Thursday, December 21, 2006


The Marie Osmond concert at the Pikes Peak Center is cancelled tonight (Thursday), as are all performances at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

More information for ticketholders, through the miracle of block and copy:
Matinee and evening performances of All Shook Up, along with evening performances of Second City’s How I Lost My Denverginity, A Christmas Carol and Season’s Greetings have all been cancelled. The Denver Center Box Office is closed today as are all DCPA offices. Patrons holding tickets for cancelled performances should call the Denver Center Ticket Services on FRIDAY from 10am – 6pm for exchange information – 303 893-4100.

All Shook Up has added a performance on Monday, December 25 at 8pm in the Buell Theatre.

At this time scheduled performances on Friday, December 22 will go on as planned.

And from the Pikes Peak Center:

The Pikes Peak Center would be happy to exchange Marie Osmond tickets for gift certificates that may be used toward other concerts at the World Arena or Pikes Peak Center or assist guests in selecting tickets for a different concert.

If tickets were purchased at the Pikes Peak Center Box Office or a TicketsWest outlet, refunds will be made available beginning on Monday, Dec. 18th at noon at the location at which tickets were purchased.

Individuals who purchased tickets via phone or Internet, may mail or bring their tickets to the Pikes Peak Center Box Office for refunds. The box office is located at 190 S. Cascade, Colorado Springs, CO 80903.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Amy Sue Hardy Nominated for Ovation Award

As a rule, I try not to hold opinions on topics about which I'm basically ignorant — but this month I’m making an exception. The Denver Post is soliciting reader votes for its annual Ovation Awards (which honor the best theater in Denver and the region) and I’m voting for best actress in a musical even though I saw only one of the nominated performers.

The reason? The actress is Amy Sue Hardy for her performance in the Rep’s production of “The Pirates of Penzance.”

With a theater scene anchored by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver has become one of the best theater cities in the country. Just getting nominated is an honor for Amy Sue, especially when you consider that the other two of Denver's three equity companies — the Arvada Center and Country Dinner Playhouse — specialize in musicals. There was serious professional competition.

I’m justifying my action with a pair of rationalizations:
  1. Even though I didn’t see any of the other nominated actresses, it’s a safe bet that few Denverites saw Amy Sue's performance. So my ignorant advocacy actually helps right a wrong.
  2. I’ve seen a lot of musicals over the years, and Amy Sue’s performance — a mesmerizing mix of virtuosity and charm — was easily among the best. It's unlikely any of the other nominated performers were better.
So at least this once I’m going to be a crass provincial chauvinist. Please join me.

The Ovation Awards will be announced on December 31. Here's the link to the reader's choice awards, and here is John Moore's story on the Ovation Awards.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Back Row at Colorado College

(From Warren Epstein, Gazette A&E editor:)

The Back Row, Colorado College's male a capella group, answered one of those vexing musical questions last weekend at Armstrong Hall.

When Meatloaf sang, "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that," what the heck was he talking about?

During a performance of the song, the group showed slides of the boys doing various domestic chores ... cooking, scrubbing toilets.

It was one of many funny visual punchlines in a concert loaded with hilarious gags and videos, fun pop tunes, serious vocals and the kind of sexually charged crowd that greeted The Beatles when they landed in America. (Only these girls were more aggressive and more explicit about their intentions.)

One the things I love about Back Row is that it makes each member into a local superstar. Some of the guys, particularly one who's a quarterback on the football team, would be cool anyway. But for others, it's a nifty back door to cooldom.

The official Back Row site. You can order copies of the group's "Unleash the Periscope" there.

Review by Contemporary A Cappella Society

Best of College A Cappella 2007 selections announced

The BOCA 2007 CD will be released in February. Pre-ordering info (or you can order individual MP3s now).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Colorado Festival of World Theatre

Rumors have been flying ever since the Colorado Festival of World Theatre released executive director John Sheehan in September. Last night the festival organizers clarified the festival's situation - in a rather amazing way.

