Denver Actors Fund in Action: Shelly Bordas

Actor, teacher and mother’s long and defiant battle galvanized the Colorado theatre community

Nathan and Shelly

Nathan and Shelly

Note: At the Denver Actors Fund, anonymity of aid recipients is presumed and fully protected, unless and until the recipient chooses to have his or her story told.

Financial-aid recipient: Shelly Bordas was a Denver actor and teacher who appeared in dozens of plays all around Colorado, including memorable turns in Theatre Group’s “Cell Block Sirens of 1953,” “Bat Boy, the Musical” and “Debbie Does Dallas.” She also performed at the Arvada Center, the Avenue Theater, Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge and many others. Shelly wrote, taught and directed youth theater for more than 16 years. She founded her own school, Acting Up, giving teenagers professional acting instruction. Many of her students have gone on to work in New York. She taught kids at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton for 10 years. She also was an instructor for Denver Public Schools, Gunnison High School, Stage Eleven and the Cherry Creek School District. She was named the 2013 CultureWest Theatre Person of the Year for the courage and inspiration she demonstrated in her attempt to come back from her cancer battle to appear in Town Hall’s “9 to 5: The Musical.”

Her medical story: Shelly was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in November 2009, while she was pregnant with her son, Nathan. After five years of chemo, radiation and dozens of surgeries, Shelly entered the home hospice stage of her disease. She and her family decided that she would undergo no more radiation or chemotherapy. Shelly’s needs at that point became both financial and practical. Doctors wanted Shelly to have a 24-hour in-home companion. Her were running about $5,000 a month, including ElderLink Home Care service, which cost about $200 a day. For two months, “Team Shelley” – led by Chris Whyde, Steve Burge, Steve Tangedal, Barbara Bordas (Shelly’s mom) and other friends, family and an army of Denver Actors Fund volunteers – took on 12-hour shifts, each of which saved money the family did not have to pay for the ElderLink service. Still, Shelly and her family were rapidly running out of money to pay for her continued in-home care.

How we helped: The Denver Actors Fund board of directors initially approved the largest gift in its history to that point – $2,000 – to extend Shelly’s ElderLink service a little longer, in addition to rallying Action Team volunteers to help Team Shelly in a variety other ways, including organizing play dates or sleepovers with her 5-year-old son, Nathan. There’s no way to know exactly how much our services saved the family but in the end, The DAF provided $4,165 in financial support to Shelly and her family through her ordeal.

How you helped: Shelly felt more safe when there was someone with her at night. So we expanded the circle of friends and family who took on 12-hour shifts  (daytime or overnight) sitting with Shelly. Every every shift Team Shelly takes on saved the family about $100. Both friends and strangers joined in, either as Individuals or in tandems. This was not medical care. It was offering companionship and help with the wheelchair, water, light errands, etc. Our accompanists were essentially a security blanket.

A message from Barbara Bordas: “I can’t put into words what this help means to me. It gives me a sense of relief and calmess knowing Shelly has friends who are willing to help her during this time.”

Update: Shelly Bordas died on January 4, 2015, just a few days after she was moved into a hospice care. To read her remarkable life story, click here.

To help us honor Shelly: If you would like to direct a donation in Shelly’s memory, mail checks to Denver Actors Fund, P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO 80211. Or use this donation link.

Read more Denver Actors Fund testimonials by clicking here

 

ABOUT THE DENVER ACTORS FUND:

The Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in medical need. In addition to financial relief, a team of more than 60 Denver Actors Fund volunteers offers good neighborly assistance including meal prep and delivery, child care, transportation, errands, construction, pet-sitting and more. For more information, visit our web site at www.DenverActorsFund.Org

APPLY FOR AID:

To apply for Denver Actors Fund aid: Fill out this brief online form here

 

MORE WAYS TO HELP:

DONATE BY MAIL:

Send checks made out to the Denver Actors Fund to:
P.O. Box 11182
Denver, CO 80211

 

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poster1.4_Cross 134 women (and a few token dudes) from the Colorado theater community, all supporting the Denver Actors Fund. They cost $20 per poster (20×28). To order, email your quantity to denveractorsfund@gmail.com. We’ll take care of delivery and payment from there.

 

VISIT OUR ONLINE MERCH STORE:

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Video: See highlights from “Misacast 2014,” a September fundraiser held on behalf of the Denver Actors Fund:

 

Video: The Shelly Bordas Story, Part 3: A Community Responds

On Sunday, CultureWest named Shelly Bordas Colorado’s 2013 Theatre Person of the Year. Here is the third and latest installment in veteran journalist John Moore’s ongoing video documentary series chronicling Bordas’ story since the Denver actor and mother was diagnosed – for a second time – with end-stage breast cancer that has now spread to her brain and eyes.

In Part 3, the theater community learns of Bordas’ dying wish to take her son on a Disney cruise — and makes it happen. Performers and interview subjects include Kevin Lowry, Jesse Greaves-Smith,  Adrian Holguin, Mitch Samu, Colin Hearn, Thaddeus Valdez, Susan Lyles, Megan Van De Hey, Sarah Rex,  Sarah Roshan, Rob Costigan, Jake Walker, Diana Dresser, Allison Watrous,  Emily MacIntyre and more.

Click here to read John Moore’s story on Shelly Bordas’ “Theater Person of the Year” award

To watch Part 1 of “The Shelly Bordas story,” click here

To watch Part 2 of “The Shelly Bordas Story, click here

 

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How to help:

To help Shelly defray her ongoing medical expenses, please mail checks in her name to the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St, Littleton, CO, 80120

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. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

2013 True West Theater Person of the Year Shelly Bordas: “Love Rules Out”

Here is the new Part 3 of John Moore’s ongoing video documentary series on Shelly Bordas,

By John Moore
Dec. 29, 2013

Shelly Bordas as she looks today, after she stopped taking steroids and dropped 65 pounds.

Shelly Bordas as she looks today, after she stopped taking steroids and dropped 65 pounds.

There’s a ship that comes for Shelly Bordas each night in her dreams. But she’s not getting on board just yet.

Bordas began her year with the modest goal of making her first stage appearance in more than three years – as the drunk secretary in the Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5, the Musical.” But then doctors told her the breast cancer she had been battling for 3 ½ years had spread to her brain and eyes. She was told to get her affairs in order. That her remaining time on this Earth was short.

They are still telling her that.

For an actor who never realized her dream of performing again, Bordas’ wrenching, inspiring story galvanized audiences like no piece of fiction that was presented on any stage in 2013. For her resilience, her fight and her sheer will to live, Bordas is CultureWest’s 2013 Theatre Person of the Year.

And while doctors can’t explain why Bordas is not yet dead, Bordas certainly can:

“I’ve got my boy,” she said of Nathan, who turned 4 in April. “I’ve been in a lot of pain this year. I can see how people give up. But loves rules out.

“I’m not ready.”

Bordas left “9 to 5” a few weeks before its February opening to spend every last second with her son. She is also a longtime children’s theater educator at Town Hall Arts Center, and she was determined to finish several productions she was in the process of directing for the kiddos there, including “Finding Nemo.”

Bordas, a single mom, told her castmates her only wish was to take Nathan on a Disney Cruise for his birthday. Grassroots efforts to help sprung up like lightning strikes that quickly grew into an inferno of warmth and good will. An online fundraising campaign was launched. Benefits were held at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, the Columbine United Church in Littleton and Clementine’s hair salon in Denver. In all, nearly $30,000 was raised, and that allowed Bordas, her family, friends and a medical team to take the trip of a lifetime.

“Oh my gosh, it was wonderful,” she said. “We were so spoiled. We had a cabana on a private island, Nathan got to meet all of the Disney characters, and we had a private meeting with the captain on his bridge.”

Group

Shelly Bordas took her family, son Nathan, best friend Chris Whyde, and a medical team along with her on a Disney Cruise in April that was largely funded by friends and strangers from the Colorado theater community who were moved by her harrowing story.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Bordas’ final exit, stage right.

She didn’t make it.

“When the cruise was over, it was like, ‘Now what? … Should I die now?’ ” she said.

In true Bordas fashion, she went back to work. Lest you think Bordas is being honored here solely for not dying, consider that, in 2013, Bordas managed to direct 10 children’s shows, five of which were musicals. All told, she directed 177 young theater students at the Town Hall Arts Center – all while undergoing 26 chemotherapy treatments.

Bordas will also have you know that she has stopped taking steroids as part of her treatment plan — and as a result, she has lost 64 pounds this year. And she’s showing off. For a woman who once made her career playing sexy stage characters in shows like “Cell Block Sirens of 1953” and “Debby Does Dallas, the Musical,” it’s absolutely imperative to her that you know this.

“I am skinny … and I look good,” she said.

As for being recognized for her year with the True West Award, Bordas is taken aback. “There are no words,” she said. “I’m flattered. I just want to cry, I’m so happy.”

But the struggle before her today is no less daunting than it was a year ago. Bordas is nearly blind. Her liver is failing. The many brain tumors are still there. “They say if I stop doing chemo, I will die, so I will be doing that forever,” said Bordas, 42. “I am going to live in a lot of pain … but I am going to live.”

Bordas is still in need of the good will of those who would care to help her. She can’t drive herself to work or doctors appointments because of her failing eyesight. Recent changes in the health-care laws have left her with an insurance premium that has grown by nearly $100 a month. That is significant to a woman of her limited earning potential.

Those so inclined to help may send a check to Bordas in her name in care of the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 Main St., Littleton, 80120.

And that ship that keeps wanting Bordas to board in her dreams will just have to stay at bay for now. “My friends and my son and my friends and all of the people who are supporting me are going to keep me right here,” she said.

The rest of the 2013 True West Award winners were announced today. To see the complete list of 2013 True West Award nominees, click here. To see the full list of nearly 120 eligible productions by 60 different theater companies, click here.

Some of our previous coverage of the Shelly Bordas story:


Video: The Shelly Bordas Story, Part 2:

(Find Part 1 at the top of this page)


Shelly Bordas: A story that’s just beginning


Photos: Shelly Bordas benefit performances raise money, lift hearts

 

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. To donate to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):

2013 True West Award nominations: Town Hall leads balanced field with 14 nods

 

 

TPOY COLLAGE

The prestigious 2013 True West Theater Person of the Year Award will be considered among John Ashton, Ed Baierlein, Shelly Bordas, Brian Freeland, Linda Morken, Erin Rollman, Edith Weiss, Stephen Weitz, Christopher Willard and Rick Yaconis. Weitz, winner of the 2012 award, is the rare winner to be up for consideration two years running.

By John Moore
Dec. 22, 2013

A prolific and creatively surprising year in Colorado theater is reflected in the 2013 True West Award nominations released today.

The True West Awards, which began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001, are the longest-running continuously administered awards program in Colorado theater. And for just the second time, the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton leads the way with 14 nominations, largely on the strength of  widely varying stagings of “Hair,” “9 to 5, The Musical” and “The 39 Steps.”

Perennial awards leader the Arvada Center is next with 11 finalists. The Aurora Fox has 10, followed by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and the resurgent Colorado Shakespeare Festival with nine each. Curious Theatre, Buntport Theater and the LIDA Project have eight each.

“Hair”and the Midtown Arts Center of Fort Collins’ “Les Miserables” are the most nominated musicals of 2013, with eight each.

Among plays, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” leads all productions with eight finalists, followed by Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size,” with seven. The LIDA Project, known for its original, multimedia-infused works, had its best year, with “R.U.R./lol” garnering five nods.

The prestigious 2013 True West Theater Person of the Year Award will be considered among John Ashton, Ed Baierlein, Shelly Bordas, Brian Freeland, Linda Morken, Erin Rollman, Edith Weiss, Stephen Weitz, Christopher Willard and Rick Yaconis. Weitz, winner of the 2012 award, is the rare winner to be back up for consideration two years running. The winner will join previous honorees including Maurice LaMee, Anthony Garcia, Kathleen M. Brady, Wendy Ishii, Ed Baierlein, Chip Walton and Michael R. Duran.

In all, 38 companies and 57 productions received at least one True West nod. To be eligible, a play must only have been seen (with certain exceptions). This year, more than 135 productions were seen, of which 118 were eligible for awards consideration. This year, a total of 58 companies had at least one play seen. Here is the complete list of all eligible productions.

The official winners will be announced next Sunday, Dec. 29. Readers are again encouraged to have their say by voting for their favorites in designated “readers choice” categories. To vote, click here. Any production by any company staged from December 2012 to December 2013 is eligible for readers-choice designation. Readers who do not see their favorites among the finalists are encouraged to use the write-in option. Voting is open through 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28. The program accepts only one vote per IP address.

While some fervently believe awards have no place in the creative process, I think it is important to properly acknowledge and archive the year just past for posterity. 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 2013, I humbly present my agonizing, loving look back at the year in Colorado theater. I say “agonizing” because the theater community never gets to see these lists before they are culled down from, in some cases, more than 30 names that are truly worthy of consideration.

Congratulations to anyone who wrote dialogue, got up on a stage, or played in part in creating theater in 2013. And remember: Click here to take the readers’ choice survey.

 

CULTURE WEST’s 2013 TRUE WEST AWARD NOMINEES:

THEATER PERSON OF THE YEAR:

  • John Ashton: The former theater critic produced the black Irish comedy “The Seafarer” at the Aurora Fox and at Dairy Center for his own new company, Ashton Entertainment. He also performed in “The Seafarer” and Boulder Ensemble’s “Seminar.” And he directed Thingamajig’s “Good People” in Pagosa Springs. All while on call for his day job at FEMA, which deployed him for duty in response to the Boulder floods on the very same week that he opened in the leading role in “Seminar.”
  • Ed Baierlein: Since 1974, the founder of Germinal Stage-Denver has been presenting plays of substance in an intimate setting. This year, after more than 200 productions, Baierlein sold his longtime home in northwest Denver and went on “active hiatus.” But not before staging a nostalgic and sentimental  (for Germinal) soiree: Baierlein brought more than 40 familiar faces back for a reprise of the anything-goes theatrical rumination “Offending the Audience,” which in the 1970s incited an on-stage rebellion that brought the police.  Baierlein says of his future:  “Licking our wounds, we now contemplate a pro-cannibalism-themed season in a new location for 2014.”
  • Shelly Bordas: This longtime actor and children’s theater educator started her year with a modest goal: Making it to opening night of the Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5, The Musical.” After having fought breast cancer for nearly four years, Bordas was given a fleeting respite when she was told her cancer was receding. So she tried out for — and scored — the role of the office drunk. Bordas had to drop out when her diagnosis suddenly changed: Her cancer had spread to her brain, and she was told her time to live was short. So she then focused on making it to son Nathan’s 4th birthday in April. Bordas’ story galvanized the theater community and beyond, raising more than $30,000, which was used both to help with medical expenses and to send Shelly and her son on a Disney cruise, a dream they realized in May. Meanwhile, Bordas managed to direct 10 shows, five of which were musicals, involving 177 of her young theater students at the Town Hall Arts Center.– all while undergoing 26 chemo treatments. The greatest news of all: She’s still here.
  • Brian Freeland: Nearly 20 years later, the founder of the LIDA Project continued to break new ground as the primary purveyor of modern, multimedia-based original stage work in Denver, as evidenced most tellingly in “The Hairy Ape.” In Freeland’s world, all of the female characters were played by mannequins. Pre-recorded video of a single actor’s face reciting each character’s lines was projected onto the mannequin heads, making for a hologram-like effect. Freeland is also a busy sound and video designer for theaters ranging from Curious to Town Hall. This week, he moved with his family to New York, but he says he is committed to keeping the LIDA Project alive and flourishing — after a short respite in early 2014.
  • Linda Morken: I almost gave up keeping track of all the shows she designed and built costumes for in 2013. But here’s a stab at it: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s entire season: “Church Basement Ladies,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Full Monty” and “Spamalot”;  Phamaly’s entire season of “The Foreigner,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”; Town Hall Arts Center’s “Forever Plaid,” “Hair” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”; Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”; and Starkey Theatrix’s “Noises Off.” Whew.
  • Erin Rollman: In addition to keeping the Buntport Theater rolling along, she collaborated on and performed in three original plays. She also runs mid-week programming such as “The Great Debate” and “Third Tuesday.” She also gave her pal Adam Stone’s new Screw Tooth Theatre Company not only a home, but a prayer of truly establishing itself.  In her spare time, Rollman worked on Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s year-long Imagine 2020 campaign, which created a blueprint for the future of arts and culture in Denver. All that, and a kidney, too: Rollman gave up one of hers to a complete stranger in Virginia, starting a donation chain that saved nine lives. And her story inspired at least one other altruistic donor to start another one.
  • Edith Weiss: Denver’s Queen of Comedy is making a huge impact on people’s lives through the handicapped Phamaly Theatre Company, where she directed a very funny — and cutting — staging of “The Foreigner,” before again stewarding a group of disabled actors through a workshop process that culminated in “Vox Phamilia 6: G.I.M.P. Nation.” That’s an annual evening of caustic sketch comedy written and performed by handicapped actors. Weiss also directed the very cute children’s production of “No Dogs Allowed”  for the Arvada Center — and destroyed her own comfort zone when she appeared in an experimental freakout called “Some Kind of Fun” with a bunch of rad kids from a new company called Screw Tooth.
  • Stephen Weitz: Last year’s True West “Theatre Person of the Year” outdid himself in 2013. Attendance at the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company he founded was up 42 percent in its seventh season. And thanks to an innovative partnership with the Denver Center to co-present “The SantaLand Diaries” at the Galleria Theatre (an almost completely sold-out engagement), BETC’s season attendance is projected to rise another 63 percent this season. The budget has grown from $12,000 in Season 1 to $232,000 in Season 8, and giving was up 41 percent last year. Weitz directed “Bach at Leipzig,” “Seminar” and “SantaLand” for his own company, and also “Jackie & Me” for the Denver Center Theatre Company.
  • Christopher Willard: The artistic director of the newly renamed Breckenridge Backstage Theatre has launched a $1.3 million expansion just as the venerable mountain theater is entering its 40th season. The renovation will include doubling the size of the present seating area, along with an expanded lobby and dressing rooms. Ticket sales are up by 29 percent over the past two years. Willard, who intends for Breckenridge Backstage Theatre to reach full professional status by 2018, recently hired the company’s first Executive Director (Mark Lineaweaver). Backstage stages plenty of family favorites, but has also kept an ongoing commitment to developing  new works. Up next: “The 10th,”  the first in a planned series of original plays about  Breckenridge. The initial focus is on the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division who, upon returning from the campaign in Europe, helped create the ski industry in Colorado. In addition to directing several shows for Backstage, Willard directed the Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5 The Musical.” It was his job to help his team navigate the emotional roller-coaster of cast member Shelly Bordas’ terminal cancer diagnosis. (See above.)
  • Rick Yaconis: The founder of the grassroots Edge Theatre moved into a new home in Lakewood and upped the the company’s game with an ambitious 2013 season that culminated with the full staging of “Gifted,” winner of the company’s national new-play competition. Yaconis has of late brought in a steady stream of accomplished area actors, a trend that should become even more apparent in 2014, when former Paragon Theatre co-founder Michael Stricker directs Martin McDonaugh’s “The Beauty Queen of Leenane.” That will star first-time guest artists Michael Bouchard and Emily Paton Davies. Other edge-worthy titles will include “Orphans,” “A Steady Rain” and “Buried Child.”

BEST YEAR BY A COMPANY:
Arvada Center:
“Blithe Spirit”
“Man of La Mancha”
“Dividing the Estate”
“Curtains”
“Camelot”
“A Christmas Carol”

Boulder’s Dinner Theatre:
“Church Basement Ladies”
“The Wizard of Oz”
“The Full Monty”
“Monty Python’s Spamalot”

Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

“Ghost-Writer”
“The Other Place”
“Bach at Leipzig”
“Seminar”
“The SantaLand Diaries”

Colorado Shakespeare Festival:
“Macbeth”
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
“Richard II”
“Women of Will”

Phamaly Theatre Company:
“The Foreigner”
“Fiddler on the Roof”
“It’s a Wonderful Life”
“Vox Phamilia: G.I.M.P. Nation”

BEST DRAMA:
Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”
Boulder Ensemble’s “Ghost-Writer”
Aurora Fox’s “Metamorphoses”
Ashton Entertainment’s “The Seafarer”
Springs Ensemble Theatre’s “A Steady Rain”

BEST MUSICAL:
Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”
Phamaly Theatre Company’s “Fiddler on the Roof”
Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”
Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”

BEST COMEDY:
Boulder Ensemble’s “Bach at Leipzig”
OpenStage’s “Bullshot Crummond”
Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
The Avenue’s “Motherhood Out Loud”
Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives”

BEST NEW PLAY
Buntport Theater’s “Wake”
LIDA Project’s “R.U.R/lol”
Buntport Theater’s “Electra Onion Eater”
The Edge’s “Newark Violenta”

BEST YEAR BY AN ACTOR:
Seth Caikowski:
Franklin Hart, Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5, The Musical”
Cowardly Lion, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”
Juan, Arvada Center’s “No Dogs Allowed”
Jerry, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Full Monty”

Sam Gregory:
Dan, Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Two Things You Don’t Talk About at Dinner”
The Friar, Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Romeo and Juliet”
Johann Friedrich Fasch, Boulder Ensemble’s “Bach at Leipzig”
Banquo, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Macbeth”
Northumberland, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Richard II”
Count du Rochefort, Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers”
Ted Atkinson, Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Most Deserving”

Wayne Kennedy:
Pastor Gunderson, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Church Basement Ladies”
The Wizard, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”
King Arthur, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Spamalot”

Matt LaFontaine:
Jinx, Midtown Arts Center’s “Forever Plaid”
The Emcee, Ignite’s “Cabaret”
Berger, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
Sir Lionel, Arvada Center’s “Camelot”
Ross Cochrane, Arvada Center’s Curtains”
Ensemble, Arvada Center’s “A Christmas Carol”

Seth Maisel:
Clown, Town Hall’s “The 39 Steps”
Edgar Allan Poe, Byers-Evans’ “Evermore”
Frederick Frankenstein, Vintage Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein”

Eric Mather:
George Pidgeon, Backstage Theatre’s “Out of Order”
Larry, Vintage Theatre’s “Closer”
Clown, Town Hall Arts Center’s “The 39 Steps”
Lumiere, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s “Beauty and the Beast”
Performer: The Avenue’s “Complete World of Sports, Abridged”

James O’Hagan-Murphy:
Robert Kennedy, Vintage Theatre’s “RFK: A Portrait of Robert Kennedy”
Dr. Parker, Equinox Theatre’s “Bat Boy, the Musical”
Richard Hannay, Town Hall Arts Center’s “The 39 Steps”
Stanley, Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Death of a Salesman”

Jeremy Palmer:
Charlie Baker, Phamaly Theatre Company’s “The Foreigner”
Perchik, Phamaly Theatre Company’s “Fiddler on the Roof”
George Bailey, Phamaly Theatre Company’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Tyrell  D. Rae:
Hud, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
Harpo, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”
Seaweed, Evergreen Players’ “Hairspray”
Don Joe, Arvada Center’s “No Dogs Allowed”

Sean Scrutchins:
Tony Kirby, Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ “You Can’t Take it With You”
Lysander, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Malcolm, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Macbeth”
Henry Percy, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Richard II”
Martin, Boulder Ensemble’s “Seminar”

BEST YEAR BY AN ACTRESS:
Rhonda Brown:
Kay, Aurora Fox’s “Consider the Oyster”
Waitress, Lone Tree Arts Center’s “Hank Williams: Lost Highway”
Truvy, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”
Molly Ivins, LIDA Project’s “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins”

Rachel Fowler:
Juliana Smithton, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “The Other Place”
M’Lynn, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”
Lucille, Arvada Center’s “Dividing the Estate”

Sarah Grover:
Dorothy, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”
Anne Frank, Platte Valley Players’ The Diary of Anne Frank”
Alison, Starkey Theatrix’s “Bingo the Musical”
Winifred, Performance Now’s “Once Upon a Mattress”
Iris, Arvada Center’s “No Dogs Allowed”

Devon James:
Garland, Denver Children’s Theatre’s “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse”
Lisa, Miners Alley Playhouse’s “Collected Stories”
Emily, Arvada Center’s “Dividing the Estate”
Kate, Boulder Ensemble’s “Seminar”
Annelle, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”
Julie, Curious Theatre’s “Rancho Mirage”

Haley Johnson:
Maggie, Edge Theatre’s “Shadow Box”
Cass Harris, Miners Alley Playhouse’s “Wonder of the World”
Anna, Vintage Theatre’s “Closer”
Sally Applewhite, Miners Alley Playhouse’s “It’s a Wonderful Life, the Radio Play”

Emma Messenger:
Bella, Vintage Theatre’s “What’s Wrong with This Picture?”
Tom/Phyllis/Leslie, Firehouse/Spotlight’s “Sylvia”
Noleta, Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives”
Big Mama, The Edge’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”
Julia, Firehouse’s “The Christmas Spirit”

Missy Moore:
Essie, Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ “You Can’t Take it With You”
Lilly, Denver Children’s Theatre’s “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse”
Bananas, The Edge’s “The House of Blue Leaves”
Gina/Woman Scorned, Aspen Stage’s Unmarried in America”

Anne Oberbroeckling:
Sister Aloysius, Cherry Creek Theatre’s Doubt”
Stella, Arvada Center’s “Dividing the Estate”
Vera Joseph, Curious Theatre’s “After the Revolution”

Jamie Ann Romero:
Alice, Colorado Springs TheatreWorks’ “You Can’t Take it With You”
Kitty, Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Three Musketeers”
Miss Audrey, Lone Tree Arts Center’s “Hank Williams: Lost Highway”
Titania, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Witch, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Macbeth”
Queen Isabel, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Richard II”

Megan Van De Hey:
Patsy Cline, Starkey Theatrix’s “Always, Patsy Cline”
Arlene, Cherry Creek Theatre’s “Baby”
Carmen, Arvada Center’s “Curtains”
Morgan Le Fey, Arvada Center’s “Camelot”
The Ghost of Christmas Past, Arvada Center’s “A Christmas Carol”

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA:
Patrick Call, Rico, Dangerous Theatre’s “Dark Wood”
Laurence Curry, Oshoosi Size, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”
Steve Emily, Denny, Springs Ensemble Theatre’s “A Steady Rain”
Cajardo Lindsey, Ogun Size, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”
Lorenzo Sarinana, Yank, LIDA Project’s “The Hairy Ape”

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA:
Adrienne Martin-Fullwood, Martha, Athena Project’s “Tell Martha Not to Moan”
Laura Norman, Myra Babbage, Boulder Ensemble’s “Ghost-Writer”
Anne Oberbroekling, Sister Aloysious, Cherry Creek Theatre’s “Doubt”
Erica Sarzin-Borrillo, Mary Tyrone, Germinal Stage-Denver’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”
Maggy Stacy, Maggie, The Edge’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA:
Brian Colonna, Caliban, Buntport’s “Wake”
Damion Hoover, Elegba, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”
Nathan Stith, MacDuff, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “Macbeth”
Andrew Uhlenhopp, Michael, 11 Minutes Theatre’s “Dancing at Lughnasa”
Joe Von Bokern, Billy Bibbitt, Edge Theatre’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA:
Adrian Egolf, Shelby, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”
Rachel Fowler, M’Lynn, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”
Rachel D. Graham, Sister James, Cherry Creek Theatre’s “Doubt”
C. Kelly Leo, Ellen/Jenna, Curious Theatre’s “Maple & Vine”
Emma Messenger, Big Mama, The Edge’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:
David Ambroson, Valjean, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”
Casey Andree, Claude, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
John Arp, Tevye, University of Denver’s “Fiddler on the Roof”
Mark Dissette, Tevye, Phamaly’s “Fiddler on the Roof”
Charlie Schmidt, Princeton/Rod, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s “Avenue Q”

ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:
Jennifer De Dominici, Aldonza, Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”
Lisa Finnerty, Judy, Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 To 5,” The Musical”
Norrell Moore, Sheila, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
SuCh, Celie, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”
Alisha Winter, Maria, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s “The Sound of Music”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:
Colin Alexander, Christopher Belling, Arvada Center’s “Curtains”
William Thomas Evans, Merlyn, King Pellinore, Arvada Center’s “Camelot”
Nigel Huckle, Marius, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”
Mark Shonsey, Igor, Vintage Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein”
Cory Wendling, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s “Avenue Q”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:
Jona Alonzo, Roz, Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5, The Musical”
Ashlie Amber Harris, Shug Avery, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”
Anna High, Sofia, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”
Shannan Steele, Pam, Cherry Creek Theatre’s “Baby”
Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Madame Thenardier, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”

BEST ACTOR IN A COMIC ROLE:
Tom Auclair, Artie, The Edge’s “The House of Blue Leaves”
Sam Gregory, Johann Friedrich Fasch, Boulder Ensemble’s “Bach at Leipzig”
Larry Hecht, Puck, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Steef Sealy, Richard, Ashton Entertainment’s “The Seafarer”
Matthew Stalker, Hugh “Bullshot” Crummond, OpenStage’s “Bullshot Crummond”

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMIC ROLE:
Jenna Bainbridge, Hermia, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Leslie O’Carroll, Madame Arcati, Arvada Center’s “Blithe Spirit”
Erin Rollman, Electra, Buntport’s “Electra Onion Eater”
Jane Shirley, various roles, The Avenue’s “Motherhood Out Loud”
Sharon Kay White, Mary Jo, Arvada Center’s “Dividing the Estate”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMIC ROLE:
Will Ferrie, seven roles, OpenStage’s “Bullshot Crummond”
Nigel Gore, Bottom, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Kevin Leonard, Brother Boy, Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives”
Eric Mather, Town Hall Arts Center’s “The 39 Steps”
Sean Scrutchins, Lysander, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMIC ROLE:
Rhonda Brown, Truvy, Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”
Hannah Duggan, Clytemnestra, Buntport’s “Electra Onion Eater”
Emma Messenger, Noleta, Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives”
Lindsey Pierce, Lois Coleman, Miners Alley Playhouse “Wonder of the World”
Jamie Ann Romero, Titania, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE:
James O’Hagan-Murphy, Robert Kennedy, Vintage Theatre’s “RFK: A Portrait of Robert Kennedy”
Michelle Hurtubise, Woman, Theatre Esprit Asia’s “Spirit and Sworded Treks”
Wendy Ishii, Joan Didion, Bas Bleu’s “The Year of Magical Thinking”

BEST YOUNGER ACTOR:
Eli Brandt, Gavroche, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”
Peter Cabrera, Rudy, Longmont Theatre Company’s “Over the Tavern”
Devon Erickson, Doody, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Grease”
August Slaughter, Rudy, Bas Bleu Theatre’s “Over the Tavern”
Ella Tieze, Irene Ratliff, Arvada Center’s “Dividing the Estate”

