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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mama's Family

I generally eschew using blog space for shows that are already getting substantial press and promotion. It's nothing against these shows at all, I just feel that I ought to spend my energy on shows that might not be getting enough of your well-deserved attention.
However, on the off-chance that the promotion surrounding the touring version of the Tony and Pulitzer-winning play August: Osage County starring the inimitable Estelle Parsons has escaped your notice, I feel that I have a duty as a proponent of quality live theatre to say:
Don't let the touring version of the Tony and Pulitzer-winning play August: Osage County starring the inimitable Estelle Parsons escape your notice.
Too subtle?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Theater Cafe Goodies

The Theater Cafe experiment continued this month at the Mercury Cafe on July 21st. Going forward, the Theater Cafe will be convening on the third Tuesday of the month.
In addition to the usual readings of scenes from works by local playwrights, we were treated to an audition monologue from COGNation's Scott Merchant. I hope that we can have a few more actors join us with audition pieces next month, because it adds to the evening, and I am certain that Scott found the feedback useful.
I also have a couple of goodies for you that I found out about at the Cafe.
First, you are going to want to check out the Rocky Mountain Theatre Connections website, a resource for theatre designers, directors, actors, playwrights, and patrons in the Rocky Mountain region with just way too many fun features for me to mention here.
It's just like my blog. Only useful. And interesting.
Second, One Night Stand Theatre will be presenting SCI-FI THEATRE: Amazing Tales to Astound The Imagination! on Sunday, August 2, at 7 pm at the West Colfax E-vent Center at 9797 W. Colfax Ave. Lakewood, CO 80215. (Home to the E-Project.)
Described as "an evening of dramatic and comedic readings of plays with science fiction themes . . . and some surprises! Featuring works by Owen Allen, Ray Bradbury, Ken Crost, Wayne Faust, Rebecca Gorman, Bill Thompson, and others."
A couple of the plays were read at the Theater Cafe that night. It looks like a lot of fun. Admission is just $5. For info and reservations call 720-940-9766 or send an e-mail to
The next Theater Cafe will be on August 18 at 6pm at the Merc. Any questions, ideas, or suggestions for that and future Theater Cafes can be directed to Mark Ogle at .

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Verona?

Most literary scholars agree that William Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona is among the bard's earliest works, and quite likely his first written for the stage.
Certainly, there appears to be a lack of experience in the playwrighting, as any scene with more than four characters proves a bit unwieldy, and there are a number of character developments that seem to come out of nowhere, and are as unsettling as a plot point in a modern sitcom that has run longer than it should have. (Rachael and Joey? Really?) The women are not written with quite the fortitude and wit as, say, a Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. While the verse has Bill's usual mastery:

"O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away!"

There is a general feeling that the play is a bit unfinished. Presented in repertory with a play as well-crafted as, say, Hamlet, this rough little comedy may not withstand the comparison.
Since this is precisely what the Colorado Shakespeare Festival decided to do this summer, a very creative solution is warranted.
In my opinion, director Tom Markus and his team of artists found just such a solution. How to present a play that still feels a bit like a work in progress? Why, as a work in progress, of course!
The play begins by, well, not quite beginning. It is a rehearsal, and there is a bit of administrative business, the giving of actor's notes, a discussion of sets and costumes, and the late arrival of Dennis Elkins playing Launce played by . . . Dennis Elkins. When the "run-through" begins, it is in rough or partial costumes with unfinished sets and props and prone to interruptions by the flamboyant (and fictional) director Geoffrey Snitterfield-Smythe (played by Gary Allan Wright) and a bit of horsing around among the actors.
Matt Mueller plays himself struggling with the seeming dichotomy of Proteus - something that can be as difficult for the audience to swallow as it is for the actor to reconcile. By "including" us in the struggle, the paradox that is the twice-lovestruck Proteus becomes a far less bitter pill to take.
The arrested start and the interruptions have the potential to be quite distracting, but Markus and company cleverly draw these out just long enough for us to be anxious to get back to the action without being completely exasperating.
In a word, it is fun.
Most of the ensemble of Verona actually double in Hamlet, so seeing both shows (see Hamlet first if you can) heightens the novelty.
Of particular note is Jamie Ann Romero who, while quite compelling as Ophelia in Hamlet, proves to be absolutely captivating as Julia in this production.
CSF's production of Two Gentlemen of Verona might be a bit prickly for the more staunch traditionalists, but it's just a darn good time for everyone else, and would be a great show to introduce a newcomer to the work of the bard.
I'm still chuckling to myself about moments in the show, and I've read the play a few times before this. I think that's a good sign.
Photos by Kira Horvath for CU Communications

