg
Sarah Rex
Alejandro Roldan
Erin Rollman
Kristen Samu
Brian Smith
Shannan Steele
Markus Warren
Jalyn Courtenay Webb
Evan Weissman
Lisa Young
Meredith Young
And, fates willing … Megan Van De Hey and Robert Michael Sanders!

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

About CultureWest.Org
Former Denver Post theater critic John Moore launched www.CultureWest.Org in August 2012 to change the way arts and culture are covered in Denver. In addition to reporting breaking news, his innovations have included several long-form video news documentaries; a daily Q&A with local theater directors; and an ambitious, year-long photo series titled, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado.” He also is the founder of the Denver Poust Underground Music Showcase (The UMS), entering its 13th year as now the largest music festival in Denver with more than 350 bands playing over four days.

Video: Watch Chaparral High School win the Bobby G for Best Musical

By John Moore
May 31, 2013

Watch as Chaparral High School’s “Les Misérables” wins best musical at the inaugural Bobby G Awards on May 30 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Senior Chris Maclean also won best actor for his portrayal of Jean Valjean.

The Bobby G Awards honor Denver metro high-school thespians, which culminated Thursday with the announcement of Maclean and Nicole Seefried as best actor and actress. Seefried played Kate Monster in “Avenue Q” at the Denver School of the Arts. Their regional awards earned both a week-long Broadway immersion as part of the National High School Musical Theater Awards, affectionately known as “The Jimmys.” While in New York, the regional winners experience five days of private coaching, master classes and rehearsals with theater professionals administered by the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Their week culminates with a special performance on a Broadway stage — at the Minskoff Theatre. More than 50,000 students participate in the awards program nationally, and in the past five years, $750,000 in merit scholarships have been awarded. Local adjudicators considered 15 public and private high-school stagings.

The Bobby G Awards were initiated by David Cates and Denver Center president Randy Weeks. Next spring, the field is expected to expand to 24 participating schools

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

    More Bobby G’s coverage:

Video: Colorado actors on Broadway offer their support and congratulations

Photo gallery from the awards ceremony:

Story: What are the Bobby G’s? Read about the Denver Center’s decision to join the national awards program honoring high-school theater.

    Complete list of nominees and award recipients:

Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

The Producers, Bear Creek High School
In The Heights, Westminster High School
Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Outstanding Achievement in Direction
David Peterson, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Tami LoSasso, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Kella Manfredi, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Kryssi Martin, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
André Rodriguez, In The Heights, Westminster High School

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Nicole Seefried, Kate Monster, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts

Kelli Brewster, Elle Woods, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Libby Rubin, Molly Tobin Brown, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Northglenn High School
Lea Schoengarth, Vanessa, In The Heights, Westminster High School
Caroline Vickstrom, Hope Cladwell, Urinetown, Evergreen High School

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Chris Maclean, Jean ValJean, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Asa Cogswell, Caldwell B. Cladwell, Urinetown, Evergreen High School
Alex Owens, Leo Bloom, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Chris Salguero, Usnavi De La Vega, In The Heights, Westminster High School
Graeme Schulz, Jean ValJean, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Meaghan Johnson, Mrs. Meers, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High Scho
ol
Arika Drake, Meg Brockie, Brigadoon, Arapahoe High School
Charlotte Grimm, Brooke Wyndham, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Emma Grueskin, Delilah Strict, Zombie Prom, Colorado Academy
Samantha Steele, Madame Thenardier, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Michael Board, Trekkie Monster, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts

Clay Edwards, Eddie Flagrante, Zombie Prom, Colorado Academy
Matt Laughlin, Bun Foo, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School
Justin Michael, Carmen Ghia, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Nathan Montgomery, Cosmo Brown, Singin’ in the Rain, Cherry Creek High School

Rising Star (Outstanding undersclassman)
Rose Lucas, Serena, Littleton High School, Legally Blonde

Maria Gesicki, Chip, Legacy High School, Beauty and the Beast
Ethan Miller, Josh, Colorado Academy
Gavin Roberts, Roberts/Father Flynn/Miner/Maitre’D in Monte Carlo/Quartet, Northglenn High School, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Zombie Prom
Liam Sonke, Aaron/Grandmaster Chad/Harvard ensemble, Littleton High School, Legally Blonde

Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction
Steve Hinman and Jerry Vander Does, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Tammy Ahmed and Nathan Payant, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Marie Hayden & Brett (Bert) Lawson, Little Shop of Horrors, Hinkley High School
Bryce Melaragno and Teri Willmarth, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Kelly Parmenter, Brigadoon, Arapahoe High School

Outstanding Performance by a Chorus
The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra
Little Shop of Horrors, Hinkley High School

The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Singin’ in the Rain, Cherry Creek High School
Beauty and the Beast, Legacy High School

Outstanding Achievement in Choreography
Stacia Luigi, Christina Mau and Kella Manfredi, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Meg Flinders and Stephanie Prugh, Once Upon a Mattress, Heritage High School
Jody Gayton and Santana Trujillo, In The Heights, Westminster High School
Heather Westenskow, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Lisa Wood, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design
Erin Ramsey, In The Heights, Westminster High School

Dean Arniotes, Urinetown, Evergreen High School
Brandon Davis, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Taylor Dykstra and David Peterson, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Stephen A. Scherer, Zombie Prom, Colorado Academy

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
Daniel Davidek and Travis Roth, In The Heights, Westminster High School

Madison Arterburn, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts
Andy Becker, Emily Helmus and Julie Rooney, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Kenzi Everitt, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Patrick Hinchcliffe, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
Christian Atkinson, Once Upon a Mattress, Heritage High School

Vince Alcon, Karin Fowler, Naomi Sanchez and Reyna Sanchez, In The Heights, Westminster High School
Celene Alejandre, Nicky Fernandez and Genevieve Glowacki-Geyer, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts
Ellen Bradford, Les Misérables, Lakewood High School
Lisa Wood, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Make-Up Design
Rebecca Maestas, In The Heights, Westminster High School

April Edwards, Justine Jones, Megan King, Maddie McKinnon, Arianna Savci and Schuyler Wright, Zombie Prom, Colorado Academy
Kella Manfredi, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Maggie Ste. Marie, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Jessica Van Houweling, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design
Steven Cross, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Smoky Hill High School

Emily Biffinger, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Kris Davis, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts
Jose Martinez, The Producers, Bear Creek High School
Adriana Rodriguez, Ailee Rowe & Jack Worthington, In The Heights, Westminster High School

Outstanding Special Achievement Award Recipients
Matthew Cheney, Brigadoon, Arapahoe High School
Erik Peterson, Les Misérables, Chaparral High School
Jared Giammanco, Legally Blonde, Littleton High School
Greg Hainline and Ben Hartman, Avenue Q, Denver School of the Arts

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

More information on the Bobby G Awards:
Check out this informational page:

Video: Coloradans on Broadway salute high-school Bobby G Award Nominees

By John Moore
May 30, 2013

We asked Coloradans on Broadway to send their encouragement and congratulations to the Colorado high-school students attending the first-ever Bobby G Awards on May 30, 2013, at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

Those participating include Annaleigh Ashford, Andy Kelso, Elizabeth Welch, Jesse JP Johnson, Gavin Lodge, Gabriel Ebert, Colin Cunliffe and Joshua Buscher. With a little Melissa Benoist thrown in. Video by John Moore for CultureWest.Org. Run time: 6 minutes.

The Bobby G Awards, named after Denver producer Robert Garner, honor the best in Colorado high-school musical theater. They are part of a national awards program called the Jimmys.

Previous coverage: Announcing the launch of Denver’s Bobby G Awards

Nominees and award recipients: Here’s a complete list of winners and nominees.

Coming soon: More photos from the awards gala.

