Outtakes: My night at Theatre ‘d Art’s ‘Marisol’


“I’m looking for my lost skin. Have you seen my lost skin? It was once very pretty. We were very close. I was really attached to it.” — Joseph Forbeck, as “Man with Scar Tissue.” In this photo, Forbeck in the process of having his makeup applied backstage by artist Sarah Nasatka.


By John Moore
March 20, 2013

Opening No. 47, Theatre ‘d Art’s “Marisol”: Celebrated playwright José Rivera’s celestial vision of the apocalypse is seen through the eyes of Marisol Perez, an “everywoman” on a harrowing journey through a surrealistic Bronx. It’s Armageddon in the heavens as millions of angels have declared war on a senile God. And in their distracted absence, it’s end times on Earth as unprotected cities self-destruct into unidentifiable morasses. The play is a vibrant portrayal of an unrecognizable world where it snows in hot weather, apples are made of salt, the moon has disappeared and homeless people are burned by Nazis like trash. As depressing as all this sounds, the play is really a search for God and hope — in an insane world of derelicts and skinheads. If audiences are disturbed by Rivera’s world view, one should ask what it was about his cultural experience here that led him to create this representative place in his mind. Through March 31. Directed by Anna Faye Hunter. Starring Margarita Archilla as Marisol and also featuring Brittani Janish, Benjamin Bonenfant, Jasmine Caldwell, Danine Schell, Joseph W. Forbeck, Jonathan Andujar, Laura Fuller, Erica Erickson, Michael Lee, Sallie Walker and Kala Roquemore. 8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays at 128 N. Nevada St., Colorado Springs, 719-357-8321 or theatre ‘d art’s home page. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.org. Thanks Brian Mann, Amanda Beehler and Cecil Harrison.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 49 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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The view from the inside out.


Nevada Street welcomes theatergoers on a wind-swept night in Colorado Springs.



The Theatre ‘d Art lobby features walls of chalkboard art.




The “Marisol” set includes burned clouds hanging charred from a war-ravaged heaven.



The Earth is in disarray, as a trail of flowers leading into a garbage can attest.



The cast begins to gather in the green room backstage.


Director Anna Faye Hunter, photographed through burning clouds, tends to last-minute staging details.


(Please click below to go to the next page of photos from our night at “Marisol.”)

Outtakes: My night at UC-CS’s “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”

Sunday’s performance was preceded by a theater conversation between Kevin Landis, left; legendary Public Theatre producer Oskar Eustis, who brought “Bloody” to Broadway in 2010; and “Bloody” composer Michael Friedman. Watch for the video podcast to come.


By John Moore
March 20, 2013

Opening No. 46, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”: Students at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs learned that direct democracy, directly applied, is, like … totes lame(!) in their staging of this inventive, frontier emo-rock musical about the founder of the Democratic Party. It presents America’s seventh president as a modern-day, skinny-jeans rock star who stumbles into populism, Indian removal and tremendous power. Starring Omid Dastán Harrison and featuring Jessica Parnello, Lynne Hastings, Robbie Armstrong, Doug Wolfe, Zach Bailey, Alex Williams, Erik Brevik, Jeff Mills, Dana Kjeldsen, Chloe Kiskiras and Jen Cortes. Directed by Kevin Landis with Solveig Olsen. Remaining performances 7:30 p.m. March 20-23; 2 p.m. March 23 and 4 p.m. March 24. At the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, corner of Union and Austin Bluffs Parkway on the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs campus, 719-255-3232 or theatreworks’ home page . All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.org. Thanks Emilie P. Green, Caitlin Green, Murray Ross and Drew Martorella.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 48 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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


Sunday’s performance was attended by the legendary Public Theatre producer Oskar Eustis, who brought “Bloody” to Broadway in 2010, and composer Michael Friedman.


Omid Dastán Harrison prepares for an afternoon on the wild frontier as land expansionist-turned-emo-rock-star Andrew Jackson, known by some as just, “America’s Hitler.”


The entire lobby of the Bon Vivant Theatre has been turned into a carnival-slash-state-fair-concert kind of setting.


Test your strength … against Andrew Jackson’s crabby corrupt cabinet.




Here’s a fun carny game: Guess which blanket provided to Native Americans by the U.S. military is NOT infested with smallpox??


Fun historical facts about James Monroe … AND Metamucil!


(Please click below to go to the next page of photos from our night at “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

Outtakes: My night at the grand re-opening of The Edge Theatre

The Edge Theatre’s new storefront  at 1560 Teller St. in Lakewood. The grand re-opening was marked on March 15 with a party and the opening performance of David Mamet’s “Race.”


