Sopris Theatre Co. takes show on the road to Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House
IF YOU GO…
WHAT: Sopris Theatre Company’s ‘The Other Place’
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday. Feb. 1 (5:30 p.m. reception)
WHERE: The Wheeler Opera House, 320 E. Hyman Ave. Aspen
COST: $20 general admission; $100 for reception and reserved seating
For Brad Moore, director, theater operations manager and adjunct faculty member at Colorado Mountain College, Sopris Theatre Company’s production of “The Other Place” has been years in the making.
Moore calls the play a bit of a mystery, telling the story that centers on Juliana Smithton, who is perhaps the smartest woman ever, he said.
She is a very accomplished research scientist, focusing on neurology. She has developed and patented a drug that will, hopefully, if not halt dementia at least slow its effects. The story is about her trying to come to terms with a series of events in her life.
Dealing with family tragedies and difficulties, she’s also trying to move forward as a very gifted scientist.
“It’s very, very interesting, and well-written,” Moore added.
Moore had the chance to work with playwright Sharr White several years ago in Aspen at the Aspen Fringe Festival.
“As I was watching the play, I thought what a great opportunity it would be for us to work on this piece and take it to the state festival,” Moore said.
Flash forward to Sopris Theatre Company’s 2018-19 season, with Moore directing and notable local actors Mike Monroney, Kelly Ketzenbarger and Brittany Bays spending the spring and early summer perfecting the performance for the annual Colorado Community Theatre Coalition Festival held in Salida in mid-July.
The production took home first place and several other awards at the event. The win included a berth in the American Association of Community Theatre’s national competition in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, this coming June.
“We are representing Region 7, which is Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Utah,” Moore added.
But the first stop for the community theater group will be a fundraiser performance at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen on Friday.
The company has taken a show to the Wheeler each season for the last six years.
“It’s a chance for the students to work on different equipment, work in a different theater and get the feeling of a touring show,” Moore said. “This seemed like the perfect show to take since it is built to tour.”
Proceeds from the performance will help cover the company’s expenses to travel to nationals, including airfare, hotel rooms and a rental truck to transport the scenery.
FESTIVAL SHOW SELECTION
Besides thinking it would play well to the festival audience, Moore chose the show because of its length. There are specific rules to the part of the festival Sopris Theatre competes in.
To level the playing field, the troupe must have all of its scenery, props, everything, contained in a 10-by-10-foot square marked out on the theater stage.
“We have 10 minutes to go from a bare stage to having everything set up,” Moore said.
They then have an hour to perform the show, and then 10 minutes to get everything back to the square.
“I knew the play well enough that the way to develop the set would be keeping it sort of a unit piece that flows,” Moore added.
Moore said that, in many ways, the play takes place in Juliana’s mind.
“So, to have locations that are suggestive to being inside her mind helped us move around in a certain space,” he said. “So, it doesn’t need to be completely realistic.”