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

Photos: My Night at Germinal’s ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’

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Zachary Andrews takes a moment to prepare for one of the great challenges available to an actor of his young age: Sickly Edmund, the character who represents Eugene O’Neill himself in his autobiographical masterpiece, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

 

By John Moore
May 29, 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. 73: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”: Germinal Stage-Denver is down to its last few offerings before closing its longtime home in northwest Denver and turning into a something of a gypsy company. (More on that story here.) This is an impeccable cast performing one of founder Ed Baierlein’s favorite playwrights … so this is how you’ll want to remember (this incarnation of) Germinal Stage-Denver. Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical, Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece follows the seriously damaged Tyrone family in their seaside Connecticut home over the course of one fateful day, as sins and secrets gradually trickle out like morphine drips from a hypodermic needle. Baierlein, also the director, plays patriarch James Tyrone for the third time, now opposite Erica Sarzin-Borrillo in the powerhouse role of the dope-fiend matriarch, Mary. She’s got a seriously twisted relationship with her sickly son Edmund (Zachary Andrews), who in turn trades barbs, ballast and whiskey with older brother Jamie (Stephen R. Kramer). Also featuring Samara Bridwell as the maid, Cathleen. This is a Chekhovian American family with a blurred past, intoxicated present and muddled future. Through June 9. It’s famously long (at 3 and a half hours), but starts early. Showtimes: 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2450 W. 44th Ave., 303-455-7108 or Germinal’s home page. Thanks: Sallie Diamond, Tad Baierlein, cast and crew.

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 73 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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44th Avenue just east of Federal Boulevard will never be the same once the Germinal Stage-Denver closes at the end of the summer. There are two more offerings, and while it’s yet to be determined what the final title will be, Baierlein is negotiating for the rights to one of his most controversial previous efforts: “Offending the Audience.” That’s a 45-minute polemical lecture about theater written by Australian Peter Handke, first staged at Germinal in 1976.

 

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Zachary Andrews and Erica Sarzin-Borrillo are fighting a congestive virus that has swept through the cast. Because  Andrews’ character is dying of consumption, at least he gets to work his misery into his performance.

 

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Thousands of audience members have trekked inside the Germinal Stage-Denver through this cigar-smelling back entrance since 1987.

 

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Samara Bridwell plays the tippling maid, Cathleen.

 

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Troubled (to put it mildly) older bother Jamie is played by Stephen R. Kramer.

 

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A cast photo hung on the Germinal wall shows what the same production looked like when Baierlein & Company first staged O’Neill’s classic in 1975.

 

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Zachary Andrews, shown alone backstage, will next appear in the Aurora Fox’s “Metapmorphoses” — set in a swimming pool.

 

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Posted quote to the contrary (from “The Unvarnished Truth”), there’s no keeping Erica Sarzin-Borrillo out of the men’s dressing room at the Germinal Stage-Denver. Zachary Andrews wouldn’t even try.

 

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”)

Photos: My Night at Equinox’s ‘Fawlty Towers’

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Director Shannon McCarthy takes a quiet moment alone outside the Bug Theatre before the crowd arrives for the opening performance.

 

By John Moore
May 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 copyright 2013 for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 72: Equinox Theatre Company’s “A Night at Fawlty Towers”: The 1970s British sitcom, written by Monty Python’s John Cleese and his then-wife Connie Booth, is set in a fictional hotel on the “English Riviera.” The joke is that hotel owner Basil is not exactly deft with customer relations. Instead he is always tense, rude and put-upon, making for some farcically confrontational run-ins with demanding guests. The play basically stages four half-hour episodes. Through June 15. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; plus Monday, June 3, at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page. Directed by Shannon McCarthy. Starring Matt Maxwell and Linnea Lewis, with Natasha Gleichmann, Mark Shonsey, Jim Landis, Logan Bretweiser, Val Purser, Chip Winn Wells, Stanley Ross, Andrew Hunter, Anita Harkess, Carole Maschka, Loren Cogswell, Clint Heyn, Debra Szuster and Amy Stuemky. Thanks to Chachi Martin, cast and crew.

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 73 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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Deb Flomberg, the founder of Equinox Theatre and also “Denver’s theater examiner” for The Examiner web site, makes a few cameo appearances in her company’s latest production. In the backstage dressing room, Flomberg has posted a photo in tribute to actor Adam Perkes. The star of Equinox’s most recent production, Perkes died just days after “Bat Boy the Musical” opened in February. While Perkes clearly will never be forgotten at Equinox, the opening-night mood was considerably lighter for the first public performance of “Fawlty Towers.”

 

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Denver newcomer Debra Szuster (Kitty/Mrs. Hamilton) makes sure all of her props are in the right place before the opening performance.

 

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The Bug Theatre is surrounded by art galleries that thrive in this northwest Denver neighborhood.

 

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Scandal in the moments just before the opening performance as actor Linnea Lewis, who stars as Sybil Fawlty, unloads on Matt Maxwell, the man who plays her husband, Basil … Oh, hold on, slight correction: The actors are participating in a pre-show “fight call,” where they practice all physical contact to assure the safety of the actors. Never mind.

 

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Deb Flomberg, also the assistant director, leads the cast in some on-stage, pre-show warm-up exercises.

 

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That tattoo belongs to Logan Breitweiser, who plays the hotel chef, Terry. Writer John Cleese named the character after Terry Hughes, who directed “Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl” in 1982.

 

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While the story is not set in New York, the old-school matches give the hotel setting a touch of class.

 

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On the backstage prop table are rolls and rolls of toilet paper. You’ll find out why.

 

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The cast circles up for some communal energy just before the audience is allowed into the house.

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “A Night at Fawlty Towers”)

News: ‘In Focus With Eden Lane’ leaves the air after May 31

By John Moore
May 26, 2013

Eden Lane with her final guest interview, Garrett Ammon of the new dance company  Wonderbound. Photo courtesy Eden Lane.

Eden Lane with her final guest interview, Garrett Ammon of the new dance company Wonderbound. Photo courtesy Eden Lane.

The season finale of the weekly arts TV program “In Focus with Eden Lane” will air at 7 p.m. Friday on Colorado Public Television Channel 12.

In all likelihood, it will be the series finale as well.

Lane has broadcast an original half hour of  local arts and culture coverage every week, virtually without interruption, for five years. But her self-produced labor of love, now totaling 156 episodes, has run out of sponsorship — and money.

The show actually ran out of money on April 5. Lane and her husband, cameraman Don Gassaway, have spent about $7,000 of their own money to produce the final seven episodes of Season 5, “just because we didn’t want to it to end that way,” Lane said.

Ironically, episode 156 will focus on funding arts organizations, and the economic impact they have on the communities they serve. Lane will announce the three local winners of 2013 Artplace America grants, totaling $650,000.

One of them is Wonderbound, the new incarnation of Ballet Nouveau Colorado dance company. Its goal is to obliterate boundaries between artistic mediums to uncover new possibilities in artistic expression. Lane visits with co-founders Garrett Ammon and Dawn Fae.

“In Focus with Eden Lane” has introduced viewers to hundreds of local and visiting artists, actors, dancers, writers and artistic leaders. It has always ranked among Channel 12’s highest-rated original programs, but Lane gets no financial support from Colorado Public Television to produce it.

The show’s future was at risk back in September when it lost its only sponsor, a local Go Chevrolet dealership. But Delta Dental Colorado came to the rescue, and viewers helped by kicking in $3,500 through a fundraising website. That allowed Season 5 to happen.

The upcoming break is officially being called “a hiatus” — the first in the show’s history, dating to 2009. “But the show is severely at risk,” Lane said, especially after efforts this week to establish a direct fiscal relationship between the show and the station failed to be realized.

Lane is encouraging viewers to express their support for the show by contacting the station directly at (303) 296-1212, or by writing:

Colorado Public Television
2900 Welton St., 1st Floor
Denver, CO 80205

Anyone wishing to make a direct, tax-deductible donation is encouraged to do so by clicking here.

