GetBoulder.com http://getboulder.com The Website of Boulder Magazine Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:01:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 75973608 Theater Review: The Great American Trailer Park Musical http://getboulder.com/theater-review-the-great-american-trailer-park-musical/ Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:01:31 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13207 by Beki Pineda THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL – Music and Lyrics by David Nehls; Book by Betsy Kelso; Directed by Deb Flomberg-Rollins. Produced by Equinox Theatre Denver (Presented at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo, Denver) through August 31. Tickets available at 720-984-0781 or equinoxtheatredenver.com. It’s delightful to see local boy David Nehls’ silly but […]

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by Beki Pineda

THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL – Music and Lyrics by David Nehls; Book by Betsy Kelso; Directed by Deb Flomberg-Rollins. Produced by Equinox Theatre Denver (Presented at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo, Denver) through August 31. Tickets available at 720-984-0781 or equinoxtheatredenver.com.

It’s delightful to see local boy David Nehls’ silly but sweet musical get another production after quite a few years. It’s the kind of lighthearted swipe at redneck Americana that we can all laugh at because we recognize ourselves in this small group of people. These are folk who all have problems and yet, as they sing, “make like a nail and press on.” They may poke fun at each other but when the time comes, they also support and help one another. I wouldn’t mind having them as my neighbors on “This Side of the Tracks.”

As you enter the theatre, you see the set for Armadillo Acres which is comprised of the butt ends of three extremely well constructed trailers set up on cinder blocks with the adornment of pink flamingos, a beer keg, year round Christmas lights, and three webbed lounge chairs that match the paint colors of the trailers. I wonder which came first – the trailer’s color or the chairs?? Soon three of the park’s residents show up to sun with home-made tanning screens. They explain about their lives in song. Lin has a husband on Death Row that she keeps alive by keeping all the lights on in the park so the prison doesn’t have enough power to run the electric chair. Pickles is prone to hysterical pregnancies and is described as being “dumber than a box of hair.” Betty has “her” own set of problems as well. These three act as a Greek chorus to the shenanigans on stage, explaining to the audience what’s going on and the various back stories of the other characters.

Jeannie and her husband Norbert are going through a rough spell because of Jeannie’s agoraphobia. She hasn’t set foot outside their trailer in the last twenty years – ever since her baby was stolen out of their front yard. Norbert has gotten a pair of Ice Capade tickets for their anniversary and wants her to make an effort to get over her fixation so she can go with him. The routine of their lives is turned upside down by the arrival of Pippa the Strippa who is on the run from an abusive husband. From then on, we get caught up in the trials and troubles of all of the residents as they try to solve their personal problems and help each other. All delightfully tongue in cheek and cheeky, racy and raunchy without being vulgar. Not for the kids but a great delight to the sold out adult audience on a recent Saturday night.

Equinox has attracted a top notch cast for this little romp. The three girls telling the story are Anna Sturtz as a robust and hearty Lin, Shelby Taylor is a dim but sweet Pickles, and Colin Roybal (yes, you read that right) is the heavily made up leader of the group, Betty. Bussy Gower is a surprisingly experienced stripper and pretty enough to make any guy think twice about cheating on his wife. Zachary Vaughn and Tracy Denver are the couple in trouble. Tracy is especially convincing as she tries to take a step out of her sheltered life and in her anger at Norbert as he is tempted. The seventh character is Duke, Pippi’s husband who makes his way across country to find her. Surprisingly, it turns out he has a connection to Armadillo Acres no one could predict. Carter Edward Smith spectacularly breaks out of his usual sort of nebbish-y roles to play a rough and tumble paint-sniffing hoodlum on a mission.

The four piece backstage band led by Kelly Bidstrup Graham did an especially fine job with this set of music. While it was occasionally difficult to make out all the lyrics, the music came across clear and strong.

I have to give heartfelt congratulations to Equinox. They have created a whole new audience from the North Denver neighborhood they live in and have found a niche that suits them and their audience. TRAILER PARK is typical of the kind of show they do so well – very silly and a little raunchy. The last few times I’ve attended their shows the house has been full or nearly full which means they have found what their audience likes and continue to do it well. Finding extra chairs to seat everyone!! What a sweet problem to have. Congrats, Colin and Deb!! Their next show – SWEENEY TODD – should be a treasure!

A WOW factor of 8.5!!

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Theater Review: Richard III http://getboulder.com/theater-review-richard-iii-2/ Tue, 13 Aug 2019 19:18:50 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13201 by Beki Pineda RICHARD III – Written by William Shakespeare; Directed by Veronica Straight-Lingo. Produced by Lost and Found Productions (presented at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 East 1st Place, Denver) through August 17. Tickets available at 303-420-8080 or lostandfoundproductions.net. Everyone who produces Shakespeare is always looking for a new way to present his stories. Lost and […]

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by Beki Pineda

RICHARD III – Written by William Shakespeare; Directed by Veronica Straight-Lingo. Produced by Lost and Found Productions (presented at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 East 1st Place, Denver) through August 17. Tickets available at 303-420-8080 or lostandfoundproductions.net.

