Move over Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Pikes Peak Center and other acclaimed institutions in the big city, when it comes to big theatrical productions. In fact, stick to your Georgia O’Keefe art exhibit.
The Thin Air Theatre Company (TATC) has hit the big time with its new showing of the “Into the Woods” musical, representing probably the most ambitious venture of TATC in its nine-year history. Anyone who hasn’t seen the show at the Butte needs to come up to Cripple Creek and have a little fun, and take in some quality theater at the same time. The idea that the Creek is only about gambling is quickly being put to bed with probably the best theatrical secret in the Pikes Peak region.
The performance, which led to a series of standing ovations on opening night recently, definitely put TATC in a new status that easily surpasses any theater company in Colorado Springs. The only downside is the actual “Into the Woods” story itself. Penned by James Lapine, “Into the Woods” has its strange and confusing moments. No question about that. “Into the Woods” isn’t for the faint-hearted or those who like a quick and swift drama, with a performance that nearly hits the three-hour mark.
As TATC manager and performer Mel Moser aptly stated during his role as Butte Theater MC, this isn’t “My Fair Lady.”
After all this is a show that combines the best and worst of a spree of classic fairy tales and characters, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Wolf, The Witch and The Giant, and places them in awkward situations. Kudos to the TATC cast that played 20-plus characters during an epic performance, which commanded Hollywood attention with the 2014 film, starring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. But unfortunately for the film version, this is a story better suited for the musical stage.
In the TATC version of “Into the Woods,” highlight performances included that of Liz Tancredi as The Witch, who displayed an amazing voice and style. And once again, Moser demonstrated why he is the face of TATC, with his multi-varied roles as Granny, The Steward and Mysterious Man. Out of these, he definitely shines as Granny. Also Levi Penley and Sam Disney did notable performances as The Baker and The Baker’s Wife.
The show also was capped by an amazing set that definitely gives the performance a genuine mysterious touch.
But more importantly, the performance showcased the talent of TATC, which can longer be viewed as a just a Cripple Creek troupe, with a cast that hails from theater hot beds across the country. Theater in the Creek, with some six shows, is becoming one of the town’s biggest attractions. If a musical like “Into the Woods” isn’t your cup of tea, then check out the “Foul Play” melodrama. But don’t let the summer go by without seeing a show at the Butte.
Speaking of great live theater, Teller County Commissioner Dave Paul and a group of septic contractors and real estate representatives definitely deserve a few awards in livening up what are usually dull and routine commissioner meetings. A genuine sewer showdown hit the stage recently at the Centennial Building in a fight on the role of government in overseeing septic concerns and public health. Another debate like that and the commissioners may have to start charging admission for their regular meetings. I’ll supply the popcorn and beer for the next show.
For a brief period, I thought Paul and the commissioners were trying to rival the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees. Rumor has it that GMF may install a bar at the new town hall to grapple with the reality of six hour-plus meetings. Karla Penner, owner of the Blue Moose Tavern, may even consider adding a special cocktail drink, entitled, “I survived a Green Mountain Falls Trustees meeting.” But the wild and unruly world of GMF politics is another story in itself.
In the great Teller County septic fight, both sides made great points, so it’s no use declaring winners and losers (see related story in July 14 issue of TMJ). Even among The Mountain Jackpot staff, the verdict is quite mixed on who is right regarding this volatile sewer issue. Personally, I thought Commission Chairman Marc Dettenrieder should have blown the whistle on his fellow peer, Dave Paul, who was way too tough on the septic experts and exerted too many of his own person opinions. After all, this is a group of citizens that invested many hours in forming a task force and deserved more respect. And if you talk to people who have lost thousands on lousy decrepit septic systems, they may agree with the group’s safety concerns. Buyer Beware is one of those terms that appears great on paper and in anti-government talking points, but it can turn into a real problem in certain parts of the county. But on the other side of the coin, unfunded mandates are a continual problem for county governments.
However, stay tuned as this is an issue that won’t go away fast.
The music world lost another key player with the recent and sudden death of Chris Squire, the acclaimed bass guitarist for the mighty 70s English progressive rock band, Yes, which continues to tour in an ambitious fashion that rivals any young band today.
A few of us up here, part of the infamous “Teller County Yes Fans Club” (a group that saw some 15 shows over the last two decades or so), met Chris backstage a number of years back during a show in Denver. Chris, along with keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, weren’t too shy about announcing their musical ambitions and unveiling some great stories and pretty bad English jokes. Egos aside, the Yes men are actually down to earth guys, even though they get a bad rap from the Rolling Stone magazine
Unfortunately, Squire, who has attracted hardcore fans as diverse as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Led Zeppelin great Jimmy Page, took a bad slide from a sudden bout of leukemia. His death was hard to believe considering that last summer he was the dominant showman, performer and head MC for Yes during a show at the Paramount. Chris Squire was often regarded as the guy who kept the band together, even with a variety of lineup changes. Like try 18 different musicians over the last five decades.
He will definitely be missed. Hopefully, the idiots from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with end their bigotry against prog rock bands like Yes and finally induct these guys. Several years ago, Yes was nominated to the Hall and finished third in the fan on-line voting, and still didn’t make it to the final lineup. Talk about a corrupt insider voting system. But that’s why it’s called the Rock and Roll Hall of Shame.
Speaking of dying people, if the GOP right wing nuts continue their endorsement of Donald Trump, they might as well erect a party-wide coffin and just concede the presidential election to Hillary Clinton. That’s too bad, as Hillary could definitely be beaten with the country’s bad case of Clinton fatigue. Hopefully, our leaders from the Teller Republican Party won’t follow the same path that many GOP nut cases are apparently pursuing in other parts of the country. They basically are holding a suicide watch for the Republican Party.
If you want to learn what this Trump scum is really like, read sports writer and television commentator Rick Reilly’s great expose in “Who’s Your Caddy,” based on Reilly’s links dealings with Trump for a one-day period. Even Reilly admitted that period was too long for the preservation of his sanity.
The guy is a fanatic golf cheater, an arrogant buffoon, business destroyer, bigot and an intimidator. The Professional Golf Association needs to join these other organizations across the country and bar any further dealings with Donald Trump.