Sunday, June 30, 2013

   David Marlowe interviews Pat Pearce regarding


   I got a chance to chat with Pelham (Pat) Pearce the other day regarding the upcoming season at Central City Opera. As always it was a pleasure. Central City Opera's General/Artistic Director just received the prestigious 2013 Bonfils-Stanton Award for his contributions to the field of Arts and Humanities. Pearce, who has led Central City Opera since 1996 has received critical praise locally, nationally and internationally for premiering new operas. He has also presented neglected works, as well as having traditional operas staged in innovative ways. Pearce’s reputation has brought us the best talent from the United States and around the world. His ear for excellence, passion for story-telling, and bold experiments with musical theatre have made Central City Opera a vital force on the American and international opera scenes.

     Central City Opera opens its 2013 Festival on June 29 with a brand new production of “The Barber of Seville” by Rossini that has a beautiful set which has Rosina in a two-story bird cage. She’s trapped with only her wits to get her out. Jennifer Rivera will be an amazing Rosina. Now living in New York City she’s had most of her career in Europe. Daniel Belcher who played the husband in Central City Opera’s 2011 “Les Mamelles de Tiresias” and the title character in “Gianni Schicchi” will play Figaro. The renowned Patrick Carfizzi will sing Doctor Bartolo.

             Ned Rorem’s “Our Town” will play the Central City Opera House from July 6 through the 28th. Based on Thornton Wilder’s play, Rorem’s “warmhearted music” tells the tale of the everyday lives of citizens of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire circa 1901. It depicts the landmark events in everyone’s lives: first love, marriage and death. Performed in English, “Our Town” will be directed by Ken Cazan who has directed many of the superb offerings at Central City Opera over the last ten years.  Conductor Christopher Zemliauskas will conduct. Vale Rideout will portray the stage manager. Anna Christy will play Emily Webb, William Ferguson will play George Gibbs and Sally Wolf will portray Mrs. Webb.
     Pearce said that “Rorem really understands what the human voice can and can’t do, and people will feel very comfortable with his opera.” It’s easily accessible and there’s absolutely nothing foreign. The music is superb Americana. He’s mixed in hymns and adapted folk tunes to his particular kind of writing.  There’s a kind of sparse sound to the music in the mold of Aaron Copland. Rorem, who is known for ‘a godzillion’ art songs, is extremely adept at painting pictures with words and music. There’s going to be a realistic costume design and a realistic scenic design that’s extremely minimalist. I think you’ll enjoy director Ken Cazan’s directorial concept.  Pearce laughed saying “It’s a tearjerker anyway.” The libretto by J.D. McClatchy is in our native tongue and a bit more fleshed out than those of some operas. After Wilder died the estate agreed to let Rorem and McClatchy translate the play to the opera stage. We lose some characters and a few chunks of the play and yet these two magicians still manage to keep the things that make it click.
     This is the first and only time it’s been adapted. Pearce saw the show at C.U. Boulder and says that although he enjoyed the production “this will be the first time the opera will have been performed by “artists of this caliber.” This will be the first full-fledged professional production of this show in the Rocky Mountain region and Pearce sounded extremely proud that he was bringing artists of great stature to sing the famous roles.
     The surprise for this season is that “Show Boat” will be done at The Buell Theatre. They’ve been testing the waters about the possibility of doing something down here in Denver for a while now. As wonderful and unique as the Central City Opera House is, it’s been a big loser as far as money goes. This company loses up to half a million dollars on every show they do. Twenty percent of the money comes from the box office and 80 percent comes from contributors. That’s kind of dangerous these days. Both shows of “Oklahoma” sold out at The Newman Center last season. “Show Boat” will be great in the big house. For the seven performances in the Buell they hope to net one million plus. It’ll broaden their audience and begin to move them from the 20/80 percentages to a 65/35 quota that they need so badly.
     There will be a big orchestra on stage that’s actually on the showboat. They’re going to put the musicians out there where people can see them! James Youmans, a very famous set designer from Broadway will make the show a lush treat visually. And of course the genius of lighting David Jacques will be on board with yet another stunner in the illumination department. Soloman Howard will be playing the role of Joe, the advice-giving dockworker who sings “Ol Man River.” He’s an ex football player who was homeless for a time. Placido Domingo found him at the audition and took him into the program. He’s an amazingly talented man. Angela Renee Simpson will play Queenie. This show is full of lots more incredible opera stars including Emily Pulley, Troy Cook and Curt Olds. Ray Roderick, who directed the incredibly successful “Love, Perfect, Change” at The Galleria Theatre will be great directing this one. He loves this part of the repertoire and directs a lot of these kinds of musicals back in Connecticut at the Goodspeed Theatre.
     Pearce is trying a lot of experiments to create new audiences for this spectacular art form. Opera can’t remain static. It has to adapt to survive. So at the end of July they’ll shut down Central and come down here. Pearce wants to make opera as ‘ungrandified’ as it can be. He says they’re going to be singing in a lot of unusual places in the next few years as they look at opera through the prism of story telling. The kernel of what Central City Opera is about is telling stories through song. They want to sing a story for you as an audience. Pearce ended by saying, “In some way we’ve created a lot of trappings that some find off-putting. Now we’re trying to get back to the core of it. That’s the concept of story telling. Let us sing you a story!”
Celebrating its 81st year, Central City Opera is the nation's fifth-oldest opera company, located just 35 miles west of Denver in one of Colorado's official National Landmark Historic Districts. The company continues to present artistically excellent professional opera in its annual summer festival; to offer career-entry training to young singers; to produce education and community service programs; and to preserve and maintain the Opera House and 30 other Victorian-era properties.

