Sunday, June 26, 2022

 FOOTLOOSE

PACE CENTER: JUNE 24 – JULY 17



Miracle Myles and the cast of FOOTLOOSE (Photo credit: Underexposed Photography)

 

Pace Center’s production of FOOTLOOSE: The musical, starring Miracle Myles, is Not to be Missed!

     

      Based upon the 1984 film of the same name, “Footloose, The Musical”

was nominated for three Tony Awards in 1999. The music is by Tom Snow, Sammy Hagar, Eric Carmen, Kenny Loggins and Jim Steinman. The lyrics are by Dean Pitchford, and the book is by Pitchford and Walter Bobbie.  

 

     When Ren and his mom move from the big city to a small rural town, the young man is not prepared to see how limiting the town’s “rules” are. The big issue is that dancing is forbidden.

     When the minister’s daughter, Ariel, sets her cap for Ren, her abusive boyfriend, played with gusto by Nik Vlachos, decides to ruin Ren’s reputation. 

     Miracle Myles sings and dances up a turbo-charged storm as Ren, the role made famous by Kevin Bacon in the 1984 film. It’s an exhilarating performance, you will not want to miss!

     As Ariel, Emery Hines enchants with a talent for singing and dancing that rocks!

     Carter Edward Smith is hilarious as Ren’s buddy, Willard Hewitt. Smith does an exceptional job transforming this character from a cowboy with two left feet to a dancing dynamo. Smith’s rendition of “Mama Says” is hysterical.

     Jeremy Rill stuns in the role of  Ariel’s father,Reverend Shaw. His singing of “Heaven Help Me,” and “Can You Find it in Your Heart,” are powerful! This actor really makes us feel the inconsolable grief of losing a son. 

     Nancy Evans Begley is luminous as Ethel McCormack, Ren’s mother. Katie Reid is brilliant as Ariel’s mother, Vi. "Learning to Be Silent,” the duet sung by the two mothers, is wondrous. Ms. Reid’s singing of “Can You Find it in Your Heart,” is truly heart-opening.

     Some of the hit songs you’ll get to hear are: “Let’s Hear it For the Boy,” “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Almost Paradise,” “Somebody’s Eyes,” and of course, the title song, “Footloose.”

     Kelly Van Oosbree directs and choreographs the show with consummate skill and artistry!

     Alex Hanna’s lighting design dazzles! 

     Curt Behm’s audio design amazes.

 

For tickets call the box office at 303-805-6800 or go online at:

PACEtickets@parkeronline.org

Saturday, June 18, 2022



 NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT

PERFORMANCE NOW THEATRE COMPANY:

JUNE 10-JUNE 26


                                              Andy Sievers and Ensemble


With songs by George and Ira Gershwin, and book by Joe DiPietro, this musical was nominated for ten Tonys in 2012.

     Imbued with the directorial genius of Bernie Cardell, and set afire by Christopher Page Sanders’ excellent choreography, Performance Now Theatre Company’s thrilling production is filled to the brim with your favorite Gershwin tunes!

       Andy Sievers, who received the Marlowe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance last season in Performance Now’s “The Drowsy Chaperone,” performs the central role of Jimmy Winter in this screwball comedy.  His performance ala ukulele with the instruments in the pit for “Do, Do, Do” will have you in stitches. Brava music director Heather Holt Hall for the insanely funny instrumental accompaniment.

     Dallas Slankard is Billie Bendix, the beautiful bootlegger with the gorgeous voice.  Her renditions of "Someone to Watch Over Me" and  "Hangin’ Around with You" will make you search out her name in every program from now on!

            Aynsley Upton is Eileen Evergreen. This actor's bathtub singing of "Deelishious," bubbles over with hilarity, proving that cleanliness is next to goofiness. (You’ll see what I mean. No spoilers!) This actor has a gorgeous voice and a hilarious stage presence that brings Madeline Kahn to mind.

