We love showing our patrons how to make a night of it, embracing the best of downtown Denver culture! And the holidays are a perfect time to snuggle up with your S.O. and watch a show. So what else could you do…

We know Thursday is usually a work day, stuck right before glorious Friday, just teasing you with all that could be of a weekend. Well, as a holiday gift, here is a Thursday night, after work, (cheap!) date idea!

Pack a picnic full of your favorite winter foods (Soup in a thermos and some fresh baked cookies, perhaps). Then head down to Skyline Park at Arapahoe and the 16th St Mall. There you will find a FREE ICE RINK! You can bring your own skates or rent a pair for just $2.

After you’re done snacking and skating, take the free mall ride down to 16th Street and Glenarm. Marlowe’s has a happy hour until 7 pm! They have $4 Long Islands and $10 Pitchers of Sangria! For food, they offer $2 off appetizers.

And after all of that, head down to the Spark Theater. An Office Christmas Party with Ladyface starts at 8 pm. And ticket are only $12! This hilarious holiday show is for adults only and no Christmas cliche is safe.

That’s a full night of downtown entertainment (including a show) for 2 that’s easily under $60!
Get your holi-date on these next two weeks with An Office Christmas Party at Spark. See you there!

An Interview with LadyFace

Spark got to talk with LadyFacer, Kristin Rand, about creating their first full-length production. Get a sneak peak into their process and come check out the show, opening December 6th!

Spark: What was the creation process like for LadyFace’s first full length production?

KR: We were given a basic idea by Michael Emmit to create an adults-only full length play that was framed within a Christmas theme. With those very broad guidelines, we all met several times a week for writing sessions, creating the story-line and then approached the writing one scene at a time. We’re used to writing sketch comedy, so writing a play that extends far past the usual 5-7 time frame we’re used to was a fun challenge. It was about developing unique characters, making the story have continuity and in the end, be entertaining. We’d meet and write, take a couple days off, and do it again until the entire play was written. Lots of revisions and extra scenes were added but the original story line has stayed the same. Its really a piece of work that involved a lot of effort.

Spark: What kind of audience member would appreciate this show?

KR: We did not write this play for children. When we were told we could go R-rated, we went there. It was so much fun to be able to take it in that direction, it provided a lot of creative freedom and allowed us to be as LadyFace-esque as we are in our sketch shows. No holds barred.

Spark: If you had to describe the show in 6 words, what would they be?

KR: Outrageous, hysterical, heart-warming, ridiculous, fun

Spark: I know you held auditions for this production. What was it like bring in new people?

KR: We didn’t really have any set ideas for how many characters we wanted but once the play was all written, and each of us had agreed to play a role, we had a couple roles to fill. We, of course, come from a massive community of comedians and actors and posted for any of them who were interested to come out for auditions. We cast several stand-up comics (who fit right in) and one actor (the bravest soul alive) to join the LadyFace crew for the production. We’re so so thankful to these people for giving their time and energy- its not an easy task. We’re all having a blast in rehearsals and can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on.

International Press!

Check out this amazing coverage from Izu Newspaper, mentioning how hometown girl Haruna Tsuchiya has made it all the way to Denver, CO and worked with Spark Theater.

Ms. Tsuchiya performing passionately in a scene that drives to the heart of the story – Spark Theater, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

Translated text: Izu Newspaper Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

“Performed the heroine in a play in the U.S.”

Actress, Ms. Haruna Tsuchiya of Shimoda, 29, who is pursuing her career in Colorado, U.S.A., performed the heroine in a play “Rebecca” at Spark Theater in Denver, CO, and received rave reviews. The show closed recently, and we learned about the performances of “Rebecca”.

Actress, Ms. Haruna Tsuchiya of Shimoda

The play is based on a mystery novel by Daphne Du Maurier. “I”, a companion to a wealthy woman, met a millionaire from England, Maxim and became his second wife. As she is haunted by the life in the estate, where his late wife, Rebecca’s invisible existence is still vividly imprinted everywhere, the dark secret of Rebecca’s death is slowly revealed —–.

