Thursday, February 28, 2013

Catch Me If You Can
Denver Center Attractions: 2/27 - 3/10

     “Catch Me If You Can” is lightweight frothy fluff that turns out to be a rather endearing evening of good old-fashioned fun!
     Stephen Anthony portrays its central character, Frank Abagnale, Jr.
      Mr. Anthony has an intoxicating stage presence and sings and dances his way through this con man’s true-life story with amiable brio.
                                                 Stephen Anthony and Ensemble
     Having spoiled us all with the books for such musicals as “Ragtime,” one must admit that Terrence McNally’s book for “Catch Me If You Can” is one of his lesser successes. The characters often have a rather flimsy feel to them.  However …  they are portrayed by some of the best touring company actors to have been seen of late.
     A few of the actors standing out in this production are Aubrey Mae Davis, (Brenda,) Amy Burgmeier (Carol Strong) and D. Scott Withers (Roger Strong) as a Louisiana family taken in by Mr. Abegnale Jr.’s boyish if blatantly fraudulent charm. Their singing and dancing of “Our Family Tree” is exhilarating.
     The scenes describing this con man’s world are designed and choreographed in such a way as to draw us in with a mesmerizing palette of colors. Those involving that of the FBI agents in his pursuit fall flat in their attempt to provide a dramatic black and white 'film noir' contrast.
     There’s a sensational onstage orchestra that adds immeasurably to the enjoyment of this evening of musical theatre. Director Jack O’Brien’s pacing moves the show along at a good clip.
      The music and lyrics penned by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and the music composed by Mr. Shaiman will make you want to run out and buy the CD.
      The graphics and images projected as back drop to the proceedings bring up memories of that time when the fledgling television industry was in transition from black and white to the wonderful world of color.

                                                      Stephen Anthony and Ensemble

The Buell Theatre limited engagement from February 26 – March 10. Tickets are on sale now at denvercenter.orgSingle tickets for CATCH ME IF YOU CAN start at just $20. To charge by phone, call Denver Center Ticket Services at 303.893.4100. TTY (for Deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons): 303.893.9582. Groups of 10 or more, please call 303.446.4829. Additionally, tickets may be purchased at the Denver Center Ticket Office, located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at's Musings

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Church Basement Ladies
Boulder’s Dinner Theatre: 2/22 – 5/12

        “Church Basement Ladies” is an evening of lighthearted uplifting family friendly musical comedy!  What more could you ask?
Left to right: Bren Eyestone Burron, Heather Doris, Wayne Kennedy Alicia Dunfee and Barb Reeves

     Youbetcha! “Church Basement Ladies” is a Heckuvadeal. It’s a very funny musical comedy about da women who fix up “a little lunch” for da congregation whenever there are weddings, funerals or just those special meals for holidays on da Lutheran Church Bulletin.
     When discouraging events come up they remember that God has blessed them with recipes such as lutefisk , creamed peas on toast(Yum!) and lefse – but not La-sa-Gna! These stainless steel magnolias can not only clean and cook but seemingly keep da church afloat with their dauntless efforts to promote good clean living and moral Lutheran decency from right there in that little kitchen below the sanctuary.
Uf da!
     This enchanting evening of musical theatre unfolds with hilarious singing and dancing that’s accompanied by Neal Dunfee and choreographed by his real life wife Alicia who, also plays Karin. The role of Karin’s daughter, Signe, is played by the incomparably talented and lovely to look at Heather Doris. Barb Reeves is the matriarch. What she says in the hierarchy of this kitchen is sort of akin to that of Mother Superior in the Nunsense series. Played with winning panache by Barb Reeves, this character is a heavenly hoot!
      Bren Eystone Burron is howlingly funny as da lady with da hot flashes. Doing absolutely anything that might cause a slight cooling she is hilarious in this midlife meltdown. Eyestone Burron’s performance is so outrageously funny it will put you in mind of those blessed memories of Lucille Ball,
Imogene Coca and Carol Burnett. 

