Denver Sonnets Project, No. 11: Crystal Verdon Eisele

By John Moore

CultureWest.Org is endeavoring to make short films out of all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each featuring actors with Colorado connections. The artistic intent is primarily to further CultureWest’s mission to spotlight the local theatre community and their current or upcoming productions. It’s also an attempt to promote Shakespeare education in a fun way. This is an entirely volunteer project with a proud budget of … zero dollars.

We are rolling out new Sonnet videos … well, as soon as they are completed. Here’s a link to the YouTube playlist that hosts the entire series.

For Sonnet 11, award-winning actor and now two-time mother Crystal Verdon Eisele ponders Shakespeare’s entreaty to beautiful women that procreation is not only their sacred duty but the path to their own immortality. Crystal ponders motherhood gone bad but ultimately concurs “thuo shuoldst print more – and not let that copy die.” Crystal recently appeared in the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s world premiere of “And the Sun Stood Still.”

The Denver Sonnets Project is an ongoing public art project, open to a variety of actors and filmmakers. Another new short sonnet film is posted here every Monday. Please support the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org. Video series by John Moore.

The Denver Sonnets Project is a volunteer collaboration, with limited eligibility requirements for participation. For information on how to register for a future episode, email your interest to John Moore at culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

CRYSTAL

Completed episodes to date (in numeric order):

Sonnet 1: Cast of “Cult Following”: “From fairest creatures we desire increase …”

Sonnet 2: Josh Robinson, “See thy blood warm …”

Sonnet 6, Joe Von Bokern: “Make worms thine heir!”

Sonnet 10, Augustus Truhn: “Thou art so possessed with murd’rous hate …”

Sonnets 11: Crystal Verdon Eisel:

Sonnet 17: Anne Sandoe: “If I could write the beauty of your eyes …”

Sonnet 23: Gabra Zackman, “As an unperfect actor on a stage …”

Sonnet 31: Sean Scrutchins and Devon James: “Thou art the grave where buried love doth live …”

Sonnet 36: Rachel Fowler, “I may not evermore acknowledge thee …”

Sonnet 44: John Carroll Lynch, “Thought kills me that I am not thought …”

Sonnet 47: Adrian Egolf, “Thyself away are present still with me …”

Sonnet 55: Cajardo Rameer Lindsey:  “You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes”

Sonnet 73: Jim Hunt: “Love that well which thou must leave ere long …”

Sonnet 74: Lowry Elementary School: “Thou hast but lost the dregs of life …”

Sonnet 90: Adam Stone: “If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last …”

Sonnet No. 91: Sam Gregory: “Thy love is better than high birth to me”

Sonnet 94: James O’Hagan-Murphy: Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds …”

Sonnet 124: Cast of Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s ‘The Tempest’

Sonnet 131: Josh Nelson, “In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds …”

Sonnet 136: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer, “Make but my name thy love …”

Sonnet 144: Cailin Doran, “Two loves I have, of comfort and despair …”

 

Please consider supporting the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org

Denver Sonnets Project, No. 55: Cajardo Rameer Lindsey

By John Moore

CultureWest.Org is endeavoring to make short films out of all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each featuring actors with Colorado connections. The artistic intent is primarily to further CultureWest’s mission to spotlight the local theatre community and their current or upcoming productions. It’s also an attempt to promote Shakespeare education in a fun way. This is an entirely volunteer project with a proud budget of … zero dollars.

We are rolling out new Sonnet videos … well, as soon as they are completed.  Here’s a link to the YouTube playlist that hosts the entire series.

For Sonnet 55, multiple award-winning actor Cajardo Rameer Lindsey bleeds into the camera, proclaiming that, through his words, his beloved will outlive buildings, war, fire and to the end of time, living on in the eyes of all lovers who read them. Video production by Ulysses Porter Brown. Lindsey will next star in Curious Theatre’s “In the Red and Brown Water,” running March 7-April 18. Followed by a reprise of “The Brothers Size.” Both are part of a trilogy by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Call 303-623-0524 or click here.

The Denver Sonnets Project is an ongoing public art project, open to a variety of actors and filmmakers. Another new short sonnet film is posted here every Monday. Please support the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org.

Video series by John Moore. Sonnet 55 recorded and produced by Ulysses Porter Brown.

The Denver Sonnets Project is a volunteer collaboration, with limited eligibility requirements for participation. For information on how to register for a future episode, email your interest to John Moore at culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

cajardp

Completed episodes to date (in numeric order):

Sonnet 1: Cast of “Cult Following”: “From fairest creatures we desire increase …”

Sonnet 2: Josh Robinson, “See thy blood warm …”

Sonnet 6, Joe Von Bokern: “Make worms thine heir!”

Sonnet 10, Augustus Truhn: “Thou art so possessed with murd’rous hate …”

Sonnet 17: Anne Sandoe: “If I could write the beauty of your eyes …”

Sonnet 23: Gabra Zackman, “As an unperfect actor on a stage …”

Sonnet 31: Sean Scrutchins and Devon James: “Thou art the grave where buried love doth live …”

Sonnet 36: Rachel Fowler, “I may not evermore acknowledge thee …”

Sonnet 44: John Carroll Lynch, “Thought kills me that I am not thought …”

Sonnet 47: Adrian Egolf, “Thyself away are present still with me …”

Sonnet 73: Jim Hunt: “Love that well which thou must leave ere long …”

Sonnet 74: Lowry Elementary School: “Thou hast but lost the dregs of life …”

Sonnet 90: Adam Stone: “If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last …”

Sonnet 94: James O’Hagan-Murphy: Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds …”

Sonnet 124: Cast of Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s ‘The Tempest’

Sonnet 131: Josh Nelson, “In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds …”

Sonnet 136: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer, “Make but my name thy love …”

Sonnet 144: Cailin Doran, “Two loves I have, of comfort and despair …”

 

Please consider supporting the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org

Denver Sonnets Project, No. 31: Sean Scrutchins and Devon James

By John Moore

CultureWest.Org is endeavoring to make short films out of all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each featuring actors with Colorado connections. The artistic intent is primarily to further CultureWest’s mission to spotlight the local theatre community and their current or upcoming productions. It’s also an attempt to promote Shakespeare education in a fun way. This is an entirely volunteer project with a proud budget of … zero dollars.

We are rolling one Sonnet video a week for … zoinks! … 154 weeks. Here’s a link to the YouTube playlist that hosts the entire series.

For a very special Sonnet 31, married actors Sean Scrutchins and Devon James, on the eve of the birth of their first child, take a moment to honor their many departed family members who will be immortalized in their son, Liam. “Thou art the grave where buried love doth live …” Scrutchins is a Henry Award (Curious’ “Nine Circles”) and True West Award winner (Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”); while James is a True West Award winner herself (Curious’ “Time Stands Still”). Both are also teaching Artists with the Denver Center Theatre Academy. IMG_4947USE

The Denver Sonnets Project is an ongoing public art project, open to a variety of actors and filmmakers. Another new short sonnet film is posted here every Monday. Please support the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org.

Video by John Moore.

The Denver Sonnets Project is a volunteer collaboration, with limited eligibility requirements for participation. For information on how to register, email your interest to John Moore at culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Completed episodes to date (in numeric order):

Sonnet 1: Cast of “Cult Following”: “From fairest creatures we desire increase …”

Sonnet 2: Josh Robinson, “See thy blood warm …”

Sonnet 6, Joe Von Bokern: “Make worms thine heir!”

Sonnet 10, Augustus Truhn: “Thou art so possessed with murd’rous hate …”

Sonnet 17: Anne Sandoe: “If I could write the beauty of your eyes …”

Sonnet 23: Gabra Zackman, “As an unperfect actor on a stage …”

Sonnet 31:  Sean Scrutchins and Devon James: “Thou art the grave where buried love doth live …”

Sonnet 36: Rachel Fowler, “I may not evermore acknowledge thee …”

Sonnet 44: John Carroll Lynch, “Thought kills me that I am not thought …”

Sonnet 47: Adrian Egolf, “Thyself away are present still with me …”

Sonnet 73: Jim Hunt: “Love that well which thou must leave ere long …”

Sonnet 74: Lowry Elementary School: “Thou hast but lost the dregs of life …”

Sonnet 90: Adam Stone: “If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last …”

Sonnet 94: James O’Hagan-Murphy: Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds …”

Sonnet 124: Cast of Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s ‘The Tempest’

Sonnet 131: Josh Nelson, “In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds …”

Sonnet 136: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer, “Make but my name thy love …”

Sonnet 144: Cailin Doran, “Two loves I have, of comfort and despair …”

Look here for a new sonnet every Monday. For more information on The Denver Sonnets Project, and how to sign up, please email culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Please consider supporting the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org

Denver Sonnets Project, No. 10, Augustus Truhn

By John Moore

CultureWest.Org is endeavoring to make short films out of all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each featuring actors with Colorado connections. The artistic intent is primarily to further CultureWest’s mission to spotlight the local theatre community and their current or upcoming productions. It’s also an attempt to promote Shakespeare education in a fun way. This is an entirely volunteer project with a proud budget of … zero dollars.

We are rolling one Sonnet video a week for … zoinks! … 154 weeks. Here’s a link to the YouTube playlist that hosts the entire series.

AUGIE TRUHN 100For Sonnet 10 — our 17th short film to date — Boulder actor Augustus Truhn turns another of Shakespeare’s many (many!) entreaties for procreation into something quite different. Here, without changing a word, Truhn presents the sonnet instead as one tortured man exhorting himself to allow love into his life before it is too late. For a man unwilling to care about himself cannot have love in his heart for anyone else. Truhn played Petruchio in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 2010 “The Taming of the Shrew” and appeared last summer in the Germinal Stage Denver’s “Offending the Audience.” His wife, actor Karen LaMoureaux, will next appear in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Ambition Facing West,” opening Oct. 9.

The Denver Sonnets Project is an ongoing public art project, open to a variety of actors and filmmakers. Another new short sonnet film is posted here every Monday. Please support the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org.

Video by John Moore.