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dracula Auditions

Hello, piglets. I just wanted to quickly let you know that a friend of mine who is also, in my opinion, a very good director is coming back to the theatre scene after a semi-hiatus with a production of one of my favorite stories: Dracula.
The show, as you may have guessed, will be running in October, so for all of you Dracula-philes out there, this might seem a little premature. (It's not you. This happens to a lot of bloggers.)
No, this entry is directed specifically at my little acting cherubs out there. The auditions are Monday night, July 27th, and here are a few reasons why I think you should be there:
1) Roger is a very smart and creative director. He will make you look good, and you will learn a great deal by working with him.
2) Horror is a genre that generally only makes it to the stage around Halloween in these parts, and it isn't always done particularly well. I think it is the most fun genre to play as an actor, and, again, Roger will do it right.
3) Dracula tends to draw audiences to the theatre that aren't normally theatre-goers. They may have never been to a live show before at all. These are exciting audiences to play to, and they are very appreciative of the live experience. You may have a hand in converting some folks into regular appreciators of the stage.
There is a Facebook page with all of the info, but I will also cut and paste it below. Make sure you call or e-mail for an appointment to get priority.

Auditions for Steven Dietz's Dracula

Waaay cooler than Twilight

Monday, July 27, 2009
7:00pm - 10:00pm
The West Colfax Event Center
9797 W Colfax Ave (next to Disguises Costume Shop)
Lakewood, CO


Auditions for Dracula at The E Project

The E Project announces the upcoming auditions for their production of Dracula by Steven Dietz. Based on the gothic novel by Bram Stoker The production will be directed by Roger Winn.

Auditions are Monday July 27th from7:30-10pm, with callbacks Thursday, July 30th from 7:30-10pm, all at The E Project, 9797 W Colfax Ave in Lakewood. Needed are 5 men and 4 women of various ages and types. Actors are asked to come prepared with a one-minute monologue and be ready to read from the script.

Rehearsals will begin mid-August and performances are Friday and Saturdays, October 16th – October 31st, with additional performances the week of Halloween. To set up an audition time, please contact Roger Winn at:

Synopsis: The original Victorian vampire story comes to life in Steven Dietz’s true-to-the-original adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. When the young Lucy falls deathly ill, no one can understand why. The truth lies shrouded in religious myth and secrecy. A madman in the asylum may know more than anyone, and Van Helsing and Dr. Steward must work quickly before Dracula or his vixens strike again. Sexually charged and unsettlingly real, this production is not to be missed! Oh, and yes, there will be blood.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good Neighbors

We don't always get to know our neighbors the way we used to in the old days. Since we can find people with common interests on the internet, make party plans on Facebook and e-vite, and even Skype with old friends across the country or even across the ocean, the need for getting to know your neighbors has diminished considerably.
Of course, how well did we ever really know our neighbors anyway?
This is at the heart of Harper Lee's classic American novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Yes, it could be argued that the novel is about racism, hatred, and justice, and that is all true, but for little Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed "Scout," the events surrounding the Tom Robinson trial were more about its impact on her neighborhood.
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of To Kill a Mockingbird brings this idea vividly to life. It is a memory play. The adult Jean Louise (Tammy Menighini) wanders through the old town of her memory, the houses blending together and, at the same time, fading into oblivion. At one end of her street is a beautiful garden before a well-kept fence and a porch to a house that is filled with hatred, racism, and intolerance. At the other end is a sinister and dilapidated monstrosity, holding secrets and ultimately heroism.
The young Scout, played with a beyond-her-years brilliance by twelve-year-old Ellie Schwartz takes us on a journey with which we, as readers of the 1960 book and fans of the 1962 Gregory Peck film, are already quite familiar, but we go anyway, spurred on by her wide-eyed curiosity, her admiration of her brother Jem (Connor Shearrer), and the enthusiasm of newcomer Dill (Alex Rosenthal).
It is through her eyes that we see her father Atticus Finch (Denver favorite Sam Gregory) stand in opposition of his culture and his town to attempt the impossible: the exoneration of an accused black man in the 1930's South. Our hearts fill with Scout's hope, and our hearts break with her disappointment.
At this point, few of us don't know the story (and with Mockingbird as the latest One Book, One Denver selection, you no longer have an excuse not to), so I will not elaborate further on the importance of this story for both our historical and modern perspectives of this country.
I will say that it is presented nimbly by director Jane Page, that you will lose your heart to the adorable Ellie Schwartz, and that you will be moved by Sam Gregory's accomplished performance.
Why not ask a neighbor to join you?
Photo by Glenn Asakawa for CU Communications

