Wednesday, April 23, 2014


GREY GARDENS
VINTAGE THEATRE: 4/18 – 5/25
     In 2007 “Grey Gardens” was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and received three. It also got the Obie Award, The Louise Lortei Award and twelve Drama Desk Awards.
     Vintage Theatre produced the musical at their previous location on Seventeenth Avenue with great success. Now at their new Aurora location on Dayton they’ve done it again! This time it’s better than ever!
     Humorous and heart breaking, this true-life story of Jackie Kennedy’s aunt and cousin moves from the lavish luxury of the societal swirl of East Hampton in the 1940s to one of isolated squalor and decay in the seventies.
     Deborah Persoff is reprising her role as Big Edie Beale and Megan Van De Hey that of her daughter, little Edie.
 Left to right: Deborah Persoff and Megan Van De Hey

     Ms. Persoff’s performance is a tour de force that unleashes a vivid portrayal of a mother whose cruel manipulative behavior destroys the life of her daughter. The abusive mother/daughter relationship, codependent as it is, has been brought about by Big Edie’s having driven off everyone from Dad to husband to even her closest confidant. Whether rationalizing the past with her rendition of “The Cake I Had” or grasping at keeping an adolescent misfit happy with “Jerry Likes My Corn,” Persoff is smashing … right down to her last nerve-rattling primal scream.
Left to right: Megan Van De Hey and Rebecca Myers (Photo credits: DenverMind Media)

     Ms Van De Hey’s performance is superb. This time she gives us a much more hard- boiled portrayal of Big Edie in Act One and a much more mentally damaged Little Edie in Act Two. From her tilted rendition of “The Revolutionary Costume for Today” to her heartbreaking singing of “Another Winter in a Summer Town” describing the insanity-making patterns keeping her stuck in perpetual isolation in the no-choice universe, Van De Hey stuns.

     Director Sheri Wright’s directorial expertise shines in her layering of dialogue in key confrontational scenes.
     There is such a need for a sense of place in this musical that a great deal falls upon the artistic shoulders of the person creating the set. The mantle of scenic designer is worn well by Douglas Clark, who does a great job creating the look of Grey Gardens in its heyday and later as a ruin. Clark has chosen to adorn the set with clinging vines that are inseparable from the fa├žade. The interior segues from a sumptuous elegance to that of a squalid ruin littered with cans of cat food that “the health department deemed unfit for human habitation.”
     The fine supporting cast includes: Rebecca Myers, Christian Munck, Eric Weinstein, Timothy Campbell, Katie Phipps and Hannah Katz.

Vintage Theatre presents
"Grey Gardens"
The hilarious and heartbreaking story of Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale.
April 18 – May 25
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m.; Thurs. May 22 @ 7:30 p.m.; Sat., May 24 @ 2:30 p.m.
$31 ($26 advance); Groups of 6+ $18
303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.com
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010





Wednesday, April 16, 2014


SPAMALOT
Aurora Fox Arts: 4/11 – 5/4

     Left to Right: Michael Bouchard, Kurt Brighton, Daniel Langhoff, Jim Hitzke, Stephen Day and Bob Hoppe

     Dear reader, it’s best I let you know at the get-go that this 
review is going to be a long list of accolades for a production that’s about as good as it gets!
     Any time you’ve seen a musical multiple times and it still fractures your funny bone you know something’s working.
      Directed and choreographed by Piper Lindsay Arpan, this production benefits from this artist’s work in “Spamalot” on Broadway as well as in the national tour that followed.
     Silly, goofy and wondrously anarchic “Monty Python’s “Spamalot” is a world of humor in which Las Vegas, Broadway and The Middle Ages are magically re-imagined in a way that is totally freeing. It’s a sort of maniacal purging by means of uncontrollable giggling and a general readjustment of the funny bone.


      (Just fyi it’s not really the funny bone. Jonathan Cluett, M.D. says that it’s really “the ulnar nerve that sits just on top of the hard elbow, and because most people don’t have a lot of fatty cushion in that spot, the nerve is prone to being “dinged.”)
     I’m just sayin.’

     Dressed in Linda Morken’s dazzling costumes Sarah Rex portrays the Lady of the Lake with all the virtuosic pipes one could possibly wish for.

      Daniel Langhoff and Sarah Rex




    Rex’s duet with Daniel Langhoff’s dashing, if equally hyperbolic Galahad really lets them ham (spam?) it up Andrew Lloyd Webber-style with their hilarious take on “The Song That Goes Like This.”
 