It's even more amazing considering the facts as September: Though the 2006 festival had sold 30 percent more tickets and cost $500,000 less than the 2005 festival, it had nevertheless run a deficit. The board had voted to suspend operations immediately.

I'll have the full story in the Gazette next week, but in brief the current situation is this:
  • There will be a festival in 2007, roughly equal in size to the 2006 festival.
  • The festival will take place Sept. 20-30, two months later than this year's festival.
  • The theme will be musical theater. The festival will feature the first American performance of "Truth in Translation" — a new South African musical by Michael Lessac and Hugh Masekela — the Ravinia production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George" (probably), and other works.
  • The festival will partner with local and regional organizations: Colorado College, TheatreWorks, the Fine Arts Center, the Manitou Art Theater, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
The partnerships enable the CFWT to concentrate its resources on bringing in world-class productions without having to keep a technical staff on hand. The local organizations also benefit, according to TheatreWorks artistic director Murray Ross and Colorado College drama professor Tom Lindblade. "We get a little money, which is something we always need," said Ross; Lindblade spoke about the educational opportunities, including ways that the festival could be incorporated into the college's curriculum.

At a reception last night honoring festival supporters, both Lindblade and Ross opined that this was the direction they had hoped the CFWT would take from the very beginning. As Lindblade put it, when Suzy Bassani — the festival's artistic director and producer — approached him about a collaboration, "my first word was 'yes.'"

The new festival structure may result in that rarest of occurences: A win-win-win situation, one that benefits the festival, the partnering organizations, and the community. (Though I am still broken-hearted that the fabulously gifted Sheehan is gone. Not only was he a great ambassador for the festival, he was just a lot of fun to talk with.)

Stay tuned for the full season schedule, which will be released April 4.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Vinyl Records for Sale

Everyone in the arts community knows David Sckolnik as a tireless arts promoter. Not everyone knows he may also be the region's most avid collector of LPs. (The "may be" is simply a weasel term: I'm not aware of anyone whose record collection approaches Sckolnik's in size.)

He's trying to shrink it a little: Starting today and continuing through Saturday, Sckolnik is offering over 8,000 LPs for sale. Most are fifty cents or a dollar. All styles of music are represented - at least, all styles that existed during the LP era, which began in 1948 and was the dominant format for music from the early 1950s until the late 1980s - but the classical selection is especially impressive.

Hours are until midnight today (Thursday); 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday; and 5 p.m.-midnight Saturday. For directions, call 633-9373, 649-8993 or email

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Wonderland" at New Life Church


The last five minutes of “Wonderland,” the Christmas production at New Life Church, are alone worth the price of admission.

Nope, you don’t have to be a New Lifer to enjoy the show. You don’t even have to be religious, although, of course, the underlying message of the show certainly is about religion.

Wonderland has tap dancing, swing dancing, line dancing and ballroom dancing. There is also ice-skating, fog and 30-foot fountains. Then there’s that spectacular ending — a “Little Drummer Boy” segment that’s not at all what one would expect.

“I’m passionate about it being as good as anything else they can see in town,” said producer John Bolin.

No doubt about it, the 14,000-member church has large talent pool from which to draw. The script for the program was written in August, and rehearsals began in September, Bolin said.

About 700 people are involved in this year’s production: a 300-member cast, 300-person choir, 50-person crew and 52-piece orchestra. The only ones being paid are the musicians, some of whom are church members, Bolin said.

“Every year we try to spice it up. I think Christian entertainment sometimes get a bad rap. It kind of breaks people’s preconceived ideas of what to expect in a church.”

Bolin bills Wonderland as half fun for the family and half the story of the manger and Christmas.

“We want it to be a lot of fun, for people who aren’t really religious,” he said, but added: “We do it because we feel compelled to communicate the message of the Gospel to our city and give them hope at Christmastime.”

