Sopris Theater Company presents “Anton in Show Business” |

Sopris Theater Company presents “Anton in Show Business”

Kelly Ketzenbarger as Holly, Cassidy Willey as Casey, and Ciara Morrison as Lisabette.
Scot Gerdes |

If you go...

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 and 2 p.m. Feb. 21 and 28.

Where: 3000 County Road 114 Glenwood Springs

How much: $18 general admission

“Is theatre culturally relevant enough to be the subject of a play?”

That’s a key question posed in “Anton in Show Business,” opening this week at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus.

“I love this little play,” said Gary Ketzenbarger, director of the Sopris Theater Company production. “It’s horrendously funny, but very reverent. It’s tantalizing because of that.”

Written by Jane Martin, the play won the 2001 American Theatre Critics Steinberg New Play Award and is appropriate for mature audiences. It revolves around a trio of women from different walks of life as they prepare to play the titular characters of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters.” It acts as the perfect transition between the metadrama of “The Real Inspector Hound” in December and one of Chekhov’s own plays in April.

The leads will be played by veteran Sopris Theater Company actresses Ciara Morrison, Kelly Ketzenbarger and Cassidy Willey.

“I couldn’t have asked for three better actresses to play these roles,” Gary Ketzenbarger said of the trio. “The three of them together are all horrendously funny, but they’re all slightly different, and they are all in some ways similar to the originals.”

Morrison personally identifies with soft spoken Texan Lisabette, the youngest of the sisters.

“If I was born in the south, she’s who I’d be,” she said. “I feel very close to this character because she’s so sweet and naive.”

For her part, Kelly Ketzenbarger doesn’t have much in common with the jaded television star she portrays. She tackled “Three Sisters” in college, but Holly has something to prove.

“Chekhov to her is about giving her some credence as an actor,” she said. “It’s so much about what’s going on inside, not out loud.”

It’s also a significant milestone for Willey’s character, Casey. It’s her first paid gig after 200 unpaid off-off-Broadway shows — a sign she might finally be able to quit her night job at the slaughterhouse.

“There’s a sadness and a struggle to her. She’s been beaten down,” Willey said. “She’s been working her whole life as an actress, and it’s finally some validation.”

In the end, it’s the juxtaposition of the characters that makes the play worth seeing.

“What makes this play come alive is the relationship between these three very different women and their love of the theater,” Willey said.

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