Kurt Brighton above and a little bunny below

     Kurt Brighton is a hoot and a half as a closeted Lancelot who’s “outed” in Act Two as well as an unforgettable Tim, the Enchanter.
     Bob Hoppe’s Patsy is laugh-a-minute umbrella twirling perfection. His rendition of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is sensational.
Left to right: Stephen Day and Bob Hoppe


     Stephen Day’s stupendously insecure Arthur is masterful. We finally get to hear that gorgeous voice when he unleashes his royal self-pity in “I’m All Alone.”
     Michael Bouchard is a stitch as Sir Robin and Brother Maynard.  This artist needs to be in lots more musicals! Nudge nudge wink wink.
     Liam Speros knocks us dead (but not yet!) as Not Dead Fred, the Historian and Prince Herbert.
     Jim Hitzke is lovely as Mrs. Galahad, Dennis's mother.
      Jen Orf’s scenic design is her best to date and eye-popping throughout!
     Martha Yordy gives us  magic with her slightly offstage and just a little bit to the left stage orchestra.
     Shannon McKinney 's lighting design sets the stage ablaze.
     El Armstong contributes a superb sound and projection design.
      The fabulously gifted ensemble includes such fine artists as: Rae Klapperich, Jessica Hindsley, John Mackey and Parker Redford.
In case you missed something… I LOVED IT!

For tickets call 303-739-1970 or go online at aurorafoxartscenter.org
Marlowe's Musings








Sunday, April 13, 2014


SPRING AWAKENING
TOWN HALL ARTS: 4/11 – 5/4
Heather Doris and Casey Andree


     “Spring Awakening” won eight Tony Awards in 2006. The cast album won the Grammy. The production currently on view at Town Hall Arts Theatre in Littleton, directed and choreographed by Nick Sugar, is the best of the the three productions to have been seen by this reviewer.
     Casey Andree is magnificent in his acting and singing of the role of Melchior Gabor.
Left to Right: Jake Brasch and Casey Andree


     Jake Brasch is a powerful Moritz!
     Heather Doris’ performance as Wendla Bergmann is  tender, fresh and ultimately devastating.
     Margie Lamb and Scott McLean give the adult female and male authority figures a sting that has been missing in other productions of this musical. Thanks to their consummate acting skills the integrity of the piece is seen for what it is…and what it needs to be.
     Lauren Cora Marsh, Jacquie Jo Billings, Carter Edward Smith, Rob Riney and Rachelle Wood are a few of the very fine actors that make up the ensemble.
     Tina Anderson’s scenic design is superb.
Left to Right:Carter Edward Smith, Rob Riney, Jake Brasch, Tim Howard and Thomas Lynch


     Seth Alison’s lighting design dazzles. The pulsing, searing reds and oranges that emphasize the intensity of numbers such as “Don’t Do Sadness” and “Totally Fucked” are given sublime contrast with cold blue shading that underscores those describing grief and regret.
     The divine Donna Debreceni and her slightly behind stage band orchestrate the proceedings.
     Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 play, abuse and neglect, lead to unspeakable tragedies.
     In this play the high adrenaline of raging hormones of teenagers trying to find their way in the world collides with dogmatic and hyper-critical teachers and parents who are too insecure to educate their children about sex.
     Wedekind’s play is seen by many today as a vision of a Germany already hurtling towards the horrors of Hitler and The Third Reich.
     "Spring Awakening" is a dark and deeply saddening musical.

Spring Awakening opens April 11, 2014 and runs through May 4, 2014. Show times are Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. (& 2:00 p.m. on 4/19 & 4/26) & Sundays at 2 p.m. (& 6:30 p.m. on 4/20)
Ticket Information:
Reserved seat tickets are currently on sale, priced $20.00-$40.00 at the Town Hall Arts Center box office, 303-794- 2787 ext. 5 (Monday - Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 1 Hour prior to Shows) or on-line at www.TownHallArtsCenter.com . In a continuing effort to make plays at Town Hall Arts Center accessible to all, ten value seats at $10 each will be made available on a first-come-first-served basis one-hour prior to each published curtain time.Marlowe's Musings






Thursday, April 10, 2014


CENTRAL CITY     OPERA’S 2014
     SEASON IS OPERAGASMIC!

        I got together with Pat Pearce at his swank office the other day, and got a chance to hear about this year’s line-up at Central City Opera. According to Central City’s publicity the season is going to be “Operagasmic!” The catchwords for this year’s season are: “Romance, Redemption and Singing Nuns!”

     As of the last several seasons CCO has joined the ranks of many opera companies in this country adding a favorite of the American Musical Theatre. In the last few seasons we have been treated to the likes of “A Little Night Music,” “West Side Story” and “Oklahoma.”
Katherine Manley as Maria in "The Sound of Music"
Photo courtesy of Theatre du Chatelet


      Last year CCO made this entry even more accessible by presenting “Show Boat” down the hill in Denver at The Buell Theatre. This season CCO continues in that vein with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Pearce said that Katherine Manley, who is playing Maria, is British and sounds just like Julie Andrews in her singing and dialogue. How does it get any better than that? After performing in Handel’s “Amadigi di Gaula,” Ms. Manley went on to London and Paris and performed an extremely well received Maria at Le Chatelet in Paris. “The Sound of Music” is the kind of perennially popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that will undoubtedly entice a whole new audience for the opera company in the way that “Show Boat” did last season.