By John Moore
March 20, 2013

Opening No. 45, “Race”: The Edge Theatre has moved 2 miles east, into a new, 99-seat theater in a freestanding storefront at 1560 Teller St. in Lakewood. Among Friday’s guests for the grand re-opening were Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy and acclaimed singer and actor Mary Louise Lee, also known as Denver’s First Lady. The ribbon-cutting was followed by the opening performance of David Mamet’s latest provocation, “Race,” a play about a pair of lawyers trying to decide whether to take the case of a rich white man accused of raping a black woman. The story bears a striking resemblance to Mamet’s earlier incendiary drama, “Oleanna.” Directed by Robert Kramer. The cast includes Richard Cowden, Joseph Graves, Brian Landis Folkins and Krisangela Washington. Through April 7. 303-232-0363 or the edge’s home page. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.org. Thanks to Patty Yaconis, Rick Yaconis and Justyn Walker of The Edge Theatre, and Amira Watters of The West Chamber.

Read our full news report on the Edge Theatre’s move.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 47 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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


Here’s your Grand re-opening souvenir ticket.


Re-opening-night guests signed the red ribbon that was later cut by founder Rick Yaconis.


Final preparations were underway before the party began. The new Edge Theatre looks a lot like the old one, with seating on two sides of an intimate playing space. But all the amenities are better, including bathrooms in the front of the theater, not the back.


Backstage during the pre-show party, Krisangela Washington and Joseph Graves were running lines. Graves was a late replacement for another actor and had only about 10 days to rehearse with director Robert Kramer and the cast.


The party made plenty of libations available … so keep your hands off the Mountain Dew!


How cool is it that acclaimed singer and actor Mary Louise Lee, also Denver’s First Lady, showed up with friend Sharon Johnson to watch the opening performance of “Race”? Lee appeared in Afterthought Theatre’s “The Wiz” last summer with “Race” cast member Joseph Graves.


(Please click below to go to the next page of photos from our night at the grand re-opening of The Edge Theatre)

Magic Moments’ rotund roster includes some big-name local actors

It is not uncommon for more than 200 people to participate in the annual Magic Moments pop-rock revue. This year’s crew includes some established names in the local theater community, including Amy Board, Sarah Rex, Ronni Gallup, Keegan Flaugh, Mark Shonsey, Dana Hart Lubeck, Donna Debreceni, David Nehls and others.


By John Moore
March 19, 2013

For 30 years, Magic Moments has presented an annual pop-music revue that integrates disabled and able-bodied cast members of all abilities, ages and experience levels. Those revues have now raised more than $200,000 for organizations that provide services for people with special needs.

The cast is made up of nearly 200 performers — and that is actually (and intentionally) down from an all-time high of about 250 a few years ago. But while Magic Moments is no longer an all-comers affair, it certainly remains open to most. It integrates a whole fleet of single-digit-aged moppets alongside some of the most respected members of the local acting community, as well as dozens of people with a wide variety of physical and mental challenges. Some of them might be detectable to the outside eye; others are quadriplegics. The belief at Magic Moments is that as long as you can move your eyes, you can act. And sing. And dance. That’s right — a team of up to eight choreographers make sure every cast member is included in at least four big group numbers, and here a wheelchair is no detriment to dancing. It is rather the tool that allows dancing to happen.

The rewards of participating in, or just attending, this completely singular theatrical experience, are both evident and manifest. But with a cast that is so varied and so large, it has been difficult for Magic Moments to find its place within the context of the larger Colorado theater community.

Magic Moments has much in common with the nationally recognized Phamaly Theatre Company, a troupe of all “differently abled” actors who present year-round musicals, dramas, stand-up comedy and, starting this year, a holiday offering. The companies share some of the same actors. Molly Nash has a big solo in this year’s Magic Moments revue, the Broadway showtune, “I’m Shy!” Phamaly audiences will again recognize longtime Phamaly favorite Ed Reinhardt and others.

But Magic Moments is different in at least two significant ways: Phamaly primarily presents known titles such as “The Elephant Man” and the upcoming summer musical, “Fiddler on the Roof.” The madman behind Magic Moments, who goes only by the name of K.Q., goes to great pains each year to thread the dozens of rock, pop and Broadway songs together with an original and recognizable narrative, some recurring characters and an occasionally discernible plot. This is the first year Magic Moments is reprising a title from the past. It is bringing back “Spirit and Soul,” which is set within the context of a traveling revival show where a terrible series of events tests the faith of all involved.

The score is always subject to tinkering and modernization. This year’s production features songs from “Spring Awakening,” “The Wiz,” “Evita” and rock artists Queen, Kenny Loggins, The Call, Bare Naked Ladies, The Who and Lyle Lovett. There is even a number by recent Grammy darlings fun. (yep, lower-case and period included). A few years ago, the indie-cool Decemberists made it into the show.

