Art Scene: A ceremony of the arts |

Art Scene: A ceremony of the arts

Christina Brusig
Staff Photo |

We gather around the table to begin the process. We each practice that same deception, the one that always visits first, suggesting a brilliant concept will be revealed, intricate and complete. Implementation? An easy exercise. Our work is done. We all enjoy this brief interlude and then settle into the creative, messy, jangling, wonderful process of designing and delivering the annual musical.

Tonight, the curtain rises on “Anything Goes,” and what you will see on stage is the result of a creative team who pitched every idea, rational or not, then arrived at consensus, who delivered on promises and committed to more, and who never lost sight of the goal to include everyone.

Meet The Team

Director Kate McRaith has been a theatre and English teacher for over 20 years with a career that took her to England, Scotland, Greece and Japan. Lucky for everyone who has been influenced and guided by her keen perceptions, she settled in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Kate’s worldview informs her passion. “I believe that theatre is art, literature, cultural studies, history, and psychology all rolled into one. Being involved in theatre not only brings joy, but also allows individuals to connect with each other in a meaningful, creative and constructive way.”

Kate has been rebuilding the GSHS drama program over the past seven years and is committed to providing multiple opportunities for students to grow, perform and create.

Musical Director Shanti Gruber is a Glenwood Springs native and a GSHS class of 2000 alumni. She is the performing artist and choir director at Roaring Fork High School, Glenwood Springs High School and Glenwood Springs Middle School. Pausing long enough to catch her breath, she teaches private piano, voice and guitar lessons and directs an after-school choir program at Carbondale Middle School.

Tonight, Shanti will step up to the podium, raise her baton and all of the weeks of training the singers, coordinating musicians in the pit, coaching one-on-one with the lead roles and rehearsing everyone prior to the show will come together with the down beat. She may be in the shadows, but her art is in the spotlight. “I get to make music and inspire young artists every day. I am so lucky.”

Costume designer Tammy Girardo started young when, at 9 years old, she began sewing with her grandmother who had helped create costumes for the movies. Tammy has never stopped, and her love of the art and passion for the theater has taken her work to the Aspen Community School in 1995 and on to become the costume coordinator at Carbondale Community school creating over 100 costumes and supervising up to eight assistants. Having worked with Kate McRaith since 2001, Tammy is even more dedicated to her art.

“I love costumes because they are creative, out-of-the-box caricatures. This year I have had a wonderful team helping me, and I am able to realize much more of my vision. Every show becomes a new creative family, and the collaboration that comes together to produce a top-notch performance is magical. Some see the chaos that ensues in my studio as frightening, but I like it. Creativity is born out of chaos.”

Tish McFee’s set-painting artistry is at its peak with this show. “Kate McRaith shared pictures of the set concepts she imaged and after her husband, Tom, built them, she arranged for students to start priming the flats and the team grew. The students and adults gave every available moment to the project. Darlene Harrison, who is a commercial painter, helped immensely with a lot of detail work like the fantastic zig and zag on the ship and Art Deco it became.”

Tish picked up the paintbrush when her high school son began performing in the theater in elementary school and there was no looking back. She honed her skills during the 10 years she taught at Basalt High School before coming to Glenwood.

“I love to expose students to possible careers that use creativity. Set design and painting is one of those. Learning how to work with production crews, other painters, directors and producers teaches real-world team building and group skills.

Sometimes I try to think of set work as a Zen sand painting. A lot of the joy happens in the making, and then it is only visible for a little while. Sublime.”

Well, there they are and I could not be more proud to be part of this family of artists. I have been choreographing these musicals for the last six years, and each time I know that it has added another brilliant thread to our tapestry. I stand back and look at the picture and when the end result is a marvel, we love the journey all the more.

See you tonight at 7:00!

Christina Brusig is the Executive Director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. She can be reached at

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