Video: Starstuff: Opening night of “Peter and the Starcatcher” in Denver

By John Moore
Aug. 25, 2013

On Aug. 21, Denver hosted the launch of the “Peter and the Starcatcher” national touring production at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, and CultureWest.Org was there to capture the “starstuff” of the evening.

Guests include actors Joey deBettencourt, Megan Stern and John Sanders; Denver TV host Eden Lane; Disney’s Jack Eldon; and “The Kid” director and producer Eli Gonda and Jason Shuman. “Peter” is the the story of the nameless boy who becomes Peter Pan. “The Kid” is the new Joey McIntyre developmental musical opening Aug. 30 at the Galleria Theatre. For information on “Peter” or “The Kid,” please visit www.denvercenter.org. Running time: 5 minutes.

Direct link to the video: http://youtu.be/x25AW2KL9jA

IMG_0431W

Direct link to more photos: http://www.culturewest.org/?p=6953

It should be noted that as of Aug. 19: I am an honest-to-goddness employee ofthe Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I have been hired as Associate Director of Content Strategy, which just means I am bringing my 13-plus years of storytelling about the Colorado theater community to the Denver Center, and still throughout the state.

 

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

 

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

All currently running theater productions

All theater listings by company
All theater listings by opening date

How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

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

Photos: My night at the 2013 Henry Awards

By John Moore
July 27, 2013

My photos from the 2013 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards. To see caption information for any photo above, or to see the gallery if watching on a mobile phone, click here. (The information is posted on the lower-left corner of each photo.) Or just click the “show info” option on any photo.

Additional coverage:

Complete list of nominees
Complete list of eligible shows
Recap: Regional companies make an emphatic bow at 2013 Henry Awards

My video coverage:


My video tribute to Ray Angel, Diane Beckoff, Harry Cruzan, Shana Dowdeswell, Diane Gadomski, Robert Garner, Angela Johnson, David Kristin, Will Marshall, Brook Millard, Adam Perkes and Linda Rae Wheeler. This served as the “memoriam” section of the 2013 Henry Awards celebration held July 22 at the Arvada Center.

 


Members of the local theater community give their shout-outs to this year’s Henry Award nominees. One comes all the way from Poland.

 

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

 

How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

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

News: ‘In Focus With Eden Lane’ leaves the air after May 31

By John Moore
May 26, 2013

Eden Lane with her final guest interview, Garrett Ammon of the new dance company  Wonderbound. Photo courtesy Eden Lane.

Eden Lane with her final guest interview, Garrett Ammon of the new dance company Wonderbound. Photo courtesy Eden Lane.

The season finale of the weekly arts TV program “In Focus with Eden Lane” will air at 7 p.m. Friday on Colorado Public Television Channel 12.

In all likelihood, it will be the series finale as well.

Lane has broadcast an original half hour of  local arts and culture coverage every week, virtually without interruption, for five years. But her self-produced labor of love, now totaling 156 episodes, has run out of sponsorship — and money.

The show actually ran out of money on April 5. Lane and her husband, cameraman Don Gassaway, have spent about $7,000 of their own money to produce the final seven episodes of Season 5, “just because we didn’t want to it to end that way,” Lane said.

Ironically, episode 156 will focus on funding arts organizations, and the economic impact they have on the communities they serve. Lane will announce the three local winners of 2013 Artplace America grants, totaling $650,000.

One of them is Wonderbound, the new incarnation of Ballet Nouveau Colorado dance company. Its goal is to obliterate boundaries between artistic mediums to uncover new possibilities in artistic expression. Lane visits with co-founders Garrett Ammon and Dawn Fae.

“In Focus with Eden Lane” has introduced viewers to hundreds of local and visiting artists, actors, dancers, writers and artistic leaders. It has always ranked among Channel 12’s highest-rated original programs, but Lane gets no financial support from Colorado Public Television to produce it.

The show’s future was at risk back in September when it lost its only sponsor, a local Go Chevrolet dealership. But Delta Dental Colorado came to the rescue, and viewers helped by kicking in $3,500 through a fundraising website. That allowed Season 5 to happen.

