Monday, May 27, 2019


Abby Apple Boes and Damon Guerrasio 
(photo credit: Rachel D. Graham)

     Playwright Josh Hartwell has done an admirable job with his intriguing new play, QUEEN OF CONSPIRACY.  More than just an homage to conspiracy theorist Mae Brussell, the play is an exhortation for us as individuals to pay attention to our politics and to take action when we begin to connect the dots. No matter which president or political official has been assassinated the government commissions never tell the people the truth. We never get a valid explanation of which individual or group of individuals committed the crime. So even if a conspiracy theorist makes a few errors, it’s heartening when one like Ms. Brussell strikes a bulls eye with something as important as Watergate.
      Denver favorite Abby Apple Boes turns in a brilliant performance as Mae Brussell. 
     Bill Hahn delivers a sober intellectual and a hilariously quirky airhead professor with consummate skill.
     With his curly black wig and rocker swag, Damon Guerrasio is a superb dead ringer for Frank Zappa.
    Heather Lacy plays Olivia, a devotee of Ms. Brussel, whose daughter,Rachel, played by Chloe Mcleod, gradually emulates. Ms. Lacy stepped in at the last minute to take the place of an injured actor, who was prevented from appearing due to her injury. Ms. McLeod played Joan in Miners Alley's critically aclaimed production of "FUN HOME."
    You will remember Sinjiin Jones, who portrays Carson, Chloe’s boy friend, for his fine performance in "DISTRICT MERCHANTS."
    Jonathan Scott McKean did his usual magic with the scenic design. He is aided in no small part by Elizabeth Scott-McKean’s scenic dressing, which places us solidly in the 1970s.     
     Scott McKean also did the dynamic sound design, which accompanied by Vance McKenzie’s dramatic lighting design, conspire (sorry) to create explosive snapshots that rivet.
     Director Len Matheo has cast the show impeccably.
    Conspiracy theory is all over the internet, yet this is the first this reviewer has heard of Ms. Brussell. Always interested in this phenomenon, one wishes to know more about her.
    This play will send you racing for your computer to learn more about Ms. Brussell. In the process you may run across Nancy Lieder, a contemporary conspiracy theorist who channels a race of aliens known as the Zeta Reticuli. Ms. Lieder discusses connections to everything from national elections to an upcoming planetary collision with an asteroid on            

                          Truth or fiction? You decide.
     QUEEN OF CONSPIRACY deserves your attendance. Don’t miss it.

Miners Alley Playhouse 
The World Premiere of
"Queen of Conspiracy" 
The compelling, untold, and true story of Mae Brussell, considered to be the one-time Queen of Conspiracy.
May 17 – June 23
Thurs./Fri. /Sat. at 7:30 p.m.; Sun. at 2 p.m.
$17 - $32 
Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, CO 80401
303-935-3044 or online at

Saturday, May 25, 2019



   I had the great good luck of getting to interview Central City Opera’s General/Artistic Director, Pelham (Pat) Pearce the other day and the excitement  was palpable as  he described the upcoming season at Central City Opera.
      In honor of the 200thanniversary of Herman Melville’s birth, Central City Opera is presenting the Colorado Premiere of Benjamin Britten’s maritime masterpiece, “Billy Budd.” (It is this critic's not so humble opinion that this production of "BILLY BUDD" will be the piece de resistance this summer. Do not miss it!)
          Pearce has focused on bringing the works of Britten to Central City Opera over the last 22 years. In fact, his intention is to bring the entire Britten canon to this historic 500-seat jewel box opera house.
     Starting with “Gloriana” and ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Pearce went on to produce “Paul Bunyan,” “Curlew River,” “The Rape of Lucretia,” “The Turn of the Screw”, “The Prodigal Son,” and “The Burning Fiery Furnace.”
     “Billy Budd” is based upon the novel by Herman Melville, and the libretto was written by Eric Crozier and E.M. Forster. This production will be conducted by John Baril with stage direction by Ken Cazan.
     Daniel Norman will sing Captain Vere, John Claggart will be sung by Kevin Burdette and Joshua Hopkins will perform the role of Billy Budd. 
    Pearce said, “since the stage at the Central City Opera House is not large enough to contain a British man o’ war, co-set designers, David Martin Jacques and Tahishi Kata are being required to use all kinds of modern technology to create the look of the show. They’ve spent a small fortune on rope to create the climbable rigging.” 
     Set in the time period of the Napoleonic wars, the costumes will be time specific.
     Performances of Billy Budd will run from July 6 through August 4. (Exact dates and times may be found on the Central City Opera website.)

