Who is “The Real Inspector Hound?”
if you go...
When: 7 p.m. 11/28 and 12/3-12/5; 2 p.m. 11/29 and 12/ 6.
Where: 3000 County Road 114, Glenwood Springs
How much: $18 for adults and $13 for seniors, students and staff
Tickets and information: 947-8177
Colorado Mountain College’s Sopris Theatre Company is taking on Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Inspector Hound.”
It’s the kind of show that really captures the audience — in more ways than one.
“People who hate theater should come up and see this play,” said J. D. Miller, who plays major Magnus Muldoon.
Those who love theater would also be well advised to make the quick trip up to Spring Valley this weekend or next for a play that blends comedy and real depth without sacrificing either.
Without spoiling too much, “The Real Inspector Hound” can be described as metadrama — a play within a play in which the deliberately preposterous central farce is slowly dissected.
Director Thomas Cochran has been a devoted Stoppard fan since even before he saw him speak in grad school, and has had the chance to direct several of his plays before — though not “Inspector Hound.”
“Really, Stoppard does have that tradition of a comedy that can play to a general audience, and yet have so much more going on with it,” he said.
“In and of itself, it is witty and it is silly, but there are moments that shift the reality,” he added. “We’re starting to play with what theater really is, and how it affects what we see out here.”
Theater program director Gary Ketzenbarger chose the play for the season with precisely that in mind.
“On the face of it, it’s entertainment, but underneath it’s more,” he said.
Ketzenbarger, who played Simon in college and directed the play in graduate school, will bring the experience full circle by portraying Birdboot in this week’s performance.
Although it’s rooted at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus and stars numerous students, the Sopris Theatre Company draws from the community as well.
“I think it’s an ideal way to do theater here in the valley,” Ketzenbarger said. “We can educate students in theater and at the same time do high quality productions.”
Miller, for instance, is a graduate of the program who took his first course there at the age of 43.
“They were immediately accepting of me. The friendships we formed are still part of my life,” he said. “There’s really no awkwardness. It’s fantastic.”
Kari Sea, who has invested recent weeks in bringing life to Mrs. Drudge, has found the same thing in her dual roles as dance teacher and theater major.
“I had a lot of theater students, and I was so intrigued by all the information they would come in with that I really wanted to be involved,” she said. “It seemed like so much fun.”
For a traditional age college student like sophomore Ciara Morrison, the approach leads to a different experience than your average drama school.
“All of my cast members are of different ages, different experiences. They bring so much knowledge with them that it makes it the perfect way to learn,” she said. “Here, we get a chance to jump in and try everything.”
Morrison has tried her hand in several recent performances, and her role as Lady Cynthia Muldoon has proven both challenging and fun.
“It goes against everything I have previously been taught,” she said. “There’s not much opportunity to do this. It’s great fun.”
Brendan Cochran, meanwhile, has been forced to explain that, despite being in the title, “Inspector Hound” is far from the main character.
“It’s been a misnomer for most people I’ve told about the show,” he said. “You sort of have to question what the inspector really is, because it’s never quite clear.”
In the end, the audience will have to decide for itself.
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This summer, the local arts nonprofit Voices will be debuting The ARTery, a tiny mobile space for theater and the arts, a news release stated.