If the show does not return to Channel 12, Lane says it could possibly come back as a leaner, web-based program, depending on levels of public interest and support.

“In five years, we have been able to shine a light on artists who are celebrities, and many artists who are not yet as celebrated, but should be,” Lane said. “We’ve introduced Coloradans to the amazing, diverse, vibrant work that is being done here in Colorado, and even broadcast it across the nation and to other countries through our web site.

“I’m grateful that Colorado Public Television and director of programming Brad Haug took a chance on us, and elevated our work to a prime-time weekly broadcast long before other big-budget programs with higher production values have started to do so as well.”

Lane has received much national media attention in the past year, all stemming from an interview she did with me for The Denver Post in September discussing her status as the first transgender journalist on mainstream TV in America. But the reason local arts aficionados have so warmly embraced Lane over the past five years has had nothing to do with her gender identity. Rather, her dogged, consistent commitment to her coverage, and for the personal and knowledgeable approach she takes to her profiles. That has been informed by her own theater and dance achievements, including appearances in several Broadway shows.

Support Eden Lane

You can make a direct, tax-deductible donation to support future episodes of “In Focus With Eden Lane” by clicking here.

Watch “In Focus With Eden Lane”

Watch the video of my most recent interview with Eden Lane, which aired on her program May 13:

Photos: My night at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’

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Dorothy’s iconic red slippers were crafted by Linda Morken, who handmade more than 100 separate costumes for “The Wizard of Oz.” When considered as costume pieces, the number perhaps triples.

 

By John Moore
May 20, 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. 71: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”: This is the classic re-telling of Dorothy’s odyssey with her pals the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and Toto, too, to the imaginary land of Oz. In their search for their heart’s desires, they encounter Munchkins, flying monkeys, a few witches, and learn there’s no place like home. Based on L. Frank Baum’s novel and the classic MGM film. Directed and choreographed with a Cirque du Soleil infusion by Alicia Dunfee. Flying by Troy Trinkle. Starring Sarah Grover as Dorothy, Scott Beyette as the Scarecrow, Bob Hoppe as the Tin Man, Seth Caikowski as the Cowardly Lion, Barb Reeves as the Wicked With of the West, Wayne Kennedy as the Wizard and Tracy Warren as the good witch Glinda. Also featuring Brett Ambler, Olyvia Beyette, Brian Cronan, Alicia Dunfee, Will Hawkins, Jessica Hindsley, Brian Jackson, Cindy Lawrence, Brian Norber, Matthew D. Peters, Izzy Robie, Alei Russo, Alana Schoenhals … and Max as Toto. The rotating kids cast includes Isabella Bowland, Owen Leidich, Thomas Russo, Stella Schitter, Caitlin Bridge, Rachael Perez, Emma Hecht, Kaden Hinkle, Benji Dienstfrey, Darrow Klein, Riley Holcomb and Sofia Vargas. 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 Aug. 31 at 5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdt’s home page. Thanks: Michael J. Duran, Melissa Vargas, Susie Montanez, cast and crew.

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 71 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

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There’s a frenzy of backstage activity on any opening night, but this mild-mannered dog named Max, owned by ensemble member Olyvia Beyette (below), takes it all in stride just moments before making his first appearance as the witch-baiting Toto.

 

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Let’s face it: Munckins don’t even need their costumes to be adorable.

 

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Dorothy (Sarah Grover) gets every last hair in place.

 

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Dinner is served … and you can bet “The Wizard of Oz” is attracting many Girl Scout troupes to dinner and a show. This group is here to support troupe-mate Sofia Vargas, third from left, who also appears in the show.

 

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A dressing-room photo shows musical director Neal Dunfee, his wife (the director Alicia Dunfee) and their family.

 

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Producing artistic director Michael J. Duran has final backstage words of encouragement for his cast.

 

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Wayne Kennedy: The Wonderful Wizard has some wonderfully cleaned teeth!

 

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I’m curious how the tips are coming in for actor Barb Reeves, who serves customers while also playing the Wicked Witch of the West. Oftentimes, tips plummet for the poor actors when they portray evil characters.

 

 

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

Shake it: What Colorado bands make you get up and dance?

By John Moore
May 21, 2013

These are 18 songs by Colorado bands that just make me gotta dance. Like for reals, shake your tail-feather, you can’t stop the beat, dancing. They are very different kinds of songs … Sometimes poppy, sometimes reverent, sometimes angry. But always irresistible. I have no defense against their booty power.

This is not a definitive “best” list, or intended to be in any way comprehensive. It is a conversation starter. And I’ve missed some new stuff, so help me out: What songs would you add to the list?

My iPoddable playlist of irresistible dance songs by Colorado bands, past or present:

  1. Dressy Bessy: “Shoot, I Love You”
  2. The Heyday: “Come In or Stay Out”
  3. The Hollyfelds: “Bad Timing”
  4. Hot IQ’s: “Duck and Cover”
  5. Churchill: “I Still Remember”
  6. Chairlift: “Bruises”
  7. Hearts of Palm: “We Have No Water Here”
  8. Meese: “This is the Start of It”
  9. These United States: “I Want You to Keep Everything”
  10. Kissing Party: “Lets Face These Times”
  11. Jim McTurnan and the Kids That Killed the Man: “Give Up Suffering”
  12. A Tom Collins: “Pants Off Dance Off”
  13. The Knew: “Company”
  14. Matson Jones: “Good Advice”
  15. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club: “Pine Box”
  16. Houses: “Mr. and Mrs. Kelly”
  17. DeVotchKa: “Gasoline Serpent”
  18. Me Llamo Rosa: “If John Cusack”

PS: The 13th annual Denver Post Underground Music Showcase is coming July 18-21. Do not miss it.

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

 

I defy you to defy Tammy Ealom: Dressy Bessy at the 2009 Denver Post Underground Music Showcase (The UMS). Denver Post file photo.

I defy you to defy Tammy Ealom: Dressy Bessy at the 2009 Denver Post Underground Music Showcase (The UMS). Denver Post file photo.

Photos: My night at Town Hall Arts Center’s ‘Hair’

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If you are on Facebook, you can see the cast portraits above as individual photos by clicking here.

 

By John Moore
May 20, 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. 70: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair: The rock musical that created history by bringing experimental theater to Broadway is having a love-in in Littleton. “Hair” defines the fringe element of the ’60s generation by examining a group of young hippies struggling for personal identity wile dealing with the Vietnam War, drugs and teenage pregnancy. Songs include “Let the Sunshine In,” “Aquarius” and “Good Morning Starshine.” Brief nudity. Don’s freak; it’s like, 15 seconds. And tastefully done. Adult themes and content. Directed by Nick Sugar. Matt LaFontaine stars as Berger, with Casey Andree as Claude, Rebekah Ortiz as Jeanie, Burke Walton as Woof and Norrell Moore as Sheila. Featuring Tyrell D. Rae, Ashlie-Amber Harris, Lauren Cora Marsh, Rob Janzen, Abby M. McInerney, Tim Howard, Alejandro Roldan, Carter Edward Smith, Faith Goins, Jacob Villarreal, Jessica Evans, Noah Jordan, Rae Klapperich, Shena Mathew and Taylor Nicole Young. Through June 16 at 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or town hall’s home page Thanks: Steven Neale, Cheryl McNab, Leslie Rutherford, cast and crew.

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 71 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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Matt LaFontaine … Berger … Hair.

 

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Each cast member received a gift and a note from Town Hall executive director Cheryl McNab. Rebekah Ortiz, the recipient above,  plays the pregnant Jeanie. The show features one brief nude scene at the end of the first act.

 

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Casey Andree (Claude) and Tim Howard (Tribe) are still getting used to … all … that … (fake) … hair.

