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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Harvey

Playwright:  Mary Chase

Venue:  Black Box Theater, Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada, CO.

Running Time:  2 hours 30 minutes (includes 20 minute intermission).

Date of Performance:  Tuesday, January 27, 2015 (opening night performance).


It took Denver native Mary Chase over two years to write the script for Harvey, but the finished product quickly became a huge hit.  The show ran for over four years on Broadway, and was made into a major motion picture starring Jimmy Stewart.  She also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1945, becoming the only Coloradan to ever receive that honor.  Now considered an American classic, Harvey continues to entertain audiences 70 years after it first opened.  

For those who have successfully avoided both the play and the film until now, here’s a brief description of the show.  Harvey is not exactly the lead character.  He’s a six foot tall imaginary rabbit.  He’s visible only to Elwood P. Dowd, who actually is the lead character.  Dowd’s family is embarrassed by his delusions, and tries to keep him secluded from polite company.  When that is no longer possible, they try to have him institutionalized.  As one might imagine, Elwood has numerous hilarious and awkward interactions with his family, society, and the staff at the institution.  

The Arvada Center production of Harvey is exactly what you’d expect.  The cast is exemplary, the production values will make other companies salivate, and the script is as funny as it is timeless.  

When I say that the production values will make other companies salivate, I mean it.  Scenic designer Brian Mallgrave’s splendid set depicts two locations; Elwood’s home and the sanitarium.  The location changes once in each act.  In what is a rare experience for me, the set gets an ovation from the audience both times it changes.  That’s right.  Twice.  Even though the audience has seen the change in the first act, spontaneous applause erupts again in the second act.  

Director Gavin Mayer deserves some credit for the scene changes.  His stage hands are in character as domestic help, in period costumes.  The effect is a flawless, seamless continuity between the two locations.  Mayer’s touch can also be seen in the facial gestures of his cast.  In the smaller Black Box Theater, those facial gestures are visible to the audience and punctuate the laugh lines with physical cues, enhancing the script.

Lighting Designer Robert Byers incorporates period appropriate ceiling fixtures for both locations.  The fixtures drop into the set and change the mood from home to hospital and back again.

L-R:  Torsten Hillhouse (Elwood), Kate Gleason (Veta), Missy Moore (Myrtle),  Mark Rubald (Judge Gaffney)
The costumes for Harvey are not just period appropriate; they are thought out in exquisite detail.  Veta Louis Simmons (Kate Gleason) wears a beautiful blue dress with matching shoes.  Myrtle Mae Simmons (Missy Moore)wears shoes that match the trim on her dress.  Myrtle is wearing sheer stockings, complete with a seam in the back.  Elwood’s suit matches beautifully with his two tone leather oxford shoes.  The fit, the finish, and the detail that went into costuming the cast makes Harvey a feast for the eyes.

I have a message for all those carpenters, electricians, stitchers, seamstresses, and assorted other craft persons who work behind the scenes at the Arvada Center.  You don’t get standing ovations, but you should.  Sometimes you may wonder why you have to be so detailed, so thorough, and so fussy about the little things that might not even be visible to the audience.   The reason is that you work in a professional theater.  Those small details do matter.  They matter in the sense that everything on stage looks perfect, and in the sense that the absence of that perfection would detract from the production.  So here’s a hat tip to the Arvada Center crew that consistently creates an excellent theater experience down to the smallest detail.

Torsten Hillhouse, Missy Moore, Kate Gleason.
As for the performances, I can sum it up by saying that there’s not a weak link anywhere in the cast.  Missy Moore (Myrtle Mae Simmons) plays her role with innocence and vulnerability, and with a lot of physical humor using her facial gestures.  Kate Gleason (Veta Louise Simmons) shines as she pretends to care for her brother Elwood while actually trying to hide him and sell his house.  Torsten Hillhouse (Elwood P. Dowd) is a little less folksy than the Jimmy Stewart version of Dowd, but he is an eminently likable Dowd I’d love to have a beer with.  Stephen Cole Hughes (Duane Wilson) has an excellent sense of comedic timing.  Audra Blaser (Ruth Kelly, R.N.) is naive as Ruth, hoping to snag a doctor for her spouse, and righteously indignant when she is spurned.  This is a talented cast all around, and Director Gavin Mayer has put the right touch on their talents here.

