Lives, loves through the years

Posted 9/24/11

In the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Japan 1,000 years ago, America at the turn of the century and Argentina in the Peron era. Each …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Lives, loves through the years


In the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Japan 1,000 years ago, America at the turn of the century and Argentina in the Peron era.

Each is a dazzling show, although images in my head seem to get in the way of each other at times. How very fortunate we theater lovers are in this new season.

The journey is recommended: “Rashoman” is open at the Aurora Fox through Oct. 9; “Ragtime” is playing at the Arvada Center through Oct. 2 and at Lone Tree Arts Center Oct. 6-16; “Evita” is at Town Hall in Littleton through Oct. 16.

“Rashomon,” based on the stories of Ryunokuke Akutagawa, is wonderfully staged by director El Armstrong. It takes place near the ancient Rashomon Gate 1,000 years ago and in a nearby forest. Jen Orr’s set is a marvel, with misty wooded area and a weathered wooden gate, where she makes it rain on the three men who narrate the stories. A Samurai is murdered in the woods and there are four possible suspects. Flashbacks offer a plausible version about each and there are several astonishing sword fights, staged by Geoffrey Kent.

Narrators are Jack Casperson as the old woodcutter, who found the body in one version of the story; wigmaker Seth Maisel who runs a comical commentary throughout; and the somber priest Peter Trinh. The Samurai, who is bound and gagged through much of the production, is played by Jude Moran and his beautiful wife is Donna Hansen. The surly bandit is Enzo Sarinana and Hugo Jon Sayles floats in as a medium brought by the court to solve the crime. Who dunnit? Who knows! Stunning production, so perhaps we don’t really care if we resolve the mystery.

“Ragtime” is based on E. L. Doctorow’s best-selling novel, which looks at three diverse families who intersect with each other at the turn of the century: WASP, black and immigrant. So similar in love for each other. So different in how they function. White, well-off Mother (Megan Van De Hay) and Father (Craig Lundquist) have a nice suburban house, a son and a conservative lifestyle until Mother feels feminist stirrings, encouraged by her activist Younger Brother (Daniel Langhoff). Coalhouse Walker (Tyrone Robinson) is a successful Ragtime pianist and his love, Sarah (Christina Acosta Robinson) is a maid who has a baby he doesn’t know about. Mother finds in her garden and cares for it. Mother also takes Sarah in when she is found. Father, meantime, is off exploring with Admiral Peary.

The third family is immigrant Tateh and his little daughter. Creative Tateh eventually becomes the inventor of motion pictures — and eventually connects with Mother.

The book is written by award-winning Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. The voices soar and the interlocked stories include tragedy and appearances by famous Americans of the period: Henry Ford, Harry Houdini, J. P. Morgan Emma Goldman, Evelyn Nesbit, Admiral Peary, Stanford White, Harry Thaw. Sounds confusing, but it sorts people out so there’s never a question of where the production is going.

This big, gorgeous musical is complex, but engaging throughout and costumes, set and production values are professional and polished, as we expect at Arvada Center. The concept of bringing it to Lone Tree is a very positive development. The actors have another 10 days of work and the south area audiences get a fine production.

“Evita” is a contrast with its focus on a single individual and the lives that swirled around her. Directed and choreographed by Nick Sugar at Town Hall Arts Center through Oct. 16, it has a lush score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice — most notably Eva Peron’s theme; “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.” Ellen Kaye fell more comfortably into her role as the legendary Evita as opening night progressed, while Rob Riney had rabble rouser Che nailed from the start. While it had lots of dance numbers, the production is also notable for the way Sugar stages the scenes. Che glides through and around, always the narrator/observer, while the “People” flow in and out smoothly in various roles.

Keehan Flaugh is a stiff, dignified Peron, flummoxed by his firebrand wife. Tony Rivera brings a great set of pipes to his Magaldi theme: “On this Night of a Thousand Stars,” which makes one want to get up and dance.

The political back story of Evita’s rise to power, despite objections of the army officers, her need for more power as Vice President and the illness that eventually defeated her is the stuff of 20th century legend and offers a framework for almost soap opera drama as well as a dark piece of history.

A big story, skillfully produced on Town Hall’s intimate stage.


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.