Saturday, June 30, 2007
Well, brace yourselves, piggies, because I'm going to be publicly patting myself on the back for awhile to come for anticipating the quality and depth of this project.
I saw it tonight, and it was truly amazing. The talented young ensemble breathed life into every word of every letter. At times funny, provocative, and even heart-breaking, Letters to Home is the best "reality show" you can see for the price. (Maybe for any price.) You see, other than a segue or two penned by adapters Maggie Cochran (who also directed) and Deni-Marie Warren (who also acted), the words you hear were not written by some Pulitzer-winning playwright. These are letters from actual people to actual people. There is no fiction here. These are not "based on" a true story, they are truth, and most of them are Colorado stories.
This is no way a sleight against the architects of this project at all. The hours that must have been spent locating and researching these letters demonstrates a meticulous and deliberate eye for storytelling.
There is no political agenda in this piece. It is neither pro-war nor anti-war. It simply celebrates the American soldier in his or her many forms. Whether its the tale of a civil-war nurse or of two brothers stationed aboard the same battleship just before World War II, these letters capture the bravery, fears, hopes, and spirit of the young men and women who have for centuries put themselves in harm's way in service of the ideal of freedom.
Maggie Cochran's blocking is fresh, unexpected, and frequently inspired.
Now, as I've mentioned previously, there were two young actors from whom I already expected terrific performances: Jose Zuniga, who had been terrific in both The Robber Bridegroom and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and Colin Ahern, who had delivered an absolutely virtuoso performance as Bri in Joe Egg. My expectations were high of these two performers, and my expectations were met and surpassed. The rest of the ensemble delivered equally brilliant performances, so much so that they deserve to be acknowledged by name: Jeff Simpson, Deni-Marie Warren, Amy Ratliff, Peter Trinh, and Sara Whitney. Remember these names, folks. You'll see them again.
I tend to watch shows as a director, with an eye to the mechanics and structure of a show, and, while I'm not incapable of being drawn into a great performance, it does not happen with great frequency. This is not to diminish the quality or enjoyment of most of the shows I see, I simply have a tendency to keep some observational distance. Not so, though, with Letters to Home. I was moved to tears on more than one occasion, and I jumped to my feet at the curtain call, something I have never done at a "reading."
Folks, whether you are a staunch supporter or of the government or a conscientious objector (both of which are, in my opinion, forms of patriotism) you must see this show.
If you are a history buff or haven't looked at a history book since high school, you must see this show.
You must see this show. It is not simply an important piece of historical theatre, it's also damn good.
Remaining performances are:
Sunday, July 1st at 4 pm
Monday, July 2nd at 7:30 pm (Industry Night)
Tuesday, July 3rd at 7:30 pm
Wednesday, July 4th at 6:00 pm (so you can still go see the fireworks. Something tells me they'll take on a whole new meaning for you after this show.)
Friday, July 6th at 7:30 pm
Saturday, July 7th at 7:30 pm
It's well worth the full-price ticket, but there's also a special "web-only" 2-for-1 discount, which you have to go to the Hunger Artists website to find.
You have got to see this show, and make sure that you bring someone with you. They will thank you for it.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
More July shows:
Murphy Funkhouser's one-woman show Crazy Bag opens this week at the Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge and runs through August 12. It will run in rep first with the July 6 opening of The Hobbit, and then Smell of the Kill (featuring my good friend Jacquelyn Lies, and Denver actresses Mare Trevathan and Trina Magness), which opens July 20 and runs through August 19th. The Hobbit will continue to run with daytime performances through September 2nd. Confused? Me, too. Fortunately there's also a calendar.
On the other end of Summit County, The Lake Dillon Theatre will be presenting two popular and subversive musicals on alternating weekends throughout the summer. Chicago opens June 29th and The Rocky Horror Show opens July 6th. Equally popular, but somewhat less subversive, Forever Plaid will be running on Thursdays only at the Pavilion in nearby Keystone. Fun for the whole family School House Rock, Live! opens at the Quaking Aspen Amphitheatre at Keystone July 5th. You can get more info on all three of these shows here.
Looks like some great shows this summer up the mountain as well as down here in the Front Range area.
As always, if you have shows or info to add, please feel free to use the comments section for that purpose.
Okay, my red-hooded little darlings, that's all for now. I'm going to see Hunger Artists production of Letters to Home on Saturday. Looking forward to it. Maybe I'll see you there.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
- Opening June 29th:
The Avenue's I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change - a reprise production of the show that sold to sell-out crowds at Town Hall Arts Center earlier this year, directed by Bob Wells and featuring Megan Van De Hey, Chris Boecx, Seth Caikowski, and Allison Mueller stepping in to take Elizabeth Welch's place, who is bop-bop-bopping away the summer in the Denver Center's Taffettas.
Miners Alley Playhouse's Not Now, Darling, the hysterical farce by Ray Cooney and John Chapman. M.A.P.'s website hasn't updated as of this writing, so, beyond director Richard Pegg, all I know is that the cast includes Janelle Christie and Linda Suttle and a fellow whom I've not yet met, but Janelle and Linda insist could be my twin (poor bloke) Mathew Ellison. (If you have more info about the cast, friends, please add a comment.)
Opening July 14:
Spotlight's Caught In The Net, the sequel to the wildly popular Run For Your Wife, which is currently running (with a waiting list for seating) through June 30th. Most of the cast of Wife will be reprising their roles in in Net.
