BWW Reviews: The Denver Center Theatre Company Presents a Timeless Masterpiece with DEATH OF A SALESMAN

The Denver Center Theatre Company presents Arthur Miller's Pulitzer and Tony-winning classic DEATH OF A SALESMAN playing now through October 20th in The Space Theatre of the Denver Center. DEATH OF A SALESMAN is the story of Willy Loman, a failing salesman who cannot accept that his dreams for his family are no match for realities of their ordinary lives. This heartbreaking portrayal of the American Dream explores families, promises and how slowly both can break.

I am sure I am not the first person to say this, but DEATH OF A SALESMAN is the most important piece of American dramatic literature. I truly believe that this iconic show applies to any time period or generation; and in this day and age of government shutdown, recession, foreclosures, and unemployment - this show is a pertinent as ever. The line "You have to break your neck to see a star in this yard," really does encompass the struggle of this all-American family. This is such a genius show because the audience so desperately wants to cheer for this family and their ever growing hardships and they get a glimmer of optimism at the beginning of Act II only to have it completely dashed by the end. The Denver Center Theatre Company truly honored this piece and the playwright with their stunning production and top-notch acting. This show left the audience transfixed throughout and made for a very memorable and emotional evening of theatre excellence. Just remember - this family drama and their eternal struggle will break you heart.

The role of Willy Loman was a feather in the cap of Mike Hartman's talented and sensational career. Mike truly rose to the challenge of this iconic role and showed great dramatic range with a working man's charisma. Because of his dynamic performance, it is heartbreaking to watch the fall and further fall of this unsung hero. Lauren Klein was adorable as Willie's wife, Linda and while she was a worrywart with wifely charm, she had a sparkle about her performance that drew you in. John Patrick Hayden was absolutely outstanding as their son, Biff. It was the drama that he brought to this role and the struggle to support his family, his father's betrayal and the quest to figure himself out that made John's performance a highlight of the evening. M. Scott McLean was also outstanding as Happy and understood his character's desperate need for approval from his family and had a wonderful brotherly kinship with Biff. Another memorable character was Willy's "best friend", Charley (wonderfully played by Michael Santo) that had that grumpy old men flair, while still showing so much compassion. I also have to mention that I was elated to see so many local Denver actors in this and other productions with the company and hope that they continue to tap this amazing pool of talented actors here in Colorado.
Director Anthony Powell truly understood the struggle that makes this show so important and really drew that out from the actors. His thoughtful blocking kept the action continuous and the show flowing smoothly. Lisa M. Orzolek decided that less is more when dealing with this impactful and emotional drama, constructing a set that was more stripped down, yet had so many levels that added such depth and dimension. Lighting designer Charles R. MacLeod did an excellent job with the lighting and I loved his playfulness with light and shadows. I also appreciated that he had a spotlight on Willie the entire time, since this show is truly about him - his pain, his struggle, his memories, and his life. The sound, by designer Jason Ducat was wonderful and encompassed the audience; and I loved the original music by composer Gary Grundei that airy and reflective and featured the flute. Costume Design by David Kay Mickelsen was the perfect representation for the time period and the working class family and the class society in the business world at that time. I also have to mention the wonderful work done by voice and dialect coach, Kathryn G. Maes, Ph.D for providing each actor with superb New England accents that only enhanced their performances.

Thanks to a very talented cast and crew, this is a true honor, appreciation and understanding of this timeless classic and if you want to see theater at its best, then go see this memorable show! DEATH OF A SALESMAN is haunting audiences now through October 20th in the Space Theatre of the Denver Center. Performances are Tuesdays - Thursdays at 6:30pm, Fridays - Sundays at 7:30pm, and Saturdays & Sundays matinees at 1:30pm. For tickets or more information, contact the Denver Center Box Office at 303-893-4100 or online at

PHOTO CREDIT: Jennifer M Koskinen
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Mike Hartman as Willie Loman

John Patrick Hayden as Biff and Mike Hartman as Willie


Mike Hartman as Willie and Lauren Klein as Linda

M. Scott McLean as Happy and Lauren Klein as Linda

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