The upcoming break is officially being called “a hiatus” — the first in the show’s history, dating to 2009. “But the show is severely at risk,” Lane said, especially after efforts this week to establish a direct fiscal relationship between the show and the station failed to be realized.

Lane is encouraging viewers to express their support for the show by contacting the station directly at (303) 296-1212, or by writing:

Colorado Public Television
2900 Welton St., 1st Floor
Denver, CO 80205

Anyone wishing to make a direct, tax-deductible donation is encouraged to do so by clicking here.

If the show does not return to Channel 12, Lane says it could possibly come back as a leaner, web-based program, depending on levels of public interest and support.

“In five years, we have been able to shine a light on artists who are celebrities, and many artists who are not yet as celebrated, but should be,” Lane said. “We’ve introduced Coloradans to the amazing, diverse, vibrant work that is being done here in Colorado, and even broadcast it across the nation and to other countries through our web site.

“I’m grateful that Colorado Public Television and director of programming Brad Haug took a chance on us, and elevated our work to a prime-time weekly broadcast long before other big-budget programs with higher production values have started to do so as well.”

Lane has received much national media attention in the past year, all stemming from an interview she did with me for The Denver Post in September discussing her status as the first transgender journalist on mainstream TV in America. But the reason local arts aficionados have so warmly embraced Lane over the past five years has had nothing to do with her gender identity. Rather, her dogged, consistent commitment to her coverage, and for the personal and knowledgeable approach she takes to her profiles. That has been informed by her own theater and dance achievements, including appearances in several Broadway shows.

Support Eden Lane

You can make a direct, tax-deductible donation to support future episodes of “In Focus With Eden Lane” by clicking here.

Watch “In Focus With Eden Lane”

Watch the video of my most recent interview with Eden Lane, which aired on her program May 13:

Bobby G’s: Denver Center joins national awards program honoring high-school theater

Fairview High School's 2011 production of "All Shook Up."

Fairview High School’s 2011 production of “All Shook Up.”

 

By John Moore
Feb. 26, 2013

Robert Garner

Robert Garner

Denver Center Attractions has embarked on a major, ongoing commitment to honoring the best in Colorado high-school musical theater by joining up with the National High School Musical Theater Awards program based out of New York.

A team of local expert adjudicators is already scouring productions being staged this semester by more than 20 participating public and private high schools in the metro area. The highest score recipients will receive the first-ever Bobby G Awards, named after pioneering local theater producer Robert Garner, who died last year. The parent national awards program is known as “The Jimmys,” after Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander.

The categories will be patterned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, with honors going to best actors, actresses, directors, student designers and many more. The nominees will be announced in early May, and the winners at a gala awards ceremony May 30 that will include performances by all the nominated “best productions.” The students named outstanding actor and actress by the Bobby G’s will then move on to the Jimmys — otherwise known as the NHSMTAs (whew!), a week-long awards program that runs from June 26 through July 2 in New York. In all, more than 50,000 high-school students participate in the national awards program each year.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts president Randy Weeks said the Bobby G’s are a fitting way of honoring Garner, who founded what later became Denver Center Attractions (the Denver Center’s Broadway division).

“Sending two kids to New York for excellence in musical theater?” Weeks said, “I mean, how much would he have loved that?”

Normally, a newly added region must be phased in for one year before its winners advance to nationals. But Denver is being fast-tracked, Weeks said, in part because of the credibility that the Denver Center brings to its regional program. That is thanks in part, Weeks said, to local actor David Cates, who brought the idea to him when he moved here from California. Cates, one half of the “He Said/She Said” local theater critics team, had been a judge in California’s awards program, and proposed its expansion into Colorado via Denver Center Attractions. Weeks since has hired Cates on a contract basis to administer the awards locally.

David Cates

David Cates


“He has direct experience managing one of these programs,” Weeks said, “so he brings us right up to speed with everyone else relatively quickly.”

The launch of the Bobby G’s dovetails nicely with Denver Center Theatre Company artistic director Kent Thompson’s new playwriting program that he is bringing into area high schools. “This is all coming together rather nicely,” Weeks said. “We are doing what we are supposed to be doing: Promoting and exposing the high-school kids to theater.”

