Photos: My night at Off-Center’s ‘Wheel of Misfortune’

To see caption information on any photo above, or to see the gallery on a mobile phone, click here. (It will be on the lower-left corner.) Or just click “show info” on any photo.

By John Moore
Oct. 30, 2013

Opening No. 127: Off-Center @ The Jones’ “Wheel of Misfortune”: This new theatrical adventure from Off-Center is billed as “the scariest game show ever.” It invites audience members to compete in everyday tasks that Vanna’s … er, Bruce Montgomery’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 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 for later airing as an online web series. (The creators are touting “Wheel of Misfortune” as “the show that everyone might one day be possibly raving about.”) Those twisted game-show gods are hosts Bruce Montgomery, Mark Sonnenblick and Emily K. Harrison. The second of the first two initial tapings will be 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 and Randy Dodd. To see the official “Opening Nights” series to date (these are outtakes), click here. Read my profile of game-show host Bruce Montgomery here. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

 

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If you lose at “Wheel of Misfortune,” you may get an octopus in your face.

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Colorado theater schedules, however you like them:

All currently running theater productions

All theater listings by company
All theater listings by opening date

How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

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

Photos: My night at the Denver Center Theatre Company’s ‘The Most Deserving’

To see caption information on any photo above, or to see the gallery on a mobile phone, click here. (It will be on the lower-left corner.) Or just click “show info” on any photo.

By John Moore
Oct. 23, 2013

Opening No. 122: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Most Deserving: The Denver Center’s new world premiere is a 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.” Featuring Sam Gregory, 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 www.denvercenter.org. Thanks: Rachel Ducat, Mariah Becerra.

To see the official “Opening Nights” photo series to date (these are outtakes), click here: www.culturewest.org/?p=6068. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

OPENING 122sm
Hold that tiger! (Or should I say, “Hold that, Tiger?”) Sam Gregory wants you … to see him (very nearly ALL of him) in “The Most Deserving.”

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Colorado theater schedules, however you like them:

All currently running theater productions

All theater listings by company
All theater listings by opening date

How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

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

In case you are wondering where the rest of my stuff is …

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By John Moore.

In case you are wondering where the rest of my stuff is … I got this job, you see. Maybe you heard about it — as a journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It’s kind of a dream job. And the best part is, the fine folks at the Denver Center are encouraging me to keep up as best I can with covering the rest of the Colorado theater community as well. Including my duties as Executive Director of the new Denver Actors Fund.

But not all of my coverage is being posted here anymore. I have a new home in the Denver Center ether-world called Denver CenterStage. It is intended to complement, not replace, CultureWest.Org.

We’ve been fast out of the gate. It occurs to me that we have already posted 44 pieces of new content about Colorado theater on Denver CenterStage in the first three weeks of its existence. And that doesn’t include additions to our ongoing “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theater” photos series that is moving merrily along.

Some very interesting things have been happening around this theater town. Below are links to some of the highlights. But I’d be ever so grateful if you might bookmark Denver CenterStage and check in there regularly as well — just to make sure you aren’t missing anything.

John Ashton deployed by FEMA on eve of his starring role in Boulder Ensemble Theatre’s “Seminar”

Kidney update: Erin Rollman’s gift saved nine lives

Denver School of the Arts honors Helen Thorpe


Panel: “Death of a Salesman” is the most important American play ever written


Kim Staunton: Truth trumps race in “Death of a Salesman”

Doors Open Denver Center: It’s a banner year for local actors

Meet the cast video series: Short, 2-minute interviews with all of the actors appearing in the Denver Center’s fall plays. Here is where to find all of them that have been posted to date.

Matthew Morrison to headline 2014 “Saturday Night Alive” gala


Denver Center launches statewide youth playwriting initiative

“Caveman” Cody Lyman comes home to defend his turf

“I Believe” … that you can win the “Book of Mormon” ticket lottery, just like I did … twice!

Luciann Lajoie’s Denver-born “*Date” opens in Austin, Texas

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund
If you could not attend your fundraiser tomorrow, you can still help get us off the ground with your donation. Just send your tax-deductible check (ith our humble thanks) to:

Denver Actors Fund
4594 Osceola St.
Denver, CO 80212

Photos: My night at the Denver Center’s ‘Death of a Salesman’

To see caption information on any photo above, or to see the gallery on a mobile phone, click here. (It will be on the lower-left corner.) Or just click “show info” on any photo. If you prefer see this feature in its previous format (with each new photo stacked on top of the last), click here.

