Summer ’99 will be wild, wolly, and Irish

Brief by Marcia Darnell

Creede Repertory Theatre – June 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

THE CREEDE REPERTORY THEATRE’S 34th season includes a Western musical, a bilingual children’s play, and Irish tale, a bit of history, some pure comedy, and a large invisible rabbit.

The professional company has been part of Creede since 1966, although the theater had been the site of amateur melodramas since the heyday of mining and hard living in the 1890s. The productions are excellent and the 243-seat venue makes every show a warm, intimate experience.

Richard Baxter has been the artistic director since 1983, with yearly forays into acting and directing.

This year, the season opens June 10 with “Destry Rides Again,” based on the novel by Max Brand. The cast for this musical is huge — Baxter is recruiting the touring company, interns, et al., to fill all the parts.

“Fortunately, for horses we have good sound effects,” he says.

Warning: The play, by Harold Rome and Leon Gershe, ends differently than the movie.

Next to open will be “Harvey,” by Mary Chase, who lived in Denver. This story about a man who sees a giant rabbit — and his family’s reaction to him — is a morality tale of how we view sanity.

“It’s a good look at psychotherapy in the ’40s,” says Baxter.

For Neil Simon fans, CRT offers “I Ought to Be in Pictures.” A drastic change from “Destry,” the play has only three parts.

“This is a charming story about a daughter and father getting together again.”

Irish author and playwright Brian Freel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa” is next. The drama focuses on an illegitimate boy growing up in Ireland in the 1930s with his mother and four sisters.

Baxter calls this “a reminiscence play” and “real actor’s piece.” The family’s love and spirit is a poignant contrast to the grim conditions of their time and place.

The first children’s play of the season will be “Margarita’s Secret Diary,” by Tom Smith, written for CRT. A bilingual play, the story tells an event from the perspectives of Anglo, Hispanic, and Native American children. It will go on tour to schools, as well as play in Creede.

In response to requests for plays about Creede history, the company will present “Bat Masterson’s Creede,” by Tony Clark. In it, the legendary figure retells the history of Creede’s early days and its colorful characters, including Bob Ford and Soapy Smith. It’s aimed at middle school kids, but will be enjoyed by middle-aged kids as well.

Finally, if you’re looking to laugh until you scream, “The Complete History of America (Abridged)” will round out the season. Written by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, this thoughtful, serious play gives you the history of the country in less than two hours. “They cover everything,” says Baxter, smiling.

The regular season runs through Aug. 28. The touring company starts work in September with “Margarita’s Secret Diary,” “Bat Masterson’s Creede” and “The Complete History of America (Abridged).”

Performances in Central Colorado, the San Luis Valley, and environs will include Alamosa, Del Norte, Saguache, Westcliffe, Pagosa Springs, Montrose, Ouray, Gunnison, Silverton, Lake City, Hayfield, Ignacio, Durango and probably Salida (not confirmed by press time).

Tickets for Creede Repertory Theatre run from $5 to $17, depending on the play and seating. The best deal is still season passes, $50 for four tickets or $100 for eight. For a complete schedule and ticket information, call CRT at 719-658-2540.

Marcia Darnell lives, writes, and tries to pick up a little culture in the San Luis Valley.