Friday, August 31, 2012

Equinox Theatre 

     Stephen Sondheim’s scores are always daunting! Any performance of those scores by young troupes lacking a great deal of classical training is bound to exhibit glitches in the singing thereof. Nevertheless … Equinox Theatre Company’s production of Steven Sondheim’s “Assassins” gives one much to recommend.

     One cannot praise the acting and directing of the scene describing JFK’s assassination too highly.

     Scott Bellot’s performance as Lee Harvey Oswald is brilliant! His Balladeer is superb!

     At the risk of the redundant one must reiterate that the scene in the play dealing with the assassination of JFK is riveting in the acting and thoroughly well directed. It seemed as though director  Pat Payne felt  what was involved here more deeply than some of the other material. As a result he was able to communicate that feeling to his actors and ultimately to us as audience with greater immediacy and impact.

     As Lee Harvey Oswald, Scott Bellot moves from a state of intentionally unfocused detachment to a centered if “possessed” concentration that is exactly right. Bravo!

     Perhaps because of opening night jitters Adam Shelton’s handsome take on John Wilkes Booth waited to come alive until the final scenes in which his ghost – along with those of all the other assassins - persuaded Lee Harvey Oswald to ‘come alive’ as a member of their infamous group. Perhaps this was intentional. If so, it still leaves us with a bland take on the wounded Booth in Garrett’s barn earlier in the show.

John Wilkes Booth

     Shelton’s performance in the final scenes is outstanding! (One must confess that Mr. Shelton had some big stage shoes to fill in following Jeff Roark and Brian Hutchinson in the role of Lincoln’s assassin. )

     Patrick Brownson’s Sam Byck is acting of the brilliantly congruent variety. Once Brownson has his character by the throat every ounce of his energy becomes Byck! Every word is sensationally nuanced and his deranged character is consummately well put forth. Bravo!
              Left to right: Adam Shelton, Sue Ann Shelton, Shannon McCarthy,  Patrick Brownson

     Brandon Keller’s Czolgosz, the glassmaker that assassinated President McKinley, provides acting dynamite. Excellent work!

                  Left to right: Brandon Keller, Torrey Jenkins, James L. Crapes, Emily Macomber

      Torrey Jenkins, as the man who assassinated President Garfield, gives us a fascinating Charles J. Guiteau.  Jenkins is shorter in the tooth and of a slimmer frame than one might have cast in this role, however he has more of the Frenchman in his face and physiology than any previous actor to have been seen by this reviewer in the role.  His erratic dancing of Matthew Daley’s choreography for “I am Going To the Lordy”- his psycho journey to the scaffold-puts one in mind of the minstrel shows that were so popular in the late 1800s as well as giving us a black humor mirroring of le danse macabre his vacated body will soon do at the end of a rope.

     Sue Ann Shelton’s stage portrayal of Squeaky Fromm is very fine indeed in the singing as well as in the acting. About all that was missing here was the self - immolation, which Jenny Hecht provided in spades in the Next Stage productions.

     The scenic design with a scaffold above, red, white and blue bunting below and a scoreboard stage right is quite well done.
The videos - especially those pertaining to the assassination of JFK - enhanced the production. 

     Although one misses the folk sound of a banjo in “The Ballad of Booth,” the music direction by Timothy Kennedy is superb in his conducting of the six-piece onstage band. One does, however, wish for more classically trained voices with regard to the singing and more precision with regard to the execution (sorry!) of Matthew Dailey’s very fine choreography.

     In the performance at which this reviewer was in attendance there were problems with the lighting –especially at the top of the show when it seemed the person running the spotlight was unable to decide which of the two significant figures on stage to illuminate. In fact they should have both had the light.

      Even though “Assassins” is a stretch for any young company the gallows humor in the Equinox production comes off as if it were a dream. … and to quote Mr. Sondheim as lyricist, “Everybody’s Got the Right to Their Dreams.”

     Worth a peek.

p.s. If you happen to be an Assassins virgin this show is unmissable!

Equinox Theatre Company Presents: 
Stephen Sondheim's “Assassins”
at The Bug Theatre
3654 Navajo Street in Denver
August 24 through September 15
With a Pay-what-you-can Industry Night September 6
Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM
Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door
Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more
Tickets available online at
Recommended for mature audiences

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Murder on the Nile
Spotlight Theatre: 8/18 – 9/22

     Spotlight Theatre’s “Murder on the Nile” is a pleasant evening of –if not armchair travel, at least travel of the theatre seat variety. Imagine sitting back in one’s easy chair while reading a good mystery and presto change-o! finding himself in a theatre seat as a good cast of that book’s interesting characters appear upon the stage.