BEST ENSEMBLE IN A PLAY:
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Bach at Leipzig”
Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”
Aurora Fox’s “Metamorphoses”
Ashton Entertainment’s “The Seafarer”
Senior Housing Options’ “Steel Magnolias”

BEST ENSEMBLE IN A MUSICAL:
Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”
Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”
Magic Moments’ “Spirit & Soul”
Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”

BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY:
Bernie Cardell, Illumination Theatre’s “Sordid Lives”
Dee Covington, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”
Josh Hartwell, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Ghost-Writer”
Geoffrey Kent, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Amanda Berg Wilson, The Catamounts’ “Failure: A Love Story”

BEST DIRECTORS OF A MUSICAL:
Christopher Willard and Donna Debreceni, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s “Avenue Q”
donnie l. betts and David Wohl, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”
Nick Sugar and Donna Debreceni, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
Kurt Terrio and Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”
Rod Lansberry and David Nehls, Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY:
Alicia Dunfee, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”
Janice Guy-Sayles, Aurora Fox’s “The Color Purple”
Danny Harrigan, Ignite Theatre’s “Cabaret”
Matt LaFontaine, Vintage Theatre’s “In the Heights”
Nick Sugar, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”

BEST SCENIC DESIGN:
Buntport ensemble, “Wake”
Steven J. Deidel, LIDA Project’s “RUR/lol”
Brian Mallgrave, Arvada Center’s “Man of La Mancha”
Shannon McKinney and Chip Walton, Curious Theatre’s “The Brothers Size”
Adam Stone, Screw Tooth’s “Some Kind of Fun”

BEST SOUND DESIGN:
Wayne Kennedy, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”
Dustin Lacy, LIDA Project’s “R.U.R/lol”
Andrew Metzroth, Boulder Ensemble’s “Bach at Leipzig”
John Rivera, Town Hall Arts Center’s “The 39 Steps”
Adam Stone, Buntport Theater’s “Wake”

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN:
Seth Alison, Town Hall Arts Center’s “The 39 Steps”
Kerry Cripe, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Ghost-Writer”
Benjamin Danielowski, Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Miserables”
Steven J. Deidel, LIDA Project’s “R.U.R./lol”
Shannon McKinney, Aurora Fox’s “Metamorphoses”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Kiana Coney, Su Teatro/The Source’s “The Gospel at Colonus”
Cinde Franke, Performance Now’s “Once Upon a Mattress”
Clare Henkel, Arvada Center’s “Curtains”
Linda Morken, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
Linda Morken, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz”

BEST MULTIMEDIA INTEGRATION:
El Armstrong, Phamaly Theatre Company’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Steven J. Deidel, Kenrick Fischer, Kevin Zegan, Max Peterson and Brian Freeland, LIDA Project’s “R.U.R./lol”
Deb Flomberg, Equinox’s “Carrie: The Musical”
Brian Freeland, Town Hall Arts Center’s “Hair”
Brian Freeland, LIDA Project’s “The Hairy Ape”

And remember: Click here to take the readers’ choice survey.

The new Denver Actors Fund: A Q&A

By John Moore
May 31, 2013

Tomorrow night, many of you in the Colorado theater community will be joining us for a late-night gathering of karaoke silliness at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse to raise seed money for the new Denver Actors Fund. Since announcing the new initiative last month, I’ve fielded many questions about my goals for the fund, who will benefit from it, and just exactly how funds will be distributed. The following Q&A should give all of you a better idea of how it will work.

Q: What is the Denver Actors Fund?
A: The Denver Actors Fund will be a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in great and sudden medical need. It is not intended to be a cure-all or a replacement, but rather a safety net to help families tackle small problems in times of crisis or sudden transition.

Q: For example?
A: When Robert Michael Sanders’ routine shoulder surgery left his hands partially paralyzed, there was some talk that he would not be released from the hospital without rails being installed in his bathroom and stairways. It didn’t go down that way, but if it had, I would have been right over to Home Depot that very same day with a few handymen in tow. We would have paid for the rails through the Denver Actors Fund, taken them to his residence and installed them, all on the same day … crossing one thing off his family’s list of immediate concerns. Similarly, if Shelly Bordas finds herself unable to fill her life-saving prescriptions for her terminal brain cancer, we will write the check to fill them. In most cases, money will not directly change hands.

Q: Are you creating the fund in response to the sudden rash of incidences within our community this year?
A: Not specifically. The need for this fund became absolutely clear to me last year, when I was recovering from my own emergency colon surgery. I was well-provided for, and wanted for nothing. But I received a random Facebook message of support from Frank Oteri, a local playwright, stage manager and military vet who had been fitted with a colostomy long before I had. His story deeply affected me. I learned that Frank’s long-awaited “takedown” surgery (which puts you all back together again) was delayed when hospital administrators learned he had not yet fully paid his bill from the first surgery. His innsurance had all but run out. Because he was not expected to still be carrying his colostomy bag at this point, Frank had run out of supplies. I asked him what he was doing for colostomy bags, which must be replaced every 4-7 days, or the patient risks severe skin infection. He had none left, and the bag he had on his belly, he had been carrying for 30 days. I didn’t know Frank then, but I asked where he lived, jumped in my car and delivered him my leftover bags. Had the Denver Actors Fund existed last year, I simply would have gone online, ordered him some bags and overnighted them to his door. As I sat on Frank’s porch handing mine over to this brother I never knew I had, I thought, “There should be a funding source where we can help each other in times like this.” I don’t expect the Denver Actors Fund to be so well-endowed that we ever could have paid Frank’s overdue hospital bill. But I do think we should be in a position to help the next Frank with essential supplies.


Photos by John Moore, Kevin Lowry and Daniel Langhoff.

Q: What kind of things WON’T the Denver Actors Fund support?
A: It won’t pay your rent if you can’t find a job. We can’t help you square a gambling debt. Really no matter the individual circumstances, this will not be the Denver Foundation or the SCFD of medical funds. We won’t be able to completely resolve anyone’s medical crisis. This will offer relief a few hundred dollars at a time in response to medical emergency situations.

Q. What is the benefit of giving to the Denver Actors Fund instead of deciding who gets my money myself?
A: People WILL continue to start Kickstarter campaigns for the next Robert Michael Sanders. And they should. Hopefully we will be in a position contribute to those as well. But wouldn’t it be nice to know that you have already helped start a fund that can help that person on the day of his or her crisis, even if it’s just paying for the patient’s transportation home, rather than that person having to wait for an online campaign to pay out? And wouldn’t it be nice knowing you did something to help start a fund that will be helping a variety of people on an ongoing basis … people you have never even met? You will still have to decide whether every care page that gets started online is something you want to contribute to. But this already will be in place, and ready to help immediately.

Q: What if the medical emergency is death?
A: In the event of a qualifying person’s death, the Denver Actors Fund will be authorized to contribute to any memorial fund or beneficiary designated in that person’s name. That could mean a performing-arts scholarship; a fund to provide for the decedent’s children’s education; or a contribution to, say, the American Cancer Society or a suicide-prevention organization. These decisions will be made by the executive director, who will be accountable to the board for his or her decisions (details below).

Q: Do you have to be an actor to qualify for relief?
A: No, but for legal purposes, I have been (somewhat regrettably) advised to create a specific definition of who qualifies — namely to protect myself from personal legal action should anyone who is turned down for funding decide to sue.

Q: So how are you defining who qualifies?
A: Upon the advice of counsel, we are initially proposing that a recipient must have resided within the seven-county metro-area for at least three months. But a recipient can be anyone who has worked in any creative capacity (onstage or backstage) with a Denver-metro theater company within the past five years. In other words, their name just has to have appeared in a program. Any program. Playwright, director, stage manager, costumer, whatever. And the executive director (me) will reserve the right to make exceptions that might expand the pool on a situational basis. If, say Henry Lowenstein needs a hand, we aren’t going to quibble because he hasn’t worked on a show in five years.

Q: So this is a real fund? Or are you just going to be a guy with a checkbook?
A: It will be a real fund. This month, the Denver Actors Fund filed articles of incorporation with the Colorado Secretary of State, and we have begun the process of applying for 501(c)3 nonprofit status with the IRS. That way, those who make donations with checks will be able to deduct them from their tax returns. I am preparing the mission statement and the first draft of bylaws for the approval of our first board of directors.

Q: And how will that board be structured?
A: For the first year, the size of the board will consist of three people: The president, vice-president and treasurer. The board will serve in staggered, renewable terms. The president will serve an initial three-year term, the treasurer two years and the vice-president one year. Terms will be renewed only with the unanimous consent of the two other board members.

Q: Will you be one of those board members?
A: No, I will begin as the executive director, because I need to be fully accountable. I will field all funding requests and make immediate decisions so that funds can be made available on the same day as the crisis. All grants funded, once distributed, will be available to the public for review. Full disclosure. To the penny.

Q: So what will be asked of your board members?
A: The board will have two primary responsibilities: The first is to actively supervise the allocation of funds by the executive director according to established guidelines. Every quarter, the executive director will make an accounting of all grants given within the past three months. The board will review those grant decisions against the stated goals and parameters of the Denver Actors Fund, and vote whether to continue the executive director’s privilege of dispensing grants, or relieve him or her from that responsibility. In that case, the president of the board will be charged with finding a replacement, who must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the board.

Q: What are the other two primary board responsibilities?
A: To help replenish funds in the account as quickly as they go out. The board will be asked to actively fund-raise to keep the fund growing. If the fund ever drops to 80 percent of its overall balance from the start of any given calendar year, distribution of funds will be suspended until funds are raised to replenish the fund back over the 80 percent threshold.

Q: How much of this board is already in place?
A: Christopher Boeckx is largely responsible for the existence of the Denver Actors Fund as it exists to date, and so he will serve as the inaugural board president. We are actively seeking volunteers for the other openings.

Q: What other ideas do you have to replenish the fund?
A: With recurring, fun events aimed at building community. Also public and private donations. But because the fund is here to benefit the theater community, we will be turning to that very same community to help us raise money and keep momentum going on an ongoing basis. We have come up with a few ideas to help kick that off.

Q: Like what?
A: Chris Boeckx has forwarded two great ideas: First, we will ask every company presenting a show this summer to designate one evening to benefit Denver Actors Fund. Not for their ticket revenue, but rather, we will ask to deliver a curtain speech at some point during the run to educate the audience about the fund and ask for their support. Our equivalent of the Denver Actors Fund change jar will be a tap shoe. On “Denver Actors Fund” nights, we will ask each company to place a tap shoe in the lobby so that audiences can toss in dollars or quarters at intermission or on their way out the door. In addition, we will ask all theaters to designate a place for a permanent backstage tap shoe, where actors and crew can toss their change in the shoe for collection at the end of each run. We may have prizes for the companies that raise the most backstage change.

Q: I can’t attend your fundraiser tomorrow. How you can I help anyway?
A: Just go to our fundraising page here to contribute — with our humble thanks.

Q: But I’m young, strong and have never asked for, or needed help, from anyone. I like the idea of the Denver Actors Fund but, seriously, why should this be important to me?
A: Because you never know when the next person who finds him or herself in need … is you. One day, soon or far, it will be.

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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 or email CultureWestJohn@gmail.com

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 CultureWestJohn@gmail.com)

Joanie Brosseau
Steven Burge
Seth Caikowski
Joel Adam Chavez
Brian Colonna
Rich Cowden
Ben Dicke
Diana Dresser
Hannah Duggan
Aubrie Hamrick
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
Brian Smith
Shannan Steele
Markus Warren
Jalyn Courtenay Webb
Evan Weissman
Lisa Young
Meredith Young
And, fates willing … Megan Van De Hey and Robert Michael Sanders!

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

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.

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

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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 cultureWestJohn@gmail.com)

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: Shelly Bordas benefit performances raise money, lift hearts

The video above is Part 2 from my ongoing video documentary, “The Shelly Bordas Story.”

 

By John Moore
March 4, 2013

Back-to-back benefits for Shelly Bordas on Sunday and Monday nights brought grassroots fundraising efforts to help the cancer-stricken Denver mother, teacher and actor to nearly $30,000.

On Sunday, a concert organized by Mitch Samu was held at the Columbine United Church in Littleton. Some of the theater community’s most accomplished singers offered an evening of pop songs, Broadway tunes and spirituals. Featured performers included Joanie Brosseau, Sarah Rex, Megan Van De Hey, Thad Valdez, Ryan Belinak, Colin Hearn, Barry Brown, Kristen Samu and Tag Worley. The guest speaker was the church’s pastor, Steve Poos-Benson.

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On Monday, a benefit performance of the Broadway musical “9 to 5” was held at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, where Bordas still teaches youth theater classes when she is up for it.

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Both events were “pay what you can.” Sunday’s event raised $1,500; Monday’s another $2,400.

Before Monday’s performance, Denver actor, director and photographer Sarah Roshan presented Bordas with a check for $15,000. That’s the first payout from a fundraising web site Roshan started on GoGetFunding.Com to help defray Bordas’ medical costs, and help establish a college trust for her son, Nathan, who turns 4 next month.

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Bordas has been battling breast cancer since 2009. In December 2012, she learned it has spread to her brain. Doctors have told her they cannot guarantee her a year, or even a week.

Bordas, who was hospitalized for five days last week with a blood infection, was able to attend the first half of Sunday’s benefit concert with her son, Nathan, and the first act of “9 to 5” the next night. At Monday’s benefit, Bordas expressed both her gratitude and embarrassment for all the love that has been flowing her way these past two months.

What got all of these fundraising efforts started was Bordas having to drop out of “9 to 5” to spend as much of her remaining time as possible with her son. She mentioned to the cast that her immediate goal was to take her son on a Disney cruise, “because I need to see that happen.” On Monday, she said she has booked a week-long Disney cruise to the Caribbean launching May 4 to celebrate Nathan’s 4th birthday. She will be accompanied by a team of family and care-givers, all made possible by the generosity of donors from the theater community and around the world.

To learn more about Shelly Bordas’ story, please take a look at my ongoing video documentary, “The Shelly Bordas Story”:

Part 1: “Tit for Tot”
Part 2: “My Son Wins” (embedded at the top of the page)
Part 3 will focus on how the community has responded to Bordas’ illness.

Here’s how fundraising efforts have broken down to date:
GoGet Funding.Com fundraising page: $17,520
Checks mailed to Town Hall Arts Center: $6,000
Benefit performances (including a night of improv at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse): $4,170
Contribution from the family of late actor Doug Rosen: $2,000

Dani Nelson Everson, a hair stylist who has never met Bordas, will host a cut-a-thon to benefit Bordas from 4-6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8 at Clementine’s Denver, 2009 W. 33rd Ave. Phone: 720-328-3594.

Note: the coordinator of all Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts is Kelly Kates. Her email is kateshouse@earthlink.net

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

Photos, Part 1: Benefit performance of “9 to 5”:
All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

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Denver actor Sue Leiser presents Bordas with a production photo signed by the Los Angeles cast of “9 to 5,” currently featuring Denver native and Broadway veteran Beth Malone. They also sent a check for $150 that Malone had collected from L.A. cast members.

 

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Part of the “9 to 5” cast backstage, from left: Taylor Young, Rebekah Ortiz, Norrell Moore, Matthew D. Peters, Rae Klapperich, Melissa Morris and Rob Rehburg.

