Photos: My day with the national touring production of ‘Sister Act’

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By John Moore
Sept. 30, 2013

Opening No. 118: National touring production of “Sister Act”: In this expanded photo diary, we took a backstage tour, went to the opening-night party, and two mornings later got to hang out with cast member Kingsley Leggs, whom you may remember from his performance in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s long-extended tribute to John Denver called “Almost Heaven.” Leggs was also a cast member in “Violet” at the Arvada Center. In “Sister Act,” he plays bad-guy Curtis Jackson. But in real-life, nice guy Kingsley was amenable to making the painfully early morning rounds with local radio stations, and I got to tag along. Leggs appeared on KOOL 105 with Kris and Kelly, and later with KEZW’s Rick Crandall. “Sister Act” is the movie-turned-musical that Whoopi Goldberg made famous. It tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look — a convent. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 6 at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the denver center’s home page . All photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the full “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here.

OPENING 118

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

Kidney update: Rollman’s gift saved nine lives

erin jessicaBy John Moore
Sept. 27, 2013

On Sept. 8, we told you in a Denver Post story all about how Buntport Theater’s Erin Rollman set off a life-saving chain by volunteering to give up one of her kidneys to a stranger. What we didn’t know then was just how many lives her sacrifice would eventually save.

We know now: It’s nine.

Rollman signed up for a revolutionary new transplant program that asks each kidney-failure patient to have a willing donor partner — someone who would be willing to offer up a kidney to a loved one, but they don’t match. Now, should the National Kidney Registry identify a compatible kidney for the dying patient, that person’s healthy donor partner agrees to give up a kidney that then goes to another stranger.

A chain typically continues until the patient in need is either a child without a donor partner, or an adult with what is called “a high-panel reactive antibody” that makes it unlikely that any other donor will be found.

When we told you Erin’s story, the NKR had identified a chain of three successive recipients, but the matching process had only just begun. Today, Jessica Johnson, transplant coordinator at Porter Hospital, reported that Rollman’s chain had reached a final total of nine, and that all patients were recovering.

“Eighteen people a day die on the waiting list,” said Johnson. “Erin took nine people off that list. It takes other wonderful donors, but none of it happens without an Erin to start the chain. This is a true testament to just how much Erin’s gift really is.”

Rollman’s reaction to the news? “”I just had so much fun doing it.”

Last night, Rollman and Johnson attended the American Transplant Foundation’s annual Heroes Awards Gala in Denver. (See photo.)

Read Erin Rollman’s full story in The Denver Post here


For more information on shared kidney donation, go to:

kidneyregistry.org
americantransplantfoundation.org
donoralliance.org
unos.org

 

Photos: My night at The Wit Theatre’s ‘Edges: A Song Cycle’

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By John Moore
Sept. 16, 2013

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

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Photos: My night at the Arvada Center’s ‘Camelot’

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By John Moore
Sept. 16, 2013

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

 

All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Click here to see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date. (These are outtakes).

OPENING 115FB
A shy young Nate Patrick Siebert, one of two boys who play Tom of Warwick, prepares to present castmate David Bryant Johnson, who plays King Arthur, with flowers at the cast party following Tuesday’s opening performance.

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Photos: My night at Firehouse’s ‘Next Fall’

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By John Moore
Sept. 15, 2013

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

All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Click here to see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date. (These are outtakes).

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Actor Judy Phelan-Hill.

My review of the Broadway production of “Next Fall”

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

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

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

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund
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Photos: My night at Curious Theatre’s ‘After the Revolution’

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By John Moore
Sept. 14, 2013

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

Photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Click here to see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date. (These are outtakes).

 

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Gordon McConnell, left, and Dee Covington, right, meet the real-life people their characters are based upon in Amy Herzog’s semi-biographical play.

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

Photos: My night at “Evil Dead, the Musical”

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By John Moore
Sept. 12, 2013

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

 

OPENING 112FB
This theatergoer, surrounded by cast members Chris Arneson, Jason Lythgoe and Patrick Brownson (and presumably, a friend!), looks like she’s not completely sure where the play ends and the real world begins.

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

Denver Center launches statewide high-school playwriting initiative

By John Moore
Sept. 12, 2013

WilderWhen Kent Thompson was the artistic director of the Alabama Shakepseare Festival, he saw what can happen when you put pens where young people’s minds are.