One of the things I really like about Harvey is how it questions what we consider "normal."  You would be correct to wonder at times who is normal and who is crazy in this cast.  Sometimes the "normal" person is not immediately obvious to us.  Harvey at the Arvada Center is a great show, whether you are seeing this script for the first time or for the tenth time.  You don’t have to take my word for it.  The audience gave the cast a standing ovation. 

Harvey is another gem in the Arvada Center crown.  It’s in the smaller theater, so tickets may become scarce.  If you are thinking about seeing Harvey, act quickly.  You will not be disappointed.

NOTES:

This show is suitable for all ages.

Local playwright Mary Chase was born to Irish immigrant parents in Denver in 1906.  She graduated from Denver West High School, and attended both the University of Colorado and the University of Denver (which granted her an honorary Doctorate of Letters degree in 1947).  She was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (1985) and the Colorado Performing Arts Hall of Fame (1999).

This production closes on February 22, 2015.  

Pre or Post Show Dining Suggestion:

We stopped at Bennett’s Barbecue, 7490 W 52nd Avenue, Arvada.  It’s a short 10 minute drive north on Wadsworth to the Arvada Center.  Featuring the usual barbecue meats and sauces, Bennett’s also has some great specials.  I had the Tuesday night special; all you can eat pork shoulder with fries, bread, and cole slaw for $11.99.  For the truly hungry and adventurous, you can’t beat the Chuckwagon:  Beef Brisket, Pork Shoulder, Sausage, Hickory Smoked Chicken & St. Louis Ribs for $19.99.  Menu here.



PHOTO CREDITSThe Arvada Center and P. Switzer Photography.


CREATIVE TEAM:


Artistic Producer: Rod A. Lansberry

Director:  Gavin Mayer

Production Stage Manager:  Jonathan D. Allsup

Assistant Stage Manager:  Lisa Cook

Scenic Design:  Brian Mallgrave

Sound Design:  Morgan McCauley

Lighting Design:  Robert Byers

Costumes:  Chris Campbell

Wig & Makeup Design:  Megan O’Connor


CAST:

Myrtle Mae Simmons:  Missy Moore

Veta Louise Simmons:  Kate Gleason

Elwood P. Dowd:  Torsten Hillhouse

Miss Johnson:  Heather Lacy

Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet:  Anne Oberbroeckling

Ruth Kelly, R.N.: Audra Blaser

Duane Wilson:  Steven Cole Hughes

Lyman Sanderson, M.D.:  Graham Ward

William R. Chumley, M.D.:  Jeffrey Roark

Betty Chumley:  Kathleen Brady

Judge Omar Gaffney: Mark Rubald

E.J.Lofgren:  Joseph Bearss




Monday, January 26, 2015

Detroit

Playwright:  Lisa D’Amour


Venue:  Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, 3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, CO.

CompanyTheatreworks

Running Time:  1 hour 45 minutes (no intermission).

Date of Performance:  Friday, January 23, 2015.

Detroit, the city, is pretty much the poster child/city for colossal and total urban decay.*  Detroit, the play, focuses on the logical, if largely forgotten, extension of that urban decay to suburbia.  Lisa D’Amour’s script follows two couples as they descend from personal and financial crises into full blown emotional and moral disasters.

Detroit at Theatreworks does not disappoint; the company has high standards for production values and talent, both of which are in evidence here.  That said, though, high production values and a talented cast is sometimes not enough to overcome an aimless and ultimately pointless script.  Although Detroit was a Pulitzer Prize nominee in 2011 (Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris was the winner), I found the script lacking in direction and substance.

Although we seldom associate the suburbs with “urban” decay, Detroit brings the reality of
Packard Plant, closed in 1954.  Photo credit:  Wikipedia.
hard times to those who thought they were escaping the dangers of urban living.  When the city collapses, the “middle class” also feels the pain.  In the case of Ben (Greg Wise) and Mary (Shannon Haragan), they appear to have done everything right.  With a house in the suburbs and Ben’s job as a banker, they should be living the dream.  But when Ben is laid off, the couple goes into a tail spin.  There is no work to be had, and Ben’s plan to become a web based financial consultant is fatally flawed.  Ben and Mary learn that suburban life is no protection from economic ruin.

