Sunday, January 19, 2020

THE SQUIRRELS
Aurora Fox Arts Black Box Theater
January 17 – February 9,2020
L-R: Andrew Uhlenhopp and Rachel Turner
(Photo credit: Gail Marie Bransteitter)

Upon entering the auditorium of the Black Box Theater over at Aurora Fox Arts Center one is regaled with a breathtaking tree that sprawls out, reaches above and even wraps around part of the playing space. This magnificent tree (quasi forest) has been created by Technical Director and Scenic Designer Brandon Philip Case. For this reason alone one might suggest you hurry to get a ticket. 
       Jen Orf’s superb lighting design in tandem with Jason Ducat’s amazing sound design create a magic all on their own. Nicole M. Harrison’s furry costume design is delightfully spot on.
          Director Missy Moore has assembled a fine cast to create her vision of Robert Askins’ THE SQUIRRELS. 
     Stitched together by the amazing acting talents of Andrew Uhlenhopp as a goofy scientist who narrates the show, while also playing a squirrel named Sciuridae, this dark comic allegory touches on numerous topics. Among these are: sexism, classism and bigotry of every hue. And, yes, it also comments upon disregard for the animals and environment.
      There are some lovely performances in this apocalyptic comedy. Glamorous Kelly Uhlenhopp is most memorable as matriarch Mammalia. Her biomimetic stage movements and squirrel chittering astound.  Rachel Turner turns in a thoroughly enjoyable performance as Rodentia. This actor’s ability to transform herself into a squirrel physiologically squeaking, is amazing.  Leinie Rigg(Chordata), Joshua Levy(Scurius) and Hossein Forouzandeh(Carolinensis) round out this cast of tail swishing tree rodents.
       It’s the Grey squirrels vs. the Fox Squirrels in an only slightly veiled comparison to the human race.  
                    There are a lot of nuts in this show so please take this reviewer’s opinion with a grain of salt.

WHERE: The Aurora Fox Arts Center | 9900 East Colfax Avenue | Aurora, CO 80040
 FOR TIX: Box office – 303.739.1970 | Website ‐ AuroraFox.org

Sunday, January 5, 2020

FROST / NIXON
VINTAGE THEATRE PRODUCTIONS
JANUARY 3 – FEBRUARY 9

     L-R  Denis Berkfeldt, Scott Gaines, Natalie Kilkenny and John W.B. Greene (photo credit RDG Photography)

     On May 4, 1977,  millions of Americans watched an interview in which ex-president Nixon hoped to exonerate himself from the stigma of Watergate.  Mr. Nixon hoped that British television personality, David Frost would be the perfect interviewer to allow him to be forgiven by the American people.
     Politically speaking, could there be a more timely theatre production? I don't think so.
Remembering watching the news over our tv trays in the seventies and stressing about Watergate is not so very different from our distress at seeing the news of Trumpgate now.
     Director Craig Bond is to be lauded for his awareness of what it is that his audience needs.
     Catharsis.
     In other words we’re all so bound up by the horrors of this presidential administration that we have a need to release the pressure cooker of anxiety.
     In this case I would call Mr. Bond’s production of Peter Morgan’s drama FROST/NIXON as much psychological therapy as theatre. Those of us old enough to remember the overwhelm of the Watergate scandal, find ourselves once again depressed and mentally, emotionally and spiritually drained due to the constant flow of lies, bigotry and disregard of our constitution and our laws. Those of us who are too young to remember are learning how devastating this can be for the first time. 
     It’s a daunting task to put such a large cast and all the various locations against which these historical events transpired upon the intimacy of the Bond-Trimble Theatre. Nevertheless…director Bond’s skill in moving these actors – most of whom were new to this reviewer – both swiftly and gracefully into their various vignettes - is striking.
      The scenic design by Brian Miller never lets us forget that we are watching politics in the age of the television. With Miller's backdrop peppered with images of the small screen one can almost hear Marshall McLuhan, the media prophet of the time, saying: “The medium is the message.” Miller gives us media meeting rooms, presidential offices and a television studio, not to mention the interior of an airplane in flight. Rick Reid’s sound design puts us right up there with remarkable sonic atmosphere. Bond’s direction of a flight attendant thanking passengers for flying with his company has just the right low-level drone.
     Scott Gaines gives a portrayal of British talk show host, David Frost that alternates from cool celebrity arrogance to a barely subdued wire-taut tension. Both Frost's job and fortune were on the line with this adventure.
     It is, however, Dennis Berkfeldt, who steals the show.  The mannerisms of Nixon are all there. From the jowl-shaking to the finger wagging to the perfectly mimicked speech to the wiping of sweat from brow and upper lip.  Being an expert at all the memorable behavioral patterns of Tricky Dicky - Mr. Berkfeldt shines. 
     When I awoke the morning after the show, I felt as though all the steam had gone out of my political pressure cooker. However... I know that as soon as I open News on the internet or watch it on tee vee, it will start to build again. We may all need to see the show multiple times.
   