The Denver Sonnets Project is a volunteer collaboration, with limited eligibility requirements for participation. For information on how to register, email your interest to John Moore at culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Completed episodes to date (in numeric order):

Sonnet 1: Cast of “Cult Following”: “From fairest creatures we desire increase …”

Sonnet 2: Josh Robinson, “See thy blood warm …”

Sonnet 6, Joe Von Bokern: “Make worms thine heir!”

Sonnet 10, Augustus Truhn: “Thou art so possessed with murd’rous hate …”

Sonnet 17: Anne Sandoe: “If I could write the beauty of your eyes …”

Sonnet 23: Gabra Zackman, “As an unperfect actor on a stage …”

Sonnet 36: Rachel Fowler, “I may not evermore acknowledge thee …”

Sonnet 44: John Carroll Lynch, “Thought kills me that I am not thought …”

Sonnet 47: Adrian Egolf, “Thyself away are present still with me …”

Sonnet 73: Jim Hunt: “Love that well which thou must leave ere long …”

Sonnet 74: Lowry Elementary School: “Thou hast but lost the dregs of life …”

Sonnet 90: Adam Stone: “If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last …”

Sonnet 94: James O’Hagan-Murphy: Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds …”

Sonnet 124: Cast of Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s ‘The Tempest’

Sonnet 131: Josh Nelson, “In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds …”

Sonnet 136: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer, “Make but my name thy love …”

Sonnet 144: Cailin Doran, “Two loves I have, of comfort and despair …”

Look here for a new sonnet every Monday. For more information on The Denver Sonnets Project, and how to sign up, please email culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Please consider supporting the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org

The Denver Sonnets Project, No. 17: Anne Sandoe

By John Moore

CultureWest.Org is endeavoring to make short films out of all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each featuring actors with Colorado connections. The artistic intent is primarily to further CultureWest’s mission to spotlight the local theatre community and their current or upcoming productions. It’s also an attempt to promote Shakespeare education in a fun way. This is an entirely volunteer project with a proud budget of … zero dollars.

ANNEPICWe are rolling one Sonnet video a week for … zoinks! … 154 weeks. Here’s a link to the YouTube playlist that hosts the entire series.

For our 15th Sonnet, No. 17, veteran Boulder actor Anne Sandoe turns Shakespeare’s wooing into a mother’s love letter to her daughter. The mother believes her daughter’s beauty will make a liar of her words over time, for no one will believe any human face was so divine. That is unless for a grandchild: Evidence that her beauty lives on both in the author’s words, and in the child. Sandoe is currently playing Lillian Troy in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “I Hate Hamlet” through Aug. 9.

Video by John Moore. Another new short sonnet film is posted here every Monday. Please support the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org.

The Denver Sonnets Project is a volunteer collaboration, with limited eligibility requirements for participation. For information on how to register, email your interest to culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Completed episodes to date (in numeric order):

Sonnet 1: Cast of “Cult Following”: “From fairest creatures we desire increase …”

Sonnet 2: Josh Robinson, “See thy blood warm …”

Sonnet 17: Anne Sandoe: “If I could write the beauty of your eyes …”

Sonnet 23: Gabra Zackman, “As an unperfect actor on a stage …”

Sonnet 36: Rachel Fowler, “I may not evermore acknowledge thee …”

Sonnet 44: John Carroll Lynch, “Thought kills me that I am not thought …”

Sonnet 47: Adrian Egolf, “Thyself away are present still with me …”

Sonnet 73: Jim Hunt: “Love that well which thou must leave ere long …”

Sonnet 74: Lowry Elementary School: “Thou hast but lost the dregs of life …”

Sonnet 90: Adam Stone: “If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last …”

Sonnet 94: James O’Hagan-Murphy: Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds …”

Sonnet 124: Cast of Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s ‘The Tempest’

Sonnet 131: Josh Nelson, “In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds …”

Sonnet 136: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer, “Make but my name thy love …”

Sonnet 144: Cailin Doran, “Two loves I have, of comfort and despair …”

Look here for a new sonnet every Monday. For more information on The Denver Sonnets Project, and how to sign up, please email culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Please consider supporting the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org

The Denver Sonnets Project, No. 144: Cailin Doran

By John Moore

CultureWest.Org is endeavoring to make short films out of all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each featuring actors with Colorado connections. The artistic intent is primarily to further CultureWest’s mission to spotlight the local theatre community and their current or upcoming productions. It’s also an attempt to promote Shakespeare education in a fun way. This is an entirely volunteer project with a proud budget of … zero dollars.

CAILINWe are rolling one Sonnet video a week for … zoinks! … 154 weeks. Here’s a link to the YouTube playlist that hosts the entire series.

Four our 14th sonnet, No. 144, smoldering actor Cailin Doran (Arvada Center’s ‘The Great Gatsby’) considers the temptations of good and evil as two potential suitors in a bar who may have greater aspirations than her mere affections. These two flirts, she believes, are an angel inside a devil inside her own hell. But she’ll never know until her bad angel expels the good one out of hell.

Video by John Moore. Another new short sonnet film is posted here every Monday. Please support the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org.

The Denver Sonnets Project is a volunteer collaboration, with limited eligibility requirements for participation. For information on how to register, email your interest to culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Completed episodes to date (in numeric order):

Sonnet 1: Cast of “Cult Following”: “From fairest creatures we desire increase …”

Sonnet 2: Josh Robinson, “See thy blood warm …”

Sonnet 23: Gabra Zackman, “As an unperfect actor on a stage …”

Sonnet 36: Rachel Fowler, “I may not evermore acknowledge thee …”

Sonnet 44: John Carroll Lynch, “Thought kills me that I am not thought …”

Sonnet 47: Adrian Egolf, “Thyself away are present still with me …”

Sonnet 73: Jim Hunt: “Love that well which thou must leave ere long …”

Sonnet 74: Lowry Elementary School: “Thou hast but lost the dregs of life …”

Sonnet 90: Adam Stone: “If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last …”

Sonnet 94: James O’Hagan-Murphy: Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds …”

Sonnet 124: Cast of Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s ‘The Tempest’

Sonnet 131: Josh Nelson, “In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds …”

Sonnet 136: Lyndsay and Jeremy Palmer, “Make but my name thy love …”

Sonnet 144: Cailin Doran, “Two loves I have, of comfort and despair …”

Look here for a new sonnet every Monday. For more information on The Denver Sonnets Project, and how to sign up, please email culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Please consider supporting the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org

Denver Sonnets Project, No. 23: Gabra Zackman

By John Moore

CultureWest.Org is endeavoring to make short films out of all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each featuring actors with Colorado connections. The artistic intent is primarily to further CultureWest’s founding and ongoing mission to spotlight members of the local theatre community and the companies they perform for, while also calling attention to their current or recent productions. It’s also an attempt to promote Shakespeare education in a fun way. This is an entirely volunteer project with a proud budget of … zero dollars.

We intend to roll out one Sonnet video a week for … zoinks! … 154 weeks. Here’s a link to the YouTube playlist that eventually will host all 154 short films.

Our second featured actor is Gabra Zackman, recently of “Tomorrow in the Battle” in the Grant-Humphreys Mansion. She’s taking on Sonnet 23, in which a woman tells a man she loves not to trust what she says, but rather what she writes. It was filmed at Civic Center Park.

Completed episodes:
Sonnet 23: Gabra Zackman, “As an unperfect actor on a stage …”
Sonnet 36: Rachel Fowler, “I may not evermore acknowledge thee …”

Look here for a new sonnet every Monday. For more information on The Denver Sonnets Project, please email culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Please consider supporting the Denver Actors Fund at www.DenverActorsFund.Org

IMG_4405

David Sedaris: When your heroes (don’t) disappoint

David Sedaris

David Sedaris

By John Moore
Feb. 13, 2013

In January, Denverites were given the rare opportunity to see David Sedaris in process. Perhaps the nation’s foremost comic novelist came to the intimate Galleria Theatre to test out select readings that may (or may not) be included in his forthcoming book, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” due for publication in April.

The audience reaction would, we were promised, help determine the final edits before publication.

My friend Sarah Wells put that to the test. She is a big fan of the NPR contributor, and went to see him perform only expecting to savor this uncommon, close-up look at how Sedaris’ sardonic wit goes from his head to the page.

That’s why, on the evening of Sedaris’ very first performance on Jan. 21, Wells was so mortified that Sedaris chose to tell a story about … genital mutilation.

I’ll let Sarah tell the story from here:

When Your Heroes Disappoint:

I went to see David Sedaris tonight, at a pretty small theater in the Denver Center for Performing Arts. I’ve loved his work for a long time, and have considered him among my favorite writers.

Tonight he was reading parts of a book he’s sending to his publisher at the end of the week. He’s workshopping pieces and testing them out on audiences. I was excited to hear the new stuff.

Sarah Wells

Sarah Wells

One of his pieces was a monologue of a mother standing outside her daughter’s door after forcing her to have her clitoris removed. He made jokes about how much bleeding there would be. He called it a cliterectomy, or something close to that. The mother in his story said that it could have been worse, that she could have had it removed with the rusty lid of a can (to which the audience roared with laughter), and that ultimately the daughter would be saved from so many poor decisions because she wouldn’t be tempted by sex. What a hilarious joke about women and their silly sexual decisions! After he finished the piece, he compared female genital mutilation to testicular surgery.

What. The. F***. No, David Sedaris, women having their clits forcibly removed is not the same as testicular surgery. Maybe it’s the same as having your penis forcibly removed against your will.

I was bothered by this story for the rest of the evening, and decided to wait in the book signing line to tell him what I thought. After about 20 minutes in line I got to the front and said, my voice trembling:

“I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time. I’ve grown up with your work. I walked out of the theater and came back in because I need to tell you this. I need to tell you that the piece you wrote about the clitorectomy was insensitive, and borderline offensive. Female genital mutilation is a serious epidemic and I don’t feel you communicated the gravity in your piece. It’s comparable to joking about a mother having her daughter raped as a way to keep her from sexual exploits. I don’t think you treated the subject with the kind of context or seriousness it deserves, and I’m telling you now because I need to say it for all the women who have felt it but didn’t have the guts to tell you.”