     It was just the ticket for this reviewer on this particular night. The play is fascinating in much the way all Agatha Christie plays are. It’s full of snooty socialites, disgruntled servants, ex-lovers and clergymen! One does miss the presence of such iconic detectives as Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, but the mystery unravels all the same after the requisite murder takes place. One can’t help but wonder why Monsieur Poirot was not featured in the play since the novel is described as an Hercule Poirot mystery. Excuse moi!

     The producer warns the audience before the show begins that if anyone should divulge even a hint of the murderous character in question to prospective ticket buyers untold horrors will occur. Fortunately for us we can feel safe since the John Hand Theatre is not large enough to have a huge chandelier dangling precariously over our heads.

      A jilted fiancĂ©e, who is stalking her ex-lover and his fabulous new wife, is at the core of this venture into the wonderful world of Agatha Christie.
     It’s an eye-pleasing production thanks to Bernie Cardell’s superbly laid out and well appointed set. Cardell, who also directs, gives us a Christie mystery that flows along at a nice steady pace similar one supposes to that of its titular river’s current.  It has quite a few eddies and damned few rapids. Since the show has a rather large cast and a rather modest budget director Cardell has done a rather ingenious thing with regard to casting the show.

     He has given us a core of superb local actors all well known for their skill in acting and injected a group of new, mostly young talent into the supporting roles. The result is heartening.

     The core group I describe is composed of Haley Johnson, Deborah Curtis, Christian Mast and Todd Black. The newbies include Phillip Bettison, Jenny Weiss, Kaity Talmage-Bowers and Chrissy Basham. All four of these young artists show promise and one hopes to see them again soon upon the Denver stage.

                     Left to right: Kaity Talmage-Bowers, Christian Mast and Haley Johnson 

     Haley Johnson is the standout in the role of Jacqueline De Severac. Deborah Curtis shines in the role of Miss ffoliot-ffoukes (It’s a lot of “f”s but that’s what they have in the program!) Christian Mast has been cast in the role of the Lothario of this show, Simon Mostyn. Todd Black’s Canon Pennefather is superbly and intentionally stoic.

     The lighting by Brian Miller is appropriately sunny. 

     Luke Alan Terry’s sound design transports us brilliantly to the exact right time and place.

     Mum’s the word.

     Go figure!

August 18 - September 22
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m. /Sun at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets are $20 Adult/ $18 for Students/Seniors
Group rates available.
720-880-8727 or online at
The John Hand Theater, 7653 E. 1st Place, Denver

Monday, August 13, 2012

Driving Miss Daisy
Senior Housing Options/Barth Hotel

       Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize winning "Driving Miss Daisy" is a play about prejudice, aging, friendship and family.  

     Billie McBride’s performance as Miss Daisy captures all the crotchety racial prejudice of a white suhthuhn matron living in the nineteen-sixties at the top of the show. McBride’s brilliant acting allows those in attendance to see her character shift incrementally from stiff-necked bigotry to dear and vulnerable friend to her African American chauffeur, Hoke. McBride is one of the finest actors in the region. You owe it to yourself to see her outstanding performance.

     Dwayne Carrington’s performance in the role of Miss Daisy’s chauffeur, Hoke has such depth one feels he has known this character all his life. Carrington delivers Hoke’s wisely self-deprecating humor as well as the understated humor directed at Miss Daisy and her son, Boolie, in such a way as to enhance a performance you will long remember.

     As Miss Daisy’s son, Boolie, Sam Gregory turns in a superb portrayal of filial love through the lens of filial exasperation. Whenever Sam Gregory’s name is in the program one knows he is in for an outstanding performance. Whether George in Paragon Theatre’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” or Atticus Finch in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Gregory delivers breathtaking work.

     Director Ashlee Temple paces the evening at a delightfully leisurely suhthuhn pace.

     This is a magnificent evening of theatre that demands to be seen.

Not to be missed.

