Wednesday, July 31, 2013

                              Sordid Lives
              Illumination Theatre Productions: 7/26 – 8/17
            Todd Black Emma Messenger, LuAnn Buckstein and Shahara Ostrand

                     “Sordid Lives” is a Tacky Party with a Heart of Gold!

     And whether you want to admit it or not, beneath all the slapstick and the broad strokes of humor there is a truly beautiful piece of social commentary on the need for love and acceptance and equal rights for gay men and women the world over.

     Playwright Del Shores has chosen a moment in which the matriarch of a Suthuhn family of great dysfunction dies to begin his very funny black comedy. Sissy(Todd Black) is tryin’ her best to stop smokin’ with the aid of a rubber band snap to the wrist every time the temptation arises. At the top of the play Noleta (Emma Messenger) is bringin’ in her casserole and cryin’ like a rat eatin’ onions. Then we get introduced to the other very colorful family members.

     Standouts are Matthew Link as Ty, Latrelle’s actor son who is finally coming to terms with his sexual orientation and Kevin Leonard as Brother Boy, the gay son who was institutionalized by this bunch of nut cakes twenty three years ago because of his penchant for transvestism. Mr. Link gets to hand us the beating heart of the show as Mr. Leonard tears up our funny bones. Leonard’s scene with Dr. Eve (Boni McIntyre) in which he fights off the repulsive idea of dehomosexualization is a hoot! The cast also includes local favorites LuAnn Buckstein, Boni McIntyre, and Patrick Brownson.

     Del Shores has a real handle on the homophobia that courses through the veins of conservative redneck religionists. Given his eye and ear for the religious bigotry and ignorance in Texas family values you can be pretty well assured that a very fun ‘outing’ is awaiting you at The John Hand Theatre.

     If the production is a little rough around the edges technically speaking you will forgive all as soon as director Bernie Cardell and this shamelessly funny cast hit your funny bone at full tilt!

     There’s nothin’ like a wacky, tacky black comedy to make you forget the tragic events of workin’ at the office all week. This play will mind erase every trace of office mayhem and melodrama and comes highly recommended for this reason.

July 26 through August 17 at 7:30 pm at the John Hand Theater, 7653 E. 1st Place, Denver, CO 80230.Marlowe's Musings

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

House of Blue Leaves
The Edge Theatre Company: 7/19 – 8/11
                   Top to Bottom: Kelly Uhlenhoop, Tom Auclair and Missy Moore (photo credit Rachel Graham RDG Photography)

     Playwright John Guare set his play “The House of Blue Leaves” in 1965 in Queens on the day that Pope Paul VI came to visit New York City. It’s a richly layered black comedy whose main character is a zookeeper who dreams of success as a Hollywood song writer. His wife Bananas is a schizophrenic who, over medicated to the point that she can feel nothing, is destined for a mental institution.
             Guare’s play is a sometimes funny/sometimes tragic kaleidoscopic vision of a number of diverse realities colliding on that day in 1965.
     Tom Auclair as the wannabe song writer turns in a thoroughly enjoyable performance. Auclair is a very fine actor who is finally being seen in a part that showcases his artistic talent. Bravo!
      Missy Moore is outstanding as the schizophrenic wife who is struggling to regain her former self and her former feeling nature. Her intentionally pathetic appearance includes dull stringy hair and a body language that reflects bi-polar to the max. Missy Moore’s performance is bar none the most exquisitely heartfelt performance of the new season. For this reason alone you should run to get tickets.
     Kelly Uhlenhoop is outrageously hilarious as Bunny, the romantic interest outside the marriage providing all the wifely duties except! Ms. Uhlenhop proves that she really knows how to make an entrance…and then hold the intentionally over the top comedic energy of this character solidly throughout the show.
      Zack Page turns in a passionate monologue with brio and assuredness.
     Samara Bridwell provides infectious fun in her portrayal of a hearing impaired actor who finds it difficult navigating the waters of this odd collection of characters.
     Director Scott Bellot has not only cast the show impeccably, his pacing allows for the humor inherent in Mr. Guare’s script to blossom, flower and explode right on schedule. In director Bellot’s capable hands the integration of these characters and their individual dreams unifies into such an incredibly nonlinear whole that it becomes a very strong hologram descriptive of this single specific day in New York. 
The Edge Theatre
"The House of Blue Leaves"
July 19 - Aug 4
Thurs. (beginning July 25); Fri./Sat. @ 8 p.m.; Sun. @ 6 p.m.
Tickets: $22 adult / $18 student & seniors
*303-232-0363 or online at
*The Edge Theatre, 1560 Teller Street, Suite 200, Lakewood CO 80214. Free Parking.Marlowe's Musings

Monday, July 15, 2013

Arvada Center: 7/5 – 7/28

   “Curtains,”the whodunit musical comedy by Kander and Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, Grand Hotel), is currently knocking em dead at Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities.  The musical numbers are sensational and the cast is full of the best musical talent in town.