By the fifth year of the young playwriting program he started in Alabama, he was receiving 1,200 submissions annually from around the state. One was from a young Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, who grew up to become the writer of “Gee’s Bend.” That play was staged by the Denver Center Theatre Company in 2008 and won Wilder the M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award from the American Theatre Critics Association.

This week, Thompson and the Denver Center education department announced the launch of a new statewide playwriting initiative for Colorado high-school students, one that’s been on Thompson’s wish list since he started here in Denver in 2006.

Its called the 2013 Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition. Its motto: “Your Story. Our Stage.” Students may submit one-act play submissions through Dec. 1. The three finalists will receive a $250 cash scholarship and a staged reading at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. The winner’s play will be fully staged by the Denver Center Theatre Academy during its 2014 summer program.

“There is something exciting about taking a script written by one Colorado student and giving it over to other Colorado students who will then design and perform it,” said Tam Dalrymple Frye, Denver Center director of education. Thompson calls that culminating part of the program “an incredible opportunity to learn.”

In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

Thompson is most excited about the opportunity for the three finalists to rub elbows with playwrights, directors and theatergoers at the Colorado New Play Summit in February 2014, where they will have their words read aloud alongside pros that over the years have included Stephen Dietz, Theresa Rebek, and three playwrights whose scripts have been selected for full production by the Denver Center Theatre Company this season: Karen Zacarias, Marcus Gardley and Matthew Lopez. “They get to be a fly on the wall at the New Play Summit and see how professionals work,” Thompson said.

To encourage widespread participation, the Denver Center will be sending professional teaching artists into area high schools over the next several months. They will conduct free workshops that will introduce students to the playwriting form, and how it differs from writing short stories and even screenwriting.

image001“The goal is to reinforce the power of drama,” said Frye. “Most high-school students have not seen a lot of theater, and even fewer have ever even read a play. We want students to know that this is a really great literary genre. And when they write in that form, they will discover that it can be a powerful way to have their voices heard.”

It’s not just about discovering and empowering potential professional playwrights, Thompson said. The program is designed to advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting while nurturing Colorado’s promising young playwrights and developing theater artists and audiences.

“It’s about helping students write down something that is important in their lives,” Thompson said. Writing leads to better self-expression and self-awareness. It helps them find their voice.”

The submissions will be judged by professionals from the Denver Center’s artistic, literary and education departments.

The $55,000 initiative has been made possible by a grant from the Newman Family Foundation and June Travis. Robert and Judi Newman’s names adorn the Denver Center’s Newman Center for Theatre Education.

Frye said she would not be launching the program if it were not sustainable for many years to come. “I don’t want to start a program unless we can sustain it forever,” she said. “This one is here for the long run.”

For information on submissions, call 303-446-4892, or go to www.denvercenter.org/playwright to submit online. To schedule a free school workshop, call 303-446-4855.

Submissions will be accepted from Oct. 1-Dec 1. Finalists will be announced Jan. 3. The staged readings will take place Feb. 7-9 during the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. The winning play will be performed in July 2014, on dates yet to be determined.

Playwriting guidelines:

Submissions must:

  • Be an original, unpublished one-act play.
  • Be no more than 50 pages.
  • Contain no more than 16 characters.
  • Be typed in standard play-style format: Twelve-point Times New Roman font, and pages must be numbered.
  • Include a cover page with a synopsis and cast of characters, the playwright’s name and contact information (including an email address, mailing address, and phone number) and high-school name.
  • Be submitted online or postmarked no later than Dec. 1, 2013.

Submissions must not:

  • Be a translation, adaptation or excerpt.
  • Have the playwright’s name anywhere on the submission except the cover page.

Playwrights must:

  • Be currently enrolled in a Colorado high school or in home school.
  • Limit submissions to one entry per year.

No revisions will be accepted after submission. Do not send your only copy. Manuscripts will not be returned. There is no submission fee.

John Moore is the Denver Center’s Associate Director for Content Strategy. Contact him at 303-893-6003 or email jmoore@dcpa.org. Twitter: @moorejohn

The Denver Center Theatre Company is a community-supported, nonprofit theater company.

Web site.

Buntport’s Erin Rollman: Kidney donation starts “a beautiful chain”

erin mom wm

“I feel like I raised a gem,” says Erin Rollman’s mother, Georgianne. Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post.

By John Moore
Sept. 10, 2013

Last Sunday, I wrote my final freelance piece for The Denver Post, my home off and on for the past 24 years. It was about Denver actor Erin Rollman, who just became just the fourth Coloradan this year to offer up a kidney for donation to a total stranger. Because Rollman signed up for a paired-donation program, her altruism set off a chain that already has saved three lives, including a young boy, and that number will grow.