Central City Opera 2013 Festival
Central City Opera House - June 29 to July 28
The Barber of Seville opens the Festival in Central City on June 29 and runs through July 27. Ned Rorem's operatic adaptation of Our Town is the second offering opening July 6 and running at the Opera House through July 28.

Central City Opera Comes to Denver's Buell Theatre - August 6 to 11
Central City Opera comes to Denver for seven consecutive performances of Kern and Hammerstein II's Broadway classic musical, Show Boat at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex from Tuesday, Aug. 6 to Sunday, Aug. 11. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 303-292-6700.

Marlowe's Musings

Monday, June 24, 2013

Miners Alley Playhouse

Collected Stories
Miners Alley Playhouse: 6/7 – 7/14
                Billie McBride and Devon James
                  Foto Credit: JR Cody Schuyler
     “Collected Stories,” now on view at Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden is a thoroughly engrossing drama. On the surface it’s the story of two writers. Ruth is a renowned author who has turned to teaching. Lisa is her adoring student and biggest fan. When Lisa is allowed to meet and be tutored by Ruth she is elated and becomes privy to her mentor’s most closely guarded secrets.
     The acting in this production is truly remarkable. Broadway veteran Billie McBride delivers a performance that is undeniably natural. As Ruth she presents a no nonsense professor whose straight-forward honesty is the very essence of integrity.
     Devon James’ performance as Lisa gives us a young woman of unbridled enthusiasm who bubbles with an adoration for her teacher bordering on sycophancy in the opening scenes. In the six years following she grows from a self-deprecating pupil to confident author. The relationship that develops between the two women allows her to not only become confident but also a trusted confidant.
     The deceptively simple story line belies an intricate human relationship that is illumined beautifully by these two actors.
     Playwright Donald Margulies has crafted an intriguing evening of theatre that asks the viewer to decide whether it is ever ethical to use another person’s private story to further her career.
     You owe it to yourself to see this show for the accomplished and sensitively drawn performances.

Miners Alley Playhouse presents
"Collected Stories"
June 7 – July 14
Are one person's life events suitable for another to use in their own creative process?
Fri. and Sat. @ 7:30 p.m. and Sun @ 6 p.m. (2 p.m. on July 14)
$19.00 - $29.50; 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.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Town Hall Arts: 5/17 – 6/16
                              Matt LaFontaine
                                Burke Walton
                          Ashley-Amber Harris
Casey Andree

