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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Henry's Analysis

I have been critical of the Henry's on this blog. I don't think that criticism has been unfounded or unfair.
I did not go to the Henry's. I decided on Sunday that my $20 for the ticket would better serve another cause.
I did monitor John Moore's updates from the Space Theatre on his iPhone, so I was able to follow what was happening.
First, I would like to offer my congratulations to all nominees and all winners. In particular I would like to congratulate Regan Linton of PHAMALY's Side Show for her Best Actress in a musical win. (Anyone who has followed this blog knows how fond I am of Miss Linton and how happy I am to see her work acknowledged.) I would also like to say "hats off" to Paul Behrhorst for Henry acknowledgement for Outstanding Stage Management. Paul is very good at what he does and demonstrates a competence that exceeds his years. (This honor was not part of the original judging process and came about as more of a "write-in" vote.)
Now for my analysis of the Henry's:

I have none.

There is not one thing that I could say here that I have not already said.
I am glad to see that the Henry's is changing their adjudication process, but, if they are still calling for citizen judges, then they appear to be about a month behind.
I have also seen nothing that suggests that the new process will be widening the geographic eligibility to the rest of Colorado. This is unfortunate, in my opinion.
As to the distribution of the honors last night, I will defer instead to one line in an e-mail from an out-of-town friend. (She had been monitoring my Tweets and Facebook updates and followed my link to John's play-by-play on his blog.)
"I thought that there were more theatre companies in Denver."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rallying Cry

I surveyed the damage out at Mary McGroary's apartment today. There were a handful of us out there organized by the best friend a girl could ever ask for, Scot Sanders. (For a while there was also a guy who must have thought he was at the worst garage sale ever until we enlightened him to the situation.)
There was not much to salvage unfortunately. We spent a lot of time trying (without much success) to save photographs, continuously reciting the mantra, "everything else can be replaced."
And it can, but it won't simply happen with the wave of a magic wand.
Stop for a second and look around your house or apartment. Go ahead. This blog isn't going anywhere (this is Google, not Yahoo!). Look around. Now, imagine if you lost all of your stuff. All of it: books, cds, furniture, kitchen items, bedding, everything.
Now imagine that on top of everything else you lost your beloved pet.
I talked to Scot a little more about the full ramifications of the loss. Renter's insurance does not cover floods. It is not certain at this point if Mary is liable for the remainder of her lease or for any of the costs of cleanup or disposal. The Red Cross was able to offer only a couple of hundred bucks toward a storage unit.
The rest has to come from somewhere, and, since Mary is one of our own in the theatre community, I think that we should rally together and pool our resources. Now, we don't want Mary to end up with fifteen toasters and seventy-five soup ladles, so Scot said that he will start working on a list over the next few days. For now, money is the best way to help. All of that info is in my previous entry as well as on John Moore's blog.
I know that we're all tightening our belts a bit here, but come on, actors and directors: how much was your bar tab this weekend? Techies: cut your stash with oregano to make it last a week longer before you need to call "your guy."
I make jokes, of course, because I am a ridiculous and ineffectual man, and it's the only thing I can do.
However, you dear readers, can do so much more than I can. For one, people like you better. They do. They told me.
Rally the troops! Circle the wagons! One of our happy band of players is in need, and it's time to step up and do what we can.
It would be nice if there were a few generous patrons who would be able to help Mary out, but I think we all know that it's more likely going to come about by a lot of us doing a little.
Spread the word, people. We can do this.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Hands That Help

. . . belong to us.
An actress working in Boulder lost her dog, Rosie, and all of her possessions in a flash flood during one of the recent Colorado thunderstorms.
You can read more here in John Moore's Running Lines blog, but the nuts and bolts are this:
Mary McGroary only has limited renter's insurance. The condo she was renting isn't covered for flood insurance. She lost everything and her expenses and liability are undetermined at this point.
She needs the help of a beneficent community. We are that community. We are the theatre community, and we take care of our own.
You can donate at PayPal to (For those of you unfamiliar with PayPal, John walks you through it in his blog.)
You can also send donations of cash and checks and/or notes of support to:

Mary McGroary
c/o Bella Colore Salon
3042 E. 6th Ave.
Denver, CO 80206

For non-cash donations or to find out when and where you might be able to offer a bit of backbone and elbow grease, please contact Mary's friend Scot Sanders at

For you pet lovers out there, you understand that Mary's financial loss in this disaster cannot even be compared to the loss of her beloved companion, Rosie.
Please do whatever you can to help Mary through this time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Missed Opportunities