Opening July 20th:
For two weekends only, Front Range Musical Theatre presents Disney's Beauty and the Beast, directed by Peter Muller with choreography by Bryan Bell, and starring David Ambroson as the Beast, Bryan Bell as LeFou, and Jim Miller as Lumiere, and lots of other people in lots of other roles. (The cast list on the website is quite literally a list of names, without characters.) Please comment if you have more info.
Opening July 27th:
PHAMALy's much anticipated production of Urinetown: The Musical directed by Steve Wilson and featuring Leonard Barrett as Officer Lockstock, Juliet Villa as Hope Cladwell, Kathleen Traylor as Penelope Pennywise, Don Mauck as Caldwell B. Cladwell, Andrew Caldwell as Bobby Strong, and Jenna Bainbridge as Little Sally.
I'm sure I've missed some shows, too, so if you know of any others, please add the info in the comments.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Also, Spotlight Theatre Company's Run For Your Wife closes on the 30th. If you haven't seen it, there are few opportunities left, even with the added performance on June 28th. Take a co-worker.
Finally, Hunger Artists opened their Letters to Home readers' theatre production this weekend. It has a brief run (through July 7th), and I think it sounds like an important and timely piece of theatre. I'm planning to go next weekend myself, and I'm inviting as many people as I can.
Support local theatre.
However, the wonderfully talented Brianna Tracy, a member of the Joseph ensemble and apparently also a reader of this blog, asked me last night if I would be writing about the show here. Well, as you all know, I'm a sucker for a pretty face.
However, what can I say about the show that John Moore did not already say in his review? Not much, really. John covered it pretty well. Bryan Bell's Joseph is an experience. It is a lavish, Vegas-style rendition (complete with beautiful girls) of one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most-beloved and oft-performed musicals.
Instead, let me say a word or two about my history with the company that produced this extravaganza. About four years ago I had a professional and personal falling out with PN founder, the late Nancy Goodwin. It happens sometimes in this business, but this was a big one. I had every reason to never set foot in another Performance Now show, and, for a little while, I didn't. I tell you this, because I could very well be the last person that anyone would expect to wax lyrical about this company or the remarkable woman who founded it.
However, Nancy's enthusiasm for musical theatre, her commitment to quality, and her love for performers drew such talent to Performance Now that I found it hard to stay away.
Shows like The Baker's Wife, My Fair Lady, 42nd Street, Gypsy, and The Pajama Game drew me back in. Performances from Kristin Hathaway, Katie Weiland, Alisa Vaughters, David Ambroson, Bernie Cardell, Bryan Bell, Keith Hershman, Carla Kotrc, Gary Hathaway, Alannah Moore, Maddie Franke, Michelle Merz, Eric Lentz, Lyndsay Corbett, Brianna Tracy, and many, many more made it an undeniable truth that Performance Now is a regisseur of quality musical theatre. And let us not forget Nancy's choreography. Nancy and I could find many points upon which to argue (and believe me, we did), but I could never, ever fault anything about her ability to breathe life into a dance number. Whether she was inventing a never-before-seen move or finding new electricity in a dance step we've seen a hundred times before, Performance Now's dance numbers gained a reputation as some of the best in the business. This is a tradition that Bryan Bell and his sensational cast have continued masterfully in Joseph.
I wish I could say that Nancy and I patched things up before her passing, but we didn't - a fact that I will always lament. Perhaps I can find a way to be a better friend to her theatre company than I was to her. That, however, is neither here nor there. (And probably not at all what Bri Tracy hoped that I would write about when she asked me.)
I guess my point is this:
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is part of a legacy. It is the fulfillment of a dream. Nancy Goodwin could have wished no less than for Performance Now to go on strong long after she was gone, and, if the show I saw last night is any indication, that wish has been granted.
"Dancers are the athletes of God." - Albert Einstein
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Live theatre is fleeting.
You can't rent it on DVD later if you miss it. Even if you could, it would merely be a cheap imitation, capturing only a fraction of the true live experience. When a show closes, it is gone forever, except in the hearts and minds of those who were fortunate enough to see it while it was running. This is a fact that I lament weekly, because, for as many shows as I see, there are plenty that I miss as well.
I am glad not to have missed Town Hall Arts Center's My Fair Lady. David Ambroson is ever-brilliant in this, his fourth interpretation of the iconic Henry Higgins. Sara Seever will steal your heart as Eliza Doolittle, so just brace yourself for it, and, to quote the two teenage girls sitting behind me, Chris Boeckx is "so adorable" as Freddy. Director Chris Willard's take on the show is inspired and refreshing. If you've seen other productions of this show, you've not seen it like this. There are precious few opportunities left to catch My Fair Lady as it closes June 24th, and the actors all go on to their next projects. (David Ambroson gets furry in Front Range Community Theatre's Beauty and the Beast, and Chris Boeckx heads over to the Avenue for I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.) Fleeting.
Performance Now's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs for a scant two weekends. It opens and closes inside of ten days. I know many of the talented performers in the show, so I am already certain of just how entertaining and moving this show is without even having seen it yet. (I'm going tonight.) However, if you want evidence, check out the media blitz surrounding this Joseph, starting with John Moore's opening-night review. Blink, and you could miss this show. And you do not want to miss this show.