(Hopefully you've already got your tickets. Word on the street is that BILLY BUDD is going to blow the roof off!!) 

    One of the best loved operas in the repertoire, Puccini’s exquisite “Madama Butterfly” was last performed by Central City Opera in 2010.
     This year Cio-Cio San will be sung by Raquel Gonzalez, Suzuki by Annie Rosen and Pinkerton by Cody Austin. Sharpless will be performed by Troy Cook. 
    Pearce said that “director Alison Moritz puts her own spin on this classic by allowing us as audience to see the proceedings through a sepia-toned palette, recalling the photographs of the time when Japan opened its doors to the West.”
     Adam Turner, who was recently named Artistic Director for Virginia Opera, will conduct.
     There will also be a double bill: “The Blessed Damozel” by Claude Debussy and “Litanies to the Black Virgin” composed by Francis Poulenc. These two exquisite works will be sung by an all-female cast in French and semi-staged at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. They both feature the women of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program. Pearce said that “those who wish to experience these beauties had better call soon as tickets are selling like hot cakes.”
     Central City Opera is also featuring “ENCORE,” an evening of sensational Broadway tunes at the Opera House on August 3rdand 6th, featuring Colorado favorite, Jennifer De Dominici. CCO debuted this ear-pleasing evening last season and it’s back by popular demand.
     Central City Opera is the fifth oldest opera company in the country and has been in operation since 1932. Besides enthralling Colorado audiences, it has attracted national and international attention with its operatic offerings. 
      The Central City Opera House was built in 1878 by Robert Roeschlaub, the architect who also built the Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver.
 It’s graced by the magnificent trompe l’oeil murals by San Francisco artist, John C. Massman. This venue provides an intimacy that’s hard to come by. When it first opened its doors there was no such thing as air conditioning. As a result many famous actors chose to leave the heat of New York City’s asphalt jungle to perform in plays in the fresh, cool atmosphere of Central City, Colorado.
     Lillian Gish christened the newly restored opera house with “Camille,” beginning the tradition of the annual summer festivals we have today. 
     Some of the other stars who have played at Central City summer festivals are: Beverly Sills, Helen Hayes and Samuel Ramey. Walter Huston played Othello with his wife, Nan Sunderland as Desdemona at the opera house in 1934.
     There are numerous hauntings reported in the area; so if you happen to be a Ghostbuster you have a whole new world to explore when you’re not at the opera.  
      If you’re a history fan, there’s lots to discover about this town. After gold was discovered at Gregory’s Gulch in 1859 there was a gold rush that added 10,000 people to the little town. In 1871 the Republican convention found its way to Central City and the rowdy participants (200 of them) found themselves unceremoniously dumped from an upper level into an office on the first floor. Luckily no one was injured.
      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the intimacy of the Central City Opera house provides an up close and personal delivery of the repertoire of Grand Opera as well as the very best gems of American Opera. 
     Whether you’re an opera virgin or a jaded culture vulture, it’s this reviewer’s not so humble opinion that Central City Opera is the most consistently excellent producer of operas in Colorado. 
     In an interview some fifteen or sixteen seasons ago Artistic Director Emeritus, John Moriarty told me that Meredith Willson got the inspiration to write “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” while having a cocktail at the Teller House right next door to the Opera House. And don’t forget to check out Herndon Davis’ stunning 1936 painting now known as “The Face on the Barroom Floor” while having your own cocktail at The Teller House. Ever since the Gold Rush of 1859, Central City, Colorado has been known as “the richest square mile on earth.” Now, however, the mother lode is Central City Opera. The gems are its glorious operatic productions.
     There is the usual parking available in the Opera Company’s parking lot as well as free parking in the garage at Century Casino. Kevin Taylor is serving dinner upstairs next door to the opera house and there is the usual light fare at the Teller House and in the casinos. Get your rezzers early because they fill up early on opera evenings.
      Pearce concluded by saying, “We’re going to make magic this summer. Come up and experience the unforgettable! It’s a good eclectic season with something for everyone.”     
             See you at the opera!