     Liz Brooks is a perfectly cast Estonia Dulworth. Singing “Demon Rum,” this tea totaling battleship gets to show off a spectacular set of pipes. Later on in the show she gets to do some memorable chandelier shenanigans and a duet of “Looking for a Boy,” with the ubiquitous and always enjoyable character actor, Brian Trampler (Cookie McGee.)

      Tim Campbell is a hoot as Duke, singing  ("Blah Blah Blah!")

     Sophia Montoya-Suson (Jeannie Muldoon) is stalking Duke, thinking he’s an English Duke, and not a bootlegger. This actor can really command the stage. With an outrageously talented voice, she’s a comic force! Her singing of "Do It Again" is a riot. Her other great moment is an unforgettable version of  “‘S Wonderful!”

     Linda Suttle (Millicent Winter), costumed in a dazzling pink gown, and Verl Hite as Max Evergreen, add their acting prowess to the show as well. 

     The actors who perform the roles of vice squad as well as the chorus girls and boys from the speakeasy do a splendid job. You won’t be able to keep your eyes off the dancing of dance captain, Andrew DiGerolamo. Breathtaking!

     Alie Holden dazzles with her Costume Design, as does Emily A. Maddox with the Lighting!

    Andrew S. Bates, Marlowe Award for Set Designer for last season’s "The Drowsy Chaperone," is onboard once again with a well thought out scenic design.

     Heather Holt Hall’s music direction is superlative!!!

     It really doesn’t get any better than an evening of Gershwin music!


Run to get tickets for this sensationally well produced show! 

For tickets call 303-918-1500 or go online at performancenow.org

 

 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

                   Marie-Antoinette Banks as Br'er Rabbit   (photo credit: McLeod9 Creative)


  an octoroon

Benchmark Theatre:  June 10 – July 11

 

 

an octoroon is a play

by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins that is an adaptation of Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon, which premiered in 1859.  Jacobs-Jenkins re-imagines the original, retaining its bare bones of dialogue and action, and uses Brechtian devices to critique the original play’s portrayal of race.

     Personally, I had never heard of an octoroon. Apparently, it means a person who has one African great grandparent and seven European great grandparents. (According to the play when one was discovered to be an octoroon, she/he would be sold along with all the other slaves when the plantation was sold.)

     This adaptation begins with BJJ, the present-day playwright, recalling a session with his psychoanalyst in which he becomes excited about producing this adaptation. Then there is an argument between BJJ and the original playwright, after which they put on blackface and redface paint. Apparently “many of the white actors have quit.”

     Through a series of vignettes set upon the plantation Terrebonne in Louisiana, we meet numerous characters of black, white, and native American descent.

     They interact in highly stylized, melodramatic fashion, such that we as audience are kept from feeling the abuse, neglect and general disrespect and violence by the employment of a Brechtian device known as “the alienation or distancing effect. As a result, the audience is hindered from simply identifying itself with the characters of the play. Acceptance or rejection of their actions and utterances is meant to take place on a conscious plane, instead of, as hitherto, in the audience’s subconscious.”

 

It is, as you may well imagine, quite complex.

If one is unmoved in the watching, as this reviewer was, the essentials sneak into the heart and find their way to one’s tear ducts the following day.

     This is the opposite of entertainment. In fact, it’s sometimes annoying and disconcerting.

…And it is intentionally so, following the rules of a Brechtian director.

     donnie I betts is an astute director, and you can bet (sorry!) that he’s done exactly what is necessary to create this complex opus onstage. His casting is always on point as well as his choice of techies. betts has directed award-winning productions of Porgy and Bess, Ain’t Misbehavin’,The Color Purple and more.

     So please go and experience this whirlwind of images putting racism on trial in a Brechtian fashion.

 

     As complex as it is, this is a fascinating work. The commentary on (and condemnation of) “folk” tales such as the Uncle Remus stories told by Joel Chandler Harris, and represented by Brer Rabbit in the show, is unmistakable. 