Vintage Theatre presents
“Frost/Nixon”
Jan. 3 – Feb. 9
In 1977 David Frost interviewed Richard Nixon. Millions waited to hear the truth.
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
$20-$32303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.com
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The 2019 
Marlowe Awards          

BEST ACTOR in a PLAY
Augustus Truhn, Wakey,Wakey, Benchmark Theatre
John Ashton, Every Brilliant Thing, Vintage Theatre Productions

BEST ACTRESS in a PLAY
Deborah Persoff, Looped, Vintage Theatre Productions
Haley Johnson, Lost in Yonkers, Miners Alley Playhouse

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR in a PLAY
Mark Pergola, Sylvia, Stagedoor Theatre,Conifer

Christian Mast, Looped, Vintage Theatre Productions


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS in a PLAY
Edith Weiss, Everybody, The Catamounts

Karen Slack, Everybody, The Catamounts

BEST ACTOR in a MUSICAL

Andy Seracuse, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Vintage Theatre Productions

Brian Merz-Hutchinson, A Little Night Music, Cherry Creek Theatre 

BEST ACTRESS in a MUSICAL


Tracy Warren, Mamma Mia, BDT Stage

Lillian Buonocore, Beauty and the Beast, BDT Stage

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR in a MUSICAL
Jeremy Rill, A Little Night Music, Cherry Creek Theatre
Eddie Schumacher, The Addams Family, Vintage Theatre Productions

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS in a MUSICAL 

Megan Van De Hey, A Little Night Music, Cherry Creek Theatre

Anne Jenness, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Vintage Theatre Productions

BEST PRODUCTION of a PLAY
Looped, Vintage Theatre Productions
Sylvia, Stagedoor Theatre in Conifer

BEST DIRECTOR of a PLAY

Craig A. Bond, Looped, Vintage Theatre Productions
Pamela Clifton, Sylvia, StageDoor Theatre, Conifer

BEST PRODUCTION of a MUSICAL
Mamma Mia, BDT Stage
A Little Night Music, Cherry Creek Theatre

BEST DIRECTOR of a MUSICAL


Alicia K. Meyers and Matthew Peters, Mamma Mia, BDT Stage 



Kelly Van Oosbree, A Little Night Music, Cherry Creek Theatre

BEST NEW MUSICAL
Play On, Laura Jo Trexler, And Toto Too Theatre Company

BEST NEW PLAY
Universe 92, Buntport Theater

BEST TOURING SHOW
Miss Saigon, DCPA BROADWAY

BEST ENSEMBLE
Calendar Girls, Firehouse Theater Company
Crowns, Vintage Theatre Productions

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Adrianne Hampton, Tuck Everlasting, Vintage Theatre Productions
Alicia K. Meyers and Matthew Peters , Mamma Mia, BDT Stage