Everyone who produces Shakespeare is always looking for a new way to present his stories. Lost and Found Productions produces gender-bending versions of Shakespeare’s plays giving the actors a chance to be miscast and perform in roles in which they would normally never be cast. Thus allowing this current group of 13 talented actors to take on the bloody tale of Richard and give a slightly different spin to the story. A recent production with a female Hamlet at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival allowed the character to be female, which added a completely different relationship between her and Ophelia. No concession is made in this production for gender. Margaret Norwood playing  Richard wears short hair to play the role, the major concession to masculinity. All of the actors played the male parts as male and the female roles traditionally. And the story got told.

Richard’s promise to “snarl and bite” at the end of Shakespeare’s version of the Henry trilogy is fulfilled in his continuation of Richard’s story. His path to the throne was unlikely and fueled by his own ambition as much as by royal lineage. As the youngest son in a large royal family, his ascension to a position of power faced many difficulties. His father, brothers and cousins fought their way through the War of the Roses until, in 1461, his eldest brother was crowned Edward IV. Through the remaining battles between contingencies of the York and Lancaster clans, Richard remained loyal to his brother and reaped the financial and societal benefits from that loyalty. He displayed the strength in battle and disdain for position that earned him a reputation as cold-blooded. Marrying Anne Neville solidified his lineage and gave him additional financial resources, even though he had been instrumental in the death of her husband. It is at this point that the play picks up and we follow his two year reign, ending on the bloody fields of Bosworth. “My horse, my horse, my kingdom for a horse.”

Shakespeare’s version of this history reinforces the English belief that a king needs to be both strong in character and have an accredited lineage. Richard was strong but his coronation did not happen because of his family. He had to crawl over their bodies and exercise great personal ambition to get to the crown. The battle between the houses of York and Lancaster remained awash with blood until they were finally united in marriage by his successor. This production aptly illustrates the difficulties and politics of his short-lived reign.

Commendable work was done by the actors of Lost and Found. Special kudos to the performance of Margaret Norwood who leads the company of players and makes a commanding Richard. They did allow master Light Designer Kevin Taylor and Sound Designer Rick Reid into their group to add their enhancement to the production. Taylor’s gentle touch with the lights created moody castle corridors out of a bare stage and added greatly to the final battle scene. Reid’s background sounds included trumpet flourishes and battle noises as well, taking us deeper into the scene. The set design included a pair of beautiful thrones to denote the privy chambers of Richard and other pieces that moved in and out to create the streets and locations needed. It was a little disconcerting at times to see, for instance, the pretty Linda Swanson Brown as Queen Elizabeth in one scene and then trying to play an undistinguished street person in the next. Realizing the difficulty of it, it would have been nice to have a slightly larger company so there was a clear “ensemble” for the smaller roles, allowing the major players to concentrate on their one character. However, after the first few times of watching players transform themselves from one character to another through costume, posture and attitude, it became easier to discern.

A WOW factor of 8!!

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Theater Review: Shorn http://getboulder.com/theater-review-shorn/ Tue, 13 Aug 2019 19:15:28 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13199 by Beki Pineda SHORN – Written by Nora Douglass; Directed by Madge Montgomery. Presented by Theater Company of Lafayette (300 East Simpson Street, Lafayette) through August 17. Tickets available at 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org. For a small theatre to take on a brand new script is an incredible act of bravery. Most are struggling to keep the […]

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by Beki Pineda

SHORN – Written by Nora Douglass; Directed by Madge Montgomery. Presented by Theater Company of Lafayette (300 East Simpson Street, Lafayette) through August 17. Tickets available at 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org.

For a small theatre to take on a brand new script is an incredible act of bravery. Most are struggling to keep the doors open and must provide entertainment to their fan base that is funny and known. While there are comic moments in SHORN, it would not generally be considered either funny or certainly not known. Yet TCL took it on and did a great job with a meaningful script.

In an unnamed isolated land, a war has been going on in the distance for a long time. So long that it is taken for granted. Getting closer at times with bombs exploding only miles down the road; then moving further away. But rarely interrupting the day to day life of an older woman and the refugee from the war she has opted to care for. A nearly grown man, he keeps her company and helps the other women in the village with chores in return for food, even though he is silent and cannot speak. Lena, the mother figure, describes him as “his muscles are way ahead of his brain.” Into this tranquil existence, another throw-away character falls. A woman, shamed and beaten by the village women for her “disgraceful” behavior, is left at Lena’s doorstep and becomes the third in this small family. As secrets unfold and motives are revealed, the family grows closer together and learns to support one another. Until a final secret turns out to be the straw that breaks the family’s back and the young people must make decisions about their future.

Nora Douglass has written a strong script that tells a compelling story. The three actors who bring this to life for the first time have found both the humor and the pathos in the situations described. The varying allegiances and wavering loyalties throughout the performance are strongly motivated and humanly presented. As the boundaries of the war shift around them, the geography of their relationships alter as well. But the strength of the family proves to be stronger than the outside forces that bombard them. It is nice to think that this would not be a myth in a real life situation and that people would help each other survive in times of need.

The part of Lena is not specifically written with any ethnic characteristics, but in this version was played by the Asian looking Munam Goodwyn to great effect. It placed the story and Lena’s house somewhere in Southeast Asia even though her orphans were accent-less and mid-American looking. Munam brought great empathy and appropriately genuine grief to her part. While her heavy accent made it difficult to understand the dialogue at times, you always knew where her heart and her mind were going. Claire is the orphan girl whose tough demeanor belies a heart of gold and a backbone of steel. Diana Quetti brings Claire to life with gusto and an exuberance that is compelling. August is played by Brandon Phelps who looks younger on stage than he does in real life. As the tennis ball being batted back and forth by these two women, he manages to play both sides and both realities with ease.