     Pearce said “The Sound of Music” will be a very beautiful traditional production. Troy Cook (“Show Boat” and “La Boheme”) will be featured in the role of Captain Von Trapp. Maria Zifchak will play the Mother Abbess. Ms. Zifchak played Mrs. Gross, the housekeeper in “The Turn of the Screw” and the stepmother in “Cinderella.” Ian O’Brien and Julie Tabash will be taking on the roles of Rolf and Liesl. Mr. O’Brien has been an apprentice at CCO for the last two years and Ms. Tabash is new this year.  The Von Trapp children have been cast from the spectacular Colorado Children’s Chorale, which is directed by Debbie DeSantis.”
      According to Pearce the physical production is coming from Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, an old and well-respected venue on the east coast.  Pearce mentioned that CCO has sold the “Show Boat” they built for last season’s production to Portland Opera Company.  Pearce said, “it was hideously expensive. The Artistic Director in Portland saw the show last year and loved the concept of the orchestra being onstage the whole evening so he bought the whole production.”
"The Marriage of Figaro" 
Photo by Mark and Kristen Sink


     Pearce said, “Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” will be set in 17th century Spain. Anna Christy, who sang Emily in last season’s “Our Town” will be this season’s Susanna. Michael Sumuel will be our Figaro. Sumuel is a young African American with a glorious baritone who’s moving rather quickly in his career. Sinead Mulhern, the star in “The Turn of the Screw,” will be our Countess. Edward Parks will play Count Almaviva and Cherubino will be Tamara Gura. Madeleine Boyd will do the set design. Since Madeleine is pregnant she’s sending someone to work on the costumes who worked on those for “Downton Abbey. “
     David Michael Jacques, who has been doing the lighting for all the amazing shows up at CCO for the last two decades, will illuminate the proceedings.  Adrian Kelly will conduct. Alessandro Talevi is the director. “The Marriage of Figaro” will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.


Michael Mayes as Joseph de Rocher in "Dead Man Walking"
Photo by Cliff Coles courtesy of Eugene Opera

     The fifth oldest opera company in the country, Central City Opera is famous for presenting not only the classics in the repertoire but also outstanding examples of American Opera. “Susanna” “Summer and Smoke” and last season’s phenomenal “Our Town” are just a few examples. This year’s American opera is Jake Heggie’s “Dead Man Walking.”   Pearce said that “Capital punishment is the subject and you may remember that Sean Penn played the death row inmate in the film. Michael Mayes will play Joseph de Rocher in our production. Jennifer Rivera (last year’s Susanna in “The Barber of Seville”) will play Sister Helen. Maria Zifchak plays the mother. It’s a role that was written for Frederica von Stade.  As far as scenic design for this production goes chain link fence is our visual cue.” Ken Cazan will direct.
     Pearce said “Heggie knows how to write for the human voice so the music doesn’t get in the way of the storytelling. He makes it sound so good because he’s a renowned accompanist for the San Francisco Opera. Singers love to sing his stuff because it fits like a glove. He’s unquestionably the hottest American opera composer today. Jake’s biggest influences are: Benjamin Britten, Copland and Debussy. “ Pearce added “It’s a very accessible sound even for opera virgins. Terrence McNally wrote the libretto for the opera, which was a huge success at the millennium in San Francisco.” 

     No one under the age of 17 will be admitted. The reason for the R rating is due to nudity, language and violence and just as in the case of R movies parents may choose to bring children younger than 17 at their discretion.

        Parking availability is pretty much the same as last year’s with the opera company’s lot being available as well as the one at the Century Casino. As always the Teller House and Kevin Taylor’s will be offering dining options before and after the operas.

      For tickets go online at centralcityopera.org or call the box office at 303-292-6700 