“Driving Miss Daisy” performs in the historic lobby of The Barth Hotel, 1514 Seventeenth Street in the heart of LoDo.  (The Barth is one of Senior Housing Option’s 14 residences and home to 62 elderly and disabled adults.)  The play opens July 26 and runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm through August 18.  Tickets start at $25. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 303-595-4464.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Playwright/composer Melissa Faith-Hart talks to David Marlowe about her new production of :
“Scarlet Letter, the Musical,”
at PACE Center
      Melissa Faith - Hart says she wrote the book for “ Scarlet Letter, the Musical” first and then the music. She says her musical follows Hawthorne’s narrative pretty closely. According to Hart there’s not much deviation except for the fact that Hawthorne hints at the presence of ‘real’ witches in the town. In the book for her musical she has chosen to call these people “differents.”
     Changing the way she named these characters wasn’t all she did. She also chose to show more of how these people communed with nature as well as how they were able to express feelings of peace and contentment in the forest. Their ability to explore their deep feeling nature in this sylvan setting provides stark contrast to the cold, unfeeling rigidity of the folks in this Puritan town. At the time in which the story is set the people of Boston did not stand for any deviation from the stiff, unflinching exclusionary viewpoint espoused by their religion. Can you spell persecution?
                                     Melissa Faith-Hart
     Hart says she chose Hawthorne’s novel as a basis for her musical because “it has it all: unrequited love, revenge, guilt, hypocrisy, healing and death. She just believed that Hawthorne’s book deserved to have a musical underscoring.
     Broadway veteran Candy Brown will choreograph Hart’s show. Hart describes Brown as her friend, producer and mentor. “Since she has come from brand new work on “Chorus Line” and “Pippin” I listen carefully to all she says when it comes to advice about being on this journey.”
Mitch Samu is another Broadway veteran that Hart promises will lead and conduct a 16 piece live orchestra for her show. Hart says that she is in complete awe of this nationally known artist.
     The set and costumes will describe Puritan New England in visual terms. The lighting will contrast the freedom and grace found in the forest as opposed to the strict strait-laced letter of the law atmosphere in town.
     Wayne Kennedy is directing. This multi talented actor/director and sound designer has received critical acclaim and multiple awards such as the Henry for many years. Kennedy has cast actors from London and American Equity as well as some superb local talent.
     Lisa Finnerty (The Who’s “Tommy” and “Brigadoon”) will play Hester Prynne.
     Colin Alexander (AEA) will play Roger Chillingsworth, Thadd Kreuger (AEA)  Reverend John Wilson and  Erik Bryan(AEA Candidate) will play Arthur Dimmsdale.
       Additionally there are brilliant actors from the community such as local favorites Sue Leiser and Brian Murray.

"Scarlet Letter,the Musical" is being produced by Slingshot Artist Productions.
     Hart says that the greatest joy of her artistic journey has been “Hands down, the people I have met through this journey.  Each one has been a teacher to me and a gift to my heart.   Having others sing your music and be touched is also pretty cool - to be honest, but what matters the most and that I have found priceless are the people who have come along with me on my journey.
                                      Melissa Faith-Hart
     As for the obstacles she’s had to overcome in getting her musical onto the stage she says that she “googled how to get a show to Broadway about six years ago and the answer was “STOP!!! Either you’re crazy or you are born to do this and you know of no other possible road in your life…” The playwright looked deep, deep into her soul and thought: “Darn! I’m both!”
The show takes place at PACE Center. It’s a beautiful 21 million dollar theater that’s like a mini-Buell. 
It’s SO easy to find. 
Take I 25 south to Lincoln (not the Lincoln/Broadway) but the Lincoln that could take you to Park Meadows if you were to go west.  Instead go EAST!   And stay on Lincoln until Parker Road, Take a right on Parker to Main Street.    Then take a left and about two blocks down on the right is an amazing building that will impress the socks off of you.  There are restaurants right on Main Street that are a culinary delight.  Vines serves tapas and wine flights or you can grab a steak at the War Horse, in the very first building constructed when Parker was just a town of dirt roads and horse trails.

See you at the theatre. 

September 13th -7:30pm
September 14th - 7:30pm
September 15th - 2pm with talkback
September 15th - 7:30 VIP night
September 16th - 2pm matinee

Ticket Prices - 18 to 28 dollars for every night but the VIP night.   

VIP night starts at 50 to 250 dollars to raise money because we are paying the actors and musicians well so that they are appreciated for their talent and work.  

