Melodrama aims to entertain audiences while offering young actors professional opportunities |

Melodrama aims to entertain audiences while offering young actors professional opportunities

Carla Jean Whitley

Jonathan Gorst spent years on the road, performing eight shows a week as keyboardist and later music director/conductor of “Cats” before joining other shows. But he didn’t learn endurance during those Broadway tours. It was a skill he acquired as a teen, performing at the Imperial Hotel in Cripple Creek.

Now Gorst recalls an early conversation with a “Cats” conductor.

“Are you ready for eight shows a week?”

Gorst explained that he’d already performed twice daily, six days a week.

“Oh yeah, you’re fine.”

Now Gorst, an owner of Glenwood Springs’ Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar, will offer a similar opportunity to local youth. “Trouble Bubbles at the Iron Mountain Hot Springs” will debut at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park May 26 and run through September. The 45-minute Western melodrama will run twice daily and features four musical numbers.

It’s a rare opportunity for the area’s young actors to gain professional experience. Although Glenwood and surrounding communities are rich with theatrical productions, the shows typically run one to two weekends. The actors will perform in the melodrama throughout the summer and are compensated for their time.

The two casts — a total of 26 actors, ages 13-18 — come from Edwards, Rifle, Carbondale and Glenwood. Gorst cast two actors for each role to allow for vacations, workshops and other conflicts.

Tristan Koschak expects to soon study psychology and minerals at Colorado Mountain College. He plays a villain in “Trouble Bubbles.”

“I think if I ever continue acting, also, an understanding of psychology and why people do what they do would be helpful,” he said.

Some of the actors have extensive theater credits already; rising high-school junior Hope Starr, for example, estimates this is her 16th show. Josephine Koschak, on the other hand, has performed in the ensemble of many shows at Liberty Classical Academy, where she will enter eighth grade in the fall. “Trouble Bubbles” is the first time she’s had a speaking part.

Starr said she auditioned partly for the chance to be part of a longer run, but she also loves the show itself, which Marisa Gorst adapted. It’s comedic and allows the cast to interact with the audience, which will make every show a bit different.

“I would pay to be a part of it,” Starr said.

“We’re having as much fun with it as we can while staying within the character guidelines,” Tristan Koschak said.

The opportunity was a long time coming.

The park’s owners and senior managers had been interested in pursuing such a show for several years. Without knowing that, Gorst approached the park with a plan for the production.

“I never would’ve expected it to be this exciting and build this much momentum in town and in the drama and arts communities,” said Bob Stepniewski, the park’s food and beverage manager.

Once you enter the park, there’s no additional fee to see the show.

“Steve and Jeanie, the owners, are always looking or a way to boost the value of park admission to guests — especially those that aren’t quite into the adventure rides we offer,” Stepniewski said.

Gorst expressed excitement about that offering. But he really hopes the show will help the actors discover whether theater may be a career choice, as similar productions did for him.

He said, “[This allows them] to really take that apart and say, this is what it is, and if you love this, it’s worth it.”

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