But the big difference between Phamaly and Magic Moments is that you see the able-bodied performing right alongside those who are not. And while Phamaly prides itself on producing some of the best theater by any company of any skill level, Magic Moments is peppered with housewives and middle-aged parents who have no greater theatrical ambitions than these. They just want to perform on the same stage with their kids. What really makes Magic Moments … well, magic, is what happens when you immerse all of these disparate people into a common creative cause over many months. That can’t help but change the lives of all involved. That’s what makes it, in my book, among the most legitimate theatrical experiences you can have on any stage … or from any seat.

Any while Magic Moments has battled against the “snob” factor for decades — “Is it real theater or not?” — it will be tough to argue against the many well-known and highly regarded actors from the “legit” theater community who are performing this year: We’re talking Amy Board, Sarah Rex, Ronni Gallup, Keegan Flaugh, Mark Shonsey, Ken Paul and Keith Hershman. This year’s musical directors are award-winning Donna Debreceni and Arvada Center hot-shot David Nehls. There isn’t a theater company in Colorado that wouldn’t take that group.

If you don’t know who those people are, no matter. You will after you see “Spirit and Soul.”

Spirit and Soul” ticket information:
Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday (March 21 and 22); 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (March 23); 2 p.m. Sunday (March 24) 
At the Anschutz Family Theatre at Kent Denver School, 4000 E. Quincy Ave., Englewood, 303-607-7555 or buy tickets here.

Some of my previous Magic Moments coverage:

My Magic Moments video podcast from 2011

2010: Magic Moments pays actors in a different kind of currency
2009: Wheelchair dancers ready for some rockin’ and rollin’
2008: Magic Moments is a stage for all

Photos from my visit to Saturday’s “Spirit and Soul” rehearsal:
The mysterious director known only as K.Q. commands respect by wielding a soft … teddy bear.


Sarah Rex (Arvada Center’s “Legally Blonde”) is one of the many respected actors in the Colorado theater community lending their services to Magic Moments’ annual fundraising revue.


Amy Board, who won a Denver Post Ovation Award for her work in the Arvada Center’s “Les Miserables” as Eponine, was last seen starring in the Aurora Fox’s “Xanadu.” She plays a cancer patient in “Spirit and Soul.”

For years, Ronni Gallup has both choreographed numbers for Magic Moments shows (along with her mother, Debbie Stark), and also provided sign-language interpretation at performances through her company, Hands on Productions. She played Lola in “Damn Yankees” and Nickie in “Sweet Charity” for the Town Hall Arts Center. But this year marks her first performance in a Magic Moments revue. She wanted to play alongside her two young sons.


(Please click “Page 2” below to go to the next page of photos from this year’s Magic Moments rehearsal)

Outtakes: My night at the Local Lab New Play Festival in Boulder

From left: Meridith Crosley Grundei, Lorenzo Gonzalez, Pun Bandhu, Rachel Fowler, George A. Keller and Belita Moreno read from Deborah Zoe Laufer’s Informed Consent.”


By John Moore
March 19, 2013

Opening No. 44, Local Lab New Play Festival: The Local Lab is an annual weekend of three new American play readings at the picturesque Chautauqua Community House in Boulder. I was happy to lead a spirited post-show discussion after Saturday’s offering, “Informed Consent,” along with visiting playwright Debrorah Zoe Laufer, who also wrote Curious Theatre’s 2008 staging of “End Days.”

Friday’s festival offering was Kate Tarker’s Ovidian “An Almanac For Farmers And Lovers In Mexico.” A young American woman named Flora is days away from marrying her Mexican fiancé in San Cristobal. Unfortunately, her fiance has turned into a bird. Arriving wedding guests find themselves undergoing unexpected transformations of their own. Directed by Pesha Rudnick. Featuring Anthony Bianco (Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers”), Meridith Crosley Grundei (The Catamounts’ “Messenger #1”), Laura Norman (Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Ghost-Writer”), Jamie Ann Romero (Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Romeo and Juliet”), Jake Walker (Denver Center Theatre Company’s “When We Are Married”), Gabriella Cavallero (founder of Modern Muse) and visiting New York actors Lorenzo Gonzalez and Belita Moreno.

Saturday’s festival offering was Laufer’s “Informed Consent.” It’s based on a complaint by the Havasupai Indians that a geneticist from Arizona State University ran DNA tests on tribal members without fully disclosing how the DNA would be used. In the play, a well-intentioned woman eager to unlock genetic clues that may cure Alzheimer’s and other diseases is accused of steamrolling a people’s culture in the process. Knowledge is power – but is that always a good thing? Directed by Mare Trevathan. Featuring Rachel Fowler (Curious’ “Rabbit Hole”), Pun Bandhu (Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Catch”), Lorenzo Gonzalez, Belita Moreno, Meridith Crosley Grundei and visiting Minneapolis actor George A. Keller.