The first round of Bobby G adjudicators are made up of a wide variety of professional theater artists, including Weeks himself, as well as acclaimed area actors Nick Sugar, Barbra Andrews, Michael Stricker, Scott Rathbun, Matt LaFontaine and Thadd Krueger; Channel 12 arts host Eden Lane (“In Focus with Eden Lane”); the “He Said/She Said” team of David Cates and Kateri McRae; Northglenn Youth Theatre director Kim Jongejan; and myself (founder of the arts web site CultureWest.Org, former theater critic at The Denver Post and creator of a lamented web site dedicated to all things Colorado high-school theater called “Standing O”).

“With the arts in schools receiving less and less funding, the Bobby G’s can only help encourage those amazing students who are doing the extra work it takes to participate in the performing arts,” said Lane, who wishes there had been a similar program when she was in high school. “In my day, a program like this certainly would have solidified the idea in my mind that this can be more than a hobby — that you can have a career in the performing arts.”

That the new program is being administered by a major regional theater company such as the Denver Center — “and a Tony-winning company at that,” she said, “certainly gives this new program all the credibility it needs.”

A major component of the Bobby G’s program is feedback. Every adjudicator numerically scores each school’s achievement in various categories but also offers detailed, constructive reaction and advice on all aspects of every production, using standards set by the national program, as well as their own professional experience. Participating schools will eventually receive each adjudicator’s comments, praise and constructive criticism — all designed to recognize success and encourage future growth.

“This is serious stuff,” said Weeks.

It is hoped that the Bobby G’s will help counter the decades-old disproportion in attention and value our society has placed on those kids who excel in sports over those who pursue careers in the performing arts.

“That has been an ongoing consideration for decades, but I think things are changing,” Weeks said. “Because of social media, the kids in the drama department have the ability to find their own voices now. The Bobby G’s is just another way of supporting the kids who don’t always get the attention.”

National awards president Van Kaplan said Denver Center Attractions is a welcome addition to the National High School Musical Theater Awards. “As one of the country’s foremost professional theaters, it is uniquely positioned to be a leader in supporting young performers and the outstanding work taking place in high schools in Colorado,” he said.

While this year’s lineup of participating schools is set, interested high schools may apply for future Bobby G Awards consideration by going to www.BobbyGAwards.org. The registration fee is $200 per school. All fees go directly back into funding and growing the program.

 

(Please click below to go to the next page and read more about the national awards.)

My 2012 journo year in review: Highlights from a year on the cheap, er, brink

By John Moore
Jan. 1, 2013

A professional and personal look back at the year just past. (The unemployed year, that is):

 

Favorite writings:

Eden Lane. Photo by John Moore.

Eden Lane. Photo by John Moore.

1. Eden Lane: The first transgender journalist on mainstream TV opens up about her life and challenges (see bonus extract below)

2. Personal blog: My stoma: To Die and Live in L.A.

3. A look back at the era of yellow journalism, when The Denver Post was known as “The Bucket of Blood”

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

5. My first-ever byline in the New York Times: For the Colorado Rockies, a four-man rotation by committee

6. That’s one way to recover from gut surgery: Visiting 30 Parks in 30 Days

7. John Moore and Mark Collins: Two ex-theater critics, sitting around having coffee

John Hutton talks about his role in "Lincoln." Photo by John Moore.

John Hutton. Photo by John Moore.

8. Actor John Hutton on Spielberg, “Lincoln” and on being invited to the party

9. What companies can learn from the reinvention of Curious Theatre Company

10. Launch of the 2012 True West Theater Awards

11. Remembering Michael Jackson as “Thriller” turns 30 (and I interview Quincy Jones)

12. Germinal Stage’s theater to close, but company will play on

And … just for fun:

My house under attack: A blog not at all for the squirrely

Some creative writing: My short story, “-30′-

 

Videos:

Five-part documentary: “The Making of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”

 

Accepting a Henry Award for journalistic excellence

Amy Board: 2012 Colorado Walk for Hemophilia

The wedding of Dan and Gary

Three minutes with … Pam Grier!