L-R:  Shannon Haragan, Greg Wise, Todd d'Amour, Carley Cornelius.
Kenny (Todd d’Amour) and Sharon (Carley Cornelius) move in next door to Ben & Mary, hoping for a new start.  Their lives are in chaos; both have addiction issues and neither have any demonstrable skills that would help them turn their lives around.  Their presence in this strange suburb is a essentially a result of squatting; they don’t own, rent, or otherwise have a claim to be Mary and Ben’s neighbors.  They move in without a single piece of furniture, a situation Mary can’t abide.  She loans them a coffee table.  That coffee table gives Mary some comfort, but Kenny and Mary have little interest in accumulating furniture or anything else.

Detroit is a slow but predictable descent into chaos, beautifully staged but sadly unfulfilling.  It’s clear from the outset that the veneer of suburban respectability is about to be obliterated.  Unfortunately, destruction for its own sake is not much of a story, and Detroit doesn’t try to give us anything of value as a take away.  There is no lesson learned, no redemption, no likable characters, and no message in Detroit.  There is simply foreseeable, Kafkaesque carnage of things both tangible and intangible.

Carley Cornelius turned in a marvelous performance last season in Venus in Fur at Theatreworks, and she is no less striking here.  She plays Sharon with sincerity and mischievousness.  At times pensive and gloomy, she can turn on a dime and change a cookout into a primal, tribal orgy.  She’s flirty, feisty, and full of attitude.  Cornelius has now shown us twice that any director who is looking to cast an actress as a “bad girl” need look no further.

Todd d’Amour is a convincing Kenny, showing us through some physical gestures/ and trembling the residual effects of his heavy drug use.  He’s a perfect match for Cornelius’ Sharon, complementing her playfulness with his sincere effort to fit in a lifestyle he knows nothing about.  His attempt to build a deck is pitiful; he’ll never be the suburban guy doing standard male household chores.  When Sharon pulls out all the stops, he gladly abandons all pretense and lets his primitive alter ego loose.

Both Mary and Ben are naive, and both actors (Shannon Haragan and Greg Wise) are easily led over the cliff by their new neighbors.  Wise is especially fun to watch as he transforms from the banker he was to a limber, sexy dancer, showing some moves we would never have expected.  His performance requires him to reveal a truth to Mary and the others, and when he does so, I just sat there wondering why I didn’t see it coming.  Wise kept a secret from his onstage wife, and we (or, at least, I) had no clue until he decided to disclose it.  

Scenic Designer Jonathan Weitz had a huge challenge for Detroit.  He had to create a set that could be burned down on stage.  He more than met that challenge with an truly creative design.  Part of that set design requires lighting that creates the “fire.”  Lighting Designer Vance McKenzie skillfully created the fire illusion.

Director Shana Gold directs, blocks, and choreographs a delicate dance of delusional self destructive characters.  It’s a stunning dance, one in which the characters lose all touch with reality.  Sound designer Alex Ruhlin brings the beat for the dance, giving the cast the necessary soundtrack for their escape from sanity.

Haragan and Cornelius, in their quest for domestic peace and a future they think will be better, embark on a “campout” in “the wild.”  Never mind that neither of them seems capable of surviving in the relative civilization of the suburbs.  They both seek “the wild” as an escape and, hopefully, a new start.  It is no surprise that they only get as far as a gas station and head back home.  

That campout, however, is the source of what may be the only profound moment in the entire script.  After a fire destroys their home, Ben and Mary are standing in front of the rubble.  Mary asks Ben “what used to be here before?”  Ben answers “Farms.”  

Mary clarifies her question:  “No.  Before that.”

Ben’s answer is telling.  “I don’t know.  The wild, I guess.”*  

That’s right.  “The wild.”  Exactly what Mary and Sharon were seeking.  Perhaps they were already where they wanted to be.  Perhaps they had always been there.  Or, perhaps, “the wild” is gone forever.  We may never know for sure.

