Video: Shout-outs to 2013 Henry Award nominees

By John Moore
July 18, 2013

Members of the local theater community give their shout-outs to this year’s field of 2013 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award nominees. One comes all the way from Poland. The ceremony is July 22 at the Arvada Center.

Video by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Running time: 7 minutes.

Shouters and the shouted at include: Colin Alexander, Joanie Brosseau, Rhonda Brown, Chris Campbell, David Cates, Matthew Dailey, Jennifer DeDominici, Ben Dicke, Terry Dodd, Michael J. Duran, Jonathan Farwell, Deb Flomberg, Brian Freeland, Ronni Gallup, Rachel D. Graham, Josh Hartwell, Tim Howard, Peter J. Hughes, Michelle Hurtubise, Wendy Ishii, Rebecca Joseph, Chris Kendall, Chris Kitchen, Madison Kitchen, Carla Kaiser Kotrc, Rod Lansberry, Sue Leiser, Lauren Cora Marsh, Matt Maxwell, Gavin Mayer, Melanie Mayner, Norrell Moore, Josh Nelson, James O’Hagan-Murphy, Anne Oberbroeckling, Jessie Page, Paul Page, Pat Payne, Max Peterson, Robert Michael Sanders, Steef Sealy, Megan Van De Hey, Jason Tyler Vaughn, Vintage Theatre, Burke Walton, Bob Wells, Chris Wiger, Kathi Wood and Ryan Wuestewald.

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2013 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards
Monday, July 22
Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Tickets: $25; available only through the Arvada Center box office, 720-898-7200
Info: Go to the Colorado Theatre Guild web site


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How you can donate to the Denver Actors Fund

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

‘Step Up to the Mic’: A special karaoke party fundraiser June 1



By John Moore
May 5, 2013

This has been a time of extraordinary personal challenge for members of the Colorado theater community. Many of our friends have found themselves in great and sudden need, and with numbing regularity: Shelly Bordas’ terminal cancer prognosis. Frank Oteri and Max Peterson facing expensive colon surgeries. Robert Michael Sanders’ botched shoulder surgery. And many others.

In every case, the Colorado theater community has rallied with their dollars and outstretched arms. Now CultureWest.Org is announcing the creation of the Denver Actors Fund – although its potential beneficiaries will not be limited to Denver, or actors.

CultureWest is proud to announce its first public event: “Step Up to the Mic” will be a ridiculous, late-night karaoke party that is intended to build both community and seed money for the Denver Actors Fund. It will be held from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse in downtown Denver. The party will be hosted by shameless karaoke king Kent Randell, and will feature both members of the public, and an all-star performing crew.

This unique night of karaoke silliness will generate the seed money for the creation of the Denver Actors Fund, a new resource that will make emergency funds available to members of the local theater community when they encounter unexpected, immediate medical hardship.

Anyone in attendance will be invited to sing their own song (for a buck), or put our all-star volunteer performing panel to work (for $10). Want to hear, say, Steven Burge sing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass”? Rich Cowden sing “Stayin’ Alive”? Traci Kern and Lauren Cora Marsh sing “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” as a duet? You can have any members of our all-star performing panel sing anything you want to hear — in whatever combination of performers you choose. The (growing) list of performers is below.

The audience will be encouraged to vote for their favorite performances with their dollars. Our dry-erase tote board will keep the crowd informed of how the voting is going. Put $1 toward Kent Randell’s version of “It’s Raining Men.” Or heck, put down $20. Or, if you think Tim Howard’s version of “Strange Fruit” was better, throw a few more dollars his way to keep him in the running. All cash put toward the voting will go directly to the Denver Actors Fund.

Many actors, designers, directors, writers, directors and technical crew live on the edge, often without steady outside employment or health insurance. The Denver Actors Fund will be a modest, discretionary resource that will make some emergency funds available to individuals on a case-to-case basis, based on circumstances and present health of the fund. These last few months have also seen a number of unexpected deaths, including Adam Perkes, Angela Johnson, Brook Millard and Shana Dowdeswell. It is hoped the Denver Actors Fund will also be in a position to contribute to memorial and scholarship funds whenever members of our community pass away.

It is hoped the fund will be regularly replenished by similar fundraising events, as well as public and private donations.

The idea for this fund came to me a year ago, when I was the beneficiary of great emotional support while I was having my own health crisis. In the past few months, we have also seen friends raise $30,000 for Shelly Bordas to take her son on a Disney cruise and help with her mounting medical expenses. Last week, when friends learned that Robert Michael Sanders has at least temporarily lost the ability to move his fingers, they kicked $6,000 his way in the first 24 hours after on online fund was launched.

Recently, I became the surprise beneficiary of unexpected financial support when a sneaky group of Colorado theater people conspired to load my porch up with gift cards. Time to pay it forward.

The title of the evening is both a nod to a song from “Kids from Fame,” and a call to action. “Step Up to the Mic” invites everyone to step up to the mic … and step up for the Colorado theater community. You never know when you are going to be the one in need.

“Step Up to the Mic” is made possible thanks to Stephen Wilder, Jessica Austgen and the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse.

STEP UP TO THE MIC/At a glance
An evening of karaoke and contests
A benefit to create the Denver Actors Fund
Saturday, June 1
10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, 1260 22nd St., downtown Denver (between Lawrence and Larimer streets)
Hosted by Kent Randell
Suggested donation: $5; cash only (ATM available)
Presented by John Moore and CultureWest.Org
More Information: 720-231-7547

Our all-star performing panel (to date):
(This list will continue to grow up to June 1. To volunteer to be added to this list, simply email John Moore at

Scott Bellot
Rachel Bouchard
Joanie Brosseau
Steven Burge
Seth Caikowski
Brian Colonna
Rich Cowden
Ben Dicke
Diana Dresser
Hannah Duggan
Danny Harrigan
Anna High
GerRee Hinshaw
Tim Howard
Carla Kaiser Kotrc
Traci Kern
Geoff Kent
Matt LaFontaine
Daniel Langhoff
Trina Magness
Lauren Cora Marsh
Abby McInerney
Kent Randell
Rob Rehburg
Sarah Rex
Alejandro Roldan
Erin Rollman
Kristen Samu
Shannan Steele
Markus Warren
Jalyn Courtenay Webb
Evan Weissman
Meredith Young
Lisa Young
And, fates willing … Megan Van De Hey and Robert Michael Sanders!

How you can donate right now
If you would like to help provide some of the seed money for the creation of the Denver Actors Fund, thanks! Just go to our fundraising page here to contribute.

About CultureWest.Org
Former Denver Post theater critic John Moore launched www.CultureWest.Org in August 2012 to change the way arts and culture are covered in Denver. In addition to reporting breaking news, his innovations have included several long-form video news documentaries; a daily Q&A with local theater directors; and an ambitious, year-long photo series titled, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado.” He also is the founder of the Denver Poust Underground Music Showcase (The UMS), entering its 13th year as now the largest music festival in Denver with more than 350 bands playing over four days.

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



By John Moore
March 13, 2013

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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