I am sorry to say that wonderful performer and great guy Phil Gottlieb passed away early this morning. I am even sorrier to say that, while the "wonderful performer" part I can personally attest to, the "great guy" aspect is something I really only know second-hand.
I have witnessed on Facebook, on MySpace, and even in a call from a friend in Boston last night the great out-pouring of affection from the people who knew Mr. Gottlieb, and I have begun to feel a loss of my own: that, outside of one or two brief post-show exchanges, I never got to know this man who had such a significant impact in the lives of artists in this community.
Here is John Moore's article about Phil Gottlieb and his family.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Video: The Kids of Evita

I will probably post videos now every couple of weeks, but I thought that this would be a fun perspective on Performance Now's Evita, running through July 5 at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stand Back, Buenos Aires: PN's Evita

Tonight is the opening night for Performance Now's production of Evita, one of a handful of productions of this musical to open in the Denver area this year, and the one that should absolutely be on your "must see" list. (For a Big Bad Wolf sneak peek, see yesterday's blog.)
"Why is that?" you may ask. (Or you may not ask that, but I'm a bit of a hack, and I need a way to get this article started, so let's just say you asked.)
Is it because of director Gary Hathaway's unique interpretation of this story? That's absolutely a big part of it. Gary Hathaway remains, in my opinion, one of the boldest and most creative directors in town. Gary's philosophy seems to be: if you're just going to give audiences what they were expecting, then why bother at all? I couldn't agree more.
Gary warned me before I dropped in on his last couple of dress rehearsals that "this is not your grandmother's Evita," and I say thank the night of a thousand stars for that.
Too many companies attempt to present musicals just as they've been seen a hundred times before, and you know who you are (actually, sadly, they probably don't.) The gods of Denver musical theatre have smiled upon us with directors like Gary Hathaway, Steve Wilson, and Chris Willard.
I don't want to spoil any of the surprises that Gary has in store for you, so I will simply reiterate: this is definitely not your grandmother's Evita. That's why you should see it. Or, at least, it's one of the reasons.
Another is the powerful ensemble of performers that bring Gary's bold vision to sparkling life. Ranging in age from six to well, obviously I didn't ask at the other end of the spectrum, this chorus boasts some of my favorite performers, most of whom have headlined a show themselves. Linda Suttle, Bailey Walton, Alannah Moore, Melissa Morris, Danielle Hawkins, Kristin Hathaway, and many others imbue this production with a musical theatre brawn, the likes of which are seldom seen in community theatre. By the way, it should be noted that this is an all local cast.
I only mentioned women, you say? Hmm, so I did. Have I ever told you about how I got the nickname "Wolf?"
Okay, let's talk about the guys. Richard Moore brings a timely pathos to the stalwart Juan Peron. There is a delicate edge to his booming baritone, and in his portrayal we see the conflict of an ambitious politician and a man very much in love with his wife.
David Kincannon rises (and surprises) in a bit of non-traditional casting as Che to become the night's master of ceremonies and leads the audience ably and jaw-droppingly from the gentle ballad "High Flying Adored" into the rousing show-stopper "And the Money Kept Rolling In."
All of these elements contribute greatly to a fantastic night of musical theatre, but there is yet one reason still not to miss this show. (See, I told you I was a hack.) One reason that should overcome any and all excuses that might stand in the way of getting your back end, backside, badonkadonk, behind, booty, bottom, bum, butt, derrière, fanny, fundament, gluteus maximus, haunches, hindquarters, patootie, posterior, rear, rump, seat, tail, trunk junk, tush, tushy, and whoopie cakes into one of the very comfortable seats at the Lakewood Cultural Center is the lady in the title role, Alisa Vaughters.
Warning: you will have to endure a bit more gushing from this point forward.
After all, how can one not gush about a performer like Alisa? Firstly, she seems entirely too pretty to be doubly blessed with such amazing vocal prowess. This heightens the contrast between the beauty of the young Argentine actress Eva Duarte and the ambitious political and social climber who would become Evita Peron. No matter how thoughtless or "shrewish" Eva becomes, we are always drawn back to the angelic features and irrepressible charm of Alisa. Our conflicted feelings about this woman and her story are amplified in a way that perhaps few audiences of other productions have seen.
When Alisa stands on the balcony and sings the well-known and oft-
clichéd "Don't Cry For Me Argentina," you will forget that you've heard it before. You will forget every parody or bad rendition that has ever insulted your ears. You will forget that you are sitting in Lakewood, Colorado, clutching in your lap the program of the little theatre company that could, the brain child of the late Nancy Goodwin, who wanted to bring high-quality musical theatre to suburban audiences without the hefty ticket price. You will forget that you aren't sitting in a hundred-year-old theatre at 53rd and Broadway in New York. I certainly did.
This production of Evita is a grand realization of Nancy's dream, and Performance Now has become a treasure of Colorado theatre.
Those of you who know me know I wouldn't go on like this about a show I didn't really, really like.
So get your tickets before they sell out. (And they will.) This show runs just three weekends. See for yourself what a group of local performers and designers can do.
If you don't agree with my assessment, well, you can just kiss my whoopie cakes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Wolf Goes Video: Evita Sneak Peek