     Tina Anderson’s set design, El Armstrong’s sound and projection design and Elizabeth Woods’ costume design are all superb. Brett Maughan’s light design is his usual professional work.

     The cast includes Marie Antoinette Banks, Mykai Eastman, Kenya Fashaw, Latifah Johnson, Josh Levy, Colleen Lee, Teej Morgan and Samantha Piel.

 

Go and support Benchmark Theatre as it continues its crusade against racism.

 

For tickets go online at benchmarktheatre.com

1560 Teller Street, Lakewood, CO

 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

 Preview of the 2022 Central City Opera        

                  Summer Festival 


     It was an honor to get to interview Pamela Pantos, Central City Opera’s CEO.

      Ms. Pantos is a dynamic presence with a  mind - and a delivery - like a running deer. Truly the most exhilarating interview of my career, I hope to be able to allow you, dear reader, a modicum of this opera star’s electrifying vision.

     When asked about her ideas for the future of Central City Opera, Ms. Pantos said that Artistic Director Pat Pearce, Music Director John Baril and she, were already planning the Central City Opera Centennial celebration. Even though it’s ten years out, there is a decade long path they’re preparing, which, like stepping-stones, will include “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” six years in.

    Since next year’s season has not yet been announced, Pantos couldn’t speak about it yet, only saying that “it will once again be three mainstream productions which are highly interconnected thematically.” 

     She added that “the Colorado State Historical Society is providing a preliminary grant for a master plan for the Williams Stables, that are right across the street from the opera house, which would allow them to become a one hundred seat black box theatre which will be winterized so that shows can be done all year round. There will be the possibility that a composer and singer will be able to create and present shows from inception such as theatre companies do Off Off Broadway. In such a way the new piece would conceivably be able to have a world premiere after its workshops and previews on the main stage. It would be an incubator for further great works that could be conceived here at Central City Opera.” 

     Pantos sees herself as responsible for the health and well-being of Central City Opera as well as a conduit for the future of this magnificent opera company. 

    She spoke of fund raising as being so important, especially in these times where we’ve all been so financially strapped by the pandemic.  “Some people don’t know what an impact they can have. A donation of a thousand dollars would pay for two of the kings’ costumes in “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Donating is making an investment in the future that will bring such joy to so many people. It’s a win-win for the donor, the company, and the audience.”

When asked who her favorite opera composers were, she mentioned Mozart and also Rossini. She spoke of the audience’s joy being palpable after Rossini operas. “It’s always such a high! As an artist you feel the audience’s joy like bubbles over the lights and the orchestra.” 

     She also spoke of “the joy of everyone in the company to be back in their home and performing on that stage. And so very sweet for our audience as well!”

      Ms. Pantos radiated a sincere passion and pride for the operas selected for this year’s Summer Opera Festival.

     Central City Opera’s 2022 Summer Festival is also the 90th Anniversary season of this glorious venue! 

     To celebrate this 90th Anniversary season, operagoers are being treated to three thrilling works.

     The first is “THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA” with its Tony-winning score by Adam Guettel and Tony-nominated book by Craig Lucas.   

     When Margaret Johnson, a well-to-do southern lady and Clara, her developmentally disabled daughter, spend a summer together in Italy, love calls unexpectedly. Both mother and daughter must reconsider their hopes for the future. The romantic classical music and operatic aspects of the score leave Broadway’s 21st century popular melodies far behind. The composition of the tunes is enchanting in this heavily orchestrated score. Some of the lyrics are in English and some in broken English since some of the characters only speak Italian.

Adam Turner, who conducted “Madama Butterfly”(2019), Carmen(2017) and “Man of La Mancha”(2015), will conduct “The Light in the Piazza.” 

     Stage Direction will be by Ken Cazan, who directed last season’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” as well as the outstanding production of Benjamin Britten’s “Billy Budd” in 2019.