 

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Shelly Bordas with “9 to 5” director, and old friend, Christopher Willard.

 

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“9 to 5” cast member Matthew D. Peters is having way too much fun with the many readily available costumes backstage at the Town Hall Arts Center.

 

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Sarah Roshan presents Shelly Bordas with a $15,000 check from her fundraising page at GoGetFunding.com

 

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Denver actor Lisa Young.

 

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Margie Lamb, who plays Violet in “9 to 5,” left, with Denver actor Carla Kaiser Kotrc, who attended college with Shelly Bordas at Western State in Gunnison.

(Please click below to go to the next page and see more photos from Sunday’s benefit concert at Columbine United Church.)

Video: The Shelly Bordas Story, Part 2: “My Son Wins”

By John Moore
March 2, 2013

In this ongoing video documentary, veteran journalist John Moore chronicles Denver actor and mother Shelly Bordas’ journey since being diagnosed – for a second time – with Stage 4 breast cancer that has now spread to her brain. In Part 2, Shelly is hospitalized, has her 15th surgery, and faces tough decisions about her place in the Town Hall Arts Center’s staging of the Broadway musical, “9 to 5.” Run time: 8 minutes.

Watch Part 1 of our Shelly Bordas video documentary:
Video: The Shelly Bordas Story, Part 1: “Tit for Tot”

How to help Shelly Bordas:
In the past three weeks, friends have raised more than $20,000 to help Shelly Bordas, and there is plenty of need for it. With the start of the new year, Bordas has a huge new annual health-insurance deductible to chip away at; she just started a demanding new round of chemo; and Bordas has been told she is rapidly approaching her “lifetime insurance payout cap” — meaning that, at some point this year, her insurance company will cut her off. To help defray her medical expenses, and to help establish a college trust for Bordas’ nearly 4-year-old son, Nathan, click here.

Information on other upcoming fundraising efforts:
*A pay-what-you-can benefit concert organized by Mitch Samu will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at Columbine United Church, 6375 S. Platte Canyon Road, Littleton. Featured performers will include Joanie Beyette, Sarah Rex, Megan Van De Hey, Thad Valdez, Ryan Belinak, Colin Hearn, Kristen Samu, Tag Worley, Barry Brown and guest speaker Dr. Steve Poos-Benson. Tickets at the door. Child-care available.

*A “pay what you can” performance of “9 to 5” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 4, with all funds going to Bordas. Tickets at the door, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton.

*Dani Nelson Everson, a hair stylist who has never met Bordas, owns the Clementine’s Denver, where she will host a cut-a-thon to benefit Bordas, from 4-6:30 p.m. on March 8 at 2009 W. 33rd Ave. Phone: 720-328-3594.

Previous reporting on this story:
The initial CultureWest.Org news report on Shelly’s story

Photo series: Opening night of Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5”


The Bordas fund reaches $10,000 in first 24 hours

Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts hit $20,000 after first week


Kirk Montgomery’s “E-Block” report on Channel 9

Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”

Note: the coordinator of all Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts is Kelly Kates. Her email is kateshouse@earthlink.net

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

Photo series: “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theater”: To see my ongoing gallery featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from more than 30 opening nights (and counting), click here.

Photos: My night at Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5”

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The opening night curtain call for the “9 to 5” cast on Feb. 22, 2013.

 

The crew were presented employee badges as opening-night gifts at the opening of Town Hall Arts Center's "9 to 5" - including former cast member Shelly Bordas, who was unable to attend because of a chemo session. Photo by Kelly Kates.

The crew were presented employee badges as opening-night gifts at the opening of Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5” – including former cast member Shelly Bordas, who was unable to attend because of a chemo session. Photo by Kelly Kates.

By John Moore
Feb. 26, 2013

Opening No. 32: The Littleton Town Hall Arts Center cast and crew had to work some overtime to pull off its regional premiere of  “9 to 5,” the stage adaptation of the 1980 hit film. But come together they did, from uncommon staging challenges to the departure of cast member Shelly Bordas, whose cancer battle forced her to leave the show. “9 to 5” is the (thankfully) retro tale of three secretaries who conspire to take control of their company and learn there’s nothing they can’t do in a man’s world. Featuring Margie Lamb, Alison Mueller, Lisa Finnerty, Seth Caikowski and Jona Alonzo. Directed by Christopher Willard. 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or town hall’s home page. Photos by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks to Cheryl McNab, Leslie Rutherford, cast and crew.

Bonus video coverage: Here is a link to Part 1 of our video series bringing you the Shelly Bordas Story. And here’s how you can help defray her medical costs.

Note: A benefit concert for Shelly Bordas and her son will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at Columbine United Church, 6375 S. Platte Canyon Road, Littleton, 80123. And proceeds from a special performance of “9 to 5” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 4, at Town Hall Arts Center, also will be donated to Bordas. Call 794-2787 for reservations.

To see the our full photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre,” featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from 33 Colorado opening nights (and counting), click here.

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

 

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Director Christopher Willard and musical director Donna Debreceni hug it out on the stage an hour before the opening performance.

 

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Stage manager Karin Carter and musical director Donna Debreceni work out the final touches on the recorded musical tracks.

 

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Ensemble member Rae Klapperich stretches out during physical warmups before Friday’s opening performance.

 

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The cast gathers on the Town Hall stage for vocal warmups, above, and a group hug, below, before Friday’s opening performance of “9 to 5.”


OPENING 32

 

(Please click below to go to the next page.)

Video: The Shelly Bordas Story, Part 1: “Tit for Tot”

By John Moore
Feb. 21, 2013

In this ongoing video documentary, veteran journalist John Moore chronicles Denver actor and mother Shelly Bordas’ journey since being diagnosed – for a second time – with Stage 4 breast cancer that has now spread to her brain. Run time: 6 minutes.

Previous reporting on this story:
The initial CultureWest.Org news report on Shelly’s story


The Bordas fund reaches $10,000 in first 24 hours

Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts hit $20,000 after first week


Kirk Montgomery’s “E-Block” report on Channel 9

Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”

Note: the coordinator of all Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts is Kelly Kates. Her email is kateshouse@earthlink.net

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

Photo series: “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theater”: To see my ongoing gallery featuring one intimate, iconic snapshot from more than 30 opening nights (and counting), click here.

2013 theater photo series: It’s Opening Night in Colorado

By John Moore
Jan. 1, 2014

Welcome to my 2013 labor-of-love photo series bringing you iconic snapshots from behind the scenes on opening nights in Colorado theater. This series includes one representative shot from 151 of the performances we saw 2013. The intent was to allow the reader a window into a part of the creative process they are not often allowed to witness. The result was awide swath of public and private moments backstage, onstage and outside of the stage entirely. In addition to this primary series, we dedicated a gallery of outtakes to most every production we visited as well. All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To inquire about reprints, email culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Most recent entry:

OPENING 151
At the end of their final performance last night, it was only fitting that, from left, Scott Koop, Alex Crawford, Amie Rau, Johnette Toye, Annie Dwyer, Rory Pierce, T.J. Mullin (and, unseen, musicians Randy Johnson and Eric Weinstein) had no choice but to stand silently while the overflow cheering crowd stood for several minutes  thanking them not just for an evening of entertainment, but for a quarter century of laughs, songs, terrible puns  and heart-tugging moments.

Opening No. 151: Heritage Square Music Hall’s “Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Goodbye”: It seems only appropriate that the final entry in our “opening nights” photo series was, in fact, a closing night. And what a closing night it was for the Heritage Square Music Hall: A New Year’s Eve celebration, followed by a midnight toast, live band and dancing into the wee hours. For this wasn’t just the end of a show for the Golden institution. That was closing night … period. And not just for T.J. Mullin and his venerable cadre of triple-threat performers. No, this was the end of the kind of entertainment Heritage Square has been providing audiences since Mullin bought the Heritage Square Music Hall from the legendary Bill Oakley in 1988. The Music Hall stopped being an old-fashioned house of melodrama long ago. It evolved into a place that offered blue-collar, comfortable, throwback fun. Clean, family entertainment (the hardest kind of comedy to pull off) that was both ridiculous and impeccably delivered at once. The Music Hall became best-known for its “Loud” shows, a series of pop radio hits performed by a cast that never got the credit it deserved for being among the most talented performers on any Denver stage. That final cast was Alex Crawford, Johnette Toye, Annie Dwyer, Rory Pierce and T.J. Mullin, with musicians Randy Johnson, Eric Weinstein and Crawford, with help from the booth from Scott Koop and Amie Rau. Merry Christmas indeed, Heritage Square Music Hall. And to all of you: Goodbye. Until we see you again. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Connie Helsley. Look for a full photo gallery from the final night in the coming days, as well as a video podcast that will include cast and audience interviews, and some performance highlights.

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

 

Previous entries:

OPENING 148

Opening No. 150: Vintage Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein”: The final opening night of our 2013 series has Mark Shoney jumping for joy. Actually Shonsey, who plays Igor, was pumping himself up during warmups for Friday’s opening-night performance in Aurora. This wickedly inspired re-imagining of the classic Mel Brooks movie follows young Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (“that’s Fronkensteen!”) as he attempts to create a monster, just like his uncle Victor – but not without comic complications. The brains behind the laughter is the mad genius himself – Brooks wrote the music and lyrics and co-wrote the book. This production is the first since renovations to the Vintage Theatre stage that lowered the playing area, allowing for greater vertical playing space. There is also increased wing space that allows for larger sets and larger live orchestras. Musical director Hunter Hall sports a merry band of 11 for “Young Frankenstein.” Starring Seth Maisel (Frederick Frankenstein), Mark Shonsey (Igor), Kristi Siedow-Thompson (Inga), Mike Keinker (The Monster), Shahara Ostrand (Elizabeth), Barbara Porecca (Frau Blucher), Patrick Brownson (Hans Kemp), Chris Gallegos (Victor), Richard-Curtis Simpson (Harold the Hermit) and Zach Nick (Ziggy), with an ensemble of Matt Cantwell, Matt Davis, Steffan Scrogan, David Ballew, Teig Stanley, Preston Britton, Kathi Wood, Kaitlyn Althoff, Bianca Hinchley and Nicole Giordano. Directed by Deb Flomberg. The show plays through Feb. 2. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays at 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintage’s home page . Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Aran Peters, Deb Persoff and Craig Bond.

 

OPENING 149

Opening No. 149: Starkey Theatrix’s “Home for the Holidays 2013″: For theater audiences, and the actors who perform it, a play or musical is an everyday, scheduled, temporary escape. But there are days when there is no escape from the unexpected barbarities the real world has been visiting upon Colorado with cruel regularity over the years: Chuck E. Cheese. Columbine. Platte Canyon. Aurora Century Cinemas. Multiple award-winning actor Margie Lamb (“Next to Normal”) sang and danced in the opening performance of Starkey Theatrix’s “Home for the Holidays 2013″ in Lone Tree on Thursday night. Now just try to imagine her horror when, at 12:36 p.m. the next afternoon, she received the text pictured above from her son, Blake. He’s a junior at Arapahoe High School. That text came in just a few minutes after fellow Arapahoe student Karl Pierson allegedly sought revenge against a teacher by opening fire with a shotgun at the school before taking his own life, police believe. What does a son do in those first few moments of inescapable, indescribable panic? Blake took out his phone and wrote his mom to make sure his parents knew, no matter what might happen next, that he loves them. Lamb immediately rushed from her downtown job to the school in Littleton, where she was reunited with her son, who by then was safe. Together, they became part of the lockdown that kept them both at the school for several more hours. And then, because the clock never stops, there was another show scheduled for Lamb to perform that night. And Lamb, being the pro that she is, went on. The show is a talent-laden bouquet to family audiences, a high-energy trifle meant to lift the community’s spirits during the holiday season. So what better way to stand up to violence and fear than to sing and dance? The musical revue offers some of the most popular holiday music from the past and present, much of it recast with cleverly altered lyrics to suit any given situation. And a wide variety of dancing styles, including gymnastics and a pulse-racing break-dance segment. The narrator is an elf played by Sarah Rex, alongside a deep ensemble made up of some big names in the local theater community including Lamb, Kenny Moten, Randy St. Pierre, Stephen Bertles, the very busy young Alejandro Roldan (“In the Heights” and “Next to Normal”) and Starkey’s founders, Chris Starkey and Ronni Gallup. The ensemble includes Rae Klapperich (who made the more than 100 costumes with her mother, Laurie Klapperich), Wyatt Baier, Hula-Hooper extraordinaire Ambrosia Brady, Olyvia Beyette, Cole Emerine, Erica Lloyd, Britni Girard, Jennifer Lynne Jorgensen, Anne Terze-Schwartz, Kristi Vogel and Tess Williams. In addition, there are special appearances by — I kid you not — members of the Denver Broncos Stampede Drumline, a competitive jump-roping team called the Jumping Eagles, and a dance company called Hip Hop Theatre. Not to mention 14 children and a live orchestra of six. Directed by Paul Dwyer, best known from his days as an actor at the now-closed Country Dinner Playhouse. The music director is Trent Hines; the Choreographers are Matthew D. Peters and John Gilette. Modifications have been made to make this show more accessible to individuals on the autism spectrum, who have learning disabilities or a variety of sensitivities. The show ran from through Dec. 22 at the Lone Tree Arts Center, 10075 Commons St. That’s just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000, or go to Lone Tree’s home page. Thanks: Heidi Echtenkamp.

 

OPENING 148
At its best, live theater in schools empowers young student performers with self-confidence and a sense of both camaraderie and shared accomplishment. At any level, live theater at its best moves audiences … and these two young audience members were clearly moved to, well, move during the Willow Creek Elementary School’s musical, “Dear Edwina Junior.”

Opening No. 148: Willow Creek Elementary School’s “Dear Edwina Junior”: This middle-school fave follows the adventures of plucky advice-giver Edwina Spoonapple as she directs the neighborhood kids in a series of production numbers as part of the latest edition of her weekly “Advice-A-Palooza” extravaganza. Written in the episodic style of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Dear Edwina Junior” takes turns showcasing different members of its young cast. In the case of the fifth-grade musical at Willow Creek Elementary School, one of those cast members was my nephew, Aiden, who played a vampire named Frankenguest. It must be in the (vampire) blood. Aiden his made his stage debut with the school’s “Madd Hatters” group two days shy of his 11th birthday.

 

OPENING 147Young Catamounts cast member Quinn Hirschland jumps for joy – and casts a long shadow – during a pre-show rehearsal for Feed.”

Opening No. 147: The Catamounts’ “Feed: Short and Sweet”: Boulder’s The Catamounts performance collective reference food in their slogan: “Theatre for the Adventurous Palate.” So it’s feeding, I mean fitting, that Amanda Berg Wilson’s young team has turned its unique “Feed” series into its signature offering. “Feed” offers audiences professional storytelling paired with specialty beer and locally sourced food. In this case: A roster of Sanitas beers paired with hand-crafted desserts from Kim and Jake’s Cakes; Sweet Cow Ice Cream; and pastry chefs Dorian O’Connell and Kathy Moore.) They perform while you nosh in the back brewing room at Sanita’s Brewing Company. The food and the theater fare serve as equal partners in creating a cohesive narrative here. The common ingredient for this round of stories: Each evokes sweet moments that arise from The depths of the coldest and hardest times of year, when the days are shortest and challenges the biggest. The Catamounts’ aforementioned Amanda Berg Wilson, Joan Bruemmer-Holden, McPherson Horle and Jeremy Make are joined by guest storytellers Heather Grimes (from Boulder’s “Truth Be Told” story slam) and a boy named Quinn HIrschland to perform a mix of monologues, adapted short stories and real stories from Boulder’s recent floods. There’s some A.A. Milne (“A House is built at Pooh Corner for Eeyore”) in there, with a taste of former Colorado Mines engineering student turned celebrated fiction writer George Saunders (“Tenth of December.”) A second “Feed” has been scheduled to accommodate demand at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. at Sanitas, 3550 Frontier Ave. (off Foothills Parkway and Pearl Street). Tickets are $30. Call 720-468-0487 or go to The Catamounts’ home page.