By John Moore
Oct. 1, 2013

Opening No. 119: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Death of a Salesman”: Some call this the most important play ever written. 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. It stars real-life husband and wife Mike Hartman and Lauren Klein through Oct. 20. Directed by Anthony Powell. Starring Mike Hartman and Lauren Klein, with John Patrick Hayden, M Scott McLean, Anthony Bianco, Michael Santo, James O’Hagan-Murphy, Brian Shea, Kate Gleason, Kyra Lindsay and Adrian Egolf. 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 at the Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date (these are outtakes), click here: www.culturewest.org/?p=6068

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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.

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund
If you could not attend your fundraiser tomorrow, you can still help get us off the ground with your donation. Just go to our fundraising page here to contribute — with our humble thanks.

Denver Center launches statewide high-school playwriting initiative

By John Moore
Sept. 12, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playwriting guidelines:

Submissions must:

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

Submissions must not:

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

Playwrights must:

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

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

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

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

Web site.

Video: “The Kid” Joey McIntyre takes on disgraced Yankees star Alex Rodriguez

By John Moore
Aug. 28, 2013

Joey McIntyre, The Kid from The New Kids on the Block, is a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, so we had to ask him what he thought of the brouhaha when Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster beaned New York Yankees nemesis Alex Rodriguez with a pitch on Aug. 18. Dempster was suspended for five games. Rodriguez was only playing because he has appealed his unprecedented, 211-game suspension for steroid use.

Among a few other choice bits, McIntuyre calls Rodriguez “the worst of all Yankees,” who “sabotaged what he could have been,” yet gives the disgraced star props for coming back and hitting a home run in the Yankees’ win.

McIntyre is in Denver for a limited developmental run of his new bio-miusical, “The Kid,” written with Christine Boylan. “The Kid” plays Aug. 30 through Sept. 15 at the Garner-Galleria Theatre. For tickets, call 303-893-4100 or visit www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Running time: 2 minutes.

Direct link to the video

 

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

All currently running theater productions

All theater listings by company
All theater listings by opening date

How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

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

Photos: Kids’ Night on Broadway, “Peter and the Starcatcher”

To see this photo gallery on a mobile phone, click here.

By John Moore
Aug. 21, 2013

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts hosted “Kids’ Night on Broadway” on Aug. 20, 2013, in conjunction with the launch of the national touring production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Kids ate at the Hard Rock Cafe, then were treated to a full array of family activities in the theater lobby, then met with four members of the cast before seeing the show: Nathan Hosner, Carl Howell, John Sanders and Ian Michael Stuart. “Peter and the Starcatcher” runs through Sept. 1 at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets. Information: 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org.

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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

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

John Moore, former Denver Post Theater Critic, joins DCPA

John Moore. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins

John Moore. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins

The cat has vacated the bag: I am going back to work — for pay! Alexandra Griesmer, P.R. and Promotions Manager for the Denver Center Theatre Company, made the announcement this morning:

“John Moore, former theater critic of The Denver Post and founder of www.CultureWest.org, has been named to The Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ newly created position of Associate Director of Content Strategy. In this role, Moore will create and distribute relevant and valuable content to engage and retain customers and develop a positive, insightful experience for theater patrons.”

I can’t believe my good fortune to be joining the Denver Center. After immersing myself in all the happenings at the Denver Performing Arts Complex since 2001, advancing and reviewing nearly every show performed there, it feels like coming home.

I will share a few more thoughts about this forward-thinking arrangement at the end of this blog. But first, here’s the content of the release:

August 15, 2013
Contact: Alexandra Griesmer
303.446.4835 | agriesmer@dcpa.org

JOHN MOORE — FORMER DENVER POST THEATER CRITIC — NAMED ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF CONTENT STRATEGY OF THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

DENVER, CO — John Moore, former theatre critic of The Denver Post and founder of CultureWest.org, has been named to The Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ newly created position of Associate Director of Content Strategy. In this role, Moore will create and distribute relevant and valuable content to engage and retain customers and develop a positive, insightful experience for theatre patrons.

“John will be key to reaching new audiences,” said Denver Center Chairman Daniel L. Ritchie. “He is respected in the Colorado theatre community and, indeed, nationally. We are pleased to welcome him into the DCPA family.”

Moore joins The Denver Center after a 28-year career in the newspaper industry. After working in various capacities at publications in Colorado, New York, Texas and North Carolina, he served as The Denver Post theatre critic and editor for 12 years providing him with an intimate knowledge of The Denver Center’s two theatrical divisions — the Tony Award-winning Denver Center Theatre Company and the Broadway touring presenter Denver Center Attractions.

