Colorado Gives Day 12.8.20 – THAC Needs Your Support

This year is different IN A GOOD WAY! An anonymous donor has stepped up and is matching your Colorado Gives donation, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000!!! Make your donation go twice as far!

And for the first time ever, you can schedule your donation in advance. You can schedule your donation starting today, anytime through Colorado Gives Day on December 8!

  • Town Hall Arts Center is committed to producing award-winning musicals and plays. Last year 45,000 people enjoyed a show at Town Hall Arts Center, help us continue to connect people with live theater.
  • Over 5,500 children participated in our Educational Programs, many of whom would not otherwise get this opportunity. Your donations gives children a voice as well as confidence
  • The Stanton Art Gallery at Town Hall Arts Center displays outstanding fine art created by local artists.
  • A series of concerts and special events provides opportunities to bring our community together like the annual Littleton Jazz Festival, Opera Colorado Artist-in-Residence Showcase, Mary Louise Lee Band, Captain Quirk Tribute to the Beatles and more!

Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 8, and features a $1 million Incentive Fund. Every nonprofit receiving a donation on Colorado Gives Day receives a portion of the fund, increasing impact and the value of every dollar donated. Colorado Gives Day has grown to be Colorado’s largest one-day online giving event, raising more than $257 million since it began in 2010.

Help Town Hall Arts Center receive a piece of the Incentive Fund as well as the $25,000 donor match!

CLICK HERE to go to Colorado Gives website and schedule your donation today!  Thank you!

Review: Lessons from a summer of outdoor theatre in the time of COVID – John Moore

Almost Heaven - John Moore Review

by John Moore (Senior Arts Journalist – Arvada Center)

Those companies that got out of the box deepened relationships with grateful audiences. Those that grow stagnant do so to their own peril.

…Not every live offering was so limited by crowd size. The Littleton Town Hall Arts Center had big plans to present a late-winter indoor production of the John Denver biography “Almost Heaven” on an indoor set accompanied by a provocative, original video underscore. When the shutdown ended those grand plans, Town Hall moved the production outdoors to the picturesque environs of nearby Hudson Gardens, which can accommodate about 70 on its expansive grounds.

By the time the run ends on October 11, Town Hall will have managed to sate about 1,500 of its audiences’ theatre fixes. Yes, that only represents about half the crowd size for a single performance of any big Broadway musical downtown. But then again, there aren’t all that many theatergoers who have so far shown much willingness to venture out to any production right now (inside or out). But those who have are being richly rewarded. At such a lousy time, you have to appreciate the opportunity to take in an early fall sunset in a garden while birds fly overhead and you’re listening to lyrics like: “I guess he’d rather be in Colorado; he’d rather spend his time out where the sky looks like a pearl after a rain.”

In every case, the thing that made those efforts special is the very thing that only came about through active problem-solving. Each of those environments enhanced the storytelling experience, and our understanding of the language or the lyrics. I would not have wanted to watch any of them indoors…

Review: Pivoting with Nick Sugar and the Town Hall Arts Center – John Moore

by John Moore (Senior Arts Journalist, Arvada Center)

How a lovely outdoor musical experience grew out of necessity and innovation

‘Almost Heaven’ was scheduled to open inside the Town Hall Arts Center on April 3 when rehearsals were shut down by the pandemic on March 13. What a strange set of circumstances that allowed for the musical to be reimagined as an outdoor, botanic experience at sunset that perfectly matches the tenor of John Denver’s music. Director Nick Sugar talks about it.

What are you doing to pivot?
We were shuttered during our third week of rehearsal. When I realized this was going to be much worse than expected, my first conversation with Town Hall was that “Almost Heaven” was the show that needed to open our theatre back up when the time came. The music is inspirational. It is the spirit of our community at Town Hall. “Almost Heaven” is Colorado. This version at Hudson Gardens is not the theatrical production that we had envisioned. It is not being performed on the set that was designed and completed on our stage. However, being able to see and hear these amazing singers without their masks on is joyous. “Almost Heaven” gives us all hope.

Why are you doing it?
All of us at Town Hall were invested in the show physically and emotionally. The cast was committed to the show as well. If I had to re-cast several performers, or if the Town Hall team felt it weren’t appropriate material to be doing for our first venture back, “Almost Heaven” would not be happening. Putting up a production takes a lot of work. Getting “Almost Heaven” up at Hudson Gardens has taken even more hard work, dedication and determination, and that work will continue throughout the run. After every performance, the band, lights, tent and sound have to be set-up and taken down each night.

Is there a timeline for programming to return to the indoor theatre?
It’s pointless to even speculate right now. Town Hall was lucky enough to be able to pivot with “Almost Heaven.” Hopefully, we can continue to pivot successfully with our next production.

Words of encouragement for others who are now pivoting their way through 2020?
We as a theater community are hurting. We have lost wages and jobs. We are re-learning, growing and trying to survive. Be brave and stay strong. We are a creative group of people. Create. We will pivot.

“Pivoting With …” is a new, ongoing series talking with members of the Colorado theatre community about how they are adapting to changes in their creative and personal lives as the COVID pandemic continues.