“OK,” he said.

“OK,” I said. Then I walked out.

I hope he doesn’t publish the story.

I don’t know — maybe I just didn’t get the joke.

So that reaction did not sound promising. But, just for the heck of it, I sent Sedaris’ local producer, Nancy Rebek, a copy of Wells’ note. Her unexpected but welcome response:

“You need to tell her he took it to heart, and deleted the story from the forthcoming book.”

Well, what do you know?

Good on you, Sarah Wells. Good on you, David Sedaris.

Let’s leave the laughing at genital mutilation to “The Book of Mormon.”

Video: Five minutes with … Quincy Jones

 

Quincy Jones was joined by Natasha Bedingfield and Virginia Williams for the 2012 Global Down Syndrome Foundation fundraising fashion show, titled “Be Beautiful Be Yourself 2012,” at the Sheraton Hotel in Denver on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (Photo by Daniel Petty)

 

In this ongoing web series, arts journalist John Moore interviews prominent visitors to Denver. Here, Quincy Jones, producer of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the best-selling album in history, and international spokesman for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, talks with Moore before Jones’ fourth annual gala in Denver, which raised $1.5 million on Oct. 13, 2012. Episode 3.

For more information, visit globaldownsyndrome.org

 

Previous episodes:

Pam Grier

George Hamilton

 

Video: Churchill, Barcelona and Navy at the Bluebird Theater

By John Moore

Oct. 1, 2012

Churchill celebrated its recent major-label signing with two headlining shows at the Bluebird Theater in Denver on Sept. 29-30, 2012. On Day 2, the set included “Ark in a Flood,” above. The lineup included Navy and Barcelona. Video by John Moore.

Barcelona:

Seattle’s Barcelona played in support of Denver’s Churchill at the Bluebird Theater on Sept. 30, 2012. Video by John Moore

 

Navy:

The new band Navy fronted by Dan Craig played in support of Denver’s Churchill at the Bluebird Theater on Sept. 30, 2012. Members include Nathan Meese (The Centennial) and Tyler Rima and Joe Richmond of Churchill. Joining in for this song is Churchill’s Tim Bruns. Video by John Moore

 

More Churchill:
Photos, video: Churchill performs “Change” at Denver party

Photos from Sept. 30 at the Bluebird Theater:

Tim Bruns and Bethany Kelly of Churchill took to the balcony of the Bluebird Theater. Photo by John Moore.

Churchill played two sold-out shows at the Bluebird Theater on Sept. 29-30. Photo by John Moore.

Tyler Rima of Churchill playing an opening set with Navy. Photo by John Moore.

Nathan Meese of The Centennial and Navy joined Churchill for its set on Sept. 30 at the Bluebird. Photo by John Moore.

Tim Bruns and Bethany Kelly of Churchill took to the balcony of the Bluebird Theater. Photo by John Moore.

Tim Bruns and Bethany Kelly of Churchill took to the balcony of the Bluebird Theater. Photo by John Moore.

Churchill played the Bluebird on Sept. 30. Photo by John Moore.

Photos: Opening night of Local’s “Elijah: An Adventure”

“Elijah: An Adventure” star Benjamin Bonenfant, with Anna Faye Hunter. Photo by John Moore

 

By John Moore

Sept. 22, 2012

Photos from the party following the opening-night performance of Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure,” by Michael Mitnick. It’s one of our “11 most intriguing titles of the fall season.” More on the production here.

I crashed (what else?) the party after seeing Abster Productions’ “August, Osage County,” also at the Dairy Center (through Sept. 30).

Continue reading

Photos, video: Churchill performs “Change” at Denver party

By John Moore

Sept. 21, 2012

Just two weeks after signing with national label A&M Octone Records, home of Maroon 5, Denver acoustic indie-rock band Churchill played a down-low private party on Sept. 20 at a Denver art studio. The evening of mostly casual, unplugged goodness included a rendition of the popular new radio hit “Change” (video above), which Churchill singer-guitarist Tim Bruns credited as being the song that landed the band its record deal.

The evening included sets from Stephanie Dorman, Michael Morter, Bethany Kelly, and the band Churchill, sans bass player Tyler Rima. That’s Bruns (vocals and guitar), Kelly (vocals and guitar), Morter (mandolin and guitar) and drummer Joe Richmond (drums, or in this case – drum).

A&M has picked up Churchill’s latest release “The Change EP” for national distribution, and the band already has begun work on a full-length. Churchill has two shows scheduled Sept. 29-30 at the Bluebird Theater, the first of which is sold out.

 

From left: Michael Morter, Tim Bruns and Bethany Kelly of Churchill. Photo by John Moore.

 

Michael Morter of Churchill. Photo by John Moore.

 

 

Bethany Kelly of Churchill. Photo by John Moore.

 

Bethany Kelly of Churchill with Stephanie Dorman. Photo by John Moore.

 

Joe Richmond of Churchill. Photo by John Moore.

 

From left: Michael Morter, Tim Bruns and Bethany Kelly of Churchill. Photo by John Moore.

 

An artist at work during the Churchill party. Photo by John Moore.

 

Drummer Joe Richmond of Churchill in shadow. Photo by John Moore.

 

Party host Amy Bruns, wife of Churchill singer Tim Bruns. Photo by John Moore

 

Churchill drummer Joe Richmond, sister Nicole Mills (left) and party host Amy Bruns take in the set by Bethany Lelly. Photo by John Moore.

From left: Michael Morter, Tim Bruns, Bethany Kelly and Joe Richmond of Churchill. Photo by John Moore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KDVR apologizes for borrowed photo flap

For the record, this photo of Melissa Benoist and Patric Case that aired without permission on KDVR last week was taken by Denver Post photographer Kathryn Scott Osler. This was taken with my iPhone … without permission from anybody.

 

By John Moore

Sept. 17, 2012

It’s hard out there for a journalist in the internet age, when anyone can steal your work in a second using cut-and-paste, a screen-grab, a right-click or even an iPhone (see above). If you are a freelance photographer, forget being adequately paid for your work. Most would settle for simply getting credit for it. (But make no mistake – they deserve to be paid for it.)

A minor incident in the local media last week is a telling example of both the continuing erosion of newsroom resources in mainstream journalism today, and just how little control journalists have anymore over the content they own once it hits the internet.

Short story: The local Fox affiliate KDVR-31 lifted three photos from this blog without permission or offering credit to the photographers. It was a blatant example of short-cutting. I called them on it, and that did not meet with a friendly response.

“We don’t need a lecture about journalistic ethics from you,” emailed vice-president of news Ed Kosowski.

Ouch. My first reaction was, “ … Perhaps you do.”

This was not going to go well.

But actually, it did, and, after an exchange of further information, Kosowski issued a kind  apology.

Longer story: I wrote this feature story for The Denver Post on Sept. 9 about Littleton’s Melissa Benoist joining the cast of Fox TV’s “Glee.”  As an added feature, I posted photos to my blog here at culturewest.org of Melissa growing up performing on Colorado stages. Some of these photos were long-forgotten publicity photos I collected over the years as The Denver Post’s theater critic. Others were Denver Post staff photos from story assignments I filed during that time. I credited the photos.

Right after Benoist’s debut episode on “Glee” aired Thursday, KDVR teased an interview with the hometown girl by entertainment reporter Chris Parente. I was soon irked for two reasons: First, I saw screen-grabs of my blog – uncredited – showing photos of Melissa performing in two shows for Town Hall Arts Center in 2006-07. And, more troubling, a staff photo owned by The Denver Post showing Benoist performing in the rainy parking lot outside the Country Dinner Playhouse just hours after the landmark theater barn was chained and padlocked in 2007. (The Post photographer was Kathryn Scott Osler). The second thing was that Parente incorrectly stated in his report that Benoist wowed the crowds as Evita in the production. She was 16 then – she played Peron’s mistress. It was an honest, if sloppy mistake, but speaking of uncredited work – that credit belonged to Joanie Brosseau.

Here’s what you need to know about copyright, according to the Professional Photographers of America:

  • Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation. You don’t have to license them, register or claim them. You can, but you don’t have to. It’s yours, as much as the “Mona Lisa” belonged to da Vinci.
  • Unless you have permission from the photographer (or whoever he/she gives ownership to), you can’t copy, distribute, publicly display or create derivative works from photographs. That means no scanning and sending them to others. No putting them online. No “right-click, save-image-as” button-pushing.

Clearly, KDVR had no right to use that Denver Post photo by simply lifting it from a third party. But the other two were publicity photos, and that’s murkier territory. They show Benoist in “Footloose” and “Cinderella,” photos that were publicly issued by Town Hall back in 2006 and 2007. While Town Hall would have been thrilled to have KDVR care enough to air those photos (then or now), they would not be readily available to anyone today who wasn’t compiling them as they went along. Not even on a Google search. We call such pictures  “archival photos.” To get them, KDVR would have had to ask for them.

The ethical route would have been to acquire them – and seek permission to use them – from the organizations that owned them. Instead, they took a short cut.

And, after some reconsideration, Kosowski agreed. Here’s the email he sent this morning:

John,
Appreciate the additional information. We’ve done some back-tracking here to find out what happened and how this fell through the cracks. Another reporter, Hema Mullur, had been working on the story and she obtained those photos from your blog. She wasn’t able to finish the story (we were going back and forth with the father for an interview) before leaving for vacation, and she passed the information/photos/links/video to Chris Parente.

In that handover, Hema should either called or emailed you for permission/courtesy or told Chris to do that. In the future, we’ll be more careful and will make sure we ask for permission and credit any third-party source.

I apologize for the oversight and I’m glad you brought it to our attention.

Ed.

A classy and appropriate response.

It’s worth reiterating that the theater companies, and their individual photographers, would have been happy to give KDVR those photos for its Benoist story. But newsrooms have fewer resources and less time than ever to get the little things done. And deadlines don’t care about your time and resources. Sometimes corners get cut.