I will be writing a full blog on this amazing show in the next day or so, but I thought you all might enjoy this.
It's a quickie-shoot-and-edit-job, and I plan to give myself a little more time for future videos, but I think you get the idea here.
Oh, if you're reading this somewhere other than, you may have to come back here to see the video.

Monday, June 15, 2009

And Another Thing . . .

As long as I've got a rant going, I'd just like to ask the following:

How difficult is it for some theatre companies to post cast lists on their website? With as many productions as are happening at any given time in the area, sometimes I have to choose which shows I'm going to see by the number of people in the cast who will be mad at me for missing it. I'm exaggerating (a little), but I personally find it useful to know who is in a show when I'm trying to decide if I can fit it into my schedule and where to prioritize it among the other ten shows running in a given month. Sometimes the actors send out an e-mail blast to friends and family, or post a MySpace bulletin, or even mention it in a Facebook update, but sometimes they don't.
I hate passing on a show and then finding out that someone I know (or even someone I don't know, but whose work I enjoy) was in it.
Besides, isn't the point of having a website to draw in more audience members? Some actors have a following. There are little old ladies all over the Front Range who would pay good money just to see David Ambroson play Lantern Bearer #3.
I mean, how much extra bandwidth are we talking about here? Cut and paste!
The actors have shown up, theoretically learned their lines, and are working for less than scale. Why not let them see their names on the web page? Pictures would be nice, too, but names would do.
I'm just sayin'.

Just Who Do I Think I Am, Anyway?

Okay, a few of you have e-mailed me your two cents' worth on the Henrys Quandary (and I will respect your anonymity as I assume you chose not to comment here for a reason) and, at this point, it seems that about 80% of you seem to agree that the Henrys are a bit more exclusive than they ought to be for wanting to be the Colorado equivalent of the Tony awards.
I would like to respond to the other 20%.
No, I was not nominated for a Henry this season, and it is plausible to conclude that my criticism is motivated by "sour grapes." Plausible, but not accurate. This season, I was in one, little semi-disaster of a show that I did as a favor and that I don't think I was very good in, and if that performance had garnered me a Henry nod, believe me, my criticism of the awards would have elevated to new heights.
No, I really don't begrudge any of the nominees their recognition. In fact, my affection for a number of the nominees is well-documented -- and not just in the margins on the restraining orders.
As to the assertion that I don't have much respect for the Denver theatre community, well, I'll call that one a foul ball: you got a piece of it, but it won't get you on base.
I have been less actively involved in the theatre scene of late because of other commitments, so I have been seeing things from few paces farther back. I see new theatre companies sprouting up to produce shows that have been recently produced elsewhere in the community. I don't know if it's about one-up-man-ship or if it's a response to not being allowed into the "cool kids club" or what, but it seems unproductive.
As a director, I'm a big fan of casting actors who I've been able to rely on before, but perhaps not to the point that I'm casting drastically against type just to work with my friends. I've seen some of that, too. I've also seen actors who were the right type get frustrated by this and go off to start their own theatre companies where they then engage in the same practice.
I see a lot verbal affection mixed with factional behavior.
I used to think that the large number of theatre companies in town was a testament to the talent and support of the theatre community, and I have written as much on this very blog. I now find myself wondering if it isn't more a sign of us not playing well together.
(And, believe me, I am fully aware of my reputation as someone who "does not play well with the other children," some of which isn't deserved, but some of which is.)
Do I have respect for the Denver theatre community? I do. It isn't unquestioning respect.
I have faith in the Colorado arts scene. It isn't blind faith.
What does any of this have to do with the Henrys? Not much, but since the question was raised (or the accusation was leveled), I wanted to respond to it.
On a personal note, I recently found myself at a crossroads. I found myself approaching the end of a chapter. All lines were converging on the same point. My lease and my schooling would be complete at the same time. Friends around the country were urging me to move to Boston, New York, Santa Fe, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle, extolling the virtues of their respective arts communities. I went on the internet, started posting on message boards, finding artists in other cities: Baltimore, Atlanta, Austin, Raleigh, Nashville. I asked a lot of questions.
I saw dozens of reasons to move on to other areas, to seek out new scenes and new adventures.
Ultimately, however, I decided that this adventure wasn't over yet. In many ways it is just beginning. I believe in Denver, and I love the Denver arts community, warts and all. I've taken my lumps here, sure, but I believe that Denver is on the verge of an arts renaissance, and I want to be here for it.
So I'm sticking around. I'm going to do my part. Sometimes that means calling 'em like I see 'em.
Call it tough love.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Delete, Delete, Delete (A Henrys Quandary)