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Breaking Through

I have received a number of e-mails, private messages, and even phone calls both in the midst and in the wake of the rather lengthy and at times heated exchange on John Moore's Running Lines blog. For those of you who missed it, it's under the "Vintage Theatre on Steroids" entry.
Let me just take a moment here to thank John and the Denver Post for allowing the discussion to go on for what amounted to several days on their site. Most of the involved parties agreed that it was a worthy and important discussion.
Anyway, I've been receiving a lot of support privately for my side of the argument. Some people have specifically requested to remain anonymous, while others I give their anonymity out of courtesy. If they had wanted to take a public stance, they would have. I haven't had time to respond to everyone, so let me just put out a general "thank you," and say that I don't blame any of you for wishing to remain anonymous. I have already experienced the political backlash of taking a seemingly unpopular position, and, while I can weather it, I certainly wouldn't wish it on any of you.
I would like to repeat one rather eloquent turn-of-phrase from my inbox, however, and I hope that, in doing so, I don't inadvertently reveal the author. I just really appreciated it.
"The Denver theatre community seems to be trying to build a beautiful palace, but on an unsteady foundation. Before we can lay one more brick, we need to take a twenty pound sledge hammer to break up the old foundation and start a new one. You may be just the sledge hammer we need."
I like it. For one, I get to add "sledge hammer" to my list of (repeatable) nicknames, and, for another, it shows that there are others who see the great potential of this theatre community but are not blind to some of the counter-productive practices that are going on and have been going on for a while.
I caution you, however, not to put too much faith in me alone. I'll keep at it, mind you (and I'm keeping the "sledge hammer" nickname), but you all can make a difference, too. This is your community as much as it is the community of the people who - for the moment - are the ones who seem to be calling all of the shots.
Now you don't all have to (as one person cleverly put it) "come out of the closet" and stand next to me in some kind of public solidarity. It got a little warm for a while - even for me.
However, you can exert your influence in more subtle ways. Show a little extra support for those companies that you think are "doing it right." I like the palace analogy, but that one requires that we break things.
Maybe we can think of our theatre community like a garden. Let's give lots of sunlight to the plants that we want and leave the plants that we don't want to wither away on their own. They will. They always do.
So, again, thanks for your support. Just make sure your support goes into filling those theatre seats as well.
Keep writing in, and don't be afraid to take a stand when you feel it's right.

Oh, and, yes, I do realize that a sledge hammer is a type of tool, but I don't care, I'm keeping the nickname.

Mockingbird Video

It was my original plan to make a video that would include not only interviews with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival company, but also with a literature professor and at least one local bookseller, all discussing the impact of Harper Lee's classic American novel, To Kill a Mockingbird: the One Book, One Denver selection as well as one of the productions playing in Boulder this summer.
However, CSF stepped up and the others dragged their feet. Ya snooze, ya lose.
Here's the video:

I will have more to say about the performance (which I saw last night) in tomorrow's blog.
Tonight, I am bound for Verona and Milan.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Still Waiting

Okay, looks like my surprise is going to require another day. If I don't have what I need by tomorrow evening, then I will proceed without it.
Hey, here's an idea:
Go out and see a show tonight!
I had some time to hang out with Brian Kusic today, a very gifted young actor who is currently appearing in Vintage Theatre's The Violet Hour. We talked about acting and theatre and about the skillful direction of Stacey Nelms on this production. I was already planning to see it because another very talented young actor and good friend Benjamin Cowhick is also in the production, but, after talking to Brian today, I am all the more excited to get to the show as soon as I can. For me, that's next weekend, but I encourage the rest of you (well, sixty-five of you) to catch this production tonight if you can.
Tonight I will be in Maycomb. Tomorrow, I'm off to Verona. (I wonder if I can count these toward my frequent flyer miles?)