 

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During the show, Rebekah Ortiz and her castmates hand out flyers asking the audience to attend a “love-in.” Backstage, the flyers have been slightly altered into opening-night afterparty invitations at Ortiz’s house.

 

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Before the show, the cast signs cards marking castmate Jessica Evans’ opening-night birthday.

 

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At pre-show musical warmups, Noah Jordan presents Jessica Evans with a birthday cake.

 

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

Don’t be frightened, Regis High School students, but … We are your future

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Please forgive that hideous white tie. I didn’t bring one to my senior portrait session. Intentionally. But the repressive “man” who ran the studio refused to take any boy’s senior photo without a tie, and that was the only one he had on hand. I guess the lesson, kids, is that you can’t be a rebel half-way. I am still a bit of ashamed for not walking out that day, photo unsnapped. Instead, I capitulated. What would Bro Simms say??? (Wow, I apparently still have issues from high school!)

By John Moore
May 20, 2013

Last year, I was interviewed by Regis High School’s director of alumni relations about the school’s decision to finally build a dedicated performing-arts center for its students after a period of, oh, 136 years when that was never considered much of a priority. I’m an opinionated guy, and let’s just say what my friend Colin St. John ultimately published was … heavily (and probably necessarily) edited.

I was already in a bit of hot water with my alma mater over an essay I had written the year before for The Denver Post: “Sticking it to Mullen, old-school style.” It was my “Wonder Years”-like look back at the Regis-Mullen rivalry as it existed in our day. Even though I was named Valedictorian and Senior of the Year … well, I’ve also never been officially invited to a reunion. (I did crash one, though.)

Given all the hate mail I got from present-day Regis parents over the Mullen column (which, interestingly, Mullen parents seemed to enjoy very much), I figured Regis would surely never want anything to do with me again. So I wasn’t sure what to expect when current Regis High School junior Hunter Gause (also an actor in Regis’ drama department) reached out to me a few weeks ago asking for an interview. He and co-writer Michael Cobb were preparing a report on notable Regis alumni for a super-slick magazine called the RJ Voice, the new student publication at Regis. Now, I was once the editor of the decidedly non-glossy Raider Review student newspaper, and one look at the thick, colorful and surprisingly tough journalism they are now putting out at Regis made me feel like a bit of a journo fraud. After all, I used the Raider Review to rail about the civil liberties that were being threatened each week by mandatory mass. In the most recent issue, Hunter interviewed a former Iraq hostage.

My fears were allayed when I was met at the “new” Regis by a large and daunting-looking welcoming committee including the two student reporters, Colin St. John (the alumni director), journalism teacher Adam Dawkins and even Regis principal Fr. Phil Steele S.J. himself. (Why did I feel like I had been duped into reporting for jug?) Instead, they were all so swell, I don’t even much feel the journalistic urge now to publicly point out to Hunter that his referencing me as one of the “most famous Regis alumni” is an exercise in gross hyperbole. (I just think at the very least, you should have to have a job to be seriously considered among that category).

He wasn’t exaggerating in co-referencing my big-shot actor friend John Carroll Lynch that way. I had offered to bring my classmate and pal along for the interview because John was in town tending to his dying mother, and this might afford him a little bit of a diversion from that. Over the next hour, the student journalists engaged us in a wide-ranging and challenging conversation about the influence our Jesuit educations had on the men we have become. I’m not sure if I had anything relevant to contribute, but it turned out to be an enlightening exercise in trying to put into words things I haven’t given much tangible thought to in 30 years.

You know John from “Fargo,” “Gran Torino,” “Zodiac,” “Shutter Island,” “Gothika,” “Paul,” “Mercury Rising,” “Pushing Tin,” “Volcano,” “Face/Off” and dozens more, including punching Ryan Gosling in the face in “Crazy Stupid Love.” Also from TV’s “The Drew Carey Show,” “Carnivale,” “Body of Proof” and “K-Ville.” John is a smart, serious, searching guy. I was (hopefully) comic relief.

In any event, if you would like to read what a fine job reporters Hunter and Michael did in massaging an hour of muddled transcript from a couple of rambling fools (OK, one rambling fool) into a smart and breezy read, just click this link. Their story is titled, cleverly enough: The Graduates

Thanks, Hunter, Michael, Colin, Adam and … Fr. Steele. (Sorry, I still can’t call a priest – or a principal — by his first name.)

Read the RJ Voice article.

Click here to read “The Graduates: An inside look at two distinguished Regis Jesuit Alumni”

 

 

Photos: My night at LIDA Project’s ‘The Hairy Ape’

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Lorenzo Sariñana prepares backstage to perform  “The Hairy Ape” along with a skeletally inclined narrator and five mannequins — all speaking in a different language than he does.

 

By John Moore
May 19, 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. 69: The LIDA Project’s “The Hairy Ape”: Denver’s most venerable experimental theater company presents iconic Irish-American playwright Eugene O’Neill’s 1922 expressionistic story of a simple laborer trapped in a world controlled by the rich. And they do it in a way only the LIDA Project would ever think to do it — complete with a mostly Spanish-speaking protagonist interacting throughout with an ensemble of English-speaking mannequins smartly brought to life by director Brian Freeland. (How? You’ll just have to see for yourself.) O’Neill’s iconic Yank is a strong, brutal and macho fireman who despises everyone and pretty much everything, until a decadent millionaire’s daughter descends to the bowels of the transatlantic ship where he works and is repulsed by a man she sees as “a hairy ape.” He swears to get even with her, which lands him in jail, where he turns out to be even too revolutionary for the revolutionaries. At The LIDA Project, you best know Spanish to follow the guts of this story. But even if you don’t, the essence is made plain by yeoman actor Lorenzo Sariñana, who plays Yank, and Hart DeRose as the narrator. Through June 8 at the Laundry on Lawrence, 2701 Lawrence St., 720-221-3821, or the LIDA Project’s home page Thanks: Brian Freeland, David Lafont, cast and crew.

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 71 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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Welcome to Eugene O’Neill’s “The Hairy Ape” — like no one has ever seen it before.

 

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Hart DeRose, who plays the narrator, is seen in the photo above in a backstage mirror preparing for her entrance.

 

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Lorenzo Sariñana brushes up on his lines backstage. He delivers most of his lines in Spanish (below), while all of the other characters communicate in English.

 

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Five of Lorenzo Sariñana’s co-stars are engaging in some introvertive pre-show exercises of their own.

 

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Hart DeRose shows off her hair (below) and stage makeup, which give off a Día de Muertos vibe. The immigrant story is quintessentially American (the 1944 film starred prototypical Brooklynite William Bendix), but its ethnic bloodline could apply to anyone who came here from anywhere.

 

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Hart DeRose’s dressing room doubles as LIDA Project artistic director Brian Freeland’s office. He’s hard at work planning the company’s 19th season.

 

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Backstage before the show, this polite directive does not (yet) apply to me.

 

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

Photos: My night at Horse & Cart’s ‘The Singing Room’

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During “The Singing Room,” about the denizens of a dingy karaoke bar, both actors and real-life audience members step up to the mic and sing. Here, actor Samantha Long, who plays Leslie, gets her Joan Jett on with her rendition of “I Love Rock n Roll.”