     Arnulfo Maldonado, who did the scenic design for “Orpheus in the Underworld” in 2010, is creating the set for “The Light in the Piazza.”

     Rebecca Caine will sing the part of Margaret Johnson.

     Diana Newman will portray Margaret’s developmentally disabled daughter, Clara. Ricardo Garcia will play Fabrizio Naccarelli

     Jennifer DeDominici will portray Franca Nacarelli and Curt Olds will perform the role of Roy Johnson.

     Craig Lucas’ book for the musical is based upon the screenplay for the 1962 movie starring Olivia de Havilland, Rossano Brazzi and Yvette Mimieux, which was in turn based upon Elizabeth Spencer’s book.

 

DIE FLEDERMAUS

 

     Johann Stauss, Jr.’s beloved Die Fledermaus (The Bat) will allow us all to raise a glass to toast the sparkling music and lively escapades in this champagne-soaked operetta.

     Die Fledermaus will be sung in German with super titles and English dialogue.

      Arguably the most exhilarating of Johann Strauss Jr.’s comic operettas, it’s chock-full of the maestro’s intoxicating melodies.

       Will Ferguson will portray Gabriel Von Eisenstein, and Hailey Clark will sing the role of his wife, Rosalinde.

     Alisa Jordheim ( the outstanding Gilda from last summer’s RIGOLETTO!) will perform the role of Adele.

      Matthew Plenk will sing Alfred and Troy Cook performs the role of Dr. Falke.  Curt Olds will sing Frosch.

     With stage direction by Joachim Schamberger, John Baril will conduct.

 

TWO REMAIN by Jake Hegge

 

A short opera in two acts, composer Hegge’s new work tells a harrowing tale of two Holocaust survivors. 

     The show was commissioned by Music of Remembrance at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and composed by Hegge with libretto by Gene Scheer. It’s based on documents and journals found in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

     The show will star Sean Stanton as Manfred Lewin and Curt Olds as Gad Beck. John Baril and Brandon Eldridge will conduct.  Dan Wallace Miller will direct.

     Due to the high demand, all performances of Jake Hegge’s TWO REMAIN are being moved from The Foundry to St. James United Methodist Church to increase capacity.

 

“Proud Voices” is a series of events curated by community organizations to celebrate traditionally underrepresented voices through music and storytelling. There will be a special educational panel and performance highlighting themes from TWO REMAIN.

 

CCO Applauds John Moriarty

A Musical Celebration of Life

 

On Saturday, July 23rd there will be a special tribute concert event honoring Central City Opera’s former Artistic Director, John Moriarty and the impact he made on this company.

There is the usual parking available in the Opera Company’s parking lot as well as free parking in the garage at Century Casino. Dining will be available at the Teller House Restaurant, located next to the opera house.

 

Go online at centralcityopera.org to get tickets and for more information.

    

 

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

 THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL

BDT STAGE: MAY 27 – SEPTEMBER 3

 

                 L-R: Riley Fisher,Abigail Kochevar and Patric Case

BDT STAGE’S production of THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL IS THE HOTTEST TICKET IN TOWN this summer as far as family entertainment goes. 

 

Riley Fisher is OUTSTANDING in the role of SpongeBob. The short, muscular actor has the good looks and voice that make him the perfect casting choice! Fisher’s athletic performance even includes walking on his hands at one point. His renditions of “Bikini Bottom Day” and “Best Day Ever!” are just two of Fisher’s amazing vocals.

     Patric Case portrays SpongeBob’s best friend, Patrick Star, with an endearing performance, and a voice that can really wail! His Gospel-flavored “Super Sea Star Savior” rocks!!! “BFF,” his duet with SpongeBob, is hilarious.

     The lovely Abigail Kochevar portrays SpongeBob’s underwater squirrelfriend…er girlfriend, who gets to unleash her awesome voice in the Flaming Lips song, “Tomorrow is.”