Friday, July 17, 2009

In the Meantime

I teased that there would be something special and cool here today, but not all of the pieces have fallen into place just yet, so check back tomorrow.
While I was waiting, I popped out to Celebrationworks's production of Shakespeare's Brother, a fun little play by local playwright Carol Roper and directed by Bernie Cardell.
I try to see new works as often as I can - particularly when crafted locally.
Another local playwright and friend of mine, Marcus France, has often told me that he thinks that Denver is on the verge of a renaissance in playwrighting, and I am inclined to agree.
The more that we as an audience support these artistic ventures, the sooner we will reach that renaissance.
Perhaps if there is enough support locally, the Denver Center might be persuaded to use its substantial grant from the SCFD (*ahem*) to look closer to home for its new play festival and cultivate the talents here at home.
Just a thought.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


One of my first shows in the Denver area was a little musical chesnut called Camelot. (You may have heard of it.) Being new to town, I didn't know it at the time, but this was something of a powerhouse production: David Ambroson as Lancelot, choreography by Gary Hathaway, music direction by J. Scott Lubinski, and featuring such performers as Keith Hershman, Kevin Tobias Brown, Alisa Vaughters, Kelly Van Oosbree, Richard O'Brien Moore, and many others who have been mentioned at one time or another on this blog. (I, of course, played the villain.) Theatre Colorado blogger, Becca Fletcher, was our stage manager.
Also in this production were two kid actors playing the squires, one of whom was a friendly and eager young fellow named Scott Merchant. Scott went on to graduate from the Denver School of the Arts and is currently a student at Roosevelt University. Scott spends his summers back here in Denver and has recently undertaken a project to help himself and other actors to keep their skills honed during the "off season."
Direct from the COGNation Facebook page, here is a little more information:

COGNation exists as an experimental vehicle for theatre, improvisation, performance art and spoken word. It is a safe haven for growth and expansion of ourselves as artists among others who are hungry for play.
Twice weekly . . . we will gather to workshop, showcase and/or discuss theatre arts, with a specific focus every meeting.
The cost is free. The space has been donated. Join the Nation of the Children of Green to grow and expand in a way we otherwise would not be able.

A few of the upcoming dates and locations:

Wednesday, July 15th 8pm @ Tramway Building on 13th and Arapahoe

Monday, July 20th 8:30pm @ CHUN Annex building at 1201 Williams St.

Wednesday, July 22nd 8pm @ Tramway Building on 13th and Arapahoe

Wednesday, July 29th 8pm @ Tramway Building on 13th and Arapahoe

Friday, July 31st 6pm @ CHUN Annex building at 1201 Williams St.

And for more information, contact Scott directly at

Of course we know that in this business (in most businesses really) we get better by doing, and I think it's great that Scott has gone to the effort to find an arena for performers to, well, do.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Paper Bullets of the Brain