 

OPENING 146
Introducing one of the lesser-known Knights of the Round Table: Sir Fabio. Scott Severtson, who’s not normally this … maned … plays Sir Dennis, a k a Galahad.

Opening No. 146: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “Monty Python’s Spamalot”: Monty Python has come to Boulder to taunt poor King Arthur, the principled if idiotic leader of the quest for the Holy Grail. Why God the all-knowing has misplaced a cup is anyone’s guess. “Spamalot,” the Tony Award-winning best musical of 2005, lovingly rips off the beloved, warped source film, with its full allotment of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and that one snickeringly legless fightin’ knight. While the plot loosely follows the same course of events as the film, the stage equivalent is very much its own sacrilegious thing, so do not come expecting a carbon copy. We open in Finland, after all. I mean, this is a bona fide Broadway musical, so it’s got to have some actual women too. And here those women are Laker Girls. For real. Starring Wayne Kennedy as the utterly guileless King Arthur, with Alicia Dunfee as his Lady of the Lake. The ensemble includes Brett Ambler, Scott Beyette, Brian Cronin, Barrett Harper, Jessica Hindsley, Bob Hoppe, Brian Jackson, Norrell Moore, Brian Norber, Joey Revier, Scott Severtson, Burke Walton, Tracy Warren, Tracey Zimmerman and … STG … Jerry Lewis (the real Jerry Lewis) as the Voice of God. Directed by Piper Lindsay Arpan, who appeared in the Broadway production of “Spamalot.” Showtimes: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 7:45 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 1:30 and 7:45 p.m. Sundays (dinner service 90 minutes before) through March 1 at 5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or BDT’s home page Thanks: Michael J. Duran, Seamus McDonough, cast and crew.

 

OPENING 145
Noal Blessing, left, and Everett Ediger show off their varying flying machines backstage on opening night. Noal sports a Lego spaceship; Everett sends his paper airplane aloft just as the shutter is snapped. Noal, who has Spastic Cerebral Palsy and a progressive hearing deficit, and Everett, who has Spina Bifida, play the sons of George Bailey. The Phamaly Theatre Company prides itself on adding new levels of complexity and meaning to any production it takes on by virtue of the evident disabilities its actors incorporate into their stage characters. So what we have here is a George Bailey driven to the brink of suicide, only here he’s leaving behind four handicapped kids, two of them young boys in wheelchairs. That certainly adds layers to the emotion-laden issue of suicide. There are those who intractably believe that any act of suicide, for any reason, is inherently selfish and/or sinful. So the very idea of George leaving a wife behind to care for four (adorable) handicapped children here no doubt makes actor Jeremy Palmer’s challenge in playing him sympathetically that much more difficult. But young Jeremy is up to the task. It should be noted that directors Steve Wilson and Bryce Russell Alexander do not have Palmer utter the second half of Jimmy Stewart’s most chilling line of the famous source movie, which he blurts when George is at the depth of his anger and despair: “You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?”

Opening No. 145: Phamaly Theatre Company’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”: This is the acclaimed local handicapped theatre company’s first-ever holiday presentation. The story of George Bailey and his not-so-wonderful life in Bedford Falls (he thinks) remains a timeless fable of dreams, disillusionment and, ultimately, the power of love. The cast includes Jeremy Palmer (George Bailey), Lyndsay Palmer (Mary Bailey), Trenton Schindele (Clarence), Michael Leopard (Mr. Potter) and an ensemble that includes Daniel Traylor, David Wright, Lucy Roucis, Edward Blackshere, Ashley Kelashian, Jaime Lewis, Twanna Latrice Hill, Kim Jackson, Cassie Ferro, Amber Marsh, Tammy Davison, Noal Blessing, Everett Ediger, Lily Blessing, Harper Ediger, Shannon Wilson, Alicia Young, Eric Richerson and Edric Richerson. Co-directed by Steve Wilson and Bryce Alexander. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; plus 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16 and Thursday, Dec. 19. Through Dec. 22 at the Aurora Fox, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-575-0005 or phamaly’s home page. Thanks: Gloria Shanstrom, Chris Silberman, Grace Hartke and Danielle Rankin.

 

OPENING 144
Pssst …. Look who’s REALLY playing the Baby Jesus bundle of joy in Su Teatro’s holiday pastoral? Yes … It’s Minnie Ratón! I think that kid’s got a future in show biz. That’s Jessica Portillo as Proud Mary.

Opening No. 144: Su Teatro’s “La Pastorela”: “The Shepherd’s Play” recounts the epic battle between the dark angel Luzbel (Jesse Ogas and minions) and the sword-swinging San Miguel (Amy Luna). Luis Valdez’s retelling of this centuries-old folktale is a family friendly comedy that follows the trek of humble shepherds as they encounter the Angel of the Lord, who announces the birth of the Redeemer in Bethlehem. Embarking on their spiritual journey in search of the Holy Child, the scruffy shepherds find themselves beset by the demonic followers of Lucifer and Satan, who waylay them with obstacles born of their own human frailties. This adaptation is no sleepy drummer-boy version of the Nativity: it is a pageant of passion, excitement, action, adventure, music and comedy. Valdez, considered “the father of Chicano theatre,” attended Saturday’s performance. It was`his first visit to Su Teatro, though his brother, Daniel, has contributed original music for Su Teatro productions for years. Daniel is the music director of “La Pastorela.” He is in residence at Su Teatro for the next two years, to develop new work with artistic director Anthony J. Garcia as part of a two-year innovation grant from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. In the fields of rural California, without financial backing and using farm laborers as actors, a 25-year-old Luis Valdez singlehandedly created a movement that has since become international in scope. “La Pastorela” is also performed as part of the St. Cajetan’s Reunification Project, an annual event in which Su Teatro and the community recognize the Chicano residential community that was displaced in 1972 for Auraria to be built. Also featuring Lorenzo Gonzales, Charlie Romero, Jaycee Sanchez, an ensemble of dozens and a live band of six. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees (Dec. 15 is reserved solely for AARP members and their families). Through Dec. 22 At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or su teatro’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Mica Garcia de Benavidez.

 

OPENING 142
You know what I was thinking before the opening performance of “A Christmas Carol”? It’s too bad these kid actors are so darned shy. Clockwise from center, that’s Max Raabe (nephew, I found out last night, of longtime Denver Post reporter Steve Raabe),Sam Modesitt, Edwin Harris and Connor Nguyen Erickson

Opening No. 143: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “A Christmas Carol”: The Denver Center Theatre Company’s holiday tradition turns 21 this year with a return to its opulent musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. Twenty-one? That’s older than, like, every kid in this picture combined. The story, of course, traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s overnight journey to redemption. This timeless tale illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. Again starring Philip Pleasants as Scrooge, with Phamaly Theatre Company’s Leonard E. Barrett as the Ghost of Christmas Present, John Hutton as Marley, Jeff Cribbs as Cratchit, Stephanie Cozart as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Douglas Harmsen as Fred, M. Scott McLean as Young Ebenezer, Michael Fitzpatrick as Fezziwig, Leslie O’Carroll as Mrs. Fezziwig, Leslie Alexander as Mrs. Cratchit and Charlie Korman as Tiny Tim. (Check out our short video interview with Charlie here. It’s worth the two minutes, I promise). They are backed by a huge ensemble that includes Colin Alexander, Benjamin Bonenfant, Michael Bouchard, Kathleen M. Brady, Courtney Capek, Jenn Miller Cribbs, Connor Nguyen Erickson, Michael Gaessler, Tanner Gardner, Edwin Harris, Gabe Koskinen-Sansone, Kyra Lindsay, Amelia Modesitt, Sam Modesitt, Gabriel Morales-Gonzalez, Tricia Moreland, Mackenzie Paulsen, Jeffrey Roark, Christine Rowan, Thomas Russo, Maggie Sczekan, Lauren Shealy, Jake Walker and Christopher Wells. Showtimes: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays; 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. Also: 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 24. No performance on Wednesday, Dec. 25. No evening performance on Sunday, Dec. 29. At the Stage Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the denver center’s home page

 

OVER THE TAVERN
Bas Bleu Theatre co-founder Wendy Ishii, right, greets the cast in the dressing room before they face their first audience, a sold-out house in Fort Collins. From left, Thomas Borrillo, Billy Dean Allen and Ailie Holland.

Opening No. 142: Bas Bleu Theatre’s “Over the Tavern”: This bittersweet period comedy looks back at family living over a blue-collar bar in 1959. Four children are caught between the claustrophobic authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic Church and an emotionally abusive father. Only their mother keeps this family afloat. At the center of the piece is precocious 12-year-old rebel named Rudy, who goes knuckle-to ruler-with his formidable teacher, Sister Clarissa, in the questioning of his beliefs. The cast features Thomas Borrillo as Chet (revisiting the bad-dad role he played at the Arvada Center in 2006) Ailee Holland as embattled wife Ellen and Deb Note-Farwell as old-school nun Sister Clarissa, a character who bears a striking resemblance to battleaxe Sister Aloysius in “Doubt.” Director Jonathan Farwell (he won the recent Henry Award for his performance in “Amadeus”) has gathered some fine teen and teen(ish) actors in August Slaughter (perhaps the greatest not-even-fake stage name in stage history), Billy Dean Allen as Georgie, Miles Chandler Horne as Eddie and Erin Johnson as Annie. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. 5 at 401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or bas bleu’s home page. Thanks: Wendy Ishii, Tricia Navarre and Amy Mills. More “Over the Tavern” photos will be posted in the coming days.

 

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Among this lovely crowd of sock-puppets and do-gooders are “Balls” cast members GerRee Hinshaw, Melanie Owen Padilla, Mare Trevathan and Jim Ruberto, as well as staff members from the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, including executive director Erin Jemison and program manager Karen Moldovan.

Opening No. 141: “Balls V! A Holiday Spectacular”: For the fifth straight year, a trio of “Balls Babes” and a standing bass player joined forces to present a rollicking benefit variety show that included audience sock puppet sing-alongs, spontaneous haikus and worthless prizes. “Balls” is slightly bonkers, mostly heartwarming with an emphasis on fun. It played Dec. 1 and 2 this year at Lannie’s ClockTower Cabaret. It again starred GerRee Hinshaw (host of The Bug Theatre’s “Freak Train”), Melanie Owen Padilla (of the Cedar Avenue Blues Band) and local actor Mare Trevathan of Boulder’s Local Theatre Company. Musical accompaniment by Jim Ruberto. Rotating special guests included John Common and Jess DeNicola, Lannie’s emcee Naughty Pierre, comedian Matt Monroe, singing comedian Shayna Ferm and juggler Reid Belstock. This year, proceeds went to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a non-profit promoting safety, justice and healing for survivors of sexual violence. If you missed this year’s “Balls,” you can still make a donation to CCASA here.

 

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Opening No. 140: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “The SantaLand Diaries”: National Theatre Conservatory graduate and Wheat Ridge native Matt Zambrano has constructed a dressing-room tribute to all of the recent Denver actors who have played Crumpet before him. That’s Geoff Kent’s head on the golden reindeer, and a Bille Holiday-ish Gary Culig with an elfin Bernie Cardell atop the clock radio (surrounded by, you know, Merlins and action figures). Zambrano is donning the candy-cane tights for a second straight holiday season telling David Sedaris’ real-life story of working as an elf in the New York Macy’s SantaLand display. Kent preceded Zambrano for three Decembers at the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company; Culig played the caustic elf for 10 straight years at the Vintage Theatre; and Cardell starred for Vintage Theatre. This staging is a co-production with Denver Center Attractions, which is presenting the show in its Garner-Galleria cabaret bar. Directed by Stephen Weitz. Contains adult subject matter and explicit language. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org. (Look for a full, dedicated gallery of “SantaLand” opening-night photos to come). Thanks: Heidi Bosk, Anja Hose Jess Buttery and Maxie Beth Bilyeu. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Tuesdays; also 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. No performances on Wednesdays. No performance on Tuesday, Dec. 3. At the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the Denver Center’s ticketing page

 

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Opening No. 139: Arvada Center’s “A Christmas Carol”: Emily Ann Luhrs accepted two marriage proposals on Tuesday. First, as herself, she agreed to marry longtime boyfriend and “A Christmas Carol” castmate Ben Dicke, mutton chops and all. Ben (star of the self-produced “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson last year at the Aurora Fox), presented the ring at a private dinner before last night’s opening performance. Just an hour or so later, Emily, playing a character named Emily (!), accepted another marriage proposal from young Ebeneezer Scrooge. One not being played by Ben Dicke. Nervy! (In her defense, she does give THAT ring back.) The Arvada Center’s version of “A Christmas Carol,” back after a year off, is the 1994 musical adaptation of Dickens’ classic story, written by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens, featuring music by Alan Menken (Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”). The cast features Richard White as Ebenezer Scrooge — he was the voice of Gaston in the “Beauty and the Beast” animated film), Cole Burden (Bob Cratchit), Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck (Ghost of Christmas Future), Megan Van De Hey (Ghost of Christmas Past), Stephen Day (Ghost of Christmas Present) and Brad Nacht (Jacob Marley). The ensemble members also include Joanie Brosseau-Beyette, Stephen Cerf, Rob Costigan, Jennifer DeDominici, Maddie Franke, Kaden Hinkle, Tim Howard, Hannah Katz, Charla Mason, David Miller, Julia Perrotta, Katie Phipps, Gregory Price, Parker Redford, Vincent Rodriguez, Mark Rubald, Robert Michael Sanders, Nate Patrick Siebert, Jacob Lewis Smith, Ron Tal, Rachel Turner, Kira Vuolo and Sharon Kay White. Directed by Gavin Mayer. Showtimes through Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 1 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. No performance on Thanksgiving (Nov. 28). At 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or the Arvada Center’s home page. Thanks: Melanie Mayner, Rod Lansberry, Pat Payne, Lisa Cook, Lisa Kurtz, cast and crew.

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Opening No. 138: Equinox Theatre Company’s “Carrie: The Musical:” This musical takes a legit stab at adapting Stephen King’s novel for the musical stage. Carrie White is a misfit. At school, she’s an outcast who’s bullied by the popular crowd, and virtually invisible to everyone else. At home, she’s at the mercy of her wacko, overprotective mother. But Carrie has just discovered she’s got a special power, and if pushed too far, she’s not afraid to use it… And you already know she does: When Carrie is humiliated at the prom, she wreaks havoc on everyone and everything in her path. Audiences should know that unlike recent stagings of “Night of the Living Dead” and “Evil Dead” at the Bug Theatre, “Carrie” is not a campy satire. It is written very much in the vein of traditional Broadway fare. “Carrie” stars Haley DiVirgilio, Terra Salazar, Shahara Ray, Dana Hart Lubeck, Devin Bustamante and Ember Everett; and features Chris Arneson, Joseph Graves, Savannah Lake, Chelsea Winslow, Ashley Brown, Taylor Sommer, Chris Riney, James L. Crapes and Zach Nick. Directed by Colin Roybal and Hunter Hall. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 30 at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page. Thanks: Lauren Meyer, Deb Flomberg, Leticia Bisgard, cast and crew.