                                                                Bren.Eyestone Burron

     For this performance alone you must fly to the box office. Wayne Kennedy’s Pastor Gunderson, alternately enchanted and exasperated by these female disciples, provides us with just a dash of testosterone in this otherwise estrogen-driven comedy. 

                                                                         Wayne Kennedy

It doesn’t matter what church you grew up in! You’ll see your Mom, your aunts and all those wonderful lunch ladies at your church right up there on da stage.

      Director Curt Wollan is new to BDT and lends a magical touch to this show. It’s inspired by the book “Growing up Lutheran” by Janet Martin and Suzann Nelson. Composer/lyricist Drew Jansen has also penned Troupe America's score for “How to Talk Minnesotan.”

      As a critic my one complaint is they didn’t wear hair nets. Isn’t that against health department rules? Also there is no item on da menu such as lutefisk or creamed peas on toast.  I’m just sayin.’

Tickets for Church Basement Ladies are on sale now. Prices start at just $35, and include both the performance and dinner served by the stars of the show. All tickets for opening weekend (Friday, February 22 - Sunday, February 24, 2013) are just $35. Group rate tickets and season subscriptions are available for all performances throughout the year. Call (303) 449-6000 or log on to for reservations and/or additional details about the show.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Romeo and Juliet
Opera Colorado: Feb 9,12,15,17

      “Two operatic households both alike in” that they are peopled with numerous family members and servants sometimes leave us wanting to know more of the stories of the Gertrudes(Marcia Ragonetti) , Tybalts (John McVeigh), Stephanos (Brenda Patterson) and Friars Laurence (Kevin Langan). 
      Unusual? Yes. But these are the stand-outs.                                      

Photo Credit: Charles Erickson for Boston Lyric Opera

                       We look forward to Mozart's masterpiece, "Don Giovanni" March 30, April 2, 5 and 7

                                                  Go online for tickets at

Sunday, February 17, 2013

                          The Seafarer
             Ashton Productions at Aurora Fox Arts: 2/8 - 3/2

     Those devilish emotions of guilt and shame always come up on a holiday. O, dontchaknow?
Left to Right: Brock Benson, Steef Sealy, John Ashton, Warren Sherrill and Kevin Hart

     Five darlin’ men find themselves cold and alone in a ramshackle shanty in Ireland. All they can do is blather on with a lot o blarney about the old days and the stinkin’ chunks launched by the other winos on their own front steps. 
     One’s blind, one’s in a dark depression and the others have only the unseen fishwives to bring up in complaint after dismal complaint. 
     On this particular Christmas Eve there is more than a wee tooth full of the Harp and Poteen that warms the cockles of these hoary hearts. In fact it could make the unwary theatregoear consider goin’ on the wagon himself. But I didn’t. There was W.W. Weller and Drambuie at me own shanty later.
But I digress.
      One may at first think this show a bit one note in its constant circular spin of nice Christmas pints of Harp and “a drop of the holy water til they’ve blessed themselves.” 

    However … this play’s got a sensible and profound trajectory that might be compared to that of a black jack tire iron that’s skillfully aimed at the very devil of a locked heart.
     Director Michael Stricker has done a superb job of casting and pacing this Tony Award-winning play. The show features some of the finest actors in town: Brock Benson, John Ashton, Steef Sealy, Kevin Hart, and Warren Sherill.

     Sealy’s performance as Richard Harkin is one of the best performances by any actor this season. Sealy steals our hearts… and the show!

The Seafarer is now playing in the Black Box Studio Theatre at Aurora Fox Arts. For tickets call 303-739-1970 Marlowe's MusingsMarlowe's Musings

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Spoon River Anthology
Germinal Stage Denver: 2/8 – 3/17