Here’s the story. It’s one of my favorites among the many heartwarming stories members of the Colorado theater community have allowed me to tell.

And here’s a link to a photo gallery that goes with the story by The Denver Post’s great photographer, Kathryn Scott Osler.

For information on living donors, go to the National Kidney Registry home page.

Video podcast: “Priscilla” opening night is also Drag Night in Denver

By John Moore
Sept. 9, 2013

Sept. 3 wasn’t just opening night of the national touring production of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” in Denver. It was also Drag Night at the Buell Theatre, with many of Denver’s top entertainers in attendance. They brought both vibrant color and the same air of freedom and tolerance the popular film, and now the stage musical, both espouse.

Audience members stopped several of Denver’s Drag Queens in the lobby, asking for everything from photos to make-up tips to advice on how to talk to loved ones. One Denver Drag Queen said afterward she never felt more validated as an entertainer than chatting with the friendly, curious “Priscilla” audiences.

Interview subjects include actor Scott Willis, who plays Bernadette in the show; Denver drag icons Shirley Delta Blow and Shanida Lawya (apologies for the spelling in the video above); Denver Cycle Sluts LaTexa D’Vynal, Rolanda Flor and Phillis Baskit; and burlesque performers Vivienne Va Voom, La Petite Mort and Joey Smith.

“Priscilla” plays through Sept. 15. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Also: Thursday matinee: 2 p.m. Sept. 12. At the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org.

Here’s the direct link to the video.

35-Priscilla-OpeningNight-9-4_EL
Sheneeda Lawyer, who measures 7-feet tall in heels, poses for an opening-night photo with curious “Priscilla” fans at the Buell Theatre.

 

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New feature: Colorado theater schedules, however you like them:

All currently running theater productions

All theater listings by company
All theater listings by opening date

How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

Photos: Edge Theatre’s “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”

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By John Moore
Sept. 7, 2013

Opening No. 109: Edge Theatre’s “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”: Last weekend, The Edge let the tiger out of his cage (Paul Page), and adding to the celebration was Sam Gilstrap’s 30th birthday, which called for a backstage toast (below). In Rajiv Joseph’s recent Broadway play (starring Robin Williams), the lives of two American Marines and an Iraqi translator are forever changed by an encounter with a starving tiger who haunts the streets of war-torn Baghdad while the dying beast embarks on an existential quest to find meaning in its life. It stars Kevin Lowry and Nathan Bock, featuring Gilstrap, Alberto Ocampo, Miranda Vargas and Yasmin Sweets, a group that easily constitutes one of the best gathered ensembles yet in the Edge’s short history. The production serves as director Richard Cowden’s Denver farewell. The busy director and actor is moving his family to Vermont. Friends are asked to gather at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Edge to say goodbye. Better yet, come early and see the play first. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 29 at 1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or the Edge’s home page. Thanks: Nina Harris, Rick Yaconis, Gloria Shanstrom. Photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Click here to see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date. (These are outtakes).

 

OPENING 109
Happy birthday, tiger.

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

My Night at Screw Tooth’s “Some Kind of Fun”

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By John Moore
Sept. 4, 2013

Opening No. 107: Screw Tooth’s “Some Kind of Fun”: This freakout by Denver’s newest theater company is run by 27-year-old Adam Stone. His play is self-described as “a 360-degree experience of a mind against itself: Creating, becoming, destroying, rebuilding, composing, consuming, childishly tormenting, reeling, reveling, dreaming, and seeing. I’d just add in that it’s an experiment in experimental theater that harks more to early LIDA Project than what you know of Buntport. (The Buntporters are lending the space to Stone, but Buntport stalwart Erin Rollman is credited as one of three “Some Kind of Fun” writers, along with Stone and Laura Ann Samuelson. The story begins understandably enough: A man is challenged by a young girl to write a story, to create characters he controls like God but, like Old Testamenters, they soon prove to have minds of their own. It’s largely inexplicable from there, but thrilling to watch play out all around you from the center of Buntport’s warehouse space, which has been completely cleared out and thus expanded to allow Stone more room for to dabble in several huge, distinct playgrounds. The text is sort of based on some of the same Ovid stories that inspired “Metamorphoses,” but “Some Kind of Fun” is filled with cacophonies, epiphanies, gunshots, barrels of water and … oh yeah, Drew Horwitz playing a caged Cain who spews repugnant, ignorant, violent dialogue about women into a jailhouse camera all evening. And guess what? Every word he says came from actual public remarks by the boxer Mike Tyson. Not sure what it all means, but three days later, I’m still thinking about it. Also featuring: Chris Kendall, Edith Weiss, Nathan Blackwell, Adderly White Bigelow, Ali Janes-Paulsen, Charlie Dando, Claire Patten, Emily K. Harrison, Joanna Rotkin, Jonathan Edward Brown, Joseph Wolff Phillips, Kaylee Hart, Laura Ann Samuelson, Mary Grace Legg, Rachel D. Graham and Skye Hughes. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and Monday, Sept. 9 at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or go to Screw Tooth’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Click here to see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date