 

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Opening No. 137: Midtown Arts Center’s “Les Misérables”: This production closed on Saturday night, but the buzz on it was so strong all the way down from Fort Collins, I wanted to see it — and represent it in our photo series — before it was too late. And it lived up to its billing. They may have been prodded, but it didn’t take much cajoling to get the screaming dinner patrons to wave their red napkins at the curtain call in support of the rebellion — and the production they had just seen. In all, more than 9,000 attended “Les Misérables” during its 12-week run, making it the second-most attended show in Midtown (formerly the Carousel Dinner Theatre) history. No. 1: “Shrek, the Musical.” “Les Misérables” featured a cast made up of both established local actors and a few who were brought in from New York. It starred David Ambroson as Jean Valjean and featured Brandon Schraml as Javert, Amy Madden Copp as Fantine, Nigel Huckle as Marius, Colleen Johnson as Eponine, Lisa Carter as Cosette, Colin Morgan as Enjolras, Michael Lasris as Thenardier and Jalyn Courtenay Webb as Mrs. Thenardier. The directors were Kurt Terrio, Jalyn Courtenay Webb (vocals) and Casey Cropp (orchestra). Thanks: cast and crew.

 

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Opening No. 136: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Jackie & Me: Linda G. Alvarado, co-owner of the Colorado Rockies baseball team, congratulates 22-year-old actor Aaron Davidson for his opening-night performance by allowing him to wear her 2007 World Series ring. Davidson, a Colorado native and graduate of the Denver School of the Arts, plays Joey Stoshack, a 12-year-old boy who is bullied because of his Polish descent. When the boy goes back in time to 1947, he not only witnesses Jackie Robinson break the baseball color barrier, his own skin color changes in the process, giving him a whole new perspective on prejudice and discrimination. Alvarado is president and CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc., which built Sports Authority Field at Mile High. She is also a member of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and was named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business Magazine. When the Rockies were awarded a franchise, Alvarado became the first Latino owner, male or female, in Major League Baseball history, and the second female owner in the big leagues. “Jackie & Me” is written by Denver native Steven Dietz, who also wrote “Rancho Mirage,” which is presently being performed by the nearby Curious Theatre Company through Dec. 7. “Jackie & Me” is directed by Stephen Weitz. Also starring William Oliver Watkins (top right of photo) and featuring Michael Santo, Kristen Adele, Ryan Wuestewald, Diana Dresser, Timothy McCracken, Leigh Miller, John Jurcheck and Justin Walvoord. It runs through Dec. 22 in the Space Theatre. Showtimes are variable because of a preponderance of student matinees during the week. Generally there are public performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 1:30 p.m. Sundays. Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site. Thanks: Lyle Raper, Alexandra Griesmer.

Video: Watch as the cast of “Jackie & Me” takes a field trip to a Lakewood batting cage, and gets a tour of Coors Field.

 

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Pictures of pictures of cast members arranged on a lit lobby tree. Not pictured: Kevin Lowry.

Opening No. 135: Betsy Stage’s “The Travesty of Lear”: There’s a new theater sheriff in town, and she’s doing things a little differently. Shannon McAndrews is the general manager of the Betsy Stage (not to be confused with Boulder’s BETC, also colloquially referred to as “Betsy”) and get this — the shows are all free. Always. And the actors get paid. Decently, even. How do they do it? There’s a benefactor, McAndrews says. A Lear with a kingdom, apparently, to partition out, only for the making of art. The company’s mission is to “adapt Elizabethan theater for a new audience.” Here, Shakespeare’s “King Lear” is set in the Old West. Lear is the owner of the Scarlet Slipper Saloon. Here he divides his kingdom by putting his three favorite prostitutes to the test. The script is rife with one-liners, but sticks to the Shakespeare in tone. They call in “Shakespeare spiked,” but it’s more like Shakespeare with a “Deadwood” ear. You may recognize some of the names — Phil Luna and Kevin Lowry, for example, but even those you might not recognize make for a pretty decent ensemble. Starring Michael Vasicek as Lear and also featuring Patti Murtha, Brooks Mullen, Michal Andrea Meyer, Jacob Abbas, Todd Simmonds, Elinor Reina, Jeannie Saracino, Jim Hitzke and R.J. Harris. Directed by Samantha McDermott. Again, all tickets are free … really … the bar is even run on an honor system. But please call for reservations, or email Lear@Betsystage.com (though you won’t be turned away if you don’t). “The Travesty of Lear” plays through Jan. 25. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays at 1133 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or go to betsy’s home page. Thanks: Jennifer McCray.

 

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Erik Edborg, left, and Andrew Horwitz backstage before Buntport’s “Electra Onion Eater.” Some photos … some completely candid photos … require no explanation.

Opening No. 134: Buntport Theater’s “Electra Onion Eater”: “Hilarious. Squeamish. Incorrigible … Sunburnt.” Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have stumbled upon Buntport Theater’s new slogan. Buntport kicks off its 13th season of innovative, organic and original collaboration with a modern adaptation of Sophocles’ classic yarn. Set in the kitschy pop-culture world of the 1970s, Electra waits patiently for her studly, sunburned brother (a hybrid of Selleck, Reynolds, Hasselhoff and Hutch, to return home in order to enact revenge on their mother for killing their father (who had killed their sister — you know, just the usual family dynamic). With nothing but time on her hands, Electra watches soap operas, cuts patches in her scalp and makes onion pies as offerings to the gods. Also featuring Erik Edborg, Hannah Duggan and guest star Drew Horwitz as … Bruce. And Samantha Schmitz pushing all the right buttons. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 23 at 717 Lipan St. Call 720-946-1388 or go to Buntport’s web page.

 

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Brian Landis Folkins puts one of his core performing skills — juggling — to useful use before a performance of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Edge Theatre.

Opening No. 133: The Edge’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”: Brian Landis Folkins plays the boozy, brutal and broken Brick, who is tormented by the death of his best friend (and the incriminating inferences made about that friendship) in Tennessee Williams’ uncompromising tragedy, presented here in its ugly, unedited glory by director Angela Astle. In the tradition of O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” the play follows one long day of a Southern family in inebriated crisis. (But which came first? “Long Day’s Journey” was written 13 years earlier, but wasn’t published until a year after “Cat” won Williams a Pulitzer Prize in 1956.) The story is set on the night of a gathering at the family estate in Mississippi to celebrate the birthday and apparent good health of patriarch Big Daddy Pollitt (Russell Costen). Much like “Death of a Salesman,” the story is a constant joust between appearances and delusion and the malleable, elusive truth. And starving in the corner of this house of malice and death is a wounded, feral alleycat named Maggie (Maggy Stacy). Also featuring Emma Messenger, Marc Stith, Kelly Alayne Dwyer, Ryan Goold, Bob Byrnes, Geri Crawley, Banji Osindero, Sonsharae Tull, Amelia Modesitt, Sam Modesitt, Aliza Fassett and Pace Becker. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 17 at 1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or the edge’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Amelia Retureta, Rick Yaconis, Patty Yaconis. To see the entire “Opening Nights” photo series, click here: www.culturewest.org/?p=6068.

 

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Dawn Bower, left, and Sasha Fisher put the dancing in the “Dancing at Lughnasa” during a pre-show “dance call.”

Opening No. 132: 11 Minutes’ ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’: 11 Minutes Theatre Company’s “Dancing at Lughnasa”: The 11 Minutes may be one of the area’s newest theater companies, but they perform in the historic and cozy Arvada Festival Playhouse, believed to be the oldest building in Arvada. The company is the work of Janine Ann Kehlenbach, who has put together a tight and talented “Dancing at Lughnasa,” Irish playwright Brian Friel’s answer to “The Glass Menagerie.” It’s a memory play told intermittently through a narrator (a wonderful Andrew Uhlenhopp) as he remembers one summer in 1936 with his mother and four aunts. As he recounts the story, we go back in time and watch as these five feisty women confront their loves, hardships and a society whose customs are not changing fast enough. Also featuring Margaret Amateis Casart, @Sasha Fisher, Janet Mylott, Sara Michael, Dawn Bower, Kevin R. Leonard (“Sordid Lives”) and Charlie Ault as the uncle missionary who has just returned from an African leper colony with malaria. Ault’s family started the Festival Playhouse’s resident company (the Festival Players) nearly 80 years ago. Their next offering is “Somethin’ Special for Christmas,” opening Nov. 19. “Lughnasa” plays through Nov. 16. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; also 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 at 5665 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., 303-422-4090, or go to the Festival Playhouse’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Janine Ann Kehlenbach, Amy Hanselmann and Donna Ault.

 

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“It’s been a year … did you miss me, Denver?” “Rancho Mirage” marks oft-honored freakyman actor Bill Hahn’s return to the stage since last appearing at Curious in “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.” Here, he plays a freakily normal-seeming suburban husband. Which, for Bill, is, you know … freaky.

Opening No 131: Curious Theatre’s “Rancho Mirage”: Colorado native Steven Dietz’s latest play continues Curious’ entire season of evident if perhaps unintentional looks at dysfunctional family relationships. Here, six longtime “friends” (?) gather for one final dinner party. The evening unfolds with comic surprises, alarming secrets and near-farcical bombshells. Also featuring Erik Sandvold, Emily Paton Davies, C. Kelly Leo, David Russell, Karen Slack and Devon James. Directed by Christopher Leo. Dietz is now the most produced playwright in Curious history. Dietz also wrote “Jackie & Me,” which will be performed by the Denver Center Theatre Company, opening Nov. 15. “Rancho” showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 7 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or Curious’ web page. Thanks: Sean Cummings, Kate Marie.

 

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Oooh, Edgar Allan Poe, he’s so scary, can’t you tell? From left: Nancy Flanagan, Seth Maisel, Kristin Mair and Michael Gurshtein yuk it up before one of the Byers-Evans House Theatre Company’s final performances before the troupe moves to RiNo as the new Ripple Effect Theatre Company.

Opening No. 130: Byers-Evans House Theatre Company’s “Evermore”: Maggie Stillman’s company, which specializes in the period macabre, is presenting its final show in the environs of the Byers-Evans House. She’s renaming her troupe the Ripple Effect Theatre Company and moving into a bona-fide theater in RiNo that is about to be vacated. (We’ll leave it to you to connect those dots.) Her goodbye to the museum tells the romantic whims and publishing difficulties of Edgar Allan Poe. We open October 1849. Poe has recently died, and his literary executor is compiling Poe’s works for posthumous publication. Memories of Poe’s final years full of love, hate, loss, and literature are played out through the memories of Dr. Griswold and Poe’s mother-in-law, Maria Clemm. Poe’s best-known tales and poems are woven into the dialogue. Featuring Seth Maisel, Kristin Mair, Michael Gurshtein and Nancy Flanagan. Directed by Ed Berry. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 16 at 1310 Bannock St., 303-620-4933. Thanks: Dana Huss, Orianna Keating and Maggie Stillman. Click here to see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series.

 

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Burke Walton works hard for your money … so you better treat him right.
Opening No. 129: Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s “The Full Monty”: The photo above shows a side of working the dinner-theater circuit that most audiences don’t see: The actors settling up at the end of each performance. (Most times they don’t do it in robes, but most times, it’s not “The Full Monty,” hah.) Most actors also bus tables for the tips that, combined with their acting stipends, help make for something approximating a liveable wage doing what they love to do on the stage. It’s a good opportunity to remind readers that when you attend theater that involves personal service, the performers are primarily working for your gratuity. OK, so back to “The Full Monty”: Based on the popular British film, this now ubiquitous tale has five unemployed steelworkers (moved for the stage to Buffalo) who come up with a bold way to make some quick cash: By taking off their clothes. In the process, they find renewed self-esteem and the importance of friendship. “The Full Monty” stars Seth Caikowski as Jerry, the gruff but well-meaning dad who’s desperate to make some cash to keep visitation rights with his son. Also featuring Joel Adam Chavez as Dave; Scott Beyette (also the director) as Harold, Burke Walton as Ethan, Brett Ambler as Malcolm, and longtime big-time vocalist Robert Johnson (17th Avenue All-Stars) as Horse. The cast also includes Alicia Dunfee, Shelly Cox-Robie, Amanda Earls, Jason Vargas, Joanie Brosseau, Scott Severtson, Tracy Warren, Jessica Hindsley, Norrell Moore, Bob Hoppe (alternating with Matthew D. Peters), and young Thomas Russo as Nathan (alternating with Kaden Hinkle). Showtimes: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 7:45 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 1:30 and 7:45 p.m. Sundays (dinner service begins 90 minutes before) through Nov. 9 at 5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or go to BDT’s home page. Thanks: Michael J. Duran, Seamus McDonough, Neal Dunfee and Brian Jackson.

 

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The cast of the Evergreen Players’ “All My Sons” circles up for one last bit of bonding before taking the stage. Joe Wilson, left, had just left the pre-show ritual to take a final solitary moment in the dressing room before the play began. He plays Joe Keller.

Opening No. 128: Evergreen Players’ “All My Sons”: Arthur Miller wrote “All My Sons” as a final attempt at writing a commercially successful play. If the play failed to find an audience, he had vowed “to find some other line of work.” What resulted was perhaps his masterpiece. “All My Sons” is based on a true story a child who informed on her father who had sold faulty parts to the U.S. military during World War II. Asked in a TV interview what about the story had inspired him, Miller said, “I was fascinated by the idea that a child could have this kind of moral courage.” When asked why he changed the gender of the character for his play, Miller said, “At the time I didn’t understand women very well.” The cast features Joe Wilson, Jacquie Jo Billings, Jennifer Condreay, Jordan Crozier, Cindy Laudadio Hill, Brandon Palmer, Ken Paul, Eric Ritter, JR Cody Schuyler, and young Spencer Coffey as young Bert. Directed by Len Matheo. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 10 at Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or go to the Evergreen Players’ home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Rachael Henney. To see the entire “Opening Nights” series to date, click here.

 

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Among the many ridiculous tasks contestants must endure is having a salad tossed … onto your head. For starters.

No. 127: Off-Center @ The Jones’ “Wheel of Misfortune”: This new theatrical adventure from is billed as “the scariest game show ever.” It invites audience members to compete in everyday tasks that Vanna’s … er, Bruce’s magic Wheel of Misfortune makes terrifyingly difficult. Competitors must master trivia, solve puzzles and surmount ridiculous physical obstacles — all for your enjoyment. (If you are not one of the contestants). The two finalists will go head-to-head in a lightning round designed by the LIDA Project’s Brian Freeland. (He’s not only the purveyor of some of the freakiest theater in town, he’s moving to New York after all of this is over — so he has nothing to lose.) To maximize the contestants’ humiliation, “Wheel of Misfortune” is being videotaped, as any game show should be, for later airing as an online web series. They are touting “Wheel of Misfortune” as “the show that everyone might one day be possibly raving about.” The hosts are Bruce Montgomery, Mark Sonnenblink and Emily K. Harrison. The second of two initial tapings is at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 at The Jones, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1101 13th St. (Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street), 303-893-6090 or off-center’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Jane McDonald, Charlie Miller, Emily Tarquin. To see the entire “Opening Nights” series to date, click here. Read my profile of game-show host Bruce Montgomery here.