Despite a talented cast and a very creative director and crew, Detroit left me feeling short changed.  The characters didn’t develop.  They deconstruct.  It is very difficult to empathize with characters whose flaws are self-inflicted.  I had a queasy feeling, as if I was driving by a fatal car accident.  I had to look, but looking didn’t make me feel like I was a better person for having seen it.  In fact, it was a little creepy, a little scary, and very disturbing.  

Detroit is not for everyone.  We all realize that urban decay has seeped into suburbia.  Detroit will not be a revelation in that regard.  Use your judgment; this is provocative, challenging theater.  Objects in the rear view mirror may be larger and more disturbing than you expected.  

*I have nothing whatsoever against Detroit the city.  I spent 4 months there in 2004, and met some of the best, most dedicated people ever.  The spirit of Detroit is what is keeping it from becoming an urban desert.

**Quotes are approximate; I was not able to confirm the exact wording in the script.

NOTES:

This show is suitable for ages 16 and up (Theatreworks recommendation).  It contains adult language, profanity, sexual references, and adult situations.

This production closes on February 8, 2015.  


Pre or Post Show Dining Suggestion:

We stopped at Mollica’s Italian Market, 985 Garden of the Gods Road (exit 146 on I-25, then
west) before the show.  It’s a classic Italian deli and market, but with restaurant seating.  It’s a straight shot to/from the theater, and less than a 10 minute drive.  Menu here.  The traditional meat lasagna is wonderful (half portion for $9.95, full portion is $12.95).  Pizza and calzones come with your choice of house salad or a cup of soup.  Ten inch, 2 topping pizzas start at $13.95.


PHOTO CREDITSTheatreworks, unless otherwise noted.

TICKETS HERE:  



CREATIVE TEAM:


Director:  Shana Gold

Stage Manager:  Timothy J. Muldrew

Scenic Deisgn:  Jonathan Wentz

Sound Design:  Alex Ruhlin

Lighting Design:  Vance McKenzie

Costumes:  Amy Haines


CAST:

Kenny:  Todd d’Amour

Sharon:  Carley Cornelius

Ben:  Greg Wise

Mary:  Shannon Haragon

Frank:  Michael Demaree




Monday, January 19, 2015

Beets



Playwright:  Rick Padden

VenueAurora Fox Theater, 9900 East Colfax, Aurora CO.

Company:  Read and Rant Productions.

Running Time:  2 hours (includes15 minute intermission).

Date of Performance:  Friday, January 16, 2015.

I may have a decent excuse for not knowing my Colorado history; I was raised in Madison Wisconsin.  Like so many others, I didn’t come to Colorado until I was an adult (or what passes for "adult" at age 41) in late 1989.  Even so, it turns out that I’m not alone; there are a lot of native Coloradans who don’t know that the state was the site of several Prisoner of War (POW) camps during World War IIBeets is about POWs from the Greeley camp.  It’s historically accurate, and it’s a compelling story of conflicted emotions and challenged values.
Standing guard over POWs.


The story is set in rural Berthoud, Colorado in the mid 1940s.  Northern Colorado has been a significant producer of sugar beets since the mid 19th century, and the title Beets refers to the crop that Fred and Isabelle Hunt are farming.  Then, as now, getting sufficient unskilled labor to plant, cultivate, and harvest the crop was a challenge.  

The solution, it turns out, was to have the POWs work in the fields.  Through an arrangement with the government, POWs were given work assignments on local farms, under a strict set of rules to prevent escapes and other problems.  Although the rules were loosely enforced, there were few problems with the German soldiers/prisoners in the fields.

Fred Hunt (Andrew Uhlenhopp) had a big beef with the program; his son was fighting the Germans overseas, and he wanted no part of having POWs working his fields.  Had it not been for the likelihood that his crop would wilt in the field and die without sufficient hands to harvest it, he would have never permitted POWs on his property.  On learning that his son had been taken prisoner by the Germans, he became even more hostile to the plan.

Fred reluctantly accepted the German POW help simply to avert financial ruin.  

Andrew Uhlenhopp (Fred), Kelly Uhlenhopp (Isabelle).
Fortunately for Fred, his wife Isabelle (played by Andrew's actual wife, Kelly Uhlenhopp), is a beacon of reason and sanity for Fred and their daughter Anna (played by Jordyn Morgan).  She has a habit of reminding Fred (and by extension, all of us) about our basic values.  As she points out to Fred, the POWs are just boys, like their own son, who were doing their duty for their country.  They were the enemy, but they are no longer a threat to the the US, or to the farmers of northern Colorado.  