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Linda Morken, Mamma Mia, BDT Stage
Kelly Gregson, A Little Night Music, Cherry Creek Theatre

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Brett Maughan, Beauty and the Beast, BDT Stage
Steve Tangedal and Will Melendez, The Addams Family, Vintage Theatre Productions

BEST SCENIC DESIGN
Amy Campion, Beauty and the Beast, BDT Stage
Amy Campion, Mamma Mia, BDT Stage

BEST MUSIC DIRECTION
Traci Kern, A Little Night Music, Cherry Creek Theatre
Lee Ann Scherlong,A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Vintage Theatre Productions

BEST PRODUCTION of an OPERA
BILLIE BUDD, Central City Opera

BEST OPERA SINGER,MALE (tie)
Joshua Hopkins, Billy Budd, Central City Opera
Daniel Norman, Billy Budd (Captain Vere), Central City Opera 

 BEST OPERA SINGER,FEMALE
Raquel Gonzalez (Cio-Cio San), Madama Butterfly, Central City Opera   

BEST SUPPORTING OPERA SINGER, MALE
Kevin Burdette ( Claggart), Billy Budd Central City Opera

BEST SUPPORTING OPERA SINGER, FEMALE   
Annie Rosen (Suzuki), Madama Butterfly, Central City Opera     

BEST DIRECTOR of an OPERA
Ken Cazan, Billy Budd, Central City Opera 

BEST PROJECTIONS for an OPERA
Sean Cawelti, Billy Budd, Central City Opera








Wednesday, November 27, 2019

TUCK EVERLASTING
VINTAGE THEATRE: 11/22 – 1/5
                     

 
        Sophia Dotson as Winnie

Based upon Natalie Babbit’s 1975 American children’s novel, Clauria Shear’s and Tim Gederle’s “Tuck Everlasting, the Musical,” looks at the value of immortality. According to the author living forever may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
     Every child threatens to run away from home at one time or another. In this story Winnie Foster actually does it. When she sees a young man named Jesse Tuck drinking from a stream under a wondrous tree in the town of Treegap, her adventure really begins. Jesse makes sure that Winnie doesn’t drink from the spring and then introduces her to his family, all of whom have drunk the water.  ( I almost said,”kool aid.”)
     A man in a yellow suit pursues the Tucks for his own nefarious designs. (No spoilers here.)
     It’s a family friendly story with music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and book by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle.  It’s an intriguing musical with a melodious score about living your life to the fullest.
     Thanks to Director Michael O’Shea for casting some exceptional young stars. One must also thank music director Isabella Duran for making those stars shine vocally. 
     It is, however, choreographer Adrianne Hampton who must be lauded for turning many of those shining young stars into a constellation of sparkling luminosity.
     Ms. Hampton’s choreography is breathtaking.
      Sophia Dotson is outstanding as Winnie Foster. Both vocally, and in the acting, Ms. Dotson is a natural. “Top of the World,” her duet with Mr. Tanega, and “Everlasting,” her solo at final curtain, are both indelible.
     Brian Trampler and Nathanial Waite-Lutz as Constable Joe and Hugo, perform a thoroughly enjoyable vaudevillian song and dance duet called “You Can’t Trust a Man.”
     Elton Tanega (Jesse Tuck) is superb vocally. His singing of “Top of the World” and “Seventeen” make this actor’s name one to search out in every program.
     As Mae Tuck, Hannah Quinn delivers the poignant number, “My Most Beautiful Day,” with heartfelt gusto.
     Recalling such characters as that of Bob Fosse’s portrayal of the snake in the Lerner and Lowe film, “The Little Prince,” Todd Black delivers a vivid portrayal of the disturbing ‘man in the yellow suit.’ This actor’s singing of “Join the Parade” and “Everything’s Golden” at the top of Act Two is most memorable.
     There’s a nice set by Ryan Walkoviak, which features a towering tree, a county fair scene and the quaint and rustic homestead where the Tucks reside.
                        Marlowe's Musings
     