The unfocused world of publicity pictures

This whole subject of theater publicity photos is itself a gray area. Here’s (sort of) how it works:

When a theater company is getting ready to open a play, many take their own publicity pics on whatever borrowed digital camera they can borrow, and the results are generally pretty amateurish. They submit these pictures to the media in the hope that they will be as widely distributed as possible. Even though the official policy at newspapers like The Denver Post is to cite the source of every photo, often there is so little effort put into the quality of these pictures that the companies don’t even submit the photographer’s name for individual credit. In those cases, we will simply say, “Photo provided by Generic Theatre Company.”

Other companies contract with established freelance photographers who, in exchange for a fee that can range from as little as nothing to $500 or more, turn over the photos – and their rights to them – to the theater company. But that does not absolve ethical media outlets from crediting the individuals for their work whenever possible. In Denver, the bigwig photographers include Michael Ensminger (Curious Theatre and others), P. Switzer (Arvada Center) and, until recently, Terry Shapiro (Denver Center Theatre Company).

Freelancers like Brian Miller scramble for every morsel of work they can get working with smaller theater companies that have little-to-no budget to pay for publicity pictures. (If only they realized how essential the quality of production photos is for how they get played on newspaper pages). Miller often works for a flat $75 fee on jobs that average about 30 hours of his time. He also often works for free. The only way to make money in this business, he says, is to shoot weddings. Instead, he shoots theater.

Miller took one of the pictures that KDVR used without permission or credit. For  $2.50 an hour, he figures, a simple credit line from a big-time local TV news channel would have been a nice boost.

In this age of Google image searches, it is becoming harder and harder for the Brian Millers of the world to control where their images pop up around the internet. But remember – creation is copyright. When someone steals your work, Miller said, that’s when it becomes necessary for you to register that copyright and take the offender to court.

Freelance photographers have long used watermarking symbols to force potential copiers of their work to actually purchase an original file. And the internet is now making it possible for photographers to embed invisible copyright information within the data of their online photos. It’s called “Exif.” Use it, and whenever someone copies your photo off the internet, they see who owns it – although that does not prevent them from copying it, regardless. Many large media organizations use new software that disables readers from even getting the option to copy an image when they right-click on it. But that doesn’t stop them from screen-grabs.

Did I mention this is a murky area? Just last week, a local theater company sent out a Denver Post staff photo from a previous staging as its publicity photo for the coming remount. Talk abut confusing.

And you might be worried after reading this that almost any of us with a Facebook page has skirted this copyright law in some way. But Facebook is different. By uploading anything to that site,  the owner gives away the exclusive copyrights to Facebook. It’s a bit of an open season on content.

Violators will always find a way around photographic piracy. But if anyone should understand the complexities and consequences of the issue, it should be mainstream media outlets whose revenues are being siphoned off by new media sources.

The message of the Professional Photographers of America: “Even small levels of infringement—copying a photo without permission—can have a devastating impact on a photographer’s ability to make a living.”

In the end, this is just a reminder about doing the right thing.

George Hamilton out of Denver run of “La Cage Aux Folles”

George Hamilton and the company of “La Cage Aux Folles.” Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

 

By John Moore

Sept. 14, 2012

George Hamilton, the 73-year-old star of the national touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” will not perform in any remaining performances of the run in Denver, which closes at the Buell Theatre on Sept. 16.

Todd Thurston

The Denver Center released only the following statement: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Hamilton will not be performing September 11-16.No further information was forthcoming.

Hamilton’s understudy Thursday night was Dale Hensley, who normally plays Frances. Todd Thurston, who played Mr. Oleson in the touring production of “Little House on the Prairie, the Musical” that visited Denver last year, is listed as another possible replacement.

In an interview with The Denver Post on Sept. 5, Hamilton mentioned his injury history with the show, including a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on the night of his very first performance as Georges a year ago. He had a knee replacement, “and my Achilles was torn in half,” he said.

“As you do this show each week, the fatigue level gets more,” Hamilton added, although there was no confirmation from the Denver Center whether those injuries had anything to do with Hamilton’s withdrawal this week.

Video: Actor Christopher Sieber on Broadway’s support for bullied Colorado teen

By John Moore

In 2008, Adrian Ulm made national news when it was learned that the 14-year-old middle-schooler from Centennial, Colo., was being beaten up for, among other reasons, taking part in theater. He endured taunts including “Nazi,” “Jew” and “gay” for two years until an inevitable confrontation left him with a broken collarbone and facial bruises.

When actor Christopher Sieber heard about Adrian, the “Spamalot” actor invited the boy and his father to New York, where the Broadway community treated them to a weekend of shows, backstage visits, friendship and support.

Read the whole Denver Post story here: Actors support bullied boy

While Ulm, now 18, has returned to his native Germany, Sieber is in Denver performing in the national touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles” with George Hamilton.

In the video above, Sieber talks about why it was important for him to reach out to Adrian.

More video: “Three Minutes with George Hamilton.”

“La Cage Aux Folles” plays through Sept. 16 at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For tickets, call 303-893-4100 or go to the Denver Center’s web site.

Video: Three minutes with … George Hamilton

In this new web series, journalist John Moore interviews prominent visitors to Denver. George Hamilton, star of the national touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” talks along with co-star Christopher Sieber. Episode 2.

“La Cage Aux Folles” plays through Sept. 16 at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For tickets, call 303-893-4100 or go to the Denver Center’s web site.

Fall 2012, No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”

“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,” with Patrick Byas in the title role, is getting ready to rumble in both Denver and Colorado Springs. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

 
By John Moore

When: Sept. 1-Oct. 13 at  Curious Theatre in Denver (previews Aug. 30-31); Oct. 19-Nov. 11 at TheatreWorks in Colorado Springs

Written by: Kristoffer Diaz

The story: This rare intersection of sports and theater centers on a  frustrated Puerto Rican professional wrestler. It seems his lot in life is being the guy who loses to cocky megastar Chad Deity. But when he and his Indian-American partner reinvent their wrestling personas as Muslim fundamentalist enemies to America, his career suddenly becomes very interesting indeed. Diaz creates a unique theatrical experience (including live wrestling!) that forces one to question the disturbingly persuasive power of ethnic stereotypes in our popular culture. This is a high-decibel, audience-interactive theatrical event, with explicit language, sweet staged violence, thrashing music and all-around awesomeness. You have been warned.

Why it made the list:  This regional premiere marks the first co-production between Curious Theatre Company in Denver and TheatreWorks in Colorado Springs, both of which will be among the first companies in the country to present this groundbreaking play. “This collaboration has allowed our two theater companies to combine forces and produce a play that may have been beyond the scope of either company independently,” said TheatreWorks artistic director Murray Ross. “Plus, it’s a lot of fun to share ideas with our colleagues in Denver and work with them to make something really exciting.”

 

Cast list:

Director: Chip Walton

Chad Deity: Patrick Byas

Patrick Byas: Chad Deity

William Hahn: EKO

Akshay Kapoor: VP

Michael Lopez: Mace

Bruce Rogers: The Bad Guy

Plus three real-life, local wrestlers: Ronin, Brian Keith Nelson and Brandon Morris.

 

Where: In Denver: 1080 Acoma St.

In Colorado Springs: Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, 3955 Regent Circle, corner of Union and Austin Bluffs Parkway on the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs campus

 

Performance times: In Denver: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays in Denver

In Colorado Springs: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays;  4 p.m. Sundays

Tickets: In Denver: $25-$44
In Colorado Springs: $35 reserved; Children under 16 $15; UC-CS Students free
Contact: In Denver: 303-623-0524 or curious’ home page
In Colorado Springs: 719-255-3232 or theatreworks’ home page

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

 

 

Fall 2012, No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”

Ben Dicke as an emo-rocking, Indian-slaying seventh U.S. president in his self-produced, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” He’s shown with music director Jason Tyler Vaughn.

 
By John Moore

When: Sept. 7-Oct. 28

Written by: Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers

The story:  This inventive ensemble piece, developed by a bunch of talented smart-alecks,  is a comedic, Wild West rock musical about the founder of the Democratic Party, who was either one of the greatest U.S. presidents, or America’s Hitler. Or both. It presents Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh president, as a modern-day emo rock star who stumbles into populism, Indian removal and tremendous power. The musical is both a treatise on  America’s pop-culture celebrity obsession (then and now) and a compelling (and occasionally even factual) historical account. This underdog show briefly transferred to Broadway, not because it had any chance of fitting in on the Great White Way, but because producer Oskar Eustis wanted to increase  its exposure so that renegade artists like Denver’s Ben Dicke might be daring enough to start a theater company just to put his little skit on for metro theater audiences.

Why it made the list:  Because, along with “Spring Awakening” and “The Book of Mormon,” this is among my favorite  three musicals of the millennium. Because, when it came out in 2009 at the off-Broadway Public Theatre, I thought it blew the lame and lazy Green Day vehicle “American Idiot” out of the water. Because it’s both smart and satirizing, and perfectly timed for the distressingly relevant 2012 political campaign season. And because theater at large desperately needs more musicals with rock music like this one that will invite younger audiences in like no other.

Cast list:

Andrew Diessner

 

Director: Ben Dicke
Musical Direction: Jason Tyler Vaughn
Choreographer: Piper Arpan

Chris Arneson: Henry Clay/Black Fox
Joel Chavez: John Quincy Adams
Ben Dicke: Andrew Jackson
Andrew Diessner: Bandleader
Kaden Hinkle: Lyncoya Jackson
Traci Kern: Storyteller
Kenzie Kilroy: Female vocalist
Cora Marsh: Female vocalist
Norell Moore: Rachel Jackson
Josh Nelson: Martin Van Buren
Alejandro Roldan: James Monroe
Steffan Scrogan: John C. Calhoun

Where: Aurora Fox studio theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave.

Performance times:  7:30 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $25-$30

Contact: 303-739-1970 or the aurora fox’s home page

 


 

My review of the original “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” in New York

Quote: “Sometimes, you have to shoot the storyteller in the head.”