Launch party for “After the Darklights” video series

Phamaly’s Jeremy Palmer wins Denver Foundation volunteer award

Creede Rep says goodbye to Maurice Lamee

 

An added bonus: The deleted Eden Lane excerpt:

Sometimes you get lucky to find remarkable people who trust you to tell their remarkable stories. And, almost every time, some of the most remarkable parts get cut out from publication. Here’s my favorite part of the Eden Lane story. It got distilled into a few sentences in the version of the story that got published.:

 

    Sometimes the best way to know a person is through the person who loves them. Lane has been legally married for more than 10 years to a man named Don who never knew a gay person in his life until a fellow serviceman came out to him in the Air Force. His first thought: “Is he the same person he was two seconds ago? He was, of course. So I said, ‘OK, fine.’ ”

But it says much about the world we still live in that Lane’s husband cannot talk openly about his love for his wife — while also publicly revealing his last name.

The reason, Lane said, has nothing to do with shame or embarrassment. “It has to do with a safety concern for our daughter in high school,”  she said.

Because high schools still have Bunsen burners.

“I decided a long time ago there would always have to be a certain sense of guardedness,” her husband said. “I am protective to the point of overbearing. That was a decision I made early on, because I love my wife.”

Lane graduated from high school early and went off to New York, where she would later perform in one of the seminal productions in Broadway history. She doesn’t claim that experience on her resume, or her college degrees, because she did so under a name that no longer exists.

When Lane completed her gender realignment surgery, a process she finds as interesting as the details of your hip replacement, she took on her new name. She says Eden Lane “is both a way to honor my grandmother, and part of the name that I was given at birth.”

But she never tells that birth name, she said, “because it feeds into that idea that the identity I have now is somehow false.”

More than a decade ago, she moved to Colorado and began her TV career contributing to both the longtime PBS gay-issues news program Colorado Outspoken and CBS News’ Logo channel. Lane met her husband crossing paths at a 2000 charity benefit for Children’s Hospital she was covering. He was by then working in automotive sales management.

Dating for any transgendered person is fraught. The dating pool is much smaller. The danger is much higher. Lane was cynical at first, and Don knows why.  “Her cynicism was earned,” he said. “It has both protected her — and kept her safe.”

They each faced moments of truth — Eden had to tell him her story; he had to tell her he was a divorced man with joint custody of a toddler.  His opportunity came when Lane’s car broke down, and she needed help.

“I had decided that no matter who I was seeing, I wasn’t going to introduce them to my daughter until I felt some connectivity with that person,” her husband said. What better moment than to say, “Well, this is my daughter … Can you watch her while I work on your car?”

Lane never knows whether new people look at her and instantly know she’s different. She’s an evidently tall, buxom blonde who quotes Lenora Claire by saying: “I am more ample-size than sample-size.”

But do people know when they see her? Some do. Her husband didn’t.

Entertainment reporter Kirk Montgomery from KUSA Channel 9 did not know until someone from a focus group mentioned it, “and I spit out my coffee,” he said. I had no idea, and frankly it didn’t matter at all — I just felt like the last one to the party.”

Last month, Lane interviewed actor Ben Dicke, who was seriously injured just before the opening performance of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” at the Aurora Fox. Dicke watched Lane’s piece with his parents, telling them first, “I have a secret to tell you about Eden after the show.” When he told them, they were a bit baffled, these churchgoing folks who grew up in rural Kansas. “All they saw was someone who is successful, smart, well-spoken and in the spotlight,” Dicke said.

Lane has never made her medical history a secret. “To me, secrets are poison,” she said. But when it comes to a romantic entanglement, “there comes a point where you have to discern whether they know, because they deserve to know your history,” she said. “You certainly are not trying to fool anyone.”

But, she greatly understated: “Not every man can handle that sort of thing.”

Lane chose to tell her husband in what they now fondly call their “Taco Bell drive-through moment.”  She chose there because it’s a safe place. “You can get out of the car and get away if you need to,” she said.

She didn’t need to.

