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!

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…”

Review: MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS at Town Hall – Denver Theater Perspectives

by Mona Lott (Denver Theater Perspectives)

The St. Louis World fair was in 1904. The film, Meet Me in St. Louis starring the incomparable Judy Garland came out in 1904 and the stage musical based on the movie played in 1989. Town Hall Arts Center has currently staged it in this chaotic, turbulent era of cell phones and the internet and it  provides a stark contrast to life in 2019.

That contrast may be the charm of Meet Me in St. Louis with  music that is rather simplistic, like the times and a book so insipid in it’s cheerful, idealistic presentation of one family’s day to day life on the eve of the St. Louis World Fair that it becomes mind numbing like a Hallmark Channel Christmas Special.

The show is rather unremarkable in that it was only nominated for four Tony Awards and received none. That may be attributed to the story which is severely lacking. A world in which having dinner an hour earlier causes so much bedlam and turmoil, hardly provides the dramatic narrative or emotional complexity that most Broadway successes ensue and most audiences have come to expect.

Even so, there is some comfort in dwelling in this era and relishing in a show so squeaky clean that you can still smell the lye in the water. Town Hall is smart in producing this musical during the holidays. It’s kid friendly and fun for the whole family with no fear at all of any vulgarities or questionable themes.

Given that, THAC gleefully embodies the production and presents it with much aplomb and competency. The cast is rather large for the small theater, but never seems to crowd the stage or overwhelm the space. Bob Wells has staged them with expertise  in such a way as to use the small space to their advantage. The clever staging excels in it’s execution especially during the Trolley song when Scenic Designer Michael R. Duran manages to not only bring one on stage but manages to drive it around with passengers on board and a conductor mapping the way.

Choreographer, Kelly Kates also takes advantage of the cast creating dance numbers that fill the stage with joyful abandon and provide some of the more exciting moments in the show. The choreography is most effective in the finale, when the entire cast gleefully dances in evening gowns and black tie.

Terri Fong-Schmidt can take credit for those, having already provided numerous period costumes throughout the show she meets the challenge head on of putting  all the men in tails during the shows final moments. Her costuming never disappoints in Meet Me in St. Lluis, and provides much of the success in conveying the era and time of the St. Louis World Fair.

Music direction by Donna Kolpan Debreceni is at it’s best, showcasing strong solo  voices and wonderful sound from the ensemble numbers. The accompaniment is prerecorded, but the actors sing with it as if there was an orchestra playing live backstage and it blends seamlessly with the superior singing voices of this cast.

Meet Me in St. Louis at Town Hall Arts Center is sweet and innocent, making it a family outing perfect for those willing to leave the trappings of modern life behind and embrace the simplicity of  1904. Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis, meet me at the fair, but if you are looking for an innocent, non-feather ruffling show with an enthusiastic cast, delightful period costumes and some great singing voices, you must meet me at Town Hall Arts Center.

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas with MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, delighting audiences now through December 29th in Littleton, CO. For tickets or more information, contact the Town Hall Arts Center Box Office by calling 303-794-2787 or online at www.townhallartscenter.org.

Get to know Brian Trampler

Fezziwig/Old Joe – Brian Trampler

LET’S GET TO KNOW YOU…
Name: Brian Trampler

DOB: May 3 1963
Hometown: Denver (born and raised)
Education: some college
Day Job: Strategic Business Development

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE…
Holiday Tradition: With kids in college, lately it has been spending a week in Glenwood Springs during the holidays when kids are on Christmas break.

Off-Time: Relaxing on a beach.
Season: Do I have to pick one?
Movie: Any Marvel movie
Musical: Whichever musical I’m performing in or rehearsing for…
Color: Blue
Animal: Manta Ray
Book: Cryptonomicon
Band: Brian Setzer and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Song: Sway – great crooners song, but dig the Michael Bublé version.
Beverage: Beer

THIS OR THAT…
Past, Present, or Future? Present
Cats or Dogs? Cats (I’m allergic to dogs )
Beer or Wine? Beer
Sweet or Sour? Sweet
Mild or Spicy? Spicy
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Piercings or Tattoos? Tattoos
FroYo or Ice Cream? Ice Cream 
City or Country? City
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Netflix or Hulu? Netflix
Early Bird or Night Owl? Night Owl

ANSWER ME THIS…
When life hands you lemons? Add them to a MaiTai!