Anna, for her part, is taken with Dieter
Jordyn Morgan (Anna), Drew Hirschboeck (Dieter).
(Drew Hirschboeck, he of the impeccable German accent), one of the POWs working on their farm.  The love story between Anna and Dieter develops slowly, but it is always foreshadowing the climactic last scene, as Fred is finally forced to deal with Dieter as a human being instead of an evil fantasy.


This is a fine cast doing justice to an intriguing script.  Andrew Uhlenhopp’s Fred is feisty, focused, and probably clinically depressed.  He struggles with his dilemma; how can he host German POWs while his own son is in a German POW camp?  Should his loyalty to his son trump his duty to financially support the rest of his family?  Beyond the conflict with loyalty to his son, Fred also has to face a budding romance between his daughter and a German soldier.  The emotions are real; we truly empathize with Fred.  

Kelly Uhlenhopp (Isabelle), Jordyn Morgan (Anna).
Kelly Uhlenhopp is pitch perfect as the moral compass for the script.  She keeps bringing us back to our real values.  We wouldn’t want our soldiers treated badly in captivity, so we must treat their soldiers with dignity and respect.  Kelly Uhlenhopp brings the true values to the conflict, reminding us of who we are, and who we want to be.  It’s no coincidence that we are currently reliving that moral conflict today.  In fact, polls tell us that Americans now favor torturing prisoners.  The American values of the 1940s are in serious decline, and Uhlenhopp poignantly reminds us about why these issues matter.

One of the significant reasons why Americans have changed their attitudes on torture can be traced back to the "War on Terror."  On January 25, 2002, Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General, declared the Geneva Conventions on how to treat POWs described as "obsolete" and "quaint:" 

"This new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges."   (Emphasis added.)

Since that day, some very shameful acts have been committed in our name.  There is little evidence those shameful acts have either 1) made us more safe, or 2) advanced any demonstrable military objective.  Watching Beets, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for the days when our values were unambiguous and undisputed.

The love story between Anna and Dieter is a fitting plot device to play out this conflict of values.  Everything is more personal when it involves us directly.  It is our sons and daughters who will inherit the values left intact after the conflict is resolved.  Both Jordyn Morgan and Drew Hirschboeck draw us in and help us see ourselves and others as individual human beings.  They tenderly change the context from world war to living our lives as we see fit.

The set, the sound, the lights, and the direction here are all first rate, as are all the performances.  If I have any quibble with Beets, it is that the conclusion is abrupt and somewhat muddled.  Leaving the audience hanging can be an effective plot device, but here it seems inconclusive rather than thought provoking.

Beets gets my recommendation for multiple reasons, including that it sheds light on an obscure part of Colorado history,and that it does so in a dramatic and entertaining way.  Issues of love, war, and foreign immigration (whether voluntary or forced) are just as relevant now as they were in World War II.   Beets will make you think about some very big ideas about how we wage war and who and how we love.  Any show that can put such profound subjects into clear focus is well worth the price of admission.


NOTES:

“Read and Rant” is the Aurora Fox’s script-reading book club. It meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 7pm – 10pm to discuss 2 or 3 scripts that were assigned the previous month. The only requirements to become a member are that you attend the meetings and that you do not discuss the scripts outside of the group.

This show is suitable for all ages.

For additional historical back ground on the POW camps in Colorado and the sugar beet industry, please follow these links:






This production closes on February 8, 2015.  


Pre or Post Show Dining Suggestion:

We had BBQ at Jim & Nick’s Northfield location.  It’s true southern (Alabama based) BBQ, with a side of community service.  The chain works with local charities to support children, education, health, wellness, and local farming.  It’s a 15 minute drive to/from the Aurora Fox.  Menu here.


PHOTO CREDITSAurora Fox Arts Center.

Tickets HERE.