 

By John Moore
May 14, 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. 68: Horse & Cart’s “The Singing Room”: This new company, not to be confused with the late, great HorseChart Theatre that was known for taking on tough and quirky dramas, is run by Michael Emmitt and Sean Paul Mahoney, who have recently split from the Spark Theatre Company that Emmitt started two years ago. “The Singing Room,” written by Mahoney and directed by Emmitt, is both an original play and an evening of karaoke set in a dingy 60-seat bar. But this play isn’t so much about ordinary people seeking a fleeting taste of applause, it’s about a dozen ordinary people going about their everyday business of hurting and being hurt by those closest to them. It centers on April (Carolyn Demanelis), who is about to get the worst birthday present of her life, and other dive-bar denizens. Both cast members and an occasional audience member take turns at the mic. And in keeping with royalty rules as they apply to karaoke, rather than musical theater, all  cast members must switch up the karaoke classics they sing during each performance. That guarantees no two shows are ever the same. Also featuring Nicole Paige Campbell, Samantha Long, Jonathan Hallowell, Randy Diamon, Sarah MacMillan, J. Mesa, Krista Rayne Reckner, Amber Moffett, Tanner Johnson Heck, Brian McDonell and Megan Curry. Through May 18 at At the Brooks Center, 1400 Williams St., 720-276-3719, or horse & cart’s home page Thanks: Ryan Foo, cast and crews.

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 68 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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Each “Singing Room” character gets at least one chance at the mic as the story plays out. Because they choose different songs for each performance, the cast gathers early to run through their selections du jour before the audience is let in. Above, cast member Jonathan Hallowell (Dan) sings the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “She’s My Companion,” as actor Randy Diamon runs the DJ board.

 

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Cast member Amber Moffett.

 

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The cast cheers one another on as they wait for their chance to rehearse their chosen song for the night.

 

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The song list changes from night to night.

 

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Sarah MacMillan plays a former touring singer diva now reduced to drunken bar-room lizard. Here, and below, she rehearses “Alone” by Heart.

 

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The architects of the evening are Horse & Cart founders Michael Emmitt, the director, and Sean Paul Mahoney, the playwright.

 

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As audience member Rick Strandlof checks in, he is asked whether he’d like to sign up to possibly sing a song himself (of his choosing!) during the performance of the play. As you can see below, he said yes.

 

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Audience member Rick Strandlof is called upon (voluntarily!) by actor Dorothy Lee, who plays the dive-bar owner and DJ, Sunshine, to sing a song during the show. He chose the B-52s’ “Love Shack.” He drew as much applause as anyone in the cast for his energetic rendition.

 

 

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

Photos: My night at Boulder Ensemble’s ‘Bach at Leipzig’

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By John Moore
May 8, 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. 67: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Bach at Leipzig”: Opening night for the theater company that goes by the nickname “Betsy” meant a season-announcement party for the troupe founded by Stephen Weitz, above. He’s holding his son, Jameson, who turned 1 on the very day of this opening-night party. The party gathered accomplished local actors such as the Denver Center’s John Hutton to participate in scene readings of next year’s offerings. Then it was on to a sold-out “Bach,” a new period farce that stars Hutton’s frequent Denver Center castmate Sam Gregory, along with a who’s-who ensemble including Jim Hunt, Chris Kendall, Anthony Bianco, Michael Bouchard and Josh Hartwell. Their breakneck story? When Germany’s greatest organist dies, leaving his post vacant, the Leipzig city council invites a small number of musicians to audition for the appointment, including a young Johann Sebastian Bach. Based on actual events, this new comic farce by Itamar Moses imagines how six little-known musicians resorted to bribery, blackmail and betrayal to get the job they wanted. Through May 18, but sold out except for newly added performances on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 14-15, at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc’s home page. Thanks: Anja Hose and Drew Metzroth.

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 68 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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Esteemed actor Sam Gregory, on a break from the Denver Center Theatre Company, runs through a scene as part of the required pre-show safety fight call.

 

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Sam Gregory and Chris Kendall practice a scene as part of the pre-show fight call.

 

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More shots from the fight call.

 

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Director Stephen Weitz, wearing a suit in the left foreground, congratulates his cast just before they go backstage to get into costume.

 

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Jamie Ann Romero, a member of BETC’s artistic ensemble, at the season-announcement party in the lobby of the Dairy preceding the performance.

 

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Stephen Weitz, right, gathered accomplished local actors such as the Denver Center’s John Hutton to perform scene readings of next year’s offerings for the opening-night crowd.

 

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “Bach at Leipzig”)

Photos: My night at Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre’s ‘Murder at the Howard Johnson’s’

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By John Moore
May 8, 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. 66: Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre’s “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s”: There’s not another theater company in Colorado like this one, where primarily deaf actors perform plays using American Sign Language whole voice interpreters sit off to the side and provide spoken dialogue for the benefit of the hearing audience. In the photo above, deaf actors Nouri Marrakchi, right, and company founder Nicki Runge have a laugh on the Vintage Theatre’s studio stage just before the opening-night performance. Also starring hearing actor Shawn Harmer. Voice interpreters are Abigail Hoffman and Victor Parrish. Directed by Betsy Quillen. Through May 12 at the Vintage Theatre studio theater, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora. Call 970-373-5266, go to the company’s web page, or email rmdeaftheatre@gmail.com for more information. Thanks: Nicki Runge, Cassie Short, Victor Parrish, Gloria Shanstrom, Deborah Persoff and Ashley Gibbon.

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 62 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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Hearing actor Shawn Harmer, left, runs through a scene with deaf actor Nouri Marrakchi (in the tie) an hour before their opening-night performance, while two of the three “voices,” Abigail Hoffman and Victor Parrish, sit nearby. Behind them are Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre  founder Nicki Runge (back left), who plays Arlene in the show, and director Betsy Quillen.

 

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Everyone loves voice interpreter Victor Parrish … except for his affinity for the San Francisco Giants.

 

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Director Betsy Quillen addresses her cast from the stage.

 

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While the Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre rents the Vintage Theatre’s studio theater for its show, the host company was staging “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” through last weekend in the nearby mainstage theater. That’s director Deb Flomberg with her cast.

 

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 The two shows share the limited backstage space … with some boundaries.

 

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Actor Deborah Persoff, who will star in the Vintage Theatre’s remount of “Grey Gardens” with Megan Van De Hey next season, is also now the president of Vintage Theatre’s board of directors.

 

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Victor Parrish’s tattoo, “Those who slay together, stay together,” references lyrics to a song by the band Chiodos.

 

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Company founder Nicki Runge is helped into her costume for the performance.

 

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The view of the stage from the Vintage studio theater’s light booth.

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s”)

Moore on Moore: You can’t say ‘director’ without ‘dire’

How our overture looked and sounded to the audience (above)

 

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The photo above shows how we staged the climactic song, “True Love,” just after Patsy Cline’s death. You can see how Megan Van De Hey (Patsy) was silhouetted in Louise’s window, singing (live) while a grainy video recording of her singing the same song played on our band wall. Photo by Ame Vessa. Video by Sammy Taggett. Set by Shaun Albrechtson. Lighting by Richard Spomer. Sound by Ross Ewing.

By John Moore
May 7, 2013

Every day for more than six weeks, I asked some of the most prolific and respected names in Colorado tailored questions about the craft of directing for the live theater. The result was my series, “Anatomy of a Theater Director.” I did it because I was about to make my return to directing (“Always … Patsy Cline”), and I wanted to shamelessly crib off all the wonderful advice I knew I would get.

John Ashton (Day 22!) was among several readers who suggested how I might end the series: With John Moore, the journalist, interviewing John Moore, the director. Knowing both of these Moores, I had a feeling it might get a little testy. It did, but ultimately, they powered through. They talked … and talked … and talked. The tongue-in-cheek transcript of their heated and sometimes hopefully illuminating exchange follows.

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

Director No. 40: John Moore. The survey:

IMG_0932 Most recent directing project: “Always, Patsy Cline” at the PACE Center.

Upcoming directing project: Hah. Not likely.

Your question: Now that you have walked a mile — or let’s be more honest — Now that you’ve walked a few feet in a director’s shoes, what do you think now of the massive amount of planning, vision, research, inspiration and juggling that goes into this incredibly difficult job?

Turns out directing is a lot easier than I thought.”

In one word: What’s the most important personal attribute a good director should have? Experience. Definitely experience.