Bolin estimates between 20,000-25,000 people will see the show — not enough to cover production costs.

“We have yet in the history of the church broken even in a Christmas production,” he said.

Of course, anyone going to Wonderland would be naive to think it wouldn’t be somewhat churchy. And that drum segment? It doesn’t come until after a 10-minute-or-so sermon about hope from Pastor Ross Parsley. But you can walk away from Wonderland with whatever you want: the message New Life seeks to spread or the thought that hey, that was fun, the technical aspects were really good and there’s some very talented people in the city.

“Wonderland” is halfway through its run, with four more shows this week. For tickets:

And no, there was no mention of Pastor Ted Haggard. The show must go on.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Breath Mints

The Pikes Peak Center and Broadway Across America hosted a little schmoozefest on Wednesday at McCabe’s. It wasn’t an arm-twisting affair, consisting mostly of video of talking heads praising the shows.

The coming season looks good, considering what’s touring these days: “Mamma Mia,” Ted Neeley’s farewell tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Aida,” and “The Producers,” which was on last season’s schedule but got postponed because the tour was shut down when the movie went into production. (The season opener, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” — a show I fervently hope never to have to see again — has already come and gone.)

It will be interesting to see how elaborate “Aida” and “The Producers” are — the versions that appeared at the Denver Center were among the most opulent roadshows I’ve ever seen.

There was also a small goodie bag, containing such trinkets as a “Producers” calculator and a few songs from “Mamma Mia.” My favorite was a package of “Aida” breath mints. In both Verdi’s opera and Disney’s musical, the fate of Aida and Radames is to be sealed alive in an airtight crypt. There's something perversely amusing about the juxtaposition of hideous death by suffocation and breath mints.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bill Hyer at Artists' Lair

I meant to do a full preview of Bill Hyer, but didn't get around to it with the Thanksgiving in-laws, etc. But I want to get a plug in for one of the region's most compelling abstract painters. You can lose yourself in the richness of the color and the rhythm of the highly textured brushstrokes. The accompanying picture of "Joy" is good (I swiped it from the invitation), but it doesn't give a sense of the work's size or vibrancy.

Hyer often hides images in his work, though to be honest I've almost never been able to find them. I'm not sure it matters.

The exhibit will be up through January 10. The Artists' Lair is located at 2766 Janitell Road; regular hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; call 576-5247 for more information.

Poets at Smokebrush

The last time I went to a poetry reading was in a previous lifetime, so Tuesday's event at the Smokebrush Foundation was an extra-pleasant surprise for me. The contrast of Malcolm McCollum and Jim Ciletti was extremely effective: McCollum's work is ironic social commentary, while Ciletti's is disarmingly personal. The effect was of spending some quality time with a couple of friends you just hadn't gotten around to meeting yet.

Not even the finest surround-sound home entertainment system can produce this sort of personal effect. But the various home entertainment systems are what the performing arts, and even movie theaters, are up against. For many people, the convenience of staying home outweighs the comparative emotional poverty of the aesthetic experience. (A couple of years ago some marketing expert was quoted to the effect that "Americans will go to any lengths for convenience," apparently without any ironic intent.)

Of course, this trend isn't new. It dates back to the rise of the player piano in the late 19th Century — the first machine that made it possible for a middle-class family to regularly experience music without either going out to hear it or making it themselves. The introduction of commercial radio in 1920 hugely accelerated the trend towards home entertainment: When I first met my wife's aunt, and told her I was a pianist, her reply was, "Oh, when I was a little girl, I was going to learn to play the piano, but then my parents got a radio and I didn't have to. (Italics added.) Interestingly, one of McCollum's poems addressed the growing trend towards pre-digested entertainment, and he remarked how unfortunate it was that the poem was even more relevant now than when he wrote it in the 1970s.

The crowd wasn't huge, but it at least fulfilled optimistic expectations — the folding chairs were almost all filled.