CREATIVE TEAM:

Executive Producer:  Angela Astle

Read and Rant Producers:  Brent Berry, Doug Blondin, Nancy Davis, Pamela Osborne, Vicki Rottman

Director:  Warren Sherrill

Stage Manager:  Amelia Retureta

Scenic Deisgn:  Brandon Case

Sound Design:  El Armstrong

Lighting Design:  Charles Dean Packard

Costumes:  Caroline Smith


CAST:

Fred Hunt:  Andrew Uhlenhopp

Isabelle Hunt:  Kelly Uhlenhopp

Anna Hunt:  Jordyn Morgan

Jim:  Jack Wefso

Johnny:  Hunter Balch

Bobby:  Ben Griffin

Dieter Muehler:  Drew Hirschboeck

Karl:  Matthew Lomas

Franz:  Wyatt Mills 


Monday, January 12, 2015

24SEVEN



NOTE:  This post has been updated.  Please refer to the update at the end of the post for additional information.  Thanks.

VenueFunky Little Theater, 2109 Templeton Road, Colorado Springs CO.


Running Time:  2 hours, 15 minutes.

Date of Performance:  January 10, 2015.


This is crazy.  I’m not making it up.  Here’s the official description of 24Seven at the Funky Little Theater Company: 

24SEVEN is a 24 hour theater project in the ever blossoming theater scene in Colorado Springs.  The process entails enlisting SEVEN talented playwrights to create SEVEN brand new short plays within the allotted time the night before we produce them.  They are given specific writing prompts to incorporate into their new works.  Then, early the next morning, SEVEN visionary directors show up to read the scripts and cast them with TWENTYFOUR hand picked actors.  The actors show up a couple of hours later and rehearse the day away, culminating in a ONE TIME ONLY performance of all SEVEN short plays.  That's it!  History has been made.  Never again will all these playwrights, directors, actors (and crew) be in the same place doing the same thing.

It’s the equivalent of a theatrical “all nighter.”  The 7 writers had from 8:00 PM on Friday until 4:00 AM on Saturday to draft, edit, revise, and finalize their scripts.  

The 7 directors reported at 6:00 AM on Saturday to read pick, at random, their assigned scripts.  Once their actors had memorized their scripts, they worked out the blocking, lighting, sound, props and every other detail.

The actors reported at 8:00 on Saturday to read through their script, work with the directors, memorize their lines, and rehearse the play.  

Showtime was 7:30 Saturday evening.

It’s not quite improvisational theater, and it’s definitely not traditional theater.  The entire process is compressed into a single 24 hour period.  Each play is limited to 10 minutes; each playwright must use the specific writing prompts they are given.  The result is minimal set pieces, minimal props, minimal technical effects, and maximum creativity. It’s extremely challenging for the participants, but a truly unique experience for the audience.

This is the fifth time Funky has done 24SEVEN, which I think makes it a habit.  Or a tradition.  Or an obsession.  Take your pick.  The local coffee shop provided caffeine early Saturday morning to help revive the bleary eyed.  

So how well did it work?  Surprisingly well.  As one might expect, it was somewhat uneven at times; seven shows produced in 24 hours is bound to have some rough spots.  That said though, there was only one performance I didn’t really care for.  Four were very good, and the two others were adequate.  That’s an amazing batting average under the circumstances.

The Vault was the audience winner; it got the most votes of the seven performances.  It was a hilarious, sexy take on the creative process as “The Muse” provided inspiration to a guy with writer’s block.  I expect the fear of writer’s block and the cruel deadline was some of the inspiration for the playwright.  At 10 minutes, it was arguably much too short.  The script has the potential to be expanded into a full sized work.

Muhammed Laughed was not just articulate and tense, but also urgent.  With references to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, a small theater is threatened by a terrorist.  Given that the Paris massacre occurred a mere two days before the writers reported, Muhammed Laughed could hardly have been more timely.

If I had to pick one work that was perhaps a little too ambitious for a 10 minute script, it would be Just a Tad Crazy.  It was written as a comedy, and there were indeed some pretty hilarious moments.  However, with themes of immortality, cannibalism, and gratuitous violence, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the issues as presented.  I do concede, though, that it certainly was a “tad crazy.”

24SEVEN is as much about the process as the performance.  The entire creative operation is compressed into a single day, requiring extraordinary focus from everyone involved.  Whether the final performance is a finished product is somewhat less important than how that performance was created.  Given that all live performance art is fleeting, making the process equally short lived gives the experience a sense of urgency.