Sunday’s festival offering was “Concealed Carry,” by Joshua Rollins. After seven students die in a shooting, a college in Colorado becomes ground zero for the concealed carry debate. Directed by Christy Montour-Larson. Featuring Pun Bandhu, Anthony Bianco, George A. Keller, Laura Norman, Jamie Ann Romero, Mare Trevathan and Jake Walker.

For more information on Local Theatre Company, click here

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 46 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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The view of Boulder from Chautauqua Park, location of the festival, at the base of the Flatirons.


Just outside the Chautauqua Community House in Boulder’s Chautauqua Park.


The Chautauqua Community House.


Local Theatre Company artistic director Pesha Rudnick introduces the Saturday night offering, Deborah Zoe Laufer’s “Informed Consent.”


Actors Anne Sandoe, center, and Jake Walker watch intently from the balcony of the Chautauqua Community House as Deborah Zoe Laufer’s “Informed Consent” is read. Walker participated in the festival’s other two readings.


Pun Bandhu, who read from Deborah Zoe Laufer’s “Informed Consent,” is known to Denver Center Theatre Company audiences for “The Catch.” Not as many realize he was also one of the original producers of the Broadway musical, “Spring Awakening.”


Festival actors Laura Norman and Jake Walker are joined by Sylvia Gregory, right, who runs the company that cast the entire Local Lab fest.

Video, photos: Elin Palmer and Joshua Novak at the Walnut Room

Video of Elin Palmer at the Walnut Room on March 14, 2013.


By John Moore
March 15, 2013

The handful of sagacious local-music aficionados who are not in Austin for South by Southwest were treated last night to sets by two of Denver’s most admired and crushworthy artists, Elin Palmer and Joshua Novak, at the Walnut Room in RiNo.


The Swedish-born Palmer, perhaps best known for her years among the alluring ensemble of Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots, has returned to Denver to take her long overdue place in front and center. Wielding a lilting nyckelharpa (think of a fiddle with keys), the headlining Palmer has now stepped fully from the shadows of 16 Horsepower, The Czars, Wovenhand, M. Ward, The Fray and Eric Bachmann (all of whom she has played with before) to present her own signature sound, one that is infused with multiple stringed instruments and her own Scandinavian roots. Check out the (cheap iPhone) video from last night’s performance at the top of the page.

Sporting red pants that no black-and-white photos can do justice, Novak introduced “Ephemeron,” the ambitious follow-up to his debut album, “Dead Letters.”

” ‘Ephemeron’ is a nod to things that are short-lived — youth, lovers, jobs, lives, memories, health, careers,” Novak says. “But while the songs are about things that fade away and end up in the past, the music that frames these themes should be occasionally unfamiliar, less organic and from somewhere in the future.”

The opening band was Starcar Sunday. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. All rights reserved.


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(Please click “Page 2” to see more photos of Elin Palmer, Joshua Novak and Starcar Sunday.

Outtakes: My night at Lakewood High School’s ‘Les Misérables’

Connor Kingsley, center, who plays Marius, gathers the cast in the hallway outside the school auditorium to salute director Tami LoSasso after an ambitious opening performance of “Les Misérables” on March 13.


By John Moore, March 14, 2013

My ongoing, 2013 labor-of-love photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theater,” brings you one intimate, iconic snapshot from 42 Colorado opening nights (and counting). But I also like to post outtakes offering more of a behind-the-scenes look at each stop.

Opening No. 42, Lakewood High School’s “Les Misérables”: Remaining performances at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (March 14-16) at 9700 W. 8th Avenue in Lakewood. 303-982-7123 or go to www.SeatYourself.Com. Featuring Graeme Schulz, Hunter Benjamin, Beky Winkler, Brooklyn Webb, Annie High, Connor Kingsley, Samantha Steele, Riley Konsella, Peter LoSasso, Melissa Elliot, Gabriel Branson, Bonnie Evans and a cast and crew of 150.

Click here to see the complete and official “Opening Nights” photo series.

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The opening performance was interrupted by a fire alarm that went off because of all of the smoke used in the climactic battle scenes. The school pays a four-figure fee to the local fire department to have the alarms put on silent during performances, but that didn’t stop an alarm from causing about a 10-minute delay on Wednesday.




Curtain call for the cast of about 40.


Senior Graeme Schulz, who plays Valjean, is also president of the Lakewood High School Theatre Company.




Riley Konsella (above) and Samantha Steele (below) play a naughty Mr. and Madame Thenardier.








 Ensemble cast member Dan Taylor, right.



