Playbill On-Line reporter David Lefkowitz is spending the week of May 24-31 at the American Theatre Critics Association conference in Denver, from which he has been posting periodic dispatches. Here is the latest.
Dubbed an $11 million white elephant at its construction in 1976, the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities has grown into a major interdisciplinary arts center for the Denver, CO region. With nearly 6,500 subscribers and annual attendance passing the quarter million mark, the center mixes concert bookings with its own productions, staged at two theatre spaces: a 500-seat indoor facility, and a 1,200-seat (600 chairs, 600 on the grass) outdoor amphitheatre.
Also featured in the spacious arts center are gallery exhibits, a pottery workshop, two dance studios, a replica of a log cabin (where children learn about early America from actors portraying pioneers), eleven classrooms and permanent sculptures that are part of the venue's "public arts initiative."
Access for the disabled is also a major concern of the Arvada Center, which is building a large playground designed to be user- friendly for physically challenged kids. Also, many of the venue's productions feature performances that are not just signed (for the deaf) but "shadowed" -- wherein the interpreter actually follows the actor onstage and mimics his movements. With so much going on, it's no surprise that the Arvada Center has strong community support. More than 350 volunteers contribute 22,000 hours of service to the facility each year.
Just announced is the Arvada Center's new season, running July 23, 1998-May 9, 1999. Opening the roster in the outdoor amphitheatre (July 23-Aug. 9) will be Singin' in the Rain, a musicalization of the legendary MGM film. Betty Comden and Adolph Green penned the book, while Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed combined on such tunes as "Make `em Laugh" and "Good Mornin'." Next up, Sept. 10-Oct. 4 (indoors) will be Horton Foote's Pulitzer prize-winning drama, The Young Man From Atlanta. The drama, which starred Rip Torn and Shirley Knight on Broadway, concerns a middle-aged man facing both a lay-off and financial ruin due to his wife's exhorbitant generosity towards a sinister young twerp.
Nov. 17-Dec. 13 brings a return of Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a pop musical based on the biblical story of the boy with the coat of many colors.
Arsenic and Old Lace follows (Feb. 4-28, 1999), a macabre comedy by Joseph Kesselring about old ladies poisoning their boarders with elderberry wine.
Willy Russell's audience-pleaser, Blood Brothers, caps the season, Apr. 15-May 9, 1999. Also known for penning Shirley Valentine, Russell devised this musical tale of twin brothers separated at birth.
Children's theatre is also a major component of the Arvada line-up, with Snow White and the Two Slobs arriving June 10-Aug. 13. Edith Weiss' spoof features such characters as Grumpy (who's a hypochondriac) and Slacker (formerly known as Dopey).
For subscription ($59 $99) and single ticket information on shows at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. in Arvada, call (303) 431-3939.
-- By David Lefkowitz