The story is set in front of Lena’s house with its rickety chairs and hidden compartments being designed by Maria Aki and painted by Chris Pash. Some very nice work is done by Tom Priestley as the Sound and Light Designer in his portrayal of a distant but ominous war through the effective use of light and sound. He used his talent to create beautiful quiet mood moments on stage for the actors that boosted the story telling. Director Madge Montgomery did something with the scene changes that I wish other director’s would emulate. The scene would finish and the lights would go darker, but not all the way to blackout. The actors would sit in the last scene for a few more seconds, denoting a passage of time. Then, in character, move to the beginning of the next scene. Time had clearly passed but the actors did not hurriedly move around the stage; all movement was done with deliberation and purpose. It allowed the audience to absorb what had just happened and gently follow the actors into the next scene.  ust exactly the right treatment for this piece.

For those of you who have not yet found the Mary Miller Theatre, it is housed in a building from 1892 built and named for the founder of Lafayette. Constructed originally as a church, it has in turn been a hospital and a library until it was fitted out several  years ago as a theatre and became the home of TCL. It is worth the drive and not that far from Boulder to see this new and powerful production. But you’ve only got one weekend left.  Jump on it.

A WOW factor of 8.5!!

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Theater Review: It’s Not You, It’s Me http://getboulder.com/theater-review-its-not-you-its-me/ Tue, 13 Aug 2019 19:12:30 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13197 by Beki Pineda IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME – Written by the Second City Touring Company; Directed by Jen Ellison. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Cabaret (Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis, Denver) through August 25. Tickets available at 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org. The Second City is the founding family of the very active […]

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by Beki Pineda

IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME – Written by the Second City Touring Company; Directed by Jen Ellison. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Cabaret (Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis, Denver) through August 25. Tickets available at 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org.

The Second City is the founding family of the very active comedy/improv scene in Chicago. Formed  in 1959 as a training program for comedians based on theatre games, it has been cranking out comedy revues ever since to great success. Their alumni list reads like a Who’s Who of modern comedy. Anyone who is any one in the field of comedic writing, acting or improv has done a stint at Second City. And now one of their three touring companies has landed in Denver for a month’s engagement at the Denver Center. It’s like our own very funny Saturday Night Live performance every night. The troupe uses a mix of improv exercises to provide commentary on contemporary happenings and people.This particular set focuses on male/female relationships and has as its banner the most used break up line of all. Which usually really means “It’s not ME, It’s YOU.”

The jokes are fast and furious in this quick moving examination of the gaps in understanding between the sexes. Improv at its best is hit and miss, so they wisely intersperse short scripted sketches of varying lengths. Original comic musical numbers, such as “Maybe Your Baby is Gay,” spice up the performance. When you are laughing, it’s hard to take notes about what you are laughing at and I’ve never been good at remembering jokes. But I do remember a long sketch about coffee shop shenanigans, a two-hander over a barbeque pit when a brother discovers that the man his sister is marrying is gay, a pair of eggs questioning the audience about parts of the female human body, a twerking tyrannosaurus,  and a unique description of gluten intolerance. Sorry, my hand was shaking so hard from laughing, I can’t read my own writing. So needless to say, the audience had a really good time on opening night. Oh, I just remembered one of the jokes. Maybe they won’t mind if I spoil just one joke. A man and his girlfriend are excitedly talking about the pending results of a pregnancy test. The guy suggests that they simultaneously shout out what they hope the results will be. One – Two – Three and he shouts out, “Girl” while she shouts out “Negative!!” A little break in communication there. The quick little 30 second black out jokes and longer sketches will have your cheeks sore from laughing by nights end.

The performers are graduates of the Second City Conservatory and, between them, have 45  years experience in performing improv. So is it any wonder that they work so seamlessly together, picking up cues from a look or a laugh or a code word. Second City currently has 38 members in their three touring companies and I think we got the best. Meghan Babbe, Kiley Fitzgerald and Jackie Southee hold up the female end of the comic conversations while Evan Mills, George Owens and Jordan Stafford keep up the male perspective.

An absolutely perfect date night!! Adult entertainment (leave the kids at home) without being raunchy. And did I mention how funny they are?? They are!!

A WOW factor of 9!!

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Theater Review: Anastasia http://getboulder.com/theater-review-anastasia/ Tue, 13 Aug 2019 19:09:08 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13195 by Beki Pineda ANASTASIA – Music by Stephen Flaherty; Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens; Book by Terrence McNally; Directed by Darko Tresnjak. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Broadway (Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis, Denver) through August 18. Tickets available at 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org.  Let’s get it straight from the beginning: The story of ANASTASIA […]

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by Beki Pineda

ANASTASIA – Music by Stephen Flaherty; Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens; Book by Terrence McNally; Directed by Darko Tresnjak. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Broadway (Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis, Denver) through August 18. Tickets available at 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org. 

