Monday, May 2, 2016

Sunset Boulevard
Vintage Theatre: 4/29 – 5/29

L:R Drew Hirschboeck and Marcia Ragonetti (Photo credit DenverMind Media)
     Co-directors Craig A. Bond and Evgueni Mlodik have cast renowned mezzo-soprano Marcia Ragonetti as Norma Desmond in their current production of “Sunset Boulevard.” Ragonetti is known to be one of the Rocky Mountain region’s premiere talents in the opera world, and her performance in the title role is stunning.
      But Bond and Mlodik did not stop there. They have also cast dashing actor Drew Hirschboeck as Joe Gillis, Norma’s kept man.
     Based upon the movie starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden, and directed by Billy Wilder, “Sunset Boulevard” was nominated for 11 Oscars and got 3!
     Lloyd Webber’s musical received 12 Tony nominations and won 8, including Best Musical and Best Actress.
       The show, named after the boulevard that runs through Beverly Hills and L. A. has a film noir look with touches of Wilder’s penchant for black comedy.
     The story revolves around Norma Desmond, a film star of the silent era that couldn’t make the transition to talkies. When we meet her she is a delusional and very lonely woman dwarfed by her Beverly Hills mansion in much the same way Charles Foster Kane was in the Xanadu of “Citizen Kane.”
     When she meets down on his luck screenwriter Joe Gillis, Norma sees the possibility of his “doctoring” her script, “Salome,” which she hopes will assure her glorious return to the silver screen.
     The twisted events in the evolving relationship between Joe and Norma reflect the seamy side of Hollywood and gradually spiral out of control into tragedy.
         Ms. Ragonetti’s singing of “With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye” are solid gold show-stoppers. Her duet with Mr. Hirschboeck, “The Perfect Year,” is ear-pleasing indeed.

     Brooding and internalized, Wes Munsil portrays caretaker Max Von Mayerling with  a dark presence and deep, resonant vocals. Miranda Byers is a sweet and genuine Betty Schaefer. David Ballew provides comic relief as a flaming tailor in the scene in which Norma has Joe dressed to kill. 
     Debbie Faber has created eye-popping gowns for Ms. Ragonetti.Marlowe's Musings
Vintage Theatre presents
"Sunset Boulevard"
April 29-May 29
When a faded star from a bygone era, meets a struggling screenwriter she is sure a return to the big screen will follow.
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m.
$28 - $34
303-856-7830 or online at
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Death Takes a Holiday
Arvada Center: 4/26 – 5/15

      A tip of the hat to the powers that be at Arvada Center for bringing us this little known sparkler of a musical theatre gem. Composed by Maury Yeston, who gave us “Titanic, the Musical” and “Nine,” the score for “Death Takes a Holiday” is melodious and often breath taking. The Book by Peter Stone and Thomas Meehan is based upon the Italian play, “La Morte in Vacanza” that was set in the 20s and later made into a film in 1934 starring Frederic March. The musical has more than a little in common with the contemporary film, “Meet Joe Black” in which Death takes on a human form to experience life with all its wonders and emotions.
    More I will not tell you about this enthralling evening of theatre. You need to experience it for yourself.
              L-R: Kristen Hahn & Peter Saide
    (Photo credit: P. Switzer Photography)

     The leads, Peter Saide (Prince Nikolai Sirki/Death) and Kristen Hahn (Grazia), are both glamorous,multi-talented musical theatre actors. Ms. Hahn has a soaring soprano one wishes he could listen to forever.  Mr. Saide’s vocals are outstanding! 
     The supporting cast is full of Denver’s brightest and best!
      Megan Van De Hey is luminous as Duchess Stephanie. Her mellifluous vocals and brilliant acting are, as always, formidable!
L-R: Erica Sarzin-Borrillo & James Van Treuren
(Photo credit: P. Switzer Photography)

     Erica Sarzin-Borrillo portrays the Contessa Evangelina Di San Danielli with consummate patrician elegance and poise. Her singing of “December Time,” a number recalling such musical moments as “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Any More” from “Gigi” and “Liaisons” from “A Little Night Music,” mesmerizes.
     Andrew Diessner stuns us with his magnificent singing of “Roberto’s Eyes.” One must ask the local producers why this great talent is not featured more regularly upon the Denver stage!
       Mark Rubald, Emily Van Fleet, Barb Reeves, Gregory Price and Paul Curran are also featured.  
     The technical work is sublime. Shannon McKinney’s lighting design is exemplary. Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck’s choreography is her usual professional excellence. Brian Mallgrave’s scenic design for the Villa Felicita in Northern Italy is remarkable. Clare Henkel’s costume design is spot on. David Nehls' music direction is superb. 

Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Arvada, CO 80003

Call 720-898-7200 for tickets or go online at

Monday, April 25, 2016

     Catch the stars, both new and old, at BDT Stage as they unfurl the tale of a miserable orphan who becomes Peter, the boy who never grows up!
L-R: Jack Barton and Sarah Grover

     “Peter and the Star Catcher” is to James Barrie’s “Peter Pan” what “Wicked” is to Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz.” Both shows are prequels in which we get to see the former lives and evolution of the famous characters.
     This show won 5 Tony Awards in 2012 and was named one of the top ten shows that year by The New York Times.
     Sarah Grover(Marlowe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for “Addams Family, the Musical”) plays Molly, the only female member of this male-driven cast. Molly is independent, resourceful and resilient through all the sea-going adventures in her journey that leads to Neverland.

     Scott Beyette (Marlowe Award for Best Actor in a Musical for “Addams Family, the Musical”) plays Black Stache, the pirate who will become the infamous Captain Hook. Beyette does an awesome job with this plum role. His big scene in Act Two - I’m not telling! - will have you roaring with laughter.
     Wayne Kennedy plays a Smee to be with deliriously funny and nerdy glee. Bob Hoppe adds his signature brand of humor to the character of a somewhat over protective sea-going Nanny named Mrs. Bumbrake. Brian Jackson is a swashbuckling Captain Jack. Brian Burron portrays Lord Aster, Molly’s father.
     Jack Barton does a great job playing the boy who will soon become that famous lad we all know and love who never wants to grow up.
      Amy Campion gives us a minimalist scenic design set in a glorious storybook golden frame.
     Nick Sugar (multiple Marlowe Awards for both direction and choreography) directs and choreographs the proceedings with a lively pace and an eye to those things which will spark the imaginations of children and adults alike.
     It’s a show to which you can take the whole family without worrying about having to shield the kids from the brutality and insanity so prevalent on the evening news. In fact, it may be just the ticket to get your mind clear of the political incivility that seems to be  everywhere in this election year.
      Somewhat of a radical departure for BDT STAGE, “Peter and the Star Catcher” isn't a full-fledged musical. It does have music though, played superbly by maestro Neal Dunfee from his musical island in the auditorium where we can all see and appreciate his and Nick Gnojek’s musical wizardry. 
     And there are songs! Just not as many as usual. The musical number at the top of Act Two is bright, colorful and one of the most hilarious to have graced this stage in memory.
     The inventive stagecraft is everywhere in evidence as the actors create an entire ship-full of magical illusions using such props as a simple coil of nautical rope.
  A few of the wonderful new faces in the cast you can look forward to seeing are: Ben Griffin, Matt Gnojek, Chas Lederer, RJ Wagner and Joel Silverman.

       The show only plays through May 14 so get on the horn now for tickets.

BDT STAGE is located at 5501 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder,CO.
For tickets call the box office at 303-449-6000 or go online at www.bdtstage.comMarlowe's Musings

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Stage Theatre: 4/8 – 5/15

The DCPA Theatre Company’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” is OUTSTANDING!
Powerful and Unforgettable, the show is sensationally well cast.
     Robert Petkoff’s mesmerizing performance as Sweeney Todd, rivets.
     Linda Mugleston’s Mrs. Lovett is to die for. This artist’s performance is full of such diabolically funny nuance that one can’t take his eyes off her. Mugleston’s singing of songs such as “By the Sea,” “A Little Priest” and “The Worst Pies in London” is delicious … to the ear.
     Kathleen McCall is brilliant as the pitiably mad Beggar Woman.
     Kevin Mcguire’s Judge Turpin, Dwelvan David’s Beadle Bamford and Kevin Curtis’ Tobias Ragg are all gloriously well put forth. 
     Director Kent Thompson’s choice to have Grammy Award-Winning Devotchka orchestrate Sondheim’s work paid off big time. Zach Williamson’s sound design has done a great job placing us in 19th century industrial London with its screaming, steaming whistles.
      This production immerses theatregoers in the dark world of vengeful depravity engendered by the unjust incarceration of Sweeney Todd and the subsequent ill fates of his wife and daughter. Although this production doesn’t indulge in the gore so omnipresent in Tim Burton’s film, this is the most ‘red-blooded’ version of the Sondheim classic in this reviewer’s memory.
     Kenton Yeager’s lighting design is impressive. Greg Coffin’s music direction of Devotchka’s spin on Sondheim’s classic rocks the house.
     The costumes designed by Kevin Copenhaver are eye-popping. Those worn by Ms. Mugleston and Ms. McCall recall the magnificence of those of a previous era at the DCPA when costumes such as those for “Life is a Dream” left the theatregoer thunder-struck!
     James Kronzer’s gothic industrial set design is awe-inspiring. Nevertheless… one might have wished that the free standing oven which rolls in and out could have been situated beneath Sweeney’s barber chair so that the victims could find their final resting place more easily. Perhaps that might not have been as easy as pie? (Sorry!)

     This is the best musical production to have been mounted by The DCPA Theatre Company in memory. Run to get a ticket.

Call the Box Office at:   303-893-4100 or go online at denvercenter.orgMarlowe's Musings