 

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Opening No. 126: Phamaly Theatre Company’s “Vox Phamalia: G.I.M.P. Nation”: Who’s a douchebag? According to the Disability News Team (Daniel Wheeler, left, who has Crohn’s Disease, and Stewart Caswell, who has cerebral palsy), it’s the CEO of Goodwill Industries, who lobbied for legislation that allows businesses to pay the handicapped a fraction of minimum wage based on their performance on a test that measures their ability to complete ordinary tasks against able-bodied people. That’s one example of the cutting but good-natured comedy that director Edith Weiss gets out of her cast for this annual sketch-comedy revue. This year’s show features all-new material including “Sex and the Pity,” “Suicide Hotline” and “Your Own Private Hell.” Plus, they explore the subject of dwarf-tossing. Vox Phamalia is the result of an annual writing-to-performance development workshop with Weiss, designed for Phamaly members. The cast includes 15 actors with disabilities, including veterans Lucy Roucis, David Wright, Amber Marsh and James Sherman, along with new or near-new faces Harper Liles, Dominique Frary, Daniel Wheeler, Jeff Zinn, Khea Craig, Paul Migliorelli, Stewart Caswell, Kim Jackson and Naomi Morrow. Intended for audiences 16 and older. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays at 2 p.m.; also 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 28) at the Laundry on Lawrence, 2701 Lawrence St., 303-575-0005 or phamaly’s home page. Thanks: Jean Egdorf and Gloria Shanstrom.

 

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There’s nothing elder about A.J. Holmes and Nic Rouleau, the young actors who play the idealistic Elders Cunningham and Price in the national touring production of “The Book of Mormon.” They are pictured here after the official opening night of the Tony-winning musical’s second national touring stop in Denver on Oct. 23. The party location was Pizza Republica.

Opening No. 125: National touring production of “The Book of Mormon.” When the first “Book of Mormon” national touring production debuted in Denver last year, the 51,000 available seats moved in five hours. By the time the longer return engagement opened here on Tuesday, nearly all of the 111,506 seats already were snatched up. Broadway’s 2011 Tony-winning best musical has moved from the Ellie Caulkins Opera House into the Buell Theatre, opening up about another 600 seats per performance. Like the first national company a year ago, the Denver engagement launches the second national tour with a new cast headed by Nic Rouleau, who plays Elder Price, and A.J. Holmes, who plays Elder Cunningham. The musical tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda, where a brutal warlord is threatening the local population. Naive and optimistic, the two missionaries try to share their scriptures – which only one of them knows very well – but have trouble connecting with the locals, who are more worried about war, famine, poverty and AIDS than about salvation. This profane, witty religious satire lampoons organized religion and traditional musical theater. It was written by Colorado natives Trey Parker and Matt Stone (“South Park”) with Robert Lopez (“Avenue Q”). The cast includes Tallia Brinson, who appeared in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Ruined.” Directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker. There are scattered single tickets remaining, and a daily lottery for 24 discounted, front-row seats will be held 2 1/2 before every performance. Contains explicit language. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 24. At the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the denver center’s home page. Photo by John Moore. Thanks: Heidi Bosk.

 

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Pals and co-stars Steve Emily, left, and Matt Radcliffe enjoy a lighthearted backstage moment (Matt is pretending to toss scalding coffee in his partner’s face) before a recent performance of “A Steady Rain” in Colorado Springs.

Opening No. 124: “Springs Ensemble Theatre’s “A Steady Rain”: If you loved “The Shield” on FX, you are certain to get Vic Mackey flashbacks while watching the equally round-headed rogue cop played by Steve Emily in this uncompromising crime drama by Keith Huff. In the story, two cops are longtime partners, best friends since childhood … and seriously flawed human beings. One is single, a recovering alcoholic and lonely. The other is married with children, but there are clearly … shades of Mackey. What begins as a routine domestic disturbance call snowballs into an uncompromising downfall that tests their loyalties. For mature audiences. Through Oct. 27. Starring Steve (Vic Mackey) Emily as Denny and Matt Radcliffe as Joey. Directed by David Palmbeck. Remaining showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, plus 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at 1903 E. Cache La Poudre in Colorado Springs. Call 719-447-1646 or go to springs ensemble’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.. Thanks: Keri Pollakoff and Keegan Jenney.

 

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Opening No. 123: The Catamounts’ “Failure,” A Love Story”: Meredith C. Grundei, playing one of the fated Fail Sisters, goes for a pre-show swim practice safe in the arms, er, feet, of castmates Ed Cord, front, and Ryan Wuestewald. Her character swims the Chicago River. “Failure” is a fanciful musical fable about the triumphs, aspirations and untimely demises of three Chicago sisters who never saw death coming. Set in 1928 in a clock shop on the edge of the Chicago River, this wistful comedy that tells the stories of all three sisters, and the one man who loved them all. “Failure” also features Joan Bruemmer, Ed Cord, Crystal Verdon Eisele, Michelle Hurtubise, Trina Magness, Jeremy Make and Jason Maxwell, with Nina Rolle providing live various music (which includes a bell on her head). There are four remaining performances, at 8 p.m. tonight (Oct. 21, all ticket sales will go toward flood relief in Boulder County), Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Oct. 26) at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. The Saturday performance will be preceded by a community meal from a menu inspired by the play. Call 303-440-7826, or go to the The Catamounts’ home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.. Thanks: Andy Bakehouse

 

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Opening No. 122: Denver Center Theatre Company’s “The Most Deserving”: Hold that tiger! Or should I say, “Hold that, Tiger?” Sam Gregory wants you … to see him (very nearly ALL of him) in the Denver Center’s world premiere comedy about amateur art and amateur politics in a tiny West Kansas town. The local arts council has $20,000 to award to a hometown artist with an “under-represented American voice.” Should they choose the son of a town big-shot, thus guaranteeing their continued funding; or the mentally unstable, self-taught “Trash Man” who creates religious figures out of rubbish? Gregory, believe it or not, is NOT playing the unstable Trash Man. Rather, he’s a ponytailed British beatnik on the lookout for a shag. (And a member of the town arts council.) The play explores how gossip, politics and opinions of art can decide who is “the most deserving.” Also featuring Jeanne Paulsen, Judith Hawking, Rebecca Miyako Hirota, Craig Bockhorn and Jonathan Earl Peck (who once played Othello at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival). Written by Catherine Trieschmann. Directed by Shelley Butler. “The Most Deserving” runs through Nov. 17 at the Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets. Showtimes: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. Sundays. Call 303-893-4100 or go to the denver center’s home page. Thanks: Rachel Ducat, Mariah Becerra.

 

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Julia Hemp as Belle and Mateo Correa as Belle and Lumiere in the Denver School of the Arts’ no-holds-barred fall musical, “Beauty and the Beast.”

Opening No. 121: Denver School of the Arts’ “Beauty and the Beast”: Denver School of the Arts is an arts magnet school that serves grades 6-12 in the Denver Public Schools. It regularly produces such top-notch theater kids that recent graduate Gabriel Ebert just won the Tony Award as best supporting actor in a Broadway musical (for “Matilda”) — and he never even did musicals back at DSA. Saturday’s first-ever DSA Friends Foundation gala showed off students in every discipline, but centered on a no-holds-barred performance of “Beauty and the Beast.” Sporting a cast of more than 80, an orchestra of 25 and production values professional companies would theatrically die for, the students managed to produce a staging that, while still very much educational theater, managed to meet or exceed any reasonable professional expectations in several areas. DSA teacher Shawn Hann directed the spectacle (her first at the school in three years), and the endlessly creative choreography was by Brandon Becker. (“Be Our Guest” pulled a mid-show standing O — and it deserved it.) The results were so stirring, we can forgive the director for her absolutely adorable sucker-punch: Casting her cutey-pie 5-year-old daughter Tihun Hann as the Dinner Bell. The show starred Julia Hemp as Belle, Austin Marquez as the Beast, Logan D. Snodderly as Gaston, Jimmy Bruenger as Lefou (he played the spunky, doomed Gavroche in the Arvada Center’s “Les Mis” back in the day), Mateo Correa as Lumiere, Jeremy Willis as Cogsworth, Taylor Bowman as Mrs. Potts, Madison Kitchen as Bebette, Randy Ho as Maurice, Jackie Smook as the Wardrobe, and dozens more. Saturday’s performance was preceded by the presentation of the school’s first Community Arts Leadership Award, which went to “Just Like Us” author Helen Thorpe. The stage adaptation of Thorpe’s book opens for previews on Oct. 4 by the Denver Center Theatre Company. The award presenter was Susan Daggett, an environmental attorney, DSA mom and wife of Colorado Senator Michael Bennet. (Their daughter made a video appearance in the Denver Center’s production of “The Giver” last season.) Also in attendance was Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Read more about that here.

 

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Opening No. 120: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s “Seminar”: John Ashton capped a crazy week with a triumphant opening performance on Friday night. Three days before the opening performance, Ashton was deployed by his day job, FEMA, to working 12-hour daily shifts in response to the flooding in Boulder. The extra busy-ness didn’t seem to affect his performance. He’s pictured above before the show, running through a tense scene opposite stage manager Maxie Beth Bilyeu. In Theresa Rebeck’s latest exploration of nasty human behavior, four aspiring young novelists find themselves in over their heads when they sign up for private writing classes with Leonard, a force of nature and washed-up international literary figure (Ashton). Under his reckless instruction, the wordplay is not the only thing that turns vicious. Recommended for 16 and older. Featuring Matthew Blood-Smyth, Devon James, Mary Kay Riley and Sean Scrutchins. Directed by Stephen Weitz. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; plus 4 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 20 at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc’s home page. Thanks: Maxie Beth Bilyeu, Rebecca Remaly Weitz.

 

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Opening No. 119, Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Death of a Salesman”: Some call this the most important play ever written, and after actors Mike Hartman and Lauren Klein conquered the iconic roles of Willy and Linda Loman on opening night, the real-life married couple deserved a party. Though they settled for a seat. Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning drama is the story of an aging, deluded and failing salesman who cannot accept that his dreams for his family are no match for the sad realities of their ordinary lives. This heartbreaking indictment of the American Dream is an actor’s dream. Showtimes: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 1:30 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 20 at the Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

 

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Opening No. 118: National touring production of “Sister Act”: Kingsley Leggs plays bad-guy Curtis Jackson on stage, but in real-life, nice guy Kingsley makes the painfully early morning rounds with local radio stations, pictured here with KOOL 105’s Kris and Kelly, and later with KEZW’s Rick Crandall. Denver audiences know Kingsley from the extended world premiere of “Almost Heaven: Songs and Stories of John Denver” with the Denver Center Theatre Company. Now he’s playing in the movie-turned-musical that Whoopi Goldberg made famous. “Sister Act” tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look — a convent. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 6 at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

 

OPENING 117

Opening No 117: The Wit Theatre’s “Edges: A Song Cycle”: The Wit Theatre Company executive director Kristin Honiotes congratulates the cast of “Edges, A Song Cycle” with a toast before the opening performance. That’s Alex Evert and Blake Nawa’a to her left. This non-traditional musical follows burgeoning adults sorting through classic coming-of-age questions. The songs cover universal issues such as love, commitment, identity and meaning. Characters confront emotions, escaping expectations and deciphering complicated relationships. Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, recipients of the 2006 Jonathan Larson Award. Directed by Valerye Rene and featuring Marissa Romer, Blake Nawa’a, Tyler Nielson, Alex Evert, Erica Trisler, Nancy Begley, Juliet Garcia, Christopher Galinski and Chris Arneson. Showtimes: 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 5 at the Crossroads Theater, 2590 Washington St., 303-296-3798 or wit’s ticketing page at http://thewittheatrecompany.ticketleap.com/edges. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here: www.culturewest.org/?p=6068

 

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Opening No. 116: Starkey Theatrix’s “Bingo, the Musical”: This audience-included musical comedy is about a group of die-hard Bingo players who let nothing get in the way of their weekly game. Best girlfriends Vern, Honey and Patsy brave a terrible rainstorm (life imitating art?) to get to their game. As the storm knocks out power at the Bingo hall, audiences learn of an another ominous night 15 years before that created a still-unresolved conflict. In-between the number-calling, superstitious rituals and fierce competitions, long-lost friends reunite. Audiences play three games of Bingo along with the cast. Directed by Ben Dicke and featuring Jona Alonzo, Sarah Grover, Lacey Connell, Jennifer Lynne Jorgenson, Alannah Moore, Laura Presley Reynolds and Josh Nelson. This special engagement runs this weekend only. Remaining showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Friday (Sept. 13); 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 14); 2 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 15). At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or PACE’s ticketing page. Thanks: Shaun Albrechtson and Ronni Stark.

 

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Opening No. 115, Arvada Center’s “Camelot”: A shy young Nate Patrick Siebert, one of two boys who play Tom of Warwick, prepares to present castmate David Bryant Johnson, who plays King Arthur, with flowers at the cast party following Tuesday’s opening performance. This classic Lerner and Lowe musical focuses on the love triangle between King Arthur of England, his feisty Queen Guenevere; and the invincible French knight, Sir Lancelot. With one glimpse at the lovely Guenevere, Lancelot falls hopelessly in love, and the story becomes one of tragic consequence. Numbers include “The Lusty Month of May” and “If Ever I Would Leave You.” Directed by Rod Lansberry. Musical director David Nehls. Starring Johnson, Melissa Mitchell (Guenevere), Glenn Seven Allen (Lancelot), William Thomas Evans (Merlyn, Pellinore), Aaron M. Davidson (Mordred), Jennifer DeDominici (Nimue), Jeffrey Roark (Sir Dinadan), Michael Bouchard (Sir Sagramore), Matt LaFontaine (Sir Lionel) and Megan Van De Hey (Morgan Le Fey). Ensemble members are Stephen Day, Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, Karen M. Jeffreys, Heather Lacy, Daniel Langhoff, Ian McCauley, Rebekah Ortiz, Parker Redford, Lauren Shealy, Jacob Lewis Smith, Bethany Swiontek, Rachel Turner and Benjamin Wood. Young Brady Dalton and Nate Patrick Siebert alternate as Tom of Warwick. Their show only just opened and it already has been extended to Oct. 6. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Matinees 1 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or the arvada center’s home page. Thanks: Melanie Mayner, Pat Payne, cast and crew.

 

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Is it Flash — ah-ah — savior of the universe?! Or Todd Black just being a big (non-strip) tease backstage before Monday’s performance of “Next Fall?”

Opening No. 114: Firehouse Theatre’s “Next Fall”: Luke is devoutly religious. Adam is an atheist. This Broadway play by Geoffrey Nauffts recounts the ups and downs of an unlikely gay couple’s five-year relationship, leading to an explosive familial confrontation following a critical accident. Starring Mark Lively and Todd Black, featuring Michael Leopard, Judy Phelan-Hill, Brian J. Brooks and Johanna Jaquith. Directed by Steve Tangedal. Co-produced by Theatre Out. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6:30 p.m. Sundays Through Sept. 28 at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehouse’s home page . Thanks: Andrew Hunter, Helen Hand.

My review of the Broadway production of “Next Fall”

Quote: “You don’t have to believe in hell to walk around believing that you are going to burn in it.”