     As Carmen Bernstein the producer of “Robbing Hood,” the not yet ready for Broadway show within the show, Megan Van De Hey delivers an outrageously well-acted and sung performance. When the over the top dud of a diva, Jessica Cranshaw, played superbly by Mercedes Perez, is murdered it seems the show may have hope. Nevertheless…a plethora of glitches continues to plague this production as detective Frank Cioffi (Jim Poulos)… makes the entire cast stay on the premises while he grills each actor to find the murderer.

     Jeff Roark turns in a performance that’s full of deliciously sung ballads including a magnificent rendition of “I Miss the Music.”
Left to right: Colin Alexander, Megan Van De Hey, Jeffrey Roark and Lauren Shealy. Photo P. Switzer

      Colin Alexander is a stitch as Christopher Belling, the harried director. His character has all the best lines and he delivers them flawlessly.

     Besides the aforementioned actors some of the musical theater actors standing out in a cast that is across the board FABOO are: Erica Sweany, Lauren Shealy, Mark Rubald, Scott Severtson,  and Michael Gold. 

     This reviewer thought that “Curtains” would have a rod (Get it?) Lansberry director’s credit. Not so! This time it’s director Gavin Mayer who’s responsible for the superior casting and hilarious break-neck pacing.

     Clare Henkel’s costumes, especially those created for Ms. Van de Hey, are stunning!

     The music direction by David Nehls – he also appears briefly in a very funny moment on stage! – is the professional work Denver audiences have come to expect of him.

     The choreography by Kitty Skillman HIlsabeck is exhilarating.

     The score is delightfully infectious and you will want to run out and buy the original Broadway cast CD if you don’t have it already.

     “Curtains” is full of hysterical gags and beautifully drawn theatrical stereotypes. If you’re even the slightest bit savvy about the world of the theatre you will be buckled over with laughter. It’s a flawless evening that will have you humming the tune for the scrum diddly musical number, “Show People” at final er “Curtain.”

For tickets go to or call 720-898-7200.
Marlowe's Musings

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Minimum Wage
The Avenue Theatre: 6/21 – 8/3
     When you go to see “Minimum Wage,” being touted as “a rip roaring a Capella musical comedy directed by Nick Sugar” please know that you’re applying for a job in the wonderful world of fast food. And like the burgers these soda jerks flip you will be grilled at final curtain. That’s right. There’s a test.
     The cast of pickle slicers and high tech griddle technicians is very fine indeed. It includes: Michael Bouchard, Keegan C. Flaugh, Damon Guerrasio, Abby McInerney and Carter Edward Smith.
     Damian  Guerrasio is especially good with his machine gun patter about “Hamburgerology”. Michael Bouchard is in fine voice and a whirlwind of creative energy. The whole cast delivers a seemingly limitless variety of sly winks and grins as each and all do everything in their power to gain our indulgence for this cheesy fast-paced romp. Keegan C. Flaugh appears in one scene as Kookie the clown, a somewhat thinly veiled homage to Ronald Mc you know who. Ms. McInerney and Mr. Smith come to this musical after appearing in the critically acclaimed production of “Hair” also directed and choreographed by Mr. Sugar.
     The singing of the a Capella tunes is AWESOME! The music is ear-popping throughout and to quote the lyricist “as infectious as a yeast infection.”
     The harmonies are delightful and one supposes that the very young at Art will find the evening especially entertaining.
     The choreography by Mr. Sugar is as goofy as the cartoon French fries and smiley-faced hot dogs adorning Tina Anderson’s Happy Burger scenic design.
Left to right: Keegan C. Flaugh, Michael Bouchard, Abby McInerney and Carter Edward Smith
     There are several nuggets of humor served up in this offering. However … to paraphrase burger boys and girls the world over the book for this musical is 'a few fries short of the proverbial happy meal.’
     The songs near final curtain start to feel as though the show might have had a brain had the writers started with them and then super-sized them. 
     In a nutshell the show really cuts the mustard musically. Just remember to turn your brain off when you silence your cell phone.

For tickets call the Avenue Theatre Box Office: 303-321-5925
Or go online at
The Avenue Theatre is located at 417 East 17th Avenue, Denver, ColoradoMarlowe's Musings


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Our Town, the opera
Central City Opera: 7/6 – 7/28

