Friday, December 30, 2011

One Man Star Wars reviewed

(Photo courtesy of the Lone Tree Arts Center)
In this week's edition of The Guide, we talked to Charles Ross, creator of the "One Man Star Wars" show that hit the Lone Tree Arts Center last night and is scheduled for a second run (in less than 12 parsecs) tonight at 8 p.m. We sent our intrepid sports editor Courtney Oakes to the show last night to take in three epic movies' worth of material in a single hour. His review is after the jump.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tonight's Art Walk to feature Santa, art markets and new theater

Tonight's Art Walk event on East Colfax will feature new artwork at the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts gallery. (Photo courtesy of the Aurora Arts District).

Official's from Aurora's arts district are hoping tonight's second Friday Art Walk event will prove a watershed moment for the 16-block strip along East Colfax Avenue. With a menu of events that includes a Christmas tree lighting in Fletcher Plaza, a visit from Santa, an improvised marketplace of original artwork and live theater, the community event is designed to kick off a new era for a district that's struggled to succeed in the past decade.
Aurora Arts District Crystal Gardner has hinted that 2012 will see a new brand for the area, and has hinted at the arrival of new restaurants and praised the impact of a new lighting campaign.
The larger fate of the area remains to be seen, but tonight promises plenty of seasonal and creative fun. From a new "Winter Wonderland" exhibit from some of the city's youngest artists at the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts gallery to a temporary marketplace at Fletcher Plaza, the festivities will include plenty of new features.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Festival of Wreaths fundraiser draws disco entry from Fox exec producer

Charles Packard's "Disco Wreath" available through the Aurora History Museum's "Festival of Lights" fundraiser.

Talk about holiday spirit. For the twelfth year in a row, the Aurora History Museum is tapping into the aesthetic power of Christmas wreaths to raise funds from the community through its Festival of Wreaths.
This year, the fundraising effort will take place online, with contributors invited to bid online for a selection of decorated wreaths. In the past 10 years, the push has drummed up a total of $16,000 for the museum’s exhibits and education programs. This year, they’re hoping to raise about $2,000.
The 2011 Festival of Wreaths effort has drawn nearly 45 entries from city employees and community members, all of which are available to buy through a bidding process here.
The entries include decorated wreaths from the Dry Dock Brewery, the Arc of Aurora and the city's Public Works department. Our personal favorite? Aurora Fox theater executive producer Charles Packard’s “Disco Wreath,” a decoration that fuses traditional Christmas aesthetics with a glittery dance floor ball straight out of Saturday Night Fever. Is it a nod to the Fox’s upcoming production of Xanadu, or an expression of Packard’s deep-seated love for the Bee Gees? You can decide yourself – the wreath had garnered a top price of $15 at the time of writing, and the bidding process is open until noon on Dec. 9.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Q&A with Tonnocus McClain from the touring production of "The Lion King"

Even after a year as an ensemble member in “The Lion King,” Tonnocus McClain is still amazed by the sheer scope of the musical. At 14 years old, the musical continues to set the standard for big-budget Broadway musicals, drawing regular, sold-out audiences for its touring shows and giving theater a degree of accessibility and commercialism that’s kept the craft alive.
McClain, who attended high school in Colorado Springs, chatted about his history with the touring production, as well as the elements that have kept him a part of the cast.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Q&A with Quincy Jones

Heather L. Smith / Aurora Sentinel

Earlier this month, Quincy Jones visited Denver to attend the "Be Beautiful, Be Yourself" fashion show, a fundraiser for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, benefiting the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome at the Anschutz Medical Campus. You can find the original story here. Sitting down with the legendary composer/musician/humanitarian was one of my most memorable run-ins as a reporter at the Sentinel, and I had to offer readers a fuller picture of the conversation. Click after the jump to check out Jones' feeback about activism, as well as his storied career in music.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Q&A with Tripp Fountain from touring production of "Hair"