While theatre critic at The Post, Moore wrote more than 3,000 theatre reviews, feature stories, columns and breaking news stories. As new technology evolved, he clearly saw the opportunities available to mainstream media. He conceived and implemented an online portal that soon served as a model for other markets around the country. This online coverage evolved to include video podcasts, script samples, photo galleries and an ancillary site devoted solely to coverage of high school theater.

Considered a strong advocate for Colorado’s local theater scene, Moore has received numerous awards and commendations including:
• Journalistic Excellence in the Arts Award (Colorado Theatre Guild, 2012)
• Best Performance by a Theater Advocate Award (Westword, 2012)
• One of 12 most influential theatre critics in the US (American Theatre magazine, 2011)
• First place in Arts & Entertainment Criticism (Society of Professional Journalists, 2007)
• More than 20 awards from other organizations including Colorado Press Association, Denver Press Club, Society of Black Journalists, PHAMALy and Alliance of Community Theatres

Not one to be content sitting in the audience, Moore has become an active participant in Colorado’s art scene. He founded and ran The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase, an annual celebration of local music that has grown into a four-day, 325-band indie-rock festival, which just completed its 13th year. After leaving The Denver Post, Moore founded CultureWest.org, a new website devoted to covering arts and culture throughout Colorado. Moore also recently founded the Denver Actors Fund, a new non-profit that will provide emergency situational relief when members of the local theatre community find themselves in sudden medical need. The “Tap-Shoe Initiative” is one program the Fund has launched to engage the support of actors and audiences. Theaters are asked to place a tap shoe in the green room and lobby into which company members and patrons can place a donation.

Moore’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Inside Arts Magazine, The Denver Post, The Raleigh News and Observer, The Dallas Times Herald and The National Sports Daily among many other leading publications, Moore can take his considerable knowledge of theatre and his extensive familiarity with the DCPA to develop content that continues to help shape and inform the community’s perception of theatre.

Moore is a graduate of the University of Colorado and Denver’s Regis Jesuit High School.

# # #

Here are a few thoughts I have on the new job:

*The continuing diminution of the traditional media is making it more difficult for arts organizations to get their stories told to widespread audiences. I think that by a hiring an arts journalist, the Denver Center is taking a bold and proactive step to ensure that the great stories taking place every day will continue to be told in credible, enlightening and innovative ways. It’s a forward-thinking move that I think may be emulated by other large arts organizations in the years to come.

*Since 2001, I have cultivated a relationship with the same readership of The Denver Post who largely make up the Denver Center’s audience base. I think that my practiced and passionate eye will allow me to tell informed, credible stories that are steeped in the proud history of the organization. Good, credible storytelling that engages audiences starts a conversation, and engenders a kind of loyalty that will remain long after the actors take their final bows.

*I intend to engage our audiences in a daily dialogue, using multiple multimedia platforms that will allow our guests to feel both more informed and more connected to the Center — and in more urgent and satisfying ways — than ever before.

“Book of Mormon” scalpers: Score one for live theater

“The Book of Mormon” Broadway cast, 2011. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

By John Moore

With the sold-out Denver launch of the first “Book of Mormon” tour just a week away, an uncommon spotlight is shining on our often-ignored local theater community. Everyone, it seems, wants in. And buyers are being asked by scalpers to pay upward of $1,700 a ticket for the hands-down funniest new Broadway musical in decades. Kind of makes the $125 face value seem reasonable by comparison.

Yes, scalping is awful, illegal, crass opportunism. But, in this one instance, can’t we also just concede that … it’s kind of cool as well?

For once, live theater is a tough ticket. Let me repeat that … Live theater is a tough ticket. When do we ever get to say that? It’s amazing what a few maggots in your scrotum can do for a vastly under-appreciated art form. And yes, here I am both quoting “The Book of Mormon” and describing ticket scalpers, all at once.

Continue reading

Daily “Book of Mormon” ticket lottery: Do you feel lucky, punk?

On Broadway, “The Book of Mormon” lottery typically draws upward of 300 hopefuls daily. Photo by John Moore

 

By John Moore

True to Broadway form, the national touring production of “The Book of Mormon” will make 24 tickets available to at least 12 members of the general public for all performances through a daily lottery, it was announced today. For the winners, tickets will cost $25 each.  For the losers, tears are free.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Enter the lottery at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House box office (promptly) 2 1/2 hours before the start of each performance. See start times below.
  • State your name and number of desired tickets (1 or 2) on provided cards
  • Two hours before each show, lottery winners will be chosen at random from among all entries.
  • There is no advantage to showing up more than 2 1/2 hours before the start time.

More rules, rules, rules: 

  • Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner.
  • All entries will be reviewed prior to the drawing for duplicate entries.
  • Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets.
  • Tickets are subject to availability.