“For me, I was always looking  more at the person, and I liked what I saw,” her husband said. “I asked myself, ‘Now that I know the back story, do I still care about her?’ And the answer was yes.”

In the end, he decided, “People are people, and love is love.”

They have lost some friends. “But,” his wife adds, “we’ve made many more.”

 

A few favorite photos from 2012

Rose and Jim Engagement Shoot. Photo by John Moore.

Rose and Jim Engagement Shoot. Photo by John Moore.

 

My niece, Aaliyah. Photo by John Moore.

My niece, Aaliyah. Photo by John Moore.

 

Rhonda Brown on opening night of "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." Photo by John Moore.

Actor Rhonda Brown on opening night of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” Photo by John Moore.

 

Ben Dicke on opening night of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" ... my favorite photo of the year ,

Ben Dicke on opening night of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” … my favorite photo of the year ,

 

 

Stephen Weitz: 2012 True West Theater Person of the Year

weitzTPOY

By John Moore
Dec. 22, 2012

Perhaps the Weitzes should have a baby every year.

Stephen Weitz, who founded the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company in 2006 with his wife, Rebecca Remaly, performed in five plays in 2012, directed three others and oversaw the Denver Center Theatre Company’s high-profile, community-wide staged reading of Dustin Lance Black’s “8.” That was a re-enactment of the federal trial that overturned California’s controversial Proposition 8, which had banned same-sex marriage.

Rebecca Remaly Weitz, Stephen Weitz and son Jamison. Photo courtesy Stephen Weitz.

Rebecca Remaly Weitz, Stephen Weitz and son Jamison. Photo courtesy Stephen Weitz.

The variety and expanse of his work has earned Stephen Weitz CultureWest.Org’s 2012 True West “Theatre Person of the Year” Award, joining previous winners Maurice LaMee, Anthony Garcia, Kathleen M. Brady, Wendy Ishii, Ed Baierlein, Chip Walton and others.

And when Weitz says he could not have done it without his wife, he really means it. Remaly is the managing director of BETC (affectionately known as “Betsy”). She manages the financials, marketing, schedules — and she had a baby in May. “She does all the heavy lifting so I can keep my eyes on the artistic prize,” Weitz said.

Weitz performed in his own “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment” and directed BETC’s “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde,” “How the World Began” and “The SantaLand Diaries.” He also performed in “Elijah: An Adventure” for Boulder’s Local Theatre;  as well as the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Twelfth Night,” “Richard III” and “Treasure Island.”

But perhaps his proudest creative accomplishments of 2012 were workshopping the developing new script “And the Sun Stood Still,” by Pulitzer Prize-finalist Dava Sobel (about the radical ideas of Nicolaus Copernicus); and directing “8” at the Denver Center, a reading that employed a mix of professional actors, politicians and local celebrities. “That was an important subject,” Weitz said, “and an important conversation for the community to have.”

Weitz, 39, has appeared in many plays for the Denver Center Theatre Company since he moved here in 2005 – first when he understudied for then-78-year-old Philip Pleasants in “King Lear.” “I was 32, and all of my daughters were older than I was,” Weitz joked (only he wasn’t joking).

That Weitz was chosen to helm “8” by the Denver Center’s Bruce Sevy and Emily Tarquin says as much about his burgeoning influence in the local theater community as any of his other accomplishments.

Stephen Weitz in the title role of "Hamlet" at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder in 2009. Photo by Glenn Asakawa,

Stephen Weitz in the title role of “Hamlet” at the 2009 Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. Photo by Glenn Asakawa,

Weitz grew up in Bloomsberg, Pa., as did his wife. They just never met until both, coincidentally, moved out of Pennsylvania. Weitz graduated from Ithaca College in New York, earned one masters with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and another at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He launched BETC in 2006 at a time when Boulder was probably least-deserving of its timelessly accepted reputation as a fertile and supportive home for the arts. “The Nomad Theatre had just folded, and there was a real dearth of small theater in Boulder,” Weitz said, leaving one of the state’s cultural hubs with just three theater companies — the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Upstart Crow and Boulder’s Dinner Theatre. Weitz saw an unfilled niche — and he filled it.