I have nearly worn out this key on my MacBook over the last week or so.
I am attempting to be a kinder, gentler Big Bad Wolf.
I have written and deleted roughly three blog entries of varying length and tone regarding the Henry Awards -- specifically the tendency to refer to them as "the Denver Tonys" or the "Colorado Tonys."
Sometimes I wasn't nice, sometimes I was, but I could not reconcile how to express my dismay over the selection and voting process without in some way diminishing the worthiness of the artists nominated -- many some of the most talented people I know and many people I consider to be friends.
I am thrilled and proud for them in their being acknowledged for their mastery and talent, and I believe it to be much deserved.
At the same time, I wish that our "Denver Tonys" were a little more inclusive, and that the Colorado Theatre Guild's acknowledgement extended a little further into Colorado.
I know that a plan is in place to make things equitable for next year -- the same plan that was discussed just about a year ago at this time but abandoned temporarily due to . . . well, I guess I'm not entirely sure that I understand -- something about it being too difficult to implement in time for the next (this) cycle. So, with the 2008-2009 Henry nominees announced and all shows opening subsequent to that announcement being part of the next (2009-2010) cycle, does that mean that the new system is in place? Now? Right now? Because new shows have opened.
Perhaps it is. I may not be in the loop on this one. Somebody let me know.
And here I am typing many of the things again that I had deleted earlier in the week. I feel that I have been spurred on a bit by John Moore's able handling of this subject in his most recent column.
Again, I don't wish to take anything away from the nominees, yet I suppose I can't be critical of the process without doing that just a little bit. I apologize to the nominated artists for this, it is not my intent.
I think, too, that apologies ought to be afforded to those artists who could not be nominated for geographical reasons or who had little chance of being nominated by virtue of only being seen by a minority of "the nine" under the present system. I'd make that apology myself, but it is not mine to make.
John, as usual, has said it better than I could have, and he will no doubt catch a lot less flack than I know that I am going to after I hit the "publish" button on this post, so I urge you to read his column this week, and see why John and I are in agreement that, (as John puts it) "until the Guild solves its many inherent logistical problems, it has no business touting the Henrys as 'Colorado's Tony Awards' (especially when they aren't statewide)."

Oh, a few of you have asked if I'm going to the Henry awards, and I suspect that a few more of you will be asking once this blog makes its usual rounds.
The answer is . . . I haven't decided.

Friday, June 12, 2009

All Akimbo

While Vintage Theatre's Kimberly Akimbo only runs for two more performances and has had no shortage of positive promotion and enthusiastic attendance already, I would just like to throw in my two cents' worth and say that, if you haven't already, you should definitely make a point of seeing this delightfully twisted story about a 16 year-old-girl who ages too quickly that isn't really about a 16 year-old-girl who ages too quickly.
(Ha! That was all one sentence. How 'bout them apples, Mr. Achierno?)