Spotlight Theatre Company's Run For Your Wife has also received some great press of late, and not just from me. Here's John Moore's review. Run For Your Wife has been selling out so frequently that they have now added a performance on Thursday, June 28th. Something that makes this production somewhat unique is that, after Wife closes on June 30th, most of the cast will re-unite two weeks later to present the sequel, Caught In the Net. Now, can you enjoy the sequel without having seen the original? Of course you can. But if you hustle, you won't have to, will you?
Theatre is a living, breathing thing. It cannot be adequately captured or archived. To rely upon a description of it is akin to the tale of the blind men trying to describe an elephant. Live theatre must be experience to be enjoyed, and above are three shows that cannot be experienced for too much longer.
Support local theatre, and share it with friends and family.
Friday, June 22, 2007
I resisted seeing this movie because I believe all of the above statements, and I wanted to go on believing them. I had created a closed-minded illusion of the world for myself, and I was afraid to allow anything onto my personal view-screen which would serve to shatter that illusion - something that I had a sneaking certainty that Stranger Than Fiction would do.
However, the draw of a clever story, plus the added allure of actors Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and the enticing Maggie Gyllenhaal ultimately proved too much for me. I stopped at my local video store (okay, video kiosk) and picked up a copy.
Indeed, today, my world was changed forever. Will Ferrell demonstrated with sheer brilliance his ability to bring to life the everyman whose comfortable but mundane world comes crashing in around him. This further exacerbates the tragedy of films like Talladega Nights and Starsky and Hutch.
Another tragedy brought to light by this film is the fact that, due to an illustrious past in hip-hop culture, one of today's best African-American actresses is named "Queen."
This was a terrific movie, with dazzling performances, a beautiful score, and stunning cinematography. It even has two of the guys from the Sonic Drive-In commercials that I like so much.
When you see this film (if you haven't already), make sure you watch the DVD extras, which contain two hilarious scenes that were used primarily for background. Kristin Chenoweth demonstrates just how under-rated a comic performer she is as dim-bulb Book Channel talk-show host, Darlene Sunshine.
I can honestly say that I have never been so glad to be wrong about a movie. Does this mean I now have to watch The Dukes of Hazzard:The Movie?
Thursday, June 21, 2007
So here are the noms (with a bit of commentary from me):
Supporting Actor in A Play
John Arp, "Almost, Maine," Aurora Fox
Steven J. Burge, "Dog Sees God," The Avenue
I loved "Dog Sees God." I'd have nominated everyone in the cast.
Jason Henning, "tempOdyssey," Curious Theatre
Cajardo Lindsey, "Lobby Hero," Miners Alley Playhouse
Seth Maisel, "No Sex, Please, We're British," Victorian Playhouse
Supporting Actress in A Play
Erica Sarzin-Borrillo, "The Price," Germinal
Elgin Kelley, "Dog Sees God," The Avenue Theatre
Again, loved this show. Also love this girl. Top-notch actress. Cool chick.
Billie McBride, "Over the Tavern," Arvada Center
Simone St. John, "A House with No Walls," Curious
Mare Trevathan, "Aphrodisiac," Curious
Brian Freeland and Lorrin Dyer, "The Turn of the Screw," Modern Muse
Loved this show, too. Mike and Emily were superb!
Brian Freeland, "tempOdyssey," Curious
Dave Johnson, "Dog Sees God," The Avenue
Maybe the best play I've seen in 2007 so far.
Iaedon Hovorka, "A House With No Walls," Curious
Patrick Selvage and Judson Webb, "Defiled," Theatre 13
Nicholas Kargel, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Charles Dean Packard and Jennifer Orf, "The Wiz," PHAMALy
I really like working with Charlie and Jen. Did you see "The Wiz?" Awesome, no?
Charles Dean Packard, "I Am My Own Wife," Curious
Shannon McKinney, "tempOdyssey," Curious
Jacob M. Welch, "A House With No Walls," Curious
Kevin Copenhaver, "Seascape," Modern Muse Theatre
Nicole Harrison, "As You Like It," Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Linda Morken, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Linda Morken, "Plenty of Time," Shadow
Mallory Kay Nelson,"The Wiz," PHAMALy
Lovely lady in green, and a downright menace with those crutches.
Amy Campion, "Crazy for You," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Kent Homchick, "Over the Tavern," Arvada Center
Brian Mallgrave, "Do I Hear a Waltz?" Arvada Center
Brian Mallgrave, "My Fair Lady," Town Hall Arts Center
Charles Dean Packard, "I Hate Hamlet," Aurora Fox
Charles Dean Packard, "tempOdyssey," Curious
Christopher Wink, "Hedda Gabler," Paragon
Juliana Black, "Urinetown," Score Marketing
Alicia Dunfee, Michael J. Duran, "Crazy for You," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Alicia Dunfee, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, "Swing," Country Dinner Playhouse
One of my favorite people ever. And possibly the nicest person I've ever worked with in a show.
Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, "Thoroughly Modern Millie," Arvada Center
The show was called "Speakin' Easy." You've never heard of it.
"Almost, Maine," Aurora Fox
"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," Aurora Fox
"Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead," The Avenue
This what I've been saying.
"Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
"Winter in Graupel Bay," Buntport
"Something Is Rotten," Buntport
"Swing," Country Dinner Playhouse
"Something Is Rotten," Buntport
"Winter in Graupel Bay," Buntport
"Someone Else's Life," Conundrum
"How We May Know Him," Paragon
Heady show. Colorado playwrights rock! Emily Paton Davies was spooky and awesome.