Weitz’s creative interests lie in both the very old and very new, which has resulted a wide range of both serious and comic works at BETC ranging from the classic “Crime and Punishment,” to this year’s modern-day creationism-in-schools drama “How the World Began,” to, hopefully as early as next season, the world premiere of “And the Sun Stood Still.”

Since the Weitzes launched their company with $20,000 and a dream, they have increased the size of the budget tenfold, now staging five plays a year with an annual budget of around $200,000. But Weitz calls that growth slow and steady. “You can only grow as fast as you can pay for it,” he said.

Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the Boulder theater scene has since flourished again, with the launches of the annual Boulder International Fringe Festival and edgy new companies such as Band of Toughs, The Catamounts, Local Theatre, Abster Productions, Obscene/Courageous Theatre and the lower-case square product theatre company.

But that growth does not paint a completely accurate picture about the status of theater arts in Boulder, Weitz said. “There has been a little renaissance of contemporary, devised work,” he said. But most of it is the result of maverick, raging, individual and independent artistic entrepreneurs such as David Ortolano, Emily K. Harrison, Pesha Rudnick, Amanda Berg Wilson and Abby Apple Boes.

“But we’re falling behind other cities in terms of facilities and (municipal) support for these new companies,” Weitz said, citing new $23 million arts centers in Parker and Lone Tree. Most every theater company that wants to perform in Boulder is necessarily based out of the pricey Dairy Center for the Arts, “and rent remains our single-biggest line-item expense,” Weitz said.

“There will always be hungry artists willing to take a risk in Boulder,” he said. “But you can’t take them for granted.” What is needed most, he said, is a larger commitment from the city so that “all this talent is being fostered into the making of a real cultural institution.”

Harrison believes Weitz and his company occupy an important place in the Boulder theater scene. “One of the things I love about theater in Boulder is how different the work is,” the square product theatre founder said, “and yet how well it all meshes together to form a really engaging performance landscape that values both traditional and experimental work. It’s a pretty rocking scene here in Boulder, and Stephen and BETC are a valued part of it.”

As an actor, Weitz has shown a broad swath of ability ranging from countless Shakespeare productions (I had the tiniest bit of fun at Weitz’s expense as The Denver Post theater critic when I noted that his bleached hair in Colorado Shakes’ 2009 staging of “Hamlet” made him look a dead ringer for James Van Der Beek) to a supporting role in this fall’s recent world premiere of “Elijah, an Adventure,” in which he played a  Jew-hating German opium den operator.

“Part pragmatist and part tortured artist, Stephen embodies what it is to love theater in Colorado,” said Local Theatre’s Rudnick, Weitz’s director on “Elijah: An Adventure.” “His voracious appetite for entertainment is infectious. And he’s a joy to work with, to boot.”

As a producer, Weitz launched BETC with the classic “Antigone” and slid right into John Patrick Shanley’s contemporarily savage “Savage in Limbo.” He’s been surprising — and challenging — audiences ever since. He has consistently given voice to some of the most nationally respected playwrights of the day, including Sarah Ruhl, Donald Margulies, Theresa Rebeck and Michael Hollinger. And he has smartly turned David Sedaris’ comically caustic holiday monologue “The SantaLand Diaries” into a four-year holiday staple. Like The Bug Theatre before it, “SantaLand” is the kind of audience favorite that can pay a company’s bills deep into the riskiest part of the season.

“There are a lot of theater companies out there,” Weitz said, “and I hope the one I am responsible for is of a quality that inspires people, and makes a difference in people’s lives.”

A NOTE ON THE TRUE WEST AWARDS:

All True West Award winners are determined by John Moore. In addition, readers were invited to weigh in on 10 select categories to determine their “reader’s choice” selections.

READER’S CHOICE VOTING FOR THEATER PERSON OF THE YEAR:

Top readers’ vote-getters:

  1. Ben Dicke, 23.7 percent
  2. Stephen Weitz, 19 percent
  3. Brian Freeland and Eden Lane, 14.3 percent

NOTE: The rest of the 2012 True West Award winners will be announced here on Sunday, Dec. 23. Here is a complete list of nominees.