Let’s get it straight from the beginning: The story of ANASTASIA is as much of a myth, a legend, as LITTLE MERMAID or CINDERELLA. While based on a real person,  17-year-old Anastasia Nikolaevna of the House of Romanov sadly died with the rest of her family during an assassination attack at the hands of revolutionaries. The legend of her escape from this murder was fueled by the fact that her body was disposed of in a different place from the rest of her family and by the desire of loyalists to believe that the whole family was not destroyed. But her remains were found and confirmed by DNA as proof that she died with the rest of her family. But the legend lives on in film and now in a musical based on the same story.

ANASTASIA is one of the most beautiful shows you’ll ever see. Start with the costumes designed by Tony winner Linda Cho.  As magnificent as the Romanovs look in the commercials advertising the show, under the lights with the diamonds sparkling, the dancers glitter like enchanted snow angels. The story moves from 1918 Russia to 1920’s Paris, realizing the best of fashion in the gowns and uniforms of the royalty and the night club costumes of the Russian emigrates in Paris. Anastasia’s clothing transforms from relentlessly drab as she surfaces from the streets of St. Petersburg to spectacular as she is presented to Parisian society.

The collaboration among the scenic designer, Tony winner Alexander Dodge; the lighting designer Donald Holder; and, most significantly, Projection Designer Aaron Rhyne creates stage pictures unlike anything seen to date. Rhyne is able to achieve special effects with projections that must be seen to be believed. An explosion that seems to throw debris out into the audience, the point of view during a train ride that changes six times to illustrate the different places the actors are standing on the train, a bridge in St. Petersburg that changes from day to glorious night with street lights illuminating the river, a elevator ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower . . . and so many more that breathtakingly support the story being told. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on the stage is the scene during which the original Ball is recreated after the assassination during which Anya dances among the ghosts of her family. The basic set design featured three large arches that, with the addition of different doors and gates and a new image projected behind then, became palaces, Depression-torn streets and government buildings as needed. Stage technology jumped forward at least a decade with the work done by these three brilliant technicians.

The book and music is a delightful pastiche of past shows while remaining authentic and original to the legend. The number “Learn to Do It” brought back memories of “I Could Have Danced All Night” from MY FAIR LADY in tone. As they board the train taking them out of Russia, the three travelers turn to view their home land for what will probably be the last time and express their emotions in a song reminiscent of the last scene from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.  he second act finds new excitement with the arrival of Countess Lily, the lady-in-waiting to the Dowager Empress, Anastasia’s grandmother. Her down to earth approach to her royalty and its near uselessness in Paris enhances a nightclub scene in “Land of Yesterday” and reminds one of the arrival of Muzzy in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. But none of this diminishes the charm of this story and these performances.

Lila Coogan does a lovely job of transforming Anya slowly from a street sweeper to a duchess with total credibility. The awakening of memories, the growing awareness of her attraction to Dmitry, the tension between her and the villainous Gleb, the gentleness between her and her grandmother were all performed with grace. Stephen Brower as one of the two con men determined to pass Anya off as the Duchess in order to collect a reward makes an appealing young lover who awakens Anya to the possibility of a quiet future. Comic relief was provided with great style by Tara Kelly as the rambunctious Countess Lily and Edward Staudenmayer as Vlad, the other con man who has shared a history with Lily in the past. They jointly take great pleasure in renewing their flirty relationship when they meet again in Paris. Once they come together on the stage, the audience can’t wait for each new appearance as the energy rivets up several notches when they are on stage. Joy Franz gives a poignant performance as the faithful Dowager Empress who keeps the candle on for Anastasia despite the onslaught of imposters. Appearing  younger in the early scenes with the young Anastasia, her later appearance denotes the toll the loss of her entire family has taken on her. Gleb, the government official charged with hunting down the possible Anastasia and finishing the assassination, is Jason Michael Evans. Ironically, Gleb was the real name of the son of the real loyal doctor who died in service to the royal family – certainly not one who would have sought to “finish the job.”

Those who have enjoyed the musically animated movie also scored by Flaherty and Ahrens from 1997 will rejoice in the six songs which repeat in the musical version and enjoy the new songs. When Anya and her friends arrive in Paris, they seek to  introduce her to her grandmother at the Ballet, allowing for a magnificent interlude of real ballet as sections of “Swan Lake” is danced for their enjoyment. A breathtaking performance by Lyrica Woodruff, Mark MacKillop and Ronnie S. Bowman, Jr. enhance this portion of the evening.

Enjoy this performance of ANASTASIA for the joy it can bring you today and watch the future of technical theatre come alive in front of you.

A WOW factor of 9.5!!

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Theater Review: Jerry’s Girls http://getboulder.com/theater-review-jerrys-girls/ Fri, 26 Jul 2019 19:32:05 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13188 by Beki Pineda JERRY’S GIRLS – Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman; Directed by Kelly Van Oosbree. Produced by Vintage Theatre Productions (presented at The Barth Hotel, 1514 17th Street, Denver) through August 3. Tickets available at 303-595-4464 x 10 or SeniorHousingOptions.org. In 1991, John Ashton, Denver producer/director/actor, was looking for a place to stage HOT […]

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by Beki Pineda

JERRY’S GIRLS – Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman; Directed by Kelly Van Oosbree. Produced by Vintage Theatre Productions (presented at The Barth Hotel, 1514 17th Street, Denver) through August 3. Tickets available at 303-595-4464 x 10 or SeniorHousingOptions.org.

