The national tour of THE BOOK OF MORMON began at the DCPA on the Ellie Caulkins Stage in 2012. The show made a return visit in 2015, and returns for a limited engagement June 13-July 1 also at The Ellie.
The Denver Center announced single tickets go on sale to the public February 5 at 10 a.m. at denvercenter.org. The DCPA website is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for THE BOOK OF MORMON in Denver. There will be a lottery for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each for every performance. Lottery details will be announced closer to the engagement. Tickets start at $35
THE BOOK OF MORMON features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park.” Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q. The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker.
Denver’s rapid growth impacts housing, transportation, and business. Space is valuable. The arts and artists often struggle to survive in the areas they helped to make appealing. Lisa Wagner Erickson has staked a claim in the Sloan’s Lake/Edgewater neighborhood at 5138 West 29th Street. This new black box theater space aptly named Theater 29, is home for five theater companies focused on presenting Colorado playwrights.
In rural west Texas, a young man living with a prominent skin disorder awaits the arrival of a stranger whose visit has been orchestrated by his domineering sister under the pretense of a cure. He soon learns that everything comes with a price and that blood isn’t always thicker than water.
Here is my Q&A with him after opening night.
Can you share a bit about how and why you became a Playwright?
Dakota C. Hill:
Well, I was cast in my first summer stock production around the age of 15. I didn’t get a summer break in high school because I was away performing and soaking in as much of a professional theater environment that I could. That is all to say that an undying love for theater has been present for as long as I can remember. But I lost touch with it for a number of years and instead focused on film school and life outside of theater. That is, until I went to an audition, got a call-back, really really wanted the part and was the runner-up. I went home that night and realized that I should try and write a play. I wrote it in two days and absolutely fell in love with writing for the stage. I hadn’t realized, until then, that my passion for writing was entirely focused on a desire to tell human stories. To dive as deep as I can into what makes us tick, laugh, cry, lash out, hurt and heal one another. What are we, us humans? For me, the stage is the best place to explore that.
What sparked you to write Burnt Offering?
I wrote Burnt Offering because of Dustin, the son and hero of the story. I met this guy, got to know, and grew to love him over a number of months both in my head and in various scenes I wrote until I realized after a while he would still be with his family. And so I got to know them. His sister. His mother. And then Mason as this sort of catalyst for change for Dustin. And once they all met on paper it sort of poured out of me. If I were to really dive into where a lot of the themes and metaphors come from it would be my growing up gay in rural Texas and trying to grapple with something within myself that I thought was abnormality. I was so very fortunate to have an incredible, loving, and supportive family. But, I certainly knew a lot of people who weren’t so fortunate. So in some ways I think I wrote the play for them.
How did this play become the inaugural production at Theater 29?
You know, I got really lucky in regards to being the first show at Theater 29. Ellen K. Graham and I had already decided to co-produce this play and we were looking for a space when Lisa Wagner Erickson decided to buy the property and turn it into a theater. The two of them were already friends and had worked together in the past. So, Lisa and I were introduced and hit it off!
Playwrights often mention the value of simply hearing the work spoken by actors, and at Theater 29 you are able to have a full production, what have you learned during this experience?
It is so helpful to hear the work out loud. To really get a sense of what works or comes across with the correct intention and what doesn’t. And having the full production here, in a space where the playwright is an integral part of the production, I could treat the beginning of the process as a sort of workshop until the script looked and sounded it’s best. That’s invaluable. Add to that, having the full production also gives the playwright this full sense of accomplishment and pride that a reading, while wonderful and invaluable in it’s own right, can’t really accomplish. And it can’t accomplish that, for me at least, because it’s not a complete play. A complete world.
Meridith Friedman has been a Dramatist Guild Fellow, and the recipient of a Downstage Left Playwriting Residency at Stage Left Theatre and a Dramatist Guild Writers Alliance Grant. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Drama at Kenyon College during the 2011-2012 academic year, and taught screenwriting to undergraduates while completing her graduate work at Northwestern University. She has also taught playwriting to talented high school and middle school dramatists at Interlochen Center for the Arts and Curious Theatre Company.
This is my email Q&A with Meridith Friedman after the opening performance at Curious Theatre last weekend.
Even though this new play “Your Best One” is part of a series commissioned by Curious and began last year with “The Luckiest People” it stands alone for anyone who didn’t see the first play. How did you approach writing the story across the plays and individually?
The challenge of a trilogy, particularly one that is told chronologically, is creating a series of plays that speak to each other while also maintaining their autonomy. My hope is that as the audience progresses through the trilogy their experience is enhanced by knowing what came before, but it isn’t hindered without that knowledge. It’s a tricky balance, indeed, and one I found through trial and error. With each play, my early drafts were loaded with exposition. Over the course of many workshops and public readings, I learned what information was pertinent and slowly chipped away at the rest.
This play touches some difficult concerns yet makes space for the relief humor can provide. How would you describe this play?
Our wonderful director, Dee Covington, described it as a meditation on loneliness and that sounds about right to me. I think each character in the play is feeling some version of alienation or exile, and reaching out, in their own way, for connection. In Your Best One, the humor tends to emerge from darkness – laughter erupts from moments of great despair.
Meeting characters who aren’t always easy, but remain like-able makes it easier to enter the world of this play. How did you approach creating these complex characters?
My process as a writer is essentially the actor’s process in reverse. An actor’s process typically starts with “table work” – detailed analysis of the script. They map out their objectives and the tactics they will employ in pursuit of those objectives. Then they get on stage and listen and respond in the moment, trusting that all of the energy and time they put into crafting their performance has saturated their subconscious.
I work backwards. I stare at an empty page and start typing furiously, impulsively, without the interruption of judgment or editing. Then I go back and examine each line of dialogue and try to figure out what it’s doing – what objective it is pursuing, what character arc it is advancing. I move from subconscious to conscious.
I’ve never been very concerned with creating like-able characters, but they must be understandable. We don’t have to agree with what they do, but we have to understand why they do it. I think theatre, at its very best, is the practice of empathy – seeing from someone else’s vantage point and hopefully, in the process, gaining a greater understanding of their journey through the world.
Will we see another play with these characters? If so, what can you share about it?
Yes, the third play in the series is tentatively titled I Can Goand takes place two years after Your Best One. I can’t give too much away about the plot, as it will spoil what happens in Your Best One, but it explores how we find the good in goodbye. How we move on, and move forward, on our own terms.
When you reflect on this experience with Curious, how do you describe it?
It really means the world to me to see my work on Curious’ mainstage. Almost a decade ago, fresh out of grad school, I did a year-long playwriting residency at Curious sponsored by the National New Play Network. Over the course of that year, Curious became an artistic home for me, and Chip Walton became a mentor and friend. His belief in my voice, and advocacy for my work, is how and why this project came to fruition. Taking a chance on a relatively unknown voice is a risk, and I am forever grateful for Curious’ bravery.
Anything else you would like to share?
I think that covers it – great questions!
About the play:
The Hoffman family rallies together – and against each other – as they battle over health insurance, child custody, inheritance, and superfoods. Former couple Richard and David tentatively dance around each other as they each navigate if second chances are ever really possible. Featuring a family of Curious all stars, you’ll see wit, wisdom, and reminders of your own family as they grapple with challenges we all face. From Chicago Med writer and award-winning playwright Meridith Friedman, Your Best One captures the love and heartache in every family.