The cast includes Sophia Dotson (Winnie Foster), Hazel Kachline (Winnie Understudy), Elton Tanega (Jesse Tuck), Hannah Quinn (Mae Tuck), Carter Edward Smith (Miles Tuck), Nick Johnson (Angus Tuck) Todd Black (The Man in the Yellow Suit), Lee Ann Scherlong (Betsy Foster), Kate Bogdewiecz (Nana), Brian Trampler (Constable Joe), Nathaniel Waite-Lutz (Hugo) and Kyriana Kratter (Thomas). Rounding out the cast are ensemble members Kristine Bachicha, Tobi Compton, Elisha Horne, Lauren Kotre, Elijah Meader, Michael Rossitto, Dallas Slankard, Jessica Strong and Will Treat.

Vintage Theatre presents
“Tuck Everlasting” 
After befriending the Tucks, 11-year-old Winnie must decide if eternal life is a blessing or a curse.
Nov. 22 – Jan. 5
Fri., Sat. at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. 
Tickets are $19 - $38 
www.vintagetheatre.org or 303-856-7830. 
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010.
2 hrs. and 15 min.
Recommended for children ages 8 and up.


Sunday, November 24, 2019


CALENDAR GIRLS
FIREHOUSE THEATER COMPANY
(November 23 - December 22)


                                   The cast of CALENDAR GIRLS 

      
     Tim Firth’s stage adaptation of the 2003 British comedy film, “Calendar Girls,” penned by Juliet Towhidi and Mr.Firth, is currently warming the stage over at The John Hand Theater on Lowry.
     Light -hearted and uplifting, Calendar Girls is the perfect holiday show – unless you wish to see Scrooge and Tiny Tim for the godzillionth time!
     The playwrights use of the words “Calendar Girls” references a group of women of The Women’s Institute of Knapely, England who, after the loss of one of their husbands to Leukemia, decide to create a calendar for which they will model in the semi-nude. The profits for this calendar will all be donated to science for the stamping out of the disease. 
    Although “Calendar Girls” is not for the kids, adults will love it.  Maybe a little titillating, (Sorry.) it’s really not all that revealing. That said, one must admit that there’s a great deal of feminine pulchritude on display.
     Having cast the show with a delightful bevy of beauties ‘of a certain age’ Linda Suttle has directed the production with a deft touch.
     The costumes, and in some cases, the seeming lack thereof, have been created by Rachel Herring.
     The show features such Denver favorites as Suzanna Wellens (last seen as Maggie Thatcher in Vintage Theatre’s “The Audience,”) and Michelle Grimes, who is currently performing the part of Mrs. Claus in “Polar Express” in Golden. Ms. Wellens portrays Chris Harper, the role which Helen Mirren played in the Miramax film. Christine Kahane plays Annie, (Julie Walters in the film) Chris’s grieving best friend. The other lovely ladies who make up the various months of the titular calendar are played by: Linda Swanson Brown, Linda Davis-Button, Erin Trampler-Bell , Mary Campbell and Kristen Mair. Patricia Goodman plays Lady Cravenshire.
     Steve Tangedal’s lighting design and Rick Reid’s sound design enhance the production.
    Not your typical holiday show, this reviewer is pretty certain Calendar Girls will prove a delight to theatregoers searching out heart-opening entertainment this holiday season.

     For tickets call  303-562-3232   or go online at firehousetheatercompany.com

    

Saturday, November 9, 2019

TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE
CHERRY CREEK THEATRE: Oct.31-Nov. 24
L-R: Antonio Amadeo and Chris Kendall (photo credit: Olga Lopez)


