A guide to regional summer theater

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Here’s a roundup of all the local and regional theater you shouldn’t miss, according to Durango’s very own theater expert, Judith Reynolds, arts journalist and member of the American Theater Critics Association. She sees everything and knows what’s good this July through September. “There’s a Western tradition of live theater,” said Reynolds. “It adds a little bit of civilization in the wilderness.” Note: these shows do not play every night consecutively, so check out specific dates if you are interested in getting tickets.

DurangoDurango Arts Center

Shows: “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” through July 31 and “Fool For Love” Aug. 26 – Sept. 11

Judith says: ““Fool for Love” is a serious play by Sam Shepard, not family entertainment like “Charlie Brown.””

Merely Players Theater Company

Show: “Collected Stories” Aug. 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20 at Durango Public Library

“Collected Stories,” Donald Margulies’ Pulitzer Prize finalist play, is about the complicated relationship between a prominent writer and her student.

Henry Strater Theatre

Show: Durango Western Music and Vaudeville Show, through Sept. 23

Judith says: “This is musical entertainment. It has sort of always been for tourists.” The show pays tribute to the Colorado old West with music, humorous skits, old cowboy poetry and sing-alongs.

Pagosa SpringsThingamajig Theatre

Shows: “The Little Mermaid” through Aug. 28, “Cabaret” July 9 – Aug. 25, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” through Aug. 26, “Always, Patsy Cline” July 15 – Aug. 28

Judith says: “Really high quality performances. Frequently they’ll have one or two equity [professional] actors. This scheme of putting on four musicals with a rep company is pretty unusual and extremely challenging. Those kids work like crazy. And they’ve hired Melissa Firlit, who directed “A Few Good Men” and “Trojan Women” at FLC – she’s directing one of these [“On the Way to the Forum,” co-directing “Patsy Cline”]. Young, smart, she brings all current techniques. It’s worth the drive and ticket price … You won’t be disappointed.”

CreedeCreede Repertory Theatre

Shows: “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” through Aug. 13, “Red Hot Patriot,” Aug. 17, Boom Town (improv comedy) post-performances at 10:30 p.m., “The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence” through Aug. 14, “Private Lives” Aug. 19 – Sept. 17, “The History Room” (world premiere) through Sept. 15, “Kind of Red” July 6 – Aug. 28

Judith says: “This is their 51st season. Creede is a small mining town, and they needed to attract people there. They have high-quality performances and do new and challenging plays. Comedies and musicals, but really serious, heavy-duty stuff, too. A lot of now-famous people have performed as part of the Creede Rep. The new play they’re doing this year is “Kind of Red,” a crazy fantasy about Lucille Ball.”

FarmingtonLions Wilderness Park Amphitheater

Shows: “The Addams Family,” every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening through July 30

Judith says: “This is outdoor community theater. It is entertaining, perhaps more so for Farmington residents because they know the people in it. Oftentimes music and theater majors from FLC appear in these. The stage is all open, it’s dirt and dust and a couple of red rocks. Reasonable price, unusual setting, small band.”

Santa FeSanta Fe Opera

Shows: “Romeo et Juliette” July 16 – Aug. 25, “Capriccio” July 23 – Aug. 19, “Vanessa” July 30 – Aug. 24, “La Fanciulla del West” July 6 – Aug. 27, “Don Giovanni” July 8 – Aug. 26

Judith says: “Opera aficionados from around the world come here. It’s a world-class company with a multimillion dollar budget, and the ticket prices reflect that. $222 is the top ticket price. People who go to Milan and Helsinki, La Scala [opera house] and Barcelona, I meet them in Santa Fe for this.”

Santa Fe Playhouse

Shows: “The Pillowman” July 21 – Aug. 7, “The Fiesta Melodrama” Aug. 25 – Sept. 11

The oldest continuously running theater west of the Mississippi. “The Pillowman” is a darkly comic drama set in a dystopian totalitarian state, and “The Fiesta Melodrama” lampoons local news and politics in New Mexico.

New Mexico Actors Lab

Shows: “Art” July 21 – Aug. 7

Theater company in their inaugural season, premiering three plays this summer written by Tony and Pulitzer award-winning playwrights. “Art” by Yasmina Reza is about investigating the commercial versus creative values of the visual arts world.

Cedar City, Utah Utah Shakespeare Festival

Shows: “Much Ado About Nothing” through Sept. 8, “Henry V” through Sept. 10, “The Three Musketeers” through Sept. 9, “The Cocoanuts” through Oct. 15, “The Odd Couple” Sept. 14 – Oct. 22, “Mary Poppins” through Sept. 3, “Julius Caesar” July 29 – Oct. 22, “Murder for Two” Aug. 4 – Oct. 22, “The Greenshow” through Sept. 10

Judith says: “The biggest, most impressive western Shakespeare festival. It’s a seven-hour drive from here, worth every hour. They put on six productions, three Shakespearean, a musical, usually some new play. I go every year and see everything. Every time they complete the entire Shakespearean canon, they start over. They also have something to go and see and do and learn every minute you’re there. There’s an outside seminar in a grove of trees every morning at 9 o’clock, where actors from the previous night’s performances show up, and you can ask them questions and talk about the plays you’ve seen. There are also seminars with costumers/props/backstage people that are all mostly free or $5. Plus pre-performance lectures for everything, where they talk about the plot and the history of the play.”


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