Writing this blog has allowed me to meet a lot of very cool theatre people and has led me into some pretty great conversations (including the one on John Moore's Running Lines blog that is still going strong).
My conversation yesterday was with Mell McDonnell, Media Relations Representative of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
We were talking about why some audiences are afraid of Shakespeare. They think that they won't understand it - that they will be lost or bored - so they don't go.
Mell said that she runs across people who think that the "Old English" is too hard to follow. As Mell likes to point out, though, Shakespeare isn't Old English. It's not even Middle English. In fact, on the timeline of the evolution of the English language, Shakespearean language is basically modern. Yes, there's a slightly different way of putting things. "Tis poetical," after all. Yes there are words that we don't use anymore or that mean something different now, but that could be said of more recent eras. Have you encountered any "dewdroppers" lately? You have. You just didn't know it. And telling Doc Holliday in his time that you thought he was "gay," probably wouldn't have got you shot. Probably.
The truth is, that most people who are intimidated by going to see a Shakespeare production are recalling their last experience with the bard: compulsory reading in high school.
It's a shame, really, because, when Shakespeare is done well, it is enriching and beautiful and inspiring and moving.
And when it is done very well, it is the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's productions of Hamlet
and Much Ado About Nothing. Hamlet I talked about last week, so I'm going to spend a little time today on Much Ado. Karen Slack (featured in my last video blog with Caitlin Wise) is absolutely the best Beatrice I've ever seen in this rollicking romantic comedy that is the inspiration behind 30% of Julia Roberts movies, 65% of Meg Ryan movies, and 100% of Sandra Bullock movies. (Well, except for that one about the mailbox. What the hell was that?) Slack is a gifted comedienne who also has the acting chops to skillfully maneuver through Shakespeare's broad comedy into moments of intense heartbreak.
Caitlin Wise deftly demonstrates how Hero is so much more than the foil and the victim that she is often thought to be. In a scene where just about everyone else on stage is yelling and screaming and waving their arms in the air, I could not take my eyes off of Caitlin Wise's blighted bride.
Geoffrey Kent, as Benedick, just owns the stage. He is perfectly matched with Karen Slack in this cunningly penned battle of the sexes.
I love Much Ado About Nothing, and I loved almost everything about this production. (No, I won't tell you what didn't float my boat -- that's not what I do here. Besides, it really didn't take away much from this great show, and it may have bothered me only, anyway.)
If you or someone you know is one of those intimidated by Shakespeare, then Much Ado About Nothing may be just the show to cure you of that affliction.
The plays of Shakespeare represent our language at its best. It is a celebration of the human condition. There is a reason why these plays are still around and still being performed.
If you don't know that reason, perhaps it's time you found out.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Can the World Buy Such Jewels?

Like most guys that blog, I'm pretty much just in it to meet chicks.
Could I have anticipated, though, my great fortune at getting to spend a few moments with the lovely Karen Slack and Caitlin Wise, Beatrice and Hero, respectively, in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing?
Check the video, cherubs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Huffin' and Puffin' Elsewhere

A number of you have told me that your favorite blog entries of mine are the ones where I get all fired up.
Well I got all fired up today, but on someone else's blog. Since I am here for your personal amusement, here is a link to that blog, John Moore's Running Lines blog, in which I engage in some spirited comment exchanges between Pat Payne of Spotlight Theatre Company and others.
Naturally, I am the guy wearing the black hat.
Pay particular attention to my spectacular failure in the ability to count to twelve.
Enjoy, piglets!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finding Lola

Lola, beloved companion of actress Rita Broderick (currently starring in Home at Germinal Stage) and resident of the Denver Victorian Theatre, wandered off over the fourth of July weekend leaving Rita and all of her friends (myself included) quite distraught over the whereabouts of the little Shih-Poo.
Not wishing to draw out suspense, Lola and Rita were reunited after the holiday. A pair of pet-lovers had found the little dog and took her to a place where they knew she would be safe: the MaxFund Shelter.
Happy that my friend and her puppy are together again, I decided that I would devote a little chunk of my cyberspace to talking about the MaxFund Shelter.
Max was the name of a dog taken in and cared for by veterinarian Dr. Bill Suro and his wife Nanci. Another shelter was about to euthanize the dog, in need of expensive orthopedic surgery. The community surrounding the Suro's practice banded together and raised enough money (and then some) to take care of the Max's needs. Max was then adopted by a loving family.
Following in the footpads of this big, loveable dog and the happy ending to his story, the MaxFund organization was created in 1989.
The MaxFund shelter is a No-Kill Shelter. No-Kill is an all-encompassing philosophy of how to deal with pet abuse, pet overpopulation, etc.
At times controversial and fiercely debated, the No-Kill way of thinking is grand endeavour, requiring community support in terms of advocacy, volunteerism, and , of course, money.
As any of us in the arts community know, grand endeavours are about worthiness more than practicality. (May we never live in a world ruled by "practicality.")
Take a few moments today, if you would, to look at the MaxFund website, to learn their story, and to meet a few of their (we hope) temporary residents.
I thank you, and Lola thanks you.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Not Just a Day on a Calendar

