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🎭 Watch out NYC, Denver’s coming your way



Hey there! Resident CCD theater buff Lizzie Goldsmith here with some big news for our local acting community.

This weekend, disability-affirmative theater company Phamaly Theatre will be bringing their production of “The Spitfire Grill” to the Arvada Center. Then next week, the cast is flying to New York City to be a part of The Forward Festival of the Arts at Queens Theatre, which will double as the show’s grand finale. Two Phamaly actors were even tapped to perform at Lincoln Center — a Broadway space!

“When I told the founder [of Phamaly] that, he was like, ‘34 years ago, the idea of disabled people on a Broadway stage even singing one song was, like, mind-blowing,’” said Phamaly Artistic Director Ben Raanan.

“It’ll be all of our actors making their New York debut, which is really, really fun and really exciting,” said Raanan.

Actors Katelyn Kendrick (Percy) and Sam Barrasso (Shelby), who will be singing at Lincoln Center next week. Credit: Michael Ensminger

I watched Spitfire Grill when it was at Northglenn Arts in March, and the singing was some of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. The story is about a young woman named Percy who moves to a small town in Wisconsin to rebuild her life, and ends up working at a rundown diner called the Spitfire Grill.

“I have this thing where I’m the only artistic director that hates reading plays,” Raanan said, but when he came across this one, he couldn’t put it down. He describes the show as a “warm hug” and “toast with butter on it” — not the kind of show he usually gravitates toward, but one, he thinks, we need right now. “I really do believe that theater post-COVID is going to be one of two forms: It’s either going to be nostalgia, and, like, kindness and love, or it’s going to be, burn the walls down.”

The seven-person cast — small for a Phamaly production — is a mix of Phamaly veterans and newcomers, which Raanan is excited to see. “A lot of our actors go, ‘I never even thought I could act — that never even occurred to me. I’m blind, how would I be on stage?’ Or ‘I’m in a wheelchair.’ And so this constant kind of outreach is really important to me,” he said.

Raanan also loves that they perform all over town, because it means getting to work with other theaters who share their values. Su Teatro is one of the theaters they partner with, and where they’ll be returning in August with “The Rocky Horror Show.”

“People want to constantly be putting us in a box of, like, ‘oh, this is the disability theater, and that’s the LatinX theater,’ when in reality it’s like, yeah, we focus on disability, but the same things we’re focusing on — which is inclusion, telling our stories honestly, accessibility, growing theater for different people — that’s the same things they’re doing.”

Raanan moved to Denver from Chicago a year ago for this job. He’d been a fan of Phamaly from afar for years, and jumped at the chance to get to work with them. “There’s no other position like this in the United States,” he said. “It’s been a humbling experience learning from an organization that’s been doing this for so long.”

Catch one of the last three Colorado performances of The Spitfire Grill this weekend, and visit Phamaly Theatre’s website to find out more about their upcoming productions.

— Lizzie Goldsmith


“What I do here is not just a job. It’s a duty. I teach our only sections of Latino literature and Latino leadership … I have a duty at North High School to facilitate cultural knowledge and the experiences of our students.” — Tim Hernández

He’s a Beloved Northside Teacher. Why Did DPS Let Him Go?
Last week, Denver North High School teacher Tim Hernández posted online that he was being let go by the district. And people — his students, community members, and colleagues — are not happy about it. Why, in a city with a supposed teacher shortage, would a cherished community-centered educator like Tim be fired?


⛺ “Decade of Doom”: This week marks 10 years since the city passed an urban camping ban that opponents say unjustly targets people living on the streets. To bring attention to the occasion, advocates for the unhoused flooded Monday’s city council meeting, took over the podium, and refused to relinquish it well past the scheduled public comment period. Council took an hour-long recess during which only councilwoman Candi CdeBaca stayed in the chamber to talk with advocates. [Denver Post]

  • 📅 And it’s only Wednesday: Advocates have scheduled volunteer opportunities and advocacy work throughout the week that will culminate in a rally “to end the ban” on Saturday. Learn more here

🏓 Checking in on the “Mayor of Pickleball”: Remember that bizarre story about the 71-year-old, pickleball-loving Central Park resident? You know, the one who was arrested for drawing pickleball court markings on the gym floor of the local rec center? Well, he’s going to court today, and if the Denver DA opts to move forward with criminal charges, the guilty pickleball player could face up to three years in prison. [Denverite]

😶‍🌫️ A cloud of confusion at Cloud 9: Last month, the City Cast Denver team took a deep dive into all the hubbub surrounding the possible opening of a new weed lounge in the Platt Park neighborhood. The controversy was hot! (You can listen to Part 1 and Part 2 of our investigative two-episode series.) But strangely, the owner of the proposed weed lounge has suddenly withdrawn his lounge’s application. [Axios Denver]

  • 💬  Axios Denver reported: “An application for Denver’s first business to allow on-site cannabis consumption and sales was withdrawn last Friday… The city’s licensing department has not given a reason, and Josh Horwitz of Cloud 9 would not provide comment.”

👭 Looking for friends? There’s a club for that. The Denver Girl’s Club was created by 24-year-old Maiya Mindoro and is a free community for women in their 20s and 30s looking to network and make new friends. The club’s third in-person event is happening tonight at Weathered Wick for a candle-making session. Get tickets here, and learn more about the club here 👉 [Westword


What do YOU all think about Councilman Jolon Clark’s proposal that Denverites should pay for trash pickup to help improve our composting and recycling rates? (Hear from Councilman Clark directly on the podcast here.)

Listener Ryan A. says: “When it comes to compost and recycle, hell yes to Jolon Clark’s plan! Shoot I’d take two compost carts for half the year.”

Listener Dani says: “I agree the city needs to implement more ways to recycle and compost but charging for basic garbage service is too much for older and low income families/individuals. They will just end up putting it in others’ trash cans or just leaving it on the streets or in the alleyways. It should be part of our taxes so everyone pays together and not the individual. Once they come up with an effect[ive] plan the citizens should be allowed to vote on it.”

Listener Katya says: “The plan sounds good in theory, but how do we deal with the next negative incentive? If they have to pay more, some people will just start putting their trash into the recycling or compost bins, contaminating those streams. Will the city have the means to sort that? And if they do, then why don’t we just go to single stream, where everyone has a single bin that everything goes into and it gets sorted after pickup?”

  • We reached out to Councilman Clark with this question. Here’s what he had to say: 

    “The City will have inspectors for each solid waste district, and drivers keep an eye on what is coming out of the bins as they pick them up. Additionally, loads are inspected at the transfer stations, so they will be able to pinpoint illegal use of the recycling and compost bins and then reach out with education and eventually enforcement. … There will be some adjustment for folks as this is a change, but this is still the least expensive trash collection system in the country with deep affordability rebates for folks who are struggling, so that negative incentive should be small and the solid waste team is prepared to mitigate it.”

🗣️ Have thoughts on something we’ve covered on the podcast or in the newsletter? You can always write in to, or call and leave a voicemail at 720-500-5418

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