In 1991, John Ashton, Denver producer/director/actor, was looking for a place to stage HOT L BALTIMORE when he drove by the Barth Hotel on the corner of 17th and Market in downtown Denver and noticed that their marquee over the front door had exactly 15 glass inserts in the front. Just the number needed to convert it to announce the name of the play. He negotiated a deal to make the play a fundraiser for Senior Housing Options, the organization that owned the property and provided housing for 62 disabled and indigent residents. That first year they raised $17,000 for a new air conditioning system. It took another 17 years before the space was used again as a theatre with the remounting of HOT L BALTIMORE in 2008. Since then the lobby of the hotel has hosted a theatre production every summer as a fundraiser.

This year Vintage Theatre has enlisted the talents of three magnificent singers and an extremely talented piano player to perform the musical revue of Jerry Herman’s songs called JERRY’S GIRLS for this unique production. Utilizing the tiny space very well and using their unamplified voices, Anna High, Isabelle Duran and Abby McInerney regaled their audience with selections from Herman’s brilliant career. Herman started writing music professionally in college and had his first off-Broadway revue of miscellaneous songs he had written in school in 1954. Another revue entitled PARADE debuted in 1960 featured a song called “Two a Day” which is included in this script. He finally made it to Broadway in 1960 with another musical revue, but it wasn’t until 1961 when his first full blown musical MILK AND HONEY debuted that he felt successful. This was followed in short order by HELLO DOLLY!, MAME, and MACK AND MABEL. JERRY’S GIRLS as a revue of Herman’s music was first put together in 1981 by Larry Alford, who expanded it in 1984 to include songs from Herman’s new show, the wildly successful LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. Originally written for four female singers and a chorus, it toured the country (including Denver) with Carol Channing, Leslie Uggams, and Andrea McArdle in the leads before its long successful run on Broadway In 1985.

The version at the Barth features the now usual three singers and has utilized the option of re-organizing and reducing the number of songs from the original playlist to make the show as long or as short as you like. The current evening took out eight songs and keeps the evening to a tidy 100 minutes. Just enough time to highlight the delightful voices and song stylings of these three extremely talented ladies. HELLO DOLLY! Is featured heavily with seven of the most popular songs from that score including “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and the title song. Another seven songs come from the MAME playbook which also includes the title song, the novelty song between Mame and Vera, “Bosom Buddies,” and the heartbreaking “If He Walked Into My Life” sung by Anna. MACK AND MABEL is a musical not often done about the lives and loves of Mabel Normand, a silent movie star, and her mentor and lover, Mack Sennett. But it has a clever and witty score about the making of movies and the doomed love affair between the two. This evening includes five songs from this score which featured “Wherever He Ain’t” with Abby as Mabel singing about what a rat Mack is. Anna responds with Mack’s song warning Mabel that “I Won’t Send Roses.”

DEAR WORLD (Herman’s musical version of THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT), the early MILK AND HONEY and the musical revue PARADE are each represented with a song. A DAY IN HOLLYWOOD/A NIGHT IN THE UKRAINE gets two songs including the spoof of Nelson Eddy sung by Isabelle as Jeannette McDonald and the plea to “Just Go To The Movies” when you’re in a bad mood. The show finishes off with the anthem songs from LA CAGE – “I Am What I Am” sung by Anna and “The Best of Times is Now” harmonized by all three singers. The musical accompaniment for the evening is played on a small spinet piano by Eric Weinstein.

Every one of Herman’s musicals lists “Music and Lyrics by . . .” making this a true tribute to the living legend he has become in the theatrical world. He received the Kennedy Center Honor the same year as Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey. He has won three Tony’s including one for Lifetime Achievement and two Grammy’s. This  homage to his work is indeed merited and joyfully presented by this talented cast.

The Barth is surrounded by good restaurants and is in itself a charming and historical edifice. Make an evening of it and see JERRY’S GIRLS perform. But hurry – only one weekend left!

A WOW factor of 8.5!

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Theater Review: The Full Monty http://getboulder.com/theater-review-the-full-monty/ Fri, 26 Jul 2019 19:27:59 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13186 by Beki Pineda THE FULL MONTY –  Book by Terrence McNally; Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek; Directed by Kelly McAllister. Produced by Parker Arts and Sasquatch Productions (presented at Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, 20000 East Pikes Peak, Parker) through August 4. Tickets available at 303-805-6800 or ParkerArts.org. The boys of FULL MONTY […]

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by Beki Pineda

THE FULL MONTY –  Book by Terrence McNally; Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek; Directed by Kelly McAllister. Produced by Parker Arts and Sasquatch Productions (presented at Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, 20000 East Pikes Peak, Parker) through August 4. Tickets available at 303-805-6800 or ParkerArts.org.

The boys of FULL MONTY have got the goods!! No doubt about it. It is truly amazing how this lovely script takes a racy idea and turns it into a uplifting rewarding tale of redemption and pride. Watching these six men go from fear and uneasiness to determination and power to “Let It Go” brings tears to your eyes as you watch not only their characters move to bravery, but also the men playing the characters who have to undergo the same journey. I’ve been a part of a production of FULL MONTY (not this one) and witnessed how the men waited till the last possible moment to rehearse the final 30 Monty seconds and had to “close the set” to get through it the first time. Baring it all on stage is hard – I don’t care who is doing it. So, Bravo, gentlemen!!