Review: Enjoy an outside chance for live theater – Littleton Independent

by Sonya Ellingboe (Littleton Independent)

“Almost Heaven: The Songs of John Denver” is an appropriate title for Town Hall Arts Center’s production at Hudson Gardens, running through Oct. 11. The lawn next to the blooming Rose Garden is marked with “pods” that hold a blanket or up to four chairs, inviting a relaxed audience to enjoy a LIVE performance with five singers/“Storytellers” and a four-piece band. The air is sweet and the audience happy to be there.

Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., who understandably took on the stage name of John Denver, was born in New Mexico and gained international recognition as a composer, songwriter and performer before his untimely death as he solo-piloted his own airplane and crashed.

Harold Thau is credited with the concept for this appealing show and Jeff Waxman for the orchestrations and vocal arrangements in the production. The program says: “songs by John Denver and others,” but the “others” are not spelled out.

Skillfully interwoven are familiar songs such as “Rocky Mountain High,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “I Guess I’d Rather Be in Colorado,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and more … easy listening. Some audience members brought a picnic, while others just relaxed and visited before the performance and during a brief intermission. (No food was on sale at the venue, though it may be during the daytime shows at the trail entrance …)

Performers include Town Hall repeat-performers Matt LaFontaine, Mark Middlebrooks, Alison Mueller and Zach Stanley, as well as area newcomer Tasha Waters, who recently relocated from Philadelphia.

The atmosphere is laid-back and fragrant.

Director/choreographer Nick Sugar has created nice patterns of movement for these Storytellers, but they can’t be dancing on lumpy grass as they might on a wooden stage floor.

Voices blend smoothly and each singer is a solo-quality performer as well — what a joy to experience this on a lovely summer-into-fall evening outside!

Donna Debrecini leads the musicians: Mitch Jervis on guitar, Scott Alan Smith with bass, banjo and harmonica, and percussionist Larry Ziehl, filling that delicious night air with music.

Review: Almost Heaven – Boulder Magazine

by Beki Pineda (Boulder Magazine)

ALMOST HEAVEN – Songs by John Denver and others; Vocal arrangements and orchestrations by Jeff Waxman; based on an original concept from Harold Thau; Directed by Nick Sugar. Produced by Town Hall Arts Center (presented at Hudson Gardens, 6115 South Santa Fe Drive, Denver) through October 11. Tickets available at 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org.

As I sat on the lawn at Hudson Gardens listening to the beautiful music of John Denver soar into the summer evening, I was struck by the idea that I didn’t really know John Denver’s music. Oh, I knew all the popular stuff that got played on the radio (“Country Boy,” “Annie’s Song,” “Rocky Mountain High,” etc.). But I had never really explored his albums and the songs that reflected his personal philosophy. His catalog of music is so much deeper and thoughtful than the average listener realizes. He wrote from the heart about the loneliness of living in a city (“Fly Away”), his own weaknesses and uncertainties (“I’m Sorry,” “Looking for Space”), the beauty of a country childhood (“Montana,” “Matthew”). His song “For You” is the perfect wedding song in its expression of love and devotion.

The unanswered questions he asks in “Weapons” are especially relevant today. “Why are we still making weapons? Why keep on feeding the war machine? How can it be that we’re still fighting each other?”

But more than anything, John celebrated the world in all its wonders and invited his listeners to do the same. “Calypso” asks us to “live in the service of life and the living” and to acknowledge that to “live on the land, we must learn from the sea.” “I Guess He’d Rather be in Colorado” mourns for all those folk who have to live in a city, rather than in the wild beauty of Colorado. “Montana” sings a mother’s prayer for her son that Montana teaches him to be a man. John’s last song was “Yellowstone” – an ode to the wilderness that even includes the cry of a wolf in the lyrics. He wrote this song for an episode of the Nature TV series that explored the untamed parts of our land.

His life and his music is given glorious homage in the performances of the five singers and four musicians who bring it to life in the Hudson Gardens production. Thanks to the wizardry of Curt Behm, the Sound Designer, and his assistant, Board Operator Matthew Dugger, the music “fills up our senses” and echoes into the night. Simple costumes supplied by Designer Linda Morken brought back the homespun look that John adopted. The administrative staff at Town Hall created a pleasant socially-distanced way for the audience to enjoy every aspect of the evening without getting too close to one another.

But this night belonged to John and to the singers who brought him back to us for a couple of hours. Matt LaFontaine, Mark Middlebrook, Alison Mueller, Zach Stanley, and newcomer Tasha Waters have some of the strongest and most melodious voices you will ever hear. The beautiful arrangements designed by Jeff Waxman gave ample opportunity for amazing solo work and even more amazing harmonies. I have to give special kudos to Mark Middlebrook’s rendering of “For You.” I think I could die happy if someone sang that song to me with so much feeling. Each song was celebrated with enthusiasm and joy. Everyone looked and sounded like they were having so much fun bringing the music to the audience. What a wonderful way to spend a summer’s evening!
There is very limited seating and a short run. My advice is to go on line immediately and get one of the tickets for the remaining performances before the buzz about the beauty of this show sells it out. I hope the evening has the same effect on other audience members that it had on me. I started searching for the John Denver music I hadn’t heard and added them to my play list. As John sang in “Poems, Prayers and Promises,” “It’s been a good life all in all.”

A WOW factor of 9.5!!

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.

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.”

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!