Actor In A Play
Thomas Borrillo, "Frankie & Johnny," Paragon Theatre
Amazingly real and raw performance. Riveting.
Scott McLean, "Tuesdays With Morrie," Miners Alley Playhouse
Chris Reid, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," Aurora Fox
Erik Sandvold, "I Am My Own Wife," Curious
Roger L. Simon, "Tuesdays With Morrie," Miners Alley Playhouse
Actress In A Play
Barbra Andrews, "Hedda Gabler," Paragon
Dee Covington, "tempOdyssey," Curious
Emily Paton Davies, "Frankie and Johnny," Paragon
Quite possibly my favorite actress in Denver. (Or beyond.)
Diana Dresser, "Bad Dates," Modern Muse
Laura Norman, "The Weir," Victorian Playhouse
Another favorite actress.
Terry Ann Watts, "Dead Man Walking," Victorian Playhouse
Actor In A Musical
David Ambroson, "My Fair Lady," Town Hall Arts Center
Might be tied with Kitty for nicest person with whom I've worked. Kinda my role model.
Leonard Barrett, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Man, do this guy and I have fun backstage. And what a talent!
Wayne Kennedy, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Geoff Kent, "Urinetown," Score Marketing
This was a great role for Geoff.
Jeffrey Nickelson, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Nick Sugar, "Cabaret," Town Hall Arts Center
Actress In A Musical
Joanie Brosseau-Beyette, "Evita," Country Dinner Playhouse
Joanie Brosseau-Beyette, "Sweet Charity," Boulder Dinner Theatre
Michelle Merz, "Urinetown," Score Marketing
Yet another favorite. So talented. So charming. So stunning. You just hate her, don't you? Just kidding, Michelle. Looking forward to "Assassins" this fall.
Shelley Cox-Robie, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Juliet Villa, "The Wiz," PHAMALy
Lovely lady. Great actress. Marvelous singer. Mediocre driver.
Supporting Actor in a Musical
David Ambroson, "1776," Town Hall Arts Center
As much as David has made the character of Henry Higgins his own, I believe he may have been born to play Dickinson in "1776."
John Arp, "Cabaret," Town Hall Arts Center
Brandon Dill, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Wayne Kennedy, "Sweet Charity," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Joel Sutliffe, "1776," Town Hall Arts Center
Masterful performance. (No pun intended.)
Supporting Actress in a Musical
Genevieve Baer, "Urinetown," Score Marketing
Nearly stole the show. Adorable.
Joanie Brosseau-Beyette, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Beth Flynn, "Thoroughly Modern Millie," Arvada Center
Barb Reeves, "Cabaret," Town Hall Arts Center
Reynelda Snell, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Production of a Play
"Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead," The Avenue
"Something Is Rotten," Buntport
"I Am My Own Wife," Curious
"How We May Know Him," Paragon
"Frankie and Johnny at the Claire de Lune," Paragon
Oh, now I'm torn.
Production of a Musical
"Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
"Crazy For You," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
"Swing!" Country Dinner Playhouse
"The Wiz," PHAMALy
Volunteers danced backstage every night during "Brand New Day." What fun!
"Urinetown," Score Marketing
I miss Amanda Farnsworth already.
Direction of a Play
Terry Dodd, "The Weir," Denver Victorian Playhouse
I was not a fan of "The Weir" when I first read it. Terry (and the cast) really brought it to life.
Wendy Franz, "How We May Know Him," Paragon
Christy Montour-Larson, "I Am My Own Wife," Curious
Warren Sherrill, "Hedda Gabler," Paragon
Nick Sugar, "Dog Sees God," The Avenue
Direction of a Musical
Michael J. Duran, "Ragtime," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Michael J. Duran, "Crazy For You," Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Nick Sugar, "Cabaret," Town Hall Arts Center
Bob Wells, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," Town Hall Arts Center
Dan Wiley, Cathy Reinking and Terry Dodd, "Urinetown," Score Marketing
And perhaps also "most innovative." Clever, clever.
Christopher Willard, "My Fair Lady," Town Hall Arts Center
Chris is also doing great things as the Artistic Director of the Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge. You should head up the mountain and catch a show this summer if you can.
Season for a Theatre Company
And the next season looks promising, too. "Anna in the Tropics" is a great play.
Boulder's Dinner Theatre
Miners Alley Playhouse
Paragon Theatre Company
This is an exciting company to watch grow.
Okay, good luck to one and all. I have my favorites, naturally, but, then again, I didn't see every show.
Thanks to all of the judges (each of whom had to see at least fifty shows) and thanks to CTG for sponsoring the awards. For more info on the Henry nominees read John Moore's article.
Support local theatre.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The Physically Handicapped Actors & Musical Artists League (PHAMALY) is seeking volunteers to assist with its 2007 production of "Urinetown - the Musical" at the Space Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex July 27 - August 19. Performances are Friday and Saturdays at 7:30pm Sundays at 2pm and Monday August 13 at 7:30pm
Volunteer opportunities include working backstage on the running crew; (setting props and set pieces, assisting actors in getting on and off stage, etc) hair/ make-up artists; dressers and front of house/lobby as ushers.
