Metropolitan State University of Denver theatre program is a rising star in Denver theatre scene
By Doug McPherson
View the Metropolitan State University of Denver theatre program the same way you do a play—in three acts. Act I: Up to 200 students are awash in practical performance and technical opportunities with concentrations in music theatre and applied theatre technology and design. Act II: All students (emphasis on all) get their hands dirty in the painstaking details of four major productions each year, directing projects, or by participating in performance and technical opportunities such as shows in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and other companies. Act III: Students hone skills through rigorous practice with supervision from professors who work in the industry, and they go on to spectacular careers in the theatrical arts. Notable MSU Denver theatre alumni include Larry Mitchell, a production manager at Radio City Music Hall and a professional actor in movies and on stage, and Jason Sweat, whose credits include appearances on “CSI,” “Will and Grace,” and “General Hospital.”
Enter Department of Theatre Assistant Professor Scott Lubinski, who holds an MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory. Lubinski has spent a quarter of a century in theatre and continues to work in productions around the country even as he helps mold a new generation of theatre professionals in Denver. He’s directing the MSU Denver production of “The Heidi Chronicles,” running April 11 through April 21 at the Auraria Campus King Center.
Q. What makes the MSU Denver music theatre program unique?
A. “We concentrate not on just giving actors the skills they need for the stage but also on giving students skills for life. We focus on an “ensemble” approach to theatre. No one person is more important than another, and no job is more important than another. We all take out the trash. We all do what needs to be done. We know that at other programs much of the focus ends up on the most talented, so the top 10 percent get the attention and the rest are left to fend for themselves. Not here.”
Q. How does the MSU Denver program prepare students for careers in the theatre arts?
A. “With a bachelor of arts, they’re getting a broad range of skills in theatre along with individualized attention, always with the intent of getting gainful employment in the field or to attend graduate school. And in the technical and music theatre program, they’re again getting individualized attention through weekly coaching sessions with professionals in specific skills. We have earned accreditation and institutional membership with the National Association of Schools of Theatre.”
Q. How is the MSU Denver impact felt in the local arts scene?
A. “Our program has always had a presence because of its location, and our professors work in the local scene. Students get a lot of experience locally. Directors and producers regularly tell us our students are among the best. They come ready to work with a good attitude, but also with the knowledge they need to make productions work. MSU Denver has alumni working in almost every theatre company in Colorado.”
Q. What can theatregoers expect from an MSU Denver production, and “Kiss Me Kate” in particular?
A. “Quality throughout. Quality music and singing, sets, lighting and a balanced ensemble that will make them either laugh their bellies off or cry their eyes out. With “Kiss Me Kate” the audience will laugh their bellies off with a lot of slapstick, Vaudevillian humor and action.”
Catch “The Heidi Chronicles” at the King Center MSU Denver Studio Theatre April 11-April 13 2 at 7:30 p.m.; April 18-20 at 7:30 p.m.; and April 21 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors, and free for MSU Denver students with a valid ID. $2 of every ticket price supports student scholarships. Purchase tickets by phone at 303-556-2296 or online from the King Center Box Office. Free parking is available in the Seventh Street Garage with a valid ticket stub.