In one sentence, describe your directing philosophy: “All the best art is borderline porn.” … Oh wait, that’s not it. How about: “No ordinary moments”?

Journalist John Moore’s Q & A with director John Moore:

Journo JoMo: Well, this is awkward.
Director MoJo: You aren’t kidding. Your reputation precedes you.
Journo: That’s not what I was talking about.
Director: Well …?
Journo: Well …?
Director: Well … what were you talking about?
Journo: Frankly, I have no idea why you are being included in this directors series.
Director: What? I just directed a show that got nightly standing ovations, extended performances and rave reviews!
Journo: “Raving” reviews are a little different that “rave” reviews, Mr. Moore, and, believe me … we’ll get back to that.
Director: Do I need to have my lawyer present?
Journo: Not if you tell the truth.
Director: This is feeling like a scene from “Law & Order.”
Journo: I promised my readers I would be interviewing “the most prolific and respected directors in town.” You just directed your first show since Taft was president.
Director: If I didn’t know better, I might take that as an insult.

Journo: Let’s just get this charade over with, shall we? So did you learn anything about directing from this experience?
Director: Could you ask that question with any more condescension?
Journo: I bet, if I tried, I could muster it.
Director: Yes … I learned that you can’t say “director” without “dire.” …

(Pause.)

Director: C’mon. That was funny!

(Pause.)

Journo: See, people told me you would do that.
Director: Do what?
Journo: That “clever wordplay” you learned at the foot of Woody Paige. You use puns and alliteration and other word tricks whenever you don’t have anything tangibly relevant or illuminating to say. You’ve been doing that since your first day as theater critic. I can’t believe no one has ever called you on it.
Director: Are we talking about you or me right now?
Journo: Oh, what’s the difference?
Director: I’ll tell you the difference: I am now seen in the theater community as a director with an almost childlike enthusiasm and love for the process. You’re just … kind of an old crank.
Journo: Was there an answer to my question somewhere in there?
Director: Isn’t it just possible that I — you, we … whatever — use wordplay to reveal big, complex truths in accessible, understandable ways?
Journo: Did you talk like that during rehearsals?
Director: Like what?
Journo: With a British accent?
Director: Oh, no. That started on opening night, when the cast presented me with a beret and a riding crop.
Journo: God, you are an idiot.
Director: Let’s leave the judging to the critics, shall we?
Journo: I’ll remember that the next time I see a Brit wearing a beret.
Director: And I will thank you for that!

Journo: So if you recall, I asked each of the 39 “real” directors in this series to tell me, in one word: What’s the most important personal attribute a good director should have?
Director: Yes. There were an illuminating array of responses.
Journo: Let’s start by having you use all of the words they gave … in one sentence.
Director: Oh, (bleep) you.
Journo: Shall I talk slower for you? The two most often cited words in that survey were vision and humility, followed by empathy, passion, flexibility, respect, collaboration, commitment, compassion and curiosity. So what does that tell you?
Director: That … that’s an awful lot of c’s?
Journo: That’s really the best you can do?
Director: I dunno … that sounds more like the job description for a nurse than a theater director. Or maybe a daytime TV talk-show host.
Journo: Did you even read my directors series?
Director: I checked in on it from time to time. Whenever I don’t see my name in a story, I tend to lose interest quickly.
Journo: My God, you ARE a director!
Director: I’ve been telling you!

Journo: Let’s get this over with. How did you get this gig in the first place?
Director: I have known the producer, Ronni Gallup, since she was a teenager. I assisted on a production of “Story Theatre” she was performing in at the Denver Civic Theatre. That show christened the Dorie studio theater there in the early 1990s — we even installed the seats. My job was character development and visual puns. So when lines like, “X marks the spot” came up in rehearsal, I would tell the kids, “We should produce an X right here!”
Journo: You and your “clever” wordplay again.
Director: Well, Ronni liked it. Anyway, as you know, I’ve long since left The Denver Post, and in December, Ronni asked me if I wanted to direct “Always … Patsy Cline” for her company, Starkey Theatrix, at the PACE Center in Parker.

Journo: With all due respect … why did she pick you?
Director: When you ask that, Mr. Moore, the antipathy drips off your lips like drool. The truth is, Ronni believed — as do I — that even though this script calls for no real interaction between Patsy and Louise onstage, there is, nevertheless, a deeper relationship to explore. And if we could somehow stage it in a way that really focuses on their sisterhood, we would produce a more poignant and meaningful play — and I use that word meaningfully. This is a musical, but we already had one of the best musical directors in Jalyn Courtenay Webb in the fold. What Ronni needed me for was to direct the play. One that would entertain people, and then really kick them in the gut when Louise loses her friend in the plane crash.

Journo: Were there any conditions?
Director: Yes. Ronni specifically wanted to produce the show with Carla Kaiser Kotrc playing Louise, the Houston housewife who narrates the story. The rest of the production team was for the most part already lined up, too, and Ronni even offered to pre-cast Patsy for me with an experienced, known actress, if I wanted. She was making everything so easy for me. But I wasn’t at all sure “Always … Patsy Cline” was the best way for me to introduce myself to the local theater community as a director. You only get one chance for a first impression, and I wasn’t sure I wanted people thinking this was the kind of show I was jonesing to direct. But Ronni told me to think of the job as like a gateway drug: It’s a simple, two-person show; experienced actors; short rehearsal period; limited run. As directing goes, it won’t get any easier than this. So it felt like a good way to dip my toes back in; an opportunity to learn and re-learn the trade. Then, if I don’t screw things up, maybe some other opportunities might come of it.

Journo: So did both roles end up being pre-cast?
Director: No. I was happy to be given 51 cards in a 52-card deck, as I like to say. But I did not want the whole thing handed to me on a plate. I had no interest in being a figurehead director. I was happy with Carla playing Louise because I had seen her perform the role in an excellent 2009 production in Greeley. For me, that was her audition. What was great was when Ronni agreed to let me open up the auditions for the role of Patsy, and to both non-union and union actors. That’s what allowed Megan Van De Hey, who eventually won the role, to even be a part of the conversation.

Journo: What were those auditions like?
Director: Excruciating. Honestly, I felt exactly the same as I did on those mornings when I would publish a theater review in The Denver Post that I knew was not going to say what the production team was hoping it was going to say. It feels awful. No matter how respectful you are, someone is going to get hurt. So here we are auditioning all of these wonderful potential Patsys — many of whom have played the role triumphantly before. Cutting them to five, then to three, and then to one, made me realize that directors have to be even bigger hard-asses than critics. It’s all kind of cutthroat.

Journo: What were your considerations in casting Patsy?
Director: I told Ronni when she hired me that she was inheriting the baggage of everything I had written for 12 years as a theater critic. And that included my regular rants about age-inappropriate casting. My mantra was this: Patsy Cline was 30 years old when she died, and I wanted the audience to grieve for a 30-year-old mother when she died.

Journo: Were there any surprises at the audition?
Director: Several. One was being told by more than one actor that I caught them by surprise by having them read a scene for a musical role that has little, if any, spoken dialogue. I was told that almost never happens in an audition for a musical. But the evident chemistry between Carla and whoever would be playing Patsy was as important to me as Patsy’s contralto voice was to my music director. So I had the five finalists read from Ellen Bryon’s “Graceland” — that’s the story of two middle-aged Elvis fans who camp out three days before his estate is first opened to the public. The irony is these characters are essentially two Louises, and I was trying to find my Patsy. But that reading told me everything I needed to know about who I wanted to play Patsy.

