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

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


By John Moore
May 14, 2013

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

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

The following gallery is just one chapter in my ongoing photo series called “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes all over Colorado theater. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the actual, official photo series featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 68 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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


Cast member Amber Moffett.


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


The song list changes from night to night.


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





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


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


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



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

By John Moore

Award-winning arts journalist John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States by American Theatre Magazine during has 12 years at The Denver Post. Hen then created a groundbreaking new media outlet covering Colorado arts an culture as an in-house, multimedia journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He also founded The Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that has raised more than $600,000 for theatre artists in medical need. He is now a journalist for hire as the founder of Moore Media Colorado. You can find samples of his work at MooreJohn.Com. Contact him at