     The production of Hair now on view at Town Hall Arts in Littleton is an exhilarating evening of theatre! Nick Sugar’s direction and choreography lend this classic a freshness that is undeniable. Sugar is a master of all things theatrical and we are all blessed to have his creative fire in our community. His ability to cast a show so impeccably, elicit exquisite performances from those cast and to draw in technical artists who are first rate creates a ‘something more’ unknown to other directors. This is a mystery and to understand what it is you need to go and experience.
     Having seen the show in 1969 on Broadway and then again in London as well as using the lyrics heard on the vinyl of the version francais one is shocked to see and hear a production that is better than all of the aforementioned.
     Donna Kolpan Debreceni and her outstanding onstage orchestra rocks out as never before. John Rivera’s sound design makes itself known in powerful terms when needed as does Jonathan Scott-McKean’s outstanding lighting design and Linda Morken’s well thought out costume design. Likewise Brian Freeland’s sensitively created video design tickles our memory banks and silently delivers us to the faces and events of the time of the United States’ war on Viet Nam.
     Matt LaFontaine’s performance as Leo Berger is what one must call a pinnacle performance. It is utterly astounding and transcends whatever one may have seen previously. LaFontaine is a master of his craft and his portrayal of this character is energizing and electrifying!
     Ashley-Amber Harris is an absolute knock-out! Casey Andree gives a masterful performance as Claude.
     Burke Walton is a memorable Woof.  Norrell Moore (Sheila) ,Rebekah Ortiz(Jeanie) and Tim Howard turn in magnificent portrayals.  Rae Klapperich, Noah Jordan, Tyrell D. Rae(Hud) and Carter Edward Smith enhance the show immeasurably. 
     This is not a show that you can miss. It's one of the two or three top musicals of the season.

Town Hall’s production opens May 17 and runs through June 16, 2013. Show times are Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. (& 2:00 p.m. on 6/1 & Sundays at 2 p.m. (& 6:30 p.m. on 6/9).
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 Noon/ 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday Noon to 4 p.m. and 1 Hour prior to Shows) or on-line at . 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.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dust Storm and
Spirit and Sworded Treks (playing in repertory)
Vintage Theatre: 5/30 – 6/23
     Theatre Esprit Asia (TEA) is the first Asian American Theatre Company in Colorado. Co-founded by Maria Cheng and Tria Xiong, this is a company to keep your eye on. I was lucky enough to get to see their premiere of two new one-acts over at Vintage Theatre and was stunned by the work.
     The first play, Rick Foster’s “Dust Storm,” takes us on a heartbreaking journey that begins with an Asian American schoolboy awakening on the morning of December 7, 1941. The shockwaves in America begin to ripple and soon there is a flood of paranoia directed at the Asian American community. 
     The subsequent journey these innocent immigrants are forced to take from one internment camp to another is told with the strong clear voice of actor Peter Trinh and the thoroughly well written words of playwright Rick Foster. Accompanying Trinh’s poignant performance are slide projections of the images of Chiura Obata, who recorded the tragic story in his sketches. The show is directed by Warren Sherrill and merits your attendance.
                                                                       Maria Cheng
     The second play written and performed by playwright, director and actor Maria Cheng is “Spirit and Sworded Treks.” This is a magnificent work. Ms. Cheng is an artist of the first magnitude and her performance of this play is a fluid meditation on her observations of Life. It involves what one might assume to be a lifetime study of martial arts , a clear understanding of spirituality and a deep connection with such American institutions as Van Cliburn’s classical music and football. 
     This is a masterful expression of performance art that is not to be missed. As Cheng regales us with her intoxicating wide-eyed storytelling we are mesmerized by her constantly shifting body postures and martial arts moves that mostly include a Samurai sword. 
      This work is richly textured with high energy, pathos and lots of hilarious moments. The audience sits in rapt attention throughout exploding in bursts of laughter as Ms. Cheng injects her monologue with searingly well  aimed and timed bon mots.

Theatre Esprit Asia presents
Rick Foster's Dust Storm (in rep with Spirit & Sworded Treks)
Directed by Warren Sherrill.
Maria Cheng's Spirit & Sworded Treks (in rep with Dust Storm)
Directed by Maria Cheng & Tria Xiong
*mature adult language.May 30 - June 23Tickets are available by calling 303-856-7830 or online at All performances are held at Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010 Marlowe's Musings