For more information, visit or follow CCO on Facebook, Instagram (@ccityopera) and Twitter (@ccityopera). Use the hashtag #CentralCityOpera to engage. For tickets,
email or call (303) 292-6700. 
Marlowe's Musings

Monday, May 20, 2019

   Based upon the Academy Award-winning 1991 Disney animated film, DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST premiered on Broadway in 1994. In 1998 it received the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in London.
     Dear reader, I must tell you here and now that this review is going to be a long list of accolades for an outstanding full-on production that’s unforgettable.
     Enchanting Lilliane Buonacore, who played Ariel in last season’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a fetching Belle. Her ribbon of silk voice, which Ursula clearly did not get to keep, is la crème de la crème.
     Cole LaFonte, who played Prince Eric in last season’s THE LITTLE MERMAID, is the Beast. As powerful displaying his fiery anger as he is poignant being “tamed” by Belle’s reading to him about King Arthur, LaFonte is a commanding presence onstage.
    Illuminating the proceedings with his candle labra-like hands, Bob Hoppe is smashing as Lumiere. This superb musical theatre actor ‘waxes’(sorry!) poetic as he leads all the Beast’s very animated kitchen utensils in an elaborately conceived and executed version of “BE OUR GUEST.”  
     Scott Severtson’s performance in the role of the arrogant, narcissistic and self-absorbed Gaston, is, as usual, top-notch. Belle’s unrelenting suitor, who refuses to stop stalking her, Gaston is the character we love to hate. Flexing, posing and swaggering throughout, Severtson nails this character with consummate skill. 
     In yet another outstanding performance, Tracy Warren delivers an indelible portrayal of Mrs. Potts. This multitalented actor’s singing of the title song, “Beauty and the Beast,” is delicious to the ear. 
     Wayne Kennedy plays Maurice, Belle’s kindly inventor father as well as providing us as audience with a masterful sound design. The “bone-headed inventiveness” of Maurice’s newest contraption is eye-and-ear-popping- all on its own. And whether the wolves are howling or the Beast is roaring, Kennedy’s design delivers the goods with clarity and ease.      
     Scott Beyette is most memorable as Cogsworth.
     Danielle Scheib is a deliciously comical and sexy Babette.
     Leo Batlle is both goofy and amusing as Gaston’s fawning sidekick, Le Fou.
     Alicia K. Meyers and Matthew D. Peters share credit for direction and choreography. As co-directors these two artists keep the stage alive with vibrant action throughout. Likewise, their success in the realm of choreography ranges from the exuberant tankard-clanking dance in “Gaston,” to the gorgeous ballroom dance for which this show is famous. The duo even allows for a bit of tap dancing in one number.
      Thanks to Tom Quinn’s projections BDT Stage’s production has a certain visual fluidity akin to that which one finds in cinema. Mr. Quinn’s visual illusions allow for the child in each and all in attendance to be swept, wide-eyed and mystified, into this beloved fairy tale. The decorative illustration of the rose on the stage frontispiece at the top of the show is a wonder all on its own. 
   This production also leans heavily upon the delight created by stage magicians. At certain junctures in the story a sparkling cloth appears before the objects in a scene. And Presto/Change-O, the drape is instantly drawn away leaving some new wonder for us to discover. These quick flashes of magical legerdemain involving stage transformation work beautifully. The ultimate transformation of beast to prince is something altogether different. It’s a masterful stroke of theatrical magic! No spoilers here! 
     Linda Morken’s costume design is a knock-out! The visually spectacular gown Belle wears for the famous waltz near final curtain is simply gorgeous. Those she created for all the other characters are eye-popping!
     Amy Campion has done an outstanding job with the scenic design. Her creation of Belle’s village is enchanting. The Beast’s castle is an architectural wonder that’s awe-inspiring.
     Brett Maughan’s lighting design is magnificent!
     The prosthetics for the show are created and designed by stage make-up magician Todd Debreceni.
     The memorable and tuneful score for this romantic fairy tale by Alan Menken, Tim Rice and Howard Ashman, is played with true musical virtuosity by Neal Dunfee and the BDT Stage orchestra.