 

All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the full “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here.

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

Photos: My night at the Aurora Fox’s “Metamorphoses”

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By John Moore

Sept. 3, 2013

Opening No. 106: Aurora Fox’s “Metamorphoses”: That giant pool of water serves as the setting for Mary Zimmerman’s lyrical adaptation of nine interrelated tales based on ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Using contemporary language and familiar characters, such as King Midas, Orpheus and Eurydice, the play explores the inevitability of change and the transformative powers of love. Directed by Geoff Kent with an all-star cast including Michael Morgan, Jada Roberts, Zachary Andrews, Ryan Wuestewald, Michelle Hurtubise, Justin Walvoord, Jamie Morgan and Carmen Vreeman. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays in the Aurora Fox studio Theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or the Aurora Fox’s home page.

All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the full “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here.

OPENING 106
Carmen Vreeman is suspended from a black trapeze rope above the pool of water that serves as the setting for Mary Zimmerman’s celebrated play.

Direct link to the photos

 

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

The new Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need. Photo by John Moore. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

Video podcast: The final performance at Germinal-Stage Denver

“Offending the Audience” was the final play staged by Germinal Stage-Denver at its 26-year home in northwest Denver. Here’s my video podcast capturing the emotion of the closing-night performance on Aug. 25, 2013. Video by John Moore. Running time: 9 minutes.

Direct link to the video

By John Moore
Sept. 1, 2013

People have been asking me about my first experience acting on a stage since performing in “Equus” as a college student in Boulder. I got suckered into joining the cast of “Offending the Audience” when I told Ed Baierlein I wanted to chronicle the final Germinal Stage-Denver production at its northwest Denver home for the past 26 years. “Fine,” he told me … You’re in the play.”

Wait … what?

After the first rehearsal, I wanted to punch this play in the face. I quickly realized that its repetitive, hypnotic and confounding Seuss-like language was too much for my feeble memory to master – especially after a concussion scrambled my brain jelly back in 2009. At one point, feigning the altruism of not wanting to bring down the work of the 40 actual, veteran stage actors Baierlein had brought together for this swan song, I tried to quit.

“No,” Baierlein said bluntly. “You’re just scared.”

Yeah? Tell me something I don’t know, you big bully!

I will always be grateful to Ed for the journalistic opportunity to chronicle an important closing chapter in local theater history. I will always be grateful to Ed for pushing me, because I actually did learn six long, dense word widgets. Words like, “Only a play where time is left out of play is a play …” And in doing so, I learned that just maybe … my memory circuits aren’t quite as blown as I assumed them to be. For me, that’s a huge win.

As for the play, I was tickled to see that the same thing that I loved about high-school and college theater still happens among grizzled vets: They started to form a unit, a family. They bonded. And then, like the audience of a play, they ceased to gather and they ceased to form a unit. That’s sort of the point of the play. Where it fibs is that it doesn’t acknowledge that the ephemeral, sentimental connection that now binds us together … will remain long after the building is returned to a cobbler’s shop.

I made fun of this perplexing script for weeks. But eventually, I too, started to see the gems of truth in it. (Too bad audiences only got 80 minutes to fall in love with it.)

In the end, the script is not really about the theater experience, as it claims. It’s call to be aware of the experience of being alive. Thank you to everyone involved in this production who allowed me the opportunity to experience that.

Additional coverage:

Countdown to Closure: John Moore’s blow-by-blog chronicling the final production at Germinal Stage Denver.

Kenny Burt: Original cast member on marrow and forgotten riots.

At “Terminal Germinal,” these walls CAN talk. Check out our photo essay of all the backstage quotes that have been etched into the dressing-room walls.

“Offending the Audience”: What the hell is this play?

Why dozens of Denver actors are oh so eager to offend you