     All of the characters in Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology” are dead and there’s not much resting in peace in the cemetery in which they reside.  Listen to the constant lament of these characters as they remember their lives.
     With his many poems Masters allows the deceased town folk to describe real life as they remember it. Many of the complaints are petty. Although there is a great deal of discontent in the memories there is the sensing of an underlying longing to be able to experience Life above ground again. Ed Baierlein has assembled a stellar cast for this project that includes:  Deborah Persoff, Leroy Leonard, Lisa Mumpton, Jim Miller, Jenny MacDonald and Michael Gunst.
Left to right Lisa Mumpton, Leroy Leonard, Michael Gunst, Deborah Persoff, Jenny MacDonald and Jim Miller

     The scenic design gives us a Halloween party decorated with orange and black crepe paper and the requisite skulls and skeletons. The conceit is that the guests have indulged in some psychic games such as a séance.  (One character is seen later playing with a Ouija board.) The members of the séance have opened a door and are possessed by the spirits. Among them is Ann Rutledge, the supposed first love of Abraham Lincoln played by Jenny MacDonald.
     The tales spooled out by Masters’ characters provide a realistic portrait of life in this small town. There is an eerie disturbing quality to the work. One very nearly starts to drift into a negative viewpoint of life because of the pettiness. However … before that occurs the possessed partygoers, who have been staggering or drifting in a somnambulistic manner between scenes … come back to conscious life in singing the rapturous praises of Nature and living daily Life in Spoon River. The scenes are bridged by unsettling songs, which start up by an unseen hand.
                                                Leroy Leonard and Deborah Persoff

    Leroy Leonard and Deborah Persoff stand out in this uniformly fine cast. Among the characters portrayed by Leonard is Willy Metcalf, a developmentally disabled person described in tragi-comic terms. Persoff  is especially funny in her tongue in cheek portrayal of a duplicitous woman who is just so surprised that her 19 year old lover killed her husband.  Later Persoff and said husband Leonard square off with disdainful glances as a married couple who have many unresolved differences from their life on earth.
       Jim Miller’s Chinaman Yee Bow, who died in Spoon River will never be able to return home to his progeny.  George Grey, also done by Miller recites a complaint about the ship which is on his tombstone that's a real highlight in this evening of dramatic declamation.

 (Spoon River Anthology is a dramatization of the poetry of Edgar Lee Masters by Charles Aidman.)

Germinal Stage Denver, located at West 44th Avenue and Alcott Street in Northwest Denver, presents
This is the second production of the theatre’s 39th season.
   Performances Friday (8:00, $21.75), Saturday (8:00, $23.75) and Sunday (7:00, $19.75) through March 17th.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Buntport Theatre: 1/25 – 2/23

     Whether it’s a wake for Prospero or a wake-up call for us all, "Wake" leaves lots of head scratching in its wake.
     The reason this reviewer is so late with this review is that every time I sit down to write it a whole new level of interpretation arises and I begin to ponder that one.
So I will just tell you, dear reader, that this work is rich and can be mined at a number of different levels.
                                                   Erik Edborg and Brian Colonna

     When a patriarch dies leaving only fragmentary instructions on the living of life on the island on which his daughter and slave abide a sense of malaise sets in. Miranda is lonely and bored. Caliban is tethered and tantalized by an invisible (to him) spirit named Ariel.
     The boat the late patriarch predicted does not arrive. The skies don’t “pour down stinking pitch.” Nothing ever seems to happen according to the mysterious words of the old one.
                                                 Brian Colonna and Erik Edborg
     Prospero is now a ghost who haunts the island. His words instructing his daughter Miranda that all things are ordered in Life forbid her to listen to the end of his soliloquy-now only on tape in the tape recorder he has smashed. These final words are only audible in an incomprehensible garbled gibberish when the tape is pulled through this broken tape recorder.
     "Is it real or is it Memorex?" runs through one’s mind. (sorry!)
     This amalgam of Shakespeare and Beckett and Buntport is engrossing to say the least. There is more than a little of “Godot” within its borders and a solid undergirding of Sartre as well.
     The show is punctuated with electrical noise and electronic music as well as illumined periodically by a star-swept ceiling that appears with the flip of a switch.
     The metal runway that stands overhead turns into a sort of slide from which the actors descend  to a patch of astroturf that covers the top of Caliban’s cage.
     Invisible to the eyes of Caliban, Ariel tantalizes and provokes him by dangling physical objects above him in the way that one might tease a dog or cat.
Erin Rollman as Miranda
      The viewer finds himself in a sort of awe-struck wonder, then dips into ennui and somehow winds up at a thrilling glimmer of hope. Perhaps it’s a hope that will end in disillusionment but it’s an anticipation born of the self rather than of external authority. It’s a hope that’s founded on the realization that the stories one tells oneself are as important if not more so than those told by those who came before. The piece feels a bit Sartrian since Miranda’s freeing of Caliban by untying and unmasking him allows both of them to take responsibility for their island. That acceptance of responsibility allows for their freedom to discover a Brave New World as they leave safety behind and step into the unknown.
     Observing the final moment of the play one can’t help remembering the words of Federico Fellini: “Everything is beautiful to innocent eyes.”
   Adam Stone as Ariel(playing electrifying and er Tempestuous music at the Wake)