MONTY is about a set of men who have all lost their jobs when the local factory closed. This has created a multitude of individual problems for them in addition to the generic lack of money. Jerry (August Stoten) needs money to catch up his child support before he loses visitation rights to his young son. Dave (Brandon Bill) is delegated to “house husband” and is shamed by it and his weight. Harold (Nick James Johnson) has a wife who likes pretty things. He has maxed out his credit cards because he’s afraid to tell her he lost his job. Malcolm (Parker Fowler) is so depressed by his life that he tries to commit suicide. Horse (Asad Clinton) is a gifted dancer who is growing older and wants to be known as more than a “ Big Black Man.” Ethan, the last to join the troop, dreams of dancing up the wall like Donald O’Connor but admits that he has only a single asset to offer that has more to do with swinging than dancing. The boys are joined in their rehearsals by experienced accompanist Jeanette (Barbara Porreco) who is full of wisecracks and encouragement.

In addition to being an inspiring story, it’s a really good musical. The songs by David Yazbek run the gamut from beautiful ballads like “You Walk With Me” sung at Malcolm’s mother’s funeral and “You Rule My World” sung to sleeping wives to delightful novelty songs, such as “Big Ass Rock” when three of the players are contemplating the best way to commit suicide. “First you get a big ass rock!” Jeannette, the piano player, extols her experience playing for former singers like Frank Sinatra in a funny song simply titled “Jeannette’s Showbiz Number.” Barbara Porreco totally sold this song with her casual ‘been there-done that’ attitude. The boys rocked out on “Michael Jordan’s Ball” as they used basketball moves to teach themselves to dance.  Using actual balls on stage is a dangerous game as they often become uncontrollable. But the boys handle the balls as well as they do everything else. Watch for a delightful surprise in this number as the basketballs are delivered to the stage. Vicki, Harold’s wife played by Danielle Hermon Wood expresses her joy of having a “Life With Harold” that is full of travel and beautiful gifts. Jessica Sotwick plays the raucous Georgie, Dave’s wife,  who organized the Chippendale-type show that gave the guys the idea in the first place. Their hired dancer – played by Jalen Smith – gets the show started off with a jolt. Brandon Bill gives an inspired performance as Dave, the dancer concerned about his weight. His fear of ridicule and hesitancy in the beginning makes his acceptance and determination  at the end all the more triumphant.

The technical side of the show displayed professionalism as well with a Scenic Design by Shaun Albrechtson, lighting by Seth Allison, and costumes by Jessie Page. Choreographer Sabrina Gentry created just the right balance in the dance routines that authentically portrayed non-dancers learning to dance. The big finale showed improvement and style without converting them to Gene Kellys overnight.

This is the inaugural production of Sasquatch Productions, the brainchild of Kelly McAllister (the right leg) as Director and August Stoten (the left leg) as Assistant Director and lead actor. Using a team of top designers and experienced performers, they have created a fun theatre evening for their audiences. They are off to a great start; I look forward to their next production.

A WOW factor of 8.5!!

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Theater Review: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory http://getboulder.com/theater-review-charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory/ Tue, 16 Jul 2019 20:36:35 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13158 by Beki Pineda CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY – Book by David Greig; Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyrics by Scott Wittman and March Shaiman; Directed by Jack O’Brien. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Broadway (Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis, Denver) through July 28. Tickets available at 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org. Supremely confident, […]

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by Beki Pineda

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY – Book by David Greig; Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyrics by Scott Wittman and March Shaiman; Directed by Jack O’Brien. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Broadway (Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis, Denver) through July 28. Tickets available at 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org.

Supremely confident, very talented (but young) Noah Weisberg introduces his character – Willy Wonka – to the audience with “The Candy Man” as he prepares to disguise himself as a candy store owner who only sells Wonka products. Willy has decided he is old enough to think about leaving his vast candy factory to someone who will appreciate it and continue on his line of creative candies. Charlie Bucket wanders into the store and is excited to see all his favorite Wonka candy; he gets one bar a year on his birthday. He learns about the contest that is going on that allows five lucky people a chance to tour Willy Wonka’s amazing factory if they can find the Golden Tickets wrapped around the candy. Of course, Charlie finds the last Golden Ticket and wins the coveted tour.

Written as a morality play which illustrates that bad things happen to bad people (who in this case, just happen to be kids), the four other Golden Ticket winners are spoiled, greedy, and undisciplined. Augustus Gloop is a chubby child pampered by his folk-dancing mother and allowed to eat anything he likes. It just gives her “More of Him to Love.” Then we have Veruca Salt, a ballet dancing Russian diva with her father wrapped firmly around her finger. Next comes Violet Beauregarde, a rapping “Queen of Pop” (the pop being her chewing gum – it’s what she’s known for). And lastly, Mike Teavee is a contemporary kid wrapped up in his “devices” and game playing. The audience cheered when Willy stepped on his phone! It doesn’t take Charlie and Willy long to connect and discover they are brothers bonded in chocolate. Each of the other kids are destroyed in a scenario of their own making; a little harsh but it certainly makes the point. We soon see Charlie and Willy floating over London and enjoying “The View from Here.” Happy ending – except for the naughty children . . .  which, by the way, are played by adult actors. The only actual child in the cast is the one of three boys who plays Charlie at different performances (Rueby Wood on opening night).