This riveting, familiar family tragedy starts with a car accident that leaves a strapping young man comatose and clinging to life. But the real collision is about to come down between his lover and the encroaching fundamentalist family who never knew — or at least acknowledged — that their son is gay. Rife for the possibility of cliche, Geoffrey Nauffts’ drama instead deftly weaves one of the hot-button social issues of the day into an understandable and achingly unwinnable conflict between flawed, knowable characters on both sides of the family tree. Zigging from past to present (as most new plays now seem to do), we see how this unlikely romance bloomed between a spiritual (yet still closeted) southern Christian hunk and the jaded — and refreshingly kind of jerky — older New Yorker he somehow fell in love with.

The playwright raises fair points about the inherent contradictions of fundamentalism and the sadly nonexistent place a gay man has in making critical medical decisions for a loved one. But it’s flawed — it’s too long and gets ideologically confused by the unnecessary presence of one support character. It’s most compelling because the two immoveable forces here — the young man’s racist, homophobic father and his intractable lover — are both obstinately set in their ways. Still, I can’t remember the last new play I’ve seen that had audiences openly sobbing by the end. My main misgiving: The story ends in the only way you can imagine it might, and I was hoping the playwright might instead invoke his right to mess with our minds. That might have changed the questions we’re left with after an ending that, as written, leaves little doubt about who was right all along.

 

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Opening No. 113: Curious Theatre’s “After the Revolution”: Sisters! Lauren Bahlman, right, tries to get a rise out of Jessica Robblee before the opening curtain. In this new play by Amy Herzog, a passionate young woman named Emma Joseph proudly carries the torch of her family’s long-held Marxist ideals by devoting her life to the memory of her legendary, blacklisted grandfather. When a stunning revelation uncovers a dark secret, she and her entire family must reconcile everything they thought they stood for with the shadowy truth of history. Featuring Lauren Bahlman, Anne Oberbroeckling, Jessica Robblee, Mark Collins, Dee Covington, Jim Hunt, Matthew Block and Gordon McConnell. Curious Theatre has a resident company of more than 30 actors, but director Chip Walton has always had an open-door policy, and he proves it again here: Five of the eight actors are making their first appearances for Curious in “After the Revolution.” Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; also 2 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 19 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or Curious’ home page.

 

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This theatergoer, surrounded by cast members Chris Arneson, Jason Lythgoe and Patrick Brownson (and presumably, a friend!), looks like she’s not completely sure where the play ends and the real world begins.

Opening No. 112: Equinox Theatre’s “Evil Dead, the Musical”: The bloodletting spills out onto the streets in front of the Bug Theatre following every performance of “Evil Dead.” Meaning the eviscerated cast joins departing theatergoers for photo opportunities with chain saws and all manner of fake gore. This campy musical is based on Sam Raimi’s 1980s cult classic film. The story is the one you remember: A boy and his friends take a weekend getaway at an abandoned cabin. The boy expects to get lucky, but instead unleashes an ancient evil spirit. When his friends turn into Candarian Demons, the boy fights until dawn to survive. The score features comic numbers like, “All the Men in my Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons,” “Look Who’s Evil Now,” and “Do the Necronomicon.” (Take THAT, “Rocky Horrow Show.”) The show stars Jason Lythgoe as the smoldering Ash, with help from Chris Arneson, Erica Trisler, Savannah Lake, Natasha Gleichmann, Preston Adams, Ember Everett, Eli Stewart, Patrick Brownson, David Ballew and Aran Peters. The director is Deb Flomberg; musical direction by Hunter Hall. Just two performances remain, and they’ve been selling out: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13-14, at 3654 Navajo St. 720-984-0781 or Equinox’s home page. If you can’t get in, you’ll have a second, and third chance to get your taste of blood. Next up at the Bug is “Night of the Living Dead” (Oct. 4-26), followed by “Carrie, the Musical” (Nov. 8-30). Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here: http://www.culturewest.org/?p=6068. Thanks: Kate Blair.

Click here to see our full gallery of “Evil Dead” photos.

 

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Opening No. 111: National touring production of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”: Well, with some photos, black-and-white is just not an option. Sept. 3 wasn’t just opening night of the national touring production of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” at the Buell Theatre. It was also Drag Night, with many of Denver’s top entertainers attending, bringing both vibrant color and the same air of freedom and tolerance the popular film, and now stage musical, espouses. Audiences were invited to have make-up makeovers. Audience members stopped some of Denver’s very tallest tall Drag Queens (in heels, many reach 6 1/2 feet in height) asking for everything from photos to make-up tips for advice on how to talk to loved ones. One Denver Drag said afterward she never felt more validated as an entertainer than she did in the lobby chatting with friendly, curious “Priscilla” audiences. The musical is the uplifting story of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus to cross the Australian outback. It features more than 500 Tony-winning costumes. All the songs are familiar dance-floor hits, including “It’s Raining Men” and “I Will Survive.” Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 15. Also: Special Thursday matinee: 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or the Denver Center’s home page. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. To see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date, click here: http://www.culturewest.org/?p=6068. Photo by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org. Thanks: Heidi Bosk, Emily Lozow. Click here to see the complete “Opening Nights” photo series to date.

 

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Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts hit $20,000 after first week

Shelly Bordas with former "9 to 5" castmate Norrell Moore. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org.

Shelly Bordas with former Town Hall Arts Center “9 to 5” castmate Norrell Moore. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org. All rights reserved.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 18, 2013

When it was first suggested a week ago that friends of Shelly Bordas kick in a few bucks to send the cancer-stricken actor on a Disney Cruise with her son, they were simply asked to mail checks to the Town Hall Arts Center, where Bordas teaches youth theater classes and was set to perform in the upcoming musical “9 to 5.” That was, until her diagnosis was changed to terminal after it was discovered her breast cancer had spread to her brain.

What a week it has been.

Since then, her friend Sarah Roshan has created an online fundraising page that, as of midnight tonight, rested at $15,675 (not including PayPal processing fees). Now we have our first reports that about $4,500 already has been sent to Town Hall through the mail, bringing the total raised to help the beloved actor and mother to just more than $20,000 – “and more cards are coming in every day,” said “9 to 5” choreographer Kelly Kates.

“I am blown away,” Bordas told me in response. “Somewhere in my childhood, I must have done something right.”

On her Facebook page, Bordas added the following message:

First of all, that loud thump you heard was me fainting to the floor. I have no words. But second, I need you to know that I have 37 voice messages and over 400 emails to read and respond to. I want to get to you all, so please be patient as I get through these. My heart aches with love and gratefulness. Thank you, you incredible community. I love you so much.

Roshan has since raised the online goal to $25,000, and there is plenty of need for it. With the start of the new year, Bordas has a huge new annual health-insurance deductible she must start to chip away at, when her only present source of income is the classes she can teach at Town Hall only when she is strong enough to do so. And she just has started a demanding new round of chemo.

Bordas also has been told that, after nearly four years and 15 surgeries to combat cancer, she is rapidly approaching her “lifetime insurance payout cap” — meaning that at some point, her insurance company will cut her off.

Some of the money raised also will be set aside to establish a college trust for Bordas’ 3 1/2-year-old son, Nathan.

“Donors can rest assured that any money raised in excess of the vacation costs is still very necessary and will absolutely be put to good use,” said Bordas’ friend, actor Steve Burge.

Direct link to the Shelly Bordas fundraising page

Note: the coordinator of all Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts is Kelly Kates. Her email is kateshouse@earthlink.net

Previous reporting on this story:
The initial CultureWest.Org news report on Shelly’s story

The Bordas fund reaches $10,000 in first 24 hours


Kirk Montgomery’s “E-Block” report on Channel 9

Information on other upcoming fundraising efforts

*Voodoo Comedy Playhouse is donating all proceeds from its three shows on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to Shelly Bordas. Admission is $5. 1260 22nd St. in LoDo.

*Dani Nelson Everson, a hair stylist who has never met Bordas, owns a salon in the Highlands neighborhood. She will host a cut-a-thon, with all proceeds to benefit Bordas, from 4-6:30 p.m. on March 8 at Clementine’s Denver, 2009 W. 33rd Ave. Phone: 720-328-3594.

*The Town Hall Arts Center has announced a “pay what you can” performance of “9 to 5” on Monday, March 4, with all funds going to Bordas. Call 303-794-2787 for reservations.

Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”

Shelly Bordas supporters raise $10,000 in 24 hours

Shelly Bordas with her then infant son, Nathan. He's now 3 1/2.

Shelly Bordas with her then infant son, Nathan. He’s now 3 1/2.


UPDATE: As of 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, Shelly Bordas’ online fundraising page has raised $12,635 from 251 backers.

By John Moore
Feb. 13, 2013

Just 24 hours after the launch of an online fundraising page, friends and strangers have contributed more than $10,400 to help send Denver actor and teacher Shelly Bordas on a Disney cruise with her 3 1/2-year-old son, Nathan. And that doesn’t count checks that also may have been sent by mail.

Bordas, who has battled breast cancer since her pregnancy, was given a terminal diagnosis last week. “They can’t tell you that I am going to make it to next weekend. They can’t tell you that I am going to make a year,” she said. “But I am going to try.”

Bordas had been told in November that her tumors were shrinking, so she celebrated by auditioning for her first musical since her ordeal began in 2009 — landing the role of the drunk secretary in the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5,” opening Feb. 22.

But Bordas soon began to lose vision, which led doctors to discover the cancer had spread to her brain. Four tumors were affecting her vision and motor coordination. A new round of daily chemo was begun. Bordas had to be admitted to the hospital on Jan. 29 when her body completely immobilized. “Paralyzed, and literally turning to stone,” she said.

Turns out the port that was aiding in her chemotherapy (her fourth) was infected. That triggered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, which is a bacteria-filled blood clot in the lung. She then had port-removal surgery, her 15th surgery since her initial cancer diagnosis, and is now being given a round-the-clock barrage of antibiotics to fight the infection.

It was during that hospital stay that doctors gave Bordas the grim news that her remaining time is limited. She bade an emotional goodbye to her “9 to 5” castmates on Saturday, saying that her primary goal now is time with her son, notably taking him on a Disney cruise. “When it comes right down to it, it’s about time,” she said of her decision. “Near death brings you new goals.”

The theater community has responded. So too have many people who have never met her. The initial word of Shelly’s situation urged supporters to send checks addressed to Shelly Bordas to the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, CO, 80120.

Then, on Tuesday night, friend Sarah Roshan set up an account on the web site gogetfunding.com. And, as of 11 p.m. tonight (Feb. 13), 202 donors had pledged $10,400. “I am feeling good and thankful for this amazing community,” Roshan said.

The goal for the campaign has been increased to $15,000, for several reasons. Shelly will require up to four attendants to accompany her on any cruise (which she hopes to take in late March or early April). And the cruise is just one of many, many expenses she faces. Friends would also like to start a college fund for her son.

Bordas has not given up the fight. She has just started yet another new round of chemo. “What that is doing is buying me time,” she said. She has been overwhelmed by the response from the community. But she is having difficulty processing it all. Kelly Kates, her “9 to 5” choreographer, has taken on the role of trying to coordinate various efforts to help Bordas. Her email is kateshouse@earthlink.net.

Among the other ways in which people are helping:

*Voodoo Comedy Playhouse is donating all proceeds from its three shows on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to Shelly Bordas. The three scheduled “Voodoo Comedy Showcase” shows that night are “Humorous Harlots,” “Jump! Improv” and “Skintight Outrage.” Admission is $5 (but feel free to pay more). Voodoo is located at 1260 22nd St. in LoDo. This benefit is orgainzed by Kevin Lowry and Jessica Austgen.

*Dani Nelson Everson, a hair stylist who has never met Bordas, owns a salon in the Highlands neighborhood. As soon as she heard about Bordas’  fight, she announced a cut-a-thon, with all proceeds to benefit Bordas. Everson will have six stylists at the ready from 4-6:30 p.m. on March 8 at Clementine’s Denver, 2009 W. 33rd Ave. Phone: 720-328-3594. That was facilitated by Susan Lyles of And Toto Too Theatre Company.

*The mother of late actor Doug Rosen, a dear friend of Bordas’ who died on Sept. 5, 2009, has said she wants the balance of the fund his friends created to aid in Rosen’s own medical battle be transferred to Bordas. Rosen died before he could take full advantage of his friends’ generosity. That’s about $2,000 that will now go to Bordas.

*The Town Hall Arts Center has announced a “pay what you can” performance of “9 to 5” on Monday, March 4, with all funds going to Bordas. Call 303-794-2787 for reservations.

*Well-known area musical director Mitch Samu is planning a community-wide benefit concert to benefit Bordas. More details to come.

Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”

Note: I am preparing a video documentary on Shelly’s journey. When it is completed, you will see it here.

 

Shelly Bordas informed the cast of "9 to 5" that she would not be able to continue in her role on Feb. 9. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. All rights reserved.

Shelly Bordas informed the cast of “9 to 5” that she would not be able to continue in her role on Feb. 9. Photo by John Moore of www.CultureWest.Org. All rights reserved.

Shelly Bordas: A story that’s just beginning

Shelly Bordas, with choreographer Kelly Kates, told her "9 to 5" castmates yesterday that she would no longer be able to continue with the show. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org

Shelly Bordas, with choreographer Kelly Kates, told her “9 to 5” castmates yesterday that she would no longer be able to continue with the show. Photo by John Moore for CultureWest.Org.

 

UPDATE: It’s here … an electronic means for helping Shelly Bordas with a donation. There also will be a “pay-what-you-can” performance of “9 to 5” on March 4, with all proceeds going to Shelly. Call 303-794-2787.

 

By John Moore
Feb. 10, 2013

shellyheadshot

For the past month, I have been following the very funny comic actress Shelly Bordas in her journey back to the stage after a 3 1/2 year battle with breast cancer that she was told in November was behind her.

Shelly celebrated the news by auditioning for the Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5,” and landed the comic role of the drunk secretary. We were both looking forward to soon bringing you my newest five-part video documentary on Shelly’s journey, culminating with her triumphant opening night on Feb. 22.

But the diagnosis quickly changed. The cancer had moved to Shelly’s brain. And so yesterday, after a 10-day hospital stay and her 15th surgery, Shelly told the cast that she could no longer continue in the show.

“The doctors don’t give me a lot of time,” she said. “… And every second I am at rehearsal is another second that I am away from my son.”

Her foremost goal now, she said, is to take her young son, Nathan, on a Disney cruise, she said, “because I need to see that happen.”

Shelly has appeared in dozens of plays around Colorado, but she is best known for her work with the now defunct Theatre Group, including memorable turns in “Cell Block Sirens of 1953,” “Bat Boy, the Musical” and, more recently, “Debbie Does Dallas.” She also has performed at the Arvada Center, the Avenue Theater, Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge and many others.

Shelly has been writing, teaching and directing youth theater for more than 15 years. She founded her own school, Acting Up, giving teenagers professional acting instruction. Many have gone on to work in New York. She has been teaching kids at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton for nine years. She has also been an instructor for Denver Public Schools, Gunnison High School, Stage Eleven and the Cherry Creek School District.

She left the cast on Saturday in typical good humor. “I am afraid I am going to leave you guys to deal with somebody who is never going to be near as good as me,” she said to laughs. “So that sucks for you guys.”

I will tell you that, despite her recent setback, Shelly’s story is just beginning. And we have agreed it should be chronicled. So, while I can’t say when, the video documentary will continue. When it is completed, you will see it here.

Help send Shelly and her son on a Disney cruise

To help Shelly defray the cost of taking her son on a Disney cruise, send donations addressed to Shelly Bordas to the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, CO, 80120.

Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”