     Bob Hoppe gets the plum role of Squidward Q Tentacles. This actor’s exhilarating performance of the glitzy “I’m Not a Loser,” by They Might Be Giants, is one of the truly memorable numbers in the show.

     Brian Murray is a sensational Eugene Krabs!

     Scott Severtson is hilariously bombastic in the role of Patchy, the Pirate. His singing of “Poor Pirates” is the very fun number that leads us out of Intermission and into Act Two.

     When Chas Lederer had to miss opening night due to illness, Matthew Peters stepped in with only 36 hours notice.  This actor gave a terrific performance in the role of Sheldon J. Plankton, the villainous and naughtical (sorry!) organism you love to hate. Together with the beautiful Ray Leigh Case as Karen, his computerized accomplice, they try to assure us that Bikini Bottom will indeed be destroyed!!!

     Based upon Steven Hillenberg’s beloved Nickelodeon cartoon series, THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL will enthrall children and parents alike this summer at BDT STAGE. 

      When on Broadway this show tied with MEAN GIRLS for the most (12) nominations at the 2019 Tony Awards ceremony. Having become such a national pop culture hit, many artists were thrilled to write music for the show. Panic at the Disco, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, They Might Be Giants and more, created songs for this show that really Rock! The production also secured the rights to use “No Control,” a David Bowie/Brian Eno number.

     The story involves the ever-optimistic SpongeBob and his quirky band of friends in the undersea world of Bikini Bottom.  As our story begins, the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom discover that Mount Humungous, a nearby volcano, is going to erupt and wipe out their world within 48 hours. Our hero decides that he must mobilize his friends and neighbors to prevent this disaster from occurring.

      Boulder/Denver favorite Alicia K. Meyers, who directs the show also plays the local news reporter, Perch Perkins. Director Meyers has cast the show with true expertise, as well as bringing in the usual excellent techies at BDT STAGE. 

     Wayne Kennedy’s expertise with Sound Design even extends into a just off stage foley artist gig, which enhances the show with numerous sound effects. Kennedy also narrates the proceedings.

     Upon entering the dining area theatregoers are regaled with an enormous goldfish bowl – one of several wondrous projections by Tom Quinn. Flanking the bowl there are numerous nautical tools. Wooden posts and rope figure prominently in M. Curtis Gritner’s scenic design, indicating that we, as audience are just inside the pier that overlooks Bikini Bottom.   

    Linda Morken’s ingeniously mismatched and super-colorful costume design is delightful.

     Brett Maughan’s lighting design is his usual professional work.

     Music Director Neal Dunfee conducts the world class BDT orchestra magnificently. Mary Dailey contributes her excellent skills as Vocal Director.

     

The menu is as great as ever!!! Try the delicious Tuna Poke as hors d’oevre! It’s yellow fin ahi tuna dressed in sesame, tamari, green onion and cucumber, served with rice puff chips. Deelish.

     My guest for the evening enjoyed the Chicken Cordon Bleu and yours truly sampled the Chef’s Special. On this evening it was Osso Bucco! Absolutely Divine!!!

     And don’t forget the award-winning key lime pie for dessert!

 

Get over to BDT STAGE and experience this entertaining evening of musical theatre. You’ll be glad you did!!!

 

 

For tickets call the Box Office at 303-449-6000 or go online at bdtstage.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

 BLACKADEMICS

VINTAGE THEATRE: MAY 20 – JUNE 19



L-R: Chelsea Frye,Stephanie Saltis and Tobi Johnson-Compton (Photo credit: RDG Photography)

 BLACKADEMICS is a brilliant example of edgy absurdist comedy dealing with white supremacy and layered with dark satire. 

     At the start of Idris Goodwin’s play two female African American educators arrive at a special restaurant at which they have reserved a table. Their dinner is to be a celebratory one, and the two women are famished. Once they’ve both arrived there seems to be no way out. 