Call it the antithesis of “American Idiot.” This hormonally charged new off-Broadway musical also employs driving emo-punk rock — only ingeniously. This is a hysterically funny history lesson on a man who was either America’s greatest expansionist, or its Hitler. Or both. Emerging in tight jeans and eye liner, one hand on his holster and the other on his mic, our seventh president is presented here in the same way some see President Barack Obama: as a brooding, smoldering rock star. If you are familiar with the irreverent intelligence of Denver’s Buntport Theater, you have a good bead on this audacious mash-up of fact and tomfoolery.

We meet A.J. as he’s just become an orphan at 14. “Life sucks,” he says with deadpan timing, “. . . and my life sucks in particular.” But through catchy ditties like “Populism, Yea, Yea,” you can’t help but come out with a surprisingly sharpened understanding of a dusty chapter in American history — including the part about the (first) stolen presidential election.

This musical comes from the same company that took Hell House out of Colorado and introduced it to New York audiences as theater. Originally intended to run for only a month, it’s been extended three times at the Public Theatre.

Photo: Benjamin Walker strikes an Ashton Kutcher-like “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” (Photo by Joan Marcus)

 
The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox studio theater
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

Fall 2012, No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”

Clockwise from left: Missy Moore, Abby Apple-Boes, Anne Oberbroeckling, Kerry Beebe and Lisa Kraai  are the women of “August: Osage County.” Photo by Rachel Graham.

 

By John Moore

When: Sept. 7-30

Written by: Tracy Letts

The story:  Letts’ 2008 Pulitzer-winning play is perhaps the most savage American family drama in 50 years. When the patriarch of an Oklahoma town disappears, three generations of Westons gather to bicker and attack one another. At the center of this modern Dust Bowl is the poisonous pill-popping matriarch, Violet. She has cancer of the mouth – medically and metaphorically. Violet has no switch to prevent her from blurting the most vicious things that come to her mind. Be prepared: The evening includes two intermissions, more profanity than there is soap to chew and, all told, it lasts 3 1/2 hours. But it speeds by, if it’s done right — and it’s both funny and devastating.

Why it made the list:  Both the Denver Center Theatre Company and Curious Theatre had right-of-first-refusal on this modern masterpiece, but the sheer size and cost of producing it professionally no doubt conspired to prompt both of them to pass. That leaves this audacious, brand-new amateur company with no established artistic reputation whatever to take on what others its size can’t, won’t or are too afraid to themselves. OK, Abster, you’ve got our attention … Now show us what you’ve got.

My review of the 2009 national touring production: The only thing missing is Willy Loman driving into a tree at the end. http://www.denverpost.com/theater/ci_12939453


Cast list:

Anne Oberbroeckling

 

Director: Peter Hughes

Wade Livingston: Beverly Weston
Anne Oberbroeckling: Violet Weston
Abby Apple-Boes: Barbara Fordham
Lisa Kraai: Ivy Weston
Missy Moore: Karen Weston
Jay Louden: Bill Fordham
Christine Sharpe: Jean Fordham
Matt Maxwell: Steve Heidebrecht
Kerry Beebe: Mattie Fae Aiken
Gary Leigh Webster: Charlie Aiken
Shane Delavan: “Little” Charles Aiken
Amanda Kowalski: Johnna Monevata
Ken Paul: Sheriff Deon Gilbeau

Where: Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder

Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Tuesday, Sept. 18; 2 p.m. Sundays

 

Tickets: $20-$23 ($18 on Sept. 18)

Contact: 303-444-7328 or the dairy’s home page

 

 

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox studio theater
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

Fall 2012, No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”

Midtown Arts Center will become the first Colorado company to stage the 2008 Tony-winning best musical, “In the Heights.” From left: DeVon Bucanhan, Cassidy Cousineau, Darius Anthony-Robinson, Tim Olivar, Chasdan Mike, Jessica Guerrero, Hector Flores Jr., Ryan Alvarado. Photo courtesy Nicole Yost.

 

By John Moore

When: Sept. 13-Nov. 11

Conceived by: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Written by: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes

The story:  The 2008 Tony Award winner for best musical integrates beat poetry, hip-hop and spoken word into the traditional musical-theater form to tell the story of a gentrifying Upper Manhattan barrio, a place where “the coffee is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music.” It’s a story about what it takes to make a living, and what it costs to have a dream.

Why it made the list:  Midtown Arts Center has made scoring the first Colorado stagings of big-time Broadway musicals part of its mission. Previous firsts include “Cats,”  “Miss Saigon,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Altar Boyz,” “The Producers,” “Rent,” “Next to Normal” and  “Avenue Q.” For this staging, Rogelio Douglas Jr., a member of original Broadway cast
and a member of the first national touring production, is serving as director and choreographer.

My review of the 2010 national touring production: “In the Heights” is a “Fiddler” for modern America http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_14986331


Cast list:

Tim Olivar

 

Directors: Rogelio Douglas Jr.
Usnavi: Tim Olivar
Abuela Claudia: Deb Farwell
Vanessa: Alyssa Chiarello
Nina Rosario: Alyssa V. Gomez
Benny: Steven Charles
Sonny: Ryan Hazelbaker
Daniela: Ryane Studivant
Carla: Jodi Watson
Kevin Rosario: Alexander Casasnovas
Camila Rosario: Jasmine Romero
Piragua Guy: Hector Flores, Jr.
Graffiti Pete: DeVon Buchanan
Female Ensemble: Cassidy Cousineau, Jessica Guerrero
Male Ensemble: Chasdan Mike, Darius Robinson, Ryan Alvarado

Where: 3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins

Performance times: 7:15 p.m. select Thursdays through Saturdays; 1:15 p.m. Sundays (dinner service 90 minutes before).

Tickets: Starting at $49 (more for dessert, drinks and menu upgrades)

Contact: 970-225-2555 or midtown’s home page

Additional comments: ‘In The Heights’ is a beautiful piece of theater that speaks to generations of Americans. Coming from a Cuban family, this show has a special place in my heart and is dedicated to my grandmother, Abuela Regina.” Actor Tim Olivar

‘In the Heights is the next chapter in the story of the American family. It’s timely considering the ever-present immigration debate. The themes of hope, change, and the struggles of the middle class that frame this election season play out in this energetic, positive and powerful state premiere.” Artistic director Kurt Terrio

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 


Fall 2012, No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”

“The Giver” opens Oct. 4 at the Denver Center’s Ricketson Theatre.

 

By John Moore

When: Oct. 4-Nov. 18 (opens in previews Sept. 28)

Written by:  Lois Lowry, adapted by Eric Coble

The story:  Lowry’s beloved and oft-challenged dystopian children’s novel comes to the stage in a new version by Coble, whose “Bright Ideas” and “The Dead Guy” have been staged at Curious Theatre.  The story follows a boy named Jonas through the 12th year of his life. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness,” a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of “Receiver of Memory,” the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. When Jonas meets the previous receiver — The “Giver” — he discovers the power of knowledge. The people in his community are happy because they do not know of a better life, but the knowledge of what they are missing out on could create major chaos. He faces a dilemma: Should he stay with the community, his family living a shallow life without love, color, choices, and knowledge  — or should he run away to where he can live a full life?

Why it made the list:  Though the novel sold 5.3 million copies and is read by many middle schools,  it also made the American Library Association’s  list of the most-challenged books of the 1990s. I’m excited by this being the first Denver Center Theatre Company production to be made up of an all-local cast since I don’t know when. Billie McBride, Diana Dresser and Timothy McCracken are among those joining DCTC veteran Philip Pleasants in the title role. Young Alistair Hennessy starred in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 “The Little Prince.”


Cast list:

Philip Pleasants

 

Director: Christy Montour-Larson

The cast:

Father Timothy McCracken
Mother Diana Dresser
Lily: Aliza Fassett and Amelia Modesitt
Jonas: Jackson Garske and Alistair Hennessy
Asher: Gabe Koskinen-Sansone and Evan Sullivan
Fiona: Brynn Gauthier and Isabel Sabbah
Chief Elder: Billie McBride
The Giver: Philip Pleasants

Where: Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets

Performance times: 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.

Tickets:  $37-$47 (previews $27-$37)

Contact: 303-893-4100 or the denver center’s home page

 

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

 

Fall 2012, No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”

From left, the women of Local’s “Elijah: An Adventure”: Rachel Fowler, Leah Watson, Mare Trevathan, Lauren Dennis and Barbra Andrews. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

 

 

By John Moore

When: Sept. 21-Oct. 7 (previews Sept. 19-20)

Written by: Michael Mitnick

The story: “Elijah: An Adventure” is Mitnick’s 16-character, multimedia, epic romp about a broke piano student from Brooklyn who becomes an accidental Don Juan in 1920s Paris. This is a story fit for most audiences, but particularly those caught up in the rush of the American life.

Why it made the list: The company, and the playwright, are young and on the rise. Mitnick may look like he just stepped off the set of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” but he’s already established himself as one of the most successful new playwrights in the nation. He’s writing the much-anticipated book for the upcoming Broadway musical “Animal House: The Musical” (featuring music by Bare Naked Ladies); and his new play “Ed, Downloaded” will get its world premiere at the Denver Center Theatre Company in January 2013. And he’s a nice guy. Everybody wins.

Cast list:

Benjamin Bonenfant


Director: Pesha Rudnick

Benjamin Bonenfant: Elijah
Barbra Andrews: Helen Roux
Matthew Blood-Smyth: Nicholas Stoughton
Lauren Dennis: Rivka Feinberg/Telegrapher
Rachel Fowler: Elisa Broussard
Chris Kendall: Father/Georges Deruet
Mare Trevathan: Frieda Hoch/Piano Teacher
Leah Watson: Zoe Benoit/Sarah
Stephen Weitz: Otto Hoch/Tailor

 

Where: Carsen Theater at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder

Performances:  7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays

Tickets: $25 at the door; $22 for tickets purchased in advance, or $18 for tickets bought in advance by students or members of the Colorado Theatre Guild

Contact:  303-440-7826, or thedairy.org

 

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

Fall 2012, No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”

Jose Zuniga and Paul Page in “The Cider House Rules,” playing in two parts on alternating nights at Vintage Theatre. Photo by Ellen Nelson.