Ms. Tsuchiya was cast in this play through the unified audition held in June. The rehearsals began in August, and the show opened on September 8th. The Vice Consul of the Consulate-General of Japan at Denver attended the performance as well.

Tremendous amount of concentration and stamina, even more than what she had experienced in the past, were required, because of this character’s turbulent life, and the extreme proximity to the audience, on top of being onstage for almost the entire show for two hours. By trial and error, she kept experimenting with new things in every performance during the run of the show and experienced several moments that stayed with her as major turning points. She says it was filled with constant fresh discoveries.

Fresh and Dynamic Performance – Rave Reviews
Mystery “Rebecca” “Enjoyed the deepening of the performance”

The critic and colleagues raved Ms. Tsuchiya: “Haruna Tsuchiya as I provided that naiveness that was needed to explore this murder mystery. Her performance was just lovely. [The show was] well done and wonderfully executed!” “Haruna was always in the moment, so that each time we performed together was fresh, truthful, and dynamic.”
“I had never had such lingering feelings before on the closing night. There were several moments over the run of the show when my impulse was so strong that it surpassed my rational mind and broke the rules. In those moments, my body just moved automatically without thinking. It was only possible because I had such deep trust for my scene partners. We enjoyed those surprises and deepening of the performances with each other,” she recalls.

The connection from this show led her to teach workshops for high school students at a statewide theatre conference in early December. Also, she will be working on a radio drama project with the colleagues of “Rebecca”.

Ms. Tsuchiya graduated from Shimoda Higashi Junior High School and prefectural Nirayama High school. While in high school, she belonged to the drama club. After her graduation in 2002, she came to the U.S. and majored in musical theatre at the Theatre Department at State University of New York at Fredonia. She started her professional performing career in the States upon graduation. Her acting credits include: Fumiko Ishioka in Hana’s Suitcase, and Laura in The Glass Menagerie. She is also a translator and interpreter for film and theatre related projects. In May, she finished her Master’s program at Naropa University in Colorado.

The Cast of ENDGAME

opening March 2013

Clov – Kevin Fulton
Hamm – Michael Leopard
Nagg – Chris Kendall
Nell – Crystal Verdon Eisele

Director – Andrew Uhlenhopp

An Interview with Joel Gross

The author of Marie Antoinette: the color of flesh took a few minutes to talk with Spark about painting, New Jersey, and play writing. Come check out the regional premiere of his biggest success, playing through November 10th at Spark!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background and how did you begin writing plays?
An early reader of histories, legends, myths. I began writing historical novels. Falling in love with the theatre, my first attempts at play writing were historical drama.

You have several pieces about historical characters (from outlaw John Dillinger to actress Sarah Bernhardt). What is it that draws you to historical characters as opposed to “completely fictional” ones?
I’ve always loved history as a better way to understand the chaotic present. Hindsight is 20 20, right? My historical novels and plays are always rooted in the past, but fixated on the present.

And what was it specifically about Marie Antoinette that inspired you?
Journalism frequently misrepresents the character of celebrated contemporaries. When I learned something of the scandal sheets that helped bring down the regime and that were based on deliberate lies, it fired my imagination. Also, I happened to stumble across a painting (not of the Queen) by ELISA in a museum in Pasadena. Looked up Vigee LeBrun and discovered she was the same age as the Queen, and her favorite portrait painter. That was the beginning.

Why “The Color of Flesh” in the title?
It’s really from ELISA’s point of view. She needed to mature enough to recognize her love for the Queen, and her ability to be a true friend; this maturity impacted her art. She became a better artist when she could see herself and the world more clearly. The color of flesh is the color of reality.

In Maire Antoinette: the Color of Flesh, we know Marie Antoinette and Madame le Brun are based on people from history. How did you develop the character of the count?
Alexis is based on some real life liberal and philandering aristocrats, but mostly he grew in my mind as he engaged with the two women of the play. To me he’s as real as they are.