As Americans enjoy their outdoor barbecues, ice coolers filled with beer and soda, fireworks displays, the prospect of a three day weekend, there are those that can be saddened a bit by how the celebration of the decision to enter a hard-fought struggle to wrench our freedom from the tyranny of empire has become a day of leisure, almost hedonism.
They flood YouTube and Facebook and MySpace with as much patriotic fervor as they can muster -- hoping to spark in their fellow Americans a sense of solemn remembrance and of gratitude. This, I find to be an admirable endeavor. Certainly, the blood spilled on American and foreign soil has preserved the rights that we are enjoying today. Whether that right is to enjoy a day off of work with one's family or to get blitzed on raspberry-lemonade flavored alcoholic beverages and pass out on your lawn, it is your right, and we should all be grateful for those rights.
My patriotism is, admittedly, of a slightly different kind. I view America, at 232 years old today, as very much still a work in progress. The liberty claimed in 1776 would still be nearly two centuries in finding its way to women, to African-Americans, and to many others in this country, and it still hasn't reached everyone.
Elected positions of duty in this country have become coveted (and often practically purchased) positions of power. Many Americans regard government as something apart from themselves, something untrustworthy and despicable, when, in its original design, government is supposed to be "of the people."
In spite of this, however, my patriotism is stirred by the fact that the bravery of our founding fathers in drafting and signing our Declaration of Independence is the bravery that still runs through our veins. The spirit that led a small black woman to refuse to give up her seat because of the color of her skin -- that spirit is still within us.
We have let it lay dormant for a while, but it is still there. Our congress, our judges, our disappearing governors are of our own making, but we have the ability to unmake them and re-make them as well. Margaret Mead was on the money when she said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
That is the American spirit of independence, and we owe it to the spilled blood of our ancestors to keep it alive.
Today, I would like to share with you a poem by Langston Hughes that was first published in 1938. I believe it shows how far we have come as a nation as well as how far we have yet to go, but most importantly, I believe that, if you read it closely, it shows that we not only can get there, but we will.

Let America Be America Again

By Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Thing's the Play

See what I did there?
Okay, maybe you don't.
Anyway, I was fortunate enough last night to see the opening of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of perhaps the most oft-quoted play ever written, Hamlet.
I know that for most of you Hamlet conjures images of morose, suicidal angst. Essentially, it's the ultimate Emo experience.
What is often overlooked is just how witty and intelligent the script is. Shakespeare was a genius, remember, and this just might be his greatest work. (Now, I suppose I should warn you that there are a few "spoilers" ahead, but, really, don't we all kind of know the story?)
The advice that Polonius (played smartly by Sam Sandoe) gives to his departing son Laertes (Mat Hostetler) have become household phrases. Many people mistakenly attribute "neither a borrower nor lender be" to the Bible. This is the level of connection that modern society has to Hamlet.
It's a tragedy, yes, and it is sad, heartbreaking. The breakdown of Ophelia (Jamie Ann Romero) is horrific. The audience actually gasped.
Director Philip C. Sneed recognizes, however, that Shakespeare intended to keep us on our toes throughout. There is so much humor in this play, and that, as much as any of the soliloquies or plot twists, is the brilliance of the work. What is the tragedy of Polonius's demise if we don't first delight at his every entrance? Some of the impact of Ophelia's funeral is the guilt that we feel having just laughed hysterically at the morbid humor of the gravedigger (Gary Allan Wright). Hamlet is a rollercoaster ride. Sneed gets this, and the CSF production is the better for it.
Of course, the play Hamlet fails or succeeds on the strength of the actor playing the title character, and Stephen Weitz definitely does not disappoint. I don't want to say too much about Weitz's performance, because I really would like to let it be as much of a surprise and a treat for you as it was for me.
Hamlet is definitely worth checking out, piglets. Follow the link, you know the drill.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

More Ways to Help

I got an e-mail from Scot today regarding Mary McGroary. A number of you got it as well. He has made up a flyer that has all of the donation information, so, if you didn't get the e-mail, and if you have a place where you can put one up (with permission - Mary's been through enough), e-mail me at and I'll send you the pdf file.
Also, The Candlelight Dinner Theater is donating 10% of the gross ticket sales for their Friday July 24th performance of The Wizard of Oz to help Mary. (Big props to Nick and Gina Turner for this.)
There is a plan forming for the accepting of non-cash items, but that still needs to be coordinated. I will let you know when I know more.
You can, of course, still send money either through PayPal to or directly to:

Mary McGroary, C/O Bella Colore Salon,
3042 East 6th Avenue,
Denver, CO 80206

Based upon what I saw Sunday, Mary is pretty much starting over from scratch, so every little bit helps, and we can all help.