Top Directors In The Local Theater Scene In Denver

March 25, 2013 12:20 AM

Rod Lansberry, right (credit: Arvada Center)

When you attend a play or musical you enjoy, chances are you notice the actors first, then maybe the set or musicians second. The most influential, yet hardly recognized, is the director. Why? Because if a director does his or her job right, then you shouldn’t really be able to tell at all. What you will see is that the show is good, the acting is believable and you get lost in a world that allows you to escape and just enjoy the story being told. There are so many incredibly talented directors in Denver, and it was a difficult challenge to narrow the field down to five. However, if you see any of these names on the show poster, then you can be sure it will be a good production.

Christy Montour-Larson
Curious Theatre Company
1080 Acoma St.
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 623-0524

Christy Montour-Larson is the Producer in Residence at Denver’s award-winning Curious Theatre Company. In 2012, Montour-Larson’s work was winning multiple awards and taking over stages throughout Denver. Her fascinating and poignant production of “Red” won seven Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards, while Sean Scrutchins took home the Henry for Best Performance by an Actor in a Play for his leading role in Montour-Larson’s “9 Circles.” Following those two impressive productions, she directed “The Giver” for the Denver Center Theatre Company and “Time Stands Still” again at Curious Theatre. Montour-Larson’s style is emotional and powerful, with subtle nuance and a fine attention to detail. She is certainly a director worth looking for and very deserving to be on this list.

Nick Sugar
Town Hall Arts Center
2450 W. Main Street
Littleton, CO 80120
(303) 794-2787

Nick Sugar is an extremely popular and successful musical director that works in theaters all over the city. Most recently, he has been working a lot at Town Hall Arts Center, having just closed a hit production of “Forever Plaid.” In 2012, Sugar’s production of “The Who’s Tommy” at Town Hall took home two Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards for Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography. Sugar is well known for his musical work and has a great eye for large dance numbers and lively productions. Coming up, he is directing “Hair” at Town Hall, which runs May 17 through June 16.

Related: 2013 Denver Spring Theater Preview

Rod Lansberry
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
6901 Wadsworth Blvd
Arvada, CO 80003
(720) 898-7200

The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities has a very strong reputation for excellence, producing some of the largest and most difficult musicals that Broadway has brought to the stage. A lot of the success of the Arvada Center is due to the efforts of Rod Lansberry, one of its directors. Over the years, he’s brought countless memorable productions to the city of Arvada, but perhaps none quite as memorable as 2008’s smash hit “Les Miserables” which won an unprecedented 12 Henry Awards. It seems the secret to Lansberry’s success is big: big shows, big production values, big hits and big rewards. Up next, Lansberry is directing the classic “Man of La Mancha” at the Arvada Center, which will run March 22 through April 14.

Pat Payne
Midtown Arts Center
3750 South Mason St.
Fort Collins, CO 80525
(970) 225-2555

Pat Payne has produced and directed theatre in Denver for more than 15 years. He runs not one, not two but three theatre companies – Spotlight Theatre Company, Cherry Creek Theatre Company and Silhouette Theatre Company. In his “spare” time, he directs for all of them, as well as The Arvada Center, Midtown Arts Center and just about every other theatre in town. Originally known as the “Farce Master” for bringing high-quality farcical comedies to Spotlight Theatre, Payne has recently been making his mark directing large musicals, poignant dramas and other less comedic fare. Now, he’s taking his talent outside of  Denver heading to theaters in Fort Collins and Pagosa Springs. Coming up for Payne is the hysterical musical comedy “Legally Blonde” at Midtown Arts Center, running March 7 through May 19.

Related: Top Live Theater Venues In Northern Colorado

Bernie Cardell
Performance Now
Lakewood Cultural Center
470 S. Allison Parkway
Lakewood, CO 80226
(303) 987-7876

Bernie Cardell is one of the busiest directors around. He works at pretty much every theatre company in town and directs small comedies and dramas as well as large musicals and everything in between. The busiest man in Denver Theatre has even found time to perform, having played one of the leads in last year’s hit “The Producers” at Town Hall Arts Center. However, it is directing that Cardell is most known for, and he has a keen eye for everything he brings to the stage. His 2012 production of “Avenue Q” at Vintage Theatre earned him a Henry Award nomination for Best Director of a Musical, as well as multiple Denver Post Ovation Award nominations. Coming up, Cardell is directing the classic “South Pacific” for Performance Now Theatre Company at the Lakewood Cultural Center, running April 26 through May 12.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at