Article by Marcia Darnell
Theatre – June 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine
THE CREEDE REPERTORY THEATRE has a flock of new shows and a herd of new seats for its patrons in this, its 41st season. A recent donation of cushier theater seats means comfier sitting while taking in some of the best entertainment in the Rockies.
Creede Repertory Theatre was built in the 1930s, as a movie house. It later became a melodrama house, then closed until its rebirth as a repertory theater. The main stage offers 243 seats and the upstairs “black box” theater has seating for 88.
The season will open on June 2 with “Crazy for You.” Based on “Girl Crazy,” by Ken Ludwig, it’s set in Deadwood, Nev., and is a classic boy-meets-girl story replete with Gershwin music, tap dance, and a large cast.
“It’s a much bigger show than we usually do,” said Maurice LaMee, CRT’s creative director. “It’s a great family show.”
The show features the numbers “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” among others.
Next up is a play with local color, “The Man Who Shot the Man Who Shot Jesse James,” opening June 16. An unusual creation by 10 writers and actors about 25 years ago, the play is set at the Creede Exchange, which was a saloon and bordello in Old-West days. The title character is Bob Ford, who became a national celebrity after killing James.
“The play is about his death and speculation about whether he killed Jesse James,” LaMee said. “That mystery is expounded on in this show.”
LaMee will direct “Enchanted April,” which opens June 30. Written by Matthew Barber, it’s about four Englishwomen of a certain age just after World War I. Seeking adventure before it’s too late, they go to Italy, find love, and change their lives.
“It’s a lovely book, character-driven,” LaMee said. “It’s poetic, lyric, and impressionistic.”
Next the cast will tackle “Sweeney Todd,” opening July 28. The hit story of a murdering London barber and cannibal features some of Stephen Sondheim’s best music.
“It’s a story of revenge and blood lust,” LaMee said. “A bold story.”
The star of the production comes from Broadway; Patrick Ryan Sullivan has starred in “42nd Street” and “Beauty and the Beast” on the Great White Way.
“It’s a challenge for us to put this together,” LaMee said, “and it should be an astounding production. We’re really excited,”
“Cowboyily,” will be a two-person play in the “black box” theater upstairs at CRT. Written by Steven Cole Hughes, who penned last year’s “Slabtown,” it’s about a Chicago playwright on a bus in Denver who makes assumptions about the driver based on his cowboy attire. After the bus crashes, the writer and driver develop a tortured relationship over several months.
“It’s a play of ideas,” said LaMee. “It’s about two very different worlds colliding with each other.”
The last production of the regular season will be “Snake in the Grass,” by Alan Ayckbourn, opening Sept. 1. It’s a psychological thriller about two sisters, one of whom nursed their father for years before his death, and the other who returns home for his funeral and wonders if he was murdered. LaMee calls it a “fun, scary ride.”
FAVORITE ACTORS RETURNING to Creede this season include Peggy Pharr Wilson, Christie Brandt, John Gary Brown, and Diana Dresser, for her 10th season. LaMee’s wife, Trary Maddalone, will also be back after a guest stint on the TV drama, “Criminal Minds.”
The Outreach Tour of CRT will run from early September into November and will present “Two Doughnuts” to schools in Colorado and the Four Corners region. The children’s play is about a boy who lives in the barrio with his grandmother, who cares deeply for her little plot of land. When she dies, the boy goes on a magical journey and learns how to appreciate living, beautiful things. The production involves abstractions, surrealism, and puppets.
“It’s a smart play for kids that doesn’t condescend,” said LaMee.
Another production for children will be the local kids’ show, “Amelia’s Tree,” in June and July. Local young talent will spend the summer learning how to stage and produce a play, then actually do it.
As always, CRT will offer many other forms of entertainment during the season, including art shows, benefits, and concerts. Special offerings include the Opening Night Dinner, featuring the chef from the 4UR Ranch, and the annual Dessert Auction.
There will be an educational talk on the Gershwin brothers throughout the season, and CRT will offer a walking tour of Bob Ford’s stomping grounds in Creede.
For dates, times, and admission charges, check www.creederep.org, or call 719/658-2540. Tickets for plays will run $15 to $25 and the facility is wheelchair accessible.
Marcia Darnell sees at least one CRT production a year. She’d see more if Ed would give her a pay raise.