Who do you admire most? My wife!
What is your biggest fear? That I won’t be on the stage performing at any point in the future.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Close to retirement and doing even more performing.
What is one thing on your “bucket” list? Travel with my wife.
What is the most rewarding advice you’ve received? Never stop moving forward.
Can we follow you? FB? Twitter? Instagram? Go for it! Look for @savoyardbrian on any of those platforms! (FB) (TWITTER) (INSTAGRAM)
Why see A Christmas Carol? It is a story that reminds us that you can’t forget your past, but you can change your future. Who doesn’t need that reminder now and then?

Links:
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Get to know Abigail Dantzler

Grace Smythe – Abigail Dantzler

LET’S GET TO KNOW YOU…
Name: Abigail Taylor Dantzler

DOB: 12/01/08
Hometown: Littleton, CO
Education: 4th Grade – Broadway Bound
Day Job: Student

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE…
Holiday tradition: hiding Easter eggs!

Off-Time: Scootering
Season: Spring because it’s happy and cheerful!
Movie: The Librarian – Quest for the Spear
Musical: Phantom of the Opera
Color: White or Blue
Animal: Pygmy Rabbit
Book: The whole Harry Potter Series
Band: Iron Maiden
Song: I haven’t met a song I didn’t like
Beverage: Butter Beer

THIS OR THAT…
Past, Present, or Future? Present because that is where I live.
Cats or Dogs? Cats
Beer or Wine? Neither
Sweet of Sour? Sweet!!!
Mild or Spicy? Mild
Coffee or Tea? Coffee, particularly if I’ve stolen it from my Mom
Piercings or Tattoos? No
FroYo or Ice Cream? FroYo
City or Country? Country
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Netflix or Hulu? Netflix
Early Bird or Night Owl? Night Owl

ANSWER ME THIS…
When life hands you lemons? Get hot water and sugar. SQUEEZE! Mix. Add ice. Host a lemonade stand!

Who do you admire most? My parents because they are lovely.
What is your biggest fear? Being the only one left in my family
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? On Stage
What is one thing on your “bucket” list? Being an actress on television
What is the most rewarding advice you’ve received? I get a lot of advice from a lot of people all the time.  I don’t know if it is rewarding yet or not…
Can we follow you? FB? Twitter? Instagram? Sorry – no social media because I’m 9.
Why see A Christmas Carol?  Because it is AWESOME!

Links:
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Get to know Molly Fickes

Martha Cratchit/Fezziwig Kid – Molly Fickes

LET’S GET TO KNOW YOU…
Name: Molly Fickes

DOB: April 6, 2003
Hometown: Golden, Colorado
Education: Golden High School
Day Job: Sophomore at GHS

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE…
Holiday Tradition: Hiking in the woods to cut down a Christmas tree with lots of friends.

Off-Time: Walking my dog and shopping with friends.
Season: Fall
Movie: Meet the Parents
Musical: Come From Away
Color: Purple
Animal: Whales are pretty cool! And so is my labradoodle Charlie.
Book: The Book Thief
Band: Dixie Chicks
Song: It’s always changing!
Beverage: Red Bush Tea from Pike Place Market

THIS OR THAT…
Past, Present, or Future? Present

Cats or Dogs? Dogs! (don’t tell my cat!)
Beer or Wine? Umm… I’m 15!
Sweet of Sour? Sweet
Mild or Spicy? Mild
Coffee or Tea? Tea
Piercings or Tattoos? Neither- I am scared of needles!
FroYo or Ice Cream? Ice Cream
City or Country? Both!
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Netflix or Hulu? NETFLIX!!!!!
Early Bird or Night Owl? Night owl

ANSWER ME THIS…
When life hands you lemons? Don’t make lemonade unless life also hands you sugar!

Who do you admire most? My parents.
What is your biggest fear? Needles and blood
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Still doing theater somewhere!
What is one thing on your “bucket” list? Play Fiona in Shrek or Audrey in Little Shop. Also, I would love to travel to Greece!
What is the most rewarding advice you’ve received? Whenever I leave to do a show my dad says “Show ‘em what’s what!”
Can we follow you? FB? Twitter? Instagram? No, that’s creepy!
Why see A Christmas Carol? To support local theater.

Links:
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