 

By John Moore

When: Sept. 7-30

Conceived by: Tom Hulce, Jane Jones and Peter Parnell.

Written by: Pete Parnell, adapted from the novel by John Irving.

The story: “The Cider House Rules” is a two-part stage adaptation of the John Irving novel. Spanning eight decades of American life, it tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch, founder of the St. Cloud’s, Maine, orphanage and hospital, and of the complex father-son relationship he develops with the young orphan Homer Wells. In Part One (“Here in St. Clouds”), Homer is born at the orphanage and returned so many times by so many foster families that he becomes the “boy who belonged to St. Cloud’s.” His medical education begins when he finds out that Dr. Larch saves not only babies, but mothers, too — by performing illegal abortions when necessary. Homer becomes Larch’s brilliant medical apprentice, but the arrival of the handsome Wally Worthington and his beautiful girlfriend, Candy Kendall, sets Homer’s mind and heart spinning. In Part Two (“In Other Parts of the World”), Homer leaves St. Cloud’s to experience the world beyond the orphanage. Dr. Larch discovers that life’s joys and sorrows are neither black nor white, and the choices we make determine whether or not we become “the hero of our own lives.” Warning: Strong sexual language and adult situations.

Why it made the list:  This massive creative undertaking has never been taken on before by any Colorado theater company. And the presentation of both parts in alternating fashion will mark the first stagings in Vintage’s new 40-seat studio theater. This expansion of programming is hoped to help establish Vintage as a true performing-arts complex, like the neighboring Aurora Fox.

 


Cast list:

Paul Page

 

Director: Sheri Davis

The cast:
Paul Page: Dr. Wilbur Larch
Jose Zuniga: Homer Wells
Eric Wahlberg: Wally and Young Larch
Linda Swanson Brown: Candy
Sonsharae Tull: Rose Rose
Kelly Reeves: Melony
Anne Smith Myers: Nurse Angela
Julie Kaye Wolf: Nurse Edna
Amy Michelle Collins: Billy Winkle, ensemble
Jacqueline Garcia: Mrs. Eames, ensemble
Tim Johnson: Mr. Rose, ensemble
Stephanie Schmidt: Eames, ensemble
Chip Winn Wells: Mrs. Grogan, ensemble
Linnea Scott: Orphan, Fuzzy Stone
Skye Bach-Davis: Orphan
Alexa M. Downing: Orphan
Kameron Warnecke: Orphan
Brad Wagner: Angel, ensemble
John Barnes: Ensemble

Where (note new address): 1468 Dayton St., Aurora

Part One performance times: 7:30 p.m. Sept 7-8; 2:30 p.m.  Sept. 9. Also 2:30 p.m. Sept. 15-16, 22-23 and 29-30

Part Two performance times: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15-16, 22-23, 29-30

Tickets: $25 on Fridays and Saturdays; $21 on Sundays ($18 and $20 if bought in advance)

Contact:  303-856-7830 or vintage’s home page

 

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

Fall 2012, No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”

Two-time Henry Award-winning best actress Megan Van De Hey makes her Miners Alley Playhouse debut in “The Three Penny Opera.”

 

By John Moore

When: Sept. 7-Oct. 21

Written by: Bertolt Brecht, music composed by Kurt Weill

The story: Brecht’s milestone musical is a biting satire of the post-war rise of capitalism, wrapped up in Weill’s jazzy score and the tale of Macheath (Mack the Knife), a debonair crime lord on the verge of turning his illegal empire into a legitimate business.  When Macheath marries Polly Peachum, her father (Jonathan Peachum) is greatly angered.  He controls the beggars of London, and he strives to get Macheath hanged.  Peachum exerts considerable political influence, and eventually Macheath is arrested and imprisoned.  At the point of execution, in an unrestrained parody of a happy ending, a hard-riding messenger from the Queen dramatically arrives at the last minute, and Macheath is both pardoned, and elevated to the title of Baron.

Why it made the list:  Miners Alley Playhouse, which isn’t known for musicals, is branching out by taking on a difficult piece in an election year. And by landing Megan Van De Hey, winner of the past two Henry Awards for best actress in a musical, it’s not messing around. It’s worth noting that director El Armstrong has cast three members of the local handicapped theater group PHAMALy (Lyndsay Palmer, Daniel Traylor and Briana Berthiau). Not for any poltical or creative point — only because they have killer singing voices.


Cast list:

Richard Cowden

 

Director: El Armstrong

The cast:
Briana Berthiau
Erica Lyn Cain
Richard Cowden
Don DeVeux
Rob Gale
C.J. Garbo
Kris Graves
Dana Hart Lubeck
Verl Hite
T.J. Hogle
Michael Ingram
Lisa Morse-Moore
Lyndsay Palmer
Juliette Petersen
Daniel Traylor
Megan Van De Hey

Where: 1224 Washington St., Golden

Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays (except for the closing matinee on Oct. 21, which begins at 2 p.m.)

Tickets: $30.50-$34.50; senior, student and group rates available

Contact: 303-935-3044 or map’s home page

 

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

 

Fall 2012, No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”

Kate Wenner

 

By John Moore

When: Sept. 13-23

Written by: Kate Wenner

The story: Set in a university brain trauma clinic, five vets injured in IED explosions in Iraq confront the truth that their lives will never be the same again. Josephine Fitch, the passionate, tough-minded doctor treating them, decides to expose the Pentagon’s indifference to the epidemic of brain injuries that she believes will turn out to be the Agent Orange of the Iraq War.

Why it made the list: This will be a workshop production of a new work by an award-winning news producer of ABC’s “20/20,” who began her research for the play at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. But why this play? In an era of a voluntary military, our civilian and military communities are separated as never before by a huge divide in experience and understanding. This will also be be the FAC Theatre Company’s first offering in its new studio theater space. “This is the perfect play to initiate our second-stage series,” said producing artistic director Scott RC Levy. “The piece is topical and connected to our community. I look forward to workshopping it and getting valuable feedback from our audiences, which will help Kate continue to develop the work.”

Cast list:

Jason Lythgoe

 

Dr. Jo Fitch: (University brain-trauma specialist): Ashley Crockett
Marine Lance Corporal Kevin Daniels: Jason Lythgoe
Sue Daniels (Kevin’s mother): Sallie Walker
Army Staff Sgt. Mike Ames: Emory Collinson
Sandy Ames  (Mike’s wife): Jen Lennon
Army Staff Sgt. Mano Rodriguez: Hossein Forouzandeh
Angel Rodriguez (Mano’s wife): Christine Vitale
Lt.  Colonel  Banks (Department of Defense): Mark Cannon
Army Staff Sergeant Annie Nichols: Marisa Hebert
Navy Corpsman Jackson Cantrell: Chris Medina


Where:
FAC Music Room in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St., 719-634-5583 or the fac’s home page

Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays.

Prices: $15

Contact: 719-634-5583 or the fac’s home page

 

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

 

Fall 2012, No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center

Caitlin Wise and Steven Cole Hughes in Creede Repertory Theatre’s “Is He Dead?” Photo by John Gary Brown

 

By John Moore

When: Oct. 2-28 (previews Sept. 28-30)

Written by: Mark Twain, adapted by David Ives

The story: In this newly discovered Mark Twain comedy (and recent Broadway hit), the original master of American humor dishes out a sly critique of the art world with acerbic wit and social commentary well ahead of his time. Cleverly adapted for modern audiences by David Ives, “Is He Dead?” is a fast-paced farce about a struggling artist who stages his own death to drive up the price of his paintings. As the riotous scheme unfolds, Twain poses daring questions about fame, greed and the value of art, and pokes his signature, mischievous fun at everyone involved.

Why it made the list:  A “new” play from Mark Twain? Bring it. Plus, it’s another chance for Denver audiences to see old favorites like John Arp and Steven Cole Hughes, with other actors who help make the Creede Rep, located 250 miles southwest of Denver, one of the state’s best theater companies. This is Creede’s third straight fall to bring one of its summer productions to the metro area. It’s a fine tradition. And if you just can’t wait till October, you can still see it performed in Creede through Sept. 20 (719-658-2540 or 1-866-658-2540).


Cast list:

Director: Michael Perlman
Agamemnon Buckner (“Chicago”): Tosin Morohunfola
Hans Von Bismark (“Dutchy”): Patrick Du Laney
Marie Leroux: Caitlin Wise
Cecile Leroux: Adrian Egolf
Papa Leroux: John S. Green
Jean-Francois Millet: Steven Cole Hughes
Bastien Andre: John Arp
Madame Bathilde: Annie Butler
Madame Caron: Christy Brandt
Phelim O’Shaughnessy: Chad Afanador
Basil Thorpe/Claude Riviere/Charlie/King: Graham Ward

Where: Arvada Center studio theater, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.

Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, also 1 p.m. Wednesdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays (no Saturday matinee on Sept. 29)

Prices: $42-48

Contact: 720-898-7200 or the arvada center’s home page

 

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

 

Fall 2012, No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Roger Simon, Lisa Rosenhagen and Dave Ufford in Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names.” Photo by Michael Ensminger.

 

By John Moore

When: Sept. 8-Oct. 14

Written by: Jeffrey Sweet

The story: A drama about an aging actor, Benny, who was blacklisted during the 1950s and was unable to find employment for years before finding success in television.  His actress daughter, Norma, is cast in a play directed by his old friend who testified against him before the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Now Norma wonders whether the two can reconcile.

Why it made the list:  According to playwright Jeffrey Sweet: “The play keeps getting done because the blacklist keeps mutating and re-inventing itself in every political era, so the story stays relevant.” As for the name of the theater company, “Or” is the Hebrew word for “light.”