Sunday, April 6, 2014



     The Road to Mecca
Miners Alley Playhouse: 3/28 – 5/4

Seated is Deborah Curtis with Miriam BC Tobin and Tim Fishbaugh above

     Although the opening moments of Athol Fugard’s “The Road to Mecca” are a little bit slow in setting the stage for his masterful if somewhat verbose play, anyone staying the course will be immersed in a truly rich and rewarding work of Art.
     The deft direction by Len Matheo elicits very fine performances from his three-person cast. The acting of Deborah Curtis in the part of Miss Helen is as reflectively descriptive of the soulful innovative character of this aging artist as is the glittering scenic design describing the interior of her rustic South African home. The set created by Peggy Morgan Stenmark shimmers and shines,illuminated by the lighting design of Jonathan Scott-McKean.
     Tim Fishbaugh portrays Marius Byleveld, the voice of conformity and dogmatic persecution with relentless self-righteousness. Although he says he wants to protect Miss Helen by enrolling her in a church-run home for the aged, one somehow hears the echo of that Rodgers and Hammerstein lyric about folk who wish to “protect you out of everything you’ve got.”
     If a touch too strident than one might wish in her delivery at the top of the play, Miriam BC Tobin quickly finds a level of balance in her otherwise superb performance.
     This play has much to say regarding aging in place, artistic integrity and apartheid.
     Deborah Curtis gives real power to playwright Fugard’s words about the internal inspiration and torture of the creative artist in this heartfelt  performance.
     On the evening that this reviewer was in attendance the valiant cast forged on through a couple of unfortunate cell phone interruptions.  Nevertheless … not even this jangling interference could be able to shake the memory of such an indelible evening of humanistic theatre.
      
Miners Alley
“The Road to Mecca”
Mar. 28 - May 4
Fri. and Sat. @ 7:30 p.m.; Sun @ 6 p.m. (2 p.m. on Sun., May 4)
$23
Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, CO 80401
303-935-3044 or online at minersalley.com

Deathtrap
Spotlight Theatre: 4/5 – 5/3
                                     Left to right: Andy Anderson and Damon Guerrasio

Over at The John Hand Theatre on Lowry there is a thriller that really THRILLS!!!!!!!!
     “Deathtrap,” is now on view at The John Hand Theatre. In this thriller scenes of nerve-jangling deliciousness are aided and abetted by the sly humor injected by the stylish performance of Andy Anderson.
    Mr. Anderson’s charming portrayal as a once successful Broadway playwright, mines Ira Levin’s script for any possible bon mots and polishes them until they sparkle like witty, funny-bone eradicating gems.
     Damon Guerrasio is appropriately boyish and sometimes a bit ghoulish (Sorry! I didn’t mean to make it sound like boys and ghouls.) in his portrayal of the seminar student turned “secretary” of the ‘failing’ artist.
     Cindy Laudadio-Hill portrays the playwright’s wife with such eyebrow raising warmth that even this generally thankless role is memorable.
  Wade Livingston enhances the production by adding his smooth brand of acting to a supporting character usually forgotten in the fray 
     Linda Suttle is ‘anything but’ (Sorry!) as psychic Helga ten Dorp. Her outrageously funny performance as the neighborhood psychic is a gut-buster!
     Bernie Cardell’s direction gets better with every show. This time the integrity of this piece is carved out at a very high level.  Cardell, who also did the magnificent set design, has elicited performances that are of a dynamic professional caliber and paced the proceedings diabolically as regards the several moments which THRILL!!!!!!!



The John Hand Theater, 7653 E. 1st Place, Denver.
April 5th - May 3rd, 2014
Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 pm Sundays, 2:00 pm
Fridays and Saturdays, General Admission $21, Students/Seniors $19
All Sunday Performance Tickets Only $16!
One Industry Night, Thursday, April 10, All Tickets are $10.
No Performance on Easter Sunday, April 20th
Instead, A Matinee will be added on Saturday, May 3, during which all Tickets will be $16. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014


A Song for Coretta
Vintage Theatre: 3/28 – 5/4
    When one goes to see “A Song for Coretta,” he gets to see two short plays for the price of one. Both plays pay homage to Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, Coretta.
     The first is based upon love letters sent to Mrs. King by her husband at different points in their life together. The staging of this piece has Lisa Young as Mrs. King sitting in a minimally appointed living room that includes old-fashioned telephone, lamp and coffee table. Opposite her on the other side of the stage is a bed from which,  Andre D. Hickmann as Dr. King corresponds with her. Mark Ivan Branche directs this rather brief piece.
     In the second half of the evening Pat Payne directs Pearl Cleage’s “A Song for Coretta."
     This play, which is also rather brief, is set outside the church at which Mrs. King’s body was viewed.  Several women wait in the rain for a chance to pay their last respects.
    The women who wait are portrayed by: Lisa Young, ShaShauna Staton, Davida A. Terrell, Josephine Lemon-Lett and Ilasiea Grey. In this piece a mother, an artist, a journalist, a soldier and a young woman in high school shed light upon the impact Mrs. King has had on the Civil Rights Movement.
Vintage Theatre presents
"A Song for Coretta" and "Letters"
An evening commemorating the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King.
Mar. 28 - May 4
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; @ 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m.;
Thurs. Apr. 19 @ 7:30 p.m.; Sat., May 3 @ 2:30 p.m.
$26 ($21 advance), Senior, Student, Group discounts available.
303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.com
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010
* Note closing date change.Marlowe's Musings