Erin Rollman Miranda
Eric Edborg    Prospero
Brian Colonna Caliban
Adam Stone  Ariel

Buntport Theater Presents
a corruption of The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Jan 25th - Feb 23rd

Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm
and Sundays 2/10 & 2/17 at 3pm

Tickets $16 ($13 for Students and Seniors)  
Opening night (1/25) and closing night (2/23) are $20 and include food & drink receptions
Thursday 1/31 & Monday 2/4 are Pay-What-You-Can (8pm)

5 weeks only! Reserve tickets now! Seating is limited!  

Marlowe's MusingsMarlowe's Musings

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Romeo and Juliet
The Stage Theatre: 1/25 – 2/24

                                          Lenne Klingaman

     Lenne Klingaman’s enchanting performance in the role of Juliet is utterly transcendent. Ms. Klingaman is an actor who is as exquisite in her artistry as she is spellbinding to look upon.

     Jeanne Paulsen’s performance in the role of Juliet’s    Nurse is masterful.

    Kathleen McCall’s portrayal of Lady Capulet is her best work to date.
                                                    Lenne Klingaman and Kathleen McCall
     Matt Zambrano excels as Peter, a servant in the Capulet’s household who also expands and embellishes the narrative as chorus.

     Matthew Simpson’s Tybalt is a riveting piece of work.

       Sam Gregory delivers a Friar Laurence who moves from omniscient confessor to a man who is guilt-ridden and heart broken because of his part in the tragedy. 
                                                   Kathleen McCall and Lenne Klingaman
      Geoffrey Kent’s portrayal of Paris is superb. His fight direction is heart pounding.Marlowe's Musings

Single tickets for ROMEO & JULIET, on sale now, start at $48 (non-SCFD) and also are available for $10 (SCFD 10 for $10 program) and are on sale now.  To purchase, call Denver Center Ticket Services at 303.893.4100.  For groups of 10 or more, please call 303.446.4829.  TTY (for Deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons): 303.893.9582.  Tickets also may be purchased at the Denver Center Ticket Office, located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby.  Buy and print online at  Student rush $10 tickets are available one hour prior to curtain with a valid student ID subject to availability.  Senior and military rush tickets are available one hour prior to curtain, subject to availability. No children under six will be admitted to any theatre.