Journo: What were the pros and cons of hiring two actors who had both played their respective roles before?
Director: Mostly pros. It took very little time for them both to get back into the skin of their characters. It was a tremendous help to Carla because she wasn’t starting from scratch on memorizing 40 pages of dialogue. The only con was trying not to being beholden to what worked before. I know what Carla did in Greeley worked — I saw it. But I was directing a different play, on a vastly different kind of stage. It took a leap of faith for her to go on this ride with me, and I know it wasn’t always easy for her to trust where I was going with it. With Patsy, I admit to initially wondering just how interested Megan would be in really working anew on these 27 songs. She’s played the role to standing ovations three times before. What are we going to tell her that she doesn’t already know? But bless my musical director’s heart: Vocally, She worked Megan in a way I suspect she hasn’t been worked before. And thank God Megan was open to it. I know nothing about music theory, and didn’t pretend to, so I mostly left those two to their own devices. When it came to transferring their work to the stage, Jalyn and I had basically the same recurring message for Megan: That each song has a story to tell in it, and I wanted to see that story play out on her face just as plainly as I should hear it in her voice.

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our interview between John Moore and John Moore)

‘Step Up to the Mic’: A special karaoke party fundraiser June 1

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By John Moore
May 5, 2013

This has been a time of extraordinary personal challenge for members of the Colorado theater community. Many of our friends have found themselves in great and sudden need, and with numbing regularity: Shelly Bordas’ terminal cancer prognosis. Frank Oteri and Max Peterson facing expensive colon surgeries. Robert Michael Sanders’ botched shoulder surgery. And many others.

In every case, the Colorado theater community has rallied with their dollars and outstretched arms. Now CultureWest.Org is announcing the creation of the Denver Actors Fund – although its potential beneficiaries will not be limited to Denver, or actors.

CultureWest is proud to announce its first public event: “Step Up to the Mic” will be a ridiculous, late-night karaoke party that is intended to build both community and seed money for the Denver Actors Fund. It will be held from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse in downtown Denver. The party will be hosted by shameless karaoke king Kent Randell, and will feature both members of the public, and an all-star performing crew.

This unique night of karaoke silliness will generate the seed money for the creation of the Denver Actors Fund, a new resource that will make emergency funds available to members of the local theater community when they encounter unexpected, immediate medical hardship.

Anyone in attendance will be invited to sing their own song (for a buck), or put our all-star volunteer performing panel to work (for $10). Want to hear, say, Steven Burge sing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass”? Rich Cowden sing “Stayin’ Alive”? Traci Kern and Lauren Cora Marsh sing “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” as a duet? You can have any members of our all-star performing panel sing anything you want to hear — in whatever combination of performers you choose. The (growing) list of performers is below.

The audience will be encouraged to vote for their favorite performances with their dollars. Our dry-erase tote board will keep the crowd informed of how the voting is going. Put $1 toward Kent Randell’s version of “It’s Raining Men.” Or heck, put down $20. Or, if you think Tim Howard’s version of “Strange Fruit” was better, throw a few more dollars his way to keep him in the running. All cash put toward the voting will go directly to the Denver Actors Fund.

Many actors, designers, directors, writers, directors and technical crew live on the edge, often without steady outside employment or health insurance. The Denver Actors Fund will be a modest, discretionary resource that will make some emergency funds available to individuals on a case-to-case basis, based on circumstances and present health of the fund. These last few months have also seen a number of unexpected deaths, including Adam Perkes, Angela Johnson, Brook Millard and Shana Dowdeswell. It is hoped the Denver Actors Fund will also be in a position to contribute to memorial and scholarship funds whenever members of our community pass away.

It is hoped the fund will be regularly replenished by similar fundraising events, as well as public and private donations.

The idea for this fund came to me a year ago, when I was the beneficiary of great emotional support while I was having my own health crisis. In the past few months, we have also seen friends raise $30,000 for Shelly Bordas to take her son on a Disney cruise and help with her mounting medical expenses. Last week, when friends learned that Robert Michael Sanders has at least temporarily lost the ability to move his fingers, they kicked $6,000 his way in the first 24 hours after on online fund was launched.

Recently, I became the surprise beneficiary of unexpected financial support when a sneaky group of Colorado theater people conspired to load my porch up with gift cards. Time to pay it forward.

The title of the evening is both a nod to a song from “Kids from Fame,” and a call to action. “Step Up to the Mic” invites everyone to step up to the mic … and step up for the Colorado theater community. You never know when you are going to be the one in need.

“Step Up to the Mic” is made possible thanks to Stephen Wilder, Jessica Austgen and the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse.

STEP UP TO THE MIC/At a glance
An evening of karaoke and contests
A benefit to create the Denver Actors Fund
Saturday, June 1
10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, 1260 22nd St., downtown Denver (between Lawrence and Larimer streets)
Hosted by Kent Randell
Suggested donation: $5; cash only (ATM available)
Presented by John Moore and CultureWest.Org
More Information: 720-231-7547

Our all-star performing panel (to date):
(This list will continue to grow up to June 1. To volunteer to be added to this list, simply email John Moore at cultureWestJohn@gmail.com)

Scott Bellot
Rachel Bouchard
Joanie Brosseau
Steven Burge
Seth Caikowski
Brian Colonna
Rich Cowden
Ben Dicke
Diana Dresser
Hannah Duggan
Danny Harrigan
Anna High
GerRee Hinshaw
Tim Howard
Carla Kaiser Kotrc
Traci Kern
Geoff Kent
Matt LaFontaine
Daniel Langhoff
Trina Magness
Lauren Cora Marsh
Abby McInerney
Kent Randell
Rob Rehburg
Sarah Rex
Alejandro Roldan
Erin Rollman
Kristen Samu
Shannan Steele
Markus Warren
Jalyn Courtenay Webb
Evan Weissman
Meredith Young
Lisa Young
And, fates willing … Megan Van De Hey and Robert Michael Sanders!

How you can donate right now
If you would like to help provide some of the seed money for the creation of the Denver Actors Fund, thanks! Just go to our fundraising page here to contribute.

About CultureWest.Org
Former Denver Post theater critic John Moore launched www.CultureWest.Org in August 2012 to change the way arts and culture are covered in Denver. In addition to reporting breaking news, his innovations have included several long-form video news documentaries; a daily Q&A with local theater directors; and an ambitious, year-long photo series titled, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado.” He also is the founder of the Denver Poust Underground Music Showcase (The UMS), entering its 13th year as now the largest music festival in Denver with more than 350 bands playing over four days.

Photos: My night at Town Hall’s ‘The 39 Steps’

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Mackenzie Paulsen and a “bottom’s up!” James O’Hagan-Murphy brush up on a key bit of physical comedy after having four days off between performances.

 

By John Moore
May 3, 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. 63: Town Hall Arts Center’s “The 39 Steps”: OK, so these photos were not taken on an opening night, given that the production closes this Sunday (May 5). But I’m playing catchup on the openings I missed during my foray into directing “Always … Patsy Cline.” In this quirky British send-up of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 spy thriller, four actors play nearly 50 roles, retooling the classic thriller into a hilarious bit of stage nonsense comedy that manages to be both theatrically inventive and faithful to the movie. Featuring James O’Hagan-Murphy, Eric Mather, Mackenzie Paulsen and Seth Maisel. Directed by Bob Wells. Remaining showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, plus 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5, at 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or town hall’s ticketing page. Thanks: Rebecca M. Joseph, Leslie Rutherford and Drew Kowalkowski.

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 62 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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 The exterior of the Town Hall Arts Center on Main Street in Littleton.

 

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James O’Hagan-Murphy: “I say, I am a handsome bastard, aren’t I?”

 

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Mackenzie Paulsen: “Not as handsome as I, James.”

 

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Stage manager Rebecca M. Joseph carrying … Eric Mather on a bad day … while Seth Maisel looks at me as if I have just illegally stormed the Town Hall Arts Center compound.

 

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Eric Mather on a good day.

 

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Eric Mather on a bad day.

 

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I say, James … that’s just rude.

 

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Ain’t love grand?

 

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A positive review from the Villager newspapers. So, yeah, I guess these photos weren’t taken on opening night.