The view from where the student musicians crawl into the orchestra pit, literally!


To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 42 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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Photos: My day at ‘Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse’

Stage manager Emily MacIntyre has no defense for Brian Landis Folkins’ whiskery charms before Sunday’s first public performance of the Denver Children’s Theatre’s “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center.


By John Moore
March 13, 2013

Opening No. 41, “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse”: “Lilly” is back for a second staging by the Denver Children’s Theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. Missy Moore is now taking on the role of the excitable mouse who stands up to bullies, can’t focus in class and is none too pleased about a new arrival in her home. Through April 28 at the Mizel’s Wolf Theatre, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-316-6360 or www.maccjcc.org. Public performances: 1 p.m. Sundays (but not March 31 or April 14). Directed by Billie McBride. Also featuring Michael Bouchard, Brian Landis Folkins, Devon James and Misha Johnson. Masks by Todd Debreceni. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Emily MacIntyre, Steve Wilson, Tom Kobes, cast and crew.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 42 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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


The Wolf Theatre underwent a massive renovation last year at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center.
Missy Moore as the mouse that roars when she doesn’t get her way.


Chester the mouse learns a fine lesson in courage from Lilly and all, but, Ryan Wuestewald seems to be asking, “Why doesn’t anyone ever stage ‘Chester’s Way?’ – which is only funny if you know that was another chapter in Kevin Henkes’ series of popular children’s books.


Misha Johnson is a proud new momma mouse.


Michael Bouchard is quiet as a church mouse sneaking up on a juggling Brian Landis Folkins during Sunday’s pre-show sound check.


Devon James plays Lilly’s pretty, and pretty snotty, cousin Garland, among other roles.


Shoes are just one component of Linda Morken’s fully homemade costume repertoire.


(Please click below to go to the next page of photos from our night at “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.”)

Photos: My night at the Galleria’s ‘The Doyle & Debbie Show’



By John Moore
March 13, 2013

Opening No. 39, “The Doyle & Debbie Show”: The latest cabaret show to move into the Garner-Galleria is this simultaneous homage to, and parody of, country music’s iconic duos. Doyle Mayfield, an old-guard country star with a handful of old-school hits, is reviving his career — 30 years, four wives and three “Debbies” later. His newest co-star is a single mother with three children who sees this lovable lothario as her last chance to make it big in Nashville. It has been announced that this show will close three weeks earlier than originally scheduled, on June 23, at the Garner-Galleria Theatre, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets. These photos feature Bruce Arntson, Jennifer Blood and Matthew Carlton, though Denver actor Lauren Shealy has since assumed the role of Debbie. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. 303-893-4100 or www.DenverCenter.Org. All photos by John Moore for CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Heidi Bosk, Kimberly Payetta, Jennifer C. Schmitz, John Ekeberg, cast and crew.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 41 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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





Creator and star Bruce Arntson, left, goes through opening-night sound check with co-star Jennifer Blood.


The show opened in Nashville’s legendary Bluegrass venue, The Station Inn, in October 2007, where it played Tuesday nights for more than six years.


Yes, this is a black-and-white photo series. But some shots you just have to show in color.


Jennifer Blood, visiting from New York via Chicago, prepares for her first performance as Debbie in front of a Denver audience.


Jennifer Blood and Bruce Arntson go through their first of many, many Denver sound checks to come.


Every inch of the Garner-Galleria Theatre has been transformed into a honkytonk by scenic designer Kevin Depinet, complete with neon signs, banners, memorabilia … and a stuffed squirrel to keep a moribund eye on the lobby bartender. Photos that line the barposts are said to feature longtime Denver Center actors and employees … at their most redneck. I’m not telling tales, but the name “Shannan Steele” came up during a tour.


(Please click below to go to the next page of photos from our night at “The Doyle & Debbie Show.”)

Photos and video podcast: Re-opening of Equinox’s ‘Bat Boy, the Musical’

Here’s our video podcast reporting from the “re-opening” of “Bat Boy, the Musical” on March 8, 2013.


By John Moore
March 5, 2013

Opening No. 38, “Bat Boy, the Musical”: Let’s call this one a “re-opening.” On Feb. 20, after a sold-out opening weekend at the Bug Theatre, the cast and crew of the Equinox Theatre Company’s “Bat Boy” learned that their star, Adam Perkes, had died in a Glenwood Springs hotel room. Within 10 days of this devastating turn of events, and with the blessing of Adams family, “Bat Boy” re-opened on March 8 after award-winning actor Nick Sugar agreed to step in and “fill in,” allowing the show to go on.  Remaining performances at 7:30 p.m. March 15 and 16 at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinoxtheatredenver.com. Also featuring Emily Macomber, James O’Hagan-Murphy, Rachelle Wood, Tom Auclair, Devin Bustamante, Tim Campbell, Lauren Cora Marsh, Abby McInerney, James Crapes, Dylan Phibbs, Arthur Pierce, Alex Ambard, Chelsea Winslow, Savannah Lake and Linda Swanson Brown. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Deb Flomberg, Colin Roybal, Ryan Mattingly, Alex Weimer, cast and crew. Read more on the story here.