City of Angels
Vintage Theatre Productions:  2/1 – 3/3

                                    Maggie Tisdale and Jerry Cunningham
                                        Photo Credit: Denver Mind Media
     “City of Angels” is a Tony Award-winning musical that’s sort of a two for one deal. You get one musical about a screenwriter in Technicolor reality and another about the private detective character he’s writing in his black and white film noir screenplay.
     You remember film noir-those films with actors like Humphrey Bogart as the private detective that start out with some guy’s voice over saying: “Her name was Dee Dee. Her game was blackmail.” Then the ominous sounds of ‘Dun! Dun! Dun!’ are heard as we slowly pan out from a cigarette being lit by a guy in a London Fog coat for a lady in one of those backless little numbers that were so sassy back then.
  Jerry Cunningham Plays Stine, typing away on the screenplay. Ken Paul plays Stone, Stine’s somewhat over confident- shall we say ballsy? - alter ego and the star of the film noir movie on the opposite side of the stage.
        Cunningham and Ken Paul knock it out of the park with their ear-pleasing duet “You’re Nothing Without Me” about coming to terms with each other as screenwriter and the character… I almost said ‘creature’ he’s created.
    Cunningham’s singing of “Funny,” Stine’s eleventh hour lament, is one of the highlights of the show.
     So enough about the Guys! What about the Dolls in this show?
                                                        Ken Paul and Abby Apple Boes
                                                        Photo credit: Denver Mind Media
     Abby Apple Boes is a knock-out and in fine voice as femme fatale Alaura. Maggie Tisdale’s a smashing Oolie. The other gorgeous dames on board are Melissa Fike and Alix Brikley.
     And that’s not even mentioning the Dolls in the Jazz Group Angel City 4: Juliette Petersen and Kerri Emswiller.
     Robert Payo and Alejandro Roldan provide the male “doo wadda doo wops.”
     Traci Kern’s musical direction of this extremely difficult musical is outstanding.
     Brian Walker Smith has cast this show with an eye to the look of those grand old 1940s classics and an ear to voices that can really soar with the fast-paced and syncopated scatting jazzy score that’s been compared to “Manhattan Transfer on steroids.”
Choreographer Piper Arpan has treated us to some exhilarating dance numbers including a Calypso hoofer called “All You Have to Do is Wait.” There are a lot of big Hollywood-style production numbers and Arpan’s choreography is of the sassy variety that works perfectly.
    Jim Hitzke is hilarious as Buddy, a producer who’s rewriting every syllable Stine writes almost before he writes it especially in the song, “The Buddy System.”

   Travis Yamamoto leads the onstage orchestra perched on the Los Angeles skyline with a sure hand. The jazzy sound produced by the musicans adds so much to the over all evening!

Vintage Theatre presents
City of Angels 
Homage to the film noir genre of motion pictures of the 1940’s.
Feb 1 – March 3
Sunday, Feb 24 @ 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Mar 3 at 2:30 p.m.
$30 ($25 advance)
303-856-7830 or online at
NEW Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Spark Theatre: 1/18 – 2/16
Todd Black and Suzanne Nepi
     We sure do love to lie to ourselves. That’s ultimately what Edward Albee, this country’s greatest living playwright says to his audience in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” Everyone in this play is hiding behind a façade of beliefs that masks his or her true experience in life.
     Todd Black (George) and Suzanne Nepi (Martha) duke it out in Spark Theatre’s production in a sort of non-stop all night battle filled with verbal combat. This evening in which they rip the scabs off wounds long buried beneath the veil of deceit is one that’s bolstered by a kind of alcohol induced coma out of which all they can do is intermittently strike out physically at one another as punctuation to the eruptions of volcanic rage.
     Cast against type, Black and Nepi do a great job keeping us focused on George and Martha’s outrageously dysfunctional relationship.
     Director Cardell has cast two relatively new actors in the roles of Nick and Honey-the newest addition to the faculty and his mousey wife. 
     Nate Axtell turns in a stunning performance as Nick. Axtell is an interesting choice on the part of director Cardell, and this new (to this reviewer anyway) actor delivers a fine reading.
     Julie Butters-Wolf gives us a Honey that is childishly oblivious to everything going on around her except for those suddenly lucid moments where she becomes aware and frightened of the Truth.
     Luke Terry leads us into each Act with a sensitively well thought out sound design.
     Bernie Cardell directs with a keen eye to the excruciating pain of exorcizing a lie as described by Albee’s subtext. Todd Black has never been better than he is here. Suzanne Nepi’s performance is passionate indeed.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf playing exclusively at Spark Theater, Santa Fe Arts District, 985 Santa Fe Drive, Denver. Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s at 7:30 p.m. January 18 – February 16, 2013 with a Sunday matinee on January 27th at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 with special pricing of $10 on Thursday’s, available online at