Twitter Me This

When I first heard about this thing called Twitter, I thought to myself, "Why on earth would I want to post to the world what I am doing at every (or any) given moment of the day?"
The truth is, as a fairly private person, I find the prospect scary.
However, I have resolved in my life to do more things that scare me. (Things that are not inherently dangerous, that is. I still eschew things like wrestling alligators and dating actresses.)
So, last night, I dipped my toe rather apprehensively into the cyber lake that is Twitter. I immediately picked up three "followers" which I am sure is something automatically built into the system to make new Twitterers feel accepted and interesting. It is merely a ploy. Still, it is an effective one. (I have three followers! Yay me!)
I have only made a handful of "tweets" in the last 24 hours, but, so far, I find it somewhat exciting. Yes, I said exciting.
I may not be the most interesting person in the world, but I do think that I occasionally have an interesting thought or observation pass through my brain. Usually it dies there. By the time I get around to writing a blog in which I was to include this thought, I have self-edited it (or forgotten it) right out of existence.
Sometimes I say it aloud upon thinking it, but there is seldom an audience to hear it. Usually, that audience is Adelaide, who feigns only enough interest to interject her own thought, which is usually "Food." (Technically, she says, "Meow," but I know what she means.)
I am also prevented, by the parameters of Tweeting, from explaining or elaborating on a thought -- something that would invariably diminish it.
There is a purity to Twitter that I would not have expected, and I think I actually like it.
For how long, who knows?
Of course, that is the nature of life, is it not? We enjoy something for a while, and then we move on to something else.
I used to be voraciously obsessed with comic books and superheroes. Now, as an adult, I find myself only passionately obsessed.
See? That is the ebb and flow of life.
Oh, my twitter ID is badwolf1013 for those of you who Twitter and are interested in following the riveting saga of whether or not I am going to shave my beard.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Autism: The Musical

I know. I know. It sounds like a musical spoof in really bad taste. That was exactly what I thought when I saw the cover of the DVD over at the new Eloise May Library. I flipped over the cover to see that this was, in fact, a rather unfortunately-named documentary about the process of putting on a musical production featuring kids with autism.
Now, as you may or may not know, I am a supporter of Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of America and a firm believer that the performing arts is an important ingredient of childhood development, so, sappy and sentimental as I was sure it would be, I was intrigued, so I decided to check it out.
What I got instead was one of the most frank, honest, uncompromising, and moving portraits of families living with autism that I have seen so far. As much as I thought I knew about autism, my eyes were opened just a bit wider.
If you know someone with autism or even if you think that autism is Dustin Hoffman counting fallen toothpicks in a roadside diner, I really think you should see this film.
I don't want to rob you of the experience that I had in discovering this movie, so I won't give away too much here. I really do want you to see this movie.
However, let me just say that, if you are a fan of Stephen Schwartz's musical, Wicked, you haven't grasped the full depth of "I'm Not That Girl" until you've heard it sung by a fourteen-year-old girl with autism.
See the movie. Trust me. Autism: The Musical. Have I steered you wrong yet?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Directions

This blog originally evolved from an e-mail list that I started a couple of years ago after seeing Boulder Broadway's amazing production of Bat Boy played to a house undeserving (in size) of the quality of the show.
It was Jeff Gamet (of The MacObserver and iPod Observer) who suggested that I start a blog.
Now, as I have repeatedly pointed out, I did not set out to become a theatre critic. I don't write "reviews." My goal has been to draw attention to little gems I find that might slip under the radar of my theatre friends (like Metro State's phenomenal Robber Bridegroom or And Toto Too's supremely well-acted The Glider). As a critic, I would feel compelled to write about some of the more awful productions I've seen, and I don't want to do that. There are other people who do that with far greater discretion than I would, so I leave it to them. Plus, I am part of this industry (and that will increase in the coming months), and I feel that any critic worth his or her salt would maintain a friendly but professional distance, that is, not trying to act or direct or submit plays as well.
It has been my hope that my blog would be shared (as it has been) with others to help spread the word about these gems, but I do not actively seek to be cut and pasted onto theatre company's websites. Again, there are others who do want that, so I leave it to them. The way I see it, if someone is on your website, then they don't need me to tell them to seek you out, do they?
As I return to more active blogging, I find myself unsure of how exactly to proceed. I have a few ideas, and I will begin unveiling them in the coming months, but I encourage you, my readers, to take an active role as well. Make use of my e-mail to tell me about workshops, conferences, etc. Some of you have already been doing this, and I think it's a great way to get the word out.
This blog has been read quite literally (and quite to my astonishment) around the world and it even uploads to my Facebook page (where I have never turned down a legitimate friend request, by the way).
A number of people have attributed the Denver Civic's current troubles to a lack of promotion (I think it runs a bit deeper than that, too), so let's not permit that to happen to anyone else, shall we?
The only reason that theatres should struggle, in my opinion, is if they're doing bad theatre. We've all seen a lot of good theatres go through some rough times of late, and, while few of us has the resources to bail out the Denver Civic or to finance the rest of NextStage's season, we can all do something to help put butts in seats for the rest of the companies this season.
I will do what I can if you will help me to do it.
Help me help you. Help me help you. Helpmehelpyou. Helpmehelpyou.
Show me the money!
Do you know the human head weighs eight pounds?

Okay, I lost the thread there, but stay tuned.
And don't shoplift the . . . well, you know.