Spark is only 40 seats, and smaller than some people’s apartments (well, maybe not a NYC apartment). Did you ever imagine the show being played in an intimate house like this? Did you have a idea of the kind of theater space or company Marie Antoinette… would be right for?
The first production of the play was in NJ — not NY — in a house with 49 seats. (NJ REP). Lovely production, and everyone in the house could see everything, and hear every word. I think the size of the house helps mold the production. Actors have to project more in a 500 seat house, but that doesn’t necessarily hurt the play. It just makes it a different, no less valid, experience than the one at Spark.

As an artist do you prefer writing plays, films, or books? Is your creating process similar for all three?
Plays, God help me.

Tell us about your upcoming projects. What’s next for you?
I’ve got a reading of a new play (contemporary) at the Actors Studio in NY next month. Then I’ll re-write it a few times, and send it into the world.

Cheap Dates: Spice it Up!

At Spark Theater, we’re always on the look out for a good deal.  In fact, $10 Dollar Thursdays were born of our love for great bargains and awesome theater. $10 Dollar Thursdays are back for Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh. So for this edition of Cheap Dates, we’re dropping it like it’s hot!

“What the crepe does Marie Antoinette have do with Mexican food?!?”you ask. To which we answer, uh honestly? Nothing. Except for the fact that El Noa Noa just down the street has been serving up some of Denver’s best Mexican food for over three decades! Plus pairing $10 Dollar Thursday with El Noa Noa makes for a spicy and affordalbe night on the town. Our bargain hunting intern Sam came up with dinner and a show for two at El Noa Noa for under $50!

Spark Thursday night tickets – $10x 2 = $20

Dinner at El Noa Noa Sample –

2 Chicken enchiladas with rice, beans, and a tortilla – $10

Green Chili smothered Chimichanga with Carne Asada – $10

Churros for $1.50 each! X 2 = $3

Total = $43 before tax and tip

Dinner, tickets to  a regional premiere and churros for two  less than the price of one decent ticket to a touring Broadway show?! You had us at “churros”, Sam.  Don’t forget to take in some of Santa Fe’s incredible art galleries, nearly all of which are free, on your way over to the theater. It’s a great way to get to know the Santa Fe Arts District while working off some calories.  Theater. Art. Tacos. Bargains. Who could ask for anything more?

Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh opens Friday October, 19th 2012. See this stunning play for just $10 every Thursday during the run! $10 Dollar Thursdays always sell out so get your tickets here!

Announcing the Cast of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

50 years ago today a show opened on Broadway that left an unforgettable impression on the theater world. A little-known Edward Albee, who’s one-act play The Zoo Story had created a bit of a buzz, opened his first play on the Broadway stage. Now George, Martha, Nick and Honey take their official place as classics, though still as fresh, biting, and modern as the day it came out.

We decided almost as soon as we started Spark that this would be the year to bring this Albee masterpiece back to the stage. We know the intimacy of our 45-seat house is going to make the experience of seeing this show unlike any other production you may have witnessed, and you’re not going to want to miss this! Opening in just three months, we’re excited to present Bernie Cardell directing the following four brilliant actors in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Martha – Suzanne Nepi
George – Todd Black
Nick – Nate Axtell
Honey – Julie Wolf

Portraits of Power

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, or Elisa as she’s referred to in the script of Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh, was an oddity for the 18th-century. Vigée Le Brun was an acclaimed female artist who didn’t hide in the background but instead was hand picked to paint the lives of royalty.

For six years,Vigée Le Brun painted Marie Antoinette in over 30 portraits including candid paintings which showed the young queen with her family. The artist painted in the decadent Rococo style of the era and enjoyed the brief perks of being the official portraitist of Marie Antoinette. She famously caused scandals by painting Marie Antoinette with an open mouth and smiling, two things unheard of at the time. She was also allowed access to the monarch’s family life, holidays and private events in order to capture the queen in a variety of settings.