THE BOULDER ENSEMBLE THEATRE COMPANY at a glance:
Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

2006
“Antigone”

2007
“Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” and “Savage in Limbo”
“The Glass Menagerie”

2008
“Copenhagen”
“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”
“Fat Pig”

2009
“Stop Kiss”
“Morisot Reclining”
“Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)” (performed for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival)
“The Sunset Limited”
“The SantaLand Diaries”

2010
“The Clean House”
“Doubt”
“The SantaLand Diaries”

2011
“Crime and Punishment”
“An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf” 
 “Mauritius”
“The SantaLand Diaries”

2012
Shipwrecked! An Entertainment”
“Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde”
“How the World Began”
“The SantaLand Diaries”

2013
Feb. 1-16, 2013: “Ghost Writer”
March 22-April 6, 2013: “The Other Place”
May 3-18, 2013: “Bach at Leipzig”

 

Watch Stephen Weitz on “In Focus with Eden Lane””

Here are your 2012 CultureWest.Org “True West” Award nominations

 

The 2012 True West "Theater Person of the Year" nominees.

The 2012 True West “Theater Person of the Year” nominees.

 

By John Moore
Dec. 16, 2012

One of the hardest things about leaving The Denver Post was leaving behind the Ovation Awards, which for 12 years was my annual salute to what we perceived to be the best in Colorado theater for any given year. Then I thought, “Why not?”

I can only judge what I saw, and this year I saw only about 100 productions, far fewer than the average of 165 I had established for the previous decade. But, then again, there was that whole “almost dying” thing that cut into my theatergoing time. Still, 100 shows, as they say … ain’t nothing. While some understandably think awards have no place in the creative process, I think it is important to properly acknowledge and archive the year just past, for posterity and history. Theater companies also benefit from awards nominations in their grant-writing and fundraising efforts.

So with great apologies to the many actors and shows I did not get to see in 2012 (the list of eligible shows is posted at the bottom), I humbly present my agonizing, loving look back at another great year in Colorado theater. I say agonizing because the theater community never gets to see these lists before the edits begin, when there are at times as many as 30 names up for legitimate consideration in any given category. That’s the hard part. The good part is the five names you get to keep.

But a new era calls for a new name, so welcome to the 2012 “True West” Awards nominations.

This year’s expanded list of “theater person of the year” candidates is the most varied yet. Dozens of companies again received at least one nomination. Curious Theatre leads the way with 27 nominations, followed by Boulder’s Dinner Theatre with 18, the Arvada Center with 14 and Buntport with 13.

You can again vote for “reader’s choice” designees in a limited number of categories through Dec. 20. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2VHXY2J

Winners will be announced here next Sunday, Dec. 23. Congratulations to anyone who wrote dialogue, got up on a stage, or played in part in creating theater in 2012.

THE 2012 CULTUREWEST.ORG TRUE WEST AWARDS NOMINATIONS:

Theater person of the year:
Rick Bernstein and Paige Larson: Announced the transition of the leadership of Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden to Brenda Billings and Len Matheo, ending a run of 24 years of storytelling in west Jefferson County.

Abby Apple Boes: Created Abster Productions, which became the first local theater company to stage the Pulitzer Prize-winning “August: Osage County.” She also played oldest daughter Barbara.

Craig Bond: The founder of the 11-year-old Vintage Theatre completed the nearly $1 million purchase of its new home in Aurora, and immediately expanded programming, adding a secondary studio theater and a cabaret stage. Vintage gave a presenting home to local deaf and Asian theater companies. Bond’s own offerings included the two-part epic “The Cider House Rules” and the large-scale musical “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” He also took over as president of the Colorado Theatre Guild.

Ben Dicke: Dicke created his own company to present the Colorado premiere of the smart off-Broadway musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” at election time. He waged a creative, year-long fundraising campaign that included him running for 24 hours on a treadmill on the downtown 16th Street Mall. The night Dicke was to open in the title role, he fell down a backstage trap door and was seriously hurt. Three weeks later, the show went on. As an actor, he also performed in the Arvada Center’s “Legally Blonde, the Musical” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Brian Freeland: The LIDA Project founder directed two original pieces for his own company, designed sound and multimedia for several other local companies, including Curious Theatre (“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”), Town Hall Arts Center (“The Who’s Tommy”) and Ignite Theatre (“Spring Awakening”). Just before the election, he took a sponsorship offer from the ACLU to produce “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins,” which sold out and had an extended run at the Aurora Fox.