Backstage support is needed the evenings of July 21- 25 for tech and dress rehearsals and for performance dates: July 26, (preview) 27, 28, 29 August 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18 and 19.
Ushers are needed for performance dates only: July 26, 27, 28, 29 August 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18 and 19. Add on performance dates TBD are August 18 (2pm) & 19 (7:30pm).
For more information on becoming a volunteer, please contact Jeanne Kloosterman at 303.427.4663 or jeanne4U2@earthlink.net. Visit the PHAMALY website www.phamaly.org for more information about the company.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I THOUGHT of your beauty, and this arrow,
Made out of a wild thought, is in my marrow.
There’s no man may look upon her, no man,
As when newly grown to be a woman,
Tall and noble but with face and bosom
Delicate in colour as apple blossom.
This beauty’s kinder, yet for a reason
I could weep that the old is out of season.
Author: William Butler Yeats
Online Poetry at PoetryFeast.com
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I heard someone say, "There's one standard of punishment for celebrities, and one for everyone else."
Well, while nothing gets my ire up more than unfairness or inequality in the justice system, I'm inclined this time to say that I'm in favor of different punishments for celebrities.
I have a proposal for Paris Hilton and her attorneys.
Paris, you can step right out of "jail" this moment and go on one year's "specialized celebrity probation."
Under the terms of your probation, you will be free to come and go as you please, attend parties and premieres, party your brains out (sorry, the irony of that last metaphor made me giggle a bit), and continue to live your over-privileged superficial existence just as you always have. However, for that one year, the mention of your name on radio or television or showing any still or video pictures of you will be considered an FCC violation punishable by a fine of $1,000,000 per occurrence. Paparazzi can take as many pictures of you as their little reptilian hearts desire, but for a period of one year, those pictures will become the temporary property of the state, not publishable in magazines, books, or on the web. (So, if Tara Reid wants to see her drug-addled smile in US magazine, she'd better not stand next to you at the premiere of Jackass 3: Nothing Left To Do But Set Ourselves On Fire.) All Paris Hilton fan websites will be shut down for the term of your probation under the new "OMG! GT A LYF!" ordinance.
Basically, for the period of one year, you will not be publicly discussed, displayed, or "exploited." Frankly, we think you'll appreciate the quiet. (We know we will.)
What? This just in, folks. While you were all reading that, Paris decided that jail ain't so bad after all. She has moved into the general population in prison, joined a gang, and is having the words "Livin' on the Edge" tattooed on her butt my a large woman named Pearl.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Any arguments so far? I didn't think so.
Now, do you have friends who don't normally or ever go to the theatre? If you're like me, you may not have that many, but they are there, aren't they?
Do you think them too dull to appreciate a night of good theatre? They very well may be, but let's not assume, shall we?
Invite them with you to see a show. (You may have to go to a tractor pull in return, but come on, campers, this is for art!)
Now, if your cousin Ted's favorite movie is Talladega Nights, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that you take him to see Equus. However, a Ray Cooney farce may be just the thing to make his night. It just so happens that there are a few around town this summer.
Spotlight Theatre's Run For Your Wife is running at the West Colfax E-vents Center right now through June 30th. Since Ted will no doubt want to see more, Run will be followed by its sequel, Caught In The Net, at the same location July 14 - August 4th.
Miner's Alley Playhouse will also be presenting a Cooney gem, Not Now, Darling right after they close their current show, the highly-acclaimed murder mystery, Lobby Hero.
Your cubicle-mate, Stephanie, is a hopeless romantic, isn't she? Take her to see the charming story of Eliza DooLittle and Henry Higgins in Town Hall Arts Center's My Fair Lady.
Aunt Sophia's favorite thing to do on Thursday nights is to go to Bible study? Well, then Friday night, share with her one of the oldest Biblical tales brought to musical life in Performance Now's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opening June 22nd. (And, hurry, this show is selling fast.)
If you take your friends or family to see a show, and they're just not into it, that's fine. (But you may be surprised.) At least you gave them the opportunity to be exposed to the world that you hold in such great affection. (And, who knows? You may actually enjoy the tractor pull.)
I believe that the world of theatre has something for everyone, and the Denver theatre scene is a pretty good microcosm of that. Check out the Colorado Theatre Guild's website to see what's going on around town this summer.
Support local theatre and share it with someone you tolerate.
Peace out, piggies.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I count eight for Spring Awakening, the big winner of the evening. I'm very pleased for Frank Langella, one of my favorite actors, but I'm a bit torn as another of my favorites, Christopher Plummer, was up for the same award. I'm also happy for Christine Ebersole and David Hyde Pierce, two actors whose work I've always enjoyed.
