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Sopris Theatre Company and Roaring Fork Valley actors present ‘The Nina Variations’

A play about second chances, 43 attempts at getting one relationship right

Christina Cappelli described playwright Steven Dietz’s “The Nina Variations” as providing a couple with a reset button, the ability to repeat conversations and say something differently and see where things will end up this time.

“(Dietz) described it as what if you could have that conversation again. That last conversation that you had with someone, what if you could say what wasn’t said,” Cappelli, one of the four actors playing Nina in the show said. “What if you had the chance to do it again. Once you close that door and walk out on that conversation you usually don’t get to do it again but the theater is that space where you get to play it over and over.”

“The Nina Variations” is inspired by the closing scenes of Anton Chekhov’s book, “The Seagull,” and will be the third and final production of the Sopris Theatre Company’s season. Director Brad Moore said he chose the play because of the flexibility he would have with his cast that would adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions. Since the play explores the relationship between Nina and Treplev and the miscommunication rut they’re stuck in, having Zoom as a tool actually helped maintain that sort of figurative distance as well as making the piece even more relatable to its audience.



“One of the pieces … we decided to actually do the recording as a Zoom session. So we actually recorded them on camera. There’s actually two scenes where they are on stage together but they’re distanced and that sort of thing,” Moore said.

There are four pairs of Ninas and Treplevs in the show played by actors Chris Walsh and Jaime Walsh; Brendan T. Cochran and Christina Cappelli; Ciara Morrison and James Steindler; and Joshua Adamson and Bostyn Elswick. Moore said they have a 90 second recap at the opening of the play as a quick debrief of “The Seagull,” but that if audience members haven’t read the book they won’t be lost throughout the production, there may just be a handful of references that go over their head.



From left, James Steindler and Ciara Morrison rehash their relationship in "The Nina Variations." The two actors share the roles with three other acting couples in this contemporary take-off on Chekov's star-crossed lovers in "The Seagull, streaming in nine performances, April 9-15.

“I think each one of the actors playing the two different roles I think they each approached things a little differently. And so you know, it was following their lead on how they would approach these characters and just digging into the story and what’s going on, and the relationship between the two actors as they’re playing the characters, that becomes a whole other aspect of this as well,” Moore said.

The entire cast of the show has never been together for a rehearsal at the same time. Steindler, who plays one of the four Ninas, said this helped in keeping their variations on the roles distinct since the first time they’ll be viewing other pairs’ performances will be opening night of the production.

“I missed notes and being together all of us in the theater, watching each other, supporting each other and then at the end all sitting down with the other and taking it in. … While this is such a treat and I think we’re all very appreciative to be able to practice what we love and do what we love, still there’s definitely a missing component to it, even in rehearsals,” Steindler said.

Brendan Cochran, playing one of four Treplevs, said when rereading “The Seagull” he saw that it could be connected to present-day Colorado cities, because the dialogue and the driving forces behind the characters’ decisions include universal elements.

“I never thought this before but I was going, ‘oh wow, you could definitely set this in Aspen.’ Rich family you know with a famous actor, matriarch that’s like living by the lake. Girl that lives next door comes over and she’s obsessed with being famous and wants to run off to Hollywood,” Cochran said.

“The Nina Variations” runs from April 9 to April 25 with a total of nine virtual performances. Cappelli said she is thrilled to be back on stage, even if it is virtual, and to present the final production to an audience in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond, thanks to the streaming set up of the play.

“First of all just really grateful to be back and involved with theater in whatever capacity. … I’m one of the Zoom people so my Nina is mostly going to be on Zoom. … Very quickly it became clear that it was definitely going to work and it was going to be really interesting and fun,” Cappelli said.

If you go…

-“The Nina Variations” will stream at 7 p.m April 9-10, 16-17, 23-24; and at 2 p.m. April 11, 18 and 25.

-Tickets may be purchased via ShowTix4U at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/48732.

-Admission is $18 for adults and $13 for seniors and students, as well as CMC employees and graduates. Season ticket holders and CMC Spring Valley students must contact the Sopris Theatre Company’s box office at svticketsales@coloradomtn.edu or call 970-947-8177 to arrange tickets for the play.

-For more information, contact Brad Moore at 970-947-8187, bmoore@coloradomtn.edu or visit https://coloradomtn.edu/theatre.

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or jpeterson@postindependent.com.


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