     Central City Opera makes Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” sing! How lucky we are to have this superb opera company bringing us yet another in a long list of little known gems of the American Opera!
                                                     Vale Rideout
     Vale Rideout is outstanding in his singing of the role of the Stage Manager. His voice is powerful and his stage presence commanding. William Ferguson and Anna Christy endear as young lovers, George Gibbs and Emily Webb.
                                     William Ferguson and Anna Christy
     Ned Rorem’s score heightens the emotional impact of this piece more than ever before. Rorem begins the musical phrasing for each scene with a dissonant chord hinting at the fatalistic and segueing into the rich warm harmonics reminiscent of Aaron Copland’s Americana.
        Stage director Ken Cazan gives the proceedings a thoughtful pacing that is neither too halting nor too hurried. Nevertheless … in his capable directorial hands the three acts seem to fly by in the same way Emily’s life does. Director Cazan and his cast and crew make us feel the sweet sadness of the quick passage of time as never before.
                                        Vale Rideout and Anna Christy
     Christopher Zemliauskas’ conducting of that luscious Central City Opera orchestra commands the greatest respect. It is to be hoped that Mr. Zemliauskas will continue to be featured on a regular basis at Central City Opera.
     The innovative use of the minimalist furnishings together with David Jacques’ sublime lighting design and projections enhance the proceedings immeasurably.
Ned Rorem’s opera reiterates Wilder’s core concept that the saddest thing in life is not being present enough to be filled with awe and wonder upon seeing the magic and the miracles of everyday life.

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.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Patrick Marber's award-winning play is now at Vintage Theatre, 14th and Dayton in Aurora.

Vintage Theatre: 6/28 – 7/21
     “Closer” won the 1998 Olivier Award for Best Play and it also garnered the 1999 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play. It’s also been translated into thirty some languages and provided the basis for a blockbuster film in 2004.
     With Bernie Cardell as director one may rightly assume that there will be superb acting and direction.  And there is! Cardell has assembled a sexy and talented cast who, inhabit these soulless characters with brio and panache. 
Erica Fox, Casey Andree, Haley Johnson and Eric Mather (foto credit Denver Mind Media)

The ensemble includes: Eric Mather, Haley Johnson, Casey Andree and Erica Fox. Besides the fine casting Cardell has paced the show at a nice clip. If Patrick Marber’s play had a heart one might describe director Cardell as the consummate pacemaker. But it does not.
     The ensemble is outstanding in its depiction of persons of the young and lusty variety whose favorite songs must be Pat Benatar’s “Sex As a Weapon” and “Love is a Battlefield.”
 We are so accustomed to Eric Mather’s quick delightful comic ability this role is quite a departure. As an obituary writer Casey Andree allows us constant glimpses of his character’s vulnerability. Always watchable, Haley Johnson turns in a performance of layered nuance.
     Newcomer Erica Fox is riveting as Alice, the stripper. One must be sure to search for her in the programs of any upcoming show.
     The play is hot, sultry, in your face salaciousness.
Vintage Theatre presents
June 28 - July 21
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m.
$25 ($20 advance)
303-856-7830 or online at
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010Marlowe's Musings

Central City Opera

“The Barber of Seville”
Central City Opera: 6/29 – 7/27

     Central City Opera’s production of Rossini’s comic masterpiece “The Barber of Seville” is a feast for the ear and the eye!
                     Daniel Belcher as Figaro

     2010 Grammy Award Winner Daniel Belcher portrays Figaro, the matchmaking barber of Seville. You may remember Mr. Belcher from his superlative performances as the sly “Gianni Schicci” (2011) and Henry Cuffe in “Gloriana”(2001).
         Jennifer Rivera as Rosina

     Jennifer Rivera is a fetching and silver throated Rosina. Her singing of the coloratura passages in Rossini’s gloriously melodic score is intoxicating.
     The role of Rosina’s guardian, Doctor Bartolo is hilariously acted and thoroughly well sung by bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi. You may remember Mr. Carfizzi from his astounding work as Bottom in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”(2002), Pandolfe in Cendrillon (2007) and the Doctor in “Vanessa” (2005). 
     David Portillo is a memorable Count Almaviva. Alexandra Loutsion igives a strong vocal portrayal of Berte. One hopes to see and hear more of her work in future.
     John Baril conducts the Central City Opera orchestra with a baton that keeps the musicians in the pit and the singers onstage in perfect sync.
     Suggestive of  a festive 17th century Spain, Sara Jean Tosetti’s outrageously well-designed costumes are eye-popping throughout. David Martin Jacques’ lighting design dazzles. Scenic Designer Arnulfo Maldonado has created a magnificent set that has the songbird Rosina residing in a huge gilded birdcage.

       The opera is performed in Italian with English supertitles.
Central City Opera 2013 Festival - Tickets on Sale Now!
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 Thornton Wilder's play Our Town about not-so-ordinary life in small town America is the second offering opening July 6 and running at the Opera House through July 28.

Show Boat at Denver's Buell Theatre - August 6 to 11
Central City Opera comes to Denver for seven consecutive performances of Show Boat, Kern and Hammerstein II's Broadway classic slice-of-life musical of workers on a Mississippi showboat at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex from Tuesday, Aug. 6 to Sunday, Aug. 11.

In addition to its slate of operas for 2013, CCO will continue to present innovative initiatives that will engage a broader audience with exciting enhancements to the Festival experience. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 303-292-6700.

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.


Marlowe's Musings