Here’s our story on the death of Adam Perkes
Here’s our story on the company’s decision to re-open the show with Nick Sugar
Here’s our video podcast visiting the re-opening night of “Bat Boy”

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 39 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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


The rest of the “Bat Boy” run has been dedicated to late actor Adam Perkes.


Nick Sugar describes himself as Adam Perkes’ “fill-in.” Here, he is shown having his Bat Boy make-up and prosthetics applied by Evan Cannon amid the chaos of the cramped Bug Theatre backstage.





Busted: I caught actor James O’Hagan-Murphy putting water — water! — in drunk vet Dr. Parker’s flask. There are no method actors anymore.


Rachelle Wood prepares to go on as Shelley Parker.


The scene from the stage as the cast gathers for warm-up exercises.


There are higher-quality images from my evening with the Equinox crew, but none that better capture the love and camaraderie that was evident in the moments before the first audience was let into the Bug Theatre since their original Bat Boy, Adams Perkes, passed away.



 Director Colin Roybal.


Devin Bustamante, Abby McInerney and Lauren Cora Marsh.


(Please click below to go to the next page of photos from our night with “Bat Boy, the Musical.”)

Photo series: My night at Silhouette’s ‘This is How it Goes’

It’s the job of stage manager Amy Brosius to convert the John Hand Theatre stage from the Spotlight Theatre’s afternoon performance of “The Front Page” to the evening playing of Silhouette Theatre’s “This is How it Goes.” The companies share resources and like-mindedness with the Firehouse Theatre. Paul Jaquith’s Silhouette troupe gravitates more toward the nastier aspects of human nature.


By John Moore
March 5, 2013

Opening No. 36: Neil LaBute’s play explores the repercussions of an interracial love triangle in small-town America. Directed by Pat Payne. Featuring Paul Jaquith, Johanna Jaquith, Ben Butler and Taylor Black. Playing through March 30 at 7653 E. First Place, at unusual times: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays (no performance March 21); 2 p.m. Saturdays; 6:30 p.m. Sundays; also 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 11. 303-999-9143 or www.SilhouetteTheatreCompany.Org. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Amy Brosius, Bonnie Greene, Helen Hand, cast and crew.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 37 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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


First, a look at some remnants from “The Front Page” set. That’s the famous newspaper comedy about ace reporter Hildy Johnson, who wants to break away from journalism, go on his honeymoon and land a respectable job. But on his way out of town, there is a jailbreak, and one final scoop falls into his lap.Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays (720-880-8727).


The newspapers on the “Front Page” set are from Englewood in the mid-1960s.


Stage manager Amy Brosius’ goal is to store all remnants of the Spotlight Theatre’s “The Front Page” far enough upstage so that they can be covered by several large black curtains. Silhouette Theatre’s “This is How it Goes” takes place entirely in front of the curtains.


John Hand, founder of the Colorado Free University who started the Firehouse Theatre Company on the former Lowry military base, was murdered in 2004. By preserving his legacy, his friends and family have provided a home for at least three small local theater companies.


(Please click below to go to the next page of photos from our night at “This is How it Goes.”)

Photo series: My night at the Catamounts’ ‘Jon’



By John Moore
March 5, 2013

Opening No. 35: The Catamounts’ “Jon” is a Vonnegut-like, possibly futuristic (possibly not) allegory based on a New Yorker short story written by a one-time engineering student from the Colorado School of Mines named George Saunders. In it, trendy youth are raised from birth to serve as perpetual pop-culture taste-setters for all-powerful advertising companies. But while the story is a ruthless chaffing of American consumerism, the outside world ain’t exactly the promised land, either. Pushing the boundaries of video and live theater, this surreal and strangely moving coming-of-age story explores the consequences when you interject real human emotions into an otherwise completely controlled living environment. We visited the final preview performance – and first in front of an audience – on Friday, March 1. Plays through March 16 at the Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St, Boulder. 303-444-7328 or purchase tickets here. Directed by Amanda Berg Wilson. Adapted for the stage by Seth Bockley. Featuring Joe Von Bokern, Ryan Wuestewald, Tyler Compton, Sonia Justl, Jason Maxwell, Michelle Hurtubise, Miriam Tobin, Verl Hite and RJ Wagner. Thanks to Corey Crowley, Sara McPherson Horle, cast and crew.