Courtesy Photo
Taking on an ensemble role in the musical "Hair" offered Tripp Fountain the chance to take a trip through time. As a cast member in the psychedelic musical, Fountain found a newfound appreciation for the social upheaval and shifting morals that marked the 1960s. More importantly, however, starring in the show gave the Colorado native a chance to come home. A graduate of Lewis Palmer High School in Monument, Palmer says the production of "Hair," which will run at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts until Oct. 16, has given him a unique brand of homecoming.
The Sentinel caught up with Fountain to talk about his roots in Colorado, as well as the legacy of the social movements explored in "Hair," a piece that spawned pop music hits and documented the cultural legacy of a generation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time running out to submit to Gateway to the Rockies art contest

Photo courtesy of the City of Aurora
Local artists have less than a week to submit entries for the 17th annual Gateway to the Rockies exhibit, a show that will feature paintings, photographs and miniatures.
This year's Gateway to the Rockies exhibition will run from Nov. 17 to Dec. 17 at the Aurora History Museum, 15051 E. Alameda Parkway. The annual exhibition features paintings, photos, miniatures and two-dimensional works by local artists — the top entries from each medium will earn "Best of Show," "Aurora's First Lady" and "The Kate Tauer" awards when the show kicks off.
Artists must submit their entries in the form of paintings, photographs and miniatures within the next week. Entries must be sent via e-mail by Oct. 1. The digital files must be submitted as a jpg attachment to Images must be in a jpg file format, must be 150 dpi and cannot exceed 900 pixels or 6 inches in measurement on any side.
For more information or to receive a mailed prospectus, call 303-739-6520. To view the prospectus online, visit

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Interview with Jeanine Serralles from the DCTC's production of "The Liar"

New York-based actress Jeanine Serralles has made Denver a second home.
As a guest performer in several Denver Center Theatre Company productions in the past several years, Serralles has carved a creative niche for herself outside the confines of the New York theater community. She's bringing her skills back to the Denver Center as Lucrece in the DCTC's current production of David Ives "The Liar," a reimagining of the 17th century comedy by Pierre Corneille. The Sentinel caught up with Serralles to talk about the current show, her fondness for the Mile High City and her upcoming projects.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Actors needed for CCA emergency exercise

Photo by Heather L. Smith / Aurora Sentinel

Once again, the Community College of Aurora is looking for up-and-coming actors to lend a degree of realism to their yearly emergency exercise. The training event scheduled for Friday, Sept. 23 is for emergency responders from across the state. Follow the jump for more details about the auditions from the Colorado Theatre Guild.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Rashomon" reviewed

Heather L. Smith / Aurora Sentinel

The Aurora Fox’s production of “Rashomon” shows just how tricky it can be to get a story straight.
Without getting too philosophical, it’s fair to say that truth doesn’t exist without perception, and that when it comes to human beings, perception is always steered by biases, backgrounds and contexts. That’s the central truism behind Fay and Michael Kanin’s murder mystery, a thriller that distills a single crime through the lenses of four separate narrators.
While true nature of the play’s central event may be hard to pin down, there’s no enigma about the quality of the Aurora Fox’s production for its 27th season debut. Director El Armstrong weaves different narrative strands together in a powerful and compelling way, and the medieval Japanese thriller comes to life on a lush set brilliantly mapped out by scenic designer Jen Orf. Combined with nuanced, revelatory performances by Fox veteran Jack Casperson and newcomers Seth Maisel and Enzo Sariñana, the show stands as one of the most creative and affecting season premieres at the Fox in recent memory.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tickets for inaugural season at PACE Center on sale Friday

Photo courtesy of the PACE Center

Tickets for the inaugural season at a new arts complex in Parker are set to go on sale Friday.
According to officials from the Parker Arts, Culture and Events (PACE) Center, tickets for the facility’s first season will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 9. The center’s debut season will kick off with the “Luma” light show from Oct. 28 to 29, with performances from the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the Denver Municipal Band to follow in November.
Tickets for all shows will range from $5 to $42.50, according to the center.
The shows will be part of a much wider menu of more than 70 attractions for the PACE Center’s debut season, one that will include classical music concerts, dance exhibitions and theatrical collaborations with the Aurora Fox theater. In addition to its theater space, the PACE Center at 20120 E. Main Street in Parker will include a 250-seat amphitheater, an art gallery, an event room, a dance studio, culinary kitchen and classrooms.
Tickets will be available at or by phone at 303-805-6800.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"The Wiz" reviewed