Cherry Creek Theatre’s current production of Mitch Albom’s  book, TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, adapted for the stage by Mr. Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher, is a gloriously heartfelt success.
     The show stars Chris Kendall as Morrie Schwartz and Antonio Amadeo as Mitch Albom in an acting duet that will remain in your heart and mind for a very long time.
      Directed by Denver favorite, Billie McBride, the show is cast impeccably.
     Chris Kendall’s stillness and slow measured speech contrasts with the vital nervous movements of Mr. Amadeo perfectly.
     On the surface Mr. Albom’s work seems to be dealing with death. And it is. However… it is perhaps more correct, since we’re all dying,to say that it’s talking about Life and the living thereof.
      It’s a slight, honest work that everyone should honor with his attendance. To say more – and I understand many of the other reviewers have - would give too many spoilers and ruin the experience.
      Mr. Kendall, Mr. Amadeo and Ms. McBride are all MARLOWE AWARD winners. Search for their names in every program.
    TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE continues the trajectory of Cherry Creek Theatre’s ascension following their crystalline production of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC.  What once had hit and miss productions, Cherry Creek Theatre has become a  company whose productions demand to be seen.
Run to get tickets.


For tickets call the box office at 
303-800-6578


Sunday, November 3, 2019

LOOPED
Vintage Theatre Productions:  11/1 – 12/15
Christian Mast and Deborah Persoff   
(photo credit: RDG Photography)

     Eat your heart out Broadway! Deborah Persoff’s performance in the role of Tallulah Bankhead in Vintage Theatre’s production of the regional premier of Matthew Lombardo’s LOOPED is acting that’s better than anything you get in New York City. Craig Bond’s direction … Magnificent! 

     The casting is impeccable and the pacing has a great natural feel to it that makes us as audience feel as though we’re right there in the studio with her.
     What an entrance! Chameleon-like, La Persoff morphs into Tallulah
Bankhead with flawless ease. Dame Persoff is a Triumph as this diva with a pocketful of bawdy zingers and gut-busting punchlines.  I promise you that you will find yourself, as this reviewer did, over the moon with this dynamic, energizing performance. 
     Promiscuous, a drug addict and a lush, Tallulah was one of Hollywood’s adored ‘bad girls.’ Brilliant in “The Little Foxes” and “Lifeboat,” the aging diva finds it difficult in this play to remember the words to a single line that needs to be re-recorded or “looped” for “Die, Die, My Darling.”
     There is nothing subtle about LOOPED!  It’s off the charts hysterical in its deliciously ribald,  eye-opening unveiling of Tallulah’s final hurrah in show business. Amidst the laughter there is also a revelatory exposition – however brief – allowing us as audience to understand how her childhood development formed a basis for her adult behaviors. As an adult she was a free- spirited Hollywood actress with the reputation of a bad girl with a foul mouth, who unapologetically drank, smoked and did drugs. Her mother died after birthing her and she started smoking at the age of 9. Now she’s a sixty six-year-old woman, six months from death.   
      Who was it that said: “When she was good she was very good, but when she was bad she was Dahling!”
    Christian Mast is brilliant as Danny Miller, the harried film editor who has been pressed into service to get Ms. Bankhead’s garbled line re-recorded (Looped) for an absent director.
Conservatively dressed and anxiously waiting for Life to happen to him, the contrast of Mast’s character with that of Ms. Persoff is striking. Mast’s monologue about his grief over a lost love is truly heartrending.  
     David Bond-Trimble anchors the show as Steve, the studio’s sound engineer. What could have been a throw-away part in the hands of a lesser actor is a hilarious dead pan success in his.
     Luke Rahmsdorff-Terry’s sound design, echoing the diva’s words in a dramatic moment late in the play, creates an auditory embellishment, which in tandem with Steve Tangedal’s lighting, enhances the show immeasurably.
     Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry’s costume design is spot on. 
     LOOPED is a raucous evening of exuberant laughter and the funniest comedy this reviewer has seen all year!
    Not to be missed.Marlowe's Musings

Vintage Theatre presents
“Looped”
Previews on Nov. 1; Opens Nov. 2 – Dec. 15
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sat. Nov. 16 at 2:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
$12 - $32 
www.vintagetheatre.org or 303-856-7830. 
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010.