 

 

(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of our photos from our visit to “The 39 Steps.”)

Fund to aid actor Robert Michael Sanders launches like a rocket

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Robert Michael Sanders and Megan Van De Hey. Photo by Ellen Kaye. Below right, Sanders appears in the Denver Center’s “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” with Shannan Steele, Daniel Langhoff and Lauren Shealy. Photo by Terry Shapiro.

 

By John Moore
May 2, 2013

6792877560_26c062290a_b A modest effort by friends of a hospitalized Denver actor got off to anything but to a modest start tonight.

Sanders, who has at least temporarily lost much of his hand and arm coordination after a botched surgery at Denver Health Medical Center last week, has been transferred to Craig Rehabilitation Center.

Tonight, friends launched a fundraising page to help Sanders and his girlfriend, Megan Van De Hey, with the sudden emotional, physical and financial toll of the incident. The page, spearheaded by Van De Hey’s recent “Always … Patsy Cline” castmate Carla Kaiser Kotrc and fellow actor Deborah Persoff, raised $2,485 toward a $5,000 goal in its first four hours online. The effort was boosted by a $1,000 anonymous pledge.

On April 24, Sanders underwent what was expected to be routine, outpatient rotator-cuff surgery. But it was believed he was given too much anesthesia, causing his blood pressure to drop during surgery, which otherwise went according to plan. It was only determined later, after Sanders could barely move his neck — and his arms and hands not at all — that something had gone wrong. After a quick investigation, Sanders was told by doctors that when his blood pressure fell, the three discs of his spine that control hand and some arm movement were temporarily deprived of oxygen. The impact of the oxygen deprivation is the equivalent of a skeletal stroke, he was told. But whether his spine was permanently damaged, or will slowly come back to full or partial function, is anyone’s guess. Doctors say it is too early to tell whether Sanders will one day recover the full use of his hands, if his present condition is his new reality, or if his fate lies somewhere in between. Sanders was moved to Craig on Tuesday for extended-care physical therapy.

Here’s how Sanders’ situation is being presented on his care page:

Imagine being an actor, guitarist, teacher and construction worker and not being able to make your hands do what they are supposed to do. Robert is the kind of person you go to for help, not the other way around. But until he regains use of his hands, we will be his helping hands. Robert has hundreds of friends asking, “What can I do to help?” This would be one wonderful way to do that. Thank you for your continued love and generosity!”

Sanders just appeared as Pedro in the Arvada Center’s “The Man of La Mancha.” Next he is slated to stage manage Cherry Creek Theatre Company’s “Baby” (featuring Van De Hey), followed by directing jobs with both the Town Hall Arts Center and Aurora Fox’s youth children’s theater programs. He played Fezziwig in the Aurora Fox’s “A Christmas Carol” and was a featured player in the Denver Center’s recent revival of its biggest hit, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” He is also well-known for his work building stages, including the Galleria Theatre’s current “The Doyle & Debbie Show.” Other acting credits include playing Caldwell B. Cladwell in a Denver production of “Urinetown,” and in the ensemble of “Almost Maine” at the Aurora Fox.

Sanders is also an accomplished singer and guitarist, having released the album “Feel It Coming,” under the name of Robert Michael, in 2007. He has been singing, playing guitar and writing songs for more than 20 years, winning multiple songwriting awards. His style is described as fusing rock, blues, country, funk, pop, easy listening and even hair metal.

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Photo by John Moore

Photos: My night at the Arvada Center’s Dividing the Estate’

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 “Dividing the Estate” cast members Ghandia Johnson (far left) and Kristen Adele (far right), are joined at the afterparty by Adrienne Martin-Fullwood, Sheila Traister, Lisa Young, Kathi Wood and Candy Brown.

 

By John Moore
May 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 copyright 2013 for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 62: Arvada Center’s “Dividing the Estate”: In Horton Foote’s dark comedy, a trapped and self-absorbed Texas family is at odds over the fate of their dwindling inheritance. In quintessentially Chekhovian fashion, these dysfunctional family members grapple with their uncertain future and bicker over entitlement as they face differing yet equally inevitable kinds of ruin — regardless of whether they stay together or go their separate ways. Starring Rachel Fowler, Mark Rubald, Anne Oberbroeckling, Leigh Nichols Miller, Sharon Kay White, Russell Costen, Michael McNeill and Gabra Zackman; and featuring Ghandia Johnson, Kristen Adele, Devon James, Emma Carpenter Martin and Ella Tieze. Directed by A. Lee Massaro. Through May 26. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Matinees 1 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in the black-box theater, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or the arvada center’s home page. Thanks: Melanie Mayner, Lisa Cook and Rod Lansberry.

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 62 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

OPENING 62
There was a special moment before the opening performance when director A. Lee Massaro entered the ladies’ dressing room with a special greeting for her daughter, Ella Tieze, who plays a pivotal cameo in Horton Foote’s dark comedy.

 

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The walk to either of the Arvada Center’s two theaters is lined with art, both still and, in the case of the video installation on the right, in motion.

 

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Ghandia Johnson (Mildred) is excited. Johnson was once a contestant on CBS’ “Survivor: Thailand.” … Did we mention that Ghandia Johnson is excited?

 

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On the heels of “August: Osage County” and “Doubt,” Anne Oberbroeckling is on the best run of her career. Here she plays another sharp-tongued matriarch. 

 

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 A gift to cast members from the Arvada Center’s performing arts committee.

 

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Rachel Fowler as Lucille.

 

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Sharon Kay White shows off a gift from costumer Clare Henkel: Her original sketch design for White’s character of Mary Jo.

 

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Dusty Sloan will be preparing a LOT of food for the run of “Dividing the Estate,” which largely takes place at dinnertime. Above, he’s mashing sweet potatoes. Below, he’s baking some buns.

 

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

Photos: My night at Miners Alley’s ‘The Memory of Water’

OPENING 61

 

By John Moore
May 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 copyright 2013 for www.CultureWest.Org.

Opening No. 61: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Memory of Water”: Anyone who has read the “religious views” line on my Facebook profile knows my philosophy: “Everybody Into the Bed!” And that’s just where the cast of MAP’s new family drama organically gravitated toward before Sunday’s opening-weekend performance. From left, that’s Matthew Blood-Smyth (in the hat), Kurt Brighton (back), Paige Larson, Emily Paton Davies, Lisa DeCaro and Deb Curtis. Shelagh Stevenson’s melancholy 1996 comedy follows three sisters who have come together for their mother’s funeral. They bicker about memory, life and clothing choices through an intermediary inspired by Noël Coward. Through May 26. Directed by John Arp. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays (except May 26, when curtain is at 2 p.m.) at 1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or map’s home page. Thanks: Rick Bernstein, Len Matheo, Jonathan Scott McKeon and Brenda Billings.

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 62 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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At Miners Alley Playhouse, they have Henry Awards coming out of the window.

 

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Former executive director Rick Bernstein, left, is part of the transition team helping new MAP leaders Len Matheo and Brenda Billings get acclimated. Here, Bernstein and bartender Jonathan Scott McKeon help themselves to a cigarette behind the theater in what really is called “Miners Alley.”

 

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In “The Memory of Water,” a lot of Jameson’s gets drunk. A lot.

 

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It’s just too bad these people can’t get along.

 

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Yo, Kurt Brighton: Why are you checking out my Facebook page? You’re on stage in, like … 97 minutes. Focus!!

 

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Deborah Curtis takes me on a tour of the Miners Alley Playhouse’s freight elevator, which contains a coffin that is used in the play. I don’t want to spoil things by saying who’s supposed to be inside of that coffin, except to say that he/she looks nothing like the turkey you see below.

 

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Matthew Blood-Smyth: He looks and sounds as British as his name. … Yeah, he’s from Broomfield.

 

 

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