Marlowe's Musings

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

IGNITE THEATRE @ Aurora Fox Arts
Left to right: Brooke Singer and Jack Thomas

     “Spring Awakening” is the Tony Award winning hit rock musical that’s based upon the 1892 play by German playwright Frank Wedekind. This playwright’s controversial play struck out at the hypocrisy of German parents, teachers and churchmen for not teaching their children and students about sex. Wedekind saw this omission to be the cause of many societal horrors such as child abuse, abortion and suicide.
     With music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, the rock musical based upon Wedekind’s play communicates how little things have changed in the interim.
     It’s a handsome production that’s well cast, well acted, well sung and mostly well directed.
     Brooke Singer is outstanding as Wendla! Chris Russell is a knockout as Moritz. Jack Thomas is a superb Melchior.
     The show is directed superbly for the most part. However… this reviewer took issue with a few things.
     One could only wish that there might have been a way to mike the show without the use of hand held microphones.
     The adults in the show portrayed by Andy Anderson and Suzanne Nepi are directed to be serious when in parental roles which works superbly. Unfortunately these two very fine actors are directed to give a stylized clownish characterization leaning into caricature in the roles of teacher and priest. It is this reviewer’s not so humble opinion that these characters need to be seen in a serious dramatic light for the play to succeed in making us feel the full impact of the central issue: Ignorance kills.
     The turning on of the house lights at key moments in the production was also unfortunate. It caused one to be taken out of the world of the play momentarily and broke the spell, which Ms. Osatinski and her cast had otherwise succeeded in weaving. Other than that one has only high praise for Amy Osatinski’s direction.

     The use of the three video screens at the rear of the playing space added a poetic quality that enhanced the production.

     Cameron Turner’s raging choreography works powerfully well.

     If not perfect , there is much to recommend in this risky rock musical with a message that needs to be driven home again and again.

     Director Osatinski and cast drive home the play’s essence eloquently.

     It is: Sex Education needs to be given a very high priority on the roster of every school’s curriculum.

     See it!

August 3 @ 7:30pm – Opening Night
August 4 @ 7:30pm
August 5 @ 2:30pm
August 6 @ 7:30pm –
Industry Night
August 10 @ 7:30pm

August 11 @ 7:30pm

August 12 @ 2:30pm

August 17 @ 7:30pm

August 18 @ 7:30pm

August 19 @ 2:30pm
August 24 @ 7:30pm

August 25 @ 7:30pm

August 26 @ 2:30pm
Aurora Fox Arts Center – Main Stage
9900 E. Colfax Ave
Aurora, CO 80010

Adults: $25
Students: $18
Groups: $22


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Miners Alley Playhouse

                                            Paige L. Larson as Emily Dickenson
     Paige L. Larson infuses great humor and gentle pathos into her portrayal of poet Emily Dickenson. Her outstanding performance in William Luce’s one-woman play is indelible and unforgettable. We meet the poet at 53 dressed in an unadorned floor length dress of bridal white that’s sliced in two with a powder blue sash. Her coif ( a brown wig really) is that of any spinster living in 1862.
     Although Miss Dickenson describes religion as “grim” Ms. Larson’s delivery of a remembrance of the wheezing sermon of decrepit Reverend Leland is hilarious.
     Larson is great at involving the audience. Whether sharing a recipe for Emily’s “black cake” with a lady in the first row or retrieving her pencil from her near final curtain, all in attendance are her closest confidantes all through the show.
     Paige L. Larson is one of the theatrical treasures of our state. Whether you’ve seen her brilliant work in such plays as “A Picasso,” “Woman and Scarecrow,” and “Night of the Iguana” or not, you must see her smashing Emily Dickenson!
     Rick Bernstein’s direction gives us an homage to the poet which is graced by Ann Piano’s fine costume design and Jonathan Scott McKean’s mood-altering lighting. The sound design also done by director Bernstein and Alli B., is especially delightful in its crisp delivery of some fine classical strings. Bernstein’s overseeing of all these elements of the production creates a sensitively nostalgic evocation of the past.
     Richard Pegg’s simple straight-forward scenic design gives us a well appointed bedroom, parlour and living room in the Dickenson home in Amherst, Massachusetts. Fine looking period furnishings and a few antiquarian books speak volumes (sorry!)
Hurry to get tickets!

"The Belle of Amherst"
July 20-Aug. 26
Fri. and Sat. @ 7:30 and Sun @ 6pm (Sun. Aug. 19th @ 2pm only, no 6pm that day)
$19.00 - $26.50; senior, student and group rates available.
303-935-3044 or online at

Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue (13th and Washington 2nd floor entrance on 13th) in Golden, CO.Marlowe's Musings