Highlights of Colorado Theatre – 2016

Bravura Acting, Terrific Dancing Raised Standard for Shows Throughout Colorado in 2016

By Tom Jones, December 29, 2016

Looking back on my notes and reviews from the past year has provided me with renewed appreciation for the talents found on Colorado stages. This website has been very rewarding to me. I am a great fan of Colorado theatre, and it has given me the opportunity to share some of my joys of having seen nearly 50 productions in nearly 20 different venues throughout the state this year, as well as seeing productions of the Utah Shakespeare Theatre Festival in Cedar City, Utah. My wife, Linda, and I are both judges for the Colorado Theatre Guild, seeing many of the Guild’s shows, as reflected on the website.

Some standouts of the past calendar year:

Ralphie to the Rescue. Photo credit Christina Gressinau

Acting Kudos: Christy Brandt and Deb Note-Farewell were dueling divas this year. Brandt for her mesmerizing triumph as the ageing mother with Alzheimer’s in “The History Room” at Creede Repertory Théâtre, and Deb Note-Farwell transitioning to become Maria Callas in “Master Class” at Pop Up Theatre. Rebecca Spafford was terrific as the foul-mouthed, down-on-her luck woman in “The North Plan” at OpenStage. Roles for men were equally challenging, although with highly divergent characters: Steven P. Sickles was wonderful as the conniving Valere in “La Bete,” at OpenStage. Graham Ward was a crazed delight as the young brown-noser student in “Mrs. Mannerly” on stage at the Arvada Center. Also in Arvada, on the main stage, Michael Morgan beguiled the family head (but not the rest of the family nor the audience) as the supposedly humble trickster, “Tartuffe.”

Full cast of Evita at Candlelight. Photo credit Rachel Graham Photography

Musicals: Colleen Johnson literally flew onto the stage Midtown Arts Center version of “Mary Poppins.” “Death Takes a Holiday” was excellent at the Arvada Center. Seles VanHuss became the “Thoroughly Modern Millie” to enchant at Boulder Stage Dinner Theatre. Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins won the Holiday Season with “A Christmas Story.” “Evita” provided an excellent history lesson at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, highlighted by the performance of Matt LaFontaine as Che, the narrator. Of the national touring productions at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” and “Phantom of the Opera’ were both outstanding. Loveland Opera’s version of “The Pirates of Penzance” was another winner.

Comedy and Drama: “The History Room” in Creede, “Mrs. Mannerly” at Arvada Center, “La Bete” and “The North Plan” at OpenStage, “Tartuffe” at Arvada Center,” “Master Class” at Pop Up Theatre were showpieces of excellent acting. Also terrific were “Lost in Yonkers” at Midtown Arts, “Good People” and “Hide Sky” at Bas Bleu. Special note must be given to Bas Bleu for proving the thought-provoking “The Blue Flower.” No, I did not understand all of what transpired, but was amazed nonetheless.

Choreography: A favorite aunt took me to movies from the time I was old enough to walk. This was during World War II when musicals provided great diversion from the wartime worries. I became delighted especially with the footwork. Choreography was terrific in many shows this past year Some of the standouts included the “Step in Time” sensation in “Mary Poppins at Midtown Arts Center. The staging and choreography for the “Speed Test in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in Boulder was a riot of movement. “Ralphie to the Rescue” in MAC’s “A Christmas Story” was great fun. Even a local high school production wowed me. Choreographer Tammy Johnson provided a show-stopping routine to the title song of “Anything Goes” at Mountain View High School in Loveland. The students evidently trained extensively – and their work resulted in an explosion of talent

On the horizon: What is awaiting to enchant us in 2017? Much to look forward to in the coming year.  Here is a sampling of upcoming attractions, most in northern Colorado.

  • Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities: “Bus Stop, “The Drowning Girls,” “Jesus Christ
    Superstar,” and “Waiting for Godot.”
  • Bas Bleu Theatre (Fort Collins):” That Championship Season,” “Blue Kitchen,” “Boeing Boeing.”
  • BDTStage (Boulder): “Disenchanted!” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
  • Candlelight Dinner Playhouse (Johnstown): “Forever Plaid,” “42nd Street,” and “The Slipper And the
  • Creede Repertory Theater: “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “She Loves Me,” “The Coward,” and the world
    premiere of “General Store.”
  • Denver Center for the Performing Arts has a super schedule, including” Fun Home,” “An American in
    Paris,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” “Frozen,” “The Secret Garden,” and “Kinky Boots.”
  • Lake Dillon Theatre Company: “Sister Act,” “Ghost,” “Murder for Two,” and “Noises Off.”
  • Midtown Arts Center (Fort Collins): “Million Dollar Quartet,” “Hair,” and “Forbidden Broadway.”
  • OpenStage (Fort Collins):” Bright Ideas,” “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” “August: Osage County,” and “The Three Musketeers.”

And lmany, many more throughout the entire state! See you at the show!
~ Tom Jones