2007 Tony Award Winners:
The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
Best Book of a Musical:
Spring Awakening - Book by: Steven Sater
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics):
Spring Awakening - Music: Duncan Sheik, Lyrics: Steven Sater
Best Revival of a Play:
Best Revival of a Musical:
Best Special Theatrical Event
Jay Johnson: The Two and Only
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play:
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play:
Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical:
David Hyde Pierce, Curtains
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical:
Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play:
Billy Crudup, The Coast of Utopia
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play:
Jennifer Ehle, The Coast of Utopia
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical:
John Gallagher, Jr., Spring Awakening
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical:
Mary Louise Wilson, Grey Gardens
Best Direction of a Play:
Jack O'Brien, The Coast of Utopia
Best Direction of a Musical:
Michael Mayer, Spring Awakening
Bill T. Jones, Spring Awakening
Duncan Sheik, Spring Awakening
Best Scenic Design of a Play:
Bob Crowley & Scott Pask, The Coast of Utopia
Best Scenic Design of a Musical:
Bob Crowley, Mary Poppins
Best Costume Design of a Play:
Catherine Zuber, The Coast of Utopia
Best Costume Design of a Musical:
William Ivey Long, Grey Gardens
Best Lighting Design of a Play:
Brian MacDevitt, Kenneth Posner, Natasha Katz, The Coast of Utopia
Best Lighting Design of a Musical:
Kevin Adams, Spring Awakening
Regional Theatre Tony Award:
Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, GA
Well I agree with you that I personally would like to see Backstage and Lake Dillon and Creede eligible.
Please note however that the CTG made them not elligible AT THEIR REQUEST. Or at least after much discussion with representatives of those theatres and with the Artistic Director for Lake Dillon on the board for the CTG vigorously proposing that they should NOT be eligible.
The reason? They can't get critical mass of Henry Judges to actually go see enough of their productions becuase of the drive and they don't want to be eligible for awards they feel they cannot win.
I personally would like to see them eligible and would be happy to drive a carpool of judges up there to see the shows. But my opinion did not hold sway. So I am reporting my experience in an unofficial capactiy and reminding folks that, as always with these thigns, there are more issues at play than you might think about at first and the people you expect to have voted one way on an issue might in fact have voted another.
Thanks for the report and your comments!
Knowing Mari as I do, I have no doubt that she would, in fact, load the judges into a van and drive them up the mountain herself.
Well, there is truth in the saying, "it's an honor just to be nominated," and I think that there are a number of actors and designers who have been involved in those productions over the divide, who, win or lose, would have appreciated the opportunity to at least receive a nomination. I'm not sure their voices were heard when their respective theatre companies made this decision.
Personally, I like the carpool idea myself. I hope that the CTG and the involved theatre companies will keep the possibility open for future award years.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Instead it might be more accurate to say: in the tradition of great Denver theatre, Spotlight has provided a masterful and side-splitting comedy in Run For Your Wife. (Yeah, I like that better.)
Director (and Spotlight founder) Pat Payne demonstrates his facilty and affection for this work by British playwright Ray Cooney with the help of the incredibly talented cast of Bernie Cardell, Haley Johnson, Bonnie Greene, Clint Heyn, Dan Connell, John W.B. Greene, Charles Hettinger, and Dyarl Alexander.
Tonight's sold-out crowd very nearly brought the house down with laughter, and after the final curtain, I saw many who staggered from the theatre exhausted from laughter and overcome with elation.
Bernie is brilliant as mild-mannered polygamist John Smith, and his chemistry with Clint Heyn as his unwitting and frequently unwilling accomplice Stanley is the stuff of magic. Bonnie Greene is superb as the clueless and much put-upon wife #1, and Haley Johnson mixes sex-kitten sultriness with straight-man timing as equally clueless wife #2.
Along with the rest of the gifted ensemble, this play will take your breath away several times throughout the evening . . . from laughing.
See it with a friend.
This, by the way, would be an excellent show to introduce an uninitiated friend or co-worker to the world of theatre, and they'll likely thank you for it.
Run For Your Wife plays now through June 30 at the E-Project's E-vent Center at 9797 W. Colfax, which E-Project board member Dave Johnson assured me is fully wheelchair accessible (though it does help if you can let them know ahead of time.)
The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 6:30. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets and more info can be obtained by calling 720-250-8220.
Run For Your Wife will be succeeded by its sequel, Caught In The Net, also at the E-vent Center July 14th through August 4th, with the majority of the cast reprising their roles.
I already bought my ticket.
Support local theatre.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Now, it turns out that the Denver Center Theater Company has withdrawn their shows from consideration due to a protest over the eligibility requirements, particularly, the requirement that states that individuals must have lived (specifically "slept") in the state for 6 months out of the award period. The intent of this requirement, I assume, is to keep the awards in the hands of talent that is truly local. I get that. CTG doesn't want to be handing out a bunch of awards to performers who don't live here and may never perform here again.
I also get the Denver Center's objection. In a hypothetical production of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet could be eligible for nomination because she's local, but Romeo, who was only in town for the rehearsals and the run of the show would be ineligible. The actor's performance happened in a Colorado theatre, before Colorado audiences, with a Colorado producer, but would not be eligible for Colorado recognition - at least in the form of a Henry Award.
I'm surprised that the Arvada Center, which also utilizes out-of-town talent, did not decide to withdraw from consideration as well.
I think that both problems could be solved, however, if the Denver Center and the Arvada Center made more use of local talent. Come on, it's not like we don't have it here. Also, if our regional theatres hired locally more often, I think we would see a lot fewer of our talented young performers heading out of town upon graduation. We might draw some talent into the city as well.
However, the "residency" requirement is something that the CTG and the Denver Center need to sit down and talk about. I'm not overly concerned either way.
I do, however, notice that there are a couple of theatres missing from the eligible nominees, and with this I do take issue.
The Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge is not listed. Neither is the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. Nor is the Creede Repertory Theatre. I believe that all three of these companies are members of the Colorado Theatre Guild, and they are all obviously located within the state, so it seems a bit unfair to take their membership fees but exclude them from recognition because they are not within the designated Denver metropolitan area or the seven counties.