Cast list:

Roger Simon

Director: Richard H. Pegg
Roger Simon as Benny
Lisa Rosenhagen as Norma
Dave Ufford as Leo

Where: At the Pluss Theater in the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver

Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays (half-price preview 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6; no performances Sept. 16 or 27)

Prices: $20-25

Contact: 303-316-6360 or www.maccjcc.org

 

The Fall 2012 theater preview countdown:

No. 1: Curious Theatre’s “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
No. 2: Ben Dicke Presents’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”
No. 3: Abster Productions’ “August: Osage County”
No. 4: Midtown Arts Center’s “In the Heights”
No. 5: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Giver”
No. 6: Local Theater Company’s “Elijah: An Adventure”
No. 7: Vintage Theatre’s “The Cider House Rules”
No. 8: Miners Alley Playhouse’s “The Three Penny Opera”
No. 9: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s “Make Sure It’s Me”
No 10: Creede Rep’s “Is He Dead?” at the Arvada Center
No. 11: Theatre Or’s “The Value of Names”

Among the many other shows to watch:

Sept. 1-16, 2012: Ami Dayan Presents “A Happy End,” at Buntport Theater Read my interview with playwright Iddo Netanyahu
Sept. 4-16, 2012: National touring production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” at the Buell Theatre
Sept. 7-Nov. 3, 2012: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
Sept. 7-22, 2012: Germinal Stage-Denver’s “A Kind of Alaska”
Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012: Spark Theater’s “Rebecca” (note new address: 985 Santa Fe Drive)
Sept. 11-30, 2012: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (and Oct. 4-14 at the Lone Tree Arts Center)
Sept. 13-16, 2012: PACE Center’s “Scarlet Letter, The Musical” (Parker)
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Town Hall Arts Center’s “Sweet Charity” (Littleton)
Sept. 14-Nov. 10, 2012: The Avenue’s “Murder Most Fowl”
Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2012: Ashton Entertainment’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” at the Aurora Fox
Sept. 15-Oct. 14, 2012: Bas Bleu’s “The Love of the Nightingale” (Fort Collins)
Sept. 20-Oct. 14, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” (Space Theatre
Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2012: The Edge’s “Boom” (Lakewood)
Sept. 27-Oct 21, 2012: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers” (Stage Theatre)
Oct. 2-24, 2012: And Toto Too’s “Pardon My Dust” (at Laundry on Lawrence)

Complete Denver Post theater listings:

By company

By opening date

Capsules of all currently running productions

 

Iddo Netanyahu: Is there “A Happy End” for our troubled world?

 

Kevin Hart plays an acclaimed Jewish physicist who can’t see the writing on the wall in 1932 Berlin. Photo by John Moore
 

By John Moore

  • When tropical storm Isaac promised to a score a direct hit on Haiti last week, thousands of earthquake victims chose to ride it out in exposed, shanty tents. At least eight people have died.
  • It turns out the Aurora theater gunman made threats months before the July massacre that went unaddressed.
  • When Adolf Hitler became German dictator in 1934, it did not spark an immediate exodus of Jews.

That’s the flawed goodness of human nature, says Iddo Netanyahu. We ignore warning signs — often to our own peril.

“If people tell us there might be some impending disaster, our natural tendency is not to believe it,” said Netanyahu, a doctor, historian, soldier, playwright … and, yes, brother of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Playwright Iddo Netanyahu is in Denver to debut the U.S. premiere of his new play, “A Happy End.” Photo by John Moore

He’s in Denver to stage the U.S. premiere of his ironically titled new play “A Happy End,” the story of a Jewish German couple facing the decision whether to leave Germany in 1932 amid the imminent rise of the Nazi Party. The mother of Netanyahu’s wife did. The minute Hitler took power, Jewish children were no longer allowed to go to school in Germany, so her family left for Switzerland.

But virtually no one else did. And a dozen years layer, the Nazis were responsible for 6 million deaths.

“The fact is that even up to 1939 — we’re talking six years after Hitler was elected — only 50 percent of the Jews decided to leave Germany,” Netanyahu said. “They were deluded. They were in love with their lives. They were in love with German society. Remember, this was the first country that had given the Jews full rights. And they could not bear to think, after hundreds of years there, that this country would want not only to expel them, but to liquidate them.”

“A Happy End” might be set 80 years ago, but Netanyahu had no interest in writing a historical play. “I think any playwright’s interest, including Shakespeare, is in his own times,” he said. So it may be impossible for anyone watching Netanyahu’s story not to hear the ominous drumbeats currently percussing around the world. The U.S. economy still teeters on a cliff. A nuclear Iran is threatening to erase Israel from the map. Netanyahu’s brother has warned in response: “Time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out.”

The idea that we live in a safe world is becoming more and more absurd by the day. We hope for the best, and yet we do nothing.

Who’s missing the signs in 2012? That’s up to individual playgoers, Netanyahu said. When “A Happy End” was performed in Israel, he said, “two of the actors were thinking the danger was from the leader of a certain right-wing party … and it’s not my brother.” To Americans, it might be the economy fully collapsing. To Netanyahu, there is no question. “In Israel, the danger is the Iranian bomb,” he said. “Are you going to wait until they have a bomb or are you going to bomb them and take the chance that you might not succeed? That is an unbelievably hard decision to make. Thank God it has to be made not by me. It has to be made by other people.”

Meaning his brother.

 

It can be intimidating to meet a Netanyahu. Especially when you are an actor who is asked to audition long-distance via Skype. And he will be your scene partner. Oh, and he’s playing your female lover.

“That was my first conversation with the brother of a world leader,” joked “A Happy End” actor James O’Hagan-Murphy, who plays a man having an extramarital affair with the wife of a celebrated German atomic physicist in “A Happy End,” opening Sept. 1 at the Buntport Theater in Denver. But Netanyahu made him feel at ease.

“He’s very down to earth and has a great sense of humor,” O’Hagan-Murphy said. “The other night we discussed ‘Angels in America.’ He wasn’t familiar with the plot, and I described my character as a closeted, married gay Mormon lawyer. He replied, ‘Oh, and then he runs for president against Obama?’ ”

Netanyahu says he lives a surprisingly ordinary life divided between Israel and the United States, where he is a radiologist when he wants to be, and a playwright when he needs to be.

Netanyahu spent his final year of high school here and graduated from Denver South while his father was a history professor at Denver University. “I had spent the previous two years on my own in Israel, but for my final year of high school, I decided to be with my parents,” he said.

Being the brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, who was Israel’s prime minister from 1996-99 and again starting in 2009, “strangely doesn’t affect me very much,” he said. “It might affect me more as an artist in terms of whether people want to read what I have written or not because of who I am.”

Acclaimed Czech actress Zuzana Stivinova stars as an avid consumer of Berlin’s rich cultural life in “A Happy End.”

He submitted “A Happy End” to a major theater company in Tel Aviv anonymously. “They accepted it without knowing who wrote it,” he said, “and to their credit, when they found out who did, they went ahead and staged it.”

Unlike his brother, Iddo is listed in the Israeli phone book, and he takes a phone call or two each month from random people complaining or wanting certain things. He spends time with his brother, he said, “but, look: He’s basically a prisoner with bodyguards,” and he has been ever since the 1995 assassination of Benjamin’s predecessor, Yitzhak Rabin.

“Every year it becomes worse and worse. Obviously you can’t go out on the town. So we sit, and we talk … and that’s about it.”

There was one other Netanyahu brother … Yonatan, or Yoni. He was the eldest son of Zila and Benzion Netanyahu, who was a prominent Israeli historian and taught at Cornell University, where Iddo and Benjamin attended. Yoni was a celebrated poet and soldier who died a national hero during Operation Entebbe, the 1976 counter-hostage rescue mission that freed more than 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers of an Air France flight overtaken by a Palestinian terrorist group.

Yoni (Jonathan) led the 29-man assault on the terminal where the hostages were being held, and he was the only Israeli soldier killed in action.

Military service is compulsory in Israel, and the Netanyahus were no exceptions. Benjamin fought on the front lines in the Yom Kippur War. Iddo left Cornell to fight in the same war in 1973. He was a member of a special commando unit that was dispatched to rescue a group of paratroopers who became stranded on a high, snowy mountain peak on what is now the border between Syria and Israel.

“We knew how to navigate in the snow, and we knew the terrain, so we were sent to rescue them,” Netanyahu said. “But believe it or not, on the way, one of us froze to death.” Netanyahu’s first short story was a cathartic attempt to come to grips with that trauma.

His first book was an attempt to answer lingering, troubling questions about brother Yoni’s death at Entebbe. Yoni, 30, already had become a local legend because of a book of poems and personal letters he had written late at night by candlelight while serving in the military. Author Herman Wouk (“War and Remembrance”) called Yoni’s writings “one of the great documents of our time.” Yoni’s funeral was televised, sealing his eternal place as a national symbol of Israel.

According to the official account of the operation, Yoni was accidentally shot by an airport sniper. “That was based on the testimony that a single officer gave, and it was pure fiction,” Netanyahu said. In 1976, the very idea that either an enemy or friendly bullet could have torn the young heart of one of Israel’s finest sons was simply unacceptable. So a lie was constructed. Ten years later, Iddo started to hear things that did not fit with the official version of events, and he set out to learn the truth. Why?

“Because it’s a philosophical question,” he said. “There is truth, and there is objective truth. I’m not a believer in postmodernism. Bereaved people always want to know the exact truth. They don’t want to hide from it.  When you have a brother that you loved who died, whether for good or for bad, you want to know what happened.”

But is there a difference between wanting to know the truth, and wanting the truth to be known?

“Look, you might find it strange coming from a brother but … it was not a matter of, ‘Is he a hero?’ ‘Is he not a hero?’ I was old enough to understand this famous Americans saying : ‘You can’t beat a dead hero.’ ”

Netanyahu soon discovered that, in the years following Yoni’s death, no other members of the secret unit his brother led that day had talked openly about the raid. And no one from the media, military or government had come asking.

“No one,” he said.

Netanyahu did, setting off an avalanche of new information – and controversy. He published 800 pages of testimonies taken over 10 years that easily disproved the sniper theory. He offers instead full arguments for both enemy and friendly fire. But does it really matter?

“No, that’s not the issue to me,” he said. “The issue to me was documenting what really transpired during the raid.  Being in medical school for six years, you come to appreciate trying to sort out facts from fiction. My goal was to describe the facts as well as you can. Raise conjectures. Did it do me good, this kind of analysis? I think so. I think so.”