     Ann appears first. The usual restaurant furnishings being absent, she takes out her phone and begins checking her mail.  Shortly thereafter, Georgia, the white waitress, arrives, introducing herself, and taking Ann’s phone. Georgia assures her that it will be returned after the meal.

     Not long after the waitress disappears, Rachelle arrives.  Both Ann and Rachelle greet each other and then begin to wonder why the restaurant has no furnishings. There is a lot of banter between the two guests regarding their experiences in the world of academia, which is punctuated periodically by the arrival and disappearance of the smarmy, waiter.

      When the waiter brings in a table and/or chair, the two women compete for a chance to sit down.

       What started as a cozy meeting, becomes a raucous battle of wits, punctuated intermittently by the unsettling arrival and disappearance of the waiter.

        What started as a seemingly pleasant evening dissolves into one of “endurance cuisine.” 

       One hesitates to say more about the action, so as not to give too many spoilers.

       Let me just say that Mr. Goodwin’s play may cause the theatregoer to reflect on Sartre’s NO EXIT, where Hell is other people, and Bunuel’s award-winning screenplay for THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, where it’s nearly impossible to have dinner. 

      Tobi Johnson-Compton is an affecting, slightly stuffy Ann.  Chelsea Frye is delightfully exuberant as Rachelle, the woman from Omaha. Stephanie Saltis is just right as the insufferably arrogant and annoying waiter.

      One hopes to see all three of these women onstage again soon.

     Phil Cope’s scenic design, which transcends minimalist, is superb.

     Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry’s costume design is her usual professional work.

 

     Director Betty Hart is at the top of her game here. Hart’s ability to get this cast to unveil so many levels of Mr. Goodwin’s rich, disturbing text, is remarkable. Her directorial concept may well be:

Racism has consequences.

 

May 20 – June 19

Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

$20-$34
303-856-7830 or online at 
www.vintagetheatre.org

Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 8001

1 hour - no intermission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

 FIREFLIES

CURIOUS THEATRE: 4/28 – 5/28

 

L-R: Jada Suzanne Dixon and Cajardo Lindsey


     Heartbreaking, sobering and deeply saddening, Curious Theatre’s excellent production of Donja R. Love’s play, “FIREFLIES,” is an elegy.

     Ostensibly dealing with a black couple’s coming to grips with a church bombing in the Jim Crow South during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, it mirrors much of the racism that we see on the evening news almost nightly.

       Charles Grace is a Baptist preacher, whose wife Olivia, not only writes the scripts for his fiery sermons, but also directs his delivery.

     This couple is currently in the devastating emotional grip of a recent church bombing in which four little black girls died. As horrible as this is, it is only one among many recent experiences of the like, including burning crosses, shootings, and other examples of racial hatred.

     Cajardo Lindsey is one of Denver’s premier actors, and his performance as the Reverend Charles Grace ranks with his best! One moment in which his raucous laughter descends into tears is unforgettable.

      Jada Suzanne Dixon stuns as Charles’ wife, Olivia!  This artist’s ability to address the psychological impact of racism, while addressing the issues of women’s rights in the context of the couple’s personal life, astounds.

     Shannon McKinney’s Lighting Design not only illuminates Regina Garcia’s realistic scenic design, but also shifts the mood with her usual expertise. 

     Costume Designer Madison Booth has created eye-pleasing costumes which often contrast brightly with the play’s various moods.

     The sound design credit is shared by CeCe Smith and Brian Freeland, who also did the projections.

      Director Steven Sapp’s light touch allows the play to unfold organically without ever becoming heavy-handed. 

     Few stood at final curtain for this excellent production, not because the show was not worthy of a standing ovation, but because the audience was still reeling from the heavy material and its ramifications, which even now continue in our world.

      This production comes highly recommended for those loving serious drama. 

 

For tickets call the Box office at 303-623-0524 or go online at boxoffice@curioustheatre.org