I'm sorry, but this is not the "Denver Theatre Guild" awards.
There's quality theatre on the other side of the divide, too.
Now, it may not be easy to get to every theatre in the state, but, if they're paying members, then they should be afforded the consideration.
I'm all for recognition of theatre, but the Colorado Theatre Guild awards should be for all Colorado Theatre Guild members.
I still support the Henry Awards, but I hope that the eligibility requirements will continue to be reviewed for future years.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
The next Presidential election is in November of 2008. From today, that's about seventeen months, or nearly a year-and-a-half away. Even the primaries (which I feel are still a bit early) aren't going to happen for at least another seven months. Most of the current candidates, regardless of party affiliation, have been campaigning for three or four months already. Most of these candidates also have their job titles as part of their names: Senator Whatsisname, Governor Whosit, Congressman Soandso. These titles were given to them by their employers (the American voting public) when they were elected to fill a position and perform a job function. However, for somewhere between 17 and 22 months, these employees of ours are putting their principle focus not into doing their appointed jobs, but into getting themselves "hired" for another job.
Am I the only one who thinks that this is a little ridiculous? How long would you last at your current job if you spent half of your time trying to get a new job?
I don't like where this trend is now, but I really don't like where it could go. Can you imagine Presidential campaigning for 2012 that begins immediately after the votes have been counted in 2008? When are any of our elected officials going to get any actual work done?
If it were up to me, I'd hold the all the primaries within a one-month period for three months before the November elections, and I'd allow two months of campaigning prior to that, and that's it. In this technological age of the internet, podcasting, instant news coverage, etc., six months is more than enough time to get to know your candidates, make an informed choice, and vote for the millionaire that you think is less crooked than the others.
Now that's democracy!
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
You know you're living in the 21st century if:
1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.
4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.
6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.
7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.
8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.
10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.
11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )
12 You're reading this and nodding and laughing.
13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to send this list (after you've copied and pasted it into an e-mail).
14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.
15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9 on this list.
AND NOW YOU ARE LAUGHING at yourself.
Number 8 hit home with me. Two days ago, I left the house without my cell phone (something that I only began using about two years ago) and very nearly turned around to retrieve it. I didn't. It was quiet that day, and, yes, I had messages when I returned home. Strangely, though, the world did not end.
Also, I do still play solitaire with real cards. I like the sound of the cards slapping down on the table. (I play hard.)
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Whether you agree with current U.S. Foreign policy or not, many of our friends and family are far from home in service of this country. How intriguing to be able to hear from American soldiers in other times and other places, and get their perspective on being far from their loved ones.
I will re-print the Hunger Artists release just as it was sent to me:
Letters to Home is an original Reader's Theatre production consisting of historic war letters written to the families of soldiers. Working in association with the Colorado Historical Society, adaptors Maggie Cochran and Deni-Marie Warren have compiled a selection of letters that are each tied to Colorado in a unique way, and the touching stories of war, loss, happiness and betrayal are moving and thought provoking. Letters to Home is an inspirational journey into the soul of a soldier. Their stories transcend politics and reveal in their own words the hearts and minds of those who have served their country.
Tickets are on sale now for
Letters to Home
The Byers-Evans House
1310 Bannock St.
downtown Denver next door to the Denver Art Museum
Call the Hunger Artists box office at (303) 893-5438 for reservations and information.
June 22 - July 7, 2007
Fri/Sat nights 7:30pm
Industry Night Mon. July 2nd, 7:30pm
Special Independence Day performances
Tue. July 3rd 7:30pm, Wed. July 4 6:0pm
Tickets only $16.00
($2 discount for military, students, seniors, wheelchair patrons and groups of 10 or more)
Reader's Theatre is performance art where our professional actors both read and perform. Like storytelling, Reader's Theatre creates images by suggestion that could never be realistically portrayed on stage. It is theatre of the mind, freeing both the performers and the audience from the physical limitations of conventional theater creating a unique and unforgettable experience.
Again, that sounds very interesting, and if you have a relative, a friend, or neighbor who has served this country on foreign soil or perhaps know the family of someone currently stationed overseas, this might be an evening to share with them.
Other great theatrical evenings to share with a friend, family member, or co-worker - perhaps someone who doesn't go out to live theatre much or at all:
4 Dog Sees God at the Avenue Theater through June 9th. (An excellent show, but maybe best reserved for your more open-minded friends. Or not. Make 'em think.)
4 The Mikado at the Mizel Center through June 10th. (Gilbert and Sullivan is great fun, but an operetta might not be the best choice for the theatrically uninitiated.)
4 My Fair Lady at Town Hall Arts Center through June 24th. (David Ambroson as Henry Higgins. I don't know if he was born to play this role, but he might have been.)
4 Run For Your Wife opens June 9th and runs through the 30th. (Should be very funny. You might want to wear an adult diaper. I'm just sayin'.)
4 Performance Now's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opens June 22nd and runs through July 1st. (A great show for anybody who's never been to a musical before, and pretty much for anyone else, too.)
Support local theatre, and, while you're at it, take a friend.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
If I could add just one thing to what these gentlemen have said it would be this:
The experience created by by The Avenue Theater's production of Dog Sees God cannot be replicated on T.V. or on film. The laughter, surprise, tears, and anger are not merely presented to the audience but shared with them. My friend, actress Murphy Funkhouser, was down from Summit County to see the show, and could not help but to exclaim gleefully, "I knew it!" at a particularly pivotal point in the action. (Murphy's a hoot. More on what she's up to in a moment.)