Eden Lane: Entered her fifth season self-producing and hosting “In Focus,” a weekly television program covering arts and culture for Channel 12.

Christy Montour-Larson: Directed the Henry Award-winning “Red,” “9 Circles” and “Time Stands Still” for Curious Theatre, as well as “The Giver” for the Denver Center.

Mare Trevathan: A founding member of Local Theatre Company, Trevathan acted in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Richard III” and “Treasure Island,”  as well as Local Theatre’s “Elijah: An Adventure.” Trevathan, a member of Curious Theatre Company, is also the co-creator of the popular annual fundraiser: “Balls: A Holiday Spectacular,” at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret.

Jeremy Palmer: The Phamaly Theatre Company actor and writer won the Denver Foundation’s Minoru Yasui Volunteer Award, and Denver mayor Michael Hancock declared  Nov. 15, 2012, “Jeremy Palmer Day” in Denver. Palmer co-wrote and co-directed Phamaly’s sketch comedy “Cinco de Vox,” and he starred as the masochistic  dentist in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Stephen Weitz: The Boulder Ensemble Theatre co-founder performed in his own “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment”; in “Elijah: An Adventure” for Local Theatre;  as well as in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Twelfth Night,” “Richard III” and “Treasure Island.” He directed the Boulder Ensemble’s “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde,” “How the World Began” and “The SantaLand Diaries.” And he directed the Denver Center’s far-reaching staged reading of “8,” about the legal challenge to a bill preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying in California.

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Denver Post profile: TV host Eden Lane opens up about her life and challenges

Last week, Eden Lane participated in a community-wide staged reading of Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black’s play “8,” hosted by the Denver Center Theatre Company and featuring a cast of both professional actors and local celebrities. The play chronicles the historic constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which would have eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry. (Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen, provided by the Denver Center)

 

By John Moore

Oct. 21, 2012

Colorado Public Television’s Eden Lane is believed to be the first transgender journalist on mainstream TV anywhere in the United States. “But I don’t think of being transgender as any part of my identity, any more than I do that I am left-handed,” she said.

But “the Eden Lane story represents the potential for a wonderfully better world,” fellow TV producer Tom Biddle says. “It helps us to understand humanity better in a way that is unavailable to most people.”

Read my full profile on Eden Lane here. It ran in today’s Denver Post.

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).

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Photos: Arvada Center’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”

A look at the Arvada Center’s  2012- 13 season-opener, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” running through Sept. 30.

Photos by P. Switzer, Arvada Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Principal cast: Dennis Parlato (Lawrence Jameson); Ben Nordstrom (Freddy Benson); Laura E. Taylor (Christine Colgate); Gary Lynch (Andre Thibault); Susie Roelofsz (Muriel Eubanks) and Lorinda Lisitza (Jolene Oakes). Ensemble members are: Piper Lindsay Arpan; Heather Doris; Alicia Dunfee; Maddie Franke; Valerie Hill; Kitty Hilsabeck; Mercedes Perez; Katie Ulrich; Matthew Dailey; Daniel Herron; Robert Hoppe; Brian Jackson; Matt LaFontaine; Mark Rubald; Travis Slavin and Hayden Stanes.

In addition to director Rod Lansberry, the creative team includes David Nehls (musical director), Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck (choreographer), Brian Mallgrave (scene design), Clare Henkel (costume design) and Shannon McKinney (light design).

Performances are Tuesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Wednesdays at 1 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets:  www.arvadacenter.org or call 720-898-7200.

 

Bonus pic:

Opening night of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” was the first night of comfy new seats in the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities’ mainstage theater. Showing ’em off: Eden Lane, host of Channel 12’s “In Focus.” Photo by John Moore.