When to show up:

The show plays from Aug. 14 to Sept. 2, 2012, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Here are the performance times (so show up no later than 2 1/2 hours before the following times):

  •    Tuesdays through Sundays: 7:30pm
  •    Saturdays and Sunday matinees: 2 p.m.
  •    Added performance: 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29

 

Good luck … you’ll need it.

Read more:

 My essay: “Book of Mormon” scalpers: Score one for live theater.

Denver theater producer Robert Garner was a man for all ages

 

Robert S. Garner

By John Moore

To ask Robert Garner, he was about in his mid-20s.

Garner was a legendary theater producer and bon vivant for whom the Garner-Galleria Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex is named. He died Thursday morning (July 19, 2012) at home, no doubt against his will, at the (chronological) age of 80.

“What’s my secret?” he said in a 2007 Denver Post interview: “Two things: Have a little passion about life – and keep your friends young.

“If you get to be 75, and you act 75, and you are only around people who are 75 … then you become 75.”

Denver Center president Randy Weeks described Garner as an entrepreneur and impresario. “Bob’s influence in Broadway touring theater at the Denver Center and around the country will not be forgotten,” Weeks said.

Garner was born on Oct. 29, 1931, in Massachusetts, and moved to Colorado when his Army dad retired here. The young Garner thought only Indians lived here at the time, he said. He graduated in chemistry from the University of Colorado and began his producing career when a 1961 production of “Fiorello” was basically handed to him – and he cleared $10,000.

Over the next 34 years, Garner booked almost everything that played at the Auditorium Theatre (now the Ellie Caulkins Opera House) and later, the Buell Theatre. He brought in acts as diverse as the Vienna Boys Choir, Marcel Marceau, Hal Holbrook and the African Ballet.

Those were star-system days, when big film names routinely performed on Los Angeles stages as well. Garner hooked up with the comparably sized Ahmanson Theatre there and arranged for the stars to test-run their plays here in Denver before friendlier audiences. That four-year arrangement brought Maggie Smith, Ingrid Bergman, Jack Lemmon, Charlton Heston, Carol Channing, Kate Hepburn and dozens more to Denver.

“That was a real boon to us because we got shows nobody else in the country ever saw,” Garner said.

Ray Roderick, who directed “The Taffetas” at the Garner-Galleria, in 2007, said of Garner: “He’s rubbed shoulders with Carol Channing and Kate Hepburn and all these other stars. He is show business.”

Garner joined forces with Denver Post publisher Donald R. Seawell in 1970 as Seawell began building the Denver Performing Arts Complex around the Auditorium Theatre.

“Don called me very early on and asked me to head up his Broadway division,” Garner said. “He was editor of The Post at the time and he had a lot of power, so you knew he was going to do it with or without you. So I thought, ‘What’s the point of being on my own fighting this big arts center when I can throw my weight into it, too? So that’s what I did.”

The only time Garner ever appeared on stage himself was in the ensemble of “Kiss Me, Kate,” a production that starred Marilyn Van Derbur at the old Bonfils Theatre. That was 1959, a year after Van Derbur was crowned Miss America.

“I never, ever had any desire to be on the stage,” he said. “I always wanted to be just  what I was, which was a producer.

Garner retired in 1985, before the theater that now bears his name was opened and independently operated by Rick Seeber as StageWest. A dozen years later, the Denver Center was running the now-Galleria Theater and renamed it for Garner in tribute to his career.

“I always wanted my name up in lights, but I never really thought it would happen,” Garner said.

In 2007, Roderick rallied Garner to participate in his staging of “The Taffetas” in the Garner-Galleria. In the lighthearted 1950s musical, Garner appeared in taped segments as the host of an Indiana  televised musical variety show.

Jenny Schiavone, now director of media relations for Denver International Airport, went to work for the Denver Center when she was 18. “I really found a family there in that group of people, and Bob was patriarch of that found family,” she said. “He loved the opening nights, the cast parties, and he was responsible for a lot of great, fun times.”

Garner grew up in the era of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Frankie Laine, but he loved whatever was new.

“My whole career was about passion.,” he said. “It’s true of anybody who wants to be successful: If you don’t have passion for anything, you have nothing.”

Garner served as an honorary DCTC trustee until his death. He is survived by a sister.

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts will host a celebration of Garner’s life at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Seawell Grand Ballroom, 1011 13th St. The event is open to the public but your RSVP is requested at http://www.rememberingbobgarner.com/content/home.html

Note: Garner’s quotes above come from an interview conducted by John Moore in 2007 for a story in The Denver Post. 

 

Jason Henning played Robert Garner in a Curious Theatre tribute to Garner’s career in 2007. Photo by Michael Ensminger.