Vigée Le Brun fled France with her young daughter after the royal family was arrested. Unsurprisingly, the cache of being part of Marie’s inner-circle had evaporated during the French Revolution. After touring Europe, the artist spent several years in Russia. Again, she found herself in the company of royalty and painted portraits of Catherine the Great.  She returned to France later in life and lived out her final days there. She is buried in Paris. Today, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun’s works can be seen in museums around the world. According to Wikipedia, her legacy includes 660 portraits and 200 landscapes. Her association with royalty may have put her on the map, but it is her warm and human portraits that have turned  Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun into a legend.

Get to know Elisa, Marie and the man who came between them at Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh by Joel Gross from October 19th thru November 10th only at Spark Theater. Tickets available here. 

Cheap Dates: Brunch & a Matinee!

There’s been a lot of talk in TheaterLand recently about how ticket prices are too high, how people aren’t going to the theater and in general the sky is falling and dates that consist of a meal and a show will soon no longer exist!

We say, slow your roll, TheaterLand! There are still shows that sell well (our recently-closed Rebecca is proof of that) and still great dates to be found that won’t break the bank. With that said, we introduce Cheap Dates, Spark’s new blog series which features a meal and a performance of Marie Antoinette: the Color of Flesh for a super reasonable price. Consider the average trip to the movies here in Denver:

7 pm showing of a movie – adult ticket 10.50 x 2 = $21

Large popcorn – $6.75

2 small drinks – 3.75 x 2 =$7.50

2 regular size candy – 3 x 2 = $6

Total = $41.25 before tax

Yikes!  Over $40 bucks and you don’t even get a dinner? Luckily, our talented intern Sam found a tasty brunch option and matinee tickets for Marie for about $5 bucks more (before tax and tip) which includes a full-meal and one-of-a-kind live theater!

Interstate is literally right down the street from Spark! (Only about 131 ft.)  We Spark people practically live there. Great drinks,  yummy food and super nice staff make it a favorite hangout.  Plus, it’s a great place for a daytime date! If you have a Sunday free check out our matinee, maybe grab brunch beforehand. Then you’ll have the rest of your evening to… you know… finish your date! Here’s a sample date we came up with:

Spark tickets for a Sunday matinee – $15 x 2 = $30

Brunch at Interstate –

Interstate biscuits, country gravy & fried eggs $8

French toast with caramelized apples, whipped cream & honey molasses syrup $8

Total – $46

Not too bad for an afternoon of theater and a delicious brunch for two, right?Make sure to check out their dinner menu and happy hour specials too. “Theater for all” is a mantra we like chant around these parts and we also love to go out to eat. Thankfully, we believe you can still do both.

Join us for a special matinee of Marie Antoinette: the Color of Flesh on November 4th at 2pm. Get your tickets here.


The Cast Asks… Haruna Tsuchiya

In our final Rebecca installment of The Cast Asks…, our actors grill the lovely Haruna Tsuchiya. Haruna plays “I”, the new Mrs. De Winter whose real name audiences never learn. In the show, her character really gets put through the ringer so we figured Haruna could handle some “tough questions.” From dolphins and ninjas to severed body parts, nothing is off limits!

Cast – What is your deepest secret?
Haruna – That’s a secret!

Cast – If you were an animal, which you be and why?
Haruna – A dolphin. Because I would like to travel under the ocean for a long time.
Cast interjection – And because dolphins have sex for pleasure!

Cast – What would your tombstone say?
Haruna – “Lived Fully”

Cast – Back to our Van Gogh ear conversation, what body part would you cut off and who would you send it to?
Haruna – (after thinking for a long while) All of my fingers and I would send it to my best friend who is a piano teacher.

Cast – Pirates or ninjas?
Haruna- Of course pirates!

Cast – What is your favorite costume you have ever worn?
Haruna – The blue dress in the Glass Menagerie.

You can still see Haruna Tsuchiya and the rest of the brilliant cast of Rebecca tonight & Saturday night! Get yourself some tickets right here.