Finding a new way to tell an old story is never easy.
The Afterthought Theatre Company’s production of “The Wiz” tackles the challenge on two fronts, starting with the reimagining of the landmark 1974 Broadway musical.
Of course, the foundation of the musical – and subsequent film – was L. Frank Baum’s 1900 fantasy book, “The Wizard of Oz.” In this telling, a funky soundtrack and a more modern aesthetic become updates to the basic tale of Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and a host of witches, fairies and talking flowers.
For all its updates, the story remains frenetically fantastical, as Dorothy makes the journey from her home in Kansas to the magical realm of Oz via a twister. “The Wiz” still centers on the four friends, and the combination of Faith Angelise-Goins as Dorothy, Terence Elison as the Scarecrow, Curshion Jones as the TinMan and TJ Hogle as the cowardly lion offer enough chemistry to carry the tale into a contemporary framework.
The Afterthought’s production adds plenty of energy and musical chops to the source material, boasting strong vocal performances from the principal cast and the supporting players. As the first musical to hit the Dayton Street stage since the Shadow Theatre Company’s production of “Smokey Joe’s Café” in 2009, the show is a welcome reminder of the theater’s acoustic potential.
In addition to strong duets between the principal actors (“Be A Lion” is a particular highlight), the score succeeds on guest performances from Stephanie Hancock as Evillene and Mary Louis Lee as Glinda.
While the show’s soundtrack takes advantage of the theater’s space and dimensions, other elements of the production seem a bit too small. The 135-seat auditorium may be on the smaller end of local houses, but the show’s effects, set design and scope often feels too slight. Glenn Grassi’s set fails to fully convey Dorothy’s journey from the fields of Kansas to the surreal landscape of Oz. Actors clad in yellow stand in for the yellow brick road, and while the creative effort is endearing, any real sense of escape is lacking.
Still, the piece finds its compass in the energy and earnestness of its principal cast. Jones gives the TinMan a fresh sense of swagger, Hogle balances his gargantuan frame with a real sense of vulnerability and Elison’s Scarecrow is thoughtful and pensive about his lack of a brain. Angelise-Goins gives Dorothy a compelling sense of energy. The four friends offer a convincing sense of camaraderie, a chemistry that helps make an old story seem new.
Two and a half stars out of four

The Afterthought Theatre Company’s production of “The Wiz” will run until Sept. 24 at the Dayton Street Theatre, 1468 Dayton St. Tickets start at $20. Information:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Colorado Film School announces auditions for student projects

Heather L. Smith / The Aurora Sentinel

The Colorado Film School is looking for actors to star in student films, shorts and other projects during the 2011-12 school year.
The film school, based on the former Lowry Air Force base, will hold auditions from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 10 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 11 at its Denver campus, 9075 E. Lowry Blvd, Bldg. 965. The school is seeking actors and actresses of all ages and backgrounds. Certain roles may be paid.
Actors should prepare a two- to three-minute monologue and bring printed copies of a personal photo or headshot. Applicants are also expected to send a copy of their photos to to be included in the school’s database.
Actors can sign up for an audition slot at
In its academic programs through the Community College of Aurora and Regis University, CFS offers associate and bachelor’s degrees in writing/directing, writing/producing, cinematography/videography, post production and acting for the screen, as well as a one-year advanced immersion program. While the school is wholly owned by CCA, a current agreement with Regis University allows students to pursue bachelor of fine arts degrees after three years of enrollment through CCA.
The school employs about 25 full-time faculty members and enrolls approximately 400 students, who produce an average of 1,000 films a year.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Aurora Sentinel's arts and education reporter is bigger than he looks.

Don't be fooled by this picture with TJ Hogle, who plays the Cowardly Lion in the Afterthought Theatre Company's production of "The Wiz." I'm not so tiny; the guy is 6-foot-8.

(Gabriel Christus / The Aurora Sentinel)