Read the New Yorker story upon which the stage adaptation of “Jon” is based.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 36 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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Ryan Wuestewald and Sonia Justl play Carolyn and Jon, two teenagers who experience the first throes of pubescent lust while living in a controlled corporate universe where TV commercials replace real-life experiences.


Director Amanda Berg Wilson has notes for her cast from a final run-through before the awaiting first audience is let in.


Director Amanda Berg Wilson talks to the crew in the light booth behind her (above) and to the full cast in front of her (below).





The (unstaged!) photo above captures actors, from left, Joe Von Bokern, Ryan Wuestewald, Tyler Compton and Sonia Justl all at once gluing into place the neck ports that will allow their characters to “plug in” to a mind-soothing drug called Aurabon®. One of the I.V.-like ports, as they appear on-stage, is pictured below.





Michelle Hurtubise, emerging from her “privacy tarp,” plays a teen named Kimberly in a world where sexual curiosity is zipped up like Velcro. Make that by Velcro.


(Please click below to go to the next page of photos from our night with “Jon.”)

Photo series: My night at the University of Denver’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’


Director Pamyla Stiehl laid out a table of candies and candles for her cast and crew to enjoy in a backstage hallway just before the opening performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” began at the University of Denver last Thursday.


By John Moore
Feb. 27, 2013

Opening No. 34: One of the many great things about the University of Denver’s theater program is how it pairs its students with an accomplished local actor, not only to help mentor them, but to star alongside them in a major production. This spring, multiple award-winning actor John Arp is starring as Tevye alongside 24 student actors in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Arp is a three-time winner of the Denver Post’s Ovation Award for best year by an actor, most recently in 2011. “Fiddler,” a co-production with DU’s Lamont School of Music, runs through March 10 in the Byron Theatre, 2344 E. Iliff Ave. (in the Newman Center). Tickets $15-$22. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Chris Wiger, Rick Barbour, Sarah Caulkins, Martha Yordy, cast and crew.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 36 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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


Blind student Sam Barasso, a familiar face to audiences who follow the local handicapped theater company called Phamaly, dances with enthusiasm in the dressing room moments before the opening performance begins. She plays Fruma-Sarah, the dead wife who (supposedly) comes to Tevye in his dreams to warn him against letting his oldest daughter marry her husband, the butcher. To pull it off, she is hoisted above another actor’s shoulders, making for a commanding onstage presence during a scene in which the actress’ blindness is irrelevant.


Student actor Elliot Clough, who plays the butcher Lazar, has his mic pack checked on stage alongside stage manager Sarah Caulkins just before the opening audience is allowed inside.


Pilates instructor Marcia Polas, back, takes the DU student actors through stretching warmups.


Student actor George Arvidson, who plays the young revolutionary Perchik (husband of Hodel), stretches out before the show.


Guest artist John Arp, who plays Tevye, is either telling me to get lost – or conducting some sort of diction-oriented linguistical warmup exercise.


The call board where actors and crew sign in for work.


The Chagall-inspired view from the minimalist set designed by the esteemed William Temple Davis is dominated by veritable stairways of askew chairs and window frames, climbing their way to heaven. Chairs make for a recurring theme throughout the story, what with brides and grooms being hoisted up upon them, and Russian soldiers upending and breaking them.




(Please click below to go to the next page of photos.)

Photos: Shelly Bordas benefit performances raise money, lift hearts

The video above is Part 2 from my ongoing video documentary, “The Shelly Bordas Story.”


By John Moore
March 4, 2013

Back-to-back benefits for Shelly Bordas on Sunday and Monday nights brought grassroots fundraising efforts to help the cancer-stricken Denver mother, teacher and actor to nearly $30,000.

On Sunday, a concert organized by Mitch Samu was held at the Columbine United Church in Littleton. Some of the theater community’s most accomplished singers offered an evening of pop songs, Broadway tunes and spirituals. Featured performers included Joanie Brosseau, Sarah Rex, Megan Van De Hey, Thad Valdez, Ryan Belinak, Colin Hearn, Barry Brown, Kristen Samu and Tag Worley. The guest speaker was the church’s pastor, Steve Poos-Benson.


On Monday, a benefit performance of the Broadway musical “9 to 5” was held at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, where Bordas still teaches youth theater classes when she is up for it.


Both events were “pay what you can.” Sunday’s event raised $1,500; Monday’s another $2,400.

Before Monday’s performance, Denver actor, director and photographer Sarah Roshan presented Bordas with a check for $15,000. That’s the first payout from a fundraising web site Roshan started on GoGetFunding.Com to help defray Bordas’ medical costs, and help establish a college trust for her son, Nathan, who turns 4 next month.


