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Director’s cut

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson Sue Lavin laughs as she guest directs and watches a rehearsal of Thunder River Theater Company's "The Complete History of America" on Friday afternoon. Lavin ran the drama program at Colorado Rocky Mountain School for 16 years.
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Sue Furze Lavin doesn’t play favorites.”They’re all like your children,” said Lavin, of the numerous plays she has directed. “You can’t have a favorite.”Lavin has been directing theatre productions most of her adult life. She headed the theatre departments at Colorado Rocky Mountain School for 16 years and the Kent Denver School for 14. This month, she’s guest directing Thunder River Theatre Company’s season opener, “The Complete History of America, Abridged,” opening Thursday.”I like it when you take it from the page to the stage, transforming the lives of the people,” she said. “It’s an inspiring process to work with gifts that are inside of people.”One such actor Lavin helped guide through the acting process is Tony-nominated actor Oliver Platt, a CRMS graduate. Platt, who played the role of White House counsel Oliver Babish on “The West Wing,” was a student in Lavin’s drama class before making it big in Hollywood.”That makes me very proud,” she said. “He’s just a dear and good person.”Lavin recalled when she and her husband, Jack Real, went to a cast party for one of Platt’s stage performances. To her surprise, Lavin took center stage during the soirée.”He had everyone stand up and do a toast for me,” Lavin said. “That was a moving and wonderful event.”Lavin is proud to include her role as drama department head at CRMS on her résumé.

“It’s a tremendous educational program involving mind, body and spirit,” she said.A Buffalo, N.Y., native, Lavin is happy to be back in the Roaring Fork Valley. Lavin and her husband returned to live in No Name three years ago after moving from Denver.”I’m an outdoor girl I love the outdoors,” said Lavin, whose 35-year-old daughter, Kate Furze, is a teacher at Denver University. “I lived in New York for a year but didn’t like the craziness. I find a lot of peace in nature, and I like Western people. Living here keeps me steady, balanced.”At 60, Lavin has been focusing on working more with adult actors than younger students and helping audiences laugh.”I’m enjoying comedy theatre at this stage of my life,” she said. “It’s fun to watch the actors. It kind of catches you off guard.”Comedy has always been an interest for Lavin, who obtained her PhD from the University of Colorado-Boulder and penned the book “Women and Comedy” after researching her thesis. The book discusses how satire by women stand-up comedians was aimed at equalizing the roles of women in society.”There’s an historical arch that shows as the decades proceeded, women in comedy got bolder and bolder,” she said. “Phylis Diller wasn’t allowed to talk about sex and politics when she first started. She was very restrained. … She started wearing the lampshades as clothing to help hide her sexual appeal.”Diller and Lavin spoke via telephone, a conversation she won’t forget.”She told me some very personal things,” Lavin said. “All the women were very open.”Lavin hopes audiences will be open to the satire in “The Complete History of America, Abridged,” starring Daniel Pettit, Sarah McConnel and Michael Miller.

“It’s very funny,” she said. “It’s very much like the Daily Show with Jon Stewart – political satire on American history.”The comedy includes multiple character roles and costume changes, which Lavin needs to be on top of as she guest directs. Costumes and props assistant Jenny Catto said Lavin has been cast well for the role.”She has a quiet authority that helps keep rehearsals hopping through hilarious scenes and fast costume changes,” Catto said. “It’s my first time working in the theatre, but I can tell she has this nice way about her that’s very efficient.”Lavin an English as a Second Language instructor at Colorado Mountain College sees herself continuing as a director in professional and community theatre.She also wants to help TRTC go down in theatre history.”I’m interested in what arts offer a human being,” Lavin said. “I would love to help the community recognize the gift we have in this theater, a theater of this quality, in a community our size. It shows that this part of Colorado is very committed to the arts. To me, this is another jewel in the arts crown.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com



Name: Sue Furze Lavin Age: 60 Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y. Occupation: English as a Second Language instructor at Colorado Mountain College Hobbies: being a director, playwright and author Something interesting about you that people might not know: I love to bike in the (Glenwood) Canyon.


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