This play, at the Avenue and around the country, will no doubt continue to garner a cult following. Eventually, someone may try to make it into a film. They will not be able to re-capture the experience. Even if they cast original Off-Broadway cast members America Ferrara and Eliza Dushku (darlings of T.V. and movies), the full intimacy of the performances will be lost.
Hey, I like a good movie or a good T.V. show (rare as they are) as much as anybody, but if you're not including live theatre in your entertainment regimen, you're really missing out.
Why not go see Dog Sees God? You'll get your money's worth. By the way, you'd better hurry. It closes June 9th.
Other shows to catch this summer:
Empire Lyric Players are presenting The Mikado through June 10th at the Schwayder.
THAC's My Fair Lady, featuring David Ambroson and Chris Boeckx runs through June 24th.
Lobby Hero, directed by Terry Dodd, runs through June 17th at Miner's Alley Playhouse.
Spotlight Theatre Company will open Run for Your Wife by Ray Cooney (directed by Pat Payne and featuring Bernie Cardell and the lovely Haley Johnson) June 9 and run through June 30. Spotlight will follow Wife with its sequel, Caught In the Net, featuring the same cast July 12-August 4th.
Performance Now's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs June 22- July 1st at the Lakewood Cultural Center. (This one is selling fast.)
The Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge will be running two shows in rep: Murphy Funkhouser's one-woman show Crazy Bag and Smell of the Kill, starring no less than Trina Magness, Jacquelyn Lies, and Mare Trevathan.
Lots to see and do this summer. Don't just "veg out" on the couch watching According to Jim reruns.
Friday, June 1, 2007
Producers are no doubt trying to repeat the success of The Osbournes and The Anna Nicole Show, where celebrities' private foibles and privileged lives are placed under a microscope in the hope of earning ratings and maybe even a "comeback" for the subjects. Producers also throw in lots of activities and scenarios that will keep things lively and no doubt make total asses out of the celebs, all for our entertainment.
I'm sure that there will be plenty of other "regular people exposed" shows, too, to take up time and space on what my dad used to call "the idiot box" (except when there was a game on).
I'll admit that I, too, like to watch a couple of reality shows. I enjoy Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, but I grow ever frustrated by the manipulative nature of these shows.
Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want, but I noticed that early on in this season's competition of DWTS on ABC, Billy Ray Cyrus (employed by Disney, ABC's parent company) was frequently filmed from the waist up during his routines, particularly when there were any difficult steps. Also, in a show that likes to pride itself on fairness, John Ratzenberger, in his sixties, was competing against Joey Fatone, half his age, with an extensive background in dance and musical performance (though not ballroom, I know) from his days of touring with N'Sync - essentially a ringer. Past ringers have included Drew Lachey, Mario Lopez, Joey Lawrence, and Stacy Keibler. The fact that, of these, only Drew Lachey has walked away with the gaudy trophy suggests that America has recognized the disparity in dance experience among the contestants.
As for Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, I understand that there is a screening process in each city for who gets to dance before the panel (the part we see) or who does not. It makes sense, of course, as the number of contestants each year increases exponentially with the popularity of the show. What that means, though, is that "dancers" like the unfathomably clueless "Sex" are allowed through for no other reason than to have fun poked at them. Even if there is no screening process, "Sex" received an inordinate amount of tube time given his lack of talent.
A show that I stopped watching after a season or two was CBS's The Amazing Race as I saw that, through daily machinations of the producers, no pair of racers was ever allowed to get more than about twelve hours ahead of anyone else in a particular leg, and that further "coincidences" in the following leg allowed everyone to catch up to even again. I know that the show wouldn't be as interesting if one pair of racers took the lead early on and managed to increase that lead, staying a day or two ahead of the rest of the pack, but I don't like the feeling that I'm being manipulated into believing that the show is "reality." A further manipulation occurs in the editing of what I'm sure are hundreds of hours of squabbles and unfavorable native interactions on the part of all of the contestants, so that some racers come across as benevolent and other malevolent. Notice that the malevolent couples don't win, and since, when the show airs, the race has already been won, you can bet that the editing throughout reflects favorably on the winners.
CBS's crown jewel of reality shows, Survivor, was even accused of allowing its contestants to sleep in hotel rooms and eat regular meals off-camera. I don't know that this is true, but I'll guarantee you that the many union cameramen and producers involved in the show do not sleep on the ground or eat bugs, and I'll bet that a grip or two has smuggled a blueberry muffin from his continental breakfast to his favorite bikini-clad contestant from time to time. I don't really watch the show, but I did see an episode in which a contestant was " banished" to isolation on some remote island for a night. The contestant sat on the beach, looked right into the camera and said, "I've never felt so alone."
I thought to myself, "sure, except for the cameraman, the sound guy, the light guy, the two producers, and the three unfortunate grips who are there to chase away snakes and things."
My point is this: it's not reality. It's not even close. I laugh when people talk about how T.V. has become so voyeuristic. Is it really voyeurism if it's staged?
Do yourself a favor. Turn off the T.V. and go see a play. It will be staged, too, but it's a lot more live. Plus it'll be better for your brain.