While the footage of the London production shows an extravagant chocolate factory full of dangerous devices and tricky special effects, the touring version leaves more to the imagination of the audience. The sets and projections still provide colorful accompaniment to the music and action on stage, but there are also parts of the story that demand an imaginative approach. For this viewer, the most creative aspect to the story was the delightful way they created the Oompa Loompas, Willy’s factory workers.  In the two previous movies, they were orange-ish little people who sang and danced their way through their daily chores. Would be hard to find that many little people who could tour — so they devised the best set of singing, dancing puppets you’ve ever seen. What an incredible work of coordination this had to have been to get all of these puppet creatures to work together and synchronize their TAP dancing. Their sequences are worth the price of the ticket right there!!

This is a bright and beautiful production which will delight the children in your family while engaging the adults in the multilayered moral lessons being taught from Dahl’s source material. It combines aspects of both the Gene Wilder version and the later Johnny Depp/Tim Burton movie while creating an all new theatrical version. Four years in London and nine months on Broadway allowed the producers to refine the confectionery tale down to its sweet essence and save the best for the current touring version.

Willy sings a song to end Act I called “It Must Be Believed to Be Seen,” a reverse take on the old saying. It couldn’t help but remind me of a sweet scene I witnessed over thirty years ago at the old Bonfils theatre. The bill of fare was a children’s theatre production called “The Invisible People” about a little girl who was helped out of a difficult family situation by her group of invisible friends. The premise being that if you didn’t believe in invisible people, you couldn’t see them. During the meet-and-greet with the cast members after the show, one little boy shyly shook the hand of one of the “invisible” actors and turned to his mother to ask, “I can see him, Mommy. Can you??” It must be believed to be seen. That’s theatre.

A WOW factor of 8.5!!

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Theater Review: The Wedding Singer http://getboulder.com/theater-review-the-wedding-singer/ Tue, 16 Jul 2019 20:27:56 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13156 by Beki Pineda THE WEDDING SINGER – Book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy; Music by Matthew Sklar; Lyrics by Chad Beguilin; Directed by Ashley Ellen Frary. Produced by Evergreen Players (CentreStage Theatre, 27608 Fireweed Drive, Evergreen) through August 4. Tickets available at 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org. I so enjoy going up the hill to visit Evergreen […]

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by Beki Pineda

THE WEDDING SINGER – Book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy; Music by Matthew Sklar; Lyrics by Chad Beguilin; Directed by Ashley Ellen Frary. Produced by Evergreen Players (CentreStage Theatre, 27608 Fireweed Drive, Evergreen) through August 4. Tickets available at 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org.

I so enjoy going up the hill to visit Evergreen Players every once and awhile. It’s lovely to get out of the city on a hot summer evening and drive into the green coolness that lies over the hill. When you include Evergreen Players in your plans, you see a shining example of what real community theatre looks like. The same family names appear over and over again in the programs as parents surrender their places on stage to their children. The diversity of their community allows them to cast age appropriate. When the script calls for a Grandma, there’s a talented older woman available. Same with children. These kids have been attending rehearsals with their parents since infancy, so when a kid is called for, there are plenty available. WEDDING SINGER is no exception. While most of the cast is people of the marrying age, Robby, the wedding singer, lives with his Grandma Rosie. The talented Lisa Cole filled the shoes of the rapping Grandma. It’s just fun to watch them all playing together.

The musical is, of course, based on the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore movie from 1998 set in 1985 New Jersey (read big hair and taffeta bridesmaid dresses). The musical retains the sweetness and nostalgia of the movie while lightening the load of cheesiness. This script takes a very short throw-away scene from the movie with Robbie in a dumpster after he gets in a fight at a wedding and turns it into one of the sweetest scenes of the show. Instead of taking place on the plane going to Vegas, in the musical, the ending was set in the Chapel of Love in Las Vegas with Ronald Reagan. Joan Jett, Imelda Marcos and Billy Idol (retained from the movie) impersonators present. But, for the most part, the musical is faithful to the movie. This means it’s a feel-good rom-com all the way.

Led by Andy Seracuse as winsome Robby Hart, the show starts off with a rousing wedding scene whose costumes and hair styles place it solidly in the era. Taylor Hadra channels Drew Barrymore’s wistful demeanor and way of speaking. It took her a little while to get wound up on opening night, but by the middle of Act One, she was in full voice and powerful. Robbie’s fellow band members are played by Jeremiah Martinez as an over-the-top Jersey Boy – think Situation in his 40’s – and Thomas Gerlick as a Boy George wannabe. Linda, the “skanky wh—,” who stood Robbie up on their wedding day is given sleazy life by Kimberly Matthews, matched only by the #MeToo defying Glen, Julia’s slimy fiancé, played by Jimmy Luthye. All of these are backed up by a dance ensemble of twelve laying it all on the line for each number.