   Exhilarating and enchanting, the joie de vivre of this production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is infectious. 

                                Run to see it.
Marlowe's Musings

Call 303-449-6000 or go online at for tickets

Saturday, May 11, 2019

May 7 – June 8

     A stylistic mash-up of a comedy of manners and a farce, Noel Coward first produced HAY FEVER in 1925.
     Eccentricities abound as the members of the Bliss family invite guests to spend a weekend in their English country home. Each and all have invited someone special without the knowledge of any of the others.
     Leroy Leonard plays David, A self-proclaimed ‘writer of bad novels,’ his wife, Judith (Michelle Moore), a retired actress, and their two spoiled adult children, subject their four guests to a tortuous weekend of witty madness and social malaise. 
    Linda Suttle plays Clara, the maid ‘of many hats,’ who having been Judith’s dresser during her stage career, stitches the play together with just the right contrasting British propriety. As always it is a great pleasure to see Ms. Suttle onstage.
     From awkward introductions to charade-like parlour games, nearly everything is a cue for theatrical excess and flamboyant dramatic expression!         
     Judith’s semaphore-like gestures, accompanied by heightened operatic-like posing, verge on those one remembers from silent films.
     Leroy Leonard(David), Michelle Moore(Judith) and Anne Smith Myers(Myra) are the standouts in this genuinely fine cast. Seen previously in an outstanding performance as the young Helen Keller in Firehouse Theater's "The Miracle Worker," Hannah Lee Ford is hilarious as Sorel Bliss.
     New to this reviewer, Greg Palmer  deserves special mention as Simon.
     Owen T. Niland ( Richard) and Andrew Horsford (Sandy) round out this wonderful cast.
     Ed Baierlein, who brings this hilarious old war horse to life with deft direction, also designed the beautifully appointed set.
     Known for her superb work as a costume designer, Sallie Diamond outdoes herself with frocks, kimonos and flapper apparel of the outrageously funny variety.
     Having seen this show on first preview one can only imagine how delightful it will become upon subsequent viewings.
     Germinal Stage Denver’s production of HAY FEVER comes with high recommendations from this critic’s desk!
     Run to see it!

Ed Baierlein, wife Sallie Diamond and Ginger Valone opened the original Germinal Stage-Denver at 1820 Market St. on Nov. 7, 1974. The company operated for 25 years at 44thand Alcott St. and, after four years of producing in Westminster, Germinal Stage is delighted to have found its new home in Lowry. Marlowe's Musings

Germinal Stage “Hay Fever”
The hilarious comedy of bad manners.
May 10 – June 8
Fri./Sat. at 7:30 p.m. ; Sun. at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets $17 - $25
303-455-7108 or
@ John Hand Theater is located at 7653 East 1st Place, Denver, Colorado 80230