Bordas has been battling breast cancer since 2009. In December 2012, she learned it has spread to her brain. Doctors have told her they cannot guarantee her a year, or even a week.

Bordas, who was hospitalized for five days last week with a blood infection, was able to attend the first half of Sunday’s benefit concert with her son, Nathan, and the first act of “9 to 5” the next night. At Monday’s benefit, Bordas expressed both her gratitude and embarrassment for all the love that has been flowing her way these past two months.

What got all of these fundraising efforts started was Bordas having to drop out of “9 to 5” to spend as much of her remaining time as possible with her son. She mentioned to the cast that her immediate goal was to take her son on a Disney cruise, “because I need to see that happen.” On Monday, she said she has booked a week-long Disney cruise to the Caribbean launching May 4 to celebrate Nathan’s 4th birthday. She will be accompanied by a team of family and care-givers, all made possible by the generosity of donors from the theater community and around the world.

To learn more about Shelly Bordas’ story, please take a look at my ongoing video documentary, “The Shelly Bordas Story”:

Part 1: “Tit for Tot”
Part 2: “My Son Wins” (embedded at the top of the page)
Part 3 will focus on how the community has responded to Bordas’ illness.

Here’s how fundraising efforts have broken down to date:
GoGet Funding.Com fundraising page: $17,520
Checks mailed to Town Hall Arts Center: $6,000
Benefit performances (including a night of improv at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse): $4,170
Contribution from the family of late actor Doug Rosen: $2,000

Dani Nelson Everson, a hair stylist who has never met Bordas, will host a cut-a-thon to benefit Bordas from 4-6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8 at Clementine’s Denver, 2009 W. 33rd Ave. Phone: 720-328-3594.

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

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Photos, Part 1: Benefit performance of “9 to 5”:
All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

Denver actor Sue Leiser presents Bordas with a production photo signed by the Los Angeles cast of “9 to 5,” currently featuring Denver native and Broadway veteran Beth Malone. They also sent a check for $150 that Malone had collected from L.A. cast members.


Part of the “9 to 5” cast backstage, from left: Taylor Young, Rebekah Ortiz, Norrell Moore, Matthew D. Peters, Rae Klapperich, Melissa Morris and Rob Rehburg.


Shelly Bordas with “9 to 5” director, and old friend, Christopher Willard.


“9 to 5” cast member Matthew D. Peters is having way too much fun with the many readily available costumes backstage at the Town Hall Arts Center.


Sarah Roshan presents Shelly Bordas with a $15,000 check from her fundraising page at GoGetFunding.com


Denver actor Lisa Young.


Margie Lamb, who plays Violet in “9 to 5,” left, with Denver actor Carla Kaiser Kotrc, who attended college with Shelly Bordas at Western State in Gunnison.

(Please click below to go to the next page and see more photos from Sunday’s benefit concert at Columbine United Church.)

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


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


By John Moore
Feb. 27, 2013

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


(Please click below to go to the next page.)

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

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


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

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

By John Moore
Feb. 26, 2013

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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



(Please click below to go to the next page.)

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

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

By John Moore
Feb. 19, 2013

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


(Please click below to go to the next page.)

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



By John Moore
Feb. 19, 2013

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

(Please click below to go to the next page.)

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

By John Moore
Jan. 1, 2014

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

Most recent entry:

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

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

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Previous entries:


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



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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



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



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



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



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



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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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



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


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

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


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

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



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


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


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

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



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


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


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



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



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



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


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

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

My review of the Broadway production of “Next Fall”

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

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

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



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


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

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

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


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


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

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


By John Moore
Feb. 16, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Music Hall is big on acknowledging birthdays and anniversaries.


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


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


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




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

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


By John Moore
Feb. 15, 2013

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

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

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


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





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


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


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


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

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


By John Moore
Feb. 11, 2013

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


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

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


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


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


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



Jeffrey Parizotto and Gina Eslinger, above and below.



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



By John Moore
Feb. 11, 2013

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

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

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


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


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


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




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

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

By John Moore
Feb. 12, 2013

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

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

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


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



The well-worn “Seafarer” script.


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


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


By John Moore
Feb. 11, 2013

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

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

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


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


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



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



By John Moore
Feb. 6, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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



By John Moore
Feb. 6, 2013

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

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

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




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



Jim Hunt.

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


By John Moore
Feb. 2, 2013

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

“Jekyll & Hyde” runs though Feb. 10 at the Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the denver center’s home page. All photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Heidi Bosk, Eric Sprosty, Amy Katz, cast and crew.

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

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

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



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



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



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

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


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

By John Moore
Feb. 1, 2013

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

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

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


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



By John Moore
Jan. 31, 2013

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

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

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Erin Rollman: The actor prepares. 


Brian Colonna: The actor prepares.



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

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