The stage hands and cast members had obviously rehearsed the scene changes as much as the musical numbers as they happened with speed and efficiency, a must when there are multiple sets in a small theatre. The six piece band kept the music going between scenes to make the changes fun to watch and provided a solid background for all the musical numbers. Additionally they served as a warm up getting the audience in the right mood before the show by playing sing-along oldies. The costumes – including at least three wedding dresses and multiple sets of colored tuxedos!! – were bright and shiny and kept the story in the 80’s without a word being said. The set – obviously a collaboration between builder Biz Schauguard and Director Ashley Ellen Frary – was simple, mobile, and got the job done.

Treat yourself to a short trip into the foothills for a dinner and show in Evergreen on one of these cool summer evenings. You won’t regret it.

A WOW factor of 8!!

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Theater Review: Fairfield http://getboulder.com/13153-2/ Tue, 16 Jul 2019 20:23:03 +0000 http://getboulder.com/?p=13153 by Beki Pineda FAIRFIELD – Written by Eric Coble; Directed by Jada Suzanne Dixon. Produced by Miners Alley Playhouse (1224 Washington, Golden) through August 18. Tickets available at 303-935-3044 or MinersAlley.com. Denver is familiar with the writings of Eric Coble from past performances of his scripts at Denver theatres. Curious Theatre has presented THE DEAD […]

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by Beki Pineda

FAIRFIELD – Written by Eric Coble; Directed by Jada Suzanne Dixon. Produced by Miners Alley Playhouse (1224 Washington, Golden) through August 18. Tickets available at 303-935-3044 or MinersAlley.com.

Denver is familiar with the writings of Eric Coble from past performances of his scripts at Denver theatres. Curious Theatre has presented THE DEAD GUY (world premiere), FOR BETTER and BRIGHT IDEAS. The Avenue Theatre did their own production of BRIGHT IDEAS and the Denver Center has presented his adaptation of THE GIVER. Mr. Coble’s script for FAIRFIELD is political incorrectness carried to the nth degree. Everyone in this volatile situation allows their mouths to override their brain. Personal considerations rule over common sense, creating a situation where a childish altercation gets blown out of proportion . . . to greatly comic results.

A first year teacher (Adeline Mann – who looks and kind of acts like the child in The Bad Seed) and a principal with a new assignment in a liberal diverse school (Sheryl McCallum) both use extremely poor judgement in their Black History Month celebration. No matter how Principal Wadley tries to control the situation and head off the disaster in the making, she is thwarted on all sides. This leads to an incident between two first-graders which, in turn, leads to difficulties between the two sets of parents. Which then leads to a succession of confrontations that disintegrate into chaos. The audience finds themselves saying, “Can they say that?” and “Oh, no, you didn’t just do that!” Even the most well-meaning of attempts turns bad. Principal Wadley tries to explain the true meaning of Black History Month in an assembly at school and continues to shoot herself in the foot. “It’s about ignoring skin color. By pointing it out. And celebrating it. Then moving beyond it. In March.”  In an effort to get the celebration back on track, she invites a veteran of the civil rights wars to come speak to the students, only to discover belatedly that he was a Black Panther who encourages the elementary students to rise up against their honky teachers.

The Flemmingsen parents are portrayed by Brian Landis Folkins (finally back on a Denver stage) and MacKenzie Beyer. He reacts with macho indignation and male determination to sort things out. She takes a more conciliatory tone and worries about what the other family must be thinking. The Stubbs are given comic life by the always brilliant Kristina Fountaine and Sinjin Jones (you’ll remember them both from DISTRICT MERCHANT). These characters talk one way in the privacy of their homes and another in the public domain of the school . . . until everything begins to break down. Then street talking trash becomes the favored method of communication. The thin veneer of civilized behavior quickly melts away when their kids are involved. Think GOD OF CARNAGE with the race card being played every other speech – both Black and White. And yet these are all basically good caring people who just want what is best for their kids. Just to give you an idea of the extremes to which this set of situations devolves, the theatre had to bring in a Fight Choreographer to stage the last scene!!

What a cast! We have come to know Sheryl McCallum as a talented singer in her recent performances at the Denver Center and Aurora Fox. But her role as Principal Wadley proves she is more than her voice as she brings strength, exasperation and anxiety to her role. Watching her slowly begin to fall apart and finally snap is the greater fun of the show. She is brought to this frantic state of mind by the actions of her brand new first grade teacher, Adeline Mann as Laurie Kaminski, niece of the Superintendent of Schools and an over-enthusiastic educator. In one role-playing exercise she has her mixed race first grade students’ take on the roles of masters and slaves from the Civil War. Need I say more? Adeline’s innocent looks cover a devious mind as she plays both sets of parents against each other in an effort to solidify her own position. Brian and MacKenzie’s characters are so far apart in philosophy that he soon finds himself in agreement with Kristina while MacKenzie and Sinjin find common ground. Each of the characters has an arc throughout the play that seems to ultimately land them right back where they started from. But – oh, the fun of getting there.

In her directorial debut, Jada Suzanne Dixon kept the comedy moving, guided her actors through this mine field of a script, and created an unforgettable production. This is a laugh out loud experience which the audience thoroughly enjoyed. People left shaking their heads and laughing at the absurdity of the situation. But, I hope, went home and started thinking about whether it was all that absurd after all. In the end, the ability to laugh at ourselves and to find common ground in humor can be a great healer. Very subtle, Mr. Coble and Ms. Dixon!!

A WOW factor of 9.5!

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