I marveled at what I witnessed.  Like an ice sculpture on a sunny day, the entire creation evaporated into thin air in the space of 24 hours, never to be seen again.  The local avant grade theater fans were there in abundance; the performance was sold out.  The 7 plays were engaging and highly entertaining, despite the brutal deadlines.  

24SEVEN is one of those unique experiences that carry great risk but also offer great rewards.  I have seen nothing else like it.  Make no mistake.  This is theater on a high wire, working with no net.  The Funky Little Theater is an incubator for innovation, generating  creativity in 24 hour increments.  For that, they have earned my respect and support.


NOTES:

If this was a typical 24SEVEN, I wouldn’t recommend 24SEVEN for young kids.  There were handguns, violence, adult language and adult situations.  It’s safe to say that the content is unpredictable, which should be ample warning that there could be some less than kid friendly moments.

This is a new venue for Funky, and the folding chairs are challenging.  There were 5-6 rows of them.  Most of those rows are on the floor; only the last row is on a riser.  The sight lines are not very good unless you are in the first row or the last row.

This production is closed; it was available for one performance only.  

The next 24SEVEN production is scheduled for Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 7:30 PM.

Pre or Post Show Dining Suggestion:

OK, it’s not really for dining, although they have beer and pretzels, some food trucks, and you can get takeout.  It’s the Gold Camp Brewing Company at 1007 S. Tejon, Colorado Springs.  It just opened at the beginning of January.  Co-owners David Shaver and Sarah Shepard-Shaver have been in the business before; David was a co-owner of Brewer’s Republic until the partners sold the business.  If you’re wondering why I’m recommending it, here’s the scoop

1.  It’s an easy 8 minute drive to or from the Funky Little Theater.

2.  Craft beer.  No brainer.

3.  Sarah Shepard-Shaver is a big part of the creative force behind the Springs Ensemble Theatre.  She’s a partner at Gold Camp Brewing Company.  I’m linking drinking beer to supporting the local theater community.  It works for me.


PHOTO CREDITSFunky Little Theater Company.


CREATIVE TEAMS:

Producer:  Chris Medina.


Playwrights/Directors:  

1.  Cricket Daniel, Love Thy Neighbor, directed by Roman Gifford.

2.  Jenny Maloney, What Happened Last Night in Detroit, directed by Keith Rabin, Jr.

3.  Timothy Phillips, Banana Split & Fruit Fly, directed by Drew Frady.

4.  Jordan Matthews, The Vault, directed by Krista McCann.

5.  Roy Ballard, A La Carte, directed by Jeremiah Miller.

6.  Warren Epstein, And Muhammad Laughed, directed by John Ridge.

7.  Sean Verdu, Just a Tad Crazy, directed by Jessica Weaver.


ACTORS:

1.  Love Thy Neighbor:

Jonathan Rivera, Grant Langdon, Hilary Hudson.

2.  What Happened Last Night in Detroit.

Jessica Parnello, Ryan Potter.

3.  Banana Split & Fruit Fly.

Jennifer Westrom-Crabtree, Jonathan Herrera.

4.  The Vault.

Kyle Urban, Sallie Walker, Kaitlin Porter.

5.  A La Carte.

Dustan Harrison, Chelsie Rigor, Alex Erin Johnson

6.  And Muhammad Laughed.

Jareth Spirio, Sean Verdu, Carrie Cheney.

7.  Just a Tad Crazy.

Kala Roquemore, Monica Erck, Valiant Pico.


UPDATE JANUARY 13, 2014:

I MAY NOT HAVE PROPERLY CREDITED THE CORRECT 10 MINUTE PLAYS IN THE ABOVE POST.  ANY ERROR WAS UNINTENTIONAL, AND DUE TO THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF TAKING NOTES DURING A PERFORMANCE.  APOLOGIES TO ANY AND ALL PARTICIPANTS WHOSE WORK MAY NOT HAVE BEEN PROPERLY RECOGNIZED ABOVE.

PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS FROM "A P" BELOW TO GET A DIFFERENT, AND PERHAPS BETTER, TAKE ON THE PROPER CREDITING OF PERFORMANCES.

THANKS...BILL