Board of Directors – 2020-2021 Season

THAC Board of Directors 2020-2021

Greetings!  While I am excited to be the new President of the Town Hall Arts Center Board of Directors, I confess to you I had imagined coming into this role under different global circumstances.  Fortunately, because of the work of outgoing President, Denise Kato, and the boards and board presidents before her, our organization is in a unique position to weather the COVID storm.  We have an amazing staff, capable of navigating the operational and programming changes happening every day, and we have a tremendous group of patrons, such as yourself, whose historic and ongoing support of Town Hall Arts Center will keep us solvent.  On that note, I want to personally thank everyone who converted their purchased ticket into a donation at the end of the last season – it made a huge difference!

In the coming year, the Board of Directors will be focusing on a strategic plan that is based on three priorities: offering quality programming, enhancing your patron experience, and connecting to our community.  Additionally, we will be taking a hard look to ensure Town Hall Arts Center truly represents our whole community.  This will include everything from reviewing our policies and practices, to ensuring we offer programming that is relevant and reflective of everyone we serve.

Finally, be sure to stay tuned for more opportunities to join us online.  Our virtual educational programs have been a smashing success – and our staff has been hard at work building online content that is meant for our entire patron base to enjoy.  While we are anxious to have you back in our historic downtown Littleton location soon, there is no reason not to support and enjoy live theater from the comfort of your living room.

Be well,

J.D. McCrumb

Town Hall Arts Center – June 3, 2020

Town Hall Arts Center is deeply saddened by the injustices and cruelty that have destroyed the lives of so many people of color in our country, most recently George Floyd.

While THAC focuses on theater as entertainment, we do look for opportunities to support and celebrate people from every race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation. In working with artists to create theater we strive to bring a community of humans together, to share, to be moved, to experience, to grow, and to be entertained.

THAC at its core is committed to enriching the cultural, social and educational life of our community through live theater. As an organization, we recognize the programming choices we make impact our stakeholders in many different ways, and we strive to make those decisions with awareness and consideration for everyone. We pledge to cast our shows so that ethnic roles are portrayed by ethnic actors and actresses.

In 2019 we began transforming our Board to be more inclusive of diversity and look to expand that diversity in the future in an attempt to recognize people of every race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Finally, we recognize that this statement isn’t the end of the work or efforts. Like our society as a whole, Town Hall Arts Center will begin a process of reflection to identify and take action on further opportunities to truly realize our mission of enriching the cultural, social and educational life of our entire community.

Denver metro area arts go online

by Paul Albani-Burgio (Centennial Citizen)

Some Denver area institutions say digital approach could become lasting element

Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton was just about to start its spring kids’ classes when the arrival of COVID-19 changed everything.

“Once that all came apart, I, like everybody else, sort of sat back and said: ‘What do we do?’” said Robert Michael Sanders, the education manager at the arts center.

But as the situation came into clearer focus, Sanders realized the center had an opportunity to do something good to help preserve a sense of normalcy for kids and the parents who are struggling to keep them entertained and engaged.

“What we did is we sort of created a pile of classes and decided we could put them together online and just put it out there for people,’” Sanders said. “And we decided that the best thing we could do for the kids stuck at home is just offer something (free of charge) and not add a financial hit to the parents who may or may not be working.”

Sanders said the arts center is offering 10 classes that take place on weekdays between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. to mimic a traditional after-school program. About 90 kids are currently enrolled.

“The response has actually been pretty overwhelming,” Sanders said.

It’s a new way of teaching for Sanders and his team and a new way of learning for the students, but one that has become increasingly commonplace in recent weeks as museums, libraries and other cultural institutions and organizations have responded to the closure of their physical facilities by pivoting to offering content and experiences virtually.

Letter from the Board of Directors

Dear patron,

We’d like to begin by thanking each and every one of you for your support of Town Hall Arts Center.

Town Hall Arts Center was founded 38 years ago by people who were true visionaries; people who wanted to bring the community together, who understood the immense power of art to entertain us, to transport us to other worlds, to transform us, to remind us that we are not alone, to give a voice to those who have been silenced, to present other viewpoints, and to bring joy.  The work wasn’t easy, but this group labored tirelessly because they believed that the citizens of Arapahoe County and South Metro Denver deserved to have outstanding family entertainment and educational programs that were affordable and conveniently located in the heart of Littleton.

