Theater takes center stage in Pagosa, Durango Herald, June 20, 2008

Variety of genres featured during busy summer schedule

Actors Nick Hoenshell of Tyler, Texas, left, and Andrew Evans of Chica go, Ill., rehearse outdoors for the Square Top Repertory Theatre’s produc tion of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
June 20, 2008

| Special to the Herald This summer, Pagosa Springs is filled with theatrical events. Whether audiences prefer professional repertory, melodrama dinner theater or a lively musical, it can all be found just an hour east of Durango.

Square Top Repertory Theatre presents Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by the company’s Producer and Co-artistic Director Charlie Pepiton.

One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” blends love, mischief, spectacle and magic. This production blurs the line between fantasy and reality as the characters find themselves caught in a web of magic in the Athenian woods.

“This is a season of fantasy where we are blending blatant theatricality and the power of the imagination,” Pepiton said on Sunday.

Square Top has a unique style that comes from the inspiration of the very physically-based theater work of Anne Bogart and Jerzy Grotowski. Movement for this company is rooted in modern dance and improv. The company has a cast of seven professional actors culled from theater festivals and universities around the country. The cast comes from Second City in Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans and Texas.

And this company is not afraid to tackle difficult work. Each season, it produces an original or adapted world-premier production. This year, Co-artistic Director Shane Fuller has thrown caution aside and is producing a version of Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” set in a contemporary office cubicle where the ingenious gentleman from La Mancha battles his giants.

Pepiton said, “We figured if we’re going to go for broke why not do ‘Don Quixote’ and yell ‘Macbeth’ five times in the theater!”

Fantasy and imagination aren’t the only offerings this summer. The Springs Theatre Co. is producing its Summer Starlight Series at the Pavilion Tent on the grounds of the Harman Art Museum.

These chuck-wagon suppers and shows are fun for the whole family. In June, the production is “Dora the Beautiful Dishwasher,” a 1990s melodrama. In July, sit back and enjoy a 1940s radio variety hour featuring an episode of “Red Ryder and the Roaring River Renegades.” In August, the offering will be a second melodrama, “Foiled by an Innocent Maid.”

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for dinner, which includes brisket, chicken or a vegetarian entrée, baked beans, coleslaw, peach cobbler, warm rolls, lemonade, coffee and water. Guests can tour the art museum featuring the work of Fred Harman Jr., the creator of the Red Ryder comic strip and one of the founding members of the Cowboy Artists of America.

They can also visit the historic Gomez Store, learn to square dance, play horseshoes and check out the Old West craftspeople.

If it’s musicals that get the toe tapping, don’t miss Music Boosters production of Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!” an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale.

Local students and residents fill out the cast of this delightful and spirit-lifting production. Music is always the highlight of a Music Boosters’ production, and its volunteer board includes music teachers from the area.

If you go:

Tickets for all Pagosa Springs theater productions are available on the Web sites for each company. Square Top Repertory Theatre is at square toptheatre.com or call 264-0264. Springs Theatre Co. is at springsthe atrecompany.org or call the Plaid Pony at 731-5262. Music Boosters is at pagosamusicboosters.org. Ticket prices are $8-$28.

• “Dora the Beautiful Dishwasher,” Springs Theatre Co., 5:30 p.m. today and Saturday, Pavilion Tent at Harman Art Museum.

• “Oliver!” Music Boosters, 7 p.m., July 3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, Pagosa Springs High School Auditorium.

• “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Square Top Repertory Theatre, 7 p.m. July 10, 11, 12, 19, 24, 26, Aug. 2, Pagosa Springs Community Center.

• “Don Quixote,” Square Top Repertory Theatre, 7 p.m. July 17, 18, 19, 25, 31, and 2 p.m. Aug. 1, Pagosa Springs Community Center.

• “Red Ryder and the Roaring River Renegades,” Springs Theatre Co., 5:30 p.m., July 18, 19, 25, 26, Pavilion Tent at Harman Art Museum.

• ” Foiled by an Innocent Maid,” Springs Theatre Co., 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8, 9, 15, 16, Pavilion Tent at Harman Art Museum.

artsjournalist@mac.comLeanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the arts. She lives in Pagosa Springs.

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