 

Playwright and director Ami Dayan, who grew up on a secular kibbutz in Israel and found his way to Boulder pretty much through yoga, admits, “it was odd at first to envision a substantial artistic collaboration” with Iddo Netanyahu, given that Dayan is from the far left of the Israeli political spectrum. “But when we met,” Dayan said, “common tastes and artistic preferences quickly came to the forefront.”

Together they have staged “A Happy End” in Italy, Germany, Tel Aviv, and soon in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.  In Denver, the play will star acclaimed Czech actress Zuzana Stivínová and veteran Denver actor Kevin Hart.

Netanyahu could have chosen a dozen times and places in history to set his story, but he chose the Holocaust “because everybody in the world knows what their choice should be,” he said. “We are all sitting there in the audience rooting for them to make the choice of leaving Germany — otherwise they will find themselves in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”

None of us can predict the future, but sometimes the obvious thing should be obvious, and you have to look reality in the face, Netanyahu said.

“But sometimes what is obvious is not so easy to decipher. We really are captives of our beliefs. We have a hard time accepting reality when they clash.”

The married couple in his play are not foreigners. They grew up in Berlin, and they are Jewish. Should they have known better? “A lot of this play has to do with how Jews see their place in society — and how do they want society to look at them?” Netanyahu said.

But he adds flatly,  “A Happy End” is not a story for Jewish audiences alone.

“If I wrote a play that is only for Jewish people, then I failed as a playwright,” Netanyahu said. He believes it is a story for anyone facing an uncertain future.

“The world is in turmoil, and you don’t know where it’s going,” he said. “American power is in decline, and other economic forces are emerging. There are times when you dread to think what will happen. We all like to think that the world is getting better, and we’re advancing. We like to think that the world is a calm place, basically, and we like to think that life, as it is, will last forever. Well, it won’t.

“But you cannot live without hope. You have to live with a certain amount of delusion. And that’s the great paradox of human existence. That’s what I’m showing in the play.”

Benjamin Netanyahu has read “A Happy End,” but he has not seen it in any of its live iterations. “As the prime minister of Israel — no, he can’t attend public performances,” Iddo said. “It’s just not doable.”

Well, he could come and safely see it here in Denver.

“Maybe,” Netanyahu said with a laugh. “Who knows? Maybe he will.”

———————————————-

Contact John Moore at 303-953-9907 or moore433@comcast.net

———————————————-

“A Happy End”

  • Sept. 1-16 (previews Aug. 30-31)
  • At Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St., Denver.
  • 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays.
  • Tickets: $25 ($18 Aug. 30-31); seniors and students $15.
  • 720-289-6451 or ahappyend.com

Cast:

  • Zuzana Stivinova
  • Kevin Hart
  • James O’Hagan-Murphy
  • Mary Cates
  • Evan Duggan
  • Heather Taylor

 

Is “The Book of Mormon” a treatise on atheism?

Gavin Creel as Elder Price in the national touring production of “The Book of Mormon,” now playing through Sept. 2 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2012

 


Spoiler alert. The following essay examines what the ending of “The Book of Mormon” (the musical!), might really advocate. It talks about what happens in the final 10 seconds, so if you don’t already know, or you don’t want to know, then don’t read it (even though it’s given away on the cast recording!):

By John Moore

People who haven’t seen “The Book of Mormon” often presume, wrongly — but for understandable reasons — that the very funny new musical is a mean-spirited attack on Mormonism, perhaps the strangest and least understood among all Christian denominations.

Once they have seen it, they know this is a surprisingly traditional musical — well, for one that includes a “Little Mermaid” riff that cheerfully admonishes God, “(Bleep) you, in the (bleep), mouth and (bleep).”

But for all the gentle fun it pokes at fundamental tenets of the Mormon religion, the musical is really not an affront to Mormonism. It is instead a pointed spoof on religious literalism of any kind. It is a witty, heartfelt testament to anyone who has undergone a crisis in faith, and come out stronger for it.

Or is there more to it than that?

By the end, the story’s affable young Mormon Elders have tickled our sensibilities to such an adorable degree that you might not think too much on the very last line of the night … which, upon further review, just might be the most subversive line in a musical that’s filled with them.

Forget Mormons: Do writers Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Bobby Lopez have a much larger target in mind? Because that last line sounds a lot like an advocation of atheism. And if it is, this precocious little musical might be a whole lot more subversive than any of us have ever really given it credit for. Because it’s one thing to pick on Mormons. When you start talking atheism in America, there are a whole lot more hornets in the nest.

A recent Gallup poll found that 18 percent of all Americans say they would never vote for any Mormon for president, but a whopping 54 percent say they would never vote for any atheist. Talk about a hornet’s nest.

But is that what becomes of our two teen protagonists in “The Book of Mormon”? Let’s consider what happens:

(Last chance spoiler alert)

In the play, Utah teens Kevin Price and Arnold Cunningham are sent to Uganda for their two-year missions, where their primary charge is to baptize as many Africans into the faith as they can. To date, the Mormon branch has converted exactly zero in this  drought-, disease- and war-ravaged land where God seems remarkably absent. But Elder Cunningham, a portly teen with a penchant for making things up when he’s nervous, proves to be a wiz at winning over the natives — even though he’s never actually read the eponymous “Book of Mormon” (the New Testament sequel that Joseph Smith dug up from his upstate New York backyard in 1823).

Jared Gertner as Elder Cunningham in the national touring production of “The Book of Mormon,” now playing through Sept. 2 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2012

 

That’s because young Cunningham makes (bleep) up as he goes along, changing sacred Biblical stories and updating their messages with modern pop-culture references that give relatable relevance to Africans suffering from AIDS, dysentery and starvation under a warlord who orders that all woman’s genitalia must be mutilated. Some believe the organ that brings sexual pleasure to women is the root cause of AIDS. Others believe the cure for the plague is having sex with a virgin, even if that virgin is a baby. This is not the writers’ envelope-pushing creative license; this is present-day African reality.

So you can understand why the dusty pages of a strange and foreign scripture would have no urgency to these Ugandans. That is, until Elder Cunningham offers a desperate, embellished variation of the sacred story, one that  promises God’s wrath against anyone who commits genital mutilation or has sex with babies. And he uses  characters from “Lord of the Rings” and other pop-culture standards like “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” to spice the story up.

It’s hilarious stuff. But while Arnold’s story gets through to the natives and offers them hope for eventual delivery from their daily miseries, it also gets the Ugandan chapter shut down by Mormon leaders. The missionaries are, in effect, exiled. But while Elder Price still considers himself a Latter-Day Saint, his epiphany comes when he realizes it’s OK to change some things, and it’s OK to break the rules. “Even though we have complete doubt that God exists,” he says, “we can all still work together and make this our paradise planet.” Not exactly Mormon doctrine.

And that’s what they do: They commit to a new Ugandan mission focused on service. In the very funny final scene, the missionaries and the villagers alike come together for a new kind of door-to-door evangelism. But the book they are selling is (and here’s the spoiler) … “The Book of Arnold.” Take that and your golden plates, too, Joseph Smith.

In the end, Mormonism has been not just been gently tickled — it’s been pretty much repudiated. It’s out, replaced by a hip but clearly invented fable advocating a patently made-up god. And the idea of these boys embracing a self-created God? That’s … a whole lot more radical than just poking fun at Mormons.

But that’s nothing new. By embracing a hybrid, new-and-improved kind of Mormonism, these young missionaries are just following the historical evolution of Christianity.  For thousands of years, Christian faiths have splintered and mutated for the same reasons these boys splinter off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Rebels didn’t like one aspect or other of the Catholic church — a belief in the absolute authority of the Pope, say, or differences of opinion on how man can attain salvation, and voila … we have the Protestant Reformation, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Episcopalians and so on.

(Note: Here’s a helpful interjection on this point from my childhood friend Matt Miller, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Sioux City, Iowa:)

First, if you’re charting the splintering evolution of the larger Christian church, the first comes with the Great Schism between East and West, Constantinople’s rivalry with Rome for primacy. Second, Luther and Calvin ARE the Protestant Reformation (no one outside the academy really talks about Zwingli, but he was in there too) … at least they started it. Luther mostly, who influenced Calvin. And you have to know that the Anglican church started as a power grab – Henry didn’t like the Pope. Their official story is that they are the “middle way” between Luther/Calvin and Rome. The interesting parallel to me from what you’ve written is that one of the hallmarks of the Reformation was the way in which the printing press made it possible for Christians to read the Bible (if they were literate) in their native tongue. Before that, most Christians were like Elder Cunningham – they had never read their own book. And of course the most recent evolution of Christianity is the rise of the Pentacostal movement. Phyllis Tickle posed a theory along these lines in her book “The Great Emergence,” about how every 500 years the church has a rummage sale.

The point is, we modify. We embellish. We tailor. And we have been bending sacred scriptures to suit our own purposes for centuries. When I was young, we were called “Salad Bar Catholics.” And we aren’t as welcome by the home base as we once were.

After now having seen “The Book of Mormon” three times — once on Broadway and twice since the first national touring production recently launched in Denver — I now can say that I know only these four things to be true:

  • The clitoris, as is often posited in “The Book of Mormon” (the musical, is a holy, sacred thing.
  • This is the funniest new musical of this century.
  • This national touring production isn’t even attempting to mask how much the lead actor, Gavin Creel, looks like a 19-year-old Mitt Romney, and …
  • I think this might really be a musical about atheism, after all.

Contact John Moore at 303-953-9907 or moore433@comcast.net

 

Previous “Book of Mormon” coverage:

Could “The Book of Mormon” determine your next president?

Broadway review: “Book of Mormon” place in history set in stone tablets

Is “The Book of Mormon” a treatise on atheism?

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

How Colorado’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone became the kings of pop-culture subversion

Broadway’s Rory O’Malley: On “Book of Mormon,” Turning it Off and Shutting the Closet Door

Follow “The Book of Mormon” on Twitter

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

 

The national touring production of “The Book of Mormon,” now playing through Sept. 2 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2012