Since our founding, hundreds of thousands have been entertained in our beloved, iconic building, which has endured for nearly 100 years through good times and bad.  We are all facing a difficult time right now, and in efforts to keep our community safe and healthy, our Gothic doors are temporarily closed to you, our dedicated patrons.

However, be assured the board and staff of Town Hall Arts Center are still hard at work realizing our mission to enrich the cultural, social and educational life of this community.

  • First, all of our administrative and technical staff are working remotely.  Keeping these talented and dedicated individualsemployed is a top priority of the board and doing so is in the immediate and long-term interest of the organization.
  • While our spring educational programs have been cancelled, our Education Department is hard at work designing virtual experiences to continue engaging students at home, while we look forward to our traditional programming this summer.
  • The cast and crew of Almost Heaven are taking a hiatus from rehearsals right now, but as soon as it is safe to do so, we look forward to opening that show for audiences who will more than ever will appreciate the spirit of relationship and community so prevalent in the music of John Denver.
  • Finally, we continue to focus on the future of Town Hall Arts Center.  Planning for our 40th season will get underway in the next few months, and we look forward to celebrating the 100th anniversary of our iconic building later this fall. Additionally, we look forward to sharing more cultural and educational programming announcements with you all soon.

The saying goes “the show must go on” and it most certainly will.  Just as they did more than 38 years ago, and have night after night since, the people of Littleton will gather together to celebrate community, art and live theater. We are honored to play this important role in the lives of so many residents, visitors, seniors, students, teachers, actors, directors, artists, musicians and so many more.

Thank you for being a part of this family,

Town Hall Arts Center Board of Directors

Review: ‘Barefoot in the Park’ is iconic crowd-pleaser – Littleton Independent

Barefoot in the Park - Town Hall Arts Center

by Sonya Ellingboe (Littleton Independent)

Lights go up on an empty apartment in an old brownstone on East 48th Street in New York City. It’s February 1963. Only the kitchen is furnished. A restless young woman enters and stuffs things into the refrigerator as she tidies up a bit. Suitcases are in the room. We meet Corie Bratter (Lynzee Jones), the somewhat ditzy resident newlywed, who has rented this chilly fifth-floor space for herself and new husband, Paul (Tim Howard), an already-a-bit-stuffy lawyer.

She awaits Bloomingdales’ furniture delivery — and the next years of her life…

The audience settles in for “Barefoot in the Park,” a favorite comedy by American playwright Neil Simon (1927-2018). Many theater companies across the nation are honoring the late, always-popular Simon this season, with performances of his works — more than 30 plays, plus as many television scripts.

Stomping and puffing is heard. It’s the telephone repairman (Giovanni Roselli), here to hook them up and assign a phone number. Imagine! Her own number …

A winded Paul appears next — those stairs are an ongoing issue. Each character’s response is different.

The phone guy leaves and a brief lovey-dovey interlude is followed by arguing. He wants to work. She wants to play … More steps on the stairs announce the arrival of Corie’s mother (the always-entertaining Annie Dwyer).

Amusing Neil Simon-crafted conversation continues and eventually the quirky upstairs neighbor Victor Velasco (Tom Mullin) appears to add another voice and color to the scene. They decide to head to Staten Island for dinner, where something with flaming brandy is said to be on the menu … They return full of Greek wine and still talking, talking …

Director Bob Wells, a comic himself, has shaped this popular Simon work into an entertaining evening for audiences at Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center, and it runs through March 22. Wells’ directors’ notes say it opened in October 1963 and played 1,530 performances, until June 1967 — and it’s been a steady favorite since. “In 1963, Simon became the only living playwright to have a New York City theater named after him, when the Alvin Theatre on Broadway was named The Neil Simon Theatre,” Wells continues.

Wells also added a quote from comedic actor Nathan Lane; “Neil often said … he was writing dramas with comic moments in them. The most important thing with his material was to always play it as you would a serious play and allow Neil to do his work.”

Review: Barefoot in the Park – Boulder Magazine

by Beki Pineda (Boulder Magazine)

Written by Neil Simon; Directed by Robert Wells.

All of you must remember the young and beautiful Jane Fonda and Robert Redford who brought this charming story to the public’s attention in 1967, one of their five movies together. Or maybe some of you were lucky enough to see Redford and Elizabeth Ashley in the original 1963 Broadway production. Regardless whenever you see a Neil Simon play on the callboard, you know you are in for a treat. His ability to put both heartfelt dialogue and snappy zingers together in the same speech never fails to delight. In this particular script, he takes the tiniest bit of plot and wraps it in charming whimsy.

Town Hall put together a winning cast for this revival. The young newlyweds are played to local favorites Tim Howard and Lynzee Jones. Lynzee’s elfin Corie has a slightly manic energy that plays sweetly against Tim’s more conservative and laid back Paul. As in most marital discord, their expectations of each other are slightly unreasonable and, foregoing stubborn pride, could be resolved easily. But nothing makes for more fun on stage than a comic argument.

They are joined by everybody’s favorite couple – Annie Dwyer as Corie’s highly dubious and sensitive mother Ethel and TJ Mullin as Victor Velasco, the Bohemian upstairs neighbor. After appearing together on stage together for thirty years, one is the hand, the other is the glove. They just fit together, complementing each other’s authenticity and totally in sync. The celebration they bring to a meeting of opposites that find delight in an older romance warms  your heart. The connection they brought to Herr Schultz and Frau Schneider together in CABARET, a recent show at Town Hall, is echoed in the gentle wooing of Victor and Ethel.

A newcomer to Town Hall, the fifth character in this group is the out-of-breath Telephone Repair Man. Giovanni Roselli makes the most of a small part with his authenticity and genuine concern for this young couple in the middle of their argument. Stagehand Greg Kendall makes a surprise appearance as a package delivery guy. EVERYONE has difficulty with the five flights of stairs it takes to get to their loft.

The charming New York apartment they move into was designed by Michael Duran, built by Mike Haas and his crew, dressed by Rob Costigan and Bob Bauer, with lights provided by Kate Bashore and street sounds and door bells provided by Curt Behm. Special kudos must go to the run crew who, in the fifteen minute intermission, convert an empty flat into a charming nest with time to spare. Also congrats to the person on the crew who rigged the snow drop so that it falls on Paul’s head as he sleeps on the sofa night after night.

A WOW factor of 8!!

THAC Proudly Presents Barefoot in the Park!

Written by Neil Simon.  Directed by Robert Wells.

Written by one of the greatest American playwrights, Barefoot in the Park follows a newlywed couple as they learn to live together in their first apartment.  He’s a straight-as-an-arrow lawyer and she’s a free spirit always looking for the latest kick.  The Broadway play was nominated for three 1964 Tony Awards, and Jane Fonda and Robert Redford starred in the 1967 adaptation.

Review: Fairy tale characters take stage in show not for kids – Littleton Independent

by Sonya Ellingboe (Littleton Independent)

Fairy tale princesses have long been part and parcel of our literary and social fabric, as they were created from ancient folk tales — and have more recently evolved through Disney films and now, via “Disenchanted,” an off-Broadway hit, which shifts them into feminist folk!

The composer/playwright is Dennis T. Giacino, who developed this new musical with off-Broadway director Fiely Matias, perhaps stepping on some toes along the way …

As lights go up at Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, where “Disenchanted,” directed and choreographed by the multi-talented Nick Sugar, plays through Feb. 9, we meet Snow White (Abby McInerny), who translates as a leadership star; Cinderella (Lindsay Fuller) and Sleeping Beauty (LuAnn Buckstein) belting a strong “One More Happ’ly Ever After.”

Also featured: Belle, the Beauty who was in love with that Beast — she comes onstage in a straitjacket, crazed by all the strange things she’s encountered — moving plates and saucers and talking furniture, for example. (Jona Alonzo, who also plays the Little Mermaid, is Belle).

The Little Mermaid wants to be back at sea …

From Chinese lore, we meet a different sort of Hua Mulan — and from American legend, a militant Pocahontas (racist commentary?). From the Arabian Nights comes Aladdin’s magic Princess Badroubaldor (all are played by Faith Siobahn Ford).

The Princess Who Kissed the Frog (Anna High) comes via those Brothers Grimm. It’s good to see a black princess here — another swipe at the standard Disney lineup …

All bring issues to the fore — which is probably not how we remember them from story time at the library, school room, the Saturday movies — or at home!

The set consists of the lighted outline of a palace-ish sort of place, with curtained arches. Works well, enhanced by lighting and sound.

But these tales are meant for adult audiences and the language gets a bit raw — so leave those little people at home this time, despite the fairy tale theme. Disney fare, it is not!

A live band sits up to the right, led by Music Director Donna Kolpan Debreceni on keyboards, Sean Case, percussion and Scott Alan Smith, bass — a truly fine addition when budget allows … It really adds to the overall pleasure of live theater in a way that recorded music does not.

This material doesn’t have the overall depth and strength of some of our longtime favorite musicals, so the breadth of the message carries less of a wow factor, but it is sassy and fun — and the performers bring voices and style as they play at being feisty princesses …

We felt that they were happy ever after — or at least on that night!

THAC Proudly Presents Disenchanted!

Town Hall Arts Center (THAC) continues its 38th consecutive season with a hilarious hit musical that’s anything but Grimm—Disenchanted!  

And they lived happily ever after.  Well… not exactly. Snow White & her posse of wanton, defiant princesses are here to set the record straight in this hilarious irreverent musical. Forget the princesses you know—these subversive storybook heroines turn fairytales upside down in this clever, not-for-the-kiddies musical.  Disenchanted! puts a new spin on Disney classics and fairytale happily ever afters. Book, music, and lyrics by Dennis T. Giacino.  Directed by Nick Sugar. 

Review: A trip back in time with ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ – OnStage Colorado

by Blythe Smith (OnStage Colorado)

Littleton Town Hall mounts a solid production of the Christmas-themed show

Meet Me in St. Louis, based on the classic 1944 movie starring Judy Garland, tells the story of a year in the life of the Smith family, set against the backdrop of a city preparing for the opening of the 1904 world’s fair.

Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you might recognize the music — if not “The Trolley Song” (“Clang, clang, clang went the trolley!) or “The Boy Next Door,” then almost certainly “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The play is essentially the movie, adapted for stage.

The story is about the Smiths, an upper middle class, middle American family with a lawyer dad, two teenage daughters, a teenage son, a couple of younger moppets, and an Irish maid. It’s intended to showcase the family in a series of vignettes that give them a chance to sing through the seasons: summertime, Halloween, a Christmas ball. The older son is leaving for college, both teenage daughters are in love, and the younger girls are full of mischief.

A wrench gets thrown in everyone’s lives when dad gets an offer to take a senior role at his firm’s New York office? But can they possibly leave St. Louis? Right before the World’s Fair?

Heavy nostalgia

If you’ve seen the movie, you know how this will end, and if you haven’t, you can probably guess. Groundbreaking this play is not, but it isn’t intended to be. Rather, it’s heavy on vintage nostalgia with enough “Christmas” thrown in to make it holiday appropriate. Clearly, it is of its time. In most modern musicals, the songs drive the plot forward. Here, as in many 1940s productions, it usually feels like they had an idea for a song and worked the plot around to fit it in. In other words, the songs don’t feel very organic. Why, exactly, do they need to sing about a trolley?

Well, they don’t. But singing about trolleys is fun, and that’s the reason they do it.

And the show is fun. The cast has plenty of energy and enthusiasm, and the costuming and be-wigged heroines, singers, and dancers are on point. The show itself is suited to both the venue and the season, as Old Town Littleton has that old time-y feel all lit up for the holidays. And well, ’tis the season after all.

Solid performances

The performances are mostly solid. I particularly liked Anne Jenness as Esther (the Judy Garland Role) and Kara Morrissey as her sister Rose. Jenness in particular has a great voice that is well-showcased here. And I have to mention Macaelle (Mac) Vasquez, who plays the youngest Smith, Tootie — and is only 7 years old. She brings tons of personality to the role and is truly a delight. I can almost hear her parents saying, “We’ve got to get this kid on stage.”

I have always enjoyed the staging at the Town Hall Arts Center, and this production is no exception. The stage is small, which sounds like it should be drawback, but instead usually seems like an asset. They use the space creatively, and it works. The Smiths’ dining room remains on stage for most of the production, with a porch that appears when the action is outside and a cast-propelled trolley that emerges when called for. It all works well and gets the point across.

The show itself is not only holiday-appropriate, but strikes me as particularly family-friendly and well-suited to older school-age children. It’s accessible, easy to understand, and has children who figure prominently in the story. Eight-year-old me would have enjoyed it even for the turn-of-the-century dresses and costuming alone. Perhaps it could make a fun and quirky holiday alternative to the ubiquitous Nutcracker.

Most adults will probably enjoy it too. And if you’re looking for a new ear-worm, I can almost guarantee you’ll leave singing, “Meet me in St. Lou-eee, Lou-eee…”