It this a 2014 elevator ride … or 1956?
The cast of the national touring production of Million Dollar Quartet played an afternoon concert at the Hard Rock Cafe in Denver on Wednesday, and it felt all the world like 1956. Take a look at these photos by the Denver Center’s John Moore of the performance.
The performers included Scott Moreau (Johnny Cash), Cody Ray Slaughter (Elvis Presley), John Countryman (Jerry Lee Lewis), Lee Ferris (Carl Perkins), Kelly Lamont (Dyanne), Patrick Morrow (Fluke) and Corey Kaiser (Jay Perkins).
Mary Louise Lee returns to the Denver Center on Tuesday night to sing with the cast of “Million Dollar Quartet.”
By John Moore and Heidi Bosk
Mary Louise Lee regularly blew Denver Center audiences away 20 years ago. Tomorrow night, she will return to her professional roots when she joins the cast of Million Dollar Quartet onstage for a special encore jam session.
The national touring production of the Broadway musical opens in Denver on Tuesday (Feb. 25). Afterward, Lee will join the cast on The Buell Theatre stage as part of a regular series of Million Dollar Quartet jam sessions.
By John Moore
Vince Nappo graduated from the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory in 2005. Now he’s back in town for two weeks, playing Sam Phillips in Million Dollar Quartet, opening Feb. 25 at the Buell Theatre. That’s the Broadway musical that tells the true story of the one and only recording session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
But we just couldn’t wait for them all to get here. So we asked Nappo to answer a few questions and send us the video. Million Dollar Quartet plays through March 9. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org.
Million Dollar Quartet is coming to Denver on Feb. 25, thankyouverymuch. That’s the Broadway musical that tells the true story of the one and only recording session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
We just couldn’t wait for them to get here. So we went ahead and asked their acting namesakes what they are looking forward to about Denver, and one thing they didn’t know about their characters. We’ve sprinkled in a few trivia questions of our own to round out our brief video. (Guess what food dish Johnny Cash was known for preparing?) Thanks to Cody Ray Slaughter (Elvis), John Countryman (Jerry Lee Lewis), Scott Moreau (Johnny Cash) and Lee Ferris (Carl Perkins) for playing along.
Casts and crews from all our national touring productions are encouraged to leave a little piece of themselves behind in the form of wall art that lines (and lines) the basement hallways backstage at the Buell Theatre. Leading the team illustrating “Mamma Mia’s” “Goodbye to Denver” card was Parker native Tucker Worley, who played Pepper. (Click here to read our feature story on Tucker.) The show closed on Sunday. Tucker had help from Danny Lopez and Meghan Glogower.
Kids Night on Broadway allows young people ages 6-18 to see a Broadway show for free right in their own hometowns like Denver, and eat for free beforehand at the Hard Rock Cafe with a paying adult. Activities change according to the host show, but this short video shows the fun we caught before last week’s performance of Cirque Dreams Holidaze, which plays through Dec. 22 at the Buell Theatre.
Our guest is Heidi Bosk of Denver Center Attractions, who administers all
Audio podcast: Ira Glass brings his stage show, which combines the anachronistic art forms of dance and radio, to the Buell Theatre for one night only on Saturday, Dec. 7.
By John Moore
"This American Life," hosted by Ira Glass, is heard each week by more than 1.7 million listeners on more than 500 radio stations around the world, with an additional 1 million listening to the online podcast version.
When given the opportunity to talk to such an iconic voice, you have to let the subject dictate the storytelling form. So I decided to use the occasion of a chat with Glass to resurrect my “Running Lines” audio podcasts, which topped 150 episodes back in 2007 when I worked for The Denver Post.
Words are nice, but you have to admit … when it comes to Glass, you really want to hear that voice. Only you get some visuals, too.
The Book of Mormon national tour made Denver its first city in 2012, its first second city in 2013, and in 2015, it will make Denver its first third city. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The Book of Mormon, which finishes its record-breaking engagement at the Buell Theatre on Sunday, has announced a third Denver visit for Aug. 11-Sept. 13, 2015, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
Denver Center Attractions and Denver Center Theatre Company 2013-14 subscribers will have first access to purchase tickets to the 2015 return. For those patrons, tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, Nov. 20). An exclusive online-only pre-sale for American Express cardmembers will begin at the same time.
Tickets go on sale to the general public, online at the Denver Center box office, at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 25.
"The Book of Mormon" has broken the house record at the Buell Theatre for the week ending Oct. 27, grossing $1,943,740.00 in ticket sales. The Buell opened in 1991.
The musical’s various national tours have broken 41 house records in 20 venues across the country. At Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre, the show broken the house record 45 times.
"The Book of Mormon" is back.
Opening Tuesday and running through Nov. 24 at the Buell Theatre.
Limited seating still available. Don’t get burned by scalpers. Call 303-893-4100 or go to the denver center’s home page
And don’t forget: The show will make 24 tickets front-row, $25 available to at least 12 members of the general public through a daily lottery before all performances. Details here.
By John Moore
As a former Denver Post theatre critic in the Google age, you can’t run, and you can’t hide, from your own words. In most cases, I don’t want to.
When it was annnounced that “Pippin” will launch its national tour in Denver in September 2014, I was immediately reminded of my admittedly cranky review of the 2006 Arvada Center production, headlined, “Pippin bares an ick factor.”
My lead from that review:
A critically-acclaimed international dance production, choreographed by ABC-TVs Emmy-nominated Louis van Amstel of “Dancing With the Stars”, has taken the inevitable next step and is hitting The Buell Theatre stage.
Ballroom with a Twist stars “Dancing With The Stars” celebrity pros Jonathan Roberts and Anna Trebunskaya, Tristan MacManus and Chelsie Hightower; finalists from TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” Randi Lynn Strong, Legacy and Jonathan Platero, and “American Idol” finalist Gina Glocksen and Von Smith.
This evening of pure entertainment for the entire family pushes the boundaries of ballroom dance, infusing it with the intensity of the latest contemporary and “hip-hop” styles. It also is crowned by stunning costumes, magnificent music and breathtaking performances. What’s not to like…?
by Sylvie Drake
With the release of the film made of the musical based on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, and considering that musical’s 33-year record run on stage, one has to ask: Why? Why does this show never seem to lose its luster? Is it the pathos? The action drama? The deep well of sentiment (as opposed to sentimentality) on which it draws? The pervasive heroics and genuine heroism of the piece?
Those blue guys are not aliens; they’re members of Blue Man Group, bringing their energy and enigma to Denver
It’s 10 minutes to show time at a performance of Blue Man Group, and the noise in the theatre is so loud that the audience seems more like a group of revelers at a party than spectators in a theatre. People are boisterous, anticipation is high, the buzz is electric. By the time the Blue Men appear, the audience is screaming with delight.
It’s a scene repeated most nights in New York, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Vegas and wherever Blue Man Group is appearing. How often do you see theatre audiences so revved up at the end of most shows, let alone before one has even begun? The decibel level rises as the evening goes on. By the end, the atmosphere is euphoric.
The Blue Man Group experience is unique and not confined to the United States. There are or have been productions in Tokyo, Toronto, and numerous European cities including Berlin, London, and Amsterdam. Millions of people of all ages and nationalities have seen the show, and countless numbers are repeat visitors. Although the off-Broadway production has been around since 1991, the demand for it is still strong and Blue Man Group has heeded the call with this, its first national tour—a tour that features a combination of the Blue Men’s most popular pieces with fresh material created exclusively for this iteration.
Why all the excitement?
It’s impossible to say exactly. Blue Man Group is totally off the grid—a contemporary comedic piece, performed by three silent, bald-and-blue characters who engage in a variety of set pieces ranging from primitive to sophisticated that combine music, comedy, science, technology and mind-boggling creativity. Just as in old-time vaudeville, they have something for everyone.
“We’ve done surveys to figure out who our audience is, and we’ve found that our demographic ranges from eight to 85 years old,” says Puck Quinn, creative director of character development and appearances. “That’s when we know we’re doing something right. A kid can come to the show and just enjoy the rhythm or the mess or the colors or the spectacle. Adults can come and do the exact same thing, but they might also come away with something to think about. When we do our work well, the show succeeds on multiple levels.”
Amid the riot of colors and music, the eating and flying food, are the LED screens displaying sometimes silly, sometimes witty, sometimes thought-provoking messages. There also is a sonorous pre-recorded voice guiding the audience through clever set pieces about a variety of topics such as modern plumbing, technology and choreography.
But the Blue Man Group show is mostly visual and aural—as opposed to oral. The Men are mute by choice. Language is not an issue, so the show travels well to other countries. Beating paint-covered drums and creating cascades of color has visceral appeal in any culture, and the “feast”—in which a member of the audience joins the Blue Men onstage to dine on… a Twinkie—retains its humor and sweetness wherever it plays.
“I think the reason the show works goes back to our ideas about the character,” says Phil Stanton, co-founder of Blue Man Group with Matt Goldman and Chris Wink all those years ago. “It might sound heady to talk about it this way, but the Blue Man is a kernel of humanity or a kind of Everyman. The blue paint gets rid of race and nationality.”
Adds Quinn: “The show deals with topics and issues that are common to every culture: Communication. Sensory overload. Beating music and heavy rhythm. Dancing. All of that crosses every border. We have things that we want to say, and the message is there if you want to hear it, but we don’t care if you don’t. We just want everyone to have fun.”
The relationship between the Blue Men and the audience is the most intriguing part of this phenomenon. The audience could be considered an additional—and unpredictable—character. It’s not just that a woman from the audience is selected to appear onstage each night to partake in the “feast,” or that a man is chosen to get “Jelloed” (a new verb?) or that viewers in the first few rows are so close to the action that they’re given ponchos to wear in case paint or other stuff lands on them. It’s that the audience response catalyzes the Blue Men. That symbiosis is what fuels the passions of the show’s devoted fans.
“The relationship with the audience is everything,” underscores Matt Goldman, “because at the end of the day, the Blue Man is really just trying to connect. He knows, either intellectually or at gut level, that in order to get to that ecstatic, heightened moment, he must connect with these strangers. That’s why the Blue Man is so respectful [of his viewers]. He wants their trust. It’s all about connection.”
Clearly, Blue Man Group is connecting. Stanton recalls a man who saw the show 70 times (“he wasn’t a weirdo”) and others who’ve seen it 20 or 30 times. “Usually, if people see a play they liked, they’ll tell their friends to go see it,” says Quinn, “but with our show, people want the experience of seeing it with their friends. And that creates energy and intensity from the start…. It’s not a passive experience. It’s more like going to a sporting event.
“I tell people that you don’t really start seeing the layers of the onion peeled back until you see the show for the second or third time. I also think people come back for very specific reasons: they want to really listen to the music or pay attention to a particular moment because they couldn’t quite figure out how it was done. And they come back because they want to see how the show is different from night to night. The other thing is, we change the show. Every couple of years we swap out a whole bunch of material. We want it to be relevant to time and period.”
The national tour should only expand Blue Man Group’s fan base and recidivists will discover a performance quite different from its predecessors.
“We are going to be in large theatres, and that was one of the main impulses for finding another way to deliver a lot of the content,” says Stanton. “We have a new set design, with LED surfaces and LED curtains. It gives the show a completely different look. And we’ve found that we can use the technology to help people focus more.”
The finale—one of Blue Man Group’s most celebrated hallmarks—is now completely new; replacing it, its creators say, took guts.
“We always wanted the show to feel like it was working toward that moment, that ending, when all the things that make us fragmented in the modern world go away and we become one group,” says Stanton. “It’s hinted at in certain places during the show, and that’s what the arc of the evening is about: two cultures encountering each other and realizing by the end that there are no barriers between them….
“There aren’t many places where you can be with strangers and have this shared experience. The new finale has a similar concept, and the same goal: to make the audience look around and encounter other people. Visually, we’re taking it to another level. We hope audiences will find it even more powerful.”
Material for this article is courtesy of the Blue Man Group website.
By Sylvie Drake
For nearly 60 years, he’s usurped Mark Twain’s persona as his mantle and Twain’s perspicacity as his rapier. Both still apply.
Did you know…. that actor Hal Holbrook was a member of the first Lincoln Center Repertory Company (1963), did a whole lot of regional theatre, film and TV, won numerous Emmys, including one for his role as host and